Thursday, May 28, 2009

Good 'ole Sesame Street

I wish we were all as smart as Grover and this little boy:

Maddie was telling me the other day that "boys were not allowed to marry other boys." I was unsure how to respond without being political, religious, or overly informative for a four year old. So in the true style of "confusion parenting," I decided to complicate things a little bit. I told her that "I believe people who love each other should be allowed to marry. However, in the state of Texas, a boy cannot marry another boy. Yet."

In the past, she's told me (she never asks, she just tells me) that kids could have two moms and/or two dads. I think she was talking about step-parents, not gay parents. I just agreed with her that this was, in fact, very possible.

"Boys marring boys" is a tough one, and I think she heard about this from her pre-school (a church sponsored pre-school). I know her questions will continue to be more complicated and require more detail to answer than I'm ready for.

I always told myself (before I had kids) that I would tell my children the whole truth when they asked the tough questions. That sure is easier said than done. Just last week she asked me how she got in and where she came out of my body when she was a baby--although she did have her own, semi-correct, theory). Sometimes the truth is just too much for me too, honey.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Crash Test Sisters

Maddie feels the need to wear a helmet when Brooke is at the wheel...

and when she's the one doing the driving.I'm gussing that this will be just like their teenage driving years.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cedarmont Kids, part deux

Like her big sister before her, Brooke is now addicted to the Cedarmont Kids DVD. There are three DVD's in our collection, and each has a hypnotic effect on Brooke. Maddie is also still a fan.

Maddie would tell us, "I wanna watch KIDS." Brooke says, "I wanna watch big kids on TV." The DVD's are particularly useful during a long car ride. Zak has mastered the art of tuning them out (because the songs will drive you batty), but I'm still working on it. We can both sing all the songs - in order- by heart

Cedarmont Kids are a group of terribly produced children lip syncing and performing songs. Take a look and listen:

Our DVD's were a goodbye gift from the dearly missed "Ms. Tippi" from Chicago. As a daycare provider, she was no fool, and knew what it took to have a moment of silence in her home! Thanks Ms. Tippi for the gift that keeps on giving.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Growing Up Ceremony

Maddie's pre-school had their "Growing Up Ceremony" today, and we sure got our daily dose of hilarity. Zak laughed almost the entire hour at the antics of the kids on stage (listen for his constant giggle).

The children were grouped by class and performed four songs each, and then they did one final song together. The kids in the first three videos below are just Maddie's class (all are four years old). Maddie is the blonde wearing the purple dress.

Jesus Loves Me (this is their first song):

Life is a Highway: WATCH THIS ONE (complete with butt scratching, sun glasses, tambourines, and boys behaving badly with inflatable guitars):

Little Boy Blue:

Get Up, Get Up: (the entire pre-school's 2.5-5 year olds perform the finale)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Maddie, streaming live on the internet

Madison, and 30 of her closest friends, will be performing at pre-school tomorrow at 9:30 a.m for the "Growing Up Ceremony." I'm guessing that this is a lot like graduation for those who are moving to kindergarten next year. (Why there needs to be a "graduation" for every year seems ridiculous to me, but whatever.) Maddie has been practicing everyday at school and home, and from what I can gather, she'll be singing three songs. God help us.

If you'd like to watch the program live from your computer, email me and I will send you the link. (I don't want to post it publicly.)

Zak and I plan on attending, and we'll be sure to take photos and video so I can post it later (for the crazies) for the friends/family who can't dedicate an hour at work to watch pre-schoolers sing some songs).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Last night, about 8:00 p.m., I was upstairs in bed nursing my allergies. I heard Maddie and Zak were downstairs laughing hysterically for over 20 minutes.

When Zak came up to bed I asked him what they were doing that was so funny. "Oh, nothing, we were just taking silly pictures of our feet."


"Have you seen Maddie's toes recently? They're gross and in need of some nail polish."

I found over 25 pictures on the camera this morning of them...

and their feet.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day 2009

I was finally able to call my own mother at 10:00 p.m. to wish her a happy mother's day. During our discussion, and sharing of the details of our days, something about mother's day became very clear to me.

Unlike popular opinion, I think Mother's Day should be a day WITHOUT the kids. That's the true gift, time alone! For a nap, for a spa day, for a quite lunch, a solo workout.... My rationale is obvious if you read my blog. I simply crave private time because my life is so full of children, wiping buggers/butts, feeding, bathing, shopping, and keeping them relatively happy.

My mother, on the other hand, simply craves time WITH her adult children because she hardly sees us. When she does see us, we usually come as individuals, and not all at the same time. It's interesting how ones perspective on motherhood changes through the years.

It also reminds me that this time...

will be over....

before I know it.

(My mother's day gifts from my sweet little girls.)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Carnival Conquest (part three)

After the Jamaica Me Crazy Temper Tantrum from Hell. We made the very easy decision to leave those two monkeys (sorry your sister sucked, Maddie, you did a GREAT job) on the boat when we got to Georgetown (of the Cayman Islands) the next day. And, it was AWESOME!Perhaps it was because we were alone?And could lounge (alone) with a local beer and no sippy cups full of milk?

(Look, my feet are up!)

Or maybe we just had a great time because we were, I dunno, alone? In addition, I got a 10 second back massage, held, AND made out with some stingrays. (really, I did--no tongue though). We don't have the pictures to prove it since we were both able to go into the ocean (together for the first time in four years) and snorkel (alone).

I did take the photo above while I was on the little boat that took us out there of the incredibly beautiful crystal clear water. That black thing with a tail is the stingray that I got some lovin' from (or maybe a relative of this guy). There were lots of stingrays to play with, some little ones (about 12 inches wide) and some big ones (4 feet wide).

After the snorkeling and Stingray City excursion we did a bit of shopping and then went back to get The Girls and took them for a swim in the tiny kiddie pool on the ship (seriously, our backyard inflatable pool is bigger than this one). It was always totally empty. Every time we went there we were the only family. It was in an odd, hard to find, location on the ship (with NO nearby buffet or bar--which explains the lack of people).

They were happy to see us. The photo above illustrates how Brooke does ANYTHING that Maddie does. Here, they were leaning over the pool, making silly faces and noises for us.

There was this reservations only restaurant (i.e. It's gonna cost you extra, Lady) on board called, The Point, that may have served the most fantastic (and interesting) food I've ever consumed in my whole entire life. It was really THAT good. They served SEVEN courses (try to figure that one out). We ate there twice. Thank god that I packed my cruise pants:

To be continued (unless you're sick of our vacation photos yet?)...

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Carnival Conquest (part two)

Our first stop on the cruise was Montego Bay, Jamaica. While doing our research for our trip we had pre-decided to buy an all inclusive day pass at a local resort that is close to the port where the ship docked. We knew we could take the girls with us, and we'd have a beach, water slides, pool, food, bathrooms, and lots of free rum drinks. The cab ride was just minutes from the ship, and we read plenty of reviews that assured us this place was fantastic.

And it was! We took both girls down the water slides, played in the water, took them on a paddle boat and kayak rides. We planned to lay them both down under a palapa on a beach lounge chair to nap and spend the entire day there. BUT...Brooke had other plans. During lunch it all went to hell in a hand basket. We still don't know why or what set her off. We think it was because she was tired and needed nap, but his tantrum was so unbelievably EPIC it required photography. I don't even have the words to describe it, and I think I've blocked it out already. So, maybe she was tired, or maybe she's just TWO. It was a yell, kick, run away, lay on the floor, everyone staring while she SCREAMED kind of tantrum.

It was embarrassing, and I don't think Jamaicans have ever seen or heard anything like it. Needless to say, after ineffective attempts to console her, we just left.
I've never really heard Zak yell for any reason (let alone a cab), but he did because the dudes were just not moving fast enough. As soon as we got in the cab, she finally stopped crying. This was our lowest of lows. We were questioning why we even took them off the boat, why we even took a cruise, why....?

Brooke continued to struggle with just existing for the majority of the trip. She fussed when she was at "Camp Carnival," she fussed when she was with us in the room, and she complained at all meals. The only time she was relatively happy was when she could walk around the boat, or when she was sleeping. She took a three hour nap every single day.

After the Jamaica debacle, we decided that we were not going to take them off the boat for Cancun or for the stop at the Grand Cayman Islands. It was just too difficult, and we wanted to snorkel and spend time alone.

Later that day, the Captain of the cruise ship came on the loud speaker to somberly inform all the passengers that all "unnecessary" travel to Mexico was ill advised due to the Swine Flu. We were told we were not going to stop in Cozumel, and there were no other ports that we would be able to visit on such short notice. It was going to have to be another "Fun Day at Sea" for us. Ugh.

To be continued....Swimming with the Stingrays.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Carnival Conquest (part one)

We are happy to report that we are back from our seven day cruise. I have lots to share (including a gazillion great pics), but decided to blog about our trip in small posts.

We left last Sunday, and had a great four hour drive. The Girls were wonderful in the car, watched videos, and only demanded one stop. One of the reasons we booked this particular cruise was because we didn't have to fly. Galveston is a port for Carnival, and it's just a four hour drive. We arrived in Galveston around noon, and met David and Francie for lunch. They just had a baby girl, and we finally got to meet Elle for the first time. She was so sweet and well behaved at lunch, and David and Francie got a small taste of what it is like to dine with not one, but two little impatient girls.

The Ship: Sunday

David and Francie took us to the port where we boarded the Carnival Conquest ship. The check in was a smooth process. By this point, The Girls had seen the ship, but were still probably a bit confused by it. I think they assumed we were going to spend a week on a sail or speed boat since that is what they consider a “boat” to be. We found our room, and I was honestly surprised by how SMALL it was. I expected a small room, but this was TINY. We had booked just one step down from a suite (which would have literally doubled the cost of our cruise) and had the top level balcony room. Even more shocking was the bathroom. It was slightly bigger than an airplane bathroom with a 2 foot by 2 foot stand up shower (that was still part of the bathroom!). I think this is what European bathrooms are like, one tiny space with a shower hose, toilet and sink. I should have taken a picture of the bathroom, but this is our "couch" (Maddie's bed, next to our bed).
This is a shot of Brooke's butt and Zak on our balcony, and the bottom edge of the bed (which is where Brooke's pack n play barely could be wedged in):

After the initial shock of trying to figure out how FOUR of us were going to live in such a tiny space (this was before our NINE bags of luggage had arrived to the room), we had our “muster drill.” It’s kinda like a fire drill, but instead directed us to get our life jackets and go to our life boats. Finding the life boat was not a simple task, but we did:

The life jackets were built for the average cruise customer (a 275+ pound American), and not for a 25 or 35 pound child. We were told we could "request a child sized vest,” but they never arrived. We headed to the deck party where we had our first encounter of “everything costs extra” in the form of drinks and photos. The Girls had fun exploring and waving goodbye to Galveston. This is about the time when they first saw the ice cream machines, and had their first of 1000 dishes of ice cream. Brooke, in particular, lived off of milk, pineapple and ice cream. She DEMANDED to eat pineapple for every single meal. “I wanna pie-apple!”By Monday, Zak and I were so ready to have a break from the kids that we rushed to the “Camp Carnival” and dropped the kids off. Both Girls were happy to play with new toys. The play room was huge, and they had tons of activities for them. The kids were grouped by age, and the 2-5 group was perfect for Maddie and Brooke so they could stick together. Brooke enjoyed her first day or two there, but then really didn't like it. We got called (by a phone they provided us) nearly every day because Brooke was so unhappy and cried for us. That isn't normal behavior for her. We think she was so out of her routine (staying up late, eating too much ice cream, etc.) that she was just miserable 90% of the entire cruise. This made for some very frustrating hours for Zak and I who had hoped we'd have more alone time than we did.

Maddie, on the other hand, had a blast every single day and was a total angel. She LOVED everything about cruising. She adjusted to the non-routine far better than we expected. She was so tired from all the activities that she even napped for several hours each day (we all did)!

Zak and I figured out early on that the intentional leisurely slow dining service was not going to work for Brooke. She had a tantrum in the dining room the first night. We decided to feed the girls at the casual restaurant FIRST, and then take them to the Camp Carnival so we could dine alone.

Even though our assigned seating was wisley in a sectioned off kids room, we didn't mind because the crying kids weren't OURS.

To be continued...."Jamaica Me CRAZY: Tantrum of all Tantrums" and "No Mexico for YOU, 'lil piggy."