For lack of a better way to jump back in after taking a week or so off, I’m going to go with a list of random things.

1.  Today Jack told me that I was his best friend.  Awww.  And then he said, “Maybe Warner is my best friend and you are my favorite friend.”  Pat was within earshot of this and wanted to know where he fit in, and I believe Daddy became Jack’s best friend and that was his final answer.
2.  Jack is preceding most of the things he says with ‘maybe.’  As in, “Maybe I want to play in the pool” or “Maybe I don’t want to eat that right now.”
3.  I put a moratorium on “Why, Mommy?” today.  I just had to stop answering it.  Sometimes I try to give good answers and sometimes I just say “Because.”  But no matter how I do it, it’s never enough and there’s always another “Why?”  So today I stopped answering for a while.
4.  Casey is really starting to add a lot of words to her repertoire.  Her favorite word is shoes, followed by cool.  The babysitter at the gym asked me, “Does she know how to say cool?  She keeps pointing at things and saying, ‘Cool!’ ”  She can also say please, cheese, bubba, daddy, mommy, nana, dog, woof woof and a few other words.  She’s picking them up really fast.
5.  We’re working on some potty training with Jack.  He’ll tell you he doesn’t have to go on the potty all day, but he’ll go once I finally get him to sit on the potty.  I took the potty out by the pool and he went in it while I was changing Casey’s diaper.  When I got downstairs, he told me, “I had a little problem with the potty.”  The problem I saw was that he dragged it through the kitchen, into the bathroom and there was pee in every possible crevice of the potty.  Luckily it didn’t spill out of the potty onto the floor.  The problem as Jack saw it was just that he had been unable to open the top to dump out the cup.  He didn’t realize that the pee was sloshing all over the place as he was attempting to do this.
6.  Today Jack told me that he didn’t feel well.  And I was so proud of him for saying it exactly like that and using proper English.  He also told me that his stomach was working backwards.  I expected to find a little vomit after that statement, but I guess his stomach fixed itself before that happened.  He was fine once he was able to go to the playground.
And that’s about all I’ve got for now.

Princes & Fishes

I’m torn between whether I should write about the conversation I had with Jack today or whether I should just go on and on about how cute the Wales brothers are.  As in, William and Harry.  As in Prince William and Prince Harry.  
While at the gym today I glanced up at the tv and saw a couple of cute guys in uniform.  Then it went to commercial and I wondered who those cute guys were.  To my delight, when the commericals were over, I realized that it was Prince William and Prince Harry.  I wasn’t able to catch all of the close captioning of what they were saying (even though I did slow down to a walk on the treadmill) but I did enjoy watching them.  
I think Pat and I have an agreement that if Prince William ever wanted to marry me, I was free to go.  I think I might have to see if I can make an amendment because Harry is getting to be better looking than William.  William is starting to look a little too much like his dad lately, although he would be a little closer to me in age.  I heard about some bogus study that says that men who marry younger women have a better chance of living a long life, but not so much with an older woman.  I don’t know as I would want to be responsible for any kind of shortened lifespan for either of them.  Although I think I could be a pretty good queen.  As long as I could have my own hairdresser.  
Anyway, back to focusing on my children…
We played in our new pool today.  It’s about 8 ft across and 18″ deep and sits on our deck.  It has a filter and a cover, which was one of the reasons we got it…no more bugs floating in gross water that should have been dumped out.
Anyway, Jack and I played with his fish while Casey was napping.  He wanted to name the fish and he came up with Hmmm.  As in, “Hmmm, what should we name this fish? How about Hmmm?”  
In the course of about an hour, Hmmm jumped in and out of the pool about 30 times, built a house, moved to a new house, became friends with a boat, got a new little sister, played basketball, and took a nap.  In case you were wondering what happened to Hmmm’s first house, Jack said, “It got old so they put it in the garbage.”  
He was a busy little fish and I think he may have been relieved when Jack said that his name was no longer Hmmm and that he needed a new name.  I felt certain that the name Nemo was on the tip of his tongue, so I threw out the oh-so-original name of Fin and it stuck.  I think Nemo is probably reserved for orange fish and this one was blue.  I have a feeling Fin might be a busy little fish tomorrow in the 95 degree heat that is predicted.   

Elmo’s Place

Last Wednesday, we packed up the car and headed up to Pat’s parents, north of Philly.  They happen to live minutes from Sesame Place, the mecca of the 1-5 year old crowd.  It took us 8 hours to get there…2 1/2 more hours than it should have.  But the kids were well-behaved and we finally made it.  At lunchtime, Jack didn’t even want to stop to eat because he just wanted to keep driving to Nana’s.  (He changed his mind once he saw the Play Place.)  The last time Casey was in the car for that long, she probably cried for 3/4 of the time, so anything better than that was well-behaved.
We went to Sesame Place on Thursday.  It was overcast and had rained all night, but Pat assured me it was going to be 80 and clear up.  That never happened, but the silver lining in the weather was that there were no lines for any of the rides.  In fact, Jack and Pat were the only two riders on the Elmo “bug” when they decided to hop on.
On the flip side, the water slides weren’t open and it was rather chilly in the other water attractions.  Jack really wanted to go into the Count’s new water area, so Pat took him in.  They lasted about 4 minutes and Jack’s teeth were just chattering when he came out.  He informed us that “it’s not summer in the water.”  
I think Jack went on every ride in the place except for one.  Pat even took him on the roller coaster.  I had tears in my eyes thinking of the poor kid being traumatized on there.  It’s not too crazy as far as roller coasters go, but he had no idea what was going to happen on that ride.  When they got off, he said, “All done now.  It was scary.”  But thankfully, there seems to be no lasting trauma.  I actually think he’s proud of having gone on it.
Casey went on a couple of rides but was pretty content to hang out in the stroller (as long as it was moving) and to walk around a little bit.  Give her a small step to step up and down on and she is entertained.  She’s convinced that she can learn to go up and down steps without really bending her knees.  She thinks she should be able to just keep casually walking and not have to adjust her balance and how she moves when she goes down a step.  So she keeps practicing that over and over.  She might be on to something, but I don’t think it’ll work when there’s more than one step.

Last year, we went to Sesame Place at about the same time of year, and the first thing we did was have breakfast with Elmo and friends.  Unfortunately, Jack was so scared of all the big characters that he wanted nothing to do with breakfast.  He got back into his stroller, strapped himself in and pulled the top of the stroller back over his head as soon as he saw Big Bird.  This is not a smile on his face… 
This year, we tried to prep him a little better for the big characters.  He kept telling us he was going to shake Big Bird’s hand this year.  When he saw how tall Big Bird actually was, he changed his mind about that.  However, he did enjoy Bert and Ernie.  That’s a real smile on his face…  

Cookie Monster was the first character that we saw but Jack was definitely afraid of him.  Apparently Cookie Monster is a bad monster but Elmo is a good monster.  Even though Jack warmed up to some of Elmo’s friends, when it was parade time, this is where we found him – 
He was back in the stroller with the cover pulled over him.  I guess it’s kind of like when a dog feels safe in her crate…Jack feels safe in his stroller.
I have many more pictures that I’ll get onto Shutterfly sometime this week. 
This morning, Jack pretended to go on all the different rides.  They were each in a different bedroom upstairs.  And this afternoon, he found the map of Sesame Place and he spent 20 minutes looking at it and saying, “I went on that ride…I went on that ride…I went on that ride.”  I think those are pretty good signs that Jack had a good time.  

Ice Cream Tease

We played in the back yard after naptime today and we heard the ice cream man driving around.  Jack’s eyes lit up and he got really excited about it.  The last time we heard the ice cream truck, we were able to run out to the street and get some.  This time, like most other times, the ice cream man was in the neighborhood behind us, on the other side of the trees.  He doesn’t usually come into our neighborhood, just tortures us with his music and the hope that maybe today will be the day he comes to our street.

As Jack realized that he wasn’t coming to our house, his face just dropped.  He stuck out his lower lip and sat down on the grass.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so sad.  And then he laid down on the grass and stayed there for about 10 minutes.  Just looking sad and looking at the grass.  
But I know he wasn’t sad about the fact that he didn’t get his ice cream.  Since we’ve heard the ice cream truck many times and not gotten ice cream, he realizes that he won’t always get it.  There was more to it than that.  
Last weekend when we got ice cream and he was finished with it, he gave me the stick.  I cleaned it off, gave it back to him and told him it was a signal for his trains.  You’d think Thomas himself had just pulled into our yard.  He had his trains out in the sandbox and he was busy working on tracks, so he stuck it in the sand and was quite pleased with the new addition.   Finally the tracks were safe from train on train and train on car collisions.
Tragically, the stick, I mean “signal” was broken a few days ago.  So when Jack heard the ice cream man, he knew ice cream was the way to his heart’s desire.  Ice cream would get him the signal to which his trains had become accustomed.  Before last week, he didn’t even realize he needed a signal, but once he had it, he could no longer live without it.   
Maybe I should just get some of those sticks at a craft store for him.  But then I wouldn’t have such a dramatic story to tell.  And he really does like the ice cream too.  Have I mentioned that he’s pretty into his trains lately? 
I’m a “list” person.  I usually keep a pretty good to-do list and one of my favorite things to do is cross things off lists.  Sounds kind of sad, but I know there are other people out there like me.  Lately, though, I’ve slipped a little on my lists and haven’t been checking my calendar.  Birthdays, anniversaries and other important events tend to slip by unnoticed when that happens, so I’ve gotten back to my lists.

We’re heading up to Pat’s parents on Wednesday this week and I might head down to the Outer Banks to visit some family on Tuesday.  So I am actually in crazy list making mode.  For some reason, when I get ready to go away, I feel compelled to cross everything off my list before we leave.  Even if said thing has been on the list for 2 or more months.  

And in the middle of all this preparation, I’ve been randomly moving books around on bookshelves and other small items of redecoration that absolutely had to be done this weekend.  
So, this weekend, among other things, the tomatoes got re-potted, I drove to the mall to return a shirt, I went to the post office to return another shirt and I put new baskets in the living room.  In the process of these few things, I came up with about a hundred more things to add to the lists.  I think it’s a disease.  But a disease with a pretty good sense of accomplishment as long as I don’t get too crazy with my expectations.

Bad Turtle

I had never heard of Franklin until today.  He’s apparently got a whole bunch of books and a tv show.  Jack just happened to find a book about Franklin playing hockey on the shelves at the library.  So of course we checked it out.  And yes, I believe Franklin is Canadian…which makes me wonder why I have never heard of him since I watched several fascinating Canadian cartoons growing up.  Good ole Mr. Dressup.
I read it to him earlier today.  Then, after I had already read his bedtime stories, he tried to put it in my hands and get me to read it again.  He was very persistent.  But I won.  Just like I’m trying to win the rest of the bedtime battle right now.  He keeps yelling for me to come up there for another song or another story or another something.  I’ve told him I’m not coming back and I’m holding my ground tonight.
Before I left his room though, we had this conversation about Franklin…
Jack: What is he doing?
Me:  I don’t know Jack.  (Not paying attention and not really knowing what he’s looking at.)
Jack:  That’s not very nice.
Me:  What’s not nice?
Jack:  He needs to go back in there.
Then I actually looked at what he was talking about.  On the back of his Franklin book there is a picture of Franklin stepping out of a tv to indicate that the book was either adapted from the tv show or vice versa.  And in Jack’s world, it is definitely not nice for turtles to step out of tvs.
In my world, it is not nice for Jack to be wailing like a siren upstairs when he should be sleeping.  Still holding my ground though.

Grocery Store Part 2

Before I restart my story…fresh corn from the cob and orange-scented couscous with cranberries & chicken may sound like a lovely healthy meal for the family until you see it all over the floor along with a broken plate.  Then it simply becomes a nightmare cleaning experience.  

So…yesterday we were at the grocery store and I went on and on about how it’s not easy to find the perfect grocery store with two kids in tow.  Really the story was going to be about what happened when we finally did get to the grocery store.  Without further adieu… 
We arrive nice and early at the Norfolk Commissary.  First, there is a case lot sale going on.  There is a big tent full of bulk items in the area where we normally get our special car cart.  When we get to the car carts, there are no steering wheels on any of them.  Jack is not happy with this and lets me know that he disapproves of steering wheel-less carts.  I convince him to use a different cart that would actually separate him from Casey and maybe prevent some scuffles.  There are none of these carts with working seat belts to prevent Casey from falling out and Jack from jumping out.  Back to the wheel-less carts.  Jack is still not happy.  
Then, I realize that I forgot to grab the reusable bags out of the car.  If I hadn’t just bought the insulated freezer bags a couple of weeks ago I might have let that go for the week.  So back to the car for bags.  The rumbling of the cart over the pavement drowns out any sound of Jack’s protests.
Once we get into the store Jack whines incessantly about the fact that he doesn’t have a wheel.  I inform him that I can do nothing about it but that doesn’t seem to matter to him.  And yet Casey still manages to start a fight with him because she is playing with the bolt on his side where the steering wheel used to be.  We’re not even out of the produce aisle yet.  
In the middle of all this whining, Jack is calling us funny names.  He is really into Thomas the Train and all of his friends, to the point where he has named us after those characters.  I almost burst out laughing when he whines, “Diesel is playing with my side…Bertie the Bus can you tell Diesel to stop playing with my side.”  Casey has now become a train named “Diesel” and I am a bus named “Bertie.”  It is a riot because he throws these names into the conversation so casually.  I hope people don’t think I have a daughter named Diesel.    
In the snack aisle “Thomas” jumps out to pick out his snacks like every week.  Except he somehow manages to be in the way of 3 other carts at once and starts causing a traffic jam.  
Once he gets his snacks he no longer wants to ride in the cart – he wants to push it.  Only I’m not allowed to help him push it.  I have to move up to the front of the cart and pretend that I’m not touching it while actually steering and moving it along at a faster pace.  At one point, he tricks me and he lets go and then watches me move it down the aisle.  Then he calls me on it.  I renew my covert steering operations and we slowly move through the rest of the grocery store.
Occasionally Jack decides that he’s rather be a garbage man than push the cart and he rides hanging on to the side of the basket.  He jumps off every time I stop to put some “garbage” in the “truck”.
Casey continues her love/hate relationship with her shoes and with my grocery list.  She pulls her shoe off, throws it in the bottom of the cart and then cries when she can’t reach it.  She grabs my list, crumples it up and then throws it out of the cart.  When I pick it up, she acts like she really wants to make sure I’m getting everything off it, then throws it out again.  
It was a really good feeling when we finally made it to the checkout line…because the shopping experience was almost over and soon I could strap both children into a carseat and give them fruit snacks for being so “good” at the grocery store.  But before we left, Casey threw both of her shoes at the man restocking the refrigerators.  He kindly gave them back.  And I probably should have added another dollar to the tip when the bagger made funny popping noises with his mouth to entertain Jack.  But I just wanted to get home.  
To be honest, it wasn’t even close to my worst shopping experience.  But I only think it was salvaged by the fact that Jack was so funny in the middle of being so frustrating.  “Bertie the Bus, do we need milk for Diesel this week?”

A Trip to the Grocery Store…Part 1

Every week, usually Monday, we head to the grocery store to get groceries for the week.  I bring both Jack and Casey along with me.  Apparently there are a lot of other moms who would never take two children to the grocery store much less one.  I have just always done this and they have gotten used to it.  They are usually pretty good.  

There was a time when Jack was about 15 months old and he made a few trips rather torturous for me.  He would not sit in the cart and would start getting really fussy if we had to wait more than 10 seconds at the checkout line.  Then…we started using the “car cart.”  If you haven’t seen one, it’s basically a piece of plastic in the shape of a car or airplane, hooked on to the regular shopping cart, like this…    

Manuevering the cart is sometimes a little dicey.  I’ve used some before that kind of skid across the floor and don’t offer much in the way of control.  They’re also a little wider than a regular cart.  One time I may have moved a whole candy rack trying to get my cart to fit through the checkout aisle.  
There are also several different versions of the “car cart.”  Some are airplanes, some are just seats, sometimes they sit in front of the basket and sometimes behind.  
Adding Casey to the grocery shopping mix has made things a little difficult.  While she was still in the car carrier, I could plunk her in the top and Jack could drive down below.  Then I carried her in the Bjorn for a while which made grocery shopping a bit of a workout.  But now that she is bigger, it’s a new story.  Really, it’s Jack who has the demands on the cart.  He just wants a steering wheel, but there have to be 2 steering wheels or he will complain that Casey is trying to use his.    
And so I have quested to find the perfect grocery store to take my kids to…something nearby, with the appropriate car cart, inexpensive and a short wait for checkout.  There is no such thing.  No grocery store has all of the above.  
Mostly, I go to the commissary in Norfolk.  It has everything but the right distance.  
I started this post fully intending to write about my trip there today, which was somehow completely frustrating and amusing at the same time.  But…Jack is still crying from his bedroom at 9pm, Jon & Kate are about to begin and I spent way too much time providing background (ie typing about shopping carts).  And so, this will be my first post with the words TO BE CONTINUED…
And hopefully I can remember what was so frustrating and funny about this trip tomorrow after all the frustrating and funny things that I’m sure will happen between now and then.