Thursday, May 29, 2008


Today was Chloe's turn to cry when I left her at school, only it was for the exact opposite reason as Connor. When it's early enough that not many kids have arrived yet (most get in around 8:20), the one- and two-year-olds gather in one room. This morning they were gathered in the Unicorn Room, the room Chloe just left behind. And boy was she pissed.

"No! New room. NEW ROOOOM!!" she cried.

I just laughed and took Connor to his new classroom, which he reluctantly entered after several tearful goodbye hugs and kisses.


As Chip and I sat leisurely finishing our dinner, Connor came slinking into the kitchen in full whiner mode.

"Mo-o-om! Chlow-ee just bit my finge-e-er!"

"And what was your finger doing near her mouth?" I countered.

Connor looked at me for a minute and managed to stammer out an "Uuuuh" before giving up, turning on his heel and leaving the room. I couldn't help but holler out "OWNED!" as Chip high-fived me. Then we both turned back to our dinners, just a little bit more satisfied with our parenting skills than we had been when the meal started.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Working for Peanuts

At Idlewild Children’s Center, summertime means sack-lunch-every-Friday time. This will be my first summer packing lunches for Chloe, but I imagine she’ll eat whatever I throw in her (as-yet-unpurchased) lunchbox, assuming she’s in the mood to eat. Connor is a different story. It is well-documented that he is a picky eater. It is also common knowledge that I finally gave up that fight. I made the decision to serve him his own meal each night, with a perfunctory offer of whatever the rest of us are eating, followed by a polite “no thank you” and a pleasant meal with no fighting over food. As long as the meal has a fruit, a starch, and a protein, I don’t care if it’s the same thing every night and I don’t care if it’s the same thing I’m eating.

Sending Connor a sack lunch has never proven to be a problem. He has one approved protein source that doesn't need to be cooked and travels well in sandwich form (PB&J), and I can always throw in an apple and some chips. No big deal- at least not in years past. But this year, something happened to throw the whole system into chaos: I received a note from school that says, “Parents- No peanut products are to be brought inside the Center due to severe allergies among some students.”

What? Are you kidding me? I can’t send a PB&J to school with my non-allergic kid because someone, somewhere might be allergic? No. I do not accept this. Peanut allergies have always existed, yes? Well, in 30 years of carrying PB&Js to various public settings, I have never once seen someone have an allergic reaction to what I was eating. Never.

I can understand that there might be a danger if kids are bartering portions of their lunches, the way kids tend to do. But it seems like the simple solution is to instruct the kids not to trade food, and then to have the adults monitoring lunch make sure that the rule is followed. The not-at-all simple solution is to ban all peanut products from the building. I mean, seriously? Who is dictating this? Is it a protective parent? Is it lazy teachers who don’t want to enforce a “no trading” rule? Is it a skittish administrator who is scared she might end up getting sued if the wrong kid eats the wrong sandwich? Ultimately my question is, Why is this MY responsibility?

I’m not asking that rhetorically. I really want to know. Can someone who is a teacher, or the parent of a child with peanut allergies, please tell me what has changed since I was in elementary school that has made PB&Js so dangerous? I’ve researched it online, and I just don’t buy the whole “peanut particles might get in the air” explanation (see: my 30 years of public PB&J consumption). Give me something I can get on board with- I want to understand.

I'll tell you this: one way or another, I'm going to make sure my kid has something besides apple slices and Cheez-Its for lunch this Friday. I just want to know if it's really necessary for me to pull out this recipe in order to make that happen.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Another Rough Transition

Today was the day that my kids started in new classrooms at school. Chloe became a "Toucan," and Connor moved off of the preschool hall and into the almost-in-kindergarten classroom of Idlewild's Summer Camp program. The morning got off to a great start as I deposited Chloe in her new classroom. She gave me a perfunctory hug and went about her business as if today was any other day.

Then I walked Connor down to the gym, where all the summer camp kids were starting the day. After four years of 1-4 year-olds, it was shocking to see elementary kids of all ages. Not shocking to me, of course, but shocking to my sensitive little boy. He has always been scared of "big kids," and today was no different. He reached for me to pick him up, and I did, carrying him around the gym and pointing out all the familiar basketballs and people. After we located kids he felt comfortable with, I sent him off to play with a hug and a kiss. He seemed okay, and I hoped that the rest of the day went more smoothly than the drop-off.

When he arrived home, he immediately climbed into my arms (to the point that most of this story takes place with him sitting in my lap in the middle of the kitchen floor) and began to tell me the sad tale of his day. "I forgot my blanket!" he said of his Happi-Nappi, the sleeping bag-type object that has been required for naptime since the Unicorn Room. (I didn't realize it was required for Summer Camp, so that one was my fault.) "And I cried about you today. I was scared about my new classroom one time and wanted you to come get me two times. I cried three times!" I assured him that we would remember his Happi-Nappi tomorrow. "But I didn't cry about nap time! I cried about you!"

I felt bad for him- not only because transitions are so hard for him, but because he has another one coming up in less than three months, when he starts kindergarten. And I felt bad for myself, too. As much as I hate to admit it, I cry at least once a week after dropping the kids off at school. And with such a delicate kid leading the way, each new school situation is just as tough for me as it is for him. I am pretty much in denial about kindergarten, which works out okay because he is too. Hopefully he will quit crying about his new classroom with plenty of time to spare before we have to deal with the reality of a whole new school. I'm afraid it might be just enough trauma to send us both to therapy.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Bathing Suit Song

This is one of those "the kids are so cute!" posts that are written to entertain family. I figured I owed them one after writing about Sex and the City.

Song sung by Chloe over and over for the entire ride to the pool:

Baby soups, baby soups
We have on baby soups

Bay Bee Soups
Bay Bee Soups
Hi-Ho the Derry-O
Bay Bee Soups

The cheese stands alone
The cheese stands alone
Hi-Ho the Derry-O
The cheese stands alone

Baby soups, baby soups. . .

Friday, May 23, 2008

Can't Help But Wonder

I recently read a magazine that summarized every episode of Sex and the City in anticipation of the release of the movie version. Each plot summary started with "Carrie couldn't help but wonder. . ." As I tend to do when I read something long-ish, I soon found myself narrating my life in the style of the main character. As I plopped my kids down in front of the TV so that I could make dinner in peace, I couldn't help but wonder, "How many episodes of Dora is too many?"

Although my version of this narrative device might never result in thoughts such as "Are men just women with balls?" I still think it would make for compelling television. Sample episodes include:

Episode One: Pilot
As the urine dried and the now-yellowish panel displayed two distinct pink lines, I couldn't help but wonder, "What have I gotten myself into?"

Episode 23: Drinking Games
I watched Chloe drinking confidently from a lidless cup under her teacher's watchful eye, and felt I should be able to trust her. Later that night, at the Alleys' house, I threw caution to the wind and handed her a sippy cup without the stopper, certain that she could handle it. Later, as Chip changed her into dry clothes while I mopped up apple juice, I couldn't help but wonder, "How old is too old to rely on a sippy cup?"

Episode 15: Brown is the New Green
As I tried to figure out how to keep Connor's dirty butt off the furniture while I flushed the poop and rinsed off the cloth diaper, I couldn't help but wonder, "If I promise to use florescent light bulbs, can I go back to shoving stinky disposable diapers into the plastic confines of the Diaper Genie without guilt?"

Episode 42: Worth a Thousand Words
Despite some ribbing about the number of pictures displayed on the blog in the past few days, I found myself happy with the increased number of blog hits Chip's wedding photography inspired. As I browsed for just the right picture to end this post with, I couldn't help but wonder, "Is it possible to display too many pictures if the shots are this awesome?"

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Family

The Girls

This is by no means all the girls. I just figured I'd stick with the wedding party in the interest of space. For many more pictures, look here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Boys

Carrie wants to see pictures. I can't help but oblige!

Chloe's brother

My brother from another mother


My newest brother

My real brother

A Tale of Two Children

It was the best of times with Connor. He was an absolute angel for the entire trip. He did whatever was asked of him, from wait too long for lunch, to run errands, to eat breakfast with people he didn't really know (even though he had been told he could watch cartoons).

I couldn't have asked for a better travel companion. His chances of going to Disney World just went up dramatically- I can't wait to take another vacation with him!

Connor quotes of the week:
"You know, I'm really not in the mood to hear that right now."
-a tired Connor, responding to something Grammy had said
"I know. You tell me that every time I see you!"
-a sarcastic Connor, reacting to yet another reminder that Carrie teaches kindergarten
"I've always dreamed of doing that!"
-an elated Connor, after swimming underwater for several feet

It was the worst of times with Chloe. She was overwhelmed by all the new people, places, and situations, and responded with a permanent snarl. Mimi was the only person allowed to make eye contact or otherwise communicate with Her Highness during the course of the trip. Fortunately, her bad attitude didn't cause her to be disruptive- just grumpy. Although I missed seeing her smile and receiving hugs and kisses, it wasn't so bad when she repeatedly requested that Mimi take her to the bathroom.

Chloe quotes of the week:
"This. . . is aMERican Igol!"
-after opening her American Idol-themed Happy Meal
"I have to poop!"
-the first thing out of her mouth when she finally saw Uncle Shannon

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Wedding Song

Well I'd like to think I'm the mess you'd wear with pride

like some empty dress on the bed you've laid out for tonight

maybe I'll tell you sometime. . .

you were right

outside your doorstep in a worn out suit and tie

I'll wait for you to come down

where you'll find me

where we'll shine

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cafe Eclectic Pics

Now that the May issue of Health & Fitness is out, here are some pics from the Cafe Eclectic shoot I did for that fine publication. I like that place-- if I lived close to it, I could see spending some time there on a regular basis. Even though I don't drink coffee. It's the Mexican Cokes that I love.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Nothing Was Lost In Translation

We took the kids to El Porton for dinner Saturday night. We had spent a long day together, with lots of arguing and public displays of insubordination. We decided to risk dinner out, however, because we needed something to carry us over the hump and deliver us to bedtime.

Our waiter appeared to be new (to El Porton, certainly- to America, probably) but he still managed to provide sufficient, if stilted, service. It certainly wasn't his fault that, by the end of the meal, Connor was enthusiastically testing the limits of the term "inside voice" while I was physically restraining Chloe (who wanted to either crawl under the table or stand on the booth). He stopped our table, looked at the mess of food, dirty napkins, and toys scattered across the table, hesitated as he watched me struggle with Chloe, and then timidly asked,

"Is everything else alright?"

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Let's face it, moms make the world go 'round. I'm amazed on a continuous basis at Steph's ability to be a great mother. Same goes for my mother-in-law, and for all the Cocktail Hour moms I'm around on a regular basis. These women always know the right things to do and say to make their kids feel loved and healthy.

But most of all I want to thank the one mother who never seems to get enough thanks-- my mom.

She's the kind of mom you can have a beer with:

She's also an amazingly caring, thoughtful, intelligent woman. You know those 36 things down there, those things that somehow make me loved by others? Most of those come straight from my Mom. (I say "most" because I don't want to attribute the geeky things like comic books and building computers to her.) My temperament? Mom. My salt and pepper hair? Thanks, Mom. Impeccable taste? Mom.

My mom is never the type to take credit for anything. But today, I'm going to give it to her. Thanks for being a wonderful mom. Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Thirty-six Things I Love About My 36-Year-Old Husband

1. Has awesome floppy hair
2. Was a total rock star back in the day
3. Cleans up after dinner
4. Likes shoes
5. Has amazing patience when teaching kids to read
6. Likes the same TV shows I do
7. Can build computers
8. Is a great songwriter
9. Fixes breakfast every day
10. Has a great relationship with his family
11. Can dress Chloe in matching outfits without help from me
12. Taught me how to go with the flow and be less uptight
13. Loves my mom and brother like they are his own
14. Does the laundry on Sundays
15. Doesn’t complain when I make diet food for dinner
16. Mows the grass
17. Earns more money than I do
18. Doesn’t hold that against me
19. Drives everywhere we go
20. Doesn’t bat an eyelash when I give the kids croutons for an afternoon snack
21. Is pigeon-toed (it’s so cute!)
22. Has really become a great photographer
23. Is a comic book geek, and proud of it
24. Looks amazing in a suit
25. Keeps his Amazon wish list up to date
26. Loves to drink wine
27. Shows me the utmost respect at all times
28. Introduced me to lots of great music
29. Always gets up with the kids on Saturdays so that I can sleep in
30. Acts interested in my work, even though it’s not that interesting
31. Tells me he’s proud of me
32. Has given me tons of self-confidence through the years
33. The salt-and-pepper hair is super-sexy
34. Has the respect of everyone who knows him
35. Loves me!
36. Doesn't look a day over twenty-two. Happy birthday, baby!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

By the Numbers (annotated)

2- words Chloe mistakenly adds an "s" to

36- age Chip will be on Friday

16- Consecutive birthdays Chip has celebrated with me

40- ounces of Cool Colt purchased and consumed on the first of those birthdays

6- steps in my lights out routine with Connor
hide under the covers while he kisses Dad goodnight
elaborate farce in which I sit up, throw the covers over Connor, and act like I don't know he's there
cuddle together while I sing his lullaby
pick a word and identify every word that rhymes with it, either real or made up
pretend to sleep
leave the room while blowing kisses

3- practices I engage in to make my eyelashes look longer and fuller (besides simply applying mascara)

0- times my eyelashes have looked longer or fuller

3-5- babies Chloe must have in bed with her before she can fall asleep
Gunther (my old Cabbage Patch doll)
Sometimes the doggie and/or the Dora

1- babies that have been banished from the bed because they play songs in the middle of the night when Chloe rolls over on them (Froggy, aka Baby Tad)

3- weeks since Chip was diagnosed with shingles

10- days left until my baby brother gets married

3- months until Connor starts kindergarten

487- anxiety attacks I have daily because of the previous item

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Recipe for Success!

I got a note from Connor's teacher, asking that I send a copy of Connor's favorite recipe to school for a special project they're working on. My mind immediately started to race. Oh, the possiblities! Since I could only send one, I'll share with you the rejects.

Get two slices of bread. Spread creamy peanut butter on one piece, grape jelly on the other. Stick them together so that the peanut butter and jelly touch. Cut off the crust.

Open noodle package. Pour into bowl. Add 2/3 cup water. Cook for 3.5 minutes. Add powered cheese mixture and stir until creamy.

Remove frozen chicken nuggets/fish sticks from package. Microwave for 30 seconds. Then place in toaster oven at 350 for the five minutes you spend plating everyone else's food. Add hot and slightly crispy nuggets/sticks to plate.

Open jar of fruit (in light syrup). Using a fork or slotted spoon, remove fruit (but not much syrup) and place on plate.

Open bag of chips/goldfish/Cheez-Its/cheese puffs. Pour a small portion onto plate. Serve.

I could go on. Well, I could if he ate anything else. But he doesn't. So I won't.

Monday, May 05, 2008

I Lub Dat Competitive Spirit!

This morning I entered the kitchen while everyone else was eating breakfast.

"Mommy, I lub dat shirt!" Chloe sang out. "Hug. Hug!"

"I like your shirt too," Chip added quickly, earning a peck on the cheek.

Connor sighed, knowing he had to chime in but realizing he was just a bit too late. He offered a dejected, "I like it too, Mom." I gave him a consolation hug to let him know I understood. Then the light bulb went off over his head.

"But I really like your skirt!"

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Hide and Do What?

Connor suggests we play "Go Hide and Seek," which is almost right. So we all go hide while he counts, all the way to ". . .16, 18, 19, 20!" He can't for the life of him remember 17, no matter how many times we remind him.

He runs to Chloe's favorite hiding place and, much to her delight, finds her there. She dramatically covers her eyes and yells, "Nine, ten, I gonna getchoooooo!"

Then she opens her eyes and sees us all there, in the same place we were two seconds ago, and dissolves into fits of laughter. We can't help but laugh too, and then do it all over and over again.