Monday, May 22, 2017

Conversations with Christopher

I am entertained almost daily by Christopher's little gems. These may not be entertaining to anyone else, but I can't resist writing them down so I remember them.

In a running monologue to Ben's co-worker:

"I lost Super Grover at Aunt Ann's. And Meema and Baba were there. Are there more dogs on the pages? I have a belly button, and you have a belly button and Clare has a belly button and Mommy has a belly button." (Proceeds to try to lift up my shirt.)


Me: Christopher, what are you eating?
Christopher: A leaf.
Me: Why are you eating a leaf?
Christopher: Because I need my dinosaur.


Me: You don't have to eat all of that if you're full.
Christopher: I will be a yellow balloon.


Christopher, out of nowhere: There are no poop stations in this town!

Later the same day: Why are there so many colors in this teeny tiny town?


Me: Do you know who you're named after?
Christopher: I am Orange Exley!


Me: I need you to come here and go potty.
Christopher: But I am a building inspector!


Christopher: Meema Jo, you have that Meema Jo laugh. It just makes me want to laugh.


Christopher: See how on this side the rabbit has an arm? It doesn't on the other side anymore.
Meema Jo: Why not?
Christopher: I broke it off.


Christopher: I need to eat food so I have energy to dust and breathe fire.


Christopher: (in a pained voice) I have a throat...

And here is Christopher pretending to be a statue, one of his favorite things to do.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Number 11 and Mother's Day

Ben and I celebrated wedding anniversary number 11 on Saturday. We have now been together for over 16 years.

That makes me feel old.

Just like the weekend we got married, Mother's Day fell on the day after our anniversary. Things were a little different 11 years later. Then: I hobbled from the St. Paul Hotel to the Liffey for a Mother's Day brunch. (I forgot my comfortable shoes and had to wear my wedding shoes. Why didn't we take a cab? Who knows.) Then we went home and opened all of our gifts. A few days later, we got on a plane to Hawaii.  Now: we made pancakes with the kids, ran errands, supervised a lemonade stand, wiped noses, cleaned up messes, drank bloody Mary's on the deck, and made dinner for Ben's parents.

We didn't have a babysitter on Saturday, so we took the kids to Green Mill for pizza to celebrate our anniversary. We went to Green Mill on our first date, but sadly the location where we ate (Uptown) has closed. I tried to tell Clare all about why Green Mill was special, but she was more interested in coloring the kid-friendly menu they gave her. It was a nice dinner, actually. The kids are finally getting to an age where it is not totally nerve wracking to take them to restaurants. (Although they still have their moments, of course.)

Things have changed, but I am sure glad I bought Ben at a date auction 16 years ago and that we have these two little goofballs to share the journey with us.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Bits and Pieces: April

I have been stuck in the house for the last few days with a kid with viral pinkeye. This is coming off the other kid having pinkeye last week, the bacterial kind, which means the dreaded eye drops. It is not fun. It is beautiful today, and I am debating whether or not to take Christopher to the park. Can he spread pinkeye at the park? Probably.

My anxiety levels about the world have been up again these last few weeks, too. I still need to figure out exactly what I can do to help, other than throwing money at organizations and calling my representatives. One thing I am doing: I am a delegate for one of our mayoral candidates and will be going to the city convention in June. My candidate: Melvin Carter. My friend Heather and I went to our caucus on Sunday, not planning to be delegates, and the next thing you know we were both raising our hands to participate. Most politicians at the national level started local, so my hope is getting good people into the local offices will lead to good people in the national offices down the line.

Anyway. Let's talk about happier things. Clare had spring break at the beginning of the month. It went fine. We went to visit my parents for the last few days of break, which is something we all enjoy doing.

Easter was fun, too. We had our annual brunch/egg hunt at my friend Heather's house. It was a beautiful day. My parents came here for Easter dinner, which was nice. We also went to church at a new church, and I want to go back again. It was very laid back. The kids were thrilled with their Easter baskets. The candy supply is slowly dwindling, thanks to a lot of help from me. I can't stay away from that candy!

I had my spring girls' weekend away two weekends ago. We went to Northfield. My friend Sarah went to college there, so she had good recommendations for restaurants and shopping. We rented a house, which we didn't leave until 2 p.m. on Saturday. Then we shopped, joined the Northfield March for Science, and had a beer on an outside patio. It was a perfect weekend, complete with a viewing of "Clue." I love that movie.

Last weekend I took the kids to Art in Bloom at the MIA with my mother-in-law.  Clare was into it, Christopher was not. He and I spent a lot of time in the Cafe and kids play area. Still, it was a nice day.

Clare only has six weeks left of school, and there is a lot happening in the next few weeks. She'll find out her teacher for next year soon, too.

That reminds me - Clare climbed the rock wall at REI the day before Easter. She went all the way to the top, no problem. This is part of her plan to become an American Ninja Warrior. Many of them started out as rock climbers.

I tempted fate by putting away the winter coats. I hope spring is finally here to stay.

On one of the first nice days this spring.

A boy and his hotdogs.

Decorating eggs at the Cuckoo House.

Meeting the Easter bunny in Evansville. Clare declared that she knew this was not the real Easter Bunny because she could see a person in there. Nothing gets by this kid.

Very excited to watch the crew trimming our huge silver maple in the backyard. 

Decorating eggs at our house.

Clare riding her two wheel bike. She is quite good it at now.

Climbing the rock wall at REI. She looks so small up there.

Easter morning. Christopher took a bite of his Cadbury cream egg and exclaimed, "There's juice in here!"

Fun finding eggs.

Easter crime scene.

Planting our tiny garden with Daddy. They planted lettuce, peas, carrots and flowers.

Face paint at Art in Bloom at MIA.

She requested a Frozen theme, of course.

Christopher handed me this flower and solemnly said, "This is for you, Mommy." I melted.

I found this selfie on my phone. Yeah...

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Three and a Half

He absolutely refused to take a picture with his moose. I took this one while he was taking a break from playing in the gym. With sunglasses on, natch.

It occurred to me over the weekend that I should do a half birthday post for Christopher, since I usually do a Clare update on her half birthday. Well, he is now three and a half. And as any kid will tell you, once you reach that "and a half" stage of the year, it is a big deal. (Whenever we get together with a group of friends, the kids all immediately compare ages and whoever is the oldest is pretty lucky. Maybe adults should do that, but the opposite would be true, right?) Anyway, I think Christopher is pretty great. I might be biased.

He loves cuddling, still. We spend many afternoons curled up on the couch watching baking shows, at his request. I am planning to start doing some baking with him weekly as well.

He is funny and sweet. When we were at my parents' house last weekend, our good family friend Ruth came over. She had lost her voice, and he kept giving her crackers dipped in cheese. "This will make you feel better," he solemnly told her.

He can, of course, be whiny and throw tantrums, but he gets over it pretty fast. He is easily distracted, and if he is ignored he gives up. He is also still very attached to his blankie (which is now two blankies because it ripped in half) and his thumb.

Christopher and Clare love to play together, although it usually ends in a fight. Ah, siblings. I love watching them have fun together. They also enjoy inventing jokes and alternate lyrics to songs, usually involving the words poop and pee. Sigh.

His other favorite things include the playground, dinosaurs, "Peppa Pig", reading books, playing with cars and trucks, making pancakes with Daddy, singing, music class, eating fruit and his cousin Josie. Dislikes include tickling, picking up toys and getting dressed by himself. (That will happen before he goes to college, right?)

I've been interviewing Clare on her half birthdays, so I thought I should do the same for Christopher. For some reason he insisted on talking in baby talk and not using his normal voice, but it took so many attempts to get him to do even this that I gave up.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Bits and Pieces: March

So March went by, and I forgot to write on this blog. I just remembered today that I should do an end of the month post.

We had Clare's conference with her teacher. She is doing very well academically, but needs to work on keeping her work space clean. This came as no surprise to me. She is a little hoarder at home. I knew right away which desk was hers, even without a name tag. She and the other kindergarten girls are also having problems getting along, apparently. Clare claims she is completely innocent in this, but her teacher says otherwise. We have been talking a lot about respecting other people's opinions since the conference.

I went on a field trip with Clare's class to Dodge Nature Center. I had never been there before. It is a beautiful place. We learned about making maple syrup, and tasted sap from the trees and the maple syrup they make there. I loved riding the bus with Clare. It was also fun to see her friends in person.  I hope to be able to do more of these types of trips once Christopher starts school. It is hard for me to get away right now, with two little ones to watch.

Clare has started playing Minecraft. I still only vaguely understand what it is, but she connects to our friends' server and plays with her buddies James and Simon. She is also reading a lot. I am thrilled that she shares my love of reading and she is doing very well reading on her own.

Christopher has been being three. He throws a lot of tantrums. Luckily, he gives up quickly. He has started writing some letters and recognizes his name when it is written down.  He also knows how to spell one word. Unfortunately, that word is poop.

We were at the park on Saturday, and he climbed (with help) onto a large rock. I was hovering, ready to help him jump down. He refused my help, saying, "I am big and I am brave!" Then he flexed his biceps. It was pretty hilarious.

The kids had a few birthday parties this month, but other than that we haven't had much scheduled on the weekends. My dad came to visit for a few days while my mom was in Europe. The kids were thrilled to see him. I was also happy.

I've been going to a weekly trivia night with friends. It is really just an excuse to drink beer, but it has been fun. I also booked a trip to Sonoma for September with my college friends. It should be wonderful.

Clare has Spring Break this week. Wish me luck.

Clare in traditional Hmong dress at the Multicultural Fair at her school.

Christopher coloring a South Korean flag at the Multicultural Fair. He was distressed that his didn't match the example.

He wasn't sure what to think about the Sesame Street show we ran into at MOA. Later, he was disappointed that Cookie Monster "didn't show up."

Christopher wanted a ponytail, like his big sister.

Clare made a closed sign for her door. Lovely.

My two Irish kiddos on St. Patrick's Day.

Clare and I have had a weekly Starbucks date after her swimming lesson. I love having one on one time with her.

Clare looking for sap at the Dodge Nature Center.

Ice cream with Baba at Snuffy's. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Bits and Pieces: February

This has been a busy, yet long, month. We were all sick at the beginning of the month. Christopher had the dreaded pinkeye, while Ben and I both suffered from horrible colds. Clare escaped with just a minor cold, and no pinkeye, thank goodness.

Clare has been busy with swimming and ice skating. She loves ice skating for fun, but did not love her lessons. I made her stay with it until the end of the session, but she will not be taking lessons again. She says she wants to take gymnastics and ballet again, so we will probably do that this summer. She loves her swimming lessons, though. She still will not go under the water, but I am happy that she seems to be getting more and more comfortable with swimming. Her school just completed their biggest fundraiser of the year. It is a fun run where the kids collect pledges for laps. Clare ended up running 44 laps around the gym, which I thought was pretty good. School is going well - we have conferences next month, so we'll find out more then. She is doing well with reading and math. We have been reading "The Little House in the Big Woods." It is so fun to share books from my childhood with her.

Christopher is busy being his funny, charming self. He is very much into imaginative play, and it is fun to see what he comes up with. The afternoons get long, sometimes, because he doesn't nap most days, but it is fun to watch his little brain working. He still loves to snuggle, and one of his favorite games is to play kangaroo and joey, where we sit under a blanket and he hides in his pouch. He also pretends to be asleep whenever we arrive home from our daily outings so I'll carry him into the house. (I don't know if this is laziness or a desire for closeness, but I don't really mind either way.) His favorite TV show right now is Peppa Pig, and he has picked up a lot of British-isms from the show. (He mends his toys, rides the lift, plays in the garden and wants to know what we are doing "at the weekend".) He'll fit right in the next time we visit his aunt, uncle and cousin in England.

Christopher has developed a fear of the dark. He'll wake up crying in the night. Luckily (?) there is a light in our alley right behind our house, so we can just open his curtains and his room is flooded with light.

Josie and Christopher both love to play "I spy" in the car, but neither understand the rules. (Christopher: "I spy, with my little eye, something white! Snow!" Josie: "I spy with my little eye something blue!" I take a few guesses. Josie: "It's Lightening McQueen's eyes!" Lightening McQueen is not actually visible or even in the car, etc.)

We went to my parents' house over the long President's Day weekend. We were supposed to leave that Friday, but I was too sick to make the drive that day. Ben stayed home and built shelves for the basement. Our basement is finally coming together and looking organized, which is really nice. The kids and I had a nice time with my parents. The weather was beautiful, so the kids spent a lot of time running around outside. We went to the zoo and to a few restaurants. The kids baked cookies with my mom. Unfortunately, I couldn't taste them due to my cold. On Monday we drove back through La Crosse and had lunch with my grandmother. I am always happy when I get a chance to do that, and the kids love seeing her. This is such a little thing, but the best part was that my sense of smell had just come back on the drive there - and walking into her house I could smell her freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Heaven. (And yes, my 93-year-old grandmother still bakes cookies.)

I have been staying off Facebook lately. I think I've only checked it once in the last month. I have to say, I don't miss it at all. I am probably missing some news from friends, but if it is something I need to know I am sure I'll find out some other way.  It was just making me way too crazy, and I don't need that. I am still following the news closely, just not on Facebook.

Now it is almost March. I always remember the first time Ben and I hung out together, because it was on my friend Chelsea's birthday, which is coming up this week. It will be 16 years since we first met. How do these numbers keep getting bigger?? I guess we do have two kids to show for it. Speaking of whom, here they are!

Ben convinced Clare to cut her hair short again.

Clare playing at the park near Aunt Katie's house.

Not at all excited to be on Baba's shoulders.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Oscars: 2017

Last year, I accomplished my 40 x 40 goal of seeing all of the Best Picture nominees before my friend Kerry's Oscar party. I almost did it again this year. Although many of the films were sad, it was a great distraction from the real world. And it got me out of the house, something I desperately need to do more of this time of year. Here is my sort of thought out review of each movie, in order of my least favorite to my favorite.

9. Hell or High Water: This movie was both intense and boring. It was very violent, and I didn't particularly care about any of the main characters. Even Chris Pine's baby blues couldn't save this one for me. So yeah. Not my favorite.

8. Hacksaw Ridge: I watched Moana instead. No regrets.

7. Manchester by the Sea: Whoa, this one is hard to watch. Casey Affleck grimaces a lot. He is good, but I don't like him, so that may be clouding my opinion of this movie.

6. Arrival: Interesting premise, but I had many questions.  Ben liked it a lot more than I did, so maybe I was just feeling too cynical on the day I saw it. And Amy Adams should have been nominated for Best Actress. She deserved it more than Meryl, as much as I love Meryl and her award show speeches. (And yes, I did see Florence Foster Jenkins.)

5. Hidden Figures: This movie was really good. I can't wait to show it to Clare some day as an example of what strong, smart women can accomplish. (And so she can see how poorly people are treated based on the color of their skin.)

4. Fences: This movie is a master class in acting. Viola Davis will win for Best Supporting Actress, and she deserves to. I also think Denzel should win over Casey Affleck. (See above note about bias against Affleck.) I will say, though, that I almost fell asleep. The guy sitting next to me did fall asleep. In my defense, we were at one of those theaters with the reclining arm chair-type seats. They are so comfortable! And this movie isn't exactly action-packed. It is very well done, though.

3. La La Land: I really liked this movie. It is so different in tone than most of the other films, and I did take issue with the ending, but it is a great homage to classic movies as well as a great showcase for Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Great singers, they are not, but they are both extremely likable in this movie. I hope Emma wins Best Actress.

2. Lion: If you see this movie, make sure you have lots of tissues on hand. Lots. If I had been watching it at home, I would have been ugly crying. Because I was at the theater, I held it in somewhat. Not totally. This movie is so good. And Dev Patel is so cute. If you are only going to see one of the nominees, this one should be it.

1. Moonlight: How do I describe this movie? It is excellent, for one. Watching it, I couldn't help but thinking about people in similar situations in real life, and why they might choose not to vote. (This movie is not political at all, but because of current events politics are on my mind at all times.) It really is eye opening and definitely worth seeing.

Last year I cleaned up with my picks at my friend's party. I need to defend my title this year.

Should win: Moonlight
Will win: La La Land