Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tyrant? What Tyrant?

I know, he looks innocent enough, but take it from me, looks can be deceiving.  Don't believe me, here it is from his own mouth:

Kathleen (after Keegan, yelling, demanded, "READ A BOOK!" and scattered Kate's homework, which she had been helping to do, all over the floor): Keegan, you are a little tyrant!

Keegan:  NO! I'm not a little tyrant!  

Kathleen:  Yes, you are a little tyrant!

Keegan:  NO! I'm not a little tyrant!

Kathleen:  OK, you are an adorable tyrant.

Keegan: No! I'm not an adorable tyrant.  . .  I'm a BIG tyrant!

Out of the mouths of babes. . . . 

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Boys

Well,  we were supposed to visit the Jagers this weekend for a trip to Disneyland and So Cal beaches, but I had to cancel because of work. Then at the last minute work decided I didn't need to be there, but it was too late to change cancelled plans. Bummer.  But I didn't mind, actually. I have been too exhausted -- emotionally, physically and mentally -- by work to go through an energetic Disneyland vacation right now.  Bankruptcy, even when it is just the company you work for and not  you personally, feels like hand to hand combat -- it seems that someone is trying to kill you every second, and the stress level gets pretty high.  

So we just stayed home, and didn't do anything really, for the first time in what seems like a long time. No cleaning. No Honey dos. No home improvement.  On Friday afternoon I went to the chiropractor. On Saturday I got a massage (Brooke in the spa at Colonial Square is really very good -- well worth the time and money).  And the rest of the weekend I spent a lot of time just goofing with the family.  Of course, that meant mean lightsaber duels with my little Jedi.

And much chasing of Keegan each time he did something wrong and knew it.  (Now you see why I need a chiropractor and a masseuse.)

But it was fun to spend time with my guys, and it did yield two brief stories I should relate here.  The first actually happened on Thursday, and involved Keegan as he swam at the community pool with his mom.  A little girl about his age came into the pool near them.  Keegan promptly went over and approached very close, causing his mother to cringe as she expected the worst.  Instead, he stopped short, and just stared into her eyes. She stared back.  They drew closer and closer.  At the last moment before contact, he turned away, ran back to his mom and exclaimed "Mom, she's so cute!"   Yes, he is just two.  And yes, I am in deep, deep trouble. 

The next involved Alden, who has been so anxious to say prayers lately that none of the rest of the family ever gets a turn, it seems.  He doesn't lead them yet, so you have to coach him through it, but he will dutifully and enthusiastically repeat every word you whisper for him to say.  Well, we were saying prayers last night, at the end of a long day when we were all very tired.  I whispered to Alden to ask God to bless us that we would be an eternal family.  He promptly stated, "please bless us to be a nocturnal family."  Given all the trouble we have getting him to bed in the first place, my mind started flashing "WRONG PRAYER!  WRONG PRAYER!" like a big neon sign, and I couldn't stop laughing after that. We went to bed giggling even a half hour later. 

In all, it may not sound like much, but I am feeling a little more recharged for the week to come than I would have been had we travelled.  Now I better hit the hay, because the stress will start all over again at 8:00 a.m. sharp.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How Could We?

I know what you are thinking:   What on earth are those parents doing,  purchasing that many lightsabers for one four year old boy?  Are we trying to spoil him rotten?  Do we feel compelled to support like 5 Chinese families?  Surely this is American excess at it's worst. Have we no shame?  How could we? 

Well, tonight's dialogue should explain a lot.  Over dinner, the following ensued:

Alden: "Dad, I have a great idea!" (Eyes twinkling, happy, innocent.)

Dad: "What is it, Aldy?"

Alden: "We can go to Smith's and buy me another Obi-Wan Kenobi Force Action Lightsaber! Yeah, wouldn't that be great?!"

Dad: "Alden, we can't buy you another one, you already have that one."

Alden:  (Big brown eyes slightly crestfallen, but determined) "Dad, TRUST ME.  We have to buy it."

Dad:  "Bud, we can't.  Why do we have to buy you another light saber?"

Alden: (Bigger brown eyes, almost tearing up, and voice very, very soft) "Because if we don't"  (pause, half sob) "my heart will be broken."

Keegan: (who observed the whole exchange) "Oh, isn't Aldy cute?"

Now what is a guy supposed to do about that?  In my defense, I still did not cave in, but it cost me about an hour of heavy duty lightsaber dueling in the playroom.  Still, I'm certain this collection is destined to grow.  I mean, look at how happy he is here, and just shoot me now -- or run me through with a light saber (your choice).

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Belated Christmas Post

We belatedly wish everyone (i.e. the two of you that may still read this blog) the very best of the Holidays and the new year to come. I think everyone we know got a copy of the holiday letter we sent out, but we did it in quite a disjointed fashion this year, so in case we missed someone, here it is in full.

Christmas 2008

Well, with presents now piled under the tree, a Winter snowstorm barreling in on us, and the kids near waking from their “long” (yeah right) winter’s (Christmas Eve) nap, it’s about time to send out Christmas Cards, wouldn’t you say? OK, OK, but it isn’t dawn yet, and if you are on Moon time (my wife’s family’s own special clock, which governs our lives a little more each year) there is still plenty of time left for the annual Christmas Report, brief though it will have to be.

We are just wrapping up (pun intended) perhaps the best year of our married-with-children lives. We have all been healthy, with almost all of our extended family very near. We live in a great, freshly redecorated house, with a great yard, good neighbors, and many long-time friends close by that we wish we could see more often than we do. A wet spring led to a pleasant summer filled with wildflowers, followed by a long, beautiful, Indian Summer of a fall. Snow dumped deeply just in time for Christmas. All in all, it would be pretty hard to complain.

Keegan, now 2, 5th percentile weight (little belly notwithstanding) and 15th percentile height, is a nascent Napoleon Complex barely contained. He will poke, prod, pull, grab and do anything else necessary to get attention, particularly if his brother is involved. To him, the word “no” simply means, “let’s see how far I can push this,” and being chased, as in running away from anyone who doesn’t want him to run, is his very favorite sport. He is the type of kid who will, without any warning, jump down from the dinner table, block of parmesan cheese in hand, and in a blinding flash of speed, run to the toilet, throwing it in and flushing repeatedly, all before his mother can stop him. We are hoping that the Christmas Eve, Parmesan-to-Potty race does not become an annual event. His full grin, enthusiastic hugs, constant, infectious laugh, and of course those big eyes, regularly save him from a fate worse than death.

Alden, 4 years old, is all boyish innocence. Unless you are trying to get him to eat something not containing major sugar, or asking him to stop watching movies, he is the most pleasant, sweet, patient child anyone could want. Give him an Obi-Wan Kenobi Force Action light-saber, any Star Wars movie, and a chocolate donut, and he is in heaven. Simple needs for a simple guy, who seems to wonder why anyone in the world would want more than that. When he says “I love you,” which is almost every night, you know he means it, and is one of the great joys in his dad’s life.

Kate, 8 going on 16, had a big year. She had speaking/singing parts in two plays, “Taming of the Shrew” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat,” started playing soccer with her team, and tested into a new Spectrum School where she is a little more challenged and loves it. She was also baptized into our church this year. She has told us in no uncertain terms that she “is basically a teenager” already, and can be found on most nights awake far past any reasonable bed-time, reading voraciously. Her Dad tried to tell her that you only grow when you sleep, and that if she didn’t get to bed earlier, particularly on school nights, she would be short for the rest of her life. (And believe me, this is something he knows first hand.) Her response: “Dad, I can sleep when I’m 17.” That “I-can-sleep-later” attitude is just part of what makes her one of the greatest girls on the planet.

Kathleen works part time from home for Hoover Investment Management, her old San Francisco employer, and continues to love it, trillion-dollars-gone-in-a-poof market notwithstanding. She started running this year, and did a 5k race on Thanksgiving Day, just before hosting 33 members of her family (four and a half short of the whole darn thing) for Thanksgiving. She continues to pack everything possible into every minute, and stands firm in her belief that 5 minutes is plenty of transition time no matter how far away the next event is.

Brett has found the love of his professional life at Flying J. Recent events (Flying J Bankruptcy) have sobered with uncertainty what otherwise would be complete giddiness at having found work he likes so much. But optimism prevails, and he looks forward to a long career there once the reorganization is complete.

We hope your Christmas was memorable and filled with happiness, and wish each of you the very best in the New Year.


The Baileys

The Babes

Here they are, Kathleen and her sister and sisters-in-law (missing only Tricia who was still in Philadelphia), AKA The Babes. They decided to have not one, but two girls nights out between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The funny thing is, not only do they plan the night out for themselves, but feel compulsion to plan what their poor husbands should do while they are gone. (As in, "now, at 6:30 all of you will gather at the Baileys, so the cousins can play. At 7:10 you will cook 3 Papa Murphy's pizzas, followed by game of hide and seek, then stories, and a christmas movie.")

So I'm curious, is it just me, or does any other husband out there have a wife who thinks he is basically incapable of managing the kids well on a girls night out? Does every woman think, as she leaves the house "heaven forbid we should leave this unstructured, who knows what damage they could do . . . ?"

Where have we been?

So, it has been a long time since our last post. What could have happened to them, you wonder (if there is anyone left to wonder at all)? Well, in order of delay, the causes are: children, company bankruptcy, children, trip to San Francisco, children, family holiday things, children, . . . oh, did I mention children? I know, you are saying to yourself, how bad can those kids really be? I mean, they only have three, right? How hard is that? Let me just explain that the following picture represents exactly 25 minutes of being left alone without adult supervision, and finding, by stroke of great luck, the food storage closet that has wonderfully climeable shelves.

Now think of the damage that can be done to a top heavy christmas tree (toppled three times minimum), or, say, white living room carpet when blue pen is so readily available to those who climb with ease? Add in a bevy of cousins that help us play with lots of toys, and a girl who is true gypsy at heart (i.e. carrying every possession she owns into first one room, then another, leaving little bits --or rather, large piles-- of stuff wherever she goes), and Dad ends up too busy to write anything.

So there you go. But on the bright side of things, I am going to try to make up for it all in the next couple of days, so here's hoping we can keep disaster at bay for a bit.