Wednesday, May 28, 2008

How far we have fallen....

I just spent the last few hours at our local Soup Plantation shoveling forkfuls of salad into my mouth in between cries of "Hey!" "I said STOP." "No running!" "BE. STILL." Did I mention I brought the kids with me? My friend Jessie and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get together with her parents who are visiting from Wisconsin. Jessie's parents have been treated to many pictures of kids over the years - which is terribly deceptive, given that they are (mostly) still in pictures. This evening they ran around our table like a pack of coked-out hyenas. At one point I looked at Jessie's mom (who was doing her very best not to look completely appalled - she is an incredibly good sport) and said "You know, four years ago I would have been mortified by this, but now I just can't be bothered."

I'm pretty sure I'm her favorite now.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Ava: Mom? What are you doing?
Me: I'm ordering some things on the computer......
A: Can we find pictures of me and look at them?
M: a minute.....just let me finish this.....
A: Can you find some pictures of me? On the computer?
M:.....I will in a minute sweetie........
A: Mom? Are you finding pictures of me?
M:'m still ordering the stuff.....hang on.....
A: Hey mom, I have a good idea!
M: .....mmm-hem?.......
A:You can stop doing that and find pictures of me and we can look at them! Isn't that a great idea?

Bonus Conversation:
Ava: Mooooommmmmmm!!! Cate said she was 4 years oooollllllddddddddd!!!! (Is the whiny-ness coming through?)
Me: Is that true? Is she 4 years old?
A: Noooooooo!!!!!
M: Then why are you getting upset?

Why does this not work in my life?

Friday, May 23, 2008


The television was on and tuned to the Disney Channel and all of the sudden Cathryn is shrieking "Hannah Montana! Hannah Montana! MOM! I love Hannah Montana!!!


Get. Away.

The kids and I joined Brian for an overnight in San Diego On Friday. In typical Carlson style we totally forgot that it was a holiday week-end, which explains why the trip down on Friday afternoon took a few minutes longer than FOREVER.

A taste of our mini-vacation, family style:

We started off with a trip to the Reuben Fleet Science Museum in Balboa Park, where we met up with Brian. The museum in general is fantastic, with lots of hands on stuff, but the best part was the Kids Space equipped with a mini-grocery store area, complete with a check-out stand equipped with a conveyor belt. Two large wheels at either end allow kids to move the belt either backwards or forwards; after sliding assorted fruits and vegetables down the belt into a waiting basket the kids realized that the belt could also be used as a ride!

Mommy!! Would you like a Cate sandwich? Coming right up! How about a Jack taco? Here you go! Daddy! You need a Ava burrito!

We headed back to the hotel and Brian went to a nearby Wendy's to grab some food for dinner. Did you know that they put mini-Frosties in their kids meals? And that if you have 3 kids, and you don't share this fact with them but instead pour them all into one cup and say it is Mommy's drink and you won't like it that you can basically get a free Frostie? You're welcome.

Night-time was an adventure all on its own.....the room had a smallish alcovyish walk-in-closet dressing area, so we put the kids in there in the hopes that they would fall asleep and we could watch a little t.v. or read or do something -anything- that didn't involve repeating the words "because I asked you to" 1,000 times (which obviously rules out sex, but whatever, we were tired). Why did we think this would be possible? Have we not been doing this for three years now? We settled the kids down with kisses and strict admonitions to BE QUIET. OR ELSE. That worked for about 1 minute, and then the giggles started.....quiet at first....then louder.....and louder......GO! TO! SLEEP!.......ooookkkaaaayyyy moooooommmmm.......giggle giggle giggle snort shhhhhh! giggle giggle giggle.......It was actually pretty funny. Listening to them trying to suppress their laughter I could just picture their little bodies shaking with trapped mirth until they could no longer contain it and it snorted out of them. Brian and I started giggling in our bed, also trying to be quiet so they would not hear us laughing.......I love knowing that my kids have experienced the deliciousness of forbidden laughter.......

The next morning we headed up to Chris and Dawn's house for some quality time with the cousins. We had planned on going to the park, but the weather was still cold and undecided, so instead we headed to a nearby Chik-Fil-A. While this would not have been my first choice, Dawn said it had a great play place, and......I'm sorry. Have you not read the zillions of articles about heroin needles and dead ferrets in fast-food restaurant play places? No, she assured me, this one was actually nice and the food was pretty good too. OK, fine, whatever, let's go. Well, dip me in batter and call me fried - it was great! Maybe it was because the place was brand-spanking-new, but it was clean (like, Disneyland clean), and the chicken nuggets? Made of actual cut-up chicken! Their kids meals were perfectly proportioned, with an option of fruit salad (with real strawberries!) instead of fries (which were fabulous). They have several grilled-chicken options, including the awesome wrap I eventually chose. The kids had so much fun playing in the play space that they slept the entire way home.

I am so Googleing Chik-Fil-A to find the closest one.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


I just went to Target to buy underwear and came out a little over $200 dollars lighter. I'm not sure which is more sad - that I buy my underwear at Target, or that I am can not go into that store without dropping a substantial portion of my paycheck. Why must you be like that Target? WHY?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Lolo Poppins

So Saturday morning the Psychology Department held its commencement ceremonies. Brian was out of town, Mimi and Auntie and Miss Jessica were all busy. In desperation I called on my friend Lauren and begged her to come and watch the kids; I hate calling on Lauren because 1) she lives a fair distance away, so it is no easy thing for her to "pop" over, and 2) she is busy enough with her own lovely one-year-old boy Owen. However, like a true friend she came to my rescue and showed up bright and early Saturday morning with Owen and a big bag 0'fun. I scooted out the door, with glib promises of being back in an hour and a half.....

I will skip the torture that was the commencement ceremony; this year we were outside instead of in the air-conditioned gym where we have held our ceremonies for the past three years. Clearly someone somewhere did something horrible and now God and the Dean hate us. Suffice to say that 2 hours and 45 minutes later, in the beginning stages of heat stroke, I arrived home sweaty and hoping that Lauren wasn't waiting for me with firing squad......

What I actually found waiting for me were three happy children who were sad that I was home because that meant Auntie Lolo and Baby Owen would leave. While I was gone they had read books and colored in the new coloring books Auntie Lolo brought them. But what really thrilled me was that she had also found the time to make the sweetest drawings with them; she asked them "What do you like to do with your Daddy?" and she wrote it on a piece of paper which they then drew on. Jack said "I like playing with my daddy" and added some very nice squiggles in various shades of blue and also a "J" and an "A" and what looks a bit like a "C" or maybe another "A" - but not too bad for a three old I would say.......Ava said "I like to run in the grass with my dad" and signed her name in green, of course. Cate said "I like to do a lot of tricks with my daddy" and decorated the paper with orange, purple and pink. I was going to save them and give them to Brian on Father's Day, but I just couldn't wait, so they became his "Welcome Home!" gift instead.....

Lauren herself was still smiling when I got back, so I took that as a good sign. She said that Owen had a good time playing with the "big kids" (hard to believe my babies are now the Big Kids!) and was full of smiles and kisses for me. He really is a cutie pie; he has his mommy's smiling eyes and his daddy's everything else. Quite the killer combination......

So I owe Lauren a million thanks and probably half as many strong drinks. If she is reading this then I should warn her that the kids have asked repeatedly when I will be leaving again so that Baby Owen and Auntie Lolo can over? Today? Later? Is Later TODAY?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Subtle Differences

People sometimes ask if my children are "alike" - I suppose it is a natural question; they are, after all, siblings and come from the same genetic soup. As it happens however, they are an excellent example of the infinite variety that the combination of two sets of genes can produce. I offer as proof a snippet of this evening:

Mimi and the Guncles were over and before bath Cate demanded that we have Dance Party! time. She had donned her new silver tulle-and-spangles tutu-skirt and her silver glitter Mary Janes and was clearly in the mood to party. Steve started playing Metallica on the guitar and it all went downhill from there. Jack grabbed various instruments and started careening around the living room like a one-man-band on crack. Ava tried on various Dance Party outfits, but nothing was working for her until she found the pink tulle fairy tutu; arrayed to her satisfaction she bounded into the living room and started to dance the most dainty fairy princess-like dance possible for a three year old hopped up on ice cream and no nap. So here is the scene in our living room: Jack ping-ponging off the walls, tooting jingling ringing shaking drumming. Ava flitting around like a delicate fairy, pointing her toes and making twirly skips around the center of the room. Cate running between the big red chair and the entertainment armoire, alternately crashing into each of them with the grace of a rugby player. All of them very high energy, but with completely different ways of expressing that energy.

Vive la difference!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Blessed Be

Ah, Mother's Day. Such a lovely concept. Visions of breakfast in bed served by immaculately groomed children, while the adoring husband looks on....

And now back to our regulalry scheduled program: Brian was tired so I got up with the kids in the morning (we won't go into that particular moment), but I will not complain (too much) as it gave me a chance to play with them and catch up on my cartoon watching. When B finally roused himself from bed he herded the kids into the kitchen so that they could "surprise" me in the living room with the Mother's day gifts they had been working on all week at school. They had made beautiful little tea-light holders out of baby food jars, but the best gift was the look on their faces as they presented these treasures to me - so full of pride and joy, positively beaming as I carefully unwrapped each one, oohing and aahing all the while. As I took the candles out of the gift bags each child pointed out its special features:

Cate's candle is pink, because that is her favorite, and it has purple flowers because that is her favorite, and she put them on herself. And the ribbon is pink only because that is her favorite. (I am guessing there will be a test later....) "Now you be Max mommy and I will be Ruby and I will give you your candle but no touching."

Ava's candle is green, like Tinkerbell and frogs, and it has a rainbow heart and a green heart and only green and purple ribbons because those are her favorite colors and not pink, and it has m-o-m which is spelling for mom, and do you like it mommy?

Jack's candle is rainbow, but not brown, and it has two hearts and three letters, m and o and m, and three ribbons, purple and pink and green and I love you mommy.

I took the kids to church while Brian stayed home to make brunch; thankfully Mimi and my brothers met us there because as we were walking toward the Sunday School classrooms I thought "I bet there is no Sunday School today" and Lo, the Lord heard me and I was right. So the kids were in church the whole time, and they actually did remarkably well considering that I did not have any toys or candy on me to distract them. Cate amused herself by unpacking and repacking my purse 100 times, Ava scribbled on the service program, and Jack contented himself with walking up and down the pew on the kneelers. At the very end of the service Father Mark shared that the older Sunday School classes had been making "Home Blessing Kits" for all the parish families, and he asked all the children to come up to the altar to help him bless the water (thus making it HOLY. See how that works?). So they all tromped up to the front of the church and stood on the dias, right hands raised in the general direction of the water and mumbled purposefully. Amen! I can feel the salvation washing over me.....

The best part was coming home and watching the kids run around with the Home Blessing Kit (a small bottle of drinking water and a piece of palm frond left over from Palm Sunday. We are very high tech in the Episcopal Church.) sprinkling various objects they denoted worthy of blessing. The dogs got pretty damp, the cats not so much (they were quicker), mom and dad got doused multiple times, and of course Mimi and the Guncles. Thomas was sprinkled liberally, as was Tinkerbell, Lion, Monkey, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Cate's 1,000,000 small plastic animals, their couches, their beds, and the train table. So now we know what really matters.

The second best part of coming home was the scrumptilicious brunch that Brian had prepared - eggs Benedict, asparagus with Hollandaise, fresh fruit, a lots of strong, hot coffee. A veritable feast, and we all enjoyed it immensely.

That evening we had dinner with our friends Jenna and Don at Ruth's Chris in Irvine to celebrate our shared anniversaries - our 6th and their 7th. If you have never been to Ruth's Chris I highly recommend it. The steak is great, but more importantly everything else is sublime. I had several pomegranate martinis and have to say they were the best I have had yet (trust me on this; I have done my fair share of taste testing in this area). All their side dishes were great, particularly the sweet potato casserole, which is not so much a side dish as a sneaky way of having dessert WITH your meal. And the vinaigrette on my Salad Caprese was something I would happily drink as a beverage if given the opportunity.

All in all, a very good day. Cheers to all you other mothers out there - one day is not enough!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mums the Word

I picked up the kids from school this afternoon, and as we were driving home I asked them what they did that day....

Ava: We made you a present for Mother's Day!!
Me: You did? How nice of you!
Ava: Yes, and it's a CANDLE!! With flowers! But mom!......(whispering) IT'S A SURPRISE!

I promise I won't tell.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Home Alone

....with the kids. B is in D.C. for a few days, so I'm kickin' it single parent style yo. (Like that? Is my bad-assness coming through?) The lovely Miss Jessica the Magnificent is here so that I can have a little time to lay on the bed, silently moaning over my root-canal-bound tooth. So life is good.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

For the Record

Names of the dogs in Cate's current collection: Browny, Snowball, Benji, Ender, Pug, Ketchup and Mustard (the twins), Muskar, Marshmallow and, of course, Maggie.

A recent conversation with Ava:

Me (trying to brush her hair): Ava your hair is so tangly. Do you know why that is?
Ava: Because I eat my hair?
Me: Yes. Why do you eat your hair?
Ava: Because it tastes like pears.

I really can't argue with that.

A conversation with Jack:

Jack : I like the Toy Story with Woody and Buzz and Jessie and the horse.
Brian: Toy Story 2?
Jack (holding the Toy Story 1 video): Toy Story is my favorite. The horse is my favorite. Buzz is my favorite. And Woody and Jessie.
Brian (holding the Toy Story 2 video up to Jack): You mean Toy Story 2, buddy.
Jack: Yes. Toy Story 2 is daddy's favorite and Toy Story is my favorite. That's a good plan, mama?
Me: The best plan buddy.

A conversation with Brian:

Brian: For the record, I do replace the toilet paper rolls in the bathroom. And one of those bars of soap is for my face, and one is for my hands, and one is just a regular bar of soap.
Me: And that is what you got out of that post?
Brian: I'm just sayin'.....
Me: What. EVER.