Saturday, December 14, 2013

Reindeer Games

Yesterday, Audrey and I finished the school day with a rousing game of Conquer Mesopotamia, a "board game" in which the person who reaches the finish line (moving squares by rolling a die and doing whatever action is on the square) first, wins.  Some of the squares contain questions that, if answered correctly, allow the player to advance more squares.  Audrey, always looking for an angle to position herself for a win, asked for extra questions any time she fell behind.  I was happy to comply, asking questions such as: "Nebuchadnezzar's beautiful wife wants to return home to Persia.  What does he build for her?"

Answer: According to Audrey, it's the Hovering Gardens of Babylon.  I let her move ahead two squares.  After all, you know at least one of the poor sods forced to build that wonder felt like those gardens would never stop hovering over him. 

Audrey won by three squares - not that any seven-year-olds were counting.

After school, we moved onto a little culinary project - chocolate-covered reindeer for Audrey's Girl Scout Christmas party.  I stole the idea from the December issue of EveryDay with Rachael Ray.  Ours didn't turn out as shiny bright as Rachael's reindeer.  Ours looked a little like distant cousins of hers - the offspring of those that wed illegally.  (Pay attention to that one in the rainbow sunglasses, he'll be important later.) 

I set up the project "pieces" (pretzels, red hots, marshmallows, sucker sticks, and sunglasses that Audrey had traced and colored - found online at on princess paper dolls) and melted the chocolate.  Then I got out of the way.  (If a hovering mother were that great, they would have made her the eighth wonder of the world.)  We ran into one little hiccup: how to store the marshmallows while they were setting.  Florist friends would have probably had something awesome on hand to solve the problem.  We had a teacup, dental floss, and scotch tape.  It wasn't perfect, but neither was Rudolph. 

Audrey got down to business, humming "Deck the Halls" and decking marshmallows with antlers and sunglasses.  Remember that guy in the rainbow shades?  That's her Sistine Chapel.  Let's call him Liberace, shall we?  She became very particular when it came to Mr. Rainbow Shades.  She found out which plastic bag Liberace had been assigned and scrawled her name across it (you can just make out the last few letters of her middle name in the picture above, just in case her first name wasn't sufficient).  She may have made the reindeer to share with her Girl Scout friends, but no one was getting their hands on Rainbow Shades but her.  After all, that's what Girl Scouts is all about: leaving the world a better place, and marking your territory (we might be a little shaky on the pledge).

As for me, I had a little love affair with this guy.  Oh, those upside-down antlers.  Sigh. 

Audrey reunited with Liberace at the Girl Scout party and all was bliss.  I accidentally took my scissors to one of the bags while trying to curl the green ribbons.  Which just goes to show you ladies: don't get too fancy with your packaging, or you just might lose your bag. Or patch it with scotch tape.  Your choice. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

He Told Me He's The Elf on The Shelf

He may also need a haircut.

And now, an excerpt from the boys' bath time last week:

The boys practice swimming while taking their baths, switching from "floating" on their backs to sliding the length of the tub on their stomachs.  They had flipped over onto their backs.  Jack looked at Nathan's nipple and pointed.  "Is that your belly button?"

"No.  I only have one of those.  These are my dots."

And now, a few stories found scribbled on a pink sheet of computer paper stashed in a kitchen drawer.  I can't tell you when these stories actually occurred, but the paper I found them on has a note scrawled across the top instructing me to "figure out a plan" before October 8th (with an exclamation point, two to be precise).  So without further ado, stories presumably from September (but more likely from the first week of October scribbled by a frantic mama without a plan):

Jason went to check on Nathan one night before heading to bed.  He put his hand on Nathan's back.  A drowsy voice issued from the pillow, "Is that God?"

"No, just Daddy."

"Just Daddy," said Nathan, eyes still closed. 

An explanation by Nathan to Jack regarding rabbits:

"And they eat carrots, which are so easy to make because they're already made."

An explanation by Audrey to Nathan* as we passed a cemetery in the car:

"See those stones?  There are dead people under there."

*An now an explanation from Mama about the use of the name Nathan.  The really observant among you who had their morning coffee, an early morning jog, and the blessing of all synapses firing rapidly may have noticed that Nathan was not referred to as Nate in this post.  Not a single time.  Some of you with slow Fridays and twiddling fingers might even be asking yourselves why.  Do not fear: I will tell you.  In October, Nathan informed us that he doesn't like the name Nate.  He only wants to be called Nathan.  I asked how he felt about Bear, a nickname his father has used since Nathan was crawling. 

"I like Bear.  But bears are a little dangerous.  Bears hunt, so if a bear is coming after you, he's probably going to kill you." 

Which is a little Friday wisdom we could all use.  Do not refer to Nathan as Nate, and if you see a bear coming towards you, you might want to high-tail it out of the way.  He's probably going to kill you.  You're welcome. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

While Daddy's Away

Sometimes, you have an inkling that you might be loved.  Love follows you like a shadow too shy to tap you on the shoulder, but you can feel the warm fog against your neck.  Other times, you know you're loved.  You know, because while you travel to the UK, your children create "Fake Jason" and carry him around.  Everywhere.  For FOUR days.  Until, Fake Jason's head mysteriously becomes severed from his body and is mourned (before being replaced by a much freakishly-smaller head).  Fake Jason eats dinner with the family (where he gets fed and asked questions about his day), later he is moved to the desk by the computer or spread out across the couch to enjoy some television.  Finally, I find Fake Jason camped out on my bed.  "Don't forget to cover him with a sheet!" my daughter yells on her way to her room. 

I dash off a text to Basingstoke with a picture of Fake Jason attached, "You better make it home in one piece. I don't think I can take 12 years of this."  Sometimes, love smothers those left behind.

Luckily, for us, the time away is never long and each time we find a way to mingle our respective time zones and fit in a daily phone call or two, even if only for five minutes.  But we've found the easiest way to slip ourselves into each others' days is through texts.  This time, Audrey wanted in on the action.  Since she doesn't have a cell phone of her own, I got to eavesdrop.  A little sampling (typed as written):


How are you  I miss you  I move the man I look like you.  When I was writing to you the fake man was sitting at the table after lunch.some times he is playing the race game.i put him to is UK warm or cold. From Audrey with love hope hoping you are happy.


UK is cold like home.  Did mommy like today's surprise?

(A brief interlude to explain: before he left, Audrey asked Jason to take her and Nathan on a shopping spree to buy me some gifts that would make my week go a little more smoothly.  The gifts included things like bagels for breakfast, a gift card to eat out one night, and - on this particular day - a couple magazines for my reading enjoyment.  I'm not in on the joke below, unless Rachel Ray and the makers of Family Circle are my heroes.)


Mom said she likes her gifts the hero magazines   Ha ha.she thinks the other presents are heroes to though maybe she would say it a different way.we put up the lights out side the boys found interest in zanes little play house I'd some times join them while I rote the phone rang I think it was for moms dentist appointment I had to run the phone to mom.i lost the fake mans face what good is a man with no face.we made a decoration out of cranberries love love love you love Audrey with. love love.


Thanks Audrey that was a great summary!  I agree that fake men are less useful without faces. 

We're glad Jason is home and closer than a text away this week.  Maybe, just maybe, I'm equally glad that Fake Jason's first (relocated) and second heads have been properly recycled and are no longer resting on a pillow beside yours truly.