Friday, October 28, 2011

How to Make Ceiling Fan Costumes in 38 Easy Steps

1.       Find a good time to leave the boys at home with Dad and then walk to your local craft store. Buy three sections of black foam board, black t-shirts, Velcro, duct tape, and baseball-size Styrofoam balls from the floral department.

2.       Bring home and store in a heap on the counter for 3 days.

3.       During boys’ nap time, while Babysitting Girl is watching Baby Einstein, take out foam board, ruler, scissors, pencil, and place on the floor.

4.       Outline the first blade in pencil with the help of the ruler.

5.       Get up and put Baby Alex back on the rocking horse. 

6.       Return and try to cut the board with the scissors. You can’t.

7.       Go to the closet to get the exacto knife and cardboard to put underneath the foam board.

8.       Turn off video. Play peek-a-boo with Baby Alex while running in circles (after carefully placing the knife down?)
9.       Return to floor and make first cut with knife.

10.   Get Baby Alex a cup of milk.

11.   Return to floor and successfully cut first blade.

12.   Retrieve Baby Alex from toddling down the hall to wake up the boys. Read her The Nose Book. Read her the First Words book.

13.   Answer the door. Send Baby Alex home with her daddy. Squirrel away fan materials behind the recliner and on the counter.

14.   Do some dishes. Get dinner things ready. Chat with husband when he comes home.

15.   Walk to the library to tutor Freshman Dancer Girl. Tutor. Walk home.

16.   Eat dinner and discuss the various sauce colors Dad has made with the boys for their hot dogs.

17.   Do a craft with paper plates and colored felt that gets spread all over the living room.

18.   Apply pajamas. Read stories. Brush teeth. Make boys clean up their toys. Clean up the other toys. Find all the necessary comfort stuffed animals. Tuck in. Say prayers. Close door.

tumbler of wine for late-night steps
19.   Clear and wash the table. Uncork wine.

20.   Move fan materials from squirrel holes to table. Pour glass of wine.

21.   Open Word document. Begin typing how to make fan costumes blog entry.

22.   Cut the rest of the blades. Remarkably easy with no kids and on the table!

23.   Finish glass of wine. Exhausted, go to sleep.

24.   Wake up to kids wanting to make pancakes. Make pancakes, allowing kids to help. Clean up spilled flour. Stop egg just in time from rolling off the counter. Cut up apple chunks and sneak into pancakes for fruit serving. Administer pancakes. Clean up pancakes. Wash syrup off all surfaces in the vicinity of the table. Load dishwasher. Start dishwasher.

25.   Answer door. Neighbor has locked herself out. Help her open her door. Show her fan costume pieces. Boys give her Halloween cookies they made and explain each shape to her: cat, bat, pumpkin, house.

26.   Show boys the fan so far, and the hot glue gun from a safe distance. Glue blades on center to complete one fan. Clean up the tiny trimmings from the blades that have been removed from their neat pile and strewn about the house.

27.   Trim sides of Styrofoam balls and glue on base for lights. Wash Styrofoam bits off four little hands. Hot glue the “lights” to two circular bases.

28.   Get call from friend in the area. She is coming over with her twins. Try to straighten house quickly. Forget to look in mirror. When she arrives show her fan costume progress. Apply Velcro to one shirt front and affix the “light fixture” to it. Gain her approval of fan design idea.

Velcro-ing fan to shirt
29.   Put shirt on Calvin to much screaming. Try to hold the fan behind him and get a picture so he can see how cool he looks as a ceiling fan. Doesn’t work. Take off shirt. Say goodbye to friends. Look in mirror. Holy hair.

30.   Give in to polite but persistent pleas to puddle-stomp. Apply necessary garb. Go outside and supervise the happy hollering and splashing. Take a video. Entice boys to come upstairs by telling them they get to watch the video of themselves. (Is this wrong? Maybe.)

31.   Peel off saturated clothing. Wring out and hang up. Tip over rain boots to dry. Change diapers, reapply clean, dry clothing.

32.   Make lunch while boys watch videos of themselves puddle-stomping. Boys eat lunch. Read story. Tuck into beds for nap. Sigh.

33.   Eat yogurt and mac and cheese crumbs from boys’ lunch.

Old elastic necklace and button as pull-cord 

34.   Find old necklace made of elastic for pull cord on fans. Cut two pieces off and attach with hot glue to “light fixtures” with the help of buttons.

35.   Get a call that the 5pm Halloween party is actually at 4pm.

36.    Cut second set of fan blades out and glue together. Affix all pieces to t-shirts.

37.   Take shower. Pack costumes. Pack diaper bag. Wake up boys. Change boys. Greet husband coming home. All leave together to walk to party.

38.   Arrive, a giant ball of awesome, with two smiling ceiling fans at party.

Ceiling Fan A

They were a little party-shy at first.

But soon they were gobbling lollipops.

Looking out the window of the 15th floor. Ceiling fans have good views!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mommy, You Had a Seizure.

I had a seizure last week. It had been a little over a year since my last one and this was my third one since becoming a mother. The first one was when I was in the hospital and the boys were two days old  and the other one I was right next to Cal in his car seat as Brian was driving. This was the first one where any kind of  verbal language was possible for the boys.

It always surprises me how confused I get after I have one. I must have been standing up at my computer when I had it because I woke up under our kitchen table, feeling very confused about how the three kids could have possibly gotten themselves dressed. They were walking around calmly and playing quietly. I first of all called my dad, I guess because I was thought he was still visiting. I asked where he was, and though it was 6am in Idaho when he answered, he and my mom quickly figured out what must have happened and called Brian at work, who picked up and called his mom who works across the street from our house and is our normal emergency contact, but he couldn’t get in touch with her. So he raced home from work and I somehow had the presence of mind to email the mother of the little girl I babysit and she had her husband come pick up their daughter. And somehow in those next twenty minutes or so, when I was maybe lucid-ish, maybe not, the kids didn’t fall in a toilet or electrocute themselves or even fight each other. 

When Brian got home I went to sleep and slept most of the rest of the day, waking up every now and then to a splitting headache that I tried to control with Tylenol. Seizure headaches last all day for me. It hasn’t quite been a week since the seizure, but I can’t remember much of that day. My memory on seizure days is always like that. I pretty much lose the whole day. I found out that when I talked to my parents I kept asking, “What do you mean?” which pretty much sums up what I remember thinking all day that day. My parents tried to keep a boy on the phone to talk to while we waited for Brian to get home, but neither of them was interested and so we ended up being cut off.

Brian had a chance to talk to the boys about what happened while I slept and we’ve all talked about it since then. “You had a seizure, Mommy,” they’ve been telling me. “You fell down. You’re fine.” In my memory, I don’t remember the kids seeming scared at all, or even interested in me, but they told Brian that they saw me fall down and that they all three came over to me and cried, but I think they might be getting caught up in the dramatization of the scene as opposed to the actual scene.

This has all given me a lot to think about—beyond piecing together what must have happened based on where my bruises are. How much do I need to talk to the boys about seizures and what to do when I have one? I suppose the more they know the better, but I also don’t want to scare them. I’ve known that being a mom who can’t drive is my lot in life, but the fact remains that the reason I can’t drive is actually a reason that can be quite dangerous in many other ways as well—more dangerous than the inconvenience of not being able to drive. I want them to be ready and smart for when my brain freaks out next time. But mostly I want them to be safe. Hopefully the next time I have a seizure they will be able to pick up a phone and call for help. And hopefully they will call someone who is nearby, not in Idaho and asleep.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mom and Dad: At Our House and In Our Car

There’s nothing quite like my mom and my dad in my house. A mom and a dad bustling around in my kitchen, dressing the boys, playing with the boys, reading to the boys, fixing, cleaning, watching baseball, you name it. What a nice two weeks we had with my parents! Now that my dad retired my parents can stay longer when they come to visit so this was their first two week trip and it was a smashing success. We took two weekend trips, one to my in-laws’ lake house and the second one to a beach house in Ocean City, New Jersey to connect with my Dad’s sisters and their families. Other than those weekend trips we spent quality time pushing the stroller around (okay, mostly Dad pushed the stroller) our neighborhood and laughing a lot. We even got away without Mom and Dad renting a car, thanks to Aaron and Brian swapping cars for road trips and Mom and Dad’s courageous agility on the metro and bus system.

The boys get some quality Papa time.

I’m not sure if there’s an age where this stops happening, but I kind of feel like I just revert to Young Dawn when I’m around my parents. The first few days I had meals all planned out. I made them with little help. They were good. The floor was clean. The bathroom was clean. I had a handle on the laundry. And then it all kind of blurred. We figured it out as we went, and everything turned out fine, but I felt more like Young Dawn—content to let things happen around me and not be involved. Not that I’m complaining—it was fantastic. There are places clean in my kitchen now that I didn’t even know existed thanks to Mom’s dexterous scrubbing moves. And man, was it ever nice not to have to push those growing, squirming boys all over in the stroller. I’m so much lighter when I’m not pushing 60 pounds of boy, 10 pounds of stroller, and several pounds of groceries or snacks or wipes! Astounding! Such a nice break. The day before Mom and Dad left I woke up after 8am to find the boys fully dressed, their beds made, and breakfast started. 

Grandma and Clark at the lake
A few of the days Mom and Dad spent in DC in an apartment that my aunt and uncle have, because they were out of town. They did some touristy things in the city and spent a little time sleeping NOT on our couch. Granted, those of you who know our luxurious couch know that it is actually a privilege and honor to sleep on it, however, since there are no private walls around our couch, it is therein that the occasional inconveniences might occur for those people accustomed to privacy in their sleeping quarters. My parents were troopers. I suppose after having four kids in a small house they aren't used to much privacy either.

And now about those two long road trips with two year-olds that we took for two consecutive weekends. They were long. The one to southern Virginia was on smaller roads with more traffic lights and thus a longer trip overall. The one north to New Jersey was all on big highways (read $47 in tolls) and seemed easier in part because we left at bedtime on a Friday night and drove home at naptime on Sunday. Clark and Cal did a good job of not going crazy in their carseats. Sometimes I try to imagine what it must be like to have to be in a kids’ carseat all strapped to the plastic and heavy fabric and not exactly understanding why and it makes me almost claustrophobic and I have to claw for air. I know. I have such a talented imagination. I get that a lot. 

The lake trip was nice and we made it a long weekend, driving down Friday morning and coming back Monday evening. But the New Jersey one was insanely short and left us all sleep deprived. We got there at about 11:30pm to Ocean City and were greeted by dearly loved relatives, some of whom we hadn’t seen for a long time. The boys had only met a couple of them, so they were a little frightened, plus it was late at night and they had just woken up, plus it was a new house. They screamed like little shrews (do shrews scream?) for the first five minutes they were there. In order to calm them down, my well-meaning aunts and cousins offered them ice cream (refer back to time of night) and cookies, which of course the little pajama-ed screamers greedily accepted. Soon they were in Great Aunt Jane and Great Uncle Jeff’s arms looking for ceiling fans, but settling for turning on and off some unusual light fixtures. Finally around 2am we settled down in a room with two bunk beds and a trundle bed. Cal must not have eaten as much sugar as Clark did because it was clear pretty quickly that he was ready to sleep. Not Clark. He was SO EXCITED to be sleeping sitting on the bottom bunk! He was in that mood where he was cheery about everything and on top of that he wanted to repeat everything I said. I explained to him that everyone else in the house wanted to sleep. Everyone was so tired! It was not nice to be loud and keep other people awake when they wanted to sleep! In fact, it was mean. These types of things I whisper-spit to him in my hot, exhausted rage, from the bottom of the other bunk bed as he sat up and lay down and called his Scratchy Cat his little sister and told me he had eaten ice cream with chocolate (no, really?) and that he liked the blue lights and that we were at the beach and that tomorrow it would be light and we would see the ocean. Then I would whisper-yell at him. “Clark! You are being mean! Everyone here wants to sleep and you are talking loudly. You need to lie down! You need to go to sleep. Calvin wants to sleep and I want to sleep too, but you are being too loud!” To that he would cheerily and loudly respond, “I am being mean! Everyone here wants to sleep and I’m talking loudly. I need to sleep! Calvin wants to sleep but I’m being too loud.”

Finally sometime around 3am he stopped talking and my boiling rage died down enough to fall asleep as well…until 8am when the ocean sun poked in the blinds and somehow Clark was up in a flash to see the cool light fixtures, oh, and the beach.
Since I forgot buckets and shovels the boys played with cups and spoons...

...until the cup blew away and Uncle A was called on to sprint to the rescue.

And Uncle A did not disappoint.

Despite the ocean part of our trip being so short, it went (with the exception of the early-morning whisper-spitting match)well and it was nice to see our relatives. The boys enjoyed the beach, specifically the salt water taffy and sand, and a specific jewelry store they found on the boardwalk. The jewelry store had all the expected jewelry store paraphernalia: jewelry, glass display cases, and middle-aged women covered in makeup and jewelry. What the bejeweled women had that they didn’t realize the value of, however, was their ceiling fans. They were unusual—without lights—and their blades looked like palm leaves. Cal did not want to leave. He went in and started talking to Lois about her fans. She was in love with him immediately and called over Nancy and Brenda and Wilma in their various shades of bright lipstick and dangling bracelets and popping chewing gum to fawn over Cal as he fawned over the fans. Eventually I mentioned to Cal that we needed to keep going and find his brother, which is when Nancy swooned that he had a twin brother and so some of us combined to herd Clark into the jewelry store and we all stayed there for quite some time. We had to promise to visit the women on the way back down the boardwalk and say goodbye and about an hour later we did, much to their relief. They were afraid we had forgotten. The boys yelled out, “Goodbye Fans!” as they left the store. The women were lined up in front madly waving back. Yep, they were fans. 
Finally leaving the jewelry store...Ocean City boardwalk at dusk

After our beach trip we got back home soon enough to celebrate Brian's birthday at his parents' house complete with a lot of important, post-carseat, pre-bedtime backyard playing. 

So, overall it’s been a successful and fun past two weeks. My parents are now gone, which means I have to do annoying grown-up things like make meals and change diapers again, but the trip was a great break in many ways and a wonderful chance for the boys to spend time with their grandparents whom they normally only get to interact with via Skype. We had fun with them at our house and in our car and everywhere in between. I'm currently trying to decide what next to look forward to in my life. I think it might be to the Halloween costumes I'm making for the boys. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011


The boys designed their own root word. It makes complete sense. It is: Yester. Its meaning is versatile. Simply used, it means “in the past” or “before” or “earlier.” But there are intricate nuances to the word. For example, the boys will refer to something that happened in a morning last week or last month or yesterday as having happened yestermorning. Similarly they will refer to things involving pajamas or dinner or something else evening-y as having happened yesternight. The catch-all, the one that they use most, and which happens to be my favorite, is yestertime. They use it as one might use “last time.” It is usually preceded by, “’member dat?” and then, “I did that yestertime!” I love it.

Now I need to get blogging about the great time we had with my parents on their visit yestertime. Stay tuned.

'Member dat, Mommy? 'Member when I screamed yestertime?

Thursday Thesicle

Plastic cups and serving spoons work just as well as buckets and shovels at the beach.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday Thesicle

The best zoo view is always from Grandma and Papa's shoulders.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Top Ten Moments

My Whispers and Shouts absence this week has been due to having my parents visiting. We’ve been at home, on a sojourn to DC, and to my in-laws’ lake house in southern Virginia. Needless to say I haven’t had time to write. So, to catch up on the latest Cal/Clark news I present to you without further ado or in any particular order,

Top Ten Moments from Grandma and Papa Week One.

* When Cal, while quizzically observing my dad’s mustache on the metro, said, “Papa has hair on his tongue.” And pointed to a stranger who also had “hair on his tongue.”

* When Cal claimed that his favorite animal at the zoo was the pretend panda bear. (a panda statue)

* Eight ceiling fans at the lake house. Need I say more? “I turn that fan on!” “NO! I turn that fan on!” "I love that fan!" No I love that fan!" etc.

* The boys steering the boat all by themselves in circles.

* Bouncing on Uncle Pierre's knees to his Elephant Song.

* Sitting at the campfire on the beach juggling the boys who were covered in marshmallows and sand and busy “cooking sticks in the fire and steam.” 

* Playing air hockey "ALL BY SELFS!"

* Mountainous frozen yogurt extravaganza after a long day at the zoo.

* Going to our playground and getting to introduce my parents to my mommy friends and the boys’ friends.

* Working on perfect baseball throwing form with Uncle A while throwing acorns into the lake.

Air hockey BY SELFS!
Up close and personal with the ceiling fans in the loft

Uncle Pierre's Elephant Song!

Best part of the zoo?


Aforementioned frozen yogurt extravaganza

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Walk It Off!

My parents are flying in from Idaho today! I spent the morning trying to clean around the boys and then took a break from that nearly-pointless task to walk to the grocery store and let the boys run around and do boy things like throw pine needles in the air while calling it hair, and pine cones dangerously near parked cars, and acorns at each other. Maybe they would take a good nap after all the fresh air. 

I was pushing the double stroller as we neared the store. A woman was walking toward me in a pink tank top and black, three-quarter length spandex. She smiled nicely to me and said, as I lumbered past since we were going downhill, “Lookin’ good. Walk it off.” And she was gone.

Hm. I was glad she wasn’t standing in front of me and expecting a response, because I didn’t know how to take that. Those two little sentences do seem to contradict each other a little, right? “Looking good. You’re not as fat as you were when you were pregnant with twins, but girl, you’ve got to keep losing that poundage.” That’s what it felt like. Now, it’s true that I gained 65 pounds while I was pregnant with the boys. It’s also true that I lost roughly 60 of them until, when I was still nursing when the boys were 15 months I frantically stopped because I suddenly thought I might be one of those moms. You know, the type whose son walks over, recites the alphabet, performs an algebraic equation, and then hops on his mom’s lap to nurse. Or something like that. So I quit nursing and gained some of the weight back…probably about 8-10 pounds. Not ideal. Not awesome. Oh well. 

Let’s revisit Pink Spandex Woman. She was herself a bit of uh, a portly woman, some would say. Or maybe some would say she is substantial. Hearty. Big-boned. Nice personality. You get it. Anyway, I’m pretty sure the woman wasn’t insulting me, but it was still a curious thing to say and hear, so I thought I'd share it with you.

And now I need to go clean more because I think Mom and Dad's plane landed a minute ago and my kitchen floor is still atrocious. I’ll move fast while I sweep and mop so I can walk it off.

The way I finally got the bathroom cleaned-- convinced the boys to sweep the carpet.

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