Wednesday, December 7, 2011

North Pole Hierarchy

St. Nick's ears have surely been ringing over the past several days.  Everywhere I turn -- our house, Facebook, talking with friends -- he and his day (and/or night) have been the hot topic.  We didn't "do" St. Nick growing up, and in fact I'd never heard of it until I moved to Wisconsin and started having kids.  My husband's family observed way-back-when, so we decided once Laurence was in school and we felt the added pressure of many kids & their families celebrating, that we'd jump on the bandsleigh.

For the first couple of years for Laurence, St. Nick was all about the gift & candy.  This year he & his friends are discussing more about the man himself.  I cringe with every story he brings home, worrying that the combination of St. Nick & Santa Claus might finally be what makes him realize that this is all just too far-fetched to be real.  But I have faith that he wants to believe in the magic, so perhaps we're safe for another year or two.

Anyway, last night we were in the car and he said that he & his friends at school were trying to figure out just who St. Nick is.  Where does he live?  Does he bring presents to everyone all in one night, like Santa does, or does he spread out deliveries over a few days?  Are he & Santa the same guy?  To this question, some say yes, apparently, others insist no.  One of his buddy's argument for the latter is that they can't possibly be the same guy, because Santa is pretty old, and St. Nick is only 21.  Laurence's logic then comes into play, "Mom, I know for sure they're not the same person.  St. Nick comes to make sure we've been good all year and then lets Santa know which kids he can bring presents to on Christmas.  He's Santa's supervisor."  Takes a little pressure off of Mr. Claus, hey?  Here all this time I thought he was making the list, checking it twice, and all that other behind-the-scenes managerial stuff.  Turns out he just gets to be the fun guy!    

Monday, November 28, 2011

Modern Discoveries

In the middle of dinner Laurence says, "Mom, did you know that a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square?"  I replied, "Yes, that's right...and yes, I did know that."  "Really?" he asked, clearly surprised.  "Well, sure," I told him.  "I went to school and learned all of that stuff, too."  "I know," he said, "but I figured shapes weren't discovered yet when you were a kid."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Penny, Nickel, Dime, Quarter, Euro

The boys each have their own piggy bank.  Actually, they have Big Belly Banks to be exac...WAIT!  I am just now realizing I've never gotten Alastair a Big Belly Bank.  Not sure how I messed that one up.  After discovering them at a craft fair years ago, I've gotten one for almost every niece and nephew of ours, plus our two older boys, but somehow I left Alastair out.  Putting that on his Christmas list right now....sorry, Al.  Anyway, these banks have been a big hit - they're a fun way to learn to save.  We give them coins every now and then to "feed" to their banks and occasionally head to the bank to put them in their accounts.

Just a few weeks ago Loic found a change purse with a bunch of coins inside and was sure he'd hit the jackpot.  He asked if he could put them in his bank, but I took one look and realized they were not just any old coins.  "This isn't American money," I told him, "You can't spend it here."  He'd stumbled upon our stash of foreign coins we've collected from Bill's business trips & our time living in Europe.  He was disappointed, but he & Laurence kept busy for a little while checking out the differences between the foreign money and our own American coins.

Fast forward about 2 weeks and Loic & Laurence are in the basement playing with Legos when they come upstairs, pleased as punch that they'd found two coins (American ones this time).  "Can these be allowance?" Laurence asked.  I was taken aback for a moment, because we've never talked about allowance, but figured he read about it in a book or something, so I just replied, "Well, you can put them in your banks!"  Then he said, "They're quarters, but....this one's not like a normal quarter.  It doesn't have an eagle on the back."  I said, "Oh, it must be a state quarter - each state has it's own design.  Some people collect them to try to get ever state."  "Oh," he said rather flatly; strange from my boy who normally takes delight in anything that has anything to do with geography.  "Which state is it from?" I ask.  He looks at it closely and says, still with little emotion in his voice, "Rhode Island."  "Hey, neat!  That's where Uncle John and Aunt Aud--" "But mom," he interrupts, "Can we spend it in Wisconsin?"

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

National, State & Local Level

This morning we were running some last minute errands before school starts and I decided to take the boys to the China Buffet for lunch (please don't tell my friends at the Panda House - they'd think I'm a traitor).  I don't normally like Chinese buffets, but this was pretty decent (not as good as the Panda House, though) and really cheap - all four of us ate for under $13!  Anyway, I was really cherishing our lunch together, realizing that soon our schedule will be completely different with school starting - Laurence will be gone all day and most days lunch will be a rush in order to get Loic on the bus at noon for afternoon 4K.

Anyway, we covered some important topics, such as why dragons aren't considered scary & evil in China, why paper lanterns aren't the same thing as balloons, how the Egg Drop Soup isn't as good as the soup at the Panda House, how some chicken wings actually look like little chicken legs, etc.  It was all very enjoyable until...

Laurence decided it was time to discuss politics.  And had questions about politics.  To know me is to know this is a problem.  Not only do I not particularly like discussing politics, but I am not very knowledgeable on this topic.  Sad that a few questions from my almost 2nd-grader could actually make me a bit nervous.  He started it with, "Does Wisconsin have a government?"  Tempted to just say "no," thinking I probably wouldn't have been far off just seemed wrong, so I said, "Yes, each state has a governor, senators, State Representatives, and other officials that have a say in both state and national issues."  Then he asked who decides stuff about Green Bay, and I went on to explain that we have a local government that includes people elected to office, like our mayor.  "Maybe you've heard his name - Jim Schmitt," I said.  "Oh, yes!  Jim Schmitt.  Of course I know who he is.  That must be where that song comes from."  Now I'm puzzled..."what song is that?"  His reply was confident, "John Jacob Jimbleheimer Schmitt -- 'Jim' must just be his nickname."

Maybe politics aren't so scary after all.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Biological Family Secret

We just returned home on Tuesday from nearly two weeks visiting family on both my side & Bill's side.  This annual trip is always jam-packed, and the kids love being surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, 2nd cousins, 3rd cousins, probably even cousins once or twice removed and maybe some that have been reattached.  Laurence seems to have the relationships all figured out - well, until we get beyond the first cousins, but honestly I get a little lost beyond that point, too.

I'm not sure where it has come from, but since we've been home Laurence has been asking questions about "step" relatives.  He doesn't have any, but he must have heard this term from someone over the past couple of weeks.  Just today he was asking how a kid gets step-grandparents.  He probably figures having four grandparents is great, why not get some more?  Anyway, I started by explaining about step-parents and he said, "Also when someone has a child and can't take care of them, if someone else adopts them then they're their step-parents, right?"  I told him adoption was something different entirely, and that the people that adopt a child are, in fact, that child's parents.  Then he concluded that whoever gives the child up for adoption must become the step-parent.  "No," I told him, "they're also the child's parents, sometimes called 'biological parents.'"  "Biological parents?" he repeated.  "What does that mean?"  (Oops, I suddenly feared I had ventured into territory for which I was not prepared.)  "Well," I began, "a biological mother means the person who had the baby in her tummy."  I guess this clicked for him, because he said, "Oh! I get it - you mean the umbilical cord.  That's where the word 'biological' comes from, so that makes sense."   Hmmm, ok.  Sounds good enough to me.  Thankfully, we didn't get into any of the nitty gritty, so I can definitely get on board with that definition.   We ended the conversation by talking about family being important, no matter what the relationship...biological, step, umbilical cord, once removed...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Gender Predictor

This is old news by now, but I have three boys.  Most of you have probably known this for a while.  I've known this for 1 year, 5 months, and 21 days.  As strange as it is for me to think that I'm a mom at all sometimes, I also know most of the time that this is how things were supposed to be.  It feels completely right.  What I didn't know until today is that if we were to have a 4th child (which we won't) it would be a girl.  I can say this with certainty.  You see, it went something (exactly) like this...

Laurence:  I'm glad we have 3 boys.  I don't think we need any more babies in this family.  
Me:  Well, that's a good thing, because we won't be having any more babies.  

Laurence:  If you did have another baby, it would be a girl.  

Me:  Oh?  That's what you thought with Alastair, too, but he's a boy.

Laurence:  But the 4th baby is always a girl.  

Me:  Really?  How do you know that?

Laurence:  The plumber.  

Me:  What?  What plumber?

Laurence:  Remember that plumber that was here who had six kids?  He told you you should have another baby.  (For the record, it was a Heating & Cooling Technician, and it was last summer that he was here...)

Me:  Oh, yes, I do remember him telling me that, but---

Laurence:  AND he said, "The 4th one's always a charm!"  So the 4th baby is always a girl.  Girls are charms, not boys.

So there you have it.  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What's a Bike Lock?

I was going to call this post "Thou Shalt Not Steal." Then I thought perhaps I'd be clever and name it using the corresponding number of the commandment in the Bible, but I looked it up and was surprised to find there is debate on the numbers among religious groups - is it 7, or is it 8? And I also found out on Wikipedia (yeah, I know...) that "steal" has been interpreted by some to mean "steal people." Hmm, this I never knew. For what it matters, I have always believed and practiced this to mean "steal anything." Anyway, I have no problem with people interpreting things differently, believing different things, and worrying about numbers and stuff like that, but what it boils down to is that people should just be good. Kids start out so good. As they grow & learn it's up to us to make sure they learn right from wrong, and keep being good...which to me is a pretty scary thing. Now & then I have those moments when I realize I'm doing sort of alright in this regard, and today I had one.

Loic was thrilled this morning to see that the bike trailer is now hooked onto my bike, and he's anxious to go for a ride. As much as he loves to ride his trike, riding together - he on his trike, me on my bike - is tough; if I rode any slower I'd fall off. So, I've been pumping him up to ride in the trailer with Alastair now that he's old enough, so we can venture a little further than around the block and I can actually get a little bit of exercise. I'd already told him we needed to go to the grocery store this morning, so he immediately came up with the perfect plan -- "Mom, let's take the bike & trailer to the grocery store!" I told him that would be fun, but I don't have a bike lock. "What's a bike lock?" he asked. I explained that there's a special place to park bikes and that we can't lock them like we do the car, so we need a special lock to hook them to the bike rack. Then he looks at me quizzically and says, "But mom, any person would be able to see that it's not their bike & trailer, so they wouldn't take it."

Stay good, Loic. Stay so good.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Where in the World?

A few months back Spelling Bees were the big thing in our house, but lately we've moved on to Geography Bees. From Laurence, I must hear 15 times a day, "Mom, ask me questions about where stuff is in the world!" I've actually run out of questions to challenge him, and recently bought a couple of board games that we can play together. I believe I'm learning more than he is.

Clearly Loic has been paying attention and is learning right along with us (me). Want proof? This morning we were eating breakfast and Laurence wanted some strawberries, so he opened the fridge to pull out a quart and said, "Woah! There are 3 containers of strawberries in here!" (We go thru lots of fruit.) Then he says, "Why didn't you just buy one big container - the ones you get at Sam's Club?" I explained that I hadn't been to Sam's recently and he asked why. "Well," I said, "I haven't been over that way in while; it's on the other side of town, and to go just for strawberries seems kind of silly." Then Loic says, "Oh! Then Sam's Club is near China! That's on the other side, too."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Riddled with Riddles

Loic has started telling riddles this week. Or at least what he thinks are riddles. Webster defines a riddle as: a mystifying, misleading, or puzzling question posed as a problem to be solved or guessed. Loic's riddles are in no way misleading and leave nothing to the imagination, because his imagination does all the work. Because I know you want them, here are some examples...

What's in the shape of a circle and hangs from the ceiling and turns around and around and around and around and has four brown things sticking out of it with a light hanging from it? (All of this while staring intently at none other than...the ceiling fan in our kitchen, of course!)

What is brown and says, "hee-haw" and has four legs? (I feel silly even giving the answer here, but you never know....a donkey!)

What is white and has water in it and green rocks and a plant and 2 fish swimming around in it? (Love this one in particular because he uses "white" instead of clear. So, there's a big hint, in case you were stumped. Yep, the fishbowl!)

What is tall and has 2 legs, 2 arms, big hands, long, yellow hair, black glasses & is wearing a shirt with circles on it? (This one might be a little more difficult for you readers because most of you didn't see what I was wearing yesterday, but it's me! I know, I know - tall & big hands?! Remember, Loic is 3 and much shorter than me...for now.)

And finally, one that is a bit puzzling....What is pointing up and hot and has broken pieces of the world melting in a big hole? (Getting back to Webster, I'm pretty sure this is how he defined a "volcano." And if not, he should have.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Best Medicine

March 22nd. The second full day of spring. The second day of spring break for the boys. Could it be? Has spring really sprung? Nope. It's snowing. AGAIN. Snow & a wintry mix is expected to continue thru tomorrow, possibly dumping several inches before it's all done. Woo-frickin-hoo. And what else? Laurence is sick with a fever. Poor guy rarely gets sick, but to look at him today is to know he feels like crap. His cheeks are bright red, his eyes are watery, and I have yet to see his toothless smile. We missed a fun playgroup activity this morning, too, which none of us were happy about. A while ago he said he wanted to go to sleep, but after an hour of restlessness he said, "I can't sleep. I just feel awful." He actually agreed to taking some medicine, which is unheard of for him.

This is one miserable day that I want to...remember. That's right, remember. And here's why. I gave Laurence his medicine and told him it would bring his fever down and should help him be able to sleep. Just then Loic came over and sat down next to Laurence on the couch. "When you fall asleep, you can lay on me," he said, so sincerely. Laurence just looked at him and Loic continued, "You can lay here," putting his hand on his stomach, "my belly is really soft, like a pillow. You'll feel much better." Laurence didn't say anything, but I swear I saw a hint of his toothless smile. Maybe my winter funk is making me extra-emotional, but that moment was so touching, I shed a tear (or two). Loic's kind & caring words were the best kind of medicine on a day like today. Happy spring!

Monday, March 7, 2011

If You Can't Take the Heat...

So, maybe you've heard, we had a bit of an oven mishap last week. Just before dinner one evening, I turned it on to heat garlic bread when a few minutes later I heard some sizzling, popping & groaning (yes, apparently an oven can groan), and turned to see white hot sparks flying around in the oven. I leaped across the kitchen to turn it off. The groaning stopped, but the sizzling & popping did not. They continued for about a half hour, in fact, while the element slowly burned much like the wick (is that what it's called?) on a stick of dynamite. It was actually rather fascinating, but I tried not to pay too much attention, for fear the boys might take interest. I know Laurence stole a glance from time to time, but he was smart to heed my warning not to get to close.

Later that night Bill was able to order a replacement element online for a rather reasonable price, and it arrived in just a couple of days. Yesterday was Element Replacement Day, and when Bill pulled the oven away from the wall to unplug it, he revealed quite a site. Not only were the sides of the oven caked with years of spillage gunk, but under the oven we found quite an assortment of treasures...there were 4 marbles, bits of dogfood (not even the brand we used to use -- maybe from the previous owner?), 2 pennies, a plastic lizard tail, a bean from the "Don't Spill the Beans" game, jellybeans, 3 super balls, a sippy cup valve, the tube from my turkey baster, a 2-pack of plastic scrapers, magnetic Leapfrog letters, part of a candy cane, and a harmonica, to name a few. Oh, and dust. Lots and lots of greasy, sticky dust. As I was standing there trying to come up with a plan of attack, Bill pulled out the burned element. "Woah guys!" he yelled to Laurence and Loic, "Look at this! It's crazy!" Laurence was at his side immediately, fascinated to see the now bubbly, burned up old element, while Loic hopped over (wherever he goes these days, he's hopping) and instead stuck his head around the stove to see the mess I was looking at on the floor. "Woah, that IS crazy!" he exclaimed. Then, very seriously, "No WONDER the oven doesn't work."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Get Your Freak On!

Today we're eating lunch and Alastair is eating little pieces of bagel with cream cheese. He's shoving them in as fast as I can give them to him so I say, "Slow down, baby!" and Loic says, "He's soooo hungry today!" Then I say, "Yep, and I think he's a bagel freak!" Loic says, "You're right mom, he IS a big ol' freak." Yep, that's one I'm gonna want to remember.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


At our house someone is almost always talking. At least that's the case between about 7 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. The constant talking I can handle (most of the time), but inevitably, along with the non-stop chatter, comes a huge pet peeve of mine...interrupting. It happens far to often despite my constant (gentle) reminding. I know, it's a kid thing. Heck, I know adults that can't even refrain. But still, it will never stop annoying me. Anyway, this morning Loic was telling me a story and Laurence walks in the room and without a second thought says, "Mom, where's my--" I stop him right there. "Laurence, Loic was talking. Wait until he is finished, please. Why do you always interrupt him?" Laurence know that when I ask him a question, no matter how silly it seems, he better have an answer. Here's the one I got -- "It's part of my morning routine." Nice. Time to take a peek at this kid's daily planner.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What's Your Love Language?

I recently read a book that was recommended to me by my sister a few years back called "The 5 Love Languages," by Gary Chapman. She actually teaches a class based on the concept, and had given me a brief rundown. I just never took the time to read the book, but now I'm really glad I did. It was one of those where I often found myself nodding in agreement as I read, which seemed sort of silly, but it just happened. In case your not familiar with Gary Chapman's ideas, I'll explain them the way they makes sense to me. What I took away from "The 5 Love Languages," is that everyone expresses and interprets love in different ways, but that we all have a primary "language," which when spoken to us, makes us feel the most loved and fulfilled in a relationship. The languages are Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Receiving Gifts, and Acts of Service. Where it gets tricky is that unless we take the time to figure out what language others speak, we tend to speak the language that is the most meaningful to us, sometimes leaving the other person feeling empty and not loved like they want to be. I don't think that's exactly how I wanted to say what I want to say, so you should read the book. Or, if you want to, learn more here: Or do both.

Anyway, I have been thinking a lot about this thing and how to apply what I've learned not just in my marriage, but with my kids, too. I've been wondering what language Laurence & Loic speak, and tonite I think I figured it out. I am now on the road to being a better mom. Here's how it went down:

Bill went out to run an errand right after dinner, and I was sitting with the boys while they attempted to finish what was on their plates. Laurence, though not thrilled, ate every speck of his stir fry. I was pretty shocked and said, "Wow, Laurence! You did it! I'm really proud of you for eating all of your chicken and vegetables even though you didn't like it all that much." He grinned ear-to-ear and said, "Thanks, Mom! I like when you're proud of me. I'm proud of myself, too." And whaddya know, "The 5 Love Languages" popped into my head. So I said, "Laurence, I have a question for you. When do you feel the most loved? Maybe it's something someone says or something someone does. Anything." He thought for a moment and said, "Can I say one thing you say and one thing you do?" "Sure," I said. (Keep in mind, we don't all speak just one of the languages, but most people do have a primary language, with some of the others thrown in.) He said, "I feel really loved when you say things like what you just said. That you're proud of me for something I did. I really like that." "OK," I said, "and something I do?" He thought for another moment, and said, "I actually can't think of anything. Just when you say nice stuff." So, what's his primary love language? Words of Affirmation. Loud & clear. Then he asked me what makes me feel loved, and I told him when someone does something for me without asking, like when he cleans up the living room without being asked, or at least does it without hesitation when asked. So there you go. I speak "Acts of Service." (Quality Time is a close 2nd.)

Next it was Loic's turn. So I attempted to discover his love language, though I was pretty sure he wasn't really following the conversation. "Loic," I said, looking him in the eye, "what's something I say or do that makes you feel the most loved?" Without pause he got up, walked over to me and wrapped his arms around me tightly (He does get it! Loic's language is physical touch! It's gotta be...). But then he looked up at me with the biggest grin and said, "I feel loved when you marry me!"

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Belly Ache

I can't let an entire month go by without a post, so here goes. I'm thinking this is one of those "I guess you had to be there moments," but...well, I WAS there, and someday I'll look back and read this post and remember the serious look on Loic's face, the tone of concern in his voice, and how Laurence & I laughed until I coughed (my latest gauge of a truly feel-good moment ever since my last chest cold a month & a half ago).

This evening the boys were supposed to have swimming lessons, but Jenny the instructor called me this afternoon to tell me she was not feeling well and was heading home for the day. When Laurence got home from school he was all kinds of excited to go to the pool, but Loic told him, "We can't go until next time." When Laurence asked why Loic replied (serious look, tone of concern), "She's sick. I think she has apostrophes in her belly." Poor guy, he truly was concerned. Poor Jenny! I've heard those apostrophes are rare, but serious and can really create gastric distress. I wonder if they're catching...