Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Lost Tooth. Really Lost Tooth.


Well, the day I've been dreading has finally arrived. That tooth that has been hanging on for dear life finally let go and got lost. And by lost, I mean it is currently going for a ride through Benjamin's digestive tract. For literally the last three years I've been saying that when Ben loses his first tooth, I am going to fall over dead, or at the very least pass out cold. The boys have been very conscious of this, and at some point this evening, Nathan looked at Ben and said, "your tooth is gone".

I was cooking dinner and talking on the phone to Michael. Knowing that interrupting Mommy on the phone for anything less than fire or copious amounts of blood gets the interrupter in serious trouble, they concocted a little plan to let me know about the loss. Together they made a small sign that read, "Mom my tooth came out and I lost it". Then they came up behind me in the kitchen and gently tapped me on the arm while smiling sweetly. I turned around, read the sign and SCREAMED at the top of my lungs, right into the phone (this way Daddy still got to be part of the fun!). I did not, as previously promised, drop dead or even , as feared, pass out. I calmly got off the phone and looked in Ben's mouth and around the living room floor. Alas, the tooth is really lost. Ben pointed to his side and said, "it's right here, poking me". Wonderful.

When I asked Ben what the Tooth Fairy (who hasn't ever made a trip to our house before) was going to do if there was no tooth to come collect, Nathan came up with the brilliant idea to cross out "MOM" on the note and instead write "To the Tooth Fairy" and slip that under Ben's pillow.

I am as surprised as I could possibly be that I feel calm, cool, and collected. I am not breathing into a paper bag or sobbing uncontrollably. Instead I feel about the same way I normally feel when our littlest one hits a new milestone: joyful and ever so grateful that we have this little child with us to make our world just that much brighter.

Today Ben turned Five-and-a-HALF, so it's a wonderfully fitting way to celebrate, don't you think?

Gift Card Mania!

This year the boys are old enough to really relish the joys of receiving gift cards as gifts! Today they got to spend a $15 card apiece at Target. The cards themselves were incredibly cool: a lenticular Frosty and a scratch n' sniff peppermint zebra. Nathan added to his Tech Deck collection and got a step and ledge plus two boards, and Benjamin got a trick Hot Wheels ramp set which came with a ring of faux fire.



They've enjoyed playing with their new toys for several hours and are now playing "store", having built a cash register out of paper that accepts gift cards.

Personally, I love gift cards to restaurants! It seems like gifts cards to stores end up getting used for things we need rather than a nice treat. But a restaurant gift card is always at the top of my Christmas wish list! We plan to spread out the use of the gift cards that the boys received instead of just letting them have a free-for-all. It's the gift that keeps on giving!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Plans


Today I sat down and filled in our 2009 calender with family birthdays, anniversaries, and first and last days of school (including next year's Christmas break). Reflecting on this past year and the many, many things I put on the calender that didn't come to pass, I was reminded of the little quote, "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans".
Let's hope for 2009 we aren't yet again God's personal comic relief team...

Monday, December 29, 2008

City Walk

We took the family up to Universal City Walk to catch Adam Sandler's Bedtime Stories. Since the boys were wearing their rock n roll tees, we had to take their photo in front of the Hard Rock Cafe.

And then we let the boys ride a motorcycle with one hand and no helmet. Walk on the wild side little boys...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Portrait Day

Today we took our little extended family off to the local portrait studio for some pics. Since Chris and Alyssa pretty much eloped, there were no formal photos taken of them in wedding attire. I wanted to try and do the next best thing, which was to get them in a professional photo together. I think the playful pose was perfect for them! I love our big group photo (that is a LOT of boys!). We're quite a good looking bunch!
We spent the afternoon at Shoreline Village in Long Beach seeing Every Christmas Story Ever Told at the All American Melodrama, owned by our friend Ken. Mike got to go on stage and appear in a cameo of Cindy Lou Who.


Benjamin stole the show twice when he shouted out "Santa lives at the North Pole" when two actors were debating whether the big guy exists, and then later during a reenactment of It's A Wonderful Life he yelled out "He's NAKED" as they portrayed the scene when the girl's bathrobe comes off in the bush (the actor was fully dressed). The performers doubled over laughing and it took awhile for everyone in the room to get themselves under control so the show could continue. That's melodrama for you! We capped off the evening with a delicious BBQ dinner. Chris and Alyssa leave to go back to South Carolina on Tuesday, so we are trying to cram in as much memory making as we can!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Grandpa Express

My Dad makes incredible wooden trains to sell at the Farmer's Market and to private buyers. I began to express envy that he was selling off his handiwork to total strangers when he has two young grandsons who are the perfect age to enjoy wooden trucks, trains, and anything else with wheels. So for Christmas my Dad nearly did himself under creating the most exquisite heirloom-quality trains I've ever seen, far surpassing anything he'd ever created before. They are similar but not identical and the boys instantly fell in love with them. How could they not? I immediately felt torn between either allowing the boys to play with them or tucking them high on a shelf to be seen but not touched and possibly damaged. But then I remembered the tale of the Velveteen Rabbit and how only toys that are loved become real... and how could I not want these amazing trains to become real, if only for the few years that Nathan and Benjamin will enjoy hours of imaginative play off to far away lands aboard their locomotives?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

My Birth Day (different from my Birthday)

A few years ago my Dad wrapped up and gave to me a curious set of Polaroid photographs. I had no idea what I was looking at. And more importantly, I had no idea why my Dad thought to give them to me. He sat there while I looked through them with an expectant look on his face, my Mom right beside him.









My Dad works in the film industry. Seeing that my Dad was dressed for work in the first photo, I thought long and hard, searching my memory for a movie or old television show that might have been filmed here. In the second photo you can see a dressing room trailer out the window, indicating that it was being used at the time for a film shoot. I tried to figure out the significance of the room number, 116. I pondered whether the ABC wallpaper border looked familiar. I finally looked up at my Mom and Dad, who were both on the edge of their seats. I finally asked, "What am I looking at? "

Then Dad handed me this final photo.

As I looked at it, my Dad did his best to not cry, sucking in and holding his breath. And then it all became very clear! These photos are from the hospital where I was born!

The hospital had closed a few years after my birth and was later used as a teaching facility. Still later, it was used as a film set for quite a few movies and television shows. Once in jr. high, my parents drove me past the old, deserted building where I made my debut in this world. It was somewhat rundown with weeds in the parking lot.

On the day these photos were taken it was being used for a feature film, and my Dad grabbed the set photographer to take a stroll down memory lane to the place where my Mom and Dad went from being a couple to being a family.

Before I was born, my Dad was an LAPD officer and frequently during his rounds he would go to this very hospital to peak at the little newborn babies. All the nurses knew him quite well. On the Christmas Eve night that I was born in the 70's, it was not common practice to have fathers in the delivery room. And my Dad didn't really want to be a part of it any way. However, all those nurses who loved my Dad gave him no option to simply wait with the rest of the expectant fathers. Instead, he was ushered in with my Mom and therefore witnessed one of the most amazing miracles there is- the birth of a new life. The experience obviously touched him, as over three decades later he is still reverent when he says, "there was just your Mom and I, and then suddenly there was another person there with us, you".

I was born just a few minutes before Christmas, and so just about every year I call up my Mom just before midnight and beg her to tell me the story of my birth. It's a dramatic story of two young soon-to-be parents who were at the mall on Christmas Eve and split up to find each other a gift and in the end found themselves at the hospital with the best gift of all: Me! Since I wrote it all out for all of you, I think I'll give them the year off! Thanks Mom and Dad, you are the best parents a girl could ever hope for! I love you so much!

My Birthday!

Since my birthday falls on Christmas Eve, I never had a real birthday party growing up. The kind of party where actual friends beyond my immediate family show up. However, as my little brother's birthday falls on New Year's Day, my parents did an outstanding job of making sure that despite the lack of available people to celebrate with us, our birthdays were always very special. Without a doubt, my favorite day in the entire year is my birthday! The whole world is decorated, everyone is in a wonderful mood, and there is no lack of wonderful goodies to munch on! A few years back Michael threw me a little surprise birthday breakfast party at the one and only King's Hawaiian Bakery and Restaurant, right here in our current neighborhood. It was amazing how many people showed up! I felt so beloved! This year we've been in a bit of a funk, with so much about our immediate future up in the air. Mike suggested we have a somewhat smaller gathering over at King's Hawaiian this year and I decided that would be perfect. Despite thinking it would only be my in laws, husband, and my boys, there were fifteen people who came round to celebrate with a delicious breakfast followed by the best part about birthdays: CAKE! Later in the day, my Mom and Dad drove down here with my sister in law, Pauline and we had another smaller celebration here at the house, with more CAKE! We put the boys to bed and now we're off to finish the night with our annual viewing of my very favorite movie of all time, So I Married an Axe Murderer, while we dine on (what else) more CAKE! I love my Birthday! And now that it's here, I can focus on the next big thing that happens tomorrow... Christmas!
My annual pair of birthday slippers from my friend Amy. This year's pair was especially in need of a hair cut!
Mmmm! CAKE!
My very most favorite group of troublemakers! Besides my boys, of course!
Left to right: Yvonne, myself, Amy, and Cassi.
The birthday girl and Benjamin.

Nathan's version of a party hat.


I guess they don't feed those Navy boys nearly enough!
Part of the Birthday Breakfast Bunch before everyone else left!

The lucky Pineapple at King's Hawaiian.

Benjamin and Nathan with my Mom and Dad.

Our family with Auntie Pauline, my little brother's wife.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Chris is Home!

We got the best early Christmas gift this evening: our adopted "son" Chris showed up on our doorstep with his wife Alyssa and his brother Tommy! We were pulling onto our street when he called to say he was at our house, and I hadn't even stopped the car before the boys ripped off their seat belts. The jumped all over Chris while I (as typical) burst into tears. It is so wonderful to have them here! Chris is on leave from the Navy just for a week, and we'll get to do some fun things with them while they are here. Can't wait!

Here's the whole gang, goofing around.







Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Anniversaries


My Dad called this morning to tell me it was the five year anniversary of the Paso Robles earthquake, Benjamin's first experience with one. My parents live about an hour from Paso, and that year we were up at my parents' house to celebrate my birthday and Christmas. My Dad and I went into town and brought six month old Benjamin with us. Our intended destination was the DMV in Paso Robles so that I could renew my drivers license before my birthday on the 24th. I had a new (and decent!) photo taken and then we left to go do some last minute Christmas shopping. My Dad had something specific in mind for my Mom and we ended up at the Black and Decker Outlet in a small strip mall in the neighboring city of Atascadero. I was pushing Ben in a stroller through the narrow aisles when we heard a fierce rumbling followed by the unmistakable rolling of the ground. We were surrounded by boxes of tools piled on shelves reaching high above our heads. Thanks to the shaking and gravity, those heavy boxes started tumbling down around us- an obvious recipe for disaster!

I darted toward the front of the store leaning as far over the stroller as I could to protect Benjamin from the dropping boxes. At the front of the store we were confronted with a giant plate glass window, nearly two stories high. After battling the fear that the window would crash down on us, I pushed the stroller forward, only to be pushed back by what felt like a wave! It was a bizarre sensation, and I tried a second time, successfully getting out the door and missing a concrete bench which split in two and felt apart as I passed, and a tall metal lamppost which teetered and then fell over, missing a row of parked cars. I found myself standing with a group of German tourists who had been in the dressing rooms at the neighboring Ralph Laurent Outlet in various states of undress, wearing clothes with the labels still attached and expressions of intense fear. I looked around and panicked when I did not see my Dad anywhere. Being the consummate gentleman that he is, instead of running to the front of the store, he ran to the back to make sure everyone got out. When he finally emerged I felt such a sense of relief! The employees of the Ralph Lauren store were trying to talk the German tourists into coming back in and handing over the merchandise, but it didn't look like any amount of talk was going to convince them to retrieve their pants and blouses!

Dad and I tried using our cell phones to ring my Mom and Mike back at the house, but all the circuits were busy. We decided to hurry home, knowing that while we were gone, Mike was planning to be up on the roof, putting up Christmas lights, with Nathan's "help". We had no idea where the epicenter was, so we had good reason to worry. We sailed home, make the hour trip in about 40 minutes, only to find everyone lounging about. The hadn't felt it at all. Later the news showed the damage and we realized how fortunate my Dad and I were to have already left the area which was hit the worst. Thank goodness for short lines in rural DMV offices!


Today is also the 13 1/2 year anniversary of the day Michael and I were married. Our boys are so intense on whether they have reached their "half" birthdays yet, so I thought I'd toss that out there in their honor!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Pajama Party

Can't get enough of those PJ's! Tonight we went to a friend's house for their annual pajama Christmas party and gift exchange. Last year we had tickets to a show and couldn't go, so this year we were excited to be a part of it. Especially the kids, who were thrilled to have yet another opportunity to wear their cool new PJ's out in public! Oh, and the adults all got to wear theirs as well! It wasn't very flattering, but it beats putting on heels and ties!In keeping with the theme, we all brought breakfast food to create a yummy buffet. The best part was gathering all the children and then letting them open all their gifts at once, with much glee and shouting. So much joy in one small place!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pizza Pajama Picnic

Today was a very productive Saturday! Michael washed all the outside windows while Benjamin hosed down all the screens. I guess you could say we are trying to give every last ray of sunshine a better chance of making it into our house! Then my extremely handy hubby replaced the ancient thermostat (which was probably original to this house, mercury and everything) with a new, programmable digital one. I spent the day tackling our dining room. It's the room where my computer is, where we do homework, read books, sew, draw, paint, eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the default place where everything accumulates. So it's no exaggeration to say I spent all day on it and am still not 100% done. I did, however, fill two giant black trash bags with stuff to get rid of, which feels wonderful!

The last thing I wanted to do at the end of the day was cook dinner and eat it in our nearly-pristine and beautiful dinning room. So Mike ordered pizza and gave the kids a bath and then we had a picnic in our PJ's in the living room while we watched Chicken Little. A great end to a very busy day!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Makin' Stuff

My boys are most happy when they are creating something. If that "something" is a mess, then so much the better!
Some days I wish I was the kind of mom who spent all day making crafts or baking with the children. Before kids, I certainly spent hours and hours hand making little gifts to give my co-workers, most of whom were parents who thanked me and said they wished they could go back in time to when they didn't have kids and could sit around hand making gifts... It's only now, ten years later that I understand their wistfulness and longing. For Christmas, we are indeed making a few things, most of which I can't post photos of until after the gifts have been opened by their Boy-Wonder-Blog-reading recipients! I will show you a couple of things. I drew some gift wrap onto envelopes to add some warmth to the cold hard cash they contain (I blurred out the names so no sneaky relatives can guess what they are getting).
And we made some quilted fabric ball ornaments which only require a Styrofoam ball, ribbon, fabric, and a bazillion straight-pins. Oh, and about thirty minutes. This one is for our next door neighbor (who doesn't read this blog).
I am planning to do some things with the kids like cookie decorating and such. What I really have it in my head to do is to make our own marshmallows! I know, nothing like picking an easy project, right? The boys are more than just a little excited to have two weeks off from school. We are ALL really excited that we'll have Chris home, along with his wife, Alyssa for one week. It's finally starting to feel a little bit like Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Memory Lane

Here was Nathan's first Christmas.
After nearly four years of thinking we'd never be able to have a child, Nathan was the very best gift we could ever receive. His name means "gift from God". Despite the pile of gifts around the tree, he was, and still is, the best one ever!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Family Portrait

In action figures!

Everyone got to pick their own.

Michael is Bumblebee because he is loyal and the guardian of our family, plus he's a technical genius.

I am Alice because I'm a dreamer and live in Wonderland and despite my current crimson hair color, I'm actually a natural blonde.

Nathan is Ben 10 because what boy wouldn't want to turn into an alien at will and save the world on a daily basis?

Benjamin is Luke Skywalker because he's the one with the fiercest determination and would easily make it through Jedi training. And the Force is definitely with him.