Monday, April 15, 2013

The Jelly Bean Factory!

We went to the jelly bean factory this past Sunday, which sounds like the perfect set up for a Dora the Explorer episode.  "To get to the Jelly Bean Factory, first we must drive through the Gum Drop Ghetto to the Magical Highway and on to the Pleasant Prairie, where we'll find the Jelly Bean Factory!"  In this episode, Swiper the Fox would toss our car keys into the dumpster behind the Ross Dress For Less in Gurnee and the character Tico would explain exactly what he is.

I just Googled it.  He's a squirrel.  Never would have guessed.

Anyway, we chose the free Jelly Bean Factory tour as our fun family outing because it's free and it's a factory.  Oh, wait.  It's not a factory, it's just a warehouse.  Oh, wait.  Warehouses aren't nearly as exciting as factories.  And, oh wait.  The "fun train ride" through the warehouse stops every five feet at a different television to show a series of incredibly boring videos about jelly beans.  Snooze fest, man.  Who cares if Ronald Reagan enjoyed jelly beans!?  They only thing that could have saved these videos would have been Troy McClure, who could have possibly started each video segment with, "You may remember me from other candy warehouse tour videos such as 'Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut:  The Emotional Downward Spiral of Almond Joys' and 'Skittles- The Rainbow Tastes Like Cavities.'"

The tour would have been a thousand times better if the train driver (I refuse to call her an engineer) would have just set the dang choo choo to full throttle and whipped us all around the warehouse like six or seven times.  Now that would have been a tour!  Andy was definitely disappointed in his train ride.  Every time the train stopped for another video (which was all the train did), he yelled out to the train driver to keep it moving.  "Go!"  he yelled.  I tried to feign enthusiasm for the videos ("Wow! The president was called 'The Gipper' because....  Hey, look at that!"), but Andy wasn't buying it.  Alex was also bored out of his mind, struggling to just abandon the choo choo altogether in search of some pepperoni, which Chris let him try for the first time while I was out on Saturday.  Chris is very interested in feeding Alex when it's pepperoni, a sip of soda, part of a jelly bean, or just the tiniest taste of nicotine gum, but not so much when it's age appropriate or mildly healthy.  Nonetheless.  At least he watches his own kids without referring to it as "babysitting," even if the house is an unbelievable mess when I return home after only four hours, three of those hours during which everyone should have been asleep.  But I digress.  Love you, Chris!

After the tour, I told Andy that he could have one jelly bean.  I figured if I started low, he could bargain his way up to my real jelly bean number, which was five.  By the end of the day, I'm going to say he had like two hundred.  I have him on a Pediasure regimen nowadays, though, so we're all good.

Alex is proving to be just about the opposite from Andy in every category, so maybe he'll be my steak and potatoes kid while Andy and Chris are off eating Nutella spread on a Snickers bar.  Alex eats better than Andy ever did.  He crawled faster.  He has golden hair and a fair complexion.  And he has zero interest in pacifiers or blankies.  I am attributing this lack of interest in security objects to the fact that he's not in daycare where his only soothers from home are his own binky and blanky, but that's just my own take on things.

Anyway, we did the jelly bean factory tour, and then our own homespun Dora episode took us to that Bass Pro Shop in Gurnee, the store with the big fish tank and all the metal detectors to make sure that you don't take any firearms OUT of the store and into the mall, which made me feel super secure whilst IN the store.  Then we had lunch in the food court (I hate the mall) and THEN we paid six dollars to let the boys ride the little kid choo choo around the mall play area.  Andy and Alex had been let down with the jelly bean factory ride, and so the six dollar ride seemed worth the price of admission.  Here's where one of the boys' similarities did shine through- both had a blast.  Alex stuck his face out the choo choo window and took it all in like he was on a train tour through Europe, and Andy just sat in his seat and soaked it all up with a smile on his face.  Man, do I love those boys.  Enough to give them each another jelly bean.  OR, maybe just enough to never give them any more jelly beans ever again, because, for real, that crap is pretty bad for you, no matter what Ronald Reagan ever said.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I'm Mean!

Lately, whenever Andy starts getting angry or frustrated, he sets his face in a scowl and declares, "I'm mean!"  He will then follow this proclamation up with a mean act, such as shoving, pushing, violently dumping half a gallon of water onto the floor, or hurtfully stating, "I don't like Mommy.  I want a new Mommy named Jackie. I want another Jackie."  This last statement occurred a week ago in the car, and he spied another dark haired, vaguely half-Italian woman in an SUV driving next to us.  "Stop the car," he yelled.  "I want that Jackie!"  I tried to explain that the odds of that woman also being named Jackie were pretty slim.  Perhaps she was a Jacquie.**

Today, I had to scold Andy for standing on two chairs, one foot precariously perched on the edge of each chair as he tottered backwards towards a future consisting of a cracked skull followed by a lovingly administered beating.  We had been having fun until Andy decided to take it to the next level, and he did not like me telling him no.  Instantly, he became unlikable Andy, yelling out, "I'm mean!"

I explained to him, as I often do, that it is not good to be mean, that mean people have no friends.  He replied, today, "I'll have mean friends!  My friends will be mean, too!"  His logic was completely sound, and suddenly I had no argument.  Instead, I pictured a sixteen year old mean Andy coming home with his mean friends. They would trash my kitchen, brandish firearms for fun, spit in the sink, and say disrespectful things about nice young ladies.  They would stand on all of my chairs and proceed to smack Alex in the head with every last toy they could get their hands on while I anxiously tried to give each of them a time out.

Do I think Andy will actually grow up to be a mean boy?  Of course not.  I am watching Andy grow, and I see a sweet, goofy nerd in the making. I mean this in the best, most endearing way possible.  Sometimes, after he makes a mistake or does something unintentionally silly, he emits this dorky little laugh that starts with an embarrassed exclamation of "Oh!" He says, "Oh!  Heh heh heh heh." He respects authority (as long as it's not coming from me) and was the star pupil at story time last week, where I watched him determinedly listen to the librarian and follow her directions to a tee while the other kids seemed hell bent on ruining it for the rest of us.  He tries very hard to please other children and gets sad if they don't seem interested in him.  As a sidenote, at the zoo two weeks ago, he tried very hard to say hello to a giraffe who did not say hi back.  This was very disturbing to him.  He also loves the computer and the iPad and can easily spend a whole day reading books with me.  Now, these little factoids do not a nerd make.  But, come on.  He's spawned from me, and more importantly, Chris.  Nerd alert!

Andy has been working on not being so mean to Alex.  There have been vast improvements in even just the past two weeks or so.  I have told Andy that if Alex was bothering him or trying to take his toys, he should just ask me for help instead of viciously bonking him in the head with, let's just use a random example here, his TOY HAMMER.  So, now, to further add to the nerdiness, Andy is now the world's, or household's, biggest tattletale, yelling, "Mommy!  Take Alex!" or  "Mommy!  Wipe this off!"  after Alex has inserted any number of Andy's cars into his mouth.  This is definitely preferable than the violence, but now I am starting to feel like I am going to spend the next fifteen years prying well-meaning Alex away from Andy's things while explaining to Alex,  "No, Andy was using that."  And, explaining to Alex, "Andy's just being a dick."

I am definitely seeing Alex's interest in everything Andy grow by the day.  Whatever Andy is doing, Alex wants in.  Whatever Andy is eating, Alex wants a taste. If Andy's on the toilet, Alex wants to look, at which Andy will balk, "Mommy!  Get him away."  I'd like to yell back, "WELL NOW YOU KNOW HOW IT FEELS!" to Andy, but I'm classier than that.  Also, sometimes I think Alex is waiting for Andy, who has a slightly later bedtime than the baby, to enter the bedroom at night before he'll consider falling asleep.

I wonder if there's a small window of future where they will be mean boys together, ganging up on me during trying times.  Or, if they will be nerds together, playing complicated games with Chris will I'm all by myself watching TV dramas.  I guess it'll be column A, column B, and then the unimaginable columns C through Z.  That's the thing about these kids.  They're their own people and they'll have facets of personality so much richer than a geeky laugh or a bold statement of being not nice while standing on furniture as little kids tend to do.

** After this declaration of wanting a different Jackie, Andy promptly fell asleep.  He had been denied a nap that day and was clearly overtired.  After all, I am the BEST Jackie, and he knows it. When he woke up after we pulled into the driveway, his first words were, "I love you, Mommy." So I have decided to forgive him.  Eventually.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Waiting room baby.
You should see Alex's penis.  I would take a picture of it for posterity, but it would probably end up on Facebook, and then DCFS would be knocking on my door wondering exactly what kind of operation I'm running over here.  He finally had his surgeries:  anal fistula excision and circumcision revision. With the anal fistula, you can hardly tell anything was done.  With the circumcision revision- well, I guess I wasn't prepared for all of the stitches around the tip of his ding dong.  It looks like little Alex was in some terrible crotch related accident.  Like his original penis got stuck in a blender while we were pantslessly making smoothies, and the doctor had to sew on a new one.  This is one of those times I'm grateful that the kid's not in day care.  I have a feeling all of the day care ladies would be gathered around him during diaper change time murmuring to themselves, "Well, this can't possibly be right."

The day went well.  The surgery wasn't until close to eleven in the morning, which is a ridiculous time, but starving Alex for the morning proved to not be as horrible as I had feared.  Don't get me wrong- he certainly wasn't happy about being denied his usual bottles and meals, but he could have acted a lot worse.  We left the house early to provide plenty of time for check in and prep, Chris and I chowing down on McDonalds in the front seat while Alex whimpered pitifully in the back.  I half expected him to utter his first words that morning- to yell out, "Hey, is that the crinkling of a fast food bag up there?  You know I'm starving, right?  What gives, man???"  I was reminded of when I took Chris to the emergency room eight years ago for his bad gallbladder.  Afterwards, he was unable to eat, and yet I was very hungry.  "I'm so sorry," I told my fiancee, pulling into the McDonalds drive thru and ordering a feast.  "This is really crappy of me.  Yeah, I'll take a number one with an extra hash brown!  No, that's it- my passenger just got released from the hospital and can't eat!"

I had one moment while we were waiting for the nurse to take Alex into surgery where I thought I might cry, but I held steady.  Then Chris and I went to the waiting room where we watched surgeon after surgeon come out and tell the families of other patients how well things had gone.  After an hour or so, a lady came out and called for Alexander's parents.  "That's us," I replied, jumping up.  She said, "The doctor wants to see you in the consultation room."  She ushered us into a private room equipped with Kleenex boxes, and suddenly my stomach dropped.  Why were we in the bad news room?  What had happened?  Every worst case scenario ran through my skull, including the worst of the worst, and it was a long five minutes until the surgeon strolled in and said, "Alexander did great.  Now let's talk about the ointment situation.  You got ointment at home?  You're going to need ointment."

I was so happy to finally hold my baby again, who seemed mildly stoned and very hungry.  In the evening, we gave him his prescription tylenol with codeine, which helped him promptly fall asleep and remain in the exact same position all night- a little rock of exhaustion tucked in the corner of his crib.  Today, he seemed basically back to his old self- demanding large meals, smiling for no reason, pulling himself up on furniture, crawling around the house on various scouting missions, and getting up in Andy's face whenever the opportunity presented himself.  Alex is such a good boy.  He's a champ, and he deserves a new toy.  But no straddle toys, because that would just be cruel.