Friday, September 28, 2012

Happy birthdays

Today is a very special day in the Thole family—my awesome dad and my sweet niece Alexandra share the same birthday.
[sixty-five years old and toting toddlers around like it's his job]

 [putting the terrible in the terrible twos...and doing it in style]

We will be celebrating both birthdays this weekend. Alexandra and her spark plug personality will of course take center stage, which no doubt thrills my dad to no end. (Frankly, I think it was a relief for him when Alexandra appeared on his birthday.)

Happy birthday to you both. We love you!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Big news about a big bed

Leave your judgments at the door, because what I'm about to write will either have you clapping your hands in admiration or shaking your head in disgust. But not surprise. Definitely not surprise.

When we kicked Mary Clare out of her nursery to wake way for baby numero dos in the spring of 2011, we decided to keep her in a crib, rather than making the transition to a big girl bed. Mary Clare was a great sleeper and since she had yet to attempt a jail break, we were hesitant to upset the apple cart. Our friends the Allamans were kind enough to lend us a crib that perfectly matched the existing furniture in her new room, so we decided it was a sign to keep her in the crib.

Well, Charlie arrived in June 2011, months and months passed, and Mary Clare continued to contentedly sleep in her crib. When I asked our friends and even our pediatrician if this was going to stunt her growth or set her up for some serious shrink time, they all said, "If it's not broke, don't fix it." So we continued to crib it, occasionally remarking to one another that surely it had to end soon, but my, what a good run we've had.

Well, the good run ended this past Sunday when Mary Clare appeared in the hallway shortly after being put down for her nap. There were hints that this escape was imminent—acrobatics on the crib rails, attempts to climb into bed by herself and countless escapes from the pack 'n play during our last hotel stay—but of course it still caught us off guard. And of course we still tried to put her back in her crib. Countless times. Quitters, we're not.

Luckily, the big girl bed and bedding was in the basement, just waiting for this day, so within three hours it was bye-bye crib, hello big girl bed. During the hourly daily Target run, I raided the dollar bins and came home with a stash of goodies, as well as a safety cover for her door knob, should we need to bribe her or lock her in her room. See, that's the great thing about keeping your child in her crib until she is just shy of her fourth birthday—it gives you ample time to prepare and pick the brains of other moms.

Well, we are now four nights into the big girl bed gig, and the bag of bribes and door lock remain untouched. We do reward her great sleeping each morning with three M&Ms (organic and vegan, natch), and so far that is keeping her snug as a bug in her bed until we wake her each morning.

Mary Clare is, of course, still on video surveillance. That we will never give up. Like ever. Well, until it becomes a privacy concern. But definitely not before third grade. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Morning music

This morning Mary Clare waltzed down the hall, ukulele in hand, and plopped down in front of a semi-awake Buddy. She pronounced, "Buddy, I am going to play music for you," and then proceeded to do just that. He soon lifted his head, prompting her to say, "Don't worry, Buddy. I am just playing you music. It's okay." He lowered his head, and as his eyes closed, she exclaimed, "Look! Buddy is going to sleep! I am putting him to sleep with my music!"

It's likely Buddy was just closing his eyes in the hopes that he would discover this was all just a terrible, terrible dream, but who am I to crush her dreams? That's why God invented the teenage years.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

He'll kazoo for you

Brennan came home yesterday from school with a kazoo. After putting on a stellar star-studded kazoo jamboree for the family, he apparently needed to take a break. That kind of break. 

As Brennan left the room, he told Sherri, "Hey, mom, I am going to the bathroom. When you hear me whistle on the kazoo, you can come and wipe my butt." 

Lucky girl.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A diss-cussion

We had a make-up swimming lesson last night at Little Fishes. As we were pulling out of the parking lot, another girl from Mary Clare's class was walking down the stairs with her mom, so I said, "Wave good-bye to your friend!" Mary Clare waved for all she was worth, but then said, "She didn't wave at me!" And this is where the confusion began.

Me: Oh, honey, she probably didn't see you.
MC: She dissed me!
Me: What did you say?
MC: She dissed me!
Me: Mary Clare, did you say, "She dissed me?"
MC: NO! I said, "She. Did. See. Me."
Me: Oh, thank heavens. I mean, I'm sorry she didn't wave back, but at least you didn't say that she dissed you. 

Silence. Lots of silence. 

Which is totally Mary Clare's way of dissing me. 

Not that we would ever call it that. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Distracted driver, right here

Admit it. You saw the post title and were all "Oh ...  Debbie texts and drives. Probably with the kids. And a beer in her other hand. That's about right."

Well, surprise, surprise. Texting and driving is the one thing I actually don't do. I know, I even surprise myself. What will not surprise anyone who is related to me, married to me or married to the person who fixes my speeding tickets, is that when it comes to me and motor vehicles, I do stupid stuff. All the time. Which is probably the main reason I try not to touch my phone when the car is in drive. I know only too well how well cars and I do not mix. Speeding tickets aside, over the years I have gotten into my fair share of fender benders, put the car in the ditch, scraped the garage, backed into countless cars and the like. Just this past weekend I left my car parked outside our friend's house for three days with the sunroof wide open. Thankfully, it didn't rain. Much.

Well, friends, I am here to tell you that today's little feat took the cake.

This morning I went to Waterway, just like I do every Tuesday morning, to fill up my car and get it washed. While the car was filling up, I removed countless Goldfish and Cheerios from Charlie's car seat, organized the mess of books and dug under the seats to find missing children's sunglasses. After filling up, I got in my car and headed to the car wash entrance, only to hear a loud thunk as I pulled away. The second I heard the noise, I knew what had happened: I drove off without removing the gas nozzle from the car. You see, I knew exactly what had happened because I have done this before.

So, I jumped out of my car, removed the nozzle—they are designed to break away without spilling, in case you were wondering—and walked it back to the pump. Of course, one of the young guys that works there was instantly at my side, asking if I was okay and assuring me that this happens all the time. As he paged the general manager over his walkie talkie, I got back in my car and started to pull up to the wash entrance. I then saw the general manager coming around the corner, and since I am there every. single. week. and don't plan to break my clean car habit anytime soon, I  jumped out to apologize. He smiled, said it was no problem, that it happens all the time and was easy to fix. So I went to get back in my car. Only it was locked. With the engine running.

The general manager, who was only a few feet away, saw this, walked over and said, "No problem, I can get into that car. Hold on." He came back in a minute with professional grade locksmith tools (I know they were professional grade because duh, I lock my keys in the car all the time) and seriously had me back in my car in under a minute. So I pulled my car up to the wash, left the door WIDE OPEN and, head hung low, walked into the store to pay for my gas.

While I waited for my car, I texted Chip, who feigned concern but, let's be honest here, was really only worried about the car. My next call was to my sister. Sherri has a true appreciation for the stupendously stupid things I do to cars. Probably because the first and last stupid car thing she ever did was put our 1980 Ford Tempo up on a a railroad tie ("I thought it could make it over."). While Sherri's car mishaps stopped in 1995, I have been cruising along for the past 20 years, leaving scraped paint, dents and nozzles in my wake. So, when I told her this morning's news, she immediately burst out with, "Again?!?" What more could she say, though? I am who I am.

What's interesting about this is that while Sherri seemed surprised that I had done this yet again, Chip didn't seem the least bit surprised to hear that this was the second time in my life I drove off with the nozzle still in the tank. God bless him and the fact that he doesn't make me drive a 1980 Ford Tempo.

While I am definitely embarrassed, there is no way in hell I am not going back. Having a clean car is addictive, I'm telling you. And if you, too, want a clean car, go to Waterway. Specifically the Shrewsbury Waterway. Those guys are saints.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Clowning around

Sunday we went to a birthday party for our buddies Grayson and Stella Yank that was nothing short of ah-mazing. Damien and Lauren always throw great parties, but they pulled out all the stops for this one. It was a carnival theme, and it had, I kid you not, a bounce house, face painter, balloon animal-making clown, a sucker pull and six different games using the real-deal set up for the duck pond, fishing pond, ring toss, etc. There were tickets and a prize table. And goldfish. (Which we went home with on Sunday, outfitted at Petsmart on Monday and bid farewell to this morning.)

And that was just the entertainment. The food was the classic carnival fare of hot dogs, corn dogs, nachos, pretzel bites, cotton candy, snow cones, etc. Again, all using the real-deal machinery and such. For the birthday cake, each child received a popcorn box layered with marshmallows, cake, icing and topped with yellow mini marshmallows, so it looked just like a box of popcorn. They were ridiculously cute.

The party was, dare I say, bananas. In the best possible way. I feel bad that I don't have more photos, but Chip was in a golf tournament, so I was flying solo with the kids. And like I said, there was a lot to oversee. Charlie managed to soak himself to the skin at the duck pond, and by the time we left, Mary Clare's entire face was painted. They were a sight to see.

It was, obviously, a great time. I bow to the Yanks' greatness.

Monday, September 10, 2012

On the bright side, we did get a winner of a picture

So, Mizzou couldn't pull out a win against Georgia. Boo! But we did have a great time. Game day in Columbia is always fun. Such energy! Of course, tailgating is always the highlight for me. And the Hehmeyers did not disappoint in that regard.

And, like I said, we did manage to get a cute picture of us. I always like to look on the bright side, especially where my beloved Mizzou is concerned. We'll get them next week, Tigers!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Black and gold buddies

Technically, the Mizzou football season kicked off last weekend, but since it (1) was a non-conference game and (2) we weren't there, I'm counting today's game against Georgia as the first of the season. 

And you know what that means: Kids in Mizzou gear. Charlie's shirt is new, but Mary Clare's welll ... let's just say we've gotten our money's worth out of that dress. We're going on our third year (year one here, year two here) and it's getting a smidge short. Okay, more than a smidge short. It's really short. It will be passable with some black leggings underneath this fall, but I think it might be time for another dress. Which means I (heavy sigh) will have to swing by the old book store while we are in Columbia. No, really, it's fine. Shopping is the least I can do to support for my alma mater.

Now, on to the game! Let's make our presence known in the SEC and bring home a win, Mizzou! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Yep, she wrote that

Mary Clare and Charlie have both been at Childgarden since they were three months old. First it was four days a week, and now it's three days a week since I am home with them on Mondays and Fridays. Clearly, we are pleased with the school. Sure, there are things that irked us from time to time, but let's be real—unless one of us is going to stay home with the kids 24/7, we have to accept that things aren't always going to be done the way we would like. There have to be compromises.

The one thing we have never had any concerns about during our three-plus years at Childgarden are the teachers. We love them. Most importantly, the kids love them. Each one has a different style, but we've always been able to connect with them and appreciate how they let us talk their ears off and pelt them with questions at drop-off and pick-up. Best of all, they don't mince words, and they never hesitate to tell us what we should be doing to further each kid's development.

Miss Edna, Mary Clare's current teacher, is particularly frank in this regard. For example, for the past two weeks the focus has been on Mary Clare writing her name. "Debbie!" Miss Edna would say, none too quietly, "You need to have Mary Clare working on her name more. Write it out. In all caps!" Each day Miss Edna would offer additional tips on how to help Mary Clare along. We would work on it here and there, usually while killing time at a restaurant. Mary Clare was progressing nicely, and had mastered the M and the A.

So I was a little startled yesterday when I walked into school and Miss Edna all but yelled down the hall, "Debbie! You are not going to believe what Mary Clare did today! Mary Clare! Go get your paper to show your mom." Off Mary Clare raced to her classroom. What she presented is what you see above. I'm not lying when I say that Miss Edna and I stood there and raved about it like Mary Clare had just written a poem. In Spanish. Apparently we caused a commotion, because both Miss Darlene and Miss Kerry, two of Mary Clare's previous teachers, stopped to see what had so clearly captivated us. And that's when I cried. There I was with my grown up little girl, beaming from all of the attention, surrounded by three teachers who had so lovingly cared for her and helped her get to this point.

So, I know it's not an earth-shattering development. I know there are probably children far younger who can write their names. I'm proud, don't get me wrong, but it's not about that. I'm more wowed by how quickly she picked it up, and how downright thrilled her teachers were. I mean, they see this stuff every day. And have seen it every day for 20-plus years. So I appreciate the fuss, and I know Mary Clare does, too. Even if it was like pulling teeth to get the ragamuffin to take a picture with her paper.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lake Michigan, how we love thee


We were lucky enough to spend the holiday weekend with our friends the Flemings in Lake Michigan at their beloved Timberbluff. Yes, the same place where we freeloaded two years ago.

How we lucked out with friends who will not only tolerate us and our two kiddos but actually invite us to spend time with them while they're on their own vacation is beyond me. But I'm not asking any questions. Don't want to jinx it, you know. (Never mind that Charlie's not-seen-in-six-months 2 a.m. wake-up calls probably already sealed our fate.)

[Captain Clare and Mary Clare in the kayak]

  [hated the water, loved the sand]

[beach-side sliding]
Anyway, it was three great days filled with beach time, good food, even better cocktails, and, of course, wonderful company. We even managed to squeeze in a family photo session for both us and the Flemings, and best of all, we were both pleased with the results! Knocking them out at the same time definitely kept Chip's and Bob's complaining to a minimum. (Okay, maybe just Chip's. Bob didn't complain. At least to me.) I will have to keep that in mind and try to hoodwink other friends into future amateur photo shoots.

 [the photo that better already be in place of the one my mom currently has on her wall]

[burning off some steam after the family photos]

Thanks again to Anne, Bob and most of all, Clare, for playing with and taking such good care of Mary Clare and Charlie. You guys are the best!

P.S. I had been avoiding doing posts with photos because I feel so guilty about still not posting about Charlie's birthday, Table Rock, Michigan with my family, and pretty much anything else we did this summer, but I finally decided to bite the bullet and just post, dammit. Let's hope furious photo editing follows.