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As anyone who knows me can attest, I'm not one for spouting grandiose ideas and not following through with them. Even big ideas have a way of happening when I set my mind to it. However, when you're toting along three little ones, big ideas can often have disastrous results. My husband, AKA "Mr. Practical" is the one who is always reigning me in, getting me to think realistically. So I surprised even myself when my vision for the ultimate family vacation was not only fun, but do-able.
Last summer we had one of those family vacations that left us drained and wanting to re-name our trip. "Vacation" would be a little optimistic. I guess we could call it "a trip where we hope our kids remember at least one nugget of the fun time when they're older and thus it was all worth it." This is what happens when you bring a barely swimming five-year-old and non-swimming four-year-old twins to a resort with a gazillion pools. This necessitated two adult parental supervisors at all times, especially since the barely swimming five-year-old over-estimated her swimming skills. The resort had a kids club, but charged exorbitant rates so we only had four hours of freedom during the whole five day trip. The fact that I was too tired to even lay out by the adult pool during these four hours speaks volumes for how tiring the trip was. During these four hours, it was nap-time for mommy. I was even to tired to go to the spa. Yes, it's possible to be that tired.
So the ultimate family vacation would be the Mexican island of Cozumel. I had the pleasure of taking just my daughter to Cozumel with me this past summer. It is an easy flight from Austin via Dallas and only a twenty minute cab ride to the resort. We stayed at the Occidental Grand Cozumel, a wonderful all-inclusive resort. The real Shangri La was the Kids Club. Eight hours of kid-free time per day was included in the cost of the hotel! This was a definite win-win. My daughter was in heaven, enjoying eight hours of unadulterated kid's activities (no pun intended). And I was in heaven just lounging by the ocean, reading, taking dips in the aqua-marine ocean and occasionally snorkeling. In the mornings and evenings, I had quality time with my daughter. The enjoyment was heightened by the fact that we had a nice break from each other and thus appreciated each other's company all the more when we were together. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that ...
So going from zero to three kids in 19 months has forced me to reign in my big ideas a bit. In the future, an African safari will be our family's ultimate adventure, but in the meantime, give me a beach and a kids' club!
Dane & Logan just started playing soccer. Their first official game was a week after they celebrated their fourth birthday. When Nicole first started playing, I had no idea what to expect. She was definitely a "flower-picker," but enjoyed being on the team nonetheless. There seemed to be some confusion in her mind as to when a game was actually being played. Not having experience in this arena, I thought maybe she just didn't have an aptitude for the game.
Now that I am a "seasoned soccer mom," I'm realizing that when four-year-olds play soccer, the whole affair is very haphazard and fraught with either oblivion or full-on terror. We saw both of these in the boys on Saturday. Dane was cold and scared; Logan alternated between being timid and oblivious. During a practice drill in which a little girl "stole" the ball from Logan, he threw himself on the ground and wailed inconsolably. Such is the nature of the beast when kids play this young. They don't quite get the meaning of sportsmanship yet.
Now that Nicole is on the 5-year-old team, we can see what a difference a year makes. While she's not quite getting goals yet, Nicole is much more engaged in the game. All of the 5-year-olds are out there giving it their all and not fearfully clutching their parents or joyfully spinning in circles while the game proceeds around them. So we're glad that Nicole had the tenacity to continue playing. It will be interesting to see the difference in the boys' games come this time next year.
Dane clings to Daddy.
Skeptical about soccer
Brrrr ... It was so cold that Dane had to borrow Sissy's jacket.
We've reached the age with the boys where birthday parties are a big deal. All three of the Little Georges talk about their birthday parties incessantly, even Nicole, whose birthday is still five months away. So now when they're upset with someone, they issue the threat "You're not coming to my party." Dane is the biggest offender. I can't tell you how many times we've all been dis-invited to his party. He doesn't seem to grasp that 1) as the party planner, if mommy doesn't come to the party, the party ain't happenin' and 2) as twins, he and Logan have a joint party so he really can't dis-invite his brother. None of this matters. Dane has found what he considers a very valid threat, and darn it, he's going to use it!
Dane often has good reason for dis-inviting Logan to his birthday party. Logan is not content unless he is bothering his siblings mercilessly. He is the ultimate imp. Just imagine if you combined the manic energy and showmanship of Jim Carrey and Robin Williams and you've got Logan ... funny, but often over-the-top, sometimes way over-the-top. So he mugs, pokes and dances around in an effort to entertain and irritate his audience and the result is one or the other or sometimes a combination of the both.
Nicole is still a sweet, easy-going child unless you try and get in the way of what she wants to wear. I don't know if it's because Daddy is from Hawaii, but she always wants to wear shorts and short-sleeve (but not tank top) shirts. She is very specific about this desire. In fact, she repeats "shorts and short-sleeves-but-not-tank-top" so often that it's become her clothing mantra. I try and be as easy-going about this as possible, mostly out of sheer exhaustion ... I'm just not up for the battle. However, when I got subtly reprimanded by her kindergarten teacher for not dressing her warm enough, I knew that it was time to buck up and be the mean mommy. So now every other day or so we have clothing battles in the morning. This morning, Nicole was so outraged when I wouldn't let her wear shorts that she was literally screaming at the top of her lungs and kicking rugs off the hardware floors. It's really rough to have World War III at 7am. But mostly, Nicole is a sweetheart. I only have myself to blame for my little fashionista because as we all know, I'm a clothes horse, and I wouldn't like it if someone was trying to tell me what to wear either.
They all have their distinct personalities and they often play together nicely now. It's nice to see their imaginations at work. The flip side, is the fighting. Oh Lord, I feel like 80% of my job is referee these days. Now I know why my parents would say, "I don't care who started it ..." I hated that line, but if you try and solve who was the instigator in every fight, you're going to drive yourself crazy.
So that's a brief update on the Curious Georges. Because I've now been writing for Deep South Moms, this blog is not getting the attention it deserves so I'll try and be more faithful, even if it's just to post small anecdotes of the kids.
Every chance I get, I profess my love for Austin. But, there is a big "BUT." And that is the food. I am a foodie. I love to eat and have had the fortune to try many many wonderful restaurants, especially in my years in advertising media when I was frequently wined and dined by sales reps. And so far, the food in Austin leaves much to be desired. My friend, Joanna, was bemoaning this fact the other day and my response was "I try not to think about it." Yes, Austin rocks so much that I don't even mind having to go to crappy and/or over-priced restaurants.
Even though I have not lived in San Francisco since 2004, I still suffer from a form of post-traumatic-stress-disorder brought on by the hellish nightmare of my days of parking in the city. This became all too clear last night.
I am in the midst of a 4-week class at the University of Texas (UT). Last night, I arrived about 45 minutes early for the 6:00pm class and so I went to park. I obsessively scanned the signs in search of a legal parking place. It goes something like this. Drive around. Look at the signs. Tentatively park. Get out. Look at the sign closer. Are there any disclaimers? Do you need a permit? If so, what are the permit parameters? Are there any weird arrows? Color-coded curbs used to indicate x, y or z? Tell-tale ticket-dispensing vehicles droning around like pesky mosquitoes?
I finally park, but wait in my car for another 20 minutes because the sign says that parking is not legal until 5:45pm. I wait until 5:46pm. One can never be too careful. While waiting for 5:45pm, I see other folks calmly parking, students idling by, and then ... a little golf-cart type car! Wait, is he going to bust me for waiting for this spot? Nope. He doesn't even give me a second glance. When I leave my car, I survey the area one more time, certain there is a parking-oriented pitfall waiting for me.
Yes I am diligent, but after living in San Francisco for five years, I am paranoid to the "nth" degree when it comes to parking. Oh, the nights of circling and circling, looking for a parking spot. Oh, the many parking tickets and trips to retrieve my car from being towed. You see, San Francisco is a whole different animal than Austin. People do not stroll idly there. Everyone is very busy. And, finding a parking spot is like winning the lottery, but a lottery in which the winner would wildly scan the fine print, certain that there is a disclaimer that says, "ha ha, I tricked you ... you can't really park here!"
I remember one time, I went out of town for a week and before doing so, scanned the parking sign and curb. No "do not park" or "only park between x hours" signs around. Curb was the right color. All systems said "ok, park here." When I returned from my trip, my car was gone. I thought for certain, it had been stolen. I walked around and around the blocks, thinking I was maybe mistaken about where I had originally parked my car. But, no. No no no no no no nooooooooo! It was towed. Apparently, a temporary "do not 'park" sign was posted AFTER I left for my trip. When I tried to fight the ticket, the fine folks at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency told me that I should have had a friend move my car while I was gone. WTF!
Anyway, when I walked out of class last night and didn't see my car, I thought for certain it was towed. My heart dropped to my feet and all those familiar feelings of panic set in. I reached into my bag to find my cell so that I could tell Barton the bad news. But, a moment later, it was like I had clicked my ruby slippers and arrived in, ahhhh, Austin! There was my car looming like Shangri La up ahead. It was just a little further up than I thought. There were students idling by. Welcome to Austin, Dorothy. You're not in San Francisco anymore.
I''ve mentioned before that Dane is quite the intense little fellow. He also has such a sweet, caring side. This is the personality he reveals at preschool where his teacher calls him "a gentle soul." When she described Dane this way to Barton, I think he must have had a quizzical look on his face, as in "are we talking about the same kid here?" But, even as his parents, we get do get rare glimpses of this "alter ego" and rest assured that he is going to be a wonderful, compassionate adult.
Today, Logan was throwing a fit because he wanted to wear "The Big Shoes" to school. The Big Shoes are a pair of Airwalks that really do have quite a bit of bulk to them, hence the moniker. Anyway, Dane had already put on The Big Shoes so I kept trying to persuade Logie to wear different tennis shoes. Logie was not buying any of my selling points of the lesser, littler shoes and he was really starting to pitch of fit. Unprompted, Dane just took off The Big Shoes and handed them to Logie. Because that's the kind of sweet guy that Dane can be. Awww, makes me proud!
Since "three is the new two" in terms of desired number of children, many folks are jumping on this particular bandwagon. It may be the effect of all this super-breeding that I referred to in my octuplet post. People figure, "hey, if some crazy woman can raise 14 children as a single mom, surely my husband and I can handle three children." This is a good thing if you're doing it for the right reasons and not just because you follow trends. Have three children because you want a large family, not because you think that triple-wide stroller is all the rage.
Sadly, the first thing I think of when people tell me that they're having a third child is, "Wow, I hope she likes laundry." They say there are only two sure things in life and that's death and taxes. I really think laundry is just as inevitable and stealthy as death and taxes. Laundry is like a vicious loan shark. The more you ignore it, the more dire the consequences. Laundry can get down-right mean and ugly if you don't pay it its proper dues. I run myself ragged keeping up with its demands. This is one debt that will not be paid off and just when I think I'm making headway, there's another heap waiting to be washed, folded or put away. Sigh ... I don't heart laundry.
So now I know why I've been putting off potty training the boys. Let's just say that my stomach is still in knots from dealing with it all week. We've been dipping our toes in the water of potty training for a while now, but always get put off by utter failure. One morning, we went through eight pairs of underwear and shorts by 10am. Obviously, that didn't go well. So back to the diaper/pull-up half-assed attempts we went.
The true motivation for getting potty trained came when the boys and I went to pick Nicole up from school one day and she was doing a hammering exercise, where they use a plastic hammer to drive golf tees into a firm, yet spongy board. Once I told them that they would indeed get to do hammering if they move up to "the big kids" class, they were sold (because to move up to the "big kids class," you have to be potty trained). On to potty training. Dane, in his usual single-minded manner, began to potty train up a storm. All mental blocks were tossed aside and he was going poo-poo and pee-pee on the potty like a pint-sized madman.
Now, while I appreciate that Dane is so enthusiastic about using the potty, he has, in typical Dane fashion, now taken it to the extreme. The kid has to go pee every five minutes now. I am not exaggerating! It is absolutely exhausting. Not only that, but we are often forced to go potty in not-so-ideal places. Yesterday, he was peeing on a patch of grass in the back of an outdoor strip mall. When the workers at the tire place spotted us, they yelled, "Hey, we don't live in Arkansas!" I was so angry, but also felt like crying. I would love to see those buffoons try and get two not-so-compliant 3-year-olds to an available restroom in time to avoid an accident.
Logie's bladder is thankfully a bit larger than a teaspoon so we're not having the same problem with him. His issue is that he refuses to go poop in the potty. Sorry if that sounds blunt, but there it is. Needless to say, I've been throwing away a lot of underwear.
Fun stuff eh? Let's just say Pee Eeeee is not my favorite class!
The boys are blissfully unaware that mommy is about to have a nervous breakdown over potty training
The boys have a new game where they take the mattress off of Dane's bed, prop it on the edge of the bed frame and then slide down. They call this "doing California," which we figure comes from their image of California as the land of "sliding" sports such as skateboarding and surfing. When Nicole and I went to Disneyland, I sent the boys a postcard of Mickey Mouse surfing and "California" was emblazoned in big old letters so maybe that's where they got the reference. Whatever the source, California must be a raucous affair because every time we come up to check on the mayhem, both boys are red-faced and sweaty.
The boys have said some really funny "kid-isms" recently too. Here are a few of the good ones:
- Tonight I was so tired that my eyes were watering and Dane asked me if I had "a little bit of crying on my face."
- Last night, Dane asked me if he "could put on nail polish when" he "becomes a girl."
- The other day, Logie pronounced, "mommy, you have a big bottom." There was a bit of a lilting at the end so I could kid myself that this was really a question, but I'm not so sure. I really hope he outgrows these kind of comments before he starts dating.
Today was a particularly trying day since we were stuck inside due to the huge rain storm. The boys were very bored and causing all sorts of trouble that I'm trying my best to forget. We finally got to the gym later in the afternoon. As we were walking in, Logie picked up a discarded coke can from the parking lot and before I saw what he was doing, took a few huge sips. On entering the gym, he proceeded to throw up all over the floor. I'm sure the vomiting was from the sips of whatever was in that coke can, but after cleaning up the mess, I had no choice but to leave. Sure enough, Logie was as peppy as ever after the incident so I know it wasn't the stomach flu. Never a dull moment with these kidlets (or "kiddos" as people in Texas are so fond of saying).
The Wonder Boys
"Sister" or as she is now called, "Sisa-bon" (pronounced like Cinnabon)