December 28, 2008

Christmas Hangover

Dear Santa

As we recover from our Christmas day chocolate-induced coma, I am pleased that our minimalist approach was a success. TheMonk, got over the fact that Santa didn’t take his sister, and has spent a great deal of time playing with his Talking Robot (from Santa) and his Power Ranger Motorcycle (from mommy and daddy). He has also spent a great deal of time playing with Swee’Pea’s Princess Doll with a Purple, Pink and Yellow dress. Swee’Pea also got a pink leotard, pink tights and a pink tutu from Mommy and Daddy. They also received some very nice gifts from friends and family.

Grandma and Grandpa sent over a very nice cooking set for Swee’Pea with stainless steel pots and pans. (I’m trying not to focus on the fact that Swee’Pea has better cookware than her parents do.) TheMonk also got a Hot Wheels set from Grandma and Grandpa with very modern-looking cars and he’s been playing with those quite a bit. They also got books from Grandmother, large toddler-friendly puzzles from Swee’Pea’s godparents (which they LOVE) and some great books from our friend Deanna (including Ballet Kitty, which Swee’Pea has demanded I read to her about six times since she got the book on Christmas morning.)

The biggest thing is we’ve had to wean the kids off the chocolate since we went a little wild on Christmas Day (The kids each gave Mommy a 1/2 pound of Sees Chocolates as their gift). Swee’Pea knows there is chocolate and she isn’t shy about asking for it. We’re working on her manners and she is often stubborn enough to refuse to say “please.” This often presents an opportunity for TheMonk who will then approach while I am dealing with a screaming Swee’Pea and ask in the most polite way ever, “Daddy, may I have a piece of chocolate, please?”

Next up, New Years! Time to think of some resolutions. I just might have to start with no more chocolate.

December 25, 2008

Family Photo: Christmas 2008

Family Photo

December 23, 2008

Hey, isn’t there a holiday coming up?

I apologize for the dearth of posts lately but I’ve been searching high and low for my muse here at the ol’ blog.

Turns out, I just needed to spend some time with my kids.

Have a very Merry Christmas my wonderful readers. May visions of sugar plums dance in your head.

Christmas Card

December 17, 2008

How much stuff do we really need?

I have been thinking a lot about this lately. Part of the reason our economy has become rather non-existent over the past year is due to our over-reliance on credit. Buying so much stuff we couldn’t afford has finally come back haunt us and left us with a lot of crap along with a mountain full of debt.

Add this to the holiday season and all we have heard is how much retailers are suffering. People are cutting back on buying stuff and trying to stay “within their means.” I have even read somewhere that some parents are wondering how to actually break it to their teenagers that they can’t get whatever they want.

Now, I’m not trying to minimize what many people are going through in our country. Those who are losing their homes or their jobs have legitimate worries and my heart goes out to those people. But there are even more out there who equate happiness with “stuff” and that breaks my heart too.

I don’t have a whole lot of plans to purchase a bunch of toys for Swee’Pea and TheMonk. They will get their toys they asked from Santa and maybe a toy or two from Mommy and Daddy but I think that’s about all they “need.” In fact, I recently was introduced to a website called rentAtoy.com. It’s like Netflix for toys. You pay a monthly fee and then change out toys at your pace. This appeals to me because you could have a small group of toys that rotate and never have a room so filled with crap that you can’t walk through it without stubbing your toe on something. If this appeals to you, check it out.

Second, and perhaps even more meaningful, is to give to those in need this holiday season. The website Redefine Christmas encourages gifts to charity in lieu of gifts to people. Because I work for a charity and know how much gifts people make mean to those I work with, this appeals to me in the biggest way. The great thing is that whatever your interest, there is a charity out there. (And if your interest happens to be the YMCA and helping kids, and you cannot think of a place to send your money, you can send it my way here.)

Anyway, this is my two cents. All I want to remember is that the “holiday season” isn’t about buying stuff. Ultimately it’s a significant religious moment for a handful of us but it’s also a time for family. A time to count our blessings. A time to be together and share love and friendship. And fortunately these are things that don’t take Visa, Mastercard or American Express.

December 12, 2008

Slick Monk and Iced Swee’Pea

This past weekend we took the twins to see Santa. They are now old enough to know the drill and have eagerly awaited their chance to tell Santa what they want for Christmas this year. We’ve had a couple of good Santa moments and one bad Santa moment in the past three years so we didn’t know what to expect this time around.

We had been practicing for the past couple of weeks what they were going to ask Santa for this Christmas. Swee’Pea was certain she wanted a “Princess Barbie with a Pink, Purple and Yellow dress.” TheMonk, on the other hand, was emphatic that he wanted a “Power Ranger Motorcycle.

TheMonk was so convincing, in fact, that I ran out and bought Santa already had reserved a Power Rangers Motorcycle for TheMonk this year.

That’s when TheMonk got slick. The day we were to visit Santa, he suddenly changed his tune. Instead of Power Rangers Motorcycle, he now wanted a “Talking robot.” Okaaaaaaaay. Now what’s a Santa to do? Sure enough, when he got seated on the big man’s lap, he immediately got down to business and told Santa that he wanted a “talking robot.” The little guy is slick.

When it was Swee’Pea’s turn, not only would she not smile at all (only giving a little smirk when asked to smile) she was not even interested in telling Santa what she wanted. Finally, TheMonk approached Santa and told Swee’Pea that “She wants a Barbie Princess with a Pink, purple and yellow dress!” Swee’Pea nodded in agreement while Santa told Swee’Pea that he only had three of those left but he was going to save one just for her.

Which would be good because I have yet to find a “Barbie Princess with a Pink, Purple and Yellow dress.” I sure hope that Santa guy comes through.


December 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Dandy Flowers

Dandy Flowers

December 7, 2008

He’s going to fit in great in 7th grade gym class

This weekend has introduced a new chapter in our lives parenting a little boy. Recently, within the past few weeks, poo-poo jokes have become the rage. I mean, they are funny as hell to a little three-year-old boy who just loves to say “poo-poo.” Every joke has to do with fecal matter and I’ll be damned if that just doesn’t send the little guy into belly laughs galore.

But lately TheMonk’s boy-ness has grown to new levels. For example, just yesterday, the boy took his oversized Dora baseball bat, positioned it at groin-level and shouted, “Look at my penis!” Of course, this was followed by hysterical laughing that all but drowned out the stern talking to given to him by his parents.

Later that night, as we were tucking our little ones into bed, Mommy leaned over to give TheMonk a kiss while he lay in his bed. TheMonk took this opportunity to pull up the tail of his stuffed monkey and pretend that the monkey was farting in his Mommy’s face.

Then, today, TheMonk walks up to me, turns around and begins rubbing his little butt on my leg while laughing out loud.

Lovely Wife and I began talking about our little potty mouth and I was quick to blame the little hoodlums he hangs out with at daycare. Which little punk is putting this kind of filth in my kid’s mind? Whose parent am I going to have to corner and let them know all of their penis talk has not been appreciated in this household.

And then I had a thought.

What if it’s MY kid that’s been doing all the penis talk at daycare? What if the scenes I described above are being played out in households throughout my community and that I will be the one confronted by an angry mob of parents who want to stick it to the Dad of the kid who likes to talk about male appendages, breaking wind and rubbing what his mama gave him against people’s legs.

Hmmmmmmm. Maybe I’ll have Lovely Wife take him to daycare tomorrow.

December 4, 2008

I guess it beats “nothing.”

Before having kids, I remember people telling me what it’s like to have kids. They mentioned the no sleep thing. They mentioned the no privacy thing. They mentioned the losing their sanity thing. What they didn’t mention was the CONSTANT TALKING THING. I mean, MY GOD, once kids find the gift of gab, boy do they ever use it.

When the kids were two, and still in their beginning talking phases, they would point at things that I knew they knew and ask, “What’s that?” After a million times of telling the kids that the ball was indeed still a ball, I changed tactics.

“What’s that?” they’d ask, pointing to a car.

“A hippopotamus.” I’d reply.

“Nooooooooo…” they’d laugh, “It’s a car!”

And that became my automatic response for stupid questions. Hippopotamus. Because, really, it’s fun to say hippopotamus. Say it with me… Hip-po-pot-a-mus. See?!

But I digress.

This week I picked the twins up from daycare and as we were walking home I began to ask the kids about their day.

“What did you do today?” I asked.

“Brandon was there!” replied TheMonk. (This means their favorite friend in the world, who comes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to daycare was there and they played with him all day.)

“Well, what did you do with Brandon?” I asked.

“We played Legos.” replied Swee’Pea.

“You did?! What did you make?” I inquired.

“Tall towers.” said Swee’Pea

“And a hippopotamus.”

December 3, 2008

Life ponderings

Ever wonder why life seems to be one big pile of laundry?

December 1, 2008

Standing Up

It was late afternoon and we had been on the road for about eight hours with another two hours to go. The drive had been surprisingly smooth on a Thanksgiving weekend but the family was beginning to feel weary.

I pulled into a McDonald’s near the highway to use the restroom and buy a cup of coffee for the remainder of the trip. As we pulled the kids out of the car and entered the restaurant, I noticed a pair of Highway Patrol officers doing paperwork on laptops as we headed for the restroom. Lovely wife took Swee’Pea into the woman’s restroom while I took TheMonk into the men’s room.

As we entered the room, we noticed a man with his son who looked about six and a daughter who looked to be about four or five. The son was using the urinal and as we entered the room the father was yelling at the boy, in an impatient and loud voice, to not touch the urinal. The anger in his voice made my son stop dead in his tracks. He looked up at me for reassurance and I squeezed his hand a bit tighter and smiled.

As the boy finished up at the urinal, the dad began yelling at his daughter to join him in the only stall so she could use the toilet as well. The girl, perhaps a bit scared, began crying loudly and kept telling her father that she didn’t want to go potty.

“GET IN HERE RIGHT NOW!” yelled the father as he grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her hard into the stall and shut the door.

TheMonk, still scared from the commotion, asked me why the girl was crying. “She’s just scared, Monkey.” I replied as I tried to be calm and reassuring. The urinal was now free and I asked TheMonk to join me. He shook his head so I told him I was going to use the urinal first as TheMonk stood near the door. I quickly finished and then motioned again for TheMonk to join me.

He came this time and while I was helping TheMonk go about his peeing, the father in the stall continued to yell at the crying girl. “GO TO THE BATHROOM NOW!!”

Then, I heard the unmistakable sound of the girl being slapped.

I quickly pulled up TheMonk’s pants while trying to decide what to do. During that brief time, the father slapped the girl again. Her cries continued even louder and he began yelling at her to “SHUT UP! STOP CRYING!” And then he slapped her once more.

I couldn’t take it any longer and I said rather loudly, “You know… hitting her isn’t going to get her to stop crying.”

Suddenly, the stall door opened and the man appeared to see who had the temerity to challenge him like that. I had been bent over TheMonk helping him with this pants when the man appeared so I stood fully upright, making sure TheMonk was behind me, and stared the man down. I could see the anger in his eyes and, perhaps, he could see the anger in mine. For a brief second I thought he might do something violent towards me but he quickly decided against it and retreated back into the stall.

I grabbed TheMonk’s hand and escorted him out of the restroom and approached the two Highway Patrol Officers seated a few feet from the door.

I explained that the man in the restroom had been slapping his little girl, I said something, and I was unsure if he was going to be angry with me when he exited the restroom. The two officers got up and approached the restroom just as the man was exiting with his two kids. They said something to him, which I could not hear, and he quickly gathered up his bewildered wife who had just come out of the woman’s restroom and quickly exited the restaurant, got in his car, and left.

The officers thanked me for saying something. Swee’Pea and Lovely Wife joined us shortly thereafter, I ordered my coffee and we were soon on the road towards home. My heart continued to beat loudly in my chest, fueled, I’m sure, more by adrenaline than the caffeine in the coffee.

And I couldn’t stop thinking about a little girl who was terrified of her father and wishing I could have done more.

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