Wednesday, February 28, 2007

MorMor is Back!

We got home from Atlanta at 11pm on Monday night. We were all drained from the trip, and Braydon had a bit of a flu bug (which I now have too). The refrigerator was empty. I had not even the faintest of a plan for meals for the week. And there's a lot going on with work right now for both Braydon and I. But... not to worry!!!... MorMor is Back!!!!!! :) She arrived yesterday afternoon with a car full of groceries and a heart full of energy. God, what would I do without my mother? I feel so fortunate, so blessed, and so so so grateful for her in our lives. And of course the boys are in HEAVEN when she is here. And putting this all over the edge -- putting us all on Cloud 900 -- my dad arrives tonight! We get to have MorMor and MorFar with us until Sunday morning. It feels blissful.

More Photos from Atlanta

Owen with Sea Otters at the Georgia Aquarium

Kyle with Grandpa Robert on the Front Porch

Owen with Red Flowers

Atlanta Trip - Part I

We went to Atlanta for a 3 day whirlwind trip to visit Grandpa Robert and Carol. We had so much fun!!! Robert & Carol have a new house now -- right on Lake Lanier -- and it was a fabulous place for our little mini family vacation! And Carol went all out with the special food and drink purchases for all of us. We had so many treats while were were there! We travel quite a bit with the K & O (well, at least quite a bit for a family of four with twin two year old boys!), and they really really love the whole entire process -- especially going "on a big airplane" (Owen) "up in the sky!" (Kyle). That is definately always a trip hightlight for K & O. Other highlights of this trip were throwing rocks in the lake; going on the "motorboat" (Robert & Carol's pontoon boat) in the pouring rain Sunday morning, and then again in the beautiful sunshine Sunday afternoon; a ride in Grandpa Robert's golfcart!; the hot-tub!; the new bikes Robert & Carol gave the boys; and K & O's favorite new discovery -- Strawberry Spritzer! Best of all we all got some good family bonding in. And Robert and Carol, Kyle and Owen really got to know each other well. It really was a great, great trip!

Atlanta Trip - Part II

On Monday we went to the Georgia Aquarium. What an amazing place! It is the largest aquarium in the world! The boys absolutely loved it! After the day at the aquarium we headed home "in the big airplane" (Owen), "up in the sky!" (Kyle). We got home super late, and we were all exhausted, but the boys are such incredibly good travelers. And we had a really fantastic trip!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Friday, February 23, 2007

Top Ten: What K & O Are Listening To Right Now

Kyle and Owen listen to lots of different kinds of music. Last spring they were really into Hugh Masekela, then Herbie Hancock, and then The Black Eyed Peas. This past summer their favorite was The Dixie Chicks. And this past fall they got heavy into Rhapsody in Blue. Then Alicia Keys. And of course we went through a huge Laurie Berkner Band phase. And then at Christmas it was The Messiah/The Hallelujah Chorus. Much to my delight, they have always requested Amy Grant here-and-there throughout all of their musical phases and stages. ;) Here are their top ten favorites right now~
1. Wynton Marsalis: Classic Wynton
2. Sugarland: Twice the Speed of Life

3. American Festival, Conducted by Lukas Foss, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (specifically, they love this recording of Bernstein's Overture to Candide)

4. Paul Simon's Concert in the Park

5. Sweet Honey in the Rock: I Got Shoes

6. John Legend: Once Again

7. Putumayo Presents: French Caribbean

8. Nuttin' But Stringz: Struggle from the Subway to the Charts

9. George Winston: December (Owen listens to this as he's falling asleep)
10. Lullaby: A Collection (Kyle listens to this as he's falling asleep)

New T-Shirts, Part II

Last Tuesday Braydon posted about the Diego and Thomas t-shirts I had bought for the boys (click here for that post). He ended his story about the shirts with this -- "However, all is not settled. When I was putting Owen to bed, he whispered to me: 'Papi, I want Diego shirt.'" For Braydon to end his post by saying, "All is not settled" was putting it mildly. Owen was in uttermost dispair over this whole thing. Seriously. His poor little heart was broken over this. What had started as a quick fun t-shirt purchase had seemingly turned into some sort of dramatic saga. What's a mom to do? As I saw it, here were my best options:

  1. Give the t-shirts away to the Goodwill, pretend the entire thing never happened, and just hope that the boys forget about the Diego shirt. {At first this seemed reasonable -- the t-shirts were, afterall, on sale for $3 each at the Toys R Us. However, I felt pretty sure that Kyle was not going to forget about that Diego shirt... which was confirmed since he asked to wear it again the next day... and the next, and the next, and the next.}
  2. Let Owen wear the Diego shirt, knowing full well this would just kill Kyle. {But, I had already told Kyle the Diego shirt was his shirt. And I'd just hate to not keep my word with something as monumentally huge as this Diego shirt was in his mind.}
  3. Let Kyle keep wearing the shirt and just force Owen to suffer through it. Perhaps this could be a "teachable moment"??? -- maybe Owen needs to learn that you can't always get want you want, life is not fair, stuff happens that just stinks sometimes, etc., etc., etc. Maybe he just has to learn to suffer through his jealousy and learn to live with it?? Maybe this is just one of those hard things about being twins that he's gotta learn to cope with??? {Ugh, this just didn't feel right. Yes, they are spoiled. But no, they aren't rotten -- at least not yet. Surely, someday soon I'm going to have to stop spoiling them like I do. But why do I have to start now????????? Note: please don't actually answer that question. I don't really want to know anybody's thoughts on that.}
  4. Buy another Diego shirt. {This seemed like by far the best option.}

O.k., so buy another shirt. I thought of going back to that Toys R Us -- but then remembered that there was only one of those darn Diego t-shirts in their size -- the one I had bought for Kyle. So, I did what I'd like to think many mothers in my specific situation would do (perhaps I'm in a totally delusionary state here -- please I ask you to not start sending me anonymous blogger hate mail telling me how wrong I am about this -- I'd like to remain in a delusionary state about this)... So, I began scouring the internet. You'd think it would be super easy to find a Diego t-shirt in size 4T, right?? I mean, Diego is, afterall one of the most popular toddler branding phenomenons out there right now, right?? Just a couple clicks and my credit card number, right?? Heck no. The thing is, there were particulars that needed to be in place for this purchase: it had to be a short sleeved t-shirt, preferably not in orange, the image of Diego had to be on the shirt, and... here's the real kicker: "Baby Jaguar" also had to be on the shirt. I spent far too long surfing the web... But in the end... I found it! I had it express shipped. It arrived a couple days ago. Braydon got it washed. And ta-da!!! The boys got to wear their Diego shirts! You would have thought they had died and gone to heaven (both of 'em -- Kyle included). So now, after $27 (ah! the irony! remember, the original shirt was on the clearance rack for $3), I end this post with the following -- which at least for the time being is a 100% accurate description of reality here in the Johnson-McCormick homestead. No motherly delusions or anything:

All is settled.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

"I want mommy"

While indeed we go through phases in a variety of things, one of the constants over the last few months has been the following phrase: "I want mommy".

This combination of words is uttered, shouted, cried and stated on a daily basis by both boys. It happens when it's time to get dressed, time to get undressed, get diapers changed, get shoes on, take coats off, go upstairs (and be carried), go downstairs, buckle the car seat, or sit next to at the dinner table/restaurant/event-of-choice.

It even goes to the extent of: "No, I can't want Papi, I want mommy." Naturally this is not easy for me, and it definitely gets to me sometimes. However, I remind myself that they are 2, Heather is an unbelievable mother and I am a man (and all the gender training that unfortunately comes with that). So I grin and bear it. Mostly grin thank goodness.

Tonight Kyle took it to the next level: "No, I can't want Papi, I want mommy. I need another mommy."

Then he paused and said: "I need to go to the store to get another mommy." Heather and I tried to keep from laughing asked him which store he would go to to get another mommy. To which he replied:

"I can't get another mommy, I only have one mommy."

And that, just makes me melt.

Kyle plays the trumpet-horn

This past New Year's eve we went to Morristown NJ for first night and had a great time. There were street vendors galore and one of them was selling noisemakers in the form of 2 foot long plastic trumpet-horns. Of course we had to get two, but they proved too difficult to actually do - you had to really do it like a trumpet. Owen had a little luck, but not a lot.

The next week, Owen really got a handle on how to do it and has been trumpeting along as loud as possible. Kyle gave it a one shot, but dropped it and stuck to his other trumpet (the one where you just blow into it and press the keys).

But tonight - Kyle picked it up and nailed it. He was so thrilled and proud of him self - it was a beautiful thing to see. Maybe not hear, but see. And he loved to see him self playing and marching in the reflection in the window (since it's dark out).

He does things a bit different that Owen. Either, he works at it and works at it and works at it and masters it - and then has to challenge himself by trying tricky things to make it more difficult. Or, he waits and waits and waits, and then just does it on the first try.

Now, knowing him, since he can "play" this trumpet, he'll try to figure out how to make is play a tune (it only plays one note). Or he'll do it while standing upside down, or jumping off the bed, or something.

Love Thursday

Heather & Owen, May 2006

I've decided to participate in the blogosphere's "Love Thursdays." Several of the bloggers whose blogs I enjoy have been doing this for quite some time. I'm finally going to jump on board. At first I thought it was kind of cheesy... but I've come to love it, and appreciate it, and look forward to what people will blog about on "Love Thursdays." If you are unfamiliar with this, then you can go to the original site to learn all about "Love Thursdays" and "Love is All Around" by clicking here. Today is my first installment of my own "Love Thursdays" on our blog.
The photo was taken by Braydon in our villa while we were on vacation in the Turks & Caicos Islands in May. It was the best vacation I've even been on in my life. When this photo was taken we had just returned from a glorious morning at the beach (if you look closely at the photo you can even see some of the sand from Grace Bay Beach on Owen's eyelashes and matted into his dreadlocks). Owen was still in his bathing suit, he was sleepy from a full morning of fun in the sun, and he was so cuddly with his mama. I remember that my baby smelled like sunscreen, he was slightly sticky from salt water, and his dark back was still radiating some of the warm his skin had soaked up from the sun. I experience deep love feelings for both of my boys on a very, very, very regular basis, but I can still remember the deeply profound sense of love I had for my son in the moment that this photo was taken. Looking at the photo brings me right back there. And it is a good place to be.
Happy Love Thursday!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

That Was Then This Is Now

Kyle's Dead-of-Winter Golfing ---
February 2006:

February 2007:

Grocery Store Clerk

Today after I picked the boys up at daycare we went to the grocery store. Braydon and I spent years perfecting our division of labor, and at this point it is pretty much set-in-stone. I do all things food related (planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, etc.), and he does all things cleaning related (managing all house cleaning, doing all laundry, kitty litter, etc.). Given my realm of responsibility, I do about 99.9% of the grocery shopping. And the vast majority of the time I have one or both of the boys with me when I'm doing it (usually both). Our grocery store experiences are always interesting... to say the least. You wouldn't think that something as mundane as grocery shopping would be as downright interesting as it is. But seriously, every single grocery shopping experience produces some story to tell Braydon at dinner later that night.

Sometimes the stories center on how really really bad the boys were -- like the time I gave them a package of goldfish to keep them quiet in the cart and in a split second, when I turned to reach for a package of chicken on the shelf, they poured the goldfish all over the meat section floor, on purpose. Sometimes the stories center on how magnetically, arrestingly, captivatingly adorable the boys were -- like the time they were entranced in their own little world, completely unaware of the attention they were garnering, as they were singing their hearts out "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine" throughout every isle of the entire store. Sometimes the stories center on some hard-to-handle question some other shopper asked -- like the time a lady asked me (quite loudly in front of the boys and several other shoppers), "So, was their real mother on drugs?" Sometimes the stories center on the stares we got, or the smiles we get, or the weird comments, or the nice comments. Sometimes, in fact, the stories tell of some of the deeply profound things that occur when I'm out in public with my special bambinos. Sometimes the stories are probably quite the same as many other parents' stories of their grocery store escapades with their toddlers in tow. Today's story is this:

The boys were so good in the grocery store today. It was actually -- believe it or not! -- downright delightful to go grocery shopping with the two of them. The store was busy with the after-work-crowd, and the lines at the registers were long, and everybody seemed frazzled except for Kyle and Owen. For whatever reason, today they just took it all in stride and were good-as-could-be and cute-as-buttons the entire time. To be honest, I was shocked. I had checked out, had everything in bags, had paid, and I was about to push the cart away from the register. The grocery store clerk -- a mid-20s looking woman -- stopped me. She said, pretty loudly, "Ma'am?!" I thought I had forgotten something and I abruptly stopped my cart and turned back toward her. She said, "I'm sorry, I know it is busy, but I just have to tell you something." Everyone all around was looking at me. I felt myself flush, in nervous anticipation of whatever she was about to say to me. I said, "O.k.?" And she said: "I just have to tell you that I work here all the time, and whenever I see you here I just want to tell you that I think your kids are the absolute cutest kids that come in here -- of everyone I see, I think they are the cutest." Many eyes were on me, just waiting to see how I'd react. I didn't quite know how to react. I said, "Wow?! Thank you. Especially because I know you must see a lot of kids." "I do," she said, "I see a lot of kids." "Wow, thank you," I said. And I sincerely meant it. And then we made our way to the parking lot.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007