Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Hmmm, these babies turn into toddlers and then into smartasses, huh?

Let's do this together: now that the huge milestones of sixth grade (Connor) and kindergarten and first tooth loss (both Maggie) all have happened, what milestones are next for the wee ones?

You, who have older kids than mine, chime in. Me, who can only guess....

1. First eye-roll at something I say
2. First joke played on me
3. First time I'm made fun of
4. First time I'm shown how to do something I can't figure out
5. First joke shared

I think #1 has happened, and they've tried #3, but I don't think it counts when I show them the ol' 'What's that on your chest, they look down and I run my finger up their face' trick and they immediately do it back to me.

Surprise is the key, kids.

Of course #5 has been attempted as well, but I'm not counting:

"Knock knock"
"Who's there?"
"Banana who?"
"Banana in your butt!"

Nor do I count it the fifth time it's used.

We almost got caught shirking our Tooth Fairy duties BTW. Maggie was so excited to get the world's loosest tooth out that she let Carrie show her how folks sometimes just go ahead and pull that thing out. She woke me up extremely excited that it came out one day last week, and handed me what appeared to be a chip off a tooth. It was in fact, the tooth.

They look so much bigger when they're attached to gums.

Anyway, I awoke the next night about 2 am, to some strange noise. Maybe that's what the Tooth Fairy does, wakes your forgetful ass up to do the right thing by knocking something over. I woke up Carrie to ask if she had put a dollar underneath Maggie's pillow or did we use the Tooth Fairy pillow we have for some reason that has its own little pocket and hangs from a doorknob?

She had done neither, but suggested an envelope to hold a dollar, then returned to Lala Land. Now here's a problem with folks using debit and credit cards so much these days--we rarely carry cash. Sucks for homeless folks, no?

Well, luckily, Carrie has a social life, and that includes needing cash for her and her friends' ventures. Her purse is like a waitress's, with cash hidden in all the folds and pockets and at the bottom. I found a buck, but thought it would be weird for a fairy to use an envelope.

Then, I had an idea. What if I wrote some weird shapes on the envelope, and called it fairy writing, and that the fairy letters spelled out Margaret? It was fun making up my own mini alphabet. Stuck it under her pillow and went back to bed.

She still believes in Santa and the Tooth Fairy, and will now be translating the Tooth Fairy Dictionary into English.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

White Stripes

Quick refresher: the titles of each post are bands who have some connection with what is in the body of the post. Could be a lyric, could be an album title, date of an overdose...something.

This week all kids started some form of school. The difference is, instead of two forms of school, there are now three--middle, elementary and pre.

Yes, that means I have to remember three different times and places. Connor the sixth grader is fine for me: he can get on and get off his bus without anyone meeting him. Not kindergartner Maggie though. Someone has to walk her to the bus stop and stay with her, and if it's me because Carrie's working, the 4-year-old twins have to come with.

That didn't work out great today. Gavin wanted to bring books and go back home, and Darcy wanted to sit on me and Carrie. Both had to be reminded multiple times that sidewalks were for people and streets for vehicles. They didn't get that sending a child to kindergarten for the first time was a big deal, so let's not make it about them!

Then Maggie's bus didn't come, so we piled everyone in the van and drove her. First week of school, I understand the rough start; Connor's bus came so early he missed it, and thankfully his neighborhood friend's mom drove them. At noon, I had to haul the twins out to pick up Maggie from the bus. This will be a treat once the weather turns nasty.

The twins are backwith the Warenville Park District's preschool program, where they were with Maggie all last year. Familiar teachers, but unfamiliar other parents. Had a good group last year, with one dad who is a real sweetheart of a guy who has twin boys and loves his football. They moved to Yorkville this summer and we hope to go to their housewarming party soon.

But now I have to get used to new other-kids' parents. It's only a problem because for the most part I don't like people, so it's either fun times talking with folks I like while the kids play at the preschool playground before and after school or me being anti-social because I don't like to gush about how crazy parenting is or the latest cute thing they did (that's what Facebook is for, no?) or making small talk just to have something to say or laughing at lame jokes.

Other than that, I'm a real peach.

Bottom line: I've just about had enough of these critters and adjusting my life and work around them. Next year at this time, I will have half of each day to myself, as the twins start kindergarten.

Then I can really waste some me time.

Bye for now, and thanks for reading

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


So Connor starts school next Tuesday, and I'm making that the day that I finally get serious about the twins' education. Loyal readers will be tired of reading how smart Maggie is, and how the twins won't match her because we haven't had the same one-on-one time and opportunity with them as we did with Maggie.

Because it's been 14 months since my layoff, the twins' lack of facility with the alphabet, numbers, physics and Classical Greek is on me. I have chosen play over academic drills, my own fun and laziness over play and academic drills, and the result is that my 44-month-old twins can get to G before spewing a mishmosh of sounds until they get to U, V, W, X, Y, Z. That's why they can't read yet.

Meanwhile, Maggie plows through second-grade books while laying on her stomach, twirling her hair and humming.

So, I am using Connor's first day of fifth-grade to promote the preschoolers' first day of homeschoolergarten. Number and letter flash cards for the twinnie twin twins and in-depth study of definitions and sentence structure as well as math for Maggie. She's a whiz reading, but is like a 4-year-old with math.

Something I discovered with Maggie that is probably a well-known phenomenon with early childhood educators and researchers: while taking spelling tests here and there with me, like we do with Connor during school, there are words I know she can read with no problem that she can't even come close to spelling correctly.

So, it has something to do with successfully sounding out letters when seen on a page, but hitting a wall when matching sounds to letters out of thin air, as in a verbal spelling test. Anyway, I want to make sure she knows the meaning of words now that I know she can read them and pronounce them correctly. Oh the dic dic dictionary, is very necessary...(old-school hip-hop reference, De La Soul I believe).

So that's it. If they don't give me an apple next week I'll be pissed. But I think this will work--they are excited to be like big brother Connor, and their Kindercare experience should have softened them up for me.

I said 'Criss-cross applesauce,' god dammit!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Stevie Ray Vaughan

What's strange is once your kids go to some school, whether five times a week or two, they come back knowing things you didn't teach them.

So the small ones have been going to Kindercare two times a week, and we're hearing songs we don't know and learning about kids we've never met. Not really sure where Darcy is getting some of her slinky dance moves, but she's a tiny go-go girl. Seriously, she may have a natural dancing talent, though it's worrisome to see a 3-year-old go all Soul Train in the kitchen. No school dances or teen clubs for that one.

It's nice though, feeling so secure about a daycare. Connor was a Kindercare kid from 2 until kindergarten. He made some friends, one of whom is still a buddy, though we live further away than we used to. I don't see what paying more will get you--Creme de la Creme, the Snobbington Academy, etc. I wouldn't feel good about a step down from Kindercare, but I am not sure what the next level up does for your kid, especially at this age.

They play, do crafts, sing, dance, do letters, numbers, socialize, eat well, no TV or movies, and many of the teachers that I've met over the years have been attractive. Maybe that's it..the Creme de la Creme teachers are dressed like Hooters girls. Great, because I've never thought that outfit or for that matter most of the girls I've seen there are special. They bait with the calendars, and switch with the boots on the ground.

But I digress, just a bit. Sometimes they bitch about going, but when we take them inside their friends run up to them and say their names excitedly, and when we pick them up they're grabbin ass and running around and their friends say bye and it's a nice feeling to see your kids are liked by other kids.

Gavin had a rough morning or afternoon once and got to hug it out with a big frog they have just for that occasion. There's a guinea pig named Mr. Incredible. They go on field trips to Outback and Noodle & Co. I bet Snobbington Academy doesn't do that. They probably have Rick Bayless stop by for some PB&J grilling.

I'm not paying extra for that.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


I thought I'd see how many neat-o moments from being a Senyor Madre I could list. The wee ones are going to Kindercare three times per week now, so I'm more Senyor than I am Madre lately. Before I forget:

*Reaching behind me while driving and grabbing Darcy or Gavin's toes and feeling them instinctively curl around my fingers.

*Listening to any of them sing to themselves while playing or drawing.

*Coming upstairs and finding Maggie on a bed or on the floor reading a book.

*Gavin sleeping late disguised as a blanket

*Anytime Maggie, Darcy and Gavin, in any combination, are caught hugging, kissing or both.

*Anytime they hug and kiss on Connor and you can see he loves being an older brother.

*When Darcy slam dances to any of my favorite music. When after an Eleventh Dream Day song in the car, Gavin says, "Daddy, do that one again." Ok, bud!

*When Gavin or Darcy say they want to watch or have me read "Hat in the Cat".

*Dropping them off at the gym's playroom, and Darcy turning to me and saying "Daddy, you go exercise."

*Seeing kids at the playroom or Kindercare get excited when they see Maggie, Darcy and Gavin come in.

*How brave Maggie is, from asking a bully to say sorry when she was 3, to insisting on practicing treading water in the pool.

*Any time they obey.

Time to go do other things now, as always, but you can guess that the preceding was a small sample of the wonders that balance the aggravations. Feel free to leave some of yours in the comments.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ricardo Lemvo

Oops, missed the anniversary. Just too tired, fell asleep on a bedroom floor helping Darcy get to sleep.

Nevermind, here I am. 8:20 a.m. Three wee ones playing puppets upstairs with me, Carrie sleeping downstairs in our old-person first-floor master bedroom, Connor with his Dad for the weekend, three cups o'coffee already in me, listening to some Afro-Cuban All-Stars.

That musical group reminds me that Maggie at 4 is already having image issues with her brown skin. It ties in with my final ESL-certification class--Cross-Cultural Something or Other; how to educate and nurture kids from different cultures who are trying to assimilate in the dominant U.S. culture.

Now, Maggie is not from another culture, but she looks around at home and sees Irish skin everywhere but herself and me. She got my brown skin (naturally exacerbated in the summer), while Connor and Darcy got Carrie's North Atlantic ivory. Gavin is in between. Still, even the twins will say, "Daddy, you're brown, and Maggie is brown. I'm white."

With Hispanics expected to be half the U.S. population by 2050, Maggie may eventually feel more comfortable outside the home than in. Right now, she doesn't see many brown-skinned (not African American) kids at Kindercare or in playdates. In Carrie's women's group--most of the kids our kids know come from there--there are a couple families with Hispanic parents and their kids show it, too. I'll make sure to point them out from now on. Once elementary school begins in 2011, she'll blend more.

Maggie has told us a few times that she wishes she was lighter-skinned, and said yesterday that a girl at Kindercare made fun of her skin. Of course we tell her that she'll be so happy for it later, as Darcy will be with her unique curly-Q hair, and that that girl is just jealous. Then she says that the girl also has brown skin. Oh.

So there's no moral here or lesson or even a plea for advice. I'm proud that my skin reflects my heritage and looks great with yellow shirts, and we will be sure to dress Maggie in bright colors as well.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Go-Gos

So, back after another one of my hiati (plural for hiatus?). Good thing I don't get paid for these, or I'd be unemployed! Um, wait...

Anyway, let's catch up:

*Gavin is just about potty trained (he and Darcy wear pull-ups at night; occasional accidents during day)--haven't changed a poopy anything for more than a month at least. I am not sentimental for that shit, so to speak.

*The twins had their first dentist visit, and it couldn't have gone better. Using a new place, which said it wanted kids to start at 4 y.o., because they want them to go to THE CHAIR w/o a parent.

(A digression: when I was 7 or 11, can't remember which trip, I had to go to a dentist in El Salvador for a very painful molar. I don't recall all the details, but I do remember the novocaine situation was me squeezing a kleenex. Been dentist-shy ever since, as in, haven't been for close to 10 years and will only go for severe pain or nasty breath. This will not affect my children's regular visits.)

Well, I didn't feel like calling another place so I said, let's try it with the 3 y.o. pair. Maggie had an appointment same day, and in a flash of genius, I sent her first. She had gone by herself at the former dentist, when she was 3, so I figured IF she came back, the twinnies would see it was no biggie. She came back with a smile and a goodie bag, and the twins fought to be next. Yee-haw!

Quick hits:

*The Fancy Nancy Fathead sticker on the girls' wall has finally peeled off, and won't stay. I know it's a climate thing, but can't figure out if it got drier or more humid. A shame.

*Darcy is the accident-prone one we've decided. She's taken the most spectacular falls; yesterday, ass over tip off our bed, clipping her ear on some furniture (no blood; could've been so much worse) and today, ass over teakettle (my next band) off a chest onto the hardwood floor. Wow, you could've fed the family off the egg on her forehead.

*Connor's getting to the end of fourth grade, holding steady with mostly Bs and Cs. Stayed up on his bike for 15 seconds, but has no wish to do it again. Hey, Einstein never learned to ride a bike (no idea if that's true). He's into the scooter we have, and still likes to play catch with the football, play PS3 and sneak food into his room.

I'll try to be better, for those who enjoy these, but still job searching, freelance writing, taking two classes in pursuit of ESL certificate, wifing, touching myself, and wasting time on FB and my favorite sports blog (The Big Lead)--all but the last two have to be done after bedtimes. Plus, still trying to get my freelance website up and running. Oh, and always always trying to find time to reflect and marvel at the wonder and joy life brings.

Which one don't you believe?

I'm not perfect, which may come as a surprise to you.