Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Robot Claw

Brandon just called from the mall to see if I had gotten Charlie a grabbernabber yet. I think it's official toy name is "robot claw," but in our house, we call it a "grabbernabber."

Charlie has an extensive wish list. Age four seems to be a very special crossroads where one is still a devout believer in Santa, but has also been around the block enough times to be pretty greedy in the toy department. I can't complain, though because Charlie is so fun to buy for. His list is like a scavenger hunt where all the items can be found at Toys 'R' Us or at the "As Seen on TV" store that only seems to pop up at Christmas time at the mall. I actually let out a little scream at Toys 'R' Us today when I found the Rock 'em Sock 'em Robot game that Charlie has had his eye on for forever. The lady next to me must've thought I was either crazy or really into boxing robots. I think actually I'm a little bit of both. Charlie's passion for robots is contagious.

I bought my first Transformer today. A Transformer has been at the top of Charlie's list for some time. I bought the least violent looking one I could find. Apparently all Transformers are packing heat. They don't just come with guns either. Some of them have like these huge blades that are much larger than necessary. Why do these robots, who turn into cars/planes/tanks, need such long, sharp objects to fight each other with? If one of them came at another one with a huge sword, wouldn't he just turn into an SUV and run him over? Or better yet, drive away pacifically, taking the high road and all that? What good is a knife to a robot?

Tonight Charlie asked me what would happen if he kicked someone's head off. Would they have to stay in the hospital for a million years? Would the doctor just tape it back on? These are questions I am not prepared to answer. I decided to just be straight with Charlie. "If you kicked someone's head off, they would die," I said. Night night! Sweet dreams!

I fretted over the Transformer purchase. Brandon thought I was being silly. He had Transformers growing up and he's not out there kicking people's heads off or lunging at them with sabers. Why can't they make a Transformer who transforms from, say, a tandem bicycle into an ATM machine? I could get behind that kind of transforming. Or maybe a Prius that transforms into a robot whose specialty is gardening. He could come with his own little shovel and tomato plants.

One thing I noticed from my time spent in the boys' aisle at the toy stores is how violent and dark all of the toys are once you get to the 4 and up section. It goes from Handy Manny and Bob the Builder to GI Joe, Transformers, Star Wars, etc. really fast. What's up with that? Those aisles are scary places. Why are the toy companies making such violent toys for our little boys? Are little boys demanding it? Or are they taught to want it because that's what's available for them to want? Inquiring minds want to know.

Maybe I will take back the Transformer. I already bought Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots. Maybe that's enough robot violence for one Christmas?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

New York Citay!

I feel like we might as well be blasting off to the moon...we're leaving for New York tomorrow!!! Emma just came downstairs to tell me she can't sleep because she's so excited about going to New York. I feel the same way. I have been scouring the Internet for things to do with kids in NYC. I keep getting this little tingle of nervousness every time I pick up the phone to dial one of the New York numbers to try to make a reservation. Their accents, their's all so New York. Love it! I'll report back on our big city adventures. Mostly, I think we're just going to do a playground crawl through Central Park and then try to see as much of the lights and holiday festiveness as possible. Yippee!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Breakfast nook

I think I have swept the floor five or six times today. I don't do a very good job of sweeping (clearly) because all I can see every time I walk from the kitchen to the dining room are bits of muffin, goldfish, and teeny tiny grains of sand or sugar or flakes of our skin constantly being sloughed off as we shuttle back and forth from the kitchen to the dining room.

The kitchen-dining room thoroughfare is a well travelled area in our house. It is home to the computer from which I am writing to you currently, and to the playroom. What we call the "playroom," is really a small space off the kitchen that most people would refer to as a "breakfast nook."

The people who lived here before us were a young, childless couple. When we looked at the place to see if we wanted to rent it, it was incredibly neat and utterly without clutter. I remember their dining room table was set for two, complete with cloth napkins folded up fancily on top of the plates. They did not appear to be preparing a meal, so we had to assume that they lived their lives in such an orderly, showroom floor kind of way. The breakfast nook was completely empty, save for a large barbell and set of weights on the floor. "You can use this room for your weights," the guy told Brandon. Uh huh. We both knew what was going in that nook and it wasn't Brandon's weights. Our idea of a nook and their idea of a nook were two very different things.

Upstairs, in what is currently Teddy's room, the couple each had a desk in front of the two windows. Presumably they sat up there working quietly side-by-side, looking out the window when they lacked inspiration. It's strange that Teddy looks out on the same view when I'm changing his diaper as the previous tenants did when they were typing away on their his and hers computers.

The room that is now Charlie and Emma's room was some sort of meditation room. It housed an odd contraption that was either for praying in strange positions or maybe it was some kind of ancient pilates machine? I can't even really explain it. I just remember it was this weird, sort of gothic wooden contraption and there were candles. It's hard to imagine Charlie and Emma's cheerful room, currently cluttered with dinosaurs, astronauts and butterflies, as the site of such flammable, mystical spiritual practices.

Somehow, I doubt the people who lived here before us had to sweep the floor nearly as much as I do. I am sure if they ate goldfish crackers, they managed to keep them neatly contained either in their mouths or on their plate rather than crunching them messily with their bared teeth or under their crocs as they walked across the room.

Brandon is welcome to keep his weights in our breakfast nook at any time. He will just have to prop them against the wall, somewhere between Emma's sewing machine and Charlie's firetruck.

We live about 85% of our lives in our breakfast nook. It is a very efficient little nook. I do get annoyed with the toy clutter and with the goldfish/Cheerio dust I am constantly wading through. But the truth is I wouldn't trade it for anything.* It's a small price to pay for a life and a house lived to the fullest.

Okay, break's over. The floor's not going to sweep itself and the breakfast nook looks like a tornado hit it.

*Except for maybe a large, finished, walk-out basement with built-ins and a half-bath, not that I've given it that much thought.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Snow Day

My kids have been playing together all day. A funky, folk version of "Amazing Grace" is playing in the background while the snow falls like feathers outside. There is a gingerbread house waiting to be decorated on the dining room table, two little Christmas trees waiting to be trimmed later tonight. Colored Christmas lights frame the playroom window, giving things a warm, cozy glow. The baby has been napping and napping and napping to his heart's content. My family, the people who love me and whom I love most in the world, are so close to me I am literally tripping over them. Outside, a tree branch is so loaded down with luscious wet snow, that it bends from the weight of it.

The hundred or so square feet surrounding me is a complete disaster area. There are hot wheels play sets scattered around, along with bulldozers and blocks. Bitty twins clothing is strewn about in the style of a messy college roommate. I feel stressed about the lack of Christmas shopping I have done. I am annoyed with my skin and the weird, post-pregnancy short hairs I have to deal with when doing my hair. I am dissatisfied with the wardrobe choices currently available in my closet. There are emails to return. Bills to pay. Phone calls to make. I wonder if I will ever be the kind of person who gets regular manicures and pedicures. I need to exercise. Will anyone ever read my novel who isn't my friend or related to me? Will anyone pay me for my work? Why do I reserve the sweetest version of myself for strangers? Why can't I just accept the fact that everyone leaves their shoes and socks in the living room and move on?

These are the two versions of my life. I wish I could live in the former, but I spend so much time dwelling in the latter. I love how the snow covers over everything. Even cars and ugly buildings aren't immune to its magic. I'm hoping I'm not either.

Friday, December 4, 2009

What we've been up to lately

Well, I did it. I wrote a novel. Fireworks didn't go off quite like I expected them too when I finally came to the end. I guess that's because I'm not really done, done. I have lots of editing to do. I changed the setting of the story like three times. I killed a character off and then decided that was a mistake and brought him back to life. There are some red herrings that seem like maybe they should be important but then go nowhere. So, I definitely still have lots of work to do. I haven't cracked open the champagne just yet. But, I'm pretty proud that I've got about 300 pages of material to work with. It's definitely a good feeling.

I'm not even sure what to write this blog post about. It has been too long. There's too much to catch you up on. Not, that are lives have been that eventful, but the little mundane details that I usually like to write about have piled up on me and it's hard to focus on the ones I want to tell about. Maybe I'll just go person by person and try to sum everyone up, Christmas newsletter style (minus all the bragging).


Charlie is becoming more intense in his Charlie-ness. He is passionate about Magic School Bus and the commercials that accompany Magic School Bus. He can quote you verbatim the ad copy for Nationwide Insurance, Pillow Pets and these magic hanger things I can't remember the name of right now. He is the #1 target audience for anyone selling anything on TV. Trying to get rid of some extra Snuggies or looking to buy other people's gold so you can turn it into cash? Charlie's your guy. Charlie does that frustrating guy thing where he totally tunes you out when you're talking to him. You'll ask him a question and he'll wait like 5 seconds and then say, "what?" He also does the guy thing where he leaves his socks in the living room. He loves his big sister more than anything. Sometimes I can hear him calling out for reassurance from her at night when they are both supposed to be sleeping in their bunk beds. "Emma?" he'll say. "Emma??" I can't hear what she says back, but whatever it is, it seems to do the trick.


Emma is rapidly becoming a big kid. She has this tone in her voice when we pick her up from school that is a combination of patience and condescension. We'll be like, "hey, Emma, while you were at school, Charlie and Teddy and I went to the bookstore to play with the train table." And Emma will be like, "Oh really? That must have been nice for you." It's as though she's trying for our sake to remember a simpler time in her own life when something so childish would've been appealing to her. For Christmas this year she really hasn't mentioned wanting any toys. Well, she did mention wanting a Barbie the other night. I'm just not sure I can pull the trigger on that one, though. She says she wants "fashion" clothes and books and a DS. I can't believe we are already moving into this phase of life with her. My own life is flashing before my eyes. She still loves to draw and make things. Every night before she goes to sleep she pulls out this Hello Kitty journal she keeps next to her bed and a black crayon she keeps in her music box and writes in her journal. Here are some excerpts from her journal: "TOWSDAY SSTAE HOME...WNSDAE PLMR." Amazing how innate the urge to document our own lives is.


Teddy is rapidly becoming quite the live wire. As I write this, he is banging my glass mixing bowls on the floor of the kitchen. Probably should go do something about that....okay, I'm back. Teddy's turn-ons are playing with the recycling, Splenda packets, hairspray bottles and glass mixing bowls. His turn-offs are being spoon-fed, eggs, and baby toys. He is walking up a storm now. He toddles around with his arms out in front of him like a zombie, a cute, smiling zombie.
His favorite thing is to take any container and see what things will fit inside of it. Right now he's walking around with a plastic cup with a tiny basketball inside of it. He lives for stuff like that--that and throwing non-trash items away in the trash. We are all deeply in love with him and don't even mind so much when throws our valuables away.

Well, I think that is about all I have in me this morning. I keep having to stop writing to make sure Teddy's not throwing things in the trash or the toilet. Thanks for reading this! Hopefully I will be a more frequent blogger this month. I'm going to try!