Saturday, December 20, 2008

OOOOOHHH YEEEAAAAH!!!! Elf party in the hot tub!

Is it hot? Is it wet? Does it make you sweat?

Bix, Libby and Colleen decided to find out for themselves the other night, so they filled up our prep sink with packaging popcorn, lounged back, popped open a niiiiice cold Capri Sun, and had themselves a little hot tub party. Huuuuuh! Despite living in the Arctic 350 days a year, Colleen (or is it Libby? I am the only one in the house who can't tell them apart) proved to be a natural at soaking in those damaging UVA/UVB/60 watt rays:

And not only did she figure out how to work the iPod, but she found Jacob's favorite song from the "Jacob Boogie" playlist on our iPod, Hot in Herre by Nelly (don't judge):

I guess if you lived in the North Pole most of the year, you'd think it was Hot in Herre too.

Interestingly enough, when I went to Smith's the other day to order invitations for Elizabeth's birthday party, the lady taking my order was lamenting the fact that yet ANOTHER brand of elf had landed on the shelves at Smith's (this one is some kind of pocket elf) and shared her thoughts on elves in general:

Joyce: Now, Elf on the Shelf, I get. But elves that make mischief? Please explain this to me. Why would parents of young children want to make extra work for themselves this time of year?

Me: Yeah, that's beyond insane. You'd have to be a special kind of crazy.

Now, for what it's worth, back in our day, you didn't have an elf to suit every lifestyle and personality type. No, there was only one elf show in town, Elf Magic. It was elves that make mischief, or no elves at all, thankyouverymuch.

Well, now, Santa apparently sends some lucky families Elf on the Shelf:

Elf on the Shelf is basically "Big Brother" elf -- he sits on a shelf all day long and evaluates your children's behavior, and then reports back to Santa at the end of the day. The next morning, he will be sitting on a different shelf, and the children run around looking for him. He doesn't drive the car. He doesn't hang Dora panties on Melchior. He doesn't throw raging packaging popcorn hot tub parties while you sleep. He just moves to a different shelf. New parents and future parents, are you taking notes? That is www[dot]elfontheshelf[dot][com]. A tidy, well-behaved, omniscient elf that looms over your children and will rat them out to Santa whenever they are naughty? Oh, how I weep every time I think about how we missed getting in on the Elf on the Shelf action.

But what can I say, I doubt that Elf on the Shelf inspires these kind of heartfelt letters:

[To Elves, Me, Elizibeth and Caroline will miss you when you have to leave in 6 days. We have lots of fun together, don't we? Love, the Moores]

So bring it on elves! Tie the TP to the back of the big wheel and unroll it all over the damn house until you finally crash:

Write on our bathroom mirror with shaving cream if you must:

Ransack our drawers -- we understand that no self-respecting mischievous elves would let four years pass without breaking out that timeless classic:

And don't worry, we already know that you are nacissists. So if you feel like you must raid our art supplies, pose for and paint a ridiculous elf portrtait, knock yourselves out.

We can take it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Because nothing says "Christmas" quite like elves driving a minivan into the bushes

Well, as expected, Bix, Libby and Colleen showed up on our doorstep last Friday evening. Jacob had been expecting them to come that day (he must have a sixth sense) so when the doorbell rang, he yelled "THE ELVES!!!!" and dashed to the front door, while Elizabeth burst into tears and said "I'm scaaaaared." Phew, so much emotion surrounding the big event! Well, after enjoying a short reunion with their children, the elves wasted no time getting busy with their house-trashing antics.

On their first night, they staged an honest-to-goodness coup; I swear I feel like I'm living in some kind of elf banana republic or something. They charged our tree, deposed our angel, and installed General Libby as the Tree Topper.

After the revolution, the junta attempted to bind and box up the angel to mail back to the North Pole (do you think that my kids will be permanently traumatized by any of this?)

The next night they got into the laundry (folded, might I add -- I tell you, if they didn't go back to being inanimate stuffed animals in the morning, you can bet that I'd give them a good piece of my mind) and flung it around the den.

We have a Nativity on top of our entertainment center, and some of the kids' underwear landed on the Magi.

There is actually supposed to be a Christian message associated with these elves, but somehow that message seems to get lost in our house, what with the tidy whities on the Three Kings' heads and all. At least the Holy Family was spared.

They also somehow managed to get our 5 foot tall giraffe downstairs from the upstairs playroom.

I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out how they pulled off that one without waking anybody up. Libby rode it at the head of an elf parade, followed by Bix, who rode Spotty the Dog:

and Colleen, who rode a brontosaurus:

Of course, they left a huge mess in their wake -- I think they realized that any elves can "ride some animals in a parade," but it takes little bit more to be a Jacob-pleasing elf.

But I REALLY couldn't believe that I had to start my day today by going outside into the rain to haul my van out of the bushes.

Yeah, Bix got behind the wheel of the Odyssey, and I don't know if it's because it was a rainy night or because he's an 8 inch tall stuffed elf or what, but he drove that thing straight into the shrubs.

Are you kidding me? That boat is almost too big for ME to drive; I can hardly keep it out of the bushes sometimes!! What was Bix thinking? At least he was responsible enough to buckle Libby and Colleen into their NTSA-approved 5-point harnesses.

Nine more nights of mischief remaining -- can they do it? I'm not above begging -- if you have any great ideas for Bix, Libby and Colleen, leave a comment for them here. I'll make sure that they see it!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Believe it or not, we don't actually have tons of extra free time on our hands . . .

But you'd never know it by just looking at the random optional things that we sign up to do. Case in point, the Christmas Elves. What, you don't have elves coming from the North Pole to trash your house every December? I am not sure if this is a national phenomenon yet, but around here, elves are all the rage. Bix and Libby started visiting us a few years ago, I believe on Elizabeth's first Christmas. Colleen joined them last year for Caroline's first Christmas. Here is the deal: the children write a letter to Santa Claus asking him to send some of his elves to spend some time with them before Christmas. If all goes well, one day the doorbell will ring and there will be a strange package on the front steps, and imagine our delight when we open it and find honest to goodness North Pole elves inside! By day, the elves look like regular old stuffed animals (or "Webkinz," as Elizabeth calls all stuffed animals). But at night, if you leave out crackers and water for the elves, and sprinkle them with magic snowflakes (which are actually little white pieces of paper from a three hole puncher, and you'll still be finding them around the house in July), the elves will magically come to life and make mischief all night long while you are nestled all snug in your beds. When the kids wake up in the morning, they can't wait to see what the elves got up to the night before, and tear through the house in search of them.

One thing we've realized is that once your kid gets into elementary school, you can say goodbye to the Totalitarian State Model of family management that you used to have -- you know, the benevolent dictatorship where you got to filter the information that came into your house. Now that Jacob is in first grade, all he knows is that ALL of his friends already have their elves, and he is the only one suffering without his (you're killing us, other parents out there). We've told him that this is because Bix, Libby and Colleen have Very Important Jobs at the North Pole, and Santa just can't afford to be without them for a whole month. If we are lucky, Santa might be able to let them go a couple of weeks before Christmas. Plus, Bix, Libby and Colleen are super-naughty elves, and it's hard for them to come up with creative new antics year in and year out. Here are some of the highlights from last year (can you see why Jacob just can't stand to wait another day?)

Here they are sliding down the banister:

Then there was that time that they joined in and started singing along with our Byers carolers:

Oh, and who can forget when we woke up one morning and saw that those crazy elves had opened up the sleeper sofa and had a Movie Night (they watched "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" -- reminded them of home, I think):

Jacob wasn't impressed with those -- he prefers it when the elves actually trash some part of the house.

Although he thought it was kind of cool the night that they built a Tower 'o Chairs and climbed up to the kitchen chandelier:

He totally loved the time that they wrecked the den with boxes and ribbon, and took a wild ride on the ceiling fan:

And the time they rigged up a rope, swung down through the laundry chute and trashed the laundry room:

And who can forget when those damn elves climbed up onto our wall of black and white photos and switched out pictures of Elizabeth with pictures of themselves?

Sigh. I have this sneaking suspicion that Bix, Libby and Colleen will be showing up any day now. I know that their arrival will mean more work for us, but I have to admit they are charming little buggers.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Goodbye Thanksgiving, Hello Christmas!

I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Our trip to CT went remarkably well. I felt like I was wrestling an alligator trying to deal with Caroline on the plane, but she didn't cry, so I'll take the less-than-relaxing flight experience with a squirmy toddler. I was a little bit stressed out on one flight because Elizabeth kept kicking the back of the seat of a distinguished looking man in his 70s who was reading cases about summary judgment standards in employment discrimination cases. I figured he was not the passenger most likely to have a sense of humor about getting his back kicked for two hours. [Incidentally, if you are ever getting your seat kicked by child, please note that they might not actually be trying to torment you (although they might be, it's hard to tell). They have no choice but to sit with their legs out straight (with their feet ending up right on the back of the seat), because their knees don't come to the edge of the plane seat, and therefore they can't bend their knees and allow their feet to dangle freely. But that's neither here nor there -- it is mega-annoying to get kicked on a plane ride, so we try our best to stop it, by doing things such as encouraging Elizabeth to sit criss cross apple sauce (that used to be "Indian style," for you children of the 70s and 80s out there), and shamelessly bribing with candy.] But as it turned out, when we landed and were getting ready to get off the plane, the man checked us out with a surprised looked on his face, and said "are these all yours? They were so well behaved. I didn't even know there were children sitting behind me." I am going to get those words engraved on a plaque. I almost hugged the poor man. He has no idea that there is no higher praise you could give the parents of a traveling family than to tell us that you did not know we were there. It is nice to get occasional validation that our system of bribes and threats works.

I took time to reflect on all my abundant blessings -- my wonderful family and friends, our health, the roof over our heads, the fact that we got to share a fabulous meal on Thanksgiving (thanks Diane and Sal!) with people that we love. Elizabeth reflected on her blessings too, and her great teachers turned it into a placemat:

And before we even had a chance to catch our breath, here we are turning our attention to getting ready for Christmas! Jacob and Elizabeth have both been pestering us to start decorating. When David told him that we don't start decorating for Christmas until December 1, Jacob scowled and said indignantly "we are a WEIRD FAMILY!!" Indeed. Then Elizabeth (who doesn't yet have a concept of time -- she'll say that things that happened yesterday happened "last week;" if I tell her we'll do something this afternoon, she'll protest that she wants to do it "today!" Etc.) had a little come apart this morning when I told her that we would not put up our tree until this coming weekend. The poor thing started crying and said "YOU SAID THAT WE COULD DO IT THE YEAR BEFORE LAST YEAR!!!!" Well, whether it happens on Saturday or the year before last year, the tree is definitely on deck. Heck, we've already visited Santa Claus -- Christmas is clearly coming whether we are ready or not. Sorry about the dark picture, but it's bright enough for you to get the general idea about what Caroline thought about the big man:

Friday, November 21, 2008

She's got a new way to walk


Okay, but come on, it doesn't count as bragging if I am telling you that Caroline has finally started walking just shy of 15 months, does it? I mean, maybe if I came on 6 months ago with the same walking news, sure. Well, in any event, yes, it's true. My little diva has taken to her own two feet. I guess she finally decided that she needed a little more control than getting carried around on my hip was giving her. She's been taking a few steps here and there, but took 19 steps the other day, and then 14, 12, 9, and 17, respectively, today (but who's counting?).

Here is my proof:

That's not blurry, that's locomotion, baby!

(Yeah, I know that there is this crazy new technology where you can actually post video to your blog. And someday, I will learn how to use it).

I guess I can go ahead and schedule her 15 month checkup now. I was sort of putting it off because I was hoping to avoid the whole "she's probably fine and just on the late end of the normal range, but if she's not walking by 18 months, blah blah blah" discussion with the pediatrician. (Of course, I knew that she COULD walk, she was just choosing NOT to walk. If I really thought there was something wrong with her, I would not have delayed the appointment. Just wanted to go ahead and clear that up so that you don't think I'm a neglectful parent).

I tell you what, one thing about having a late walker is that you feel like you have your baby longer. Elizabeth had been walking for five months by the time she was Caroline's age (you can't retroactively brag, can you?) and it seemed like her true baby months were over so early. No wonder I got baby fever again so soon! JUST JOKES, DAVID!! But we've gotten to enjoy Caroline as a baby for a whole 15 months! The baldness helps with that, too.

Anyway, clear the way -- Caroline's coming!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I get by with a little help from my friends

I love my friends -- they are always looking out for me. When I came into the office on Monday morning a week or so ago, this was stuck to my monitor:

Thanks, Amanda! I do like to buy my toppings in bulk -- you know that you'll never come to my house and want for liquid sundae toppings. Thanks for hooking me up, my friend!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Coming soon to a mailbox near you . . .

Like everyone else, we have some cherished Christmas traditions in our family. Wandering around the Boy Scout Christmas tree sale in search of the perfect tree. Baking cookies. Taking the kids to paint their own Christmas ornaments. Leaving some crackers for our magic elves (Bix, Libby and Colleen) so that they'll wake up in the middle of the night and stir up some mischief while we sleep. Visiting Santa Claus at the mall. Zoolight Safari. Hanging the stockings on Christmas Eve. Spending an afternoon scrambling to get the kids scrubbed up, combing their hair, dressing them up in matching clothing, and praying that they'll stay scrubbed, neatly coiffed, dressed, happy, and sitting in the same general vicinity as their siblings while our friend Heather, an uber-talented photographer, tries to capture the magic for the Christmas card picture (having failed miserably for years to take any halfway decent pictures of our children ourselves. I can't even photograph kugelhopf, which just sits there and taunts me. How can I be expected to capture three wild children moving in opposite directions?).

Well, we met Heather last week, and here is our session. I need to mention that (1) I didn't notice that Jacob badly needs a haircut until I saw these proofs, and (2) David, I promise that this will be the last year of the matching dresses. Really. I mean it. Pinkie swear.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Practical, everyday superpowers

Here's a picture of Jacob using his superpowers to open the automatic doors at Target:

Specifically, he is using a "force field" to open the doors. I know, you are thinking "Wait a minute. I thought that force fields are strictly defensive powers?" Well, apparently they can also be used offensively to open the doors at Target. Whenever Jacob comes to Target with me, we have this elaborate ritual (both entering and exiting the store) of waiting for the path to the automatic doors to clear so that Jacob can throw some force fields. Depending on the time of day, we sometimes have to wait a LONG time for the mere mortals to get out of the way so that Jacob can have an open route to the doors.

Now, if only Jacob had the power to get me out of Target without dropping $200 bucks every. single. time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Boldly fantasizing about the next "Special Cathy Day"

Right now, I feel like the very definition of indulgence would be an hour and a half by myself on a Saturday to get my minivan deep-cleaned. What does that say about me?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

We're not in Kansas anymore.

I've been reading Elizabeth the classic children's book "Eloise," which we checked out of the library. I didn't get two pages into this book when I had to stop and flip back to the front to check the publication date, because it was so very obviously not written any time recently. 1955. Yup, that's about right.

So Eloise is this precocious 6 year old who lives in the Plaza Hotel in New York. She pretty much has rip-roaring run of the place, and torments the guests and staff alike. The book tells of her adventures, such as calling room service and ordering beer for her nanny on Fight Night:

Here's Eloise's nanny, smoking a butt and drinking a brewski while watching TV with Eloise:

In 2008, the TV-watching alone would be enough to send the mommy blogosphere into an uproar.

We never do see Eloise's mother, but we learn a little about her
"gentleman friend:"

Eloise's mommy goes to Virginia with her martini-loving lawyer? No, this was most definitely not written in the aughts.

Of course, all this innuendo flew right over Elizabeth's head, but for me, it sure was a nice change from "Pinkalicious."

It's sort of like "Cinderella," which you probably remember well, even if you don't read it/watch it as much as I do these days. It doesn't take long to realize that Cinderella is not contemporary children's fiction. Much of the focus on the stepsisters in Cinderella is on the fact that they are not only mean, but ugly. And they have big feet. We just don't do that in 2008 -- we leave the "ugly" part out of it. These days, the mean girls are always hot, in a Shannen Doherty (who just can't help but look like a bitch) kind of way, rather than in that cute all-American Rachel Bilson or Katie Holmes (Dawson's Creek days, not post-Tom hookup days) kind of way. In my view, the fact that we no longer make fun of people's appearances in children's literature is a change for the better, but the fact that children's books no longer feature nannies who knock back a few pilsners while watching the big fight with their charges is not.

Friday, November 7, 2008

And I really want a Prius.

We had the following exchange at breakfast this morning:

Elizabeth: Mommy, do you know what I really want?
Me: No, honey, what do you really want?
Elizabeth: A compost pile.

Gotta say, I wasn't expecting that one.

[Edited to add: I wasn't sure at first whether this came from school or TV, but have now confirmed that it was TV.]

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Can I figure out how to schedule a post?

Let's find out.

If this posts at 1:05 a.m. EST*** on 11/6/08, consider "scheduling a post to publish automatically" to be among my new blogging tricks!

***Yes, I have my Blogger time settings on Eastern Standard time, because (1) I still consider EST to be "the real time" - you can take the girl out of Connecticut, but you can't make her embrace Central Standard Time, dammit!!, and (2) if I'm on Eastern Time, I can cheat and publish my Tuesdays with Dorie baking posts on MONDAYS (rebel that I am) any time after 11 p.m. CST, but it will still show up as a Tuesday post. That way, I get my post published, leave a comment or two on other (Eastern Time or fellow cheaters') blogs, and still get to bed at a reasonable hour. Of course, if I can figure out how to schedule posts, this will become largely irrelevant. I'm still keeping EST though. Interestingly (well, interesting to me, not objectively interesting -- but you don't HAVE to read my crap, do you?) -- I actually prefer many things about CST. In general, doing everything an hour earlier is a good thing. I can watch Letterman at 10:30. I can turn in for the night on 11:01 p.m. on New Year's Eve (because would you stay up until midnight to watch some cut-rate Central Standard Time ball-dropping ceremony? No, I didn't think so.) But what can I say? In my heart, it will always be one hour later.

Monday, November 3, 2008

R.I.P. Halloween '08

Well, we've finally bid farewell to Halloween, which is always a huge month six weeks day in kid-dom, right up there behind Christmas and a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese (sorry for mentioning the "CEC" word, people over the age of 12). We've spent the weekend detoxing from all the sugar, and now we're gearing up to start overhyping the next holiday. But first, some pictures:

We had no idea what Jacob would be until the last minute, when he emerged from his room as Mr. Incredible. I believe that his pecs are the crumpled up sports section. It pained him not to wear his vampire teeth, but he did not tell me that he wanted to be a vampire until 9:00 p.m. on October 30th, which was two days past the bar date for filing a "change of costume" request. I had the authority under section 105 to consider a request made after the deadline, but after careful deliberation, I determined that good cause did not exist for me to make an 8 a.m. Target run on Halloween to hunt down a devoted "vampire cape," when Jacob has two bins full of dress-up clothes, including a Harry Potter cape and a Batman cape, both of which could serve as vampire capes in a pinch. Does that make me a witch? Well, in any event, Jacob got over the vampire thing and seemed very happy as Mr. Incredible.

Elizabeth was a purple fairy, and she could not have been more delighted. Between the magic wand, the tiara, and the wings, she seemed to think that she was sufficiently bedazzled, which was no small feat. As she has probably already told you (or would tell you if given the opportunity), purple is her first favorite color, so between the purpleness and the bling, she was in fancy heaven.

Caroline was a butterfly. I was going to have her wear the bumblebee tutu that Elizabeth wore on her one year old Halloween, but Caroline REFUSES TO WALK, and I didn't think that a tutu would be as crawler-friendly. As a sidenote, even though Caroline won't walk unassisted yet, she is the most funkadelic dancer I know. If she hears so much as a ringing cell phone tune or the jingle of a TV commercial, her ears will perk up, and she'll immediately stand up and start shaking it. We should all be so moved by music. Appropriately enough, David helped Caroline pick out the perfect card for my birthday:

When you open it, it plays the theme to "The Love Boat"

It's signed "From Caroline, your funky little cruiser." By gosh, she is a funky little cruiser!

We do so adore musical greeting cards in my little family. Consider yourselves warned.

Anyway, back to Halloween! Does Caroline look distressed to you in this picture?

It's only because she was distressed. Her tolerance for trick or treating is about like my tolerance for Chuck E. Cheese. Plus, she shared the wagon with Elizabeth, which I am sure had to be stressful in itself. I took her back and put her to bed after three or four houses.

Jacob was excited to get to see his cousin Cantrell for a little while:

When I saw Cantrell, I said, "hey sweetie! You look like a rock star!" She replied: "I'm a POP star. A modestly dressed pop star. I am not showing my belly like a real pop star." Hmmmm, do you think that the pop star's father/manager had a hand in that? You just can't make this stuff up.

The end of the night evaluation of the candy haul. That's our little friend Ben. Elizabeth is looking a bit dazed and disheveled, don't you think?

Hope that everyone else had a great Halloween, too!

[confidential to Cam & Wendy: yup, you know that your neighborhood is going to break heavily for Obama when your kid asks why the monkey has two daddies. I had A BALL on Saturday!!]

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wait . . . just give me a second and I'll think of someone!

I've written before about how my children (at least Jacob and Elizabeth) are terribly picky eaters. I'm sure we've made that worse by indulging it. I mean, if we were consistent about just saying "Tortellini with Spinach and Prosciutto for dinner! Take it or leave it!" and refused to make the grilled cheese sandwich, EVENTUALLY they'd start eating the tortellini, wouldn't they? Well, most of the time I take the eating issues in stride, but every once in a while I get frustrated. Like the other night, when I made some oven-fried potatoes with salt. Just salt. No green flecks. No pepper. Potatoes and salt. Okay, and a little olive oil to brown them.

Jacob: What are these?
Mom: They are french fries.
Jacob: Are they like zoo french fries?
Mom: (frantically trying to remember whether zoo french fries are a good thing or a bad thing): No, they're better than zoo french fries.
Jacob: Hmmm. I don't think so. They look funny.
Mom: Jacob! I just tasted these! They are DELICIOUS! Dip them in some ketchup. You need to eat what I cook! I am a GOOD COOK! People tell me that I am a good cook!
Jacob: Who?

Oooooooh. A name. You want me to give you a name. The pressure . . . of a name. (okay movie buffs, name that flick!) I think I meekly answered: "Daddy? Grandma?" and he said "well, you're not a famous cook!" Ah, there's my problem! Apparently only famous cooks can get their kids to eat dinner! I tell you, if it weren't for Caroline, my ego would be in tatters right now. That child wolfed down some adult-sized portions of Butternut Squash Lasagna and then started waving her arms around and saying "muh muh muh" (I think that's "more.") There you go! Caroline thinks I'm a good cook! Of course, she also eats leaves and paper, so her standards are pretty low.

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's Not Always Easy Sorting Out Who is the Boss of Whom

Last night Jacob and Elizabeth were sitting together at their little kiddie table, enjoying a little conversation over dessert. This is what I heard:

Elizabeth: I am the boss of you.
Jacob: No, you are not the boss of me. I am the boss of you. It goes like this: Daddy is the boss of Mommy. Mommy is the boss of me. I am the boss of you. You are the boss of Caroline. Caroline is not the boss of anybody.

Ah, so much that needs correcting, so little time. First, given that everything we do is dependent on Caroline's sleeping schedule and her mood, I would say that Caroline is the boss of all of us. Also, we tell Jacob and Elizabeth every day that if they would just worry more about themselves, and less about being the boss of the other, then their days would be much more harmonious. Finally, David will need to tell us himself whether he feels like he is the boss of me. David?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

With a moo moo here, and a quack quack there . . .

I dressed Caroline in her cute little farm animal romper for this picture for a reason, because we have big news to share with you! Yes, you guessed it: Caroline can now moo like a cow and quack like a duck! Isn't that exciting?? Now, I know, I know, you all know babies who spoke in complete sentences at 13 months, well, not my kid! -- but if it's barnyard animal noises that you need, Caroline is your baby. Sometimes she will start quacking when you tell her to moo like a cow -- details! -- but overall she is clearly very proud of her new farm animal noise-making talents. I would say that she's just a week or two away from baaaing like a sheep and oinking like a pig. Stay tuned!