Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tricks, treats and tantrums

Happy Halloween from Tinkerbell and her sidekick, the thoroughly peeved Peter Pan!

We took these photos last Friday night before heading to the kids' school for a fall festival. It had been a long day, and while Charlie does actually like putting on his Peter Pan gear, he wanted two things: to be held and to hold his sippy cup, snack trap and anything else he deemed worthy of his grasp.

Mary Clare, however, was loving it with a capital L. I mean, with a Nana Thole-made costume like that, how could she not?  

[she's got the Tinkerbell sass thing down pat]

[fancy clothes, a doting papa ... this is the stuff of dreams, people]

Charlie rallied for a bit, so we took a few more pictures and then headed to Childgarden for the big event. Everyone had a great time, Charlie included, but then the poor boy hit a wall as soon as we sat down at the Tap Room for dinner. Here's hoping that tonight goes a little more smoothly for our pal Peter Pan.

[agreeing to smile pretty so they can hurry up and get to the party]

 [adult eyes on the camera, kid eyes on papa]

 [a photo with the Peter Pan wrangler and the woman who made Halloween possible]

Oh, and fear not, mother of mine who spent 25+ hours sewing Mary Clare's silky frock—I will post more photos from the big event later this week. (And for the next few weeks for good measure.)

[pardon my wand, someone wants to take my picture]

I hope everyone has a great Halloween! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A career for every day of the week

Mary Clare is just now starting to talk about what she wants to be when she is older. Jobs are a big deal to her, and people who help others get top billing. Helping is a big deal to three-year-olds, and firefighters, police officers, doctors, nurses, teachers and the like are all stars in Mary Clare's world. (No word yet on what she thinks about pharmaceutical sales or the ambiguously titled role of a creative manager.)

For the longest time she was stuck on being a doctor, just like our pediatrican, Dr. O'Neil. She would tell us time and time again that if kids were hurt, she would fix them. While I would like to think she was finally showing signs of empathetic behavior, I think she was more swayed by the fact that our pediatrician's office hands out stickers and Lorna Doones after every visit. I know this because she made a big point of telling us—and Dr. O'Neil—that when she is a doctor, after she fixes kids she will give them stickers, vanilla cookies and chocolate cookies. Chocolate cookies, it appears, are going to be a key differentiator among pediatric practices in the 2040s.

This week Mary Clare expanded her list of potential careers to include a teacher, a builder and, in a nod to ambiguously titled jobs, a worker. And then yesterday, as we drove by a bus, she proclaimed, "Someday, when I'm big, I want to ride a bus. No! I want to drive a bus." And then softly—dreamily, even—she said to herself, "And I be so happy."

Go for it, kid. As long as you don't inherit my driving skills.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

At least we didn't go with the one about the bear and the woods

I think I've mentioned before that Mary Clare's pronunciation is a bit off sometimes (narrl powrish, anyone?), and that she has some awfully funny ways of saying things. Chip and I talk about how we will be incredibly sad once her Ls no longer sound like Ws, and she no longer says "I not know that" when you tell her something new or she sees something she wasn't expecting. So, for now we are milking it for all its worth by making her our very own puppet.

Being a sarcastic household—the fact that we're Catholic is just a bonus—a favorite response to questions with obviously affirmative answers is, of course, "Is the Pope Catholic?" This past Saturday, I asked Mary Clare if she wanted a cookie after lunch, and since this was clearly a no-brainer of a question, Chip took it upon himself to teach Mary Clare what this saying meant, and how to say it. I played my part, and asked her a series of questions that would normally get a resounding yes.

Of course, we could never get her to say it correctly, even with coaching. But we did get some doozies:

  • Is the Pope a Pope?
  • Am I Catholic? 
  • The Pope IS a Pope.
  • Is the Pope immaculate?

We'll get there. Definitely by the time she starts Kindergarten, at least. I think it's an entry requirement, if I'm not mistaken.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I've been playing part-time stay-at-home mom (PT SAHM) for 10 months now. And on those days when I have the kids all to myself, it still scares the bejeezus out of me. Especially when we don't have plans. 

Summertime was awesome. Summertime was ripe with plans. There were vacations, day trips to my parents' house, swimming lessons followed by park visits and play dates galore. Now that the weather is cooling off and our swimming lesson time slot changed, I find myself winging it more often. Our library has story time at 10 a.m. on Mondays, and we have been hitting that more often. That was the plan yesterday morning. I was going to swing the car by Dobbs to put an end to the weekly low tire pressure light warning, and then we were going to scurry over to the library for story time with Miss Kathy.

After spending 45 minutes chasing the kiddos around tire displays while our car remained parked outside, I knew story time wasn't going to happen. But the rain, the rain was so happening, which ruled out the playground. So I started brainstorming and decided that yes, I could handled not only an impromptu zoo visit, but a solo zoo visit. As I loaded the kids into the car, I told Mary Clare that we had unfortunately missed story time, but fear not, we were going to the zoo. I got a big smile and an eyebrow raise. Score.

I didn't have a stroller in the car (better to leave all five strollers safe in the basement, I always say), so the first order of business was to rent a stroller. Easy enough. The rain started up again, so I gave the kids one umbrella and I used the other. Everyone stayed dry and everyone's eyes remained poke-free.

We missed out on the sea lions due to a pool cleaning, but it was still pretty cool seeing the keepers vacuum underwater in their scuba diving gear. We followed that up with some excellent ape action, some water fowl and a train ride. The stroller got soaked while we were on the train, but my scarf made short work of the puddles, and off we went to the carousel. By this time Charlie's eyes were glazing over and Mary Clare was getting sassy, so we headed to the Painted Giraffe for lunch.  

[you promised me sea lions, woman]

[ga-ga for the gorilla after taking in some excellent ape antics]

[carousels are for chatting]

[the stroller stops for all  photo ops]

Lunch had me really nervous, but the fact that the zoo wasn't crowded gave me hope. I toted Charlie through the lunch line with me, and somehow managed to keep an eye on Mary Clare and not spill our entire tray of food. As the kids snarfed down their lunch, I actually relaxed and started congratulating myself on a job well done. Not only had I managed a solo zoo trip (albeit, only a three-hour zoo trip), but I had managed a spontaneous solo zoo trip. And those who know me know that spontaneous is not a word often associated with yours truly.

While I was lost in my reverie of my PT SAHM success, Mary Clare knocked over her entire carton of milk. While I cleaned that up, Charlie poked himself in the eye with his spoon. Boom. Lunch over, everyone in the stroller, and I'll give you this rice krispie treat if you promise not to cry until we get to the car. And any fruit snacks I find once you're in the car.
And so the SAHM gods got the last laugh. Silly PT SAHM. Stay-at-home momming does not allow for pats on the back. I really should have known better.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Is it possible? Could it be? Did Chip and I actually produce a sensitive child?

This morning Charlie hauled off and whacked me in the head with his sippy cup. Seeing as I was holding him in an attempt to reprimand him for batting a large hard cover book out of Mary Clare's hands, I'm fairly certain it was intentional. (The sensitive part is coming, I promise.)

Chip was standing there at the time, and it caught us both by surprise. After letting out a fairly loud yelp, we both said, "Charlie! Not a choice! No hits!" and the like. I don't know if it was the fact that both of us were coming after him at the same time, or if he was surprised by the loudness of my yelp, but clearly something had an effect on the little lad. Charlie's bottom lip came out and started quivering, his eyes welled up with tears and he turned his head. And kept it turned. I could not get him to look at me! I had shamed him that much.

Of course I felt terrible. I mean, my poor, sensitive boy. He knew not what he did. But then, when he finally made eye contact with me, the little stinker laughed. So maybe he's not so sensitive after all. Maybe he's just the evil genius I always suspected he was. Damn dimples. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Painted nails

I held off as long as I could.

For the past few years, Mary Clare has made several inquiries as to when she, too, would get "narrl-powrish" on her fingers and toes. I bought myself some time by calling our trimming and filling sessions manicures and pedicures, but I knew that would only last for so long. As would telling her that she would get to paint her nails when she was bigger. The "when you're bigger" point only goes so far when your school friends are sporting sparkly pink nails.

A few weeks ago we noticed that Mary Clare had her fingers in her mouth. A lot. Sure enough, she was biting her nails. Being a former nail biter (who happens to be married to an active nail biter, ahem), I wanted to try and nip it in the bud. We talked about it. I researched yucky tasting nail polish. We talked about that. I threatened to buy yucky tasting nail polish (for both Mary Clare and Chip). We talked about that. Mary Clare would stop for a day or so, and then be back at it. (Chip never stopped.)

And then one night at dinner it hit me that perhaps a reward would get us the results threats had not. So, I took Mary Clare's hands in mine and told her that if she wants to paint her nails some day, she needs nails to paint. Her eyes got big. I continued and told her that if she would stop biting her nails, after a week we would see how they had grown and I would be able to paint them. Pink. With sparkles. And that's when her head exploded.

Every night that week she would show me how long her nails were getting. And she would ask, "Now can we paint them? Now can I get pink narrl powrish?" So on Friday after her nap, I followed up our hair braiding practice session with a little nail painting action. I first tried this pale, pale pink Essie polish that I use on my nails from time to time. You guys, it was the saddest thing. I asked her if she thought it was pretty, and she bravely nodded, as if trying to convince herself and me that it was what she had been waiting for all this time. I mean, the look of disappointment killed me. Just killed me. And what a jerk I was for  even trying to pull ballet slipper pink off in the first place.

So I ran downstairs, grabbed the 99 cent bottle of pink sparkly business that I had bought earlier that week and put a coat of that on her tiny little nails. Huge smiles. Huge. It was like I had painted the Disney princess on top of each nail.

Now our big concern is the longevity of the nail polish. At bath time, Chip had to convince her to put her hands in the tub, that it wouldn't come off in the water. The next morning when I walked into her room, the first words out of her mouth were, "I can't see my narrl powrish! Is it still there? Is it gone?" So I turned on the light, and she, I kid you not, breathed an actual sigh of relief and said, "Oh, I just couldn't see my narrl powrish in the dark. It's still there."

It's been five days now, and it's definitely chipping away. I am not going to offer a touch up, but if it keeps her from biting her nails and she asks for it, I guess a coat of pink sparkles is the least I can do. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My blog, my kids

Who's up for an uber-lazy Instagram post? Well, you're in luck. Because here are some of my favorite phone photos from the past two weeks.

The good news is that I am not subjecting you to any food or beverage photos. The bad news is you are SOL if you don't like looking at my kids. (Who are awesome, so what is wrong with you? Seriously. So what if they have big teeth?)

Anyway, judging by this line-up, I would say that we were busy bees. It's this weather, I tell you. It makes you want to do stuff. However, lest you think our life is all sunshine and rainbows, I did not document the flu shots, perpetually runny noses, perpetually bruised foreheads, the crabbiness caused by an ear infection or the path of destruction left by a toddler who refused to nap. You're welcome.

[posing hard at the playground]

[approved weapon use]

[marking her territory]

[making art at the Historic Shaw Art Fair last weekend]

[babies like arting, too]

[but they like piloting river boats even more]

[one must carefully select one's plastic produce]

[Brennan and Papa Thole made a guest appearance at Mary Clare's school field trip]

[cousin cuteness ensued]

[the braiding is a work in progress]

[the winter-appropriate mouse ears were a huge hit]

Oh, these kids. I do love them. And their big teeth.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Herd the bird

As you may have noticed, I actually had my photo editing A game going last week, and knocked out some photos that had been sitting on my camera for oh, a month. Such is the problem with super-sized photo cards. You can let the photos pile up like it's nothing.

Some of my favorites were taken when we were in Columbia in early September for the Mizzou game, and of those, the best are of Charlie doing—surprise, surprise—his own thing. Charlie bird does not take kindly to photo directions, nor the gentle coaxing of admiring ladies, nor anything that involves being safe, contained, still or cooperative.

But that's why we love him. For his spirit. And when he flashes those dimples, well, all is forgiven. 

Click here for the full set, which also includes adorbs (as their mother is wont to say) shots of the always photogenic Anna Lee and Charlotte Hehmeyer.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Here's hoping

Here's hoping that Mizzou is more successful at beating Vanderbilt today than we were at taking a family photo at the columns last month.

I mean, really. Have you ever seen anything more ridiculous in your life? But sadly, this is the way photos go with the kiddos these days. Annoying at the time, but funny to see captured on film. Much like us giving Charlie the royal wipe down after Beanfest 2012.

But back to the Mizzou vs. Vanderbilt game. We are skipping today's game in lieu of a much-needed weekend at home. We looked at our calendars and realized we haven't all four been together at home for an entire weekend for close to two months. That's bananas, at least for us. So we passed along our tickets and we're going to be together, dammit. Like it or not. It's family fun time, kids. Bring on the tears.

And a Tiger victory.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Toys for all of us

These kids of ours, they do not lack for toys. I'm not sure how it happened, but now for each child's birthday, even the non-birthday kids get presents. And lots of them.

If we are going to blame someone, though, I think we should blame Pat, Sherri's mother in law. When Brennan turned two, in an attempt to make sure Mary Clare didn't miss out on the fun (or maybe as an excuse to buy something girly), Pat gave Mary Clare a small gift. Well, then my mom got in on the act. As did Brian's Aunt Nancy. So then Sherri and I had no choice but to join in the fun.

[there never was a more adored umbrella]

 [taking this picture was much more difficult and dangerous than one might think]

So now in addition to the haul the birthday girl/boy makes, each child goes home with a box full of gifts. I kid you not. This past Sunday we came home with an umbrella, six books, a stacking bath toy, a John Deere tractor toy, a Cinderella purse and an audio book/toy.

[be sure to keep the indoor rain off that bath toy]

[someone just noticed there are a stack of presents not for him]

Ridiculous. Completely ridiculous. But all carefully selected for each child and immensely appreciated and enjoyed. So will we stop? Probably not. And does it curb the jealousy? Well, it worked on everyone except Charlie. Not only did he hover as Alex opened her gifts, he threw himself down on her new tricycle every time it was unoccupied.

[don't mind me, just checking out what I'm going to steal next]

[riding her new trike, if only so her cousin can't]

[move your meat, lose your seat]

We'll give Charlie a pass for now since he's still little. But if it continues, we'll figure out an appropriate way to address the situation. Or we'll let Alex "no more bites" Jones take matters into her own hands. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Glider glitch

Since Alexandra is just hitting her stride in the talking department (namely about shoes, coats and food, God bless her), and Charlie is stuck on more, uh-oh, mama and dada, I took it upon myself to imagine the conversation that took place as these two were perched on the glider.

A: Well, we made it.
C: Yeah.
A: Do you know how to pump?
C: No. My feet don't reach.
A: Can you help move us at all?
C: Again. My feet don't reach.
A: So, we're just supposed to sit here?
C: I guess so. 
A: Well, hell. Lotta good this did us.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A boy and his beans

Make no mistake about it, Charlie love his beans. Pork 'n beans, in particular, really do it for him. He not only snarfs them up, he smears them. Everywhere. Their saucy goodness ends up on his face, in his hair, in his ears, on his neck, down his shirt and everywhere in between. I don't know if he just gets so caught up in the moment that he can't control his hands or what, but I do know that it results in a huge sticky mess.

Oh, Charlie bird. When will you learn that bean bliss ...

... leads to the dreaded tag-team clean up crew.

Which, of course, leads to tears. Thankfully, those were not captured by Nana Thole. Although, it might be nice to have a picture of that because let me tell you, the boy can bring it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

She doesn't lack for expressions


As I mentioned last week, we celebrated Alexandra's birthday on Sunday. The kids and I were in Highland all day Saturday and Sunday. Since we had all of the cousins together, I brought along the big camera and tried to remember to bust it out as often as I could. The kids were less than cooperative, but that seems to be the way it goes these days.

While I didn't get a perfectly posed photo of the birthday girl, I did get a series of hilarious photos showcasing the many expressions of Alexandra. Sherri frequently texts me photos of Alexandra's "looks," and it was fun to see them in person. Rest assured, there are many, many more than just the few I have here.


Love you, Alex. And all of your little looks.