Sunday, September 30, 2007

My Three Sons

No, grandmas, before you get too excited - we are NOT expecting again. Today's blog is dedicated to my "third son", Big Lovey. Who, some of you may ask, is Big Lovey? In the most primitive sense, Big Lovey is a square of soft fabric that is lined in satin with a bunny head attached. To Cade, Big Lovey is part pillow, part confidante, part one-man cheerleading squad. To appreciate the significance of Big Lovey, you have to understand the Inner Workings of Cade.

Cade has never been much of a snuggler. Even as a tiny baby, he would nurse heartily and then pull away in repulsion, as if to say, "I've eaten my fill, woman, now get off me!" As a three year old, he informed me just last week that there was no need for me to kiss him goodnight as "Daddy already kissed me". How sensible of you, Cade - no sense overdosing on affection. Jeez. On rare occasions, Cade will bestow a kiss on your cheek. When we tried to teach him to "hug", his answer to hugging was to extend his forehead so that we could plant a kiss on it. When we tried to teach him about hugging "with your arms", he went so far as to extend his forearm so that you could plant a kiss on it. Cade is just not, to say the least, the most demonstrative guy on the planet.

But his love for Big Lovey knows no bounds. Big Lovey was carefully selected by Cade from the hundreds of lovey options we received as gifts when he was a baby. In true first child fashion, Cade had only the softest and most deluxe pleasantly textured blankets and stuffed animals at his disposal. How he came to identify with a square with a rabbit head as the Chosen One, I will never understand.

At first, we were so disciplined with Big Lovey. He never left the confines of the crib and was content to be Cade's sleeping companion. Aaron and I were so proud of ourselves for fostering healthy attachment object attitudes by allowing Cade to have one for comfort, but not becoming one of "those" parents, frantically backtracking across all of Target looking for the precious misplaced object of obsession.

And then along came Drew and all bets were off. Suddenly, in the name of comfort and convenience, Big Lovey was everywhere. Outside the crib. In the car. At the mall. When we lost Big Lovey at the mall and found ourselves frantically backtracking in search of him (wait! didn't we swear we would never do this!), I knew it was time to bring in the Big Lovey reinforcements. I called Cade's grandma, who tracked down her friend that had purchased Big Lovey as a gift, who then tracked down the lady who made Big Lovey, and quickly placed an order for her to send a duplicate. Unfortunately, the fabric used to make Big Lovey was purchased on clearance and she had used it all, so she sent a duplicate that was similar but not the same. And so we welcomed Lovey Doo-Waa (Lovey Junior, as Cade called him) into our home, not as a replacement but as a companion. The next thing we knew, Big Lovey AND Lovey Doo-Waa were accompanying us all over town. And Mom's brilliant plan backfires once again.

In the meantime, Big Lovey was keeping insane hours and getting pretty tattered from trying to keep up with Cade. I found myself frequently stepping on his "fingers" (the two corners of the square below his head) because he was discarded everywhere from the kitchen floor to our garage to the playground. Big Lovey's head started to become detached and my plan was to just let it fall off and let Big Lovey die a natural death. But my gracious and loving babysitter Ninny (a grandmotherly type figure sent to our family directly from heaven) intervened, bringing her needle and thread from home to sew it back on, per Cade's request. And yes, I did feel like the world's crappiest mom that day, thanks for asking.

Most recently, Big Lovey has developed an affinity for hide and seek. Sometimes it is the microwave of the play kitchen. Sometimes it's the tiny Dr. Seuss wastebasket in Cade's room. Sometimes he hangs out between the sofa cushions and the back of the sofa. Other times it's the rocket ship playhouse. If I have been late to meet you anytime in the past 6 months, it is Big Lovey's fault.

Earlier this week, I had finally had enough. After buckling the boys into their car seats and doing a frantic search for Big Lovey (coming up empty-handed once again), I told Cade that we were late and would have to go without Big Lovey. I informed him that I had enough trouble getting two boys and my purse to the car - if he wanted to bring Big Lovey, he would have to be responsible for brining him himself. Cade sobbed, "No mommy! You have three boys! You HAVE to bring Big Lovey too! You can't leave your boy behind!" And that is the story of how I became the mother of Big Lovey Fox.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dr. Aspes and The Sugar Bugs

Today was Cade's first trip to the dentist. I've heard plenty of horror stories from friends whose children have to be dragged kicking and screaming, or worse - sedated - into the dentist's chair, so I was amped for battle. Especially because it was an appointment for Cade. As my friend Amanda aptly put it today, "When Cade decides something's over, it's over." I knew there would be no sweet talking this boy back into the dental chair.

I started laying the groundwork several months ago when I took Cade with me for my last checkup. He sat quietly and patiently and watched my dentist poke around and then happily left with the booty that he charmed the hygienist into giving him - a Tigger toothbrush and a mini tube of toothpaste.

Aaron and I were both blessed with great teeth and are quite vain about them, so we make a big production of dental health in our family. The boys have toothbrushes in every bathroom for easy access, along with two kinds of paste - "too spicy" (which is what they call adult toothpaste) and "paste" (bubblegum flavored toddler toothpaste which they have now both abandoned in favor of too spicy). They brush twice a day (sometimes three if we happen to walk past a toothbrush and they get the urge to brush) and I brush after them to make sure the teeth are thoroughly cleaned because I'm pretty sure that the brushing process for them is all about the taste of the toothpaste.

A few months ago, they started battling me about brushing after them. Running away, gagging on the toothbrush, clamping their lips shut, you name it. So I did what any reasonable parent would do. I started screaming and yelping about the sugar bugs crawling out of their mouths. After that, they were quick to open up and let me brush around whenever I want to to be sure that the sugar bug extermination process has been completed satisfactorily. I realized this may not have been one of my finest parenting moments when a few weeks ago Cade noticed a dead fly in the dining room windowsill and commented that it was a "sugar bug that flew out of my mouth". Um, yeah.

Which brings us to today. The eagerly anticipated trip to see Dr. Aspes, who, coincidentally, just happens to be Julia Robert's childhood dentist. I felt confident we would be in good hands since she has turned her smile into a multi-million dollar industry in and of itself. I just hoped against hope that Cade would not have a meltdown that would get us permanently evicted from the office of Dr. Million Dollar Smile. As it turned out, I needn't have worried. The guy was a real pro. And my kid was an angel for once! Between the working traffic light and airplane propellers in the waiting room, the handheld games in the chairs, and the marble runs by the cashier/appointment desk, Cade thought he was at the Children's Museum. Half an hour later, we were pronounced cavity-free and sent on our way with a sparkly toothbrush, a mini tube of too spicy, and instructions to report back in 6 months. If only everything were this easy.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Nutrition Hide and Seek - Score One for Mom!

Both of my children have always been good eaters. Adventurous, even (no food is too spicy for Cade and he is a big fan of sushi!). Drew has pretty much been a vegetarian since he started solids, but because his diet was varied and he eats with gusto, I wasn't too worried. Suddenly, in recent months they have become so picky that they are subsisting on little more than air. And peanut butter. And Cheez-It's (have to be the kind in the red box). Not that I don't OFFER healthy alternatives - I cook a real dinner every night and offer three square meals a day with the appropriate portions of protein/carbs/fruits/veggies. They just aren't interested. And you definitely cannot put one past my kids. Whipping parsnips so they look like mashed potatoes and making sweet potato "fries" (as recommended by leading parenting magazines) does not fool my children. And they are not impressed by food cut and arranged in the shapes of flowers, animals, or houses. It is a tough crowd.

My latest battle has been fruits and vegetables. With the exception of fruit leather, the occasional banana and "salad" (lettuce slathered in so much dressing that the vegetable part of it is unrecognizable), I cannot sneak a vegetable past their lips and fruit is even becoming difficult.

A few weeks ago, I made banana bread, which I classify as a baked good and not a fruit. But since the kids were all over the banana bread, I wondered if I might be onto something. Last week I made zucchini bread. Big hit! They're eating vegetables and they don't even know it!!! It occurred to me that if next time I substitute applesauce for the oil, as recommended in many low-fat recipes, I might even be getting close to a food with nutritional value!

A few days later, I discovered another neato trick. They will eat a variety of fruits if I cut them up, serve them in a small cup, and give them toothpicks to "spear" the fruit. Now before I get flamed for allowing my children to eat with a lethal weapon, I would just like to issue the disclaimer that they are now 2 and 3 and consuming mini-fruit shishkabobs in this manner under the extreme supervision of their hyper vigilant mother. I am not endorsing this tactic as appropriate for children of all ages (or even all children), just offering it up as a successful tip that has worked for me.

Thought I would post the one other dish I have that is a great vehicle for Stealth Vegetables - it sneaks in tomato, carrot, and spinach! Can also easily be made into a vegetarian version by omitting the sausage and ground beef. Anyone else out there have ideas to share?!?!

three-cheese lasagna with italian sausage

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup finely chopped peeled carrots
2 tablespoons minced garlic
8 ounces lean ground beef
6 ounces spicy Italian sausages, casings removed
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

15 lasagna noodles (about 12 ounces)
2 15-ounce containers part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, squeezed dry
2 large eggs
4 3/4 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 1 1/4 pounds)

FOR SAUCE: Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and garlic; sauté until softened, about 12 minutes. Add beef and sausages to pan; sauté until cooked through, breaking up meat with back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer until flavors blend and sauce measures about 5 cups, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Cool.
FOR LASAGNA: Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until almost tender, about 7 minutes. Drain; cover with cold water.
Combine ricotta and 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese in medium bowl. Mix in spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in eggs.

Drain pasta and pat dry. Spread 1/2 cup sauce over bottom of 13x9-inch glass baking dish. Place 5 noodles over sauce, overlapping to fit. Spread half of ricotta-spinach mixture evenly over noodles. Sprinkle 2 cups mozzarella cheese evenly over ricotta-spinach mixture. Spoon 1 1/2 cups sauce over cheese, spreading with spatula to cover (sauce will be thick). Repeat layering with 5 noodles, remaining ricotta-spinach mixture, 2 cups mozzarella and 1 1/2 cups sauce. Arrange remaining 5 noodles over sauce. Spread remaining sauce over noodles. Sprinkle remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese evenly over lasagna. (Can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.) Cover baking dish with aluminum foil. Bake lasagna 40 minutes; uncover and bake until hot and bubbly, about 40 minutes. Let lasagna stand 15 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

From the Mouths of Babes

Busy week at work, so slow week for the blog. I promise to play catchup and post more frequently this week! This one's for the grandparents:

Last weekend the weather turned gorgeous here, so we decided to take advantage of the cooler weather and hit the trails along the Chattahoochee River. For those of you that have never been - this is one of my favorite places in the whole city. Nice wide gravel trails winding along the rushing river - plus plenty of room for the little ones to get out and run free. Plus, cyclists that are more tolerant of children on the "road" here than in other places. This weekend, we saw something new - there was a lady with one leg riding a recreational scooter/bike thing along the trail. Cade, having inherited both his father's lack of discretion and competitive nature, immediately stands up, points at the lady, and screams, "I can do that game better than that lady!". Ok Cade. Um. You can ride a scooter better than an amputee. Super.

Fortunately, the lady was well past us (with her headphones on), so she didn't hear, but I was mortified none the less. We tried to talk to Cade about how rude it was to point and shout and how lucky he was to have two legs so he could run and not have to ride a scooter. It was lost on him, though, because he was quick to comment again when she rode by (this time in a whisper) and now "scooter" has been added to his Christmas list.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Benefits of One on One Time

As I've mentioned, this year my children are on opposite preschool schedules, which leaves me with one morning a week alone with each boy. Since I work a couple days a week and am an over scheduler by nature, I was really looking forward to the time to spend unstructured quiet time with each one of the boys. My husband, hyper competitive overachiever that he is, suggested that I use the time to "work" with each boy. He has been noting of late that several friends of ours with children Cade's age are more advanced in certain areas, such as World Geography, Spelling, and Spanish. He worries that because our boys are so close and age and life with them has been so hectic, we have somehow stunted their academic progress for life because we haven't adequately drilled them on the names of all 7 continents (there are 7, right?). The truth is, it is impossible to impart any sort of structured learning when they are around each other. The presence of a flashcard, workbook, or map just becomes another item to fight over. However, I reluctantly agreed that we probably COULD be doing more to encourage development in the area of phonics and counting at the least. And so, I added the job description of Director of Instruction to my resume (along with Chauffer, Laundress, Housekeeper, Social Secretary, Accountant, and Short Order Cook). With some skepticism, I might add, because my oldest has not the longest attention span in the world. In fact, it may be the shortest.

We're now our second week into school and the home schooling program is coming along nicely. In a shocking turn of events, Cade not only tolerates the learning but relishes it! When Drew and Aaron pull out of the driveway, the first thing he asks to do is the workbook. So we usually tackle the workbook for 15 minutes, the Counting Bears game for another 10-15, and call it a day. No need for dad to know that we aren't exactly earning the 3 hour course credits we were supposed to rack up this semester, right?

After "workbook" time, it's on to the fun stuff. Today Cade asked to go on a walk, which means he wants to push the stroller to the fountain in the town square and goof off there. I was sorely tempted to tell him no and tackle the breakfast dishes and a load of laundry instead, but I really wanted to stick to my promise of enjoying time alone with each kid. So off we went. I noticed that since he was pushing the stroller and controlling the pace, we were walking slower than we usually do (I treat all walking, everywhere, anytime, as an opportunity for aerobic exercise). We checked out bugs on the sidewalk. We met the new neighbor, Beverly (who's actually not new - she's lived around the corner from us for 49 years and we've lived here for 6 yet we've never met each other before). We talked about Beverly's barking dog. We surveyed the "for sale" flyers in all our neighbor's yards. We watched a train pass. We flicked water on each other at the fountain. And we moseyed home. And I realized that Cade, who has always been my "wild" one, isn't really that wild when you really pay attention and listen to him. He's a sweet, thoughtful, and smart boy who sees the world through different eyes than I do. And today I was grateful to see it through his eyes.

The lesson learned for me was that although we all KNOW we should take time to be alone with each of our children, it doesn't always happen. Especially if they are close in age. Let's face it - if you can score a babysitter and rustle up the money to pay her, the last thing you want to do is leave one kid with her while you watch your other child drive his own stroller into every tree between your house and the neighborhood park. But I'm becoming rapidly convinced that maybe that's NOT the last thing I want to do. Whether we're doing workbooks or taking nature walks, Cade's a better home schooling teacher than I am.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Boys Will Be Boys and Boys and Their Toys

It never ceases to amaze me what dangerous ideas my children come up with in the name of entertainment. Coming from a family of three girls, there was a lot of screaming, throwing, and door slamming but the most hard-core physical thing we ever did was hold my littlest sister down while one of us sat on her face and pretended to pass gas.

By nature, I am a cautious person. So much that my husband has nicknamed me "The OSHA Inspector" because I am always pointing situations that may (if one out of the millions of possible scenarios play out) be dangerous. But I find that as a result of raising two small boys, I am increasingly becoming desensitized.

For example, tonight's after dinner show started when the boys figured out that they could coast down the hill of our driveway (with no hands, Mom!) on a teeny tiny tractor bed made to hitch to a Little Tykes tractor. I was on the phone with a friend when I looked out my back window to see Drew (once again supposedly under Dad's "supervision") careening down the driveway on a tractor bed made for toy farm animals. Cade, not to be outdone and tired of waiting for his turn on the tractor for weeble livestock, drug out the toddler motorcycle from the garage and launched himself from the top of the driveway. Backwards.

Dad's solution to these antics: Move the van. AFTER Drew went sailing into it. Never mind the fact that they are still doing these stunts without helmets, which I am going out to purchase TOMORROW.

This is only the latest in a long string of antics that never would have even occurred to my sisters and me, such as:
  • Deep sea diving off the side of my garden tub
  • Bungee jumping off the back of the sofa with the microphone (attached to the tape player by a coiled cord)
  • Taking the slide face first (Cade's preferred method since he first hit the slides at 9 months)
  • Getting a running start to launch themselves into the pool
  • Chasing each other around the dining room table. The one next to my china cabinet.
  • Standing up on the bed so they can take turns shoving each other off
  • "Surfing" the toddler rocking chair by balancing one leg on each arm of the chair
  • Dismounting the sofa by jumping off the arms as opposed to just standing up like a normal person
This does not include the more tame activities they undertake, such as:
  • Making "book stew" by dumping every book on the bookshelf onto the bedroom floor. Every night after lights out. To the extent that the books were moved into another room.
  • Sailing matchbox cars down the stairs
  • Finger painting their bodies instead of paper - every day is Game Day at the Fox house!
  • Coloring on the side of the house. Another activity that occurred under Dad's watchful eye but we won't go there.
  • "Operating" on every toy we own that runs on batteries, including some non-toys such as TV remotes, DVD players, etc.
Naturally, we constantly discourage these activities but we still feel like we are raising a couple of mentally ill chimpanzees instead of small boys. Which brings me to their room. It is now officially as barren as a prison cell, containing only the bed, a dresser (which I am bolting to the wall) and the waste basket. Why, you ask? Because every night after we lovingly read them stories and tuck them in, they take turns launching off the bed into the giant slippery pile of books, playing cards, and View Finder films they have dumped onto the floor. Despite making them clean up (Mommy is not a morning person and the "Clean Up" song is a particularly annoying way to start the day) they kept at it so we simply removed the toys. All sounds quiet now, but it's too early to be sure - I'm on the lookout for small boys wandering the halls with waste baskets over their heads.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Soccer is a Bust

So I've mentioned before that Cade is not the biggest fan of organized activities. We had to eat $100 on a failed Music Class session when I had to peel him (screaming) off the glass window of the door week after week. He liked Gymboree for awhile, but as soon as he could walk, started heading for the door repeatedly during each session, causing us to drop that too. Ditto with story hour - talked so loudly about wanting to go home that the children's librarian invited us to please do so. Our latest attempt: soccer.

I use the term "organized" loosely here. Basically there is a nice kid friendly man with a lovely soccer resume that hosts Soccer for Toddlers all over the city. The idea is that he brings the soccer stuff and the enthusiasm and all the moms have to do is pay for the lessons, tshirts, shin guards, soccer shoes, and snacks and kick back on the sidelines. Bonus: it is held on Saturday mornings so Dad can come too and do all the heavy lifting on the field in terms of making sure the boys stay with the program. Since I am all about gabbing with my friends and also running the poop out of my children so they will nap well, I foolishly thought this would be a good activity.

So we thought we'd give it a shot this morning. Cade started campaigning to leave about 5 minutes after we arrived and kept running back to the kudzu that separates the field from the nearby train tracks to see "what is on the other side of this plant". Drew gamely kicked the ball around for a few minutes, but was more concerned about scoping out the snack situation in my bag. Needless to say, soccer was a bust - we left halfway into it with a pep talk from the coach to "keep trying - keep bringing them and encouraging them and eventually they will want to participate". He makes it sound so easy - keep coming, keep encouraging, kick back and wait for Beckham-like results.

Since we've been through the gamut of activities AND since several friends have told me that they're actually READING this blog, I thought I'd share lessons learned from each, well...lesson. And some of our favorite activity places for good measure. Hopefully other moms behind me will learn from my mistakes.

Pros: Air conditioned, very well babyproofed, great for first time moms b/c the baby classes include ideas for things to do with your baby and Mommy discussion time. We are still in touch with our friends from Cade's Gymboree days.
Cons: Not cheap. Difficult once you have a second child because it is twice as not cheap and little sibling are neither welcome nor encouraged in a big sibling's class (classes are divided by age/ability).

Music Class
Pros: Air conditioned, songs on CD are only marginally annoying, second child can come for free up to like 4 months old or something.
Cons: "Ba, ba bup bup bup bup baaaaa" rhythm song will NEVER leave your head.

Library Story Hour
Pros: FREE! Air conditioned. Fosters love of reading.
Cons: Libraries, by nature, require a certain level of decorum that my children are not capable of.

Little Gym
Pros: Opportunity to practice stunts in safe environment. In the air conditioning. Can you tell it is hot in Atlanta in the summer?
Cons: Expensive

Art Classes
Pros: No mess at my house.
Cons: My children seem to bypass the paints, crafts, metal sculpturing and other cool stuff and head directly for the markers, which we have at home. $10 an hour per kid buys a lot of markers.

Pros: Toddlers don't care whether the rides "go" or not - $5 worth of tokens will last hours. They also don't care that the pizza tastes like cheese covered cardboard - there is a salad bar for moms. They stamp your kids' hands at the door to prevent kidnappers from leaving with someone else's kids.
Cons: A little ADD - hard to supervise multiple kids depending on the layout, what with all the moving rides, loud noises, and blinking lights. Also, no hand stamp checking to get into the bathrooms, so it's not an entirely molester-free zone - I always have this fear that the hand stamps cause predators to target ChuckECheese for a challenge. Irrational, I know. But that's part of my charm. : )

Kangazoom/Monkey Joe's/Jumping Places
Pros: An air-conditioned way to wear them out for an affordable price.
Cons: Can get a little rough when school-aged kids are around - take toddlers in the mornings while big kids are in school.

Pros: You get to leave them there! Without you! Plus they learn stuff.
Cons: They close for the summer.

Pros: They are everywhere. You could hit a different one each week for forever. I never,ever thought I would spend so much time touring playgrounds.
Cons: It's too freaking hot for this in the summer!

Pros: Nice cool place to hang out in the summer and you can bring your lunch and camp out for the whole day.
Cons: Not so great for crawlers or early walkers - I found it exhausting to try to keep my kids from killing themselves on cement at this age. Also, I am not hot about teenaged lifeguards who seem to spend most of their time twirling their whistles and inspecting their own tan lines. I feel justified in saying this because I was a teenaged lifeguard at one time so I know how they think. Do NOT plan to go to the pool and leisurely read magazines while lifeguards "watch" your kids. Keep a vigilant eye on the wee ones at all times. No one is watching them but you.

Children's Museum
Pros: Air conditioned. Free for kids under 2, I think. Worth buying an annual family pass once they turn 2 if they like it.
Cons: The Atlanta one has kind of an open format, making it difficult to supervise multiple children at once by yourself.

Pros: Atlanta zoo is nice sized - not too big, not too small.
Cons: HOT. Do not attempt this activity in the summer. Also I personally think the food is a little gross so we always bring our own lunch. Individual admissions are expensive, so buy the annual family pass once your kids are old enough that you have to pay for them.

Pros: World class aquarium! Right here in Atlanta! We saw the Monterey Bay aquarium this summer and Atlanta's holds it's own against this one.
Cons: Expensive. Get an annual pass if you think you will go a lot. Also, they check your bags for food so don't plan on bringing your own lunch.

Botanical Gardens
Pros: Awesome children's garden with a fountain.
Cons: The rest of the gardens are cool too but it is impossible to enjoy them with my kids in tow. Perhaps parents of more mellow children have better luck.

Burger King/McDonald's/ChicFilA (indoor playground variety only)
Pros: Air conditioned, economical, one stop shop. Food, activity, chair for mom, what could be better?
Cons: Why do my kids always get lost in those stupid indoor playground tunnels?

Back to School

We've just survived the first week back to school and it was no small feat. Cade and Drew are fortunate enough to attend a preschool that is truly one of the most loving environments on the planet for little ones. The teachers are so sensitive that on the first day, Cade's teachers presented the moms with tiny little bags of tissues and Hershey's kisses in the carpool line to ease the pain of leaving the little ones for a morning. Even I, who had slowed the car down to a roll just slow enough that I could boot the children out without injuring them, was touched by this gesture.

My children are on opposite schedules this year (Cade is MWF and Drew T/Th), which means that I get time alone with each boy (which I love) but that I have to get up and get everyone going early 5 mornings a week (which I hate). It also means that I am prone to getting in the wrong carpool line because I can't remember which day it is or which kid I am retrieving (it happened twice this week already).

Because of the Labor Day holiday, Drew was the first to go. Dropoff on Tuesday morning was relatively painless but according to the teacher he cried on and off the whole morning and was so inconsolable that he refused snack (this is HUGE in the world of Bottomless Pit Drew). Further, the teacher informed me that I really needed to be first in line for carpool because he starts falling apart when the other moms start coming. On Thursday, I tried to do my part by showing up 10 minutes early for carpool and was shocked to find myself 12th in line! Why all these moms signed their kids up for preschool so they could sit in the parking lot and wait for them to get out is beyond me, but it means that this week I guess I will plan to be 15 minutes early. Since the month of September is an abbreviated class schedule to ease back into the school routine, they are only there for two hours anyway. So now I will have exactly enough time to drop him off, circle the block, and get back in line. UGH.

Cade's week went slightly better. He jumped out of the car with a smile on his face, briefly mourned the loss of Big Lovey (who was not fortunate enough to be admitted to the school and has to hang out in the van all morning with mom), and then went about his merry business. He had big smiles on his face both days this week at pickup. Cade, as a general rule, does not believe in/participate in organized activities so I was encouraged to see that he is finally (after 2 years) getting the hang of school and we will not have to fund a private a tutor for his entire education since he hates groups and I don't have the patience for homeschooling.

Funny story of the week: For some reason, both boys have trouble distinguishing between anything/nothing/anybody/nobody - they use all four terms interchangably. The latest response when I ask who dumped the entire contents of the bookshelf on the floor/crumbled animal crackers into my carpet/colored on the side of the house (this is another story)/etc. - ANYBODY. Anybody did it but Nobody is talking, which makes is impossible for mommy to discipline. They should definitely start their own School of Toddler Diplomatic Relations.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Good Times, Good Times

To kick off the long holiday weekend, we decided to try something brand new - a movie! In an actual theater. With the children. We have been gradually working our way up from 10 minute Sesame Street segments to actual full length cartoon feature DVD movies. When we saw Shrek the Third was playing at the dollar cinema, we figured this was our big chance to test the movie theater waters without having to eat the $9 per person admission fee at our regular theater in case things went awry.

Surprisingly, the movie went over really well and was even kid friendly - they had special booster seats for the boys - a good thing since the kids don't weigh enough to keep the stadium seats down and kept getting folded up in their chairs. Cade lasted for about 45 minutes before he lost interest and Drew made it almost to the end. What surprised me about the outing was not how much THEY liked it, but how much I liked it. Our movie theater excursions of late have been pretty limited since when we actually get a babysitter and commit to an evening out, we try to spend it talking and catching up on what's happened since the last time we had a date. I was seriously so relaxed and happy to be eating my buttered popcorn and watching the big screen that I didn't even care that the leading man was Shrek instead of Brad Pitt. I truly didn't realize how much I have missed something as simple as going to the movies!

This realization led me to really reflect on how much my life really has changed over the past three years in terms of what we do for fun. And believe me, we still have plenty of fun now but in a VERY different way...a sampling of the differences between my pre-child days and now:

THEN: Scour Zagat's for top restaurants in Atlanta, alternating between hot new ones and old classics each weekend.
NOW: Scour Atlanta Parent Magazine for news of a different playground in the Metro area to hit each weekend.

THEN: Favorite restaurant: Canoe (riverside setting, amazing food, top-notch service)
NOW: Favorite restaurant: Vinings Chic Fil A (awesome indoor playground and free refills on Diet Coke)

THEN: Hit the running trails along the Chattahoochee early on Saturday mornings. Run 5 miles and stop to read the paper and drink Starbucks on the way home.
NOW: Get up on Saturday morning, drown a pot of coffee at home, get everyone organized and hit the trail by 11 am (hopefully). Walk 5 minutes and get remainder of exercise by lifting people in and out of stroller for the next hour, covering approximately a half mile total.

THEN: See all new movies in the theater as soon as they come out and excitedly await new releases featuring my favorite actors.
NOW: Get a subscription to Netflix and struggle to watch 1 grownup DVD a month. But watch the Wiggles frequently and mourn Greg the Yellow Wiggle's early retirement.

THEN: Drop $150 on dinner and drinks on a Friday night.
NOW: Drop $100 bucks on a sitter and $20 on burritos and beers on a Friday night.

THEN: Happy hour at The Grape, sampling wines from different regions.
NOW: Happy Hour at my house, sampling Barefoot Chardonnay because it was 2 for $10 this week.

THEN: Travel extensively, taking two vacations a year and several long weekend trips.
NOW: Travel extensively - up to Chattanooga, TN for the Thomas the Train day at the Tennessee Valley River Authority each spring.

THEN: Work out regularly - 3 to 4 times a week at the corporate gym.
NOW: Attend the gym regularly - 3 to 4 times a week at the Y. Work out the once or twice my children will actually stay in the childcare center without crying.

THEN: For fun in the water, take a trip to the beach and soak up the rays.
NOW: For fun in the water, take a trip to the pool and spend most of my time mediating fights over pool toys.

THEN: Attend Broadway musicals, sporting events, and museum special exhibits.
NOW: Purchase annual passes to the Children's Museum, Aquarium, zoo, and Kangazoom jump place. Rotate between the four each week.

THEN: Wait up to an hour and a half to eat chicken mole enchiladas at Nuevo Laredo Cantina on weekends.
NOW: Wait up to 5 minutes for the Joey Bag at Moe's.

THEN: Wake up on Sunday mornings, attend church for spiritual nourishment, stop for brunch afterwards.
NOW: Wake up on Sunday mornings, make it to church less than 50% of the time, attempt to be spiritually nourished while child runs Matchbox cars up my arm and over my chin and nose, drive through Dunkin Donuts on the way home.

THEN: Read 2 books a week. Real books. Well, OK - half of them were real books - the others were Oprah's Book Club.
NOW: Read Richard Scarry's Huckle Cat book 4 times a day (twice at nap and twice at bedtime).

THEN: Browse Ann Taylor and Banana Republic for clothes.
NOW: Browse Target for clothes because I am there anyway and am too lazy to unstrap everyone from carseats at a separate clothing store.