Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Yeah, That's Right. I Said SPEED.

Oh a whim, I took the boys to the zoo yesterday. We needed to renew our membership, Aaron was out for the night, and they've probably been begging me to go every day for the last 57 days straight, so I just threw caution to the wind and away we went, Peter, Paul & Mary style.

On the way there, I momentarily worried that we'd headed out too late, that maybe we wouldn't have quite enough time to truly enjoy ourselves. But when we got there, I remembered, oh yes. Going to the zoo with my kids is like going to the zoo with a couple of speed-freaks. You think I'm joking, but I'm not.

For starters, we run the zoo. We don't walk it. Which is ok, because, it counts as cardio when done that way. You haven't really experienced the 'Unseen World" until you've done it at breakneck speed. Did you miss that tarantula behind the bark? Too bad. You'll have to come back with a couple of slowpokes later.

We so DO NOT have time to take this picture mom!

On top of the running, there's a lot of shouting, a lot of serious map-consulting. I imagine from afar the three of us probably look like a bit like some sort of intense amazing-race-family-team screaming and yelling about where we should go next and how we should get there and no there is no way there is going to be enough time to stop by the gift shop. Usually at least one of us is not getting their way and so you can also count of a little bit or ground-rolling and name calling too.

We lapped quite a few people more than once on our visit yesterday. One guy in particular seemed to be either horrified or fascinated, or maybe even both, by our technique. Every time we passed him and his companion he chuckled and stared in our direction, always attempting to make some sort of comment.

On our third pass I finally said "We do the zoo on speed." as we ran by. "Oh, we do the zoo on boredom!" he responded. As the we continued to run on ahead, I heard him launch into a in-depth discussion on the 'viciousness of owls'. Yeah, definitely doing the zoo on boredom....

The only thing we slowed down for was the goats, and frankly that was a bit freaky. I'd begun to wonder if maybe we'd run so fast we'd some how time- traveled into the future and now goats were in charge. The petting zoo was empty, and when the goats caught wind of our entrance they all started walking toward us. I silently panicked, thinking - are they trying to tell me something? Is there a chip in my brain they're trying to make contact with? Nope, turns out they just wanted to eat our maps.

The goats, trying to communicate. Proof that I'm not quite as crazy as you might think.

And then, as quickly as it began, our time was over, the zoo was closing and we were getting kicked out. We were exhausted, and I was a little out of of breath. But I suggest you try it sometime, seeing the Zoo in fast-forward. Especially if its your millionth or so visit or if you're looking for an experience that provides both fitness AND education. It certainly helps to shake things up a little...

Monday, April 28, 2008

When Mommy Isn't Looking...

You know when your mother-in-law calls you better be listening. And I was. Which also meant I wasn't watching:

I saw the dirt flying, the water going out the door, the paper towels dwindling...

Trashed, muddy, those are probably understatements.

But you gotta give them credit. They did try to clean up, or at least um, hide it.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Meet Me Tonight In Atlantic City, Better Known As MY NEW JERSEY WEEKEND

(also known as the weekend I will forever refer to in all capital letters)

I'd like to think I've seen many great concerts in my day, because for me there is no greater pastime then seeing a good band with good friends (or family!) in tow.

I've seen my share of legends and I've seen my share of superstars.

This past weekend proved no different. By some immaculate act we saw Bon Jovi on Thursday evening, followed by the incomparable Mr. Springsteen on Friday. While many others were celebrating a tax free weekend, I was basking in the glow of two of the Garden State's most celebrated native sons.

Whether you agree with me or not, you must know that there is almost nothing more gratifying then seeing the songs you first danced with your mom to and the songs you first roller-skated to back-to-back. Seeing Bon Jovi (even for the third time...) was like karaoke turned up to eleven and Bruce, well Bruce was like a baptism. That's not even right. It WAS a baptism. You may think I'm just saying that, still being intoxicated with the whole experience and all, but I'm not even exaggerating. He literally came out and baptized the crowd as he kicked into the first song. And rightfully so, because I certainly won't ever be the same again. Even if St. Peter decides to turn me away at the gates, I'll say "Wait!!!! What about that Springsteen show?!!!" Surely, he'll look at me with compassion and let me in, forgiving me gently for 13 straight years of Catholic school. After all, seeing the E-Street Band live and in person mere inches away was kind of like heaven on earth, if you'll be so kind as to totally let me go overboard with the whole "religious-experience" metaphor.

I have battle scars a-plenty too, because I was smart enough to wear cowboy boots to both shows. But you will suffer for those you love, no? And suffer we did. Our Springsteen tickets were on the floor, a decision we will never regret, but if you ask my lower back, well you might just get a different response. Its a bit hard to stretch yourself out all yoga-like in between sets when everyone around you is still engrossed in their air-drumming.

I could go on, for hours really, discussing set-lists, stage set-ups, tributes and encores, but I'll spare you, especially since if you actually see me this week, you'll probably have to endure it anyway. But what a weekend that was, practically a second honeymoon, really (or third maybe? that 05 trip to Chicago was pretty good...and we'll always have Graceland). There's nothing more romantic witnessing rock n' roll at its finest with this guy at my side:

I think that pictures pretty much captures it.

Livin' on a prayer AND Livin' in the future baby. None of this has happened yet.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Oh the Things You Can Do...

...with masking tape.

Who cares if it was practically 90 and beautiful outside?

This was a lot more fun:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Yet Another Installment...

...in the hair diaries.

Yes, I'm a totally obsessed with my children's hair. I write about all the dang time, I think about it all the dang time.

Going to get their hair cut is very painful for me, no matter how often I take them. I avoided this for a long time by just cutting it myself. But well, that just doesn't uh, 'cut it' anymore.

My problem is that the thought of anybody else cutting their hair makes me cringe. Amusing, since the boys probably looked a lot worse thanks to my 'nimble' hands as opposed to any random hairdresser I might choose.

When I finally found a hairdresser I trusted - the salon closed. I then tried out one of those kids-only franchises - which ended up making feel like I paid more for the annoying singing brush than I did for the haircut.

The truth is, I could labor over this decision forever, and I did. An you know what? Their hair just kept getting longer. They knew it too. Cash even asked for a haircut, and Hayden, he's had more temper tantrums lately about uncontrollable hair static than he's had about toys.

Finally today I decided to suck it up and give the local walk-in a try. After all, I could hardly resist the five minute ride down the street (in comparison to the 45 minute drive we used to take).

There were a bunch of kids there when we arrived and I have to admit that put me at ease a little. We signed in and the boys were called up one by one - to two separate hairdressers! You should have seen me running back and forth from booth to booth with my little 'example pictures'. I was totally freaking out. Suddenly I felt like I'd made the worst decision ever. Were they going to look completely different? Was one haircut going to be awful and the other awesome? I thought I was about to have a panic attack when it started to dawn on me that it might actually be a good thing.

For starters, it was quick, everything was said and done in 10 minutes. Secondly, they did look different. And I liked it. The boys liked it too. Hayden even said "Does our hair look like the other boys now?" (A question that melted my heart and made me feel totally guilty at the same time). Lastly, it was cheap, so cheap in fact that even I got my bangs trimmed on a whim before we left.

This is going to sound downright silly, but since it went so well, I feel like a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I'd finally made the walk-in crossover and it was good. Its practically luxurious that I am now comfortable enough to just drive down the street whenever my kids need a trim. I'm sure I'll still freak out on occasion, especially when their opinions on their own hair start to come into play - but for now? We're good. Very good. See for yourself!


and after...

We Can Work It Out

This week, I'll be seeing both Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen in concert.
But what am I really excited about?


Friday, April 18, 2008

Thirty's in the Mix

My dearest Aaron turns thirty tomorrow.

Which is kind of weird, because I think I've known him since we were at least 20.

Where did those last 10 years go? I can tell you, marriage, births, first jobs, countless album releases, and concerts, lots of concerts.

Every day living with Aaron is better than the last. And everyday his beard gets a little longer.

So how does a wife best honor her husband on his 30th birthday?

With a MIXTAPE of course!

It goes something like this:

Dancin' Fool -Frank Zappa
Because I realized I'd married my father when I found out you liked him, because I'll never forget the time I came home to you and the boys dancing to this, and in honor of the next Hartley offspring and/or dog.

Your Favorite Thing - Sugar
Even though this song was probably written about a guy, I think it fits us perfectly.

One Cup of Coffee - Bob Marley
this song has everything to do with our coffee consumption and nothing to do with the actual lyrics.

Porpoise Song - The Monkees
This song is the theme from 'Head', one of the greatest movies I've ever seen, and it perfectly sums up our love of watching weird movies.

Thor Is Like Immortal- The F**king Champs
Metal will never die.

Nitmare Hippy Girl - Beck
Self-concious and a little bit moody? Me in a nutshell, minus the flaky skin. And he still puts up with me.

Don't Take Your Guns To Town - Johnny Cash
This is for Cash. Not exactly a song you'd want dedicated to you, but 1) its hard to single out a Johnny Cash song and 2) it can inadvertantly being interpreted as being about parenting.

Greatest of All Time - Archers of Loaf
One of my all time favorite songs, which I would have never have found without you. I'd probably still be trying to bring back Lillith Fair.

You're No Rock N' Roll Fun - Sleater Kinney
Because I hated it when you first started listening to them. And then I was converted, and I thank you.

Drive My Car - The Beatles
Needs no explanation exceot that is quietly marks another important occasion other than your birthday.

Driveway - Hayden
Because there's one song on here for Hayden and one for Cash. Plus, I figured a song about stuffing rocks up someones nose was appropriate for them.

Livin' in the Future - Bruce Springsteen
BECAUSE WE'LL BE SEEING HIM IN CONCERT NEXT WEEK. Next week!!!!! I've gotta start channeling Courtney Cox.
(technical note: was too fancy for muxtape.....)

Happy 30th, babes.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Twin Talkin'

Wednesday afternoon the boys and I spent some quality time together at the Rutherford County Social Security office. Because, um, I just might have misplaced some uh, very important pieces of information they needed for kindergarten registration.

The experience was typical of any you might have waiting around in a government-operated office. There was a terrifying picture of Dick Cheney on the wall that I swore was trying to talk to me and there were loads of people sitting around looking like they were having the best possible day ever.

I wasn't exactly thrilled to be there either, as we hadn't exactly had the smoothest morning. So after we shuffled through the door, i just tried to sit down, get settled, and hope for the best. I looked straight ahead and desperately tried to not make eye contact with anyone, I just wasn't in the mood for small talk.

However, from the moment I sat down I could feel the eyes of the woman next to me burning into the side of my head. I tried to ignore it, but it was no use.

"Are they twins?" she asked looking at the boys.

Ugh, worse than small talk even! It was twin talk. Don't get me wrong, I love talking about my kids as much as the next mom, but sometimes, when it comes to talking about twins, people can get nosy, and personal.

"My twins are 16." She continued. 'Ok, another twin mom', I thought I'll at least give her the benefit of the doubt. She asked the usual questions, age, names, identical or fraternal. And then she started asking me about school. But I didn't even have time to answer, because she just went on talking. and talking. and talking.

She went on doling out advice here, sharing her sob story there. I was beginning to get nervous. Her stories were getting kind of frightening, like I was watching some horror movie titled "How NOT to Raise Twins". The defining moment though was her final statement...

"Now that they're sixteen they still pretty much just talk to each other, I don't think they have any real friends."

Uh, ok.

We had passed the TMI mark a long time ago, so when she said that, I wasn't quite sure how to respond. Oh that's great? Or, wow, thats positively dreadful? I just kind of froze.

And then they called her number.

Suddenly it was silent in the room. I was kind of dumbfounded. I mean, i'm used to getting advice or a life story from about every third person in the grocery store or at the bank, but, phew, this one was kind of exhausting.

Does this happen to you too? Do you ever find yourself getting unsolicited advice from the most random of strangers? Please say yes, I don't want to be alone....

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Code Donald

I have a little temper.

I dislike this temper, I don't like it when she comes around.

She usually comes out of nowhere, and I always regret her arrival.

She tends to show up after tripping over a pile of sharp plastic policemen or after stepping in a puddle of something that shouldn't have been there.

She is my arch enemy, my evil nemesis, and I wish she would just stay away.

But as every mom knows, some days, the poo just happens, the temper flares and mommy turns out to being the one who needs a time out.

I do my best to make light of the situation, I may have made a mistake, you know, throwing that cereal box at the wall, but heck, we all might as well learn from it, right?

Since Mickey Mouse is numero uno in this household, I chose the Disney route.

I started comparing my temper to Donald Duck's. Every time he would come on the screen squawking up a storm I would say "Hmmmm, who does that remind you of?" And without hesitation, the boys would chime in "You, Mommy!" Nice. I mean, I'd intended for it to take a few times before they truly made the comparison, but right away? Wow, I must be worse than I thought.

I tried to explain to them that Mommy doesn't like to lose her temper, and when she does lose it, she just looks silly, like Donald does. I told them I needed their help, I needed them to let me know when I was starting to go off to the deep end. I didn't really give them specific instructions on exactly how to let me know, I simply indicated that I wanted their help.

Surprisingly,it actually worked! Whenever the volume of my voice gets louder in anger, or I raise my arm to launch something in disgust you'll hear, "Donald Duck, Mommy! Donald Duck!!!!!" being shouted from all corners of the house (sometimes a 'be nice' is thrown in for good measure). I guess you could call it a 'Code Donald'.

Usually the reminder is so frantic and amusing in nature that we can't help but laugh. Whatever I was angry about starts to slip away, apologies are said, and we can start to ease back into actually enjoying each others company.

I'm not proud of my temper at all, in fact I can't stand it. But I can acknowledge it, and try to make the best of the situation. Hopefully, we're all learning something from this.You know, something more than how far a cheerio box can fly without sprouting wings.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Today was a good day...?

I did the laundry.

I watched Pooh. And I'm talking classic Pooh, no Darby here. I did cringe a little when the boys asked where she was

I worked out.

I took my kids swimming.

I entertained someone else's child while swimming.
(really, just because your child is playing with my children doesn't mean you can go to the other side of the pool and relax, all nonchalant like, even if you are a Dad.

I ate cake.

I drank coffee. It was good.

A new Marie Claire came in the mail, which actually contained an entire article about preventive skin-care specifically for thirty-year-olds, which, I almost am. Happy Birthday to me.

I joined yet another social network.


I got speeding ticket. My first in Tennessee. Yes, on the street I drive on every dang day. It was one of those times where you know its going to happen, even before it does, or at least that's how I felt when I slammed on the brakes. And my car, it was so low on gas I had to turn it off while he wrote the ticket. How embarrassing would that have been?
"Yes, officer, thank you for that $95 fine. Now if you don't mind, would you please run up to the corner and get me some gas? And hurry, because the nursery at the Y closes in 30 minutes." There goes my no-ticket streak.

How was your day?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I don't want a horse, but I would like a gift

I'm turning thirty soon, in case you didn't know, on the same day Bob Dylan turns 67. I'm sure you're racking your brain over what to get me, so I'm starting a list.

Once upon a time, in the 90's, I saw the Foo Fighters in a crappy club in Cincinnati. It was the first time I was going to see Dave Grohl in person, and I was simply beside myself. So I made my own " I heart Dave" shirt. I seem to recall it having birds AND clouds on it and it also just might have been made from an older uh, Offspring shirt, which um, was also homemade.(geez, when did this post start to get so embarrassing?).

Anyway, my point is, it probably looked pretty bad, but me, I thought it looked like this:

What girl wouldn't want this in her closet? Apparently plenty of girls already do, because its out of stock. Dang.

Once upon another time, I broke 2 laptops. In one year. So do I even need to state an argument for why I MUST HAVE this? It even comes in purple. PURPLE, people!

Like I said, I'll be turning thirty, so its probably about time for a little of this too:

It's also probably about time I started wearing jewelery showing off my skills as both a mother and an amateur fashionista so I think something from here is certainly in order. Be sure to include a charm that somehow references Bon Jovi. Something like "Born to Be My Baby" would do.

If you're really feeling saucy and you're ready to go all out, I'd be ok with this too, and be sure to include the driving gloves and the Dead Milkmen CD:

An airbrushed van with shag carpet would also work, you know, if you have trouble finding the Camaro.

I'd also appreciate about 78% of the IKEA Spring catalog and half of the most recent J.Crew & Anthropologie inventories. And I wouldn't turn down a nice big Stella McCartney bag either.

The clock is ticking, I'd say its about time you got shopping.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Speaking of the mouths of babes...

Yesterday, I got a sweet, soft little tap on the arm from my son Cash.

"Mommy, you're growing a mustache." He said softly, as if it were news or something.

"Yeah, and you have a tiny beard!" Hayden added.


Who's slipping them the truth serum?

The Mouths of Babes...

Tuesday afternoon the boys and I went out for a little ice cream. It was a reward for supposed 'smiles' in taking their graduation pictures earlier that day.

It was a sweet little date. We sat outside enjoying the balmy spring weather and a especially eye-catching view of the beautiful Nissan plant off in the distance. We had good conversation, discussing important things like how cars are made, and how the ice cream lady had given them more sprinkles than actual ice cream (did they tip her when I was not looking?). We were having a good time, just a mother and her sons, out for a little treat. I tried to live in the moment, and hoped we'd have many more like it this coming summer. I was feeling happy, content, and the boys were truly enjoying themselves.

And then came the statement. Its one I've been waiting for, expecting for some time, I guess. It was Hayden who said it, as he shoveled in spoonfuls of sprinkles....

"Mom, you don't give us treats in our lunches like everybody else gets." He stated very matter-of-factly.

"Oh really? I don't?" I'd thought maybe they hadn't noticed. After all, I do include an elaborate napkin drawing in every lunch. "What kind of treats does everybody else get?"

"Cookies and brownies!" Cash exclaimed, without a hint of exaggeration.

I'd thought maybe fruit roll-ups or gummy treats maybe, but full on sweets? Wow, I really had let them down, what with my piddly bug drawings and plain popcorn.

When it comes to food, I often try to stay within the school of thought of what they don't know, can't hurt them. For instance, we'd never expanded our cereal pantry beyond Cheerios or Special K, until just a few months ago, when my sister introduced them to Cap'n Crunch's Crunchberries and my 4-year streak of walking down the cereal aisle in peace abruptly ended. I applied the same tactic to lunches, thinking I'd wait to add something sweet in nature to their lunch until they asked for it. And silly little me, I thought I might even make it to first grade before that demand came into play.

I'm not quite sure what logic I based that decision on either, its not like we don't eat treats at home, I mean this whole conversation happened over three scoops of ice cream for pete's sake - so why not put them in their lunch?

We discussed what treats we might like, granola bars, fruit snacks? Maybe. The cookies we made last night? For sure. Together we concluded on our next grocery trip we'd try and pick out something kid approved and mommy-endorsed.

So there I was, sitting there, in my ice cream parlor chair, having just had my first "but everybody else is doing it" moment with two 4 year olds. What's next, shoes? Video games? Tattoos?

I don't even want to know....

I'll just stick with the suggestion of surplus sucrose for now.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Oh That's Right, I Have TWO Kids.

Sometimes I forget I have twins. Sounds crazy I know, how could I possibly forget those two? After all, they are kind of hard to miss.

I've never known what it was like to have just one child. Its always been more than one, right from the beginning. There's always been two of everything. Two cribs, two baby seats, two highchairs, double the clothes...It was hard at first (I think? I don't really remember...) but eventually it just becomes the norm. Even if the norm teeters on the verge of total chaos.

So, how do I best describe this? I of course realize my children are two separate individuals, and I treat them that way as well, but because 2-at-a-time is the way its always been, I tend to think of them in the broader sense as one entity. As most of my friends are having their second child, I sometimes think to myself, "Hmmm, am I ready for another?" And then I remember - Oh wait, I already had my second child - he just happened to come one minute after the first.

I wouldn't have it any other way either. Having twins has been the ride of my life and I know it will only get better at every turn.

But there is one time, one glaringly obvious time, when the, um, true joy, of having two at the same age really comes into play.
It one of those times when the planets align just right, the wind comes to a halt and two tiny, but forceful auras crash together at full speed. Otherwise know as a full-fledged double temper tantrum.

Oh sweet Lord in heaven, the double tantrums.

Remember that part in Princess Bride when Wesley is in the pit of despair having the life sucked out of him by the medieval torture machine? Yeah. That's kind of what it's like. You're being pulled in every direction, years are being taken off your life by the minute, you can't tell which way is up, and the pain (from the screaming of course) is only a sliver away from unbearable.

We had one such moment just yesterday. I'm not quite even sure what started it - something to do with spiders? It was a classic moment really, screaming, snot running, arms flailing, legs kicking, hitting, and the best part?

It was at somebody else's house.

No, we couldn't just throw the tantrum to end all tantrums within our house. No way, Mom! It just had to be at someone else's place, and hey, while we're at it, why not just do it in the backyard? We already have a small auidence, might as well get the whole neighborhood involved.

Yes, it was definitely one of those moments when you feel like tossing motherhood to the very top of the 'things I never want to do ever again' list. I had the towel and I was ready to throw it in. The whole thing may have only lasted 10 minutes, but every parent knows, it felt like ten hours. Thankfully, life does go on, my children do behave (sometimes) and I did survive, and someday, in that sick, sweet, motherly way, I'll probably miss it.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Who Is This Person? And Why Am I Her?

For the least week or so, my camera (truthfully, its my husbands camera, b/c my kids dropped mine during a halloween-themed photo-shoot they were doing last October, but whatever, thats a whole other story...)has been missing. Well, missing is such a harsh word. I've known it was somewhere,um, just not exactly where. I was starting to get nervous....did I throw it away? Leave it on the front seat for someone to steal? Did I flush it down the toilet?

You see, I have a bit of a reputation for not taking very good care of things that are both expensive and electronic in nature (see above), just ask my husband, or, uh, our bank account. But in contrast (and save for my own camera) I've done pretty well lately (knock on wood). I've managed to keep both a MacBook AND an Ipod Nano in perfect working order for at least a year. You're probably thinking, "Yeah, woot. Big deal. I can beat that."

But you have to understand - since the birth of my children, a mere 4 and a half years ago, I have probably blown through at least 3 laptops, 4 cameras, and I don't even want to know how many phones. I wish I could blame my kids, but sadly, I can't. Its all me. I don't know what I ever did to deserve such bad electronic karma, but whatever it was it must have been bad.

So this morning, I awoke early and decided this was the day.Today, I was going to find the camera. I even wrote it down about 10 times, just for good measure - I WILL find the camera today! I knew the last time I had used it was for downloading, so I was positive it was in the house, I started under the bed, where I actually found a host of other things that had been missing for a while, but alas, no camera. I checked the hamper, Nope. The couch. Nope. Under the couch. Nope. Behind the bookcases. Nope. On the bookcases. Nope. The kitchen, the laundry closet, the desk. Nope, nope and still, nope.

I was just about to panic, just a little, when I thought - I'm going to check my bags one more time. I had emptied out my purse last night, just to make sure it hadn't been hiding under a blanket of reciepts this whole time. So I went for the computer bag, which I had already checked about 5 times, but I thought, one more can't hurt. I went through the three comparments and 2 side pockets to no avail. The only thing left was the front pocket. Which looked empty, but i dug in anyway. Right down to the bottom.

You'd never guess what was in there, you know, besides a few gum wrappers.

It just might have been....Ok, IT WAS, my camera.

Right there, this whole time. I wish I could say I was surprised.