April 27, 2010

One Giant game of MadLibs

Do you ever find yourself making statements or asking questions that would work perfectly in a MadLibs game? You know the game where you enter adjectives, verbs and nouns, to create a nonsensical story?

Well, tonight's statements were definitely nonsensical. When taken out of context, each one was bizarre, and often alarming. Here is a list of the top statements and questions spoken tonight.

1. Why is their wet glue all over this?
2. You can't have Doritos for dinner.
3. Keep your mouth off of him.
4. What is that I stepped on?
5. How is that even physically possible?
6. That bat is going to break the window.
7. Please tell me that's chocolate on the floor?
8. Why are your toes painted black?
9. Don't sit on your brother's face.
10.Where are you going with that open pen... and scissors?
11. What does Uh Oh mean?"
12. Stop using him as a surfboard.
13. The Safeway delivery man is not a monster.
14. That's not meant to be a trampoline.
15. The lawnmower stays outside.
16. Put down the screwdriver please.
17. We're not going to Kinkos to buy rubberbands.
18. I only have Handy Manny bandaids.
19. Why do you need a hanger?

And of course my favorite one of the night....

20. Stop it.....You are scaring our butterflies!

April 25, 2010

BBQ season

BBQ season has officially arrived. In my opinion, it's the best time of the year. I think the season usually starts closer to Summer, but I've bumped it up a few months. The ground hog shouldn't be the only one with a say. When the backyard temperature reads anything above 69 I start Tivoing Bobby Flay's grilling specials. Tonight's meal is bbq steak kabobs with a Greek pasta salad and fresh strawberries.

BBQ's to me mean healthy (semi) eating, fresh air, summer nights, and good times with family and friends. After becoming a parent, I added a few more reasons to my list. 
1. Just opening the back door sets everyone free. Even if the kids were mid tantrum the sunlight or the fresh air somehow fixes all their problems...and ours too.
2. Less mess on the kitchen floor. The power hose cleans up dinner....and the squirrels are little friendlier that week.

The weekend was spent BBQing, riding bikes, playing at the park past bedtime, rolling down grass hills and eating ice cream. I GET why kids LOVE being kids.

April 21, 2010

Going Pro in 2026

Lucille O'Neill, (Shaq's mom) just launched her first tell all book about her life on welfare, as an unwed teen mom, and raising a giant athletic superstar. She titled it, "Walk Like you Have Somewhere to Go".

Well step aside Lucille, soon there will be a new superstar on the court, field, arena, pool, diamond.......and I'm starting my first tell all. I think I'll title it "Walk Like you Have any Energy Left".

Jack Nolan Willbanks hasn't narrowed down his choice of a professional sport quite yet, but I'm 95% sure he'll be a pro. He eats, drinks, and sleeps sports...literally. (See pictures below) Now don't be fooled by the tennis racket and baseball hat in his crib. He uses that racket to get more surface area on the baseballs.

I should probably start scoping out the best box seats in the different stadiums....I'm sure our little Jack Jack will need to reserve one for his mama. Or as Jack likes to call me lately in his best Italian accent....Mamia!

April 18, 2010

An Athlete is an Athlete is an Athlete

Our house is across the street from Menlo College. During certain times of the year we can hear sporting events, usually football games, but today I heard some music and an announcer on the loud speaker. I realized it must be a track meet. Wanting to re-live a tiny bit of my youth, I decided to take the boys over to the field to watch some of the meet. When we got there the sign read, "Special Olympics." I have to admit my first thought was, This is going to raise a lot of questions. But in the spirit of good sportsmanship and wanting the boys to experience differences, we took our seats on the sidelines.

We were just in time for the 100m dash. It brought me back to the days when I ran that same race. As the racers took to their lanes, I could feel the same nerves build when I heard, "On your mark, get set....bang....
These athletes may have had physical disabilities, but the energy, determination and heart it took to run that race, made me realize a few things.  When I raced in high school it was all about being the most physically fit. Today, it was all about the courage it took to overcome their physical disabilities to win that race. In my mind that is the definition of a true athlete. The word "special" really does fit these games, and more importantly these athletes.

I have to say, I expected to answer many different types of questions about each of the athletes. The funny thing is, Nate didn't point out one single difference. It just goes to show, an athlete, is an athlete, is an athlete!

April 15, 2010

Taxes, a Missing Wallet, and a Volcano

What do all three have in common? Each one impacted my day, and I'm not sure which one I could have controlled.

I can't claim April 15th as one of my favorite "holidays". In fact that's part of the problem. I can't claim much on April 15th. This year our tax bill single handedly funded the purchase of a new armored tank, an entire stretch of road through the desert, and the launch of one space shuttle. I'm not saying taxes aren't important, I just wish our "donation" was more in line with a few books for a new library.

To celebrate what little money we have left, I took the boys to eat at Johnny Rockets tonight. Two hotdogs, and one chicken salad later, I reached for my wallet and it was missing! I first blamed Uncle Sam, but then realized I switched my purse at lunch. I had visions of the three of us washing dishes. Which in reality wouldn't have been all that bad. The kids are pretty good with dishes, and it may have killed some time before bedtime. I explained the situation to the nice teenage waitress and promised her I would be back in 10 minutes with our money. Then I made a run for it....

Only kidding of course. I came back 10 minutes later and tried to reclaim any bit of dignity I had left. I thanked her by giving her a little extra tip. Just chalk it up to an expensive day!

And finally to top it off, I saw an email after dinner about a volcanic eruption over Iceland. I know you must be thinking how did this effect ME? Well, I planned a global training event happening in our office on Monday, and half of the presenters and participants are flying in from Northern Europe. I just hope that volcanic ash dissipates quickly so that all flights can once again be cleared for takeoff. Maybe we can throw some tax money at the problem. I'm sure there must be a slush fund somewhere we can dip into. So cross your fingers that the giant black cloud blows further East. We can't afford any more of those hangin' around.

April 11, 2010


The expression that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree could not be any truer in our home. It's like the memory game. When you turn one card over, you need to find it's match. Well, the match has definitely been made.

After picking up my camera tonight to capture the new Lego Star Wars undertaking, I realized this was not about the project. I was capturing Doug when he was 4 years old. Take one look at Nathan and then look at Doug. There are 33 years between them, but you wouldn't know it...at times they seem to be the same age. At other times it's like the movie Freaky Friday when the mother and daughter switch roles. Doug becomes 4 and Nate becomes 37. Doug slipped when he called the new Stars Wars project "his"....umm he meant "theirs".  And Nate had to remind Doug to put him to bed. 

I really enjoy watching them together. They have the focus to spend  hours building and the patience to sift through hundreds of tiny pieces. At times they look like best friends. I caught one very sweet moment when Nate was holding Doug's arm just because he wanted to be close.
Of course that moment passed quickly when Nate said, "Mommy, stop it with the pictures!"

Our other little apple may not look the same, but he definitely has the same DNA. I captured a scene this weekend that proved genetics should not be questioned.

Many, many years ago their was an infamous story about Doug driving away from the gas station with the gas pump still attached to his car. The story still cracks me up when I hear it. Well, I looked out the window yesterday and this is what I saw. I gasped.....he may look like me, but he IS his father's son.

April 9, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

In honor of Opening Day....we took the boys to a Stanford Baseball game tonight. It's a perfect way for the boys to get their baseball fix, in the comfort of a park like setting. It really is the best way to watch the game with anyone under five. Not to mention it's the best deal in town. For under $20 our family of four had the best seats in the house.....the lawn. You can sprawl out your blanket, eat a picnic dinner and let the kids play in the grass while watching the game. It sure beats chasing after them in a restaurant while scarfing down your food.

I smiled at the ticket lady when I remembered she was the same one who asked me if the ambulance outside the gate was waiting for me, when I was nine months pregnant with Jack.  Apparently I looked even bigger than I thought. It made me appreciate the jeans I was wearing and the fact that I could see my shoes tonight. So thank you Mrs. Ticket Taker for not having a sensitivity sensor two year ago, because it made me appreciate how far I've come.

We couldn't have asked for a better night. 77 degrees and a beautiful sunset. The highlight for Nate was a bag of his first.....and last cotton candy. Once it got stuck in his hair that's when I decided it would be his last. The highlight for Jack was seeing so many balls and bats in one location.

I love living so close to Stanford, it gives us the opportunity to experience a lot of sports without the guilt of paying full price and leaving a 1/4 after the game started.

Off to get two sugared up boys into bed, but first to get Cotton Candy out of one's hair.

April 5, 2010

Though shall teach my child to swim!

After 4 1/2 years and 3 swim schools later, we found our match....his name is Jonathan. He is Nathan's new swim teacher, and my new hero. It's been a long journey...

I started Nathan in swim school when he was 6 months old. That first lesson he screamed so loud we couldn't hear the instructor, or the song she was singing to soothe the other children. Needless to say, he wasn't quite ready.

Then at 2 1/2 years, I enrolled him in another school. This time, the swim fins set him off. He refused to get in the water if he had to wear the fins, and the instructor said those were the rules.  That's the year I got swim credit. It's similar to store credit where you'll never shop that store again, but you need to find something you like or else they'll keep your $150 dollars.

Well, third time's a charm. I cashed in my store credit..... for Jonathan. I knew when I saw the smile on Nate's face it was a perfect match, (and a good use of my credits).

Four years later, wearing neon green goggles, his choice of course, Nate's finally excited about swim school.  The only minor drawback according to Nathan....the water smelled like pretzels.

Not bad for your first day on the job!

April 4, 2010

Hunter and Gatherer

We have a Hunter and a Gatherer. At 4 1/2, Nate was the perfect candidate to be let loose on a field freshly decorated with Easter eggs, while Jack hunted for some trouble, and seemed to find it as two different Easter egg hunts.

Our friend's Sally and Tony had a very generous bunny come to their backyard. With over 400 eggs, the kids were in Egg heaven. You could feel the energy when the kids lined up at that door ready to be set free.Well, that is the kids 4 and older. The under 2 crowd had a different agenda. Our soon to be two year old enjoyed digging up their backyard with a garden rake and a trash sweeper. He topped off the mischief by dumping a load of dirt into the bubble maker. He wasn't totally destructive though, at the second Easter egg hunt, he found a dirty dish towel and proceeded to clean their lawn furniture.  Jack never did miss the chocolate though. I would have taken a picture, but it really wasn't something for print.

Nate on the other hand quietly collected every egg he could find, and while the other children played with bubbles, and kicked the soccer ball around, Nate took inventory of his belongings. Doug thinks he might be an accountant.

Thankfully the rain held out until both Easter egg hunts were over. The Easter Bunny must have some good will built with Mother Nature. I on the other hand got caught in a downpour just as I was loading the groceries in the car. All in all though it was a great Sunday.....I managed to sneak in a two hour nap.

April 2, 2010

They've Arrived

They have arrived....and are officially creepy. Our painted lady larvae were dropped on our doorstep at 4pm in a tiny box labeled, Open Immediately.

With much anticipation, and little expectation that they would indeed be alive, we ripped open the box and found five tiny caterpillars.

"What's at the bottom Mom, chocolate milk?"

Hmm. not sure, I know it's their food, but am pretty certain it's not chocolate milk. At least I won't be drinking it.

I purposely read the directions out loud so that Nate would get an understanding of the process.

There is an FAQ section at the end of the pamphlet that actually raised more questions than answers.
1. What do I do if my butterflies lay eggs that hatch? Followed by, "They can lay up to 500 eggs."

Umm...WHAT? I didn't sign up for 500 caterpillars. I know we're lucky if the five we have actually stay in the cup for 3 weeks.

2. Why are the chrysalides shaking? Followed by...this is a natural instinct to ward off predators.

Dear Chrysalides, You might want a new strategy for the two predators you're about to meet. Shaking might just attract them.

After reading the FAQ's we needed to find their safe haven. They are a bit high maintenance, no window sills, no direct sunlight, a place where the avg. temp is 70 degrees....but most importantly low enough that my 4 year old can watch them, but high enough that my 2 year old can't eat them. We tested a few locations. I felt like Goldilocks. This spot is too hot, this spot is too cold, this spot is just high enough that Jack can't reach them. Perfect! We found our spot.

And off they go....this might be better than reality T.V. Stay tuned for the next episode where I discuss the process of histolysis...where the caterpillar digests itself from the inside out. I can't wait to explain that one to inquiring minds.

April 1, 2010

All Innocence not Lost

Every day we drive past a giant Duck on the street corner near the car wash. It's Ducky...the Car Wash mascot. It's become a habit of mine to make up stories about giant animal costumes for fear it would crush Nate's imagination if he knew the truth about what's underneath.  Well today, he crushed mine.

"Mom, where does the duck live?"
I replied, "A giant pond!" (It just rolled off my tongue.)
"No, Mom....where does he really live? He's not a real duck!
"What....he's not a REAL duck? How do you know Nate?"
"I can see his hands Mom!"
Oh right...of course. I should have realized that the cheap duck costume doesn't cover his hands or his shoes. I never noticed until we stopped at the light.

It didn't stop there....Mickey Mouse was next.
We've been talking about going to Disneyland for Jack's 2nd birthday in May. Jack, Nate and I were looking at a picture of Mickey, Nate, and my nephews at Disneyland last year. Nate said, "Well that's not the real Mickey Mouse. He's just sweating in his costume."
Uh oh I thought, not Mickey too. Don't kill the giant Mouse.  But to my surprise when I asked, "Well then where is the real Mickey?"
Nate replied, "He's on T.V. Mom. You can see him in shows."
Phew, all innocence was not completely lost.
"Well, don't tell Jack! Disneyland may not be the happiest place on earth!"

On a separate note.. Nate might be growing up, but Jack is growing OUT. He graduated to a size 6 diaper today. That's the highest number before needing Depends. We never made it to a 6 with Nate, he was potty trained after size 5. I always wondered who's kid wore that size. Now I know....MINE!