…Always Be Batman

When you are the mother of a young boy, it seems that you share several rites of passages with all of the other mothers of young boys.  I’ve done some very unofficial research and I’ve noticed a few common denominators.  However, my research is about as well controlled as my email inbox, so I will leave you to your own conclusions.

Thomas the Tank Engine – I may be in the minority here, but I can’t stand Thomas.  The older stop-action cartoons creep me out and I get annoyed by all of the made up swear words:  “cinders and ashes!” and “bust my buffers!”.  Seriously, am I the only one who is a little uncomfortable when a train engine exclaims, “Flatten my funnel!”?  The fact that Ringo Starr narrated the series doesn’t even save it for me.  *shudder*

Collecting Random Stuff in Pockets – This one I dealt with better than Thomas.  I’ve always been pretty diligent at searching pants pockets before throwing them into the washing machine, so for the most part, I’ve been able to intercept most of the screws, lollipop sticks, rocks, caterpillars and crayons before they actually made it into the danger zone.

Legos – The road to Hell may be paved with good intentions, but the parent of any boy can tell you that actual Hell is probably paved with Legos.  There are few tortures that equal stepping on a Lego in the middle of the night.

“Fixing” Stuff – I would be completely fine with this one if it wasn’t preceded directly by “breaking stuff”.  We finally had to enact a rule with Leo that he couldn’t break something unless he could actually fix.  Immediately after which he disassembled a Rubik’s cube.

Superheroes – This is Leo’s most recent obsession and it has taken over our house.  I honestly don’t know where this one came from, because we’ve never watched any Superman, Batman or any-other-Man movies or tv shows.  I’m blaming pure commercialism on this one.  It’s like osmosis.  It just sneaks in.

Lately, Leo wants to constantly have some sort of cape tied around his neck.  If we’re lucky, it’s the actual cape he inherited from his cousin Anna, who was Super Girl last Halloween.  If that is in the washing machine, Leo and Lucy are running around the house with dish towels tied around their necks.  More often than not, I’m trailing behind them with a beach towel around mine.

A while back, my husband came home from work and found us sitting around the living room, capes draped over our shoulders and eating graham crackers.

“Hi, Daddy!” Leo waved happily.  “I’m Super Boy!”

“Oh,” Doug said, playing along.  “And who’s Lucy?”

“She’s Super Sister!”

“Nice.  Who am I?”

“You’re Super Daddy!”

“Okay.  And who is Mommy?”

Leo paused and looked over at me.  “Oh.  She’s Batman.”

Huh.  I’ll take Batman.

batman

from justequotes.com

Call the Midwife…and bring the Kleenex

Not too long after Lucy was born, I was still on maternity leave and looking for something to fill my day other than feedings, diaper changes, bottle washing and cuddling.

“Do you know of any good shows I can binge watch on Netflix?” I asked my sister one day.  My sister, despite having two teenagers with insane schedules, manages somehow to always have the inside information on the next great thing.  She’s the one who called my one Monday morning and said, “You have got to watch this new show that started on AMC last night.  It’s called Mad Men.”  I rest my case.

“Have you watched Call the Midwife yet?” she asked.  I hadn’t.  “It follows the lives of midwives who work in London’s East End in the 1950’s.  It’s amazing.  Great character studies and very addicting.  Kind of like Downton Abby.”  (Another show my sister told me about before anyone else was talking about it.  I told you, she’s good.)  She paused for a second.  “On second thought, though, you may be a little too close to it.  After just having Lucy and all.  It may be too much.”

I laughed at her misguided concern.  “Don’t worry about that!  You know I’m not like that.”

An hour later, I was just finishing the first episode.  [Spoiler Alert!]  A mother had just given birth to a still-born baby (which they showed!).  She then goes into shock and loses consciousness.  As the midwife, Jenny, and the father are trying to help her, they hear a tiny cry from the other side of the room.  And they realize that the baby is alive!

At this point, I’m standing in the middle of my living room, apparently sleep-deprived, hormonally-imbalanced and just plain unstable, sobbing my eyes out, clinging to my three-week old baby.

When the episode finally ended, I collapsed in a chair, a complete and utter blubbering mess.  The mother had survived as well and the baby was thriving, so it ended on a happy note, but I still wasn’t content.  I called my sister and when she answered, without even greeting her, I growled, “Why in the hell would you tell me to watch that??”

Needless to say, I ended up agreeing with her that I might not be quite ready to watch the rest of the episodes.  I saved it in my Netflix queue and moved on to Portlandia.

Two years later, I have finally decided that I’m ready to try again and I just re-watched the first episode last night.  I cried a little, but not nearly the hysterical sobbing I did the first time.

I decided to do a little experiment.

I made my husband watch that scene to see how he reacted.  He sat, watching it stone-faced.  When the baby cried and a tiny waving hand appeared on the screen, he sighed and leaned back in his chair.  He glared at me.  “I was seriously going to be so mad at you.”

I guess we’re just a family of softies.  Angry-reacting softies, but still.

So I’m going to give Call the Midwife another shot.  I can’t guarantee that I’m emotionally stable enough to make it all the way through, but I’m going to try it.

I start the second episode tonight…wish me luck.

…And, I’m Back!

It’s been over three years since I last posted and life has continued to march on, like it tends to do.

In May of 2013, we were lucky enough to give Leo a little sister, Lucy.  While Leo looks more and more like his father every day with chocolate brown eyes and darkening hair, Lucy has the blue eyes and blonde curls that I had as a child.  Her presence has completed our little family and added just that much more craziness to a house that was already chock full of insanity.

Now that Lucy is a two year old and Leo is knocking on the door of four, I sat down a few nights ago and realized, “I need something creative to do.”  I pondered my options:  scrap-booking, knitting, quilting, writing the great American novel, blogging.  I discarded scrap-booking, knitting and quilting pretty quickly.  I love the idea but right now I don’t have the patience for perfection.  After careful consideration, I decided that I’m not anguished enough to write the great American novel.  Fitzgerald and Hemingway, I am not.

That left blogging.

For me, the hardest part of any type of social media is picking a user name.  Or, in this case, a blog name.  The problem is that I don’t really like pigeon holing myself as one thing.  Yes, I’m married, but I don’t feel like I should be known only as DougsWife1.  I have two amazing children, but I think my personality goes beyond MommytoLeoandLucy.  I have a job that I love, but I’m definitely not CareerWoman98.  I’m a big Packer fan, but I certainly wouldn’t call myself Packerz4Ever.  I was paralyzed with indecision.

And then I remembered, Hey!  I already have a blog!  I wonder if it’s still active?

I logged in, dragging the long-ago password from my memory.  And, would you believe it, but there it was.  My poor little neglected blog.  Patiently waiting for me to remember that it existed.

Well, I’m back.

Kind of.

Life is still going to get in the way.  I realize that and that’s okay.  As I said in my very first post on here, I do a lot of things in life half-assed.  I might as well add blogging to that list.

Welcome back to Life as Andrea.

“Kettle, You’re Black,” Said The Pot

A few days ago, I was sitting at my desk chatting with a co-worker about whichever work issue was hitting the fan at that moment.  I absent-mindedly picked up a thumb tack and started to play with it.  I traced the outline of the keys on my calculator, stood it up on it’s head and then started to push it into the plastic cap of my soda bottle.

"You're weird."

“Do you think I could push this all the way through?” I asked Alicia as I wiggled the pin further into the cap.

“Maybe if you had a hammer,” she suggested.

I reached over and picked up my blue and yellow stapler and began to tap the pin.  “Isn’t that a song by Peter Paul and Mary?” I asked.

“Yes, it is!” she replied.  And then she began quoting the lyrics.  “If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning, I’d hammer in the evening. All over this land.”

I stopped mid-tap and turned to face her.  “Do you know all the words?”  When she nodded, I shook my head.  “You’re weird.”

She flung her hands palm-up.  “Me??  You’re pounding a pin into a soda bottle–with a stapler!!”

I looked down at the little project.  “Oh, yeah.”  I gave the pin one more final hit with the stapler and it popped through cap.  “Nice.”

Date Worthy: 20 Creative (And Cheap!) Date Ideas

I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day.  I’m one of those curmudgeons who thinks that it’s overly commercialized.  So why, you ask, are you making a list of date ideas?  Well, I guess that even though I don’t like Valentine’s Day, I still like a bit of romance every now and then.  And I love to have fun.  And I love lists.  Oh, yeah, and I love my husband.  Most of these dates are things that we’ve done together over the past ten years.  We’ve proven over and over again that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a great date!
***
Lovers Lanes Go bowling together.  And for something a little different, instead of competing against each others, play Dutch Doubles.  One player bowls the first throw and the second player has to “pick up” the left over pins.  For the next frame, change the order.
Movie under the stars This is one of my husband’s and my favorite dates.  Get a long extension cord and hook up the tv…outside.  Order a pizza and watch a movie while sitting out in your back yard.
Get Physical  Go for a run together.  Or a bike ride or rollerblading.  Or, if you’re like my husband and me, just go for a walk.
Looking For Luck  Find a field and look for four-leaf clovers together.  If you find one, dry it by pressing it in a large book and then laminating it.
Dollar Store Shopping Spree  Take a set amount of money ($5, $10) and go to a dollar store.  See who can come up with the best gift for the other person.  Extra points for creativity!
Thrifty Thinking  This is similar to the Dollar Store Shopping Spree, but go to a thrift store instead.  You would be amazed at some of the things you can find there!  If you’re extra-daring, pick out outfits for each other and then wear them out for a cup of coffee.  Leisure suit, anyone?
Cooking Up Fun  Look through cookbooks together and pick a few new recipes to try.  Go shopping for the ingredients together, then cook them up as a team.  This works especially well if you choose an appetizer, a main dish, a salad and a dessert.  You may have some culinary misses, but you’ll have fun trying them out!
Stalk-erazzi  Have you ever wondered where people you know live?  Grab a phone book and look up their addresses.  Then get in the car and see if you can find their houses.  C’mon, everyone has a little curiosity about where people live, right??
Photo Scavenger Hunt  Scavenger hunts are fun no matter how old you are.  For a more up-to-date version, grab your digital cameras and a list and head out around town.  Come up with your own list or find one online such as this one.
I’m With the Band  Challenge your significant other to a Guitar Hero play-off.  Or maybe Mario Kart is more your cup of tea.  I am the most video game challenged person in the world and even I enjoy both of those games.  If one person is not a gamer, make sure you choose something that they won’t get too easily frustrated with!
Fort-unate Flashback to your childhood and build a fort in your living room.  Be sure to think like a kid–use all the seat cushions, blankets and pillows you can find.
Board Night  Do you remember your favorite board game when you were little?  Monopoly?  Clue?  Chutes and Ladders?  Gather all of them up and have a marathon game night together.
Go Fish  No, I mean actually go fish.  Find a couple of poles, buy some worms and throw a few lines off of a bridge.  (Just be sure to abide by state laws…get a fishing license if it’s required, etc.  Getting fined by the DNR is not romantic.)
Trivial Pursuit  Find a bar or restaurant that has trivia night and sign up as a team.  Even if you don’t know a lot of the answers, you’ll probably pick up a few pieces of useless information.
Book Ends  Go to the library together and pick out a book for the other person.  Or, if you want to cop out, find a dvd to rent.
Take Me Out to the Ballgame  …Or hockey game, in my case.  Go to a sporting even together.  Many cities have minor league or university teams and tickets are usually very reasonable.  There’s nothing better than cheering on a favorite team and enjoying a beer and a hotdog together.
Pooh Sticks  This game comes from the book House on Pooh Corner.  The point is to find a stream with a walking bridge over it.  Stand together looking over the upstream side of the bridge; on the count of three, each person drops an object (a pine cone or a small stick) into the water.  Rush over to the other side of the bridge and see who’s object emerges from under the bridge first.  Cheap fun at it’s best!
Flying High  Buy a couple of kites and fly them on a windy day.  I would say to make your own kites, but that is always better in theory than in practice.  You most likely will end up with a couple sticks tied to a string as you watch a pretty piece of tissue paper float off in the wind.
Go {Blank}ing  You’ve heard of planking and owling.  And more recently, Tebowing.  Try making up your own meme.  Create a pose and go around town taking pictures of both of you performing it.  Since I’m from Wisconsin, I think it would be fun to do Matthewing or Rodgering.  But do what you want.
Me, Myself and iTunes  Go through your iTunes lists together and create fun playlists.  It could be something as boring and mushy as “Our Songs” or you could do something fun like “Best One-Hit Wonders” or “Songs to Get the Party Started.”  (I have a playlist called “Damn!  That’s Country” that has songs that are so country, it would make George Jones cry.)
Well, I hope you’ve found an idea or two from this list.  Now, go out and have a very Merry Valentine’s Day!

Aw, Clutterbuck!

My sister and I went to a Minnesota Wild hockey game earlier this week.  I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts and observations.

>>I love hockey.  From the time I was five years old and my parents made me go to my brother’s hockey games, I was intrigued by the game: the swish  of the skates cutting the ice, the crunch of the helmets and pads hitting each other, the speed of the players.  In my book, it’s second only to football.  Which makes me wonder what that says about my psche.  The only two sports that I really actually like are two of the most violent.  I guess as long as I’m not a rugby fan, it’s all okay, right?

>>Our seats were amazing.  We were in the second row, right in front of the Wild goal.  Here is a picture I took during the Wild warm-ups.  It’s not a great picture (it’s not even a good picture), but I took it to illustrate how Jack Nicholson our seats were.  I could have tried to get better photos, but I refuse to be one of those people who has kick-ass seats and then spends the entire game trying to get good pictures instead of actually enjoying the game.

>>While looking around at the people in attendance, I realized that there are too many women with Kim Kardashian hair who seem to believe that a hockey jersey tucked into jeggings and pired with furry boots is proper hockey-game attire. They are wrong.

>>The Wild got their butts handed to them, but it was still a good game and we stuck it out to the final buzzer, unlike half the arena.  We’re hard-core that way.

>>My favorite player is Cal Clutterbuck.  Sure, he may look a bit like Snidely Whiplash, but he holds the record for the most hits in the NHL, he knows how to fight and his name sounds like a swear word.  Aw, Clutterbuck!

>>Speaking of Clutterbuck, he was in a fight:

It was with the Canucks’ Maxim Lapierre and it was a hockey-worthy fight.  Like a gloves-off, throw the helmets, circle each other until they were center-ice fight.  Aw, Clutterbuck!

>>I had a wonderful time, even though I had to drink a large iced caramel mocha and eat an order of chicken mcbites to stay awake on the drive home.  Wait a minute…  That only adds to the awesomeness of the day, doesn’t it?  Yes, it does.

Cipher in the Snow

One day in sixth grade, we walked into our Health class to find the most glorious sight of kid-dom: a tv strapped to a tall rolling cart with two black bungee cords.  It was movie day!  We all settled into our desks and leaned back, ready to watch tv.  For the next 30 minutes, there would be no notes, no questions, no nuthin’.  Just tv.

Our teacher turned off the lights and the movie started.  It was called Cipher in the Snow.  And it was the most craptacular thing we had ever seen.  It was about a teenager who gets off the school bus…and dies.  And then, if that’s not bad enough, we find out that no one remembers the poor kid.  Even his favorite teacher doesn’t know him well enough to talk about him at his funeral.

As the final credits rolled, our teacher walked up to the tv and snapped it off.  She turned to face us and as she slowly scanned the classroom, she took off her glasses.  “Now let that be a lesson,” she said.  “To all of us.”

I don’t think I have to tell you that as twelve-year-olds, this became the biggest joke of the entire year.

As we sat around the cafeteria table drinking Welch’s grape-cranberry juice out of cans like high-schoolers, we’d scoff, “Ha!  Cipher in the Snow!  What a joke!  …Hey, if I died, you’d talk at my funeral, right?  Yeah, okay.  Man, that movie blew!”

Fast-forward twenty years and I’m sitting at work talking to my boss (nice seque, huh?)

“Remember last year, when you bought Shamrock Shakes for everyone?  And it was the day that I had the afternoon off?” I asked.  “Yeah, that was rude.”

He laughed.  “Yeah.  I should get them again this year.  They’re only available for a limited time, you know.”

The next day, I was sitting at my desk in the corner listening to music and working diligently.  One of my co-workers cut the corner, clutching a clear plastic cup filled with light-green liquid and topped with a cherry.  “Didn’t you get a shake?” she asked with surprise.

I stared at her for a beat.  “You have GOT to be KIDDING me!” I slammed my hands down on the desk.  “He bought shakes and forgot about me??”

Seconds later, my boss appeared with a sheepish look on his face.  “I can go get you another one,” he said.  “I just gave the last one away to Dan.”

“Dan??  Dan isn’t even in our department!  You gave one to everyone in our department…and then moved on to the rest of the company??”

“Umm…”

Then it hit me.

“Ho…ly….crap,” I said.  “I’m a cipher in the snow!”

And not a single person in my department got the reference.

That made me sadder than not getting a Shamrock Shake.

———

(Disclaimer:  I really did not mind missing out on the shakes.  I had another doughnut left over from the morning.  And I’m not really much of an ice cream girl.)