Archive for the kids Category

THIS is why I should never drink.

Posted in food, kids on February 4, 2012 by penelopegeorge

We never have parties here. In fact, Tony and I have been together nearly 20 years, and we have never had more than four people over unless they were mostly under 12 and here for a birthday party. But we have been invited to several around the neighborhood and it is simply time to reciprocate. The date of this blessed event is coming soon.

Maybe I should have known better to even consider a party, but the idea hit me after too many glasses of wine at my friend Nicole’s house (who has been the best bad-influence, like, EVER). During the ingestion of these too many glasses of wine we were discussing the fact that Nic has several parties a year. Being more than a little drunk and in a party mood, I very generously offered to have the next one at our house.

The next day, I remembered our complete lack of experience at grown-up parties. The last time we had a large number of adults was at our daughter’s fourth birthday (she’s thirteen now). My husband, worried about hurting feelings of other kids and their families, invited two full preschool classes plus parents and siblings, and every other kid in the neighborhood. At some point during the festivities someone counted the number of guests. The tally was 18 adults and 32 children, plus myself, hubby, birthday girl, grandparents who were here to assist, and two hired teenagers to do face painting and bouncy castle.

It was a hit. Except for the fact that the day of the party is the only time in our 20 years I have ever seen hubby hung over, and he had it bad. Plus he was making balloon animals. With no pump. But I had warned him to stay away from the Grand Marnier.

In the years since that fateful day we’ve talked about throwing a party, because we apparently refuse to learn from our mistakes. The problem has been that regular party times are hard for us. Tony’s a professional magician, mostly children’s entertainment. December and weekends? HE WORKS WEEKENDS! AND DECEMBER! Summer is festival season and he’s rarely home. If he isn’t working, then that’s not the time to be spending $500 throwing a party.

Wait, did I just say $500? Really? Wow, that would be getting us off cheap. Because hubby started looking around the house, and all he can see is problems. The bathroom’s awful (true, it was awful when we bought the house in 2002 and it did not improve under us), the doors were outdated (true, they were original with the house in the early ’80’s), the chair rails and baseboards needed painting (not that badly) and the furniture in the front room is an eyesore (okay, it’s not lovely, but it’s not that bad).

Bathroom overhaul: $4,200 in labor, $1,500 for fixtures, $250 for toilet we forgot to buy with the other fixtures (oops), and $300 on accessories. Heck, let’s add in another $200 for random Home Depot runs. Bathroom total: $6,450. Total time: 4 days overhaul, 5 days shopping for stuff.

Hubby did agree, at that point, that the other projects could wait. He’s such a liar.

Ugly doors: $650 in new doors and handles (thank GOD they used the old doors as a template to cut the new doors, a service well worth the $30 per door), $250 on paint and accessories. Total was $900, plus a solid week of removing doors, washing, sanding, and painting the frames, installing new doors, and painting those. Yes, we painted them while they were hanging. Sue me.

Chair rails: you would think that since we had just painted the doors we would have the equipment we needed to paint the chair rails and baseboards. Ha! No such luck. I think about another $200 in supplies there, and a freakin’ eternity taping, washing, and painting.

He has now forgotten about new furniture and has moved into menu insanity. I’m not sure our marriage will make it to the party, except neither of us will give up that bathroom.

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Are They REALLY Related?

Posted in family, kids on March 18, 2011 by penelopegeorge

The other night I was watching while my two children, our 12-year-old daughter, Shayla, and our almost 7-year-old son, Dimitri, were having cereal as a bedtime snack. I was watching because they really have to be watched. Really, Corn Pops shouldn’t be a challenge, but with our kids, one can never presume. But as they ate, I took notice of their little quirks, those little preferences that make them so, well, themselves. And I marveled at just how different these two are.

My son, as usual, had most of my attention. He is generally just one poor choice away from the ER. This time he was swinging between the table and cupboard. He supports his weight on his arms while he swings his legs from a foot off the ground. I very nearly stopped him, but I remembered how proud he was of this skill just last week, showing everyone and announcing, “Look how strong I am!” Because of this activity, the snack time conversation went something like this.

Me: “Dimitri, take a bite.”

Dimitri: “Okay.”

He drops down, takes a bite, and swings again while he chews. I wait for him to swallow, and we start the script over again.

Meanwhile, I kept close tabs on my daughter. She’s a terrible eater. This isn’t a new development. It started when she was a baby, so we are rather used to it. However, I was pleased to note that she ate quietly and calmly, in complete contrast to her brother.

I was suddenly struck by something at little eerie. Shayla eats like me. Or rather, like how I used to. I used to drive my husband crazy with the tiny bites I insisted were just the right size. We argued often about spoon sizing. He got bored in restaurants while waiting for me to nibble my portion to death. His biggest peeve was spaghetti, which I ate one strand at a time. Can you imagine how long it took me to eat a plate of pasta one strand at a time? He tried to teach me, several times in fact, how to put three or four strands on the fork. The thought made me want to gag.

But – and to this I say “HA!” to my husband – our daughter followed in my footsteps. Shayla won’t use a soup spoon for anything. Cereal, soup, Jell-o, you name it, it has to be eaten with a teaspoon. “Bite-sized” in our house could mean microscopic portions. And one strand of spaghetti? Forget it. While her brother needs a shovel to get this food in his mouth, Shayla takes a single strand and, while it is hanging at full length from her fork, takes a bitty bite from the tips.

This is just one example of how she is. Shayla is a dainty girl. We had a cat when she was a baby (Squeaker died before Dimitri was born), and she was the very definition of gentle. When she was a toddler I used to joke you could keep the fine china at knee-level and it would be safe from her. She would look at the stuff, admire it, but you could always trust her not to touch it. Nothing (much) ever broke under Shayla’s touch.

She never climbed the furniture. Never used the lower cupboard shelves as a ladder to get to the counter. At the park she was happiest on the swings, and she didn’t like climbing.

In her room, she keeps her papers in neat stacks, and though her stories look scattered over the various surface areas, to her they are “away”. She knows where each story she authored is, and she gets very upset if they are moved. All her stuff – her toys, her figurines, her stories – has a “spot” and she gets them back in that spot when she’s done. Move something out of that spot? It HAS to go back to where it belongs.

Not so with her brother. He’s a little hurricane. He thinks it’s funny to run into walls, and does so at every opportunity. I wouldn’t bring a pet into the house until he was old enough. The bigger the mess, the funner the game.

He learned how to get out of the back room (when the gate was locked) by climbing over the ledge and into the kitchen. At the playground the only way he will face forward on the slide is if he is going UP.

His room is full of toys scattered all over his floor, many of which are missing pieces. Many of these missing pieces would just pop right back on if only we could locate 1) the piece and 2) the body, preferably at the same time. This is more work than he is willing to do, and would much rather just replaced the toy. (Of note, he actually got away with this once. Within hours the replacement toy was in pieces.)

Yet, as I watched them chowing down on cereal that night, monitoring my daughter’s food intake and my son’s recklessness, I noticed they have the same face. Their eyes, their noses, their jaw and chin – Dimitri is a boy version of Shayla. So I can look at Dimitri and remember when Shayla was nearly seven, and I can look at Shayla and picture what Dimitri will look like when he’s twelve.

They will always be so different, but they will always be ours. And they will always belong to each other. Because that is just what family is.