A brief glimpse into the daily happenings of a 6-year-old, his new baby brother and his family.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Jinkies! You're crazy.

It turns out that another genetic trait Ben may have gotten from me is the crazy gene. While probably not severe enough for any formal diagnosis, I'm sure that we both are a little right of normal when it comes to certain obsessive behaviors. You know, like me wanting to sleep with a piece of cookware (see that post here). Ben's obsession has been going on for quite awhile. He is completely consumed by all things Scooby Doo.

He knows all their names, facts about the Mystery Machine, and random details about the mysteries solved in every episode he's watched. Their lingo has found its way into his daily vocabulary--- "Zoinks!" "Jinkies, Mommy." "Rut-roh."

For some reason, he is particularly attached to Velma. (Note: ANY comments about boys liking girls who are like their mothers will result in severe consequences.) Not pretty, stylish Daphne, but dumpy, smart Velma. Hmmm....

We've been living with the running conversation surrounding Scooby Doo:
B: Mom, do you know what I'm going to say to Velma, Mom?
H: What, Ben?
B: Well, one question. I'm going to tell her a question.
H: What question are you going to ASK her?
B: Well. I'm gonna say, "Velma, I love you."
(re-read this 10 or 15 times in a row. Occasionally, you can replace "Velma, I love you." with "Wanna go to Starbuck's with the gang?" That's what it's like to ride in the car with us these days.)

Last night, I realized the obsession may have gone over the line. You know, like those strung out heroin junkies on "Real Life" on MTV or the people confronted with an A&E camera crew on "Intervention" who have hit rock bottom and suddenly realize they need help? Here's how it went...

Before I go into the story, I should warn you. It's bathroom humor. Literally. It's a poop story.

While doing his evening business, Ben was telling me a story about "The Gang" and how they were going to ride snow mobiles. Just then, the child deposited two huge turds into the toilet. Now, this is always a proud moment in our house... he has to check them out, determine which is bigger, discuss if they float or sink (I'm not making this up).
B: Wow! That's some BIIIIIIIIIIIIIG poop.
H: Yep.
B: (sounding as excited as Christmas morning) Mommy, look, it's Daphne and Velma. Hi, Daphne! Hi, Velma! (suddenly concerned) Are you guys going away forever?
H: (flushes)
B: (looking in the toilet) Bye, girls. I will miss you. (sad face) Mommy, they're gone forever. Flushed away.

Maybe "Promises" has a rehab wing for obsessed fans. In a joint New Year's Resolution, maybe Ben and I can work on dialing down the crazy.

Friday, December 28, 2007

What's for Dinner: Beer Braised BBQ Chicken

For quite some time, I have been coveting a specific piece of cookware, but have been much too cheap to buy it. Imagine my delight when it arrived in a box from my Aunt Nancy! Don was pretty sure I had completely lost it because I sat on the couch hugging it for a long time after opening the box. He drew the line when I wondered aloud if it would be wrong to put it next to my pillow when I went to bed that night. After tonight's dinner, he may want it on his nightstand!

Below is the recipe for Beer Braised BBQ Chicken. Aunt Nancy made it for dinner one night when we were in Florida and inadvertently began my Le Creuset obsession. Now, I'm not saying you HAVE to own the 5 1/2Qt. Round Oven to successfully make this dish, but.... I did make it once before and it was WAY better tonight. (I usually remember to take a picture of my version, but we were so excited to dig in that I forgot until we had already finished eating.)

Beer-Braised Barbecued Chicken
from Williams Sonoma
In our version of barbecued chicken, the chicken is first braised on the stove top until tender in a flavorful combination of beer and barbecue sauce, then quickly grilled just before serving. Use only thighs, drumsticks and wings for this recipe; chicken breasts will turn out dry when braised and grilled.
4 lb. chicken thighs, drumsticks and wings
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 Tbs. canola oil
2 yellow onions, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 1/4 cups ale or lager-style beer
2 1/2 cups barbecue sauce

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 3 Tbs. of the oil until almost smoking. Working in batches, brown the chicken on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter.

Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil to the pan along with the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir in the beer and barbecue sauce and bring to a boil. Add the chicken, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until tender, about 1 hour.

Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a baking sheet and let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat and simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes. Pour the sauce into a shallow bowl and let cool to lukewarm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat an indoor electric grill on medium-high heat. Brush the chicken on both sides with some of the sauce. Grill the chicken, turning once and brushing occasionally with more sauce, until nicely grill-marked, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a platter and brush with more sauce.
Serves 4.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Holiday Hangover

Boy, do we have a case of Holiday Hangover at this house. I don't think kids who spend Spring Break in Mexico have this level of difficulty, pain, and suffering returning to normal. The harsh reality of day-to-day living (even with a plethora of new toys) has been full of grouchiness, unreasonable demands, and tantrums. It goes something like this...

As soon as he wakes up (since December 19):
B: When do I open presents today, Mommy?

Since December 25th:
H: We're all done opening presents.
B: What? (wails loudly) No presents? I don't get ANY presents? Oh, I'm am SO SAD. (cries uncontrollably for 5-15 minutes)

After recovering from not opening presents:
B: I want chocolate.
H: Chocolate milk? Sure.
B: NO. I want kisses or candy presents. I want CANDY.

Today at Target:
B: WAAAAAAHHHHHHH (serious crying, tears, sobbing, choking, more crying)

H: What's wrong?
B: Harper and Abby don't have any presents. They have no toys.

Yes, the holiday season has left us with a candy-seeking, on-the-road-to-juvenile-diabetes, crying, blubbering, tired child. Where is that darn Santa when I need him most?

Since Thanksgiving, I've been using the "Santa camera" (Santa Cam) as a way to encourage good behavior. As in, "Oh my gosh, Ben. You better follow directions... the Santa Cams are on." --or-- "Do you see that white thing in the ceiling (at Target... it's totally a fire sprinkler)? That's a Santa Cam. He's watching here, too."

I sure hope those Santa Cams have been disconnected or Santa is going to become the "Re-po" man and take back the cool stuff he brought. And, I hope that doesn't happen because I think Don and I are having more fun with Ben's crash car race track than Ben is.

In an effort to return some "normal" to our house, I took down all the Christmas stuff today. Ok, it's also because I can't stand to look at that stuff even a day after Christmas and the fact that it's the 27th and it was still up was making my eye twitch.

As I pulled the garland off the entertainment center, Ben looked up and said, "Well, down with Christmas."

I couldn't agree more.

Christmas Morning 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Dickens, 3-Year-Olds, and Crazy People

Let's just say I was in a "different" holiday spirit on Friday when I went out to purchase a few Christmas gifts. Seriously, what is it about the holidays that makes people weird-- or is it that people are always weird and the holidays just shine Rudolph's big glowing nose on all the weird of the world?

I ran to Border's, specifically leaving my 3-year-old at home (for obvious reasons). Unfortunately, the place was full of adults behaving like toddlers. I quickly found the books I needed to buy and got in an LONG line. The line made by customers was not suitable to the Border's employees who re-routed our line to snake us a different direction. After much jostling and one adult even saying, "Hey! I was in front of her." in a whiny, 3-year-old tone, we were in a line that was acceptable for all. Except me.

The woman in front of me seemed normal enough. Then I noticed it... she was humming. Even better, she was humming only the first part of "The First Noel." Every time she should have moved on to "Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel. Born is the King.." she'd just start over. A couple of times, she stopped for a moment and I thought she was done... nope, she was just catching her breath for another round.

The man behind me may have been Mark Mangino's long lost twin. The dude was HUGE. Best part about him? He was a "close stander." You know, like the close talkers on Seinfeld, except they STAND really close to you in line? If I would have moved even a millimeter backwards, I would have smacked right into his ample "bowl full of jelly." Ewww.

Behind him was a woman that would have enjoyed "better living through chemistry" (medication). She was probably in her late 60's and was wearing a pair of pink sweatpants, black snow boots, and a "jazzy" red Christmas sweater (bedazzled with a big tree, puffy appliqued presents and a furry white cat under the tree). Crazy Lady had started at the front of the line (physically, I mean) and had counted each person as she passed them before taking her place in line and saying, "20." As we moved ahead, she'd crane her neck to see the action at the front of the line and say, "There goes 3." "Now it's 5's turn." She did this for EVERY SINGLE PERSON. Now, I'm quite sure the woman probably had some form of OCD or social anxiety, but COME ON. Drugs help. Take them. Then you don't have to be the crazy lady in a story on my blog.

When it was finally my turn (Number 18!), I completed my transaction and went to my car glad to be out of the land of the whack-a-doos. But alas, the parking lot was "touched" too. The family that pulled into the parking spot (all adults... the youngest person in that car had to be in his early 30's.) all had on Santa hats. Seriously? "Hey, Family. Let's all put on our Santa hats and do some Christmas shopping. We'll look so festive and will bring cheer to all." No. You won't. You'll look like a bunch of doofuss-es. But, they were going to Border's, which on that night was the land of the crazy...

In hindsight, here's how I wish I would have spent my time in line:

Humming Girl? Yeah, about the 6th time she got to the end of the verse I wish I would have used my loudest-Kindermusik-teacher-singing voice and belted out, "Noel, Noel.." (Maybe she didn't know the song had another part... I'd really be helping her out in a Christmas spirit kind of way.)

Close Stander? While singing "Noel, Noel", I would have spun around and reenacted a Dancing with the Stars moment right there in line. Maybe a Tango. Some sort of dancing where we could stand VERY CLOSE to each other.

Crazy Lady? While spinning around in circles dancing with close stander, I would have counted "18, no 19. Now 18 again, now 19." Just to help her keep track.

Hat people? I don't know. I think it might be wrong to play "keep away" with adults in a busy parking lot..then again, the wearing of the Santa hats was questionable.

While driving away, I realized what had happened. You know that part in a Christmas Carol where Scrooge sees the past, present, and future? I think it was my own little Dickens moment. The Ghost of Christmas Whatever thought I should have taken Ben with me. So, to show me that Ben would have been a joyful addition to my holiday shopping, it sent me 4 people behaving like 3-year-olds to show me the fun I'd missed.

Lesson learned. Today when I finish my shopping at the mall, Ben will be in tow. Just for good measure, I'm also going to drag Don along. I'm sure it will be a heartwarming, family bonding experience. Why do I have a feeling that after today's shopping experience, I'll be the topic of some other person's crazy person Christmas story?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Dangers... Ben says

Just in time... a holiday installment of "Ben Says"

While watching "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer"
B: Mommy, watch out! It's the VON-ABLE snowman. He's like a bad creature that's a monster.

This week, members of the KC Symphony came to school for a Christmas concert for the children.
Symphony Guy: The next piece we're going to play is from The Nutcracker. Does anyone know what a nutcracker is?
B: Yeah, it's a guy that pie-yas people.
Riley: Nu-UH, Ben. It's a play.

Fine Dining
H: Ben, where would you like to go for lunch?
B: Ummm...how about Chicks-Away?
H: Ok. We can go to Chick-fil-a.
B: But not Flushed Away (it's a movie)
H: Nope.
B: Yeah, 'cus that's gross. We don't eat pee. (giggles hysterically)

Riding in the car
B: Mommy (waits 2 seconds). MOMMY (waits 2 more seconds). WHOO-HOO, MOMMY....

While holding a microphone that goes with our new SingStar game
B: Whadda we want to sing?
H: Hmm, maybe something 80's (since we have the 80's version).
B: I know.. how about.... WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (sung--screamed-- in perfect Axel Rose style)

On holiday traditions
H: Santa brings us toys from the North Pole.
B: Does he have a Target there or does he go to Costco?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hark! the Herald Angels DID NOT sing

As soon as I found out that Ben's school was having a Christmas program, children standing on risers and all, I had a feeling that my child would not stand like a little cherub and sing. Boy, do I know my kid.

The parents all sat in anticipation as the 40-ish 3 year olds filed in with their jingle bells in hand and took their place on the risers. Ben followed the people in front of him, looked around, and promptly moved to a new location. He really wanted to stand by a classmate, Riley (not Riley of "Dingle Balls" fame, a Riley in his class--- one Ben calls "the Bad Riley"...but that's another story). Miss Becky sweetly moved him to his original spot. Ben sweetly moved back beside Riley. Miss Becky again moved Ben to his original spot, this time with an up-close meeting and some whispering.

When the music started, the children launched into Jingle Bells while ringing their bells. Ben stood still as a statue. He gave the bell one half-hearted shake, then dropped it to the floor. A mom sweetly tried to give it back to him. He said, "No 'fanks." After the second song, Ben decided to leave the stage. Ah, my conscientious objector. You don't let me stand by my friend.. I'm not going to participate in your dumb program.

After several songs, the kids sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. Ben decided he could sing along--- after all, that song ends in cake. He went back up to his spot, sang along and accepted the applause and cheers the parents showered on the children who had actually done something.

The best part was the cookie and punch reception at the end of the program. He ate 3, count them 3, decorated sugar cookies in no time flat. We were so proud.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Snow Ninja

Saturday, December 8, 2007


Since 5AM yesterday, Ben has gone back and forth from being sick to fine and back again. It's nice he's found a loyal companion to help him sleep away whatever this bug is that has him down.

These photos are from yesterday... the two of them slept on the couch for almost 2 hours--- neither moved! In the same room, I put up the Christmas tree, worked on Christmas cards, and watched daytime TV with no response from either one. That's how you know Ben is sick--- the whirling tornado of activity is still.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Snow Day

While it wasn't officially a snow day (he still went to school), we sure had fun playing in the snow yesterday afternoon. Did you know there are "snow ninjas" who "pie-ya!" the bad guys (or the huge tree in our front yard)? The snow also transformed us into Ninja Turtles who throw snowballs at the Evil Shredder. (I took video with my camera that I'll edit and post this weekend.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Happy Birthday, Sassafras

Today would have been Allyson's 19th birthday. I've been thinking about her a lot today... remembering her spark, courage, and kindness.

I remember one of her birthdays-- she must have been turning 7 because she was in 1st grade.. I bought her this ridiculous Winnie the Pooh velour dress with matching Pooh tights from the Disney Store. She and I had discovered it on a trip to the mall and she cracked me up with her "ooooh's" and "ahhhh's" over the dress. She pointed out that it would be very warm (even on the playground), that it was very soft (comfort is important!), and that it would be good for "every day" or for "dressing up." Best of all, it was BEAUTIFUL (dark purple and green striped velour with a big, satin-y Pooh head appliqued on the front--- what could be any more beautiful). Of course, as soon as I was able, I returned to the mall to buy it. I think she wore it at least once a week for the rest of that winter.
I remember that the tights, once white with Pooh's face every few inches, had small holes and were grey from afternoons spent playing hard and working at school, but she wouldn't stop wearing them. After all, it was an OUTFIT. It WENT TOGETHER. Eventually, we convinced her to wear other tights, but that dress stayed in her wardrobe rotation for a long time. Typical Allyson--- fashion diva mixed with just enough determination not to give up.