My New Home

Monday, January 31, 2011

Awesome Toy: DO NOT TOUCH!

We have a toy that gets assembled no more frequently than semiannually. It's not the Big Loader or the Big Big Loader (both of which exist). No, it's the Big Big BIG Loader. It's not very hard (for an adult) to put together and get working. Addison could probably do it on his own by now. But it was Colin who wanted to break it out this time, his first truly conscious experience of it.

Once everything's in place, it's actually pretty fun to watch. Two front loaders (or scoop lifts), a dump truck, the top loader thingamajig (I'm not exactly a construction vehicle expert), and a whole series of machines that do some pretty complicated things for a toy intended for children three years and older.

Colin loves it. He can't stay still or quiet while he plays with it. But he also can't play with it. He dances around following the truck, narrates the action, and positively glows as the action unfolds. But if he touches anything, the whole process breaks down.

Being an active learner who loves to be part of the action and use his hands and physically engage his environment, Colin doesn't do super well with just standing by and watching. So, while this toy is something he loves, I kind of hate for him to love it. If he's near it, it will break. The well-oiled machine will not work. The system will become chaos.

But when I walk into the room and say, "Oh no, it's broken again!" he just smiles as big as his face can stretch and says, "Let's fix it!"

And that's just a great way to look at life, so he wins.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Run, Shmun. We Sit for Dunkin.

I'm no fan of going out to eat with children in tow. There are families who can do it. There are places any family can do it, but that usually involves eating in front of an animatronic rodent. I don't like eating in front of rodents, animatronic or otherwise, and my family isn't one of those that sits and waits, quietly enjoying the ambiance of a grown-up establishment. I've heard a lot of suggestions for places that are great for families. You know why those places are great? Because we aren't there.

When we go out to eat, the conversation never stops. Unfortunately, the context of the conversation is usually, "Sit down! Sit up! Face forward! Don't stab your brother! Give the nice lady her dentures. Do you have to go potty? NO, NOT HERE! GO!"

Stuff like that.

But there is one place we can all go at the same time without the aid of creepy, bug-eyed, motorized mice. No playland, no toys, no music, no distractions. Just donuts.

I kid you not, when the boys walk into Dunkin Donuts, they are on a solitary mission: get donuts. They wait in line. They order themselves. They stand patiently. They sit when they're told. They don't get up. They respond kindly to every question asked of them. They eat every bite and make every effort not to drop a single sprinkle. They don't push. They don't yell. They just eat donuts.

Heather and I? We breathe. And also eat donuts, which is nice too.

I don't care if it takes longer to eat there. I don't care if the food is bad for us. I don't care about anything when we're in Dunkin Donuts other than the fact that my sons behave impeccably from the moment they set foot in the parking lot. On even the worst day, it's a guaranteed moment of tranquility. You don't pass those up if you can get 'em.

Once we leave and the sugar rush sets in, the ironclad fortress of peace and harmony becomes a delicate bubble, but for those few minutes, we're a family who can eat out. Yes, I know Dunkin Donuts is not eating out. It's just a place we can pretend we're not all-out loco.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

From Bears to Tears (try not to let that rhyme)

The risk of building anything is the fear that it will fall.
On Sunday, Addison cried. Three times. Three. Separate. Times.

No, seriously, this was about 10 seconds later. Addison totally saw it coming.
The first time was immediately after the Bears lost to the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. Through the entire second half he had been begging to play Wii, but when the game was over he disappeared. I figured he had given up. A few minutes later, I heard the whimpering.

He had buried his head in the pillows of the guest room bed. He was sobbing. I asked if he was okay. He was not.

"I wanted the Bears to win!" He was as angry as he ever has been when denied Wii time, which is pretty much the zenith of his anger.

"I know. Me too." Pause. Realization. Peace. "But they lost. I'm sad, too." It felt good for me to say that. Any angst I had over the loss (and their was plenty) had dissipated at just admitting the fact and trying to help him do the same.'

"I hate the Packers. They're stupid." Here's where it was my job to tell him we don't use words like hate and stupid and that we have to learn to lose graciously.

"Yeah, they are. But they won."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

He's a Bashful Superhero

.05 seconds. The amount of time that lapses between the picture being taken and Colin running to see how it turned out.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

American J-Lo

I'm more than a little depressed and disappointed that the only thing that can animate this blog from dormancy is American Idol. Seriously, at the end of last season I didn't even like this show and I didn't really like myself for ever having watched it. Any chance of retaining me as a viewer was obliterated when Fox announced Steven Tyler and J-Lo would be replacing Simon and the other non-Randy judges.

That's it. The show's over. I figured it would get canceled out of general hilarious outrage. Then I could finally go back to hitting you with the occasional anecdote about my kids or thoughts on baked goods and whatever.

Then came the commercials. Randy Jackson. Steven Tyler. And J-Lo. I realized that a) they really are going through with this and b) I like looking at J-Lo. I don't mean that in a Steven-Tyler-likes-looking-at-slender-young-girls kind of way, I just don't object to the sight of Jennifer Lopez, okay? Shut up.

Suddenly it dawned on me that my American Idol viewing had done a Brett Favre. I mean come back from retirement. My American Idol viewing doesn't take pictures of its junk. It doesn't limp off the field after interceptions. It doesn't . . . you know what, this metaphor isn't helping. I realized I wouldn't be able to stop watching AI just yet, okay? Shut up.

So there it is. Back on my TV. There are people who look like Oompa Loompas and who want to be Miley Cyrus and who sound like jake breaks. I don't care. There's still the occasional emotionally manipulative story and three or four people who can sing. And J-Lo. I'm watching it.

Shut up.