Monday, January 31, 2011

The Great Sock Conspiracy

Seriously?? Seriously.

This is my pile of mismatched kid socks. Yep, just the kids- you should see the pile for me and Paul! C'mon, I could clothe my children for a year with the fabric from the socks that have no mate. What's the deal? I have searched the laundry room, the boys' room, our room... under, on, and in everything. Where do they go??

Have you noticed an inordinate amount of italics so far in this post? That is my frustration expressing itself the best way it knows how. It's really frustrating! I just know the socks have all gathered in some dusty corner of the basement solely to spite me. They're laughing at me!

Well, ha ha, socks! Joke's on you. I'll just go to Target and buy more socks, then where will you be? Still in a dusty corner of the basement... forever. Take THAT. The biggest problem is that I have an aversion to throwing away mismatched socks. I'm just sure the match will show up one day in my clean laundry basket and the two shall be forever joined (until one gets lost again). So I keep them- in a bag in Max's drawer, on top of my dresser, or I continually throw them in the dirty laundry, hoping that "this one's the load that will solve my problems!"

Someone, please talk some sense into me. They're gone. They are not coming back. Get a grip and move on... and clean off your dresser! But the thrill of the occasional match keeps me from cleaning house. The thrill of the match, and the fear that as soon as I throw the socks away, the missing matches will come out of hiding all at once and declare victory! I will not have it. I will not yield! They may have won the battle, but they WILL NOT WIN THE WAR!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Three and Up

"Caution: contains small parts. Not for children under three."

How many times have I seen those words? The day used to seem so far off when I wouldn't have to worry about my baby trying to ingest all of the "small parts" in his toys, but suddenly Max is three! He has officially moved into the next developmental age group, according to psychologists, book sellers, toy makers; so many things were off-limits until now, but suddenly he is old enough to handle the Big Kid toys and do all of the Big Kid stuff. (Including paying admission at the Minnesota Zoo. Bummer.)

It's a little bittersweet for me.

Three means he's growing up. Three means that he is old enough to go to school! I can't believe we are at that point already. Our church has a preschool program called "Catechesis of the Good Shepherd", open to kids age 3-6. Next fall, we'll be able to enroll Max and start meeting families in our parish. Hooray! I've heard such good things about this program, and I can't wait for Max to make some friends at our church.

I'm learning firsthand that Age Three was not randomly chosen as a major marker in child development. Even though we're only a month in, I have noticed changes in Max that show me he is really growing up. He's able to carry on a more complex conversation and make his needs known more clearly. But since I know he understands what I'm asking him, I've discovered that he has a terrible case of Selective Hearing. When we're talking about him, the kid's got elephant ears... but when I'm talking to him (more specifically, telling him to do something) suddenly the invisible headphones go on.

Oh Lordy, can't wait til he's a teenager.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Max's second-favorite music group is the Laurie Berkner Band. I have to admit, while she's not quite as easy on the ears as the Okee Dokee Brothers, I often find myself singing along to her music- and she definitely knows what a toddler likes! Among Max's top picks are "Rocketship Run", "We Are the Dinosaurs", and "I Really Love To Dance". Talk about a few of his favorite things!

But recently, his love for Laurie has gone deeper than her music; she has found a special place in his heart. We were listening to her CD one day and I asked Max whether he liked Laurie Berkner (meaning the music). He answered, "Yeah... she's a really nice guy." (Hmm ... I didn't know they had met!)

Then yesterday, her song titled "I'm Not Perfect" came on. The first verse goes like this:

"I'm not perfect, no I'm not
I'm not perfect, but I've got what I've got
I do my very best, I do my very best
I do my very best each day
But I'm not perfect,
And I hope you like me that way"

As the verse ended, Max looked questioningly up at me and commented, "But Laurie Berkner is perfect!"

Lost & Found

My phone went missing last week.

I know, it was awful. I can hear your collective groan of sympathy. And what's worse, we have no home phone! The moment I realized it wasn't where it should be, I got slightly panicky... and a little claustrophobic. I can't call myself to find it... I can't call anyone to help me... I'm stuck here forever with no link to the outside world! (Hey, I never said I'm rational when I'm worried.)

I looked under couch cushions, under beds, in drawers, in pockets, on the floor of the car... nothing. So I decided to email Paul at work and have him call my phone, on the off chance that I could hear it vibrate as I wandered the rooms. He received my email and responded, so I went to listen (and send up a little plea to St. Anthony). Still no luck. I sat down to write an email saying that I was unsuccessful ... when I heard a little giggle from Max's room!

Did I mention Max was still sleeping up until this point?

Suddenly his door flew open and he ran into the computer room with my phone in hand! "Look what I found!" he cried, with a huge grin on his face. "Oh, Max, thank you! Where did you find it?"

"In my covers!" It must have fallen out of my pocket when I was saying goodnight to him last night. Major sigh of relief. I called Paul back to let him know where I found it, and he informed me that Max had answered the phone four times in a row! While I was racing around the house, searching like a madwoman, Max was sitting on his bed chatting with Daddy, but Paul had no way to let me know.

Genius that I am, I hadn't thought to check the boys' bedroom. Thank you, Max, for saving the day. I just wish I could have been a fly on the wall when he awoke to a cell phone buzzing in his blankets!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Birthday to Louie!

"Hooray! It's my birthday!"

One year old! I can hardly believe it. I have such vivid memories of this time last year, it seems that it couldn't have possibly been twelve full months already. And oh, how much our little sweetheart has grown. He is not a baby anymore! I'm not yet ready to call him a little boy, but that's probably closer to the truth than I'm willing to admit. Pretty soon I'll have two boys chasing each other around and keeping me on my toes.

We had a nice, simple celebration for Lucian's birthday- my parents and John, Sara & Anna joined us for dinner, cake and presents. Louie has a major attachment to Baby Anna- I think one of his favorite parts of the evening was seeing her. (here's where I start quietly humming "Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match...")

Big Brother Max was very helpful all evening, from blowing out the candle (and spitting on the cake...) to helping with the gift opening. He even got into the giving spirit, understanding that it wasn't his birthday- he gave Lucian a set of blocks and a book of nursery rhymes... I helped out with the choosing, buying and wrapping parts, but he signed the card and helped his brother open them!

It was a perfect low-key first birthday party for our sweet little introverted son. Just enough excitement to make him smile, but not enough to stress him out! Happy birthday to my big one-year-old boy!

Here are the highlights of the evening, in pictures.

The Cake!

Although a little tentative at first, Louie got the hang of it after awhile. We all cheered when he stuffed his face, and now (as Sara pointed out) we will expect him never to eat like that again! How unfair!

"Mmmm...sugar buzz..."

"Think I can fit the whole thing in my mouth?"

The Damage- not too bad!

The Presents!

Lucian started to figure out this whole unwrapping thing- with a little help from his brother!

"I knew birthdays were cool, but..."

"...This is AWESOME!!"

Snuggling with his Pillow Pet from Auntie Megan

And now, the season of birthdays is coming to a close. I wonder if my kids remember a time before this two-month celebration/present-opening/feasting bonanza? If not, they're about to be rudely awakened. Life is going back to normal! (At least for a little while...)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Praying Pirate

True to form, Max has worn his pirate hat for the past week... pretty much all the time. He even wore it to The Blast on Tuesday! Remembering that the play area has a space theme, he was eager to exclaim to several unsuspecting moms that he was, for the moment, "an astronaut pirate!"

A few days ago, as we gathered for night time prayers, Max was still wearing the hat. Paul gently informed him that even pirates take off their hats when they pray. So Max set his hat on the floor and began. I was not ready for what followed.

"In the name of the Fatherrrrr, and of the Son! And of the Holeeee Spirit!" he proclaimed in his very best growly pirate voice. "Our Fatherrrr, who arrrrt in heavennnn..."

I had to feign a coughing fit so that Max wouldn't know I was laughing through prayers. Instead of chiming in quietly at the end of each prayer, as per usual, he prayed every word with heart and gusto.

"God bless Mommeeeeee! And Daddeeeeee! And Max and Luciannnnn..."

I was barely able to hold it together. No, I take it back. I did not hold it together. If not for Paul, prayer time would have totally fallen apart. I had tears in my eyes from trying to stifle my giggles. Thanks, honey, for being a stronger person than me.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

There's a Pirate Party Shakin' on the Ship

Captain Max Salty of the Pirate Ship Scallywagg

"This pirate party's only just begun,
We're just a bunch of pirates having fun!"

-Captain Bogg and Salty

There's no such thing as too much celebrating, right? The problem with having three of our four family birthdays within a month of Christmas is that we run the risk of getting a little partied-out. We've been eating sweets and opening presents for an entire month. MORE celebrating?

YES. Emphatically, yes.

Ready to mail his very first birthday party invitations

We picked a date for Max's birthday party between his actual birthday (December 25) and his baptism (January 19), and sent out the invitations to a PIRATE PARTY! As if you could possibly not know this, Max has been pirate-obsessed for quite awhile. I thought the obsession was starting to abate when he got into Bob the Builder, but it came back with a vengeance when he received a real pirate hat and a stuffed parrot from Grandma and Grandpa Yantes. He talks of little else, and even when the subject is something other than "Pirate", he speaks in a pirate voice (more on that another day...)

So on Sunday morning, we decorated the house with pirate flags, gold, jewels and treasure maps, and we put out all kids of pirate-y snacks. As each party guest arrived, they chose a pirate name from among an assortment waiting for them at the front door. We had Mad Annie, Barnacle Bernice and Crazy Vinny Bonny, but one pirate came prepared with his own name: Captain Nobeard of the Red Sienna. (Any guesses as to who that was?)

After choosing names and snacking on hard tack (chips), root beer, ginger ale, Rold Gold pretzels and pistachios, it was time for the real piracy to begin. On long voyages, pirates were known to eat limes to avoid scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency. Our pirates got to taste test lime slices, which resulted in some pretty funny faces!

Next was the treasure hunt! Simple clues and pictures led the four "big kids" around the house to find their very own treasure chest filled with goodies. Each pirate got to take home a little sack of "booty"- gold coin candy, chocolate treats, plastic jewelry and plastic coins.

Then we brought out the cake and sang happy birthday to Max Salty. The cake was frosted by Yours Truly, and while it didn't turn out how I envisioned (at all), I'm proud of my first real attempt at cake decorating! (Man, it's harder than it looks...) All the little pirates enjoyed chocolate cake and ice cream- yes, I did choose the messiest combination of sweets to offer, didn't I? Oh, well, birthdays come but once a year. And I was only in charge of cleaning up one of the children!

Max was itching to open his gifts the moment I wiped the stickiness off of his fingers, so we gathered for presents. His loot included, but was not limited to, a box of 64 crayons, coloring books, a cool "flippy" car that was a hit with the adults as well as the kids, a Three Little Pigs Play-Doh set, a Twins T-shirt, and a set of reusable Pirate stickers that Max has played with pretty much constantly since Sunday! Thanks, everyone, for your gifts and your presence! Max (and I) could not have wished for a better day.

The Party Guests in Action

Well, me hearties, that's the last of my pirate tale for today. So hoist the mainsail and weigh anchor, time to set sail for calmer waters. Time for Pirate McGraw to swallow the anchor.*

*Retire from the life of a pirate (learned from one of Max's many pirate books)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's the little things

Today, Lucian spit up massively just as I was leaning over to pick something up, thus splattering the wood floor with what would have otherwise gone straight onto my sweater and jeans. A load of laundry traded for a simple paper towel wipe-up: if that's not something to be thankful for, I don't know what is.

Some days, I find myself in awe of the Creator, pondering high and lofty thoughts about the meaning of life ... and some days a puddle of spit-up on the floor is what makes me think of God. He didn't cause the spit-up to fall, and He didn't directly intervene to change its trajectory, but he created my adorable, messy child... and today he used puke to remind me to be thankful.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

I've got some good news.

Some REALLY GOOD news.

I (and that means just me, alone, no children... alone!) will be traveling to Vienna to visit these wonderful people!

My brother Tony, sister-in-law Catherine and nephew Alexander

Truly, words can't describe how excited I am about this trip. Tony and Catherine are expecting baby #2 in May, and I am going to help out with the kids and fly back to the states with Catherine so that she can spend more time here. Tony has job responsibilities and can only take off a limited amount of time. She'd like to come early, but understandably, she'd rather not fly alone with two kids under three. (wow, can you imagine??)

I am thrilled about the prospect of traveling by myself overseas: just me, a suitcase and a good book. (Any suggestions?) I am looking forward to the gorgeous city of Vienna in the summertime- something I've never experienced. Paul, Max and I visited T&C when Max was a year old, but most of our time outdoors was spent trying to make it from Point A to Point B without freezing our tails off! I can't wait to soak up the sun at the park with Alexander and enjoy Tony's favorite Gelato downtown.

Max in Austria... he fell head-over-heels in love with Auntie Catherine

But all of these exciting thoughts pale in comparison to what really excites me about this trip. Since I got married, Tony and I have never lived in close proximity to each other. When he was in the Twin Cities, I was in South Dakota. By the time we moved back, they were in Vienna. All of Alexander's life, I've been a long-distance auntie. When they do make it back to the States, they have a limited amount of time to divide among all of their family. Maybe it sounds selfish, but on this trip I don't have to share them! I can play with Alexander all day, I can chat with Catherine over a cup of coffee, and I can get to know my big brother again.

In high school, I was two years behind him... and waaaayyy less cool. We were involved in all of the same activities (theater, choir) and I probably cramped his style a bit. But from my perspective, however much I pretended to hate the label, I always felt safe (and a little bit "in") being known as "Tony's little sister".

The last time we lived in the same state/country was before my wedding

Now we're both married with children, and I want to be able to share my daily life with him. I want the cousins to grow up together, breaking things and setting fires together (you know it's going to happen...) and when they're teenagers, I want them to have each other on speed dial.

But for now, I will look forward to this week in July that I can spend with my brother and his family at their home in Vienna. I love the pictures, blog updates and occasional phone calls, but nothing can compare to being with them in person!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

More Merriment

After Christmas Day and Max's birthday, the festivities didn't slow down in the least! I don't know about you, but I believe in celebrating every one of the twelve days of Christmas... and so we did, with more birthday celebrations (for Kelley and me), bowling night, ice skating, painting, cooking, mulled wine and more mulled wine!

Max got his first taste of ice skating when we took him to the arena for open skate, and he has officially been bitten! He started out clinging for dear life to Paul and Patrick, then progressed to a beginner's bar, and by the end of his debut, he was shuffling along totally solo. He has already surpassed me in skating ability (not that it took much...) and I believe he was the only one on the ice with a diaper (does that say more about his skating abilities or my lack of potty training abilities? Not sure.)

As is usually the case in late December, the weather was cold and windy for most of our trip. Don't ask me why I was surprised when Paul's high school friends decided that the perfect way to spend time together would be to hike Silver Mountain on a day when even driving to the entry point was treacherous. I waffled for awhile, but eventually decided to man up and join them. So, decked out in a borrowed assortment of snow boots, sweatshirts, mittens and other winter gear, I braved the weather and snowy rocks, repeating a mantra of "hot chocolate, hot chocolate, hot chocolate" all the way up the hill. Of course, it ended up being lots of fun, and the cocoa at the base of the hill (Thanks Mrs. Thompson!) was the best I've ever tasted.

On Dec 31, for the vigil of Mary Mother of God, we went to Cathedral for Mass and to hear Deacon Nathan preach. What a treat! He surprised everyone by coming home from Rome for Christmas. He's such a gift to the Church-- can't wait for the Ordination! After Mass we had a little New Years party with the Hofers and Kinyons- so great to see them! We munched on goodies for awhile, but the crowd cleared out before the ball dropped. The men headed elsewhere for some cards, so I brought in the new year with Megan, Elizabeth, Maryanne and Glee.

Yes, Glee. We kept an eye on our watches and paused the episode just in time to toast with champagne... then back to "Singin' in the Rain" a la Mr. Schuester.

We awoke to a closed freeway (due to drifting) on Saturday morning, foiling our plans of getting an early start, but when we got on the road around noon there was no trace of winter weather! No ice, no overcast sky, not even a pile of snow on the side of the road... nothing. The drive went smoothly and we arrived home late at night with Kelley and Megan, who spent the night on their way to the Carolinas via Chicago.

It is a little strange spending the days alone with my boys again after a full two weeks of constant company. However, I think they are ready to settle back into a normal routine. Only one more Christmas celebration, a Three Kings party, and three birthday parties before the month is over. No problem!

It was a blast spending so much time with family. I miss them already!