Thursday, June 26, 2014

The (Other) Talk!

Andy, Alex's Protector
Every couple weeks or so, I have The Talk with Andy.  Not THE Talk, unless you count the "No, Andy, you don't have boobies" talk as part of THE Talk, but the OTHER talk.  The Stranger Danger Talk.  Andy is pretty squared away on what do if someone approaches him and says, "Your Mommy says it's okay if you come with me" or "I have an adorable puppy holding six lollipops in that creepy looking van over there, want to come take a look?"  Just say no.  Run for Mommy.  Use vulgar language if you'd like.

We were having our talk, and I continued on with the questions.  "What if a stranger picks up Alex and tries to take him?"  I asked.  "Then what should you do?"

Andy answered swiftly.  "I would scream at him and kick his legs and step on his feet until he put Alex down."

"That's a pretty good idea.  But then what if he picked up YOU?"

Andy shook his head and replied with the utmost of certainty.  "Mommy, he wouldn't pick up ME.  I'm the one who kicked him!"

And this may have been my proudest moment.  Perfect reasoning on the part of a still three year old.  Why would the stranger want to kidnap the little shithead who kicked him?  He wouldn't.  Problem solved, major kidnapping diverted.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Happy Second Birthday, Al Pal!

Saturday is Alex's second birthday.  I can hardly believe it.  It's such a cliched thing to say, but, seriously, where does the time go?  I am holding on to Alex's last little fragments of babyhood.  His chubby thighs, the way he curls against me when I hold him in my arms, that angelic look on his face when he's napping.  My sweet baby boy.  Not really too much of a baby anymore.

For your second birthday, here are ten things I love about you.  Just ten.  I'm really limiting myself here.

1.  I love your smile.  You've been smiling since the day you were born, and it's a big, glorious one.  Everyone remarks on your smile.  It's infectious, like catching awesome-itis.  You spread sunshine and rainbows with your grin, and that's hardly an exaggeration.

2.  I love that you're such an athlete.  I mean, sure, I'm probably the foremost authority on being so very nonathletic that it would be an embarrassment if I actually gave two shits, but you- you are a born athlete, and I love it.  You're drawn to sports and balls and basketball hoops and baseball bats.  You kick, you catch, you've been known to take your football to bed.  It's something so uniquely you, a character trait that no one even had to introduce to you.  From since you could crawl, you've been a sports star in the making. We'll see what happens as you get older.

3.  I love that you're an artist.  It's not just athletics- you get excited about painting and coloring, too.  You pull the crayons out of the pantry yourself and just start coloring on paper.  You have already figured out ways to keep yourself busy, and sometimes it involves creating a masterpiece or two.

4.  I love the way you raise your hand and yell "ME!"  When I ask who wants to go to the park/ have a snack/ take a walk, your enthusiasm is beyond adorable.

5.  I love your cuddles.  At night, when we're reading our stories, you know just how to fit yourself against me, or lay your head on my lap.  You like my arm around you.  You cuddle against me so sweetly.  You are my own personal teddy bear.

6.  I love that you're a copy cat.  I love watching you follow Andy around and do what he does, even when it's the naughty stuff.  You're learning, you're figuring things out, and you're picking up on things so very quickly.

7.  I love watching you play.  You love toys.  You make the cars go vroom and the superheroes babble. You fit blocks together like an expert engineer.  You concentrate and imagine, and I like to watch the gears turn.

8.  I love your Hat Teddy.  Of all the stuffed animals in the house, you really gravitated to this odd little teddy bear we have that's wearing a knit 2010 sweater, a scarf, and a red hat.  That guys is your teddy, and if story time starts and you don't have him, you cry for him.  Teddy!  Teddy!  Teddy!  At first, I didn't know you wanted that specific teddy, and I would just go get you a random bear.  But you let me know which teddy was your teddy.  Hat!  Hat!  Hat!  You like Hat Teddy the best.  He's your teddy now.  And you take really good care of him.

9.  I love sharing food with you.  When you climb into my lap if I'm eating something tasty (you and me, we both have a cheese tooth and a ranch tooth), you smack your lips together in such a hilarious way that I can't help but cave.  Mmmm.  Cheese fries.

10.  I love the way you say "Come on!"  I love that "Come on!" (pronounced "Nummon!") is your brand new catch phrase, complete with slipping your soft little hand into mine and dragging me off somewhere to play.  Nummon!  Come on!  Let's go have some birthday cake to celebrate two of the best years ever.

Happy birthday (two days early), my sweet Alexander!  You are the second child of my dreams- a perfect little brother, a perfect baby, a wonderful kid.  I love you.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Firemen to the Rescue!

What size was this jacket anyway???
Andy and Alex got to tour a fire station this past Tuesday!  It was courtesy of one of Andy's good friends, whose dad happens to be a real live firefighter.  I'm convinced that this has to be the parental career that a preschooler is most proud of.  If you were to ask little Eddie what his daddy does, he would likely scream, "My daddy is a FIREMAN!  HE'S AWESOME!"  Meanwhile, earlier today, I asked Andy what his daddy did for a living, and this was his exact reply.

"I don't know.  Oh wait.  He uses the computer.  He does that over and over again."

See, even Andy understands how mundane an office job can be.

So we toured the firehouse, which reminded me of that time about eight years ago when I had to be rescued by a fireman.

Chris and I were out on the little balcony of our old second floor townhouse.  I was always so careful about making sure the sliding glass door didn't latch behind us, and Chris thought it would be funny to "pretend" to slam the door shut while the glass door latch was in the lock position.  Ha ha, hilarious.  So, of course, Chris fake slammed the door shut behind us, and it locked.  We were stuck out on our balcony like a couple of morons while ABC's "Lost" played on in the background on our old twenty-four inch tube TV.  (Sidenote: We've come a long way in the world TV-wise.)  I believe I punched Chris in the shoulder and called him a nasty name while he tried to yank open the sliding door, which was very locked and completely stuck.

"I guess I'll just jump down," Chris said dubiously after a while, looking down at the fifteen foot drop.  Very carefully, he shimmied himself down the supporting beam of the balcony and then looked up at me as he stood in the dirt in only his socked feet.  "Um, do you want to come down, too?"

No, of course I didn't want to come down.  This was Chris' mess and he could get us out of it himself.  "Good luck," I called after him, knowing that the one first floor entrance to our townhouse was locked.  I sat down on the balcony floor and sipped my wine while I watched Chris head around the corner to our first neighbor.  He explained the predicament to him and apparently had the door slammed shut in his face.  This alone made the situation a story worth retelling.

At the second neighbor's house, Chris was able to use the guy's cell phone.  He called 911 and had the following conversation:

"911, what's your emergency?"
"Um, we're locked out of our condo and can't get back in."
"Is this an emergency? Are there any small children or animals locked inside?"
"Well, my wife's stuck on the balcony, and she's pretty pissed off."
"Okay. I'll connect you to the fire department."

Flash forward ten minutes later to when a huge honking fire engine rolled into our little parking lot.  I hid my face out of embarrassment while Chris wandered over (still only in socks) to talk to the firefighters.  I glanced into our townhouse to see what was happening on "Lost," and after a second, I saw a fireman's gloved, grimy hand pushing up one of our windows.  A moment later, a fully outfitted firefighter (he was wearing the helmet and everything) launched himself into my living room.  He glanced over at "Lost," (man, that was THE show back then), and then clomped over to the balcony door in his big heavy boots and unlocked it for me.

"Um, thank you," I replied, and then my hero was gone in a flash.  The fireman went down the stairs and Chris came up.  His face was a little red, and in one hand, he held the mangled screen to our living room window, the one the fireman had had to tear off in order to gain entrance into our home.

"Well, that was fun!"  Chris exclaimed jovially.  "Is my wine still out on the balcony?"

After that, we were BOTH always very careful with the lock on the balcony door.  And while I waited to receive some kind of bill from the fire department for wasting valuable man hours with being rescued from a balcony due to a nitwit husband, that bill somehow never arrived.  I did later read that while the firemen were busy rescuing our dumb asses, two houses and a post office burned down, and I have to say, to this day, we still feel mildly guilty.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Back To The Dells!

We returned from our little vacation today, having spent the past three days in Wisconsin Dells in a repeat of last year's summer's excursion.  Same lodge, same morning at Tommy Bartlett's Exploratory, same Northwood's style McDonalds.  This year, we added a visit to Circus World in nearby Baraboo, WI.  And, objectively speaking, that ended up being my favorite part.  During my last five visits to Brookfield Zoo, I have not been able to see an elephant.  Like, you just assume, oh, I'm going to the zoo, I'm definitely going to see an elephant.  Nope, not the case!  I don't know what the deal is in Brookfield, but there are no elephants and the price of admission is the same and/or higher despite this fact.  Unbelievable.  But, at Circus World, I got to see an elephant.  Three of them, in fact!  Very up close and personal during the circus performance part of our visit, so up close and personal that I can honestly say I've now visually examined an elephant's bathing suit area and the elephants that performed during the circus were definitely boy elephants.  Now that's the kind of elephantine detail you just can't get outside of Circus World!

But I had another favorite part of our three day excursion, and that was Andy.  Oh, sure, I delighted in watching Alex splash around in the water, and I definitely enjoyed my alone time with Alex perched on my lap while we rode the lazy river in our resort, but there was something about Andy during this vacation that made my heart beat for him just a little bit more than usual.  I think it's because he's growing up, and I could see his blossoming independence as he rode the water slides without help and made decisions about what he wanted to do and where he wanted to go- but it was also more than that.

It was the rapt look on his face when we watched the circus.

It was his guidance of Alex throughout the entire trip.

It was his acceptance of when it was time to start an activity and end an activity.

It was the way he carefully ate his meals and behaved so well in the various restaurants.

It was the easy way he stuck his hand in mine and asked me to "join in" during story time before we sat "crisscross applesauce" in the lobby.  Sidenote: I guess we're not supposed to say indian style anymore in reference to this way of sitting.  Is "indian style" really that offensive?  If you'd like, you can say Italian style since that's how I sit and I'm Italian.  Or Polish style/ Hungarian style/ Chinese style.  Go ahead, pick one and go for it, and I'll report back to my people that it's okay.

There's something changing in Andy.  He's still my little boy, but he's not my baby, he's not my toddler, and he's growing into such a lovely child.  It was evident to me on this trip, perhaps because it was in such sharp contrast to Alex's mostly piss-poor behavior (sorry, little man, I know it's the age, not you).  Andy is starting to grow up in a way that's different than how he's been growing up until this point.  He's calmer.  He's becoming more intellectual and interested in the things we do.  He has smart questions and remembers details.  He calls out adorable things like, "Come on, family!" when he races exuberantly to the elevator.  He is secure in his own skin and place in the world, and I'm so proud of this almost-four year old that I can't even believe I'm lucky enough to be the one his hand searches out for when we make a new journey.

I read somewhere a while ago that while it's a shame that adults can't remember the early years of their own lives, that having children is our way of reclaiming that lost time.  That even though I can't remember what it's like to be a baby/toddler/preschooler, I get to have some of that time back through the experiences I have with my own kids.  That notion has stuck with me throughout these initial years of parenthood, and on this vacation, I was reminded of that idea once again.  I remembered that thought as I raced Andy down a water slide, and I thought about why Chris and I had planned this vacation in the first place.  It was for us, for the kids, for our family.  It was to see the world through their eyes as we entered that huge water park or gazed upon those circus elephants. But it was also to be surprised by these kids, to realize that they're growing up, too, and that it looks like there's even more of them to love as they transition from babies to big kids. And it turns out that they're really great kids.

Yes.  Sigh.  Even Alex.