Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why I'm Crazy (Alternatively Titled, A Ride in the Car with My Children)

Sorry for the sideways orientation - this was from my phone and I have no idea how to fix it. Also, I know this is long but there are gems sprinkled throughout (including a terrific shot to the face at about the 5:01 mark...).

Friday, December 17, 2010

Apology Accepted

A month or so ago, I opened the Time Warner bill to find about $30 in pay-per-view movies listed. I pop for an On Demand movie from time to time but none of these were "Hot Tub Time Machine" (don't judge). The list looked a bit more like "Pokemon 4, Pokemon 4, Pokemon 4, Pokemon 4 and Pokemon 4".

There was really only one likely suspect. My nine-year-old. Who promptly confessed. And got a good talking-to.

The next morning, I found this note on my bedside table:

With a single cherry Mike & Ike lying on top of the paper.

The boy knows the surefire way to my heart.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Be Aggressive. B-E Aggressive. A-G-G...

This kid.

Something happened to her between spring soccer and fall soccer. Her intensity increased by about 110%. Which is to say, it was non-existent before and now, well, she can sure turn it on when she feels like it.

In the spring, she was the kid who ran up and down the field and, if the ball came near, she took a swipe at it. Maybe.

And now. This (she's the one in the royal blue).

She throws a mean elbow.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Our Heroes

My oldest needed a photo of a military veteran to whom he is related for a school music project called "Our Heroes" this week. I was able to quickly put my hands on the photo I wanted (big thanks to my aunt).

My grandpa.

As an unexpected treat, she sent along these two as well:

I can see my white-haired, rotund grandpa in the face of that young sailor. And I know that the story of this day, the day in the photos, is still probably fresh in his mind. And the days that followed as he boarded a ship at the end of the war.

And I wish that I had been smart enough to ask him about those days when his mouth and tongue and voice could still form the words to share those stories without stumbling, slow, frustrating effort.

How is it that three photos can make me smile, make my heart swell with happiness, make me mad, bring a lump to my throat and make tears pool in the corner of my eyes? All at once?

Love you, Grandpa. You will be G's hero.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Things That Don't Flush Well

May flush closed (only if an original round Bakugan). Will generally not flush while open.

May eventually flush over time. Except when deposited in conjunction with the aforementioned Bakugan.

Will never, ever, ever flush if the shaving cream is flushed while still in the can. If travel-sized, however, the can will travel far enough up the toilet innards to necessitate the removal of the stool from the water supply and drain in order to retrieve.

Not sure about every Sonic Sea Tot, but the Orca is definitely not flushable.

Big thanks and shout out to my 3 1/2 year old twin boys for this educational plumbing-related post.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Freshening Up

When we bought our house almost four years ago, I was six months pregnant with our twin boys. We closed on the house in September and did a few months work to it before moving in at the beginning of December. The boys were born at the beginning of January.

Before they were born, we had the whole interior of the house painted including cabinets and some trimwork. We had carpet replaced with hardwood floors. We changed light fixtures. We pulled carpet from kids' bathrooms and put down tile. Tons of progress.

After the babies were born, we did just a bit more work to the house - the biggest effort was replacing all of the front landscaping. The previous design was a mish-mosh of poorly placed shrubs and not-thought-out plantings. Trees were removed. Beds were made larger and replanted.

We didn't take out one bothersome tree at the time - and that finally happened today. I gave J the green light and he wasted no time.

It was a pretty tree - but it totally blocked the front of the house and the door. Drove us nuts.

Don't miss the Miller Lite sweatband he sported for the project. Disturbing.

And, after.

The beds, despite being just three years old, have been horribly neglected by me. Four kids, your own business and a total lack of organization will do that to you. My new resolution is to take a renewed interest in reviving the beds. The perennials that originally populated the design have been a mixed bag - some took off like wildfire (a little TOO well), others were eaten by bunnies, while still others languished and never quite staked their claim.

Recommendations for hardy perennials that won't take over the bed are welcome...

Monday, July 12, 2010

I Could Have Started This One...

I hear through the grapevine (Twitter) that this new blog just got a book deal.


I totally could have created this one, using only my twins as subjects.

I give you: Shit My Kids Ruined

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

She is Me

My daughter can get under my skin like no other. And I am slowly realizing that is due to the fact that she is very, very much me.

Now, she certainly has some traits that are NOT me - like the class-clown, ham-it-up-at-all-moments behavior. That is NOT me. That is her dad, for sure.

But the rest of it? Me.

Ears like radar. Me.
Need to constantly use the ears to listen to conversations that don't necessarily involve her. Me.
General bossy-ness. Me.
Precocious personality. Me.
Talks a bit too much when she's comfortable with someone. Me.

The newest development, though, is something that warms my heart. And excites me. I can't wait to see where this goes.

She has fallen in love with books and reading and history. She can't get enough. Her weekly library ration of five or six chapter books lasts only a few days. She constantly tells me random historical facts, gleaned from the latest Magic Tree House book or from one of her brother's infinite non-fiction choices.

She's desperate to travel and see some of the things she's been reading about - dying to go to Washington DC and Boston. And I'm dying to take her and share my love for those places with her.

I discovered this little drawing on my desk this morning. It makes me smile. I need to go snuggle with that kid...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Damnedest Thing

Remember the scooter from last week?

Well, this is what happened last night in my driveway when I was at a business dinner.

He's three, y'all. Not almost four. Not even three-and-a-half yet. He still wears a pull-up at night. (And please forgive the no-shoes, no-helmet look - it was Dad and no one truly thought he was going to ride for real...)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Scooting is Serious

My youngest child is athletically gifted. I know he's only three - and we don't put any pressure on him to any do of this - but the kid can throw a ball, swing a bat, swing a golf club, dribble a basketball, and dribble a soccer ball like nobody's business. My husband and I frequently see him do something and then just look at each other in silent amazement.

Enter the Razor scooter.

The three-year-olds received darling three-wheeled, beginner scooters for their birthday in January. They spent all winter whizzing around the house in them. It was fun.

Come spring, we moved the three-wheelers outside. But H abandoned his quickly in favor of his older siblings' two-wheeled Razors. Way cooler, I guess.

After about a month of dedication, this kid can now balance perfectly on the two-wheeled scooter.

He is a force to be reckoned with.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I Spy from My Office Window

My kids love to play in our driveway and on our sidewalk - and I am very lucky that:

1. They are very good about staying out of the street.
2. We live at the bottom of a culdesac at the end of a fairly long subdivision street. (Very, very few cars make it all the way down this far...)
and 3. My office window has full view of all the goings-on in our driveway, on our sidewalk and in the culdesac (and is two steps away from the front door from which I can speak, yell, run, etc. as necessary).

So, I do let my kids - big and little - play out there while I get some work done in my office from time to time.

And this? This is what I saw when I looked out this afternoon.

Fishing the culdesac. And they were pulling in some whoppers too.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

First Communion: Take 1

My oldest child had his First Communion last weekend. It was rather anti-climactic - especially after they were able to taste unconsecrated bread and wine the week before (so there would be no gagging faces at the altar on Sunday).

He specifically requested a bowtie - and so he wore a bowtie. I even learned how to tie it. Thank you, YouTube...

Not much of a story to tell (much less entertaining than his First Confession) but I'll share my favorite picture from the entire day.

Our parish is overwhelmingly Hispanic. When I taught 1st grade CCD last year, the kids were named Tino, Isabel, Alicia (pronounced A-LEE-see-uh), Angelina, Yessenia, Oscar, Diego, etc. And Hispanic mothers and daughters really like First Communion (much like the Italian mothers and daughters in the town where I grew up). The dresses, veils, gloves, tiaras and satin purses were over-the-top. And many of the little boys were in head-to-toe white suits, white shirts, white shoes.

So, my little Irishman looked a bit out of place. Behold:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Micro Funny Kids

It dawns on me that much of what I used to write here now goes to Twitter. In 140 character snippets. Things that make me laugh but don't quite seem worthy of an entire blog post.

But I started this blog primarily as a way to record the things my kids do that give me the giggles. I don't want to lose those one-liners in the ether of Twitter (although the Library of Congress is now apparently archiving tweets - I probably won't consult the LoC in the future in a fit of nostalgia).

So, I dug back through some tweets and curated a few that still made laugh. If you're on Twitter, I'm @kbmckinney.

  • Just watched my 8YO play Minuet in G from memory at piano recital. (Not showing off, he forgot his sheet music. Par for the course.) So cool
  • Wonder what my 3YO was thinking while rubbing applesauce through his hair. Of course, I didnt notice til it was dry. Bestmomever...
  • The bright side of a KU loss? My husband cleans house when he's mad/upset. Vacuuming has commenced! Yay for my house!
  • What is the etiquette when one's 3YO loudly asks "WHAT'S THAT SMELL, MOMMY?!" in the presence of furniture delivery guy with bad B.O.?
  • Just had to tell one of my 3YOs that he is not allowed to give granola bars to the next-door neighbor's dog. Much to the dog's chagrin.
  • One of my 3YO twins wore safety goggles to my 8YO's awards assembly this a.m. We're fostering creativity, right?
  • Times I hate living in house backing to woods: 11pm when animal is screaming while likely being attacked by coyote or bobcat in said woods..
  • Kid #3 is now wearing winter boots b/c I can't find his sneakers. Prob have to go to Target to buy some now. Does this mean I'm unorganized?
  • Excuse me while I go tell my 8YO to turn down the Weezer and go to sleep. I'll be right back after the smackdown...
  • Yes, I did just use crow bars to take a manhole cover off our storm sewer to retrieve my 3YOs shirt. He threw it down there. #IAmWoman...
  • Just got to oldest son's after-school class. Realized when we got out of car that one of the 3YOs has no shoes on. #momfail
  • My youngest just came to me in tears and said, "I don't WANT to go to high school!" He's 3.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

And I Cried.

My first child had a little issue with haircuts as a small person. He was banned from Great Clips at age 2 1/2. The whole thing kinda freaked him out. Tears, snot, screaming, squirming.

It's all good now. He sorta even likes getting his hair did now.

My little guys have had several haircuts over their three years. And, other than the first one or two (which occurred on my bathroom counter with me on the shears), they've had them done at the local children's hair salon. The one with race car seats and buckets of DumDums. Because there's nothing better than a sticky sucker coated with bits of hair. Mmmmm.

My husband has been chomping at the bit to buzz the babies' hair (and, yes, they're still my "babies"). C had a nice floppy, bowl-ish look going. H had...well, he had a mess of hair. Thin but wild.

Hello, floppy.

Hello, wild.

I pushed him off for months but finally relented and said that he could buzz them for summer. Summer came early this weekend because they really needed cuts and I couldn't rationalize going to spend $30 on cuts now, when they were going to be buzzed in a month.

So, my boys lost their hair this weekend. And I cried. No sobs. But definitely tears.

They're suddenly not my "babies" anymore...sigh. (And we've sufficiently annoyed my mom - who hates the buzz cuts with every fiber of her being. Hi mom!)

(To explain the pics, my husband takes the boys on the deck with clippers. Less mess. Incredibly white t.)

Getting used to the clippers.

And, scalped.

This moment brought to you by my deck. I love my backyard in the spring. 'Cept for the pollen.

More clipper-getting-used-to action.

Good god, that was a lot of very fine hair. (And yes, his pants and shirt are on backwards. He is very much a "I do it myself" kid.)

This is his camera smile. He clearly needs Tyra Banks' help.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

What Happens When Boys Have Big Sisters

The scene in my front yard this afternoon:

Lest you think he was actually relaxing, beneath his head was - not a pillow but - a large rock from the neighbor's landscaping.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Things Pulled From Toilets In My House Last Weekend

1. Two Bakugan - one open, one closed (who knows how many others actually made it to the sewer line)
2. One bar of Ivory soap
3. Lid of one travel-sized container of solid deodorant
4. One travel-sized can of Gillette shaving cream. A CAN of shaving cream.

That last one? Required the draining and removal of the stool from the water source and drain hole in order to remove. Gross.

I'll give you two guesses as to how those things got flushed:

Monday, March 8, 2010


My 7YO was getting ready for school today when I asked her to hurry up and find her shoes. She had gym today, so my request was specifically for sneakers.

She turned and asked me if it okay if she wore her Converse. The Converse were her go-to sneaker over the summer and at the beginning of the school year but quickly became kind of a pain to get on and off (and were also filthy). So, I said, "No, just put on your adidas."

And then, she told me the following:

"Well, the shoelaces were fraying and kind of broken so I threw them away."

"Oh, that's okay," I said, "Wear your Converse today and I'll get new laces for the adidas at Target."

"But I threw them away."

"Your SHOES?!"



"Last week." (i.e., before last Friday when the trash was picked up)

So, my kid threw out a perfectly good pair of running shoes because the shoe laces were frayed. And didn't tell me until it was too late.

I don't even know what else to say about that. I just don't know what to say. I'm a little peeved.

The Problem with Pronouns

My three-year-olds are starting to put all the pieces of the language puzzle together. Often, with humorous results. The latest? Two different problems with pronouns.

"DON'T TOUCH MY COMPUTER!" Probably a command I bark at least once a day. It has come to my attention though that, in their attempts to maneuver the perilous roads of English grammar, my little boys don't entirely understand possessive pronouns.

Now we hear things like "That's Daddy's mycomputer" and "Where's Mommy's mycomputer?"

When I throw on an old t-shirt bearing the name of the college bar my husband worked at back in the day (shut up, you still have college t-shirts in your drawers too), one of my three-year-olds says, "Look! It's your mycomputer!"

Here's the logo:

Contrary to toddler belief, it's not a computer monitor.

It's a stylized depiction of this:

A beer schooner.

Believe me, my husband didn't hang out at a lot of places with computers in college.

And the second pronoun story?

When speaking, I never use the colloquially-used brand name for the paper product used to wipe or blow one's nose. No "Kleenex" for me. Not sure why. (I do use the product Kleenex. Only if they have the most attractive or least unattractive boxes though.)

Little H had a runny nose last week. So, all day long, I told him to "go get a tissue!"

We were waiting for G to come out of an after-school class last Wednesday when H walked up to me and said, "Mom, I need a tish-me."

Tissue. Tish-you. Tish-me. I can't get him to stop saying it. It just makes sense to him. And, I guess I can see how it does. Kind of like mycomputer.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Clue #1 That I Need to Wash My Car

I got out of my (very dirty) SUV on Sunday morning to fill the gas tank. And I discovered the above-pictured artwork on my gas cap cover. I laughed out loud.

And the coolest thing about my new custom look? I knew exactly which of my three-year-olds did it. He has a very distinct "happy face" technique. And this is it.

I showed him the picture and asked him if he did it. "YES! I did it for YOU!"

I love that kid.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Roller Rink

Back in the day (for the uninitiated, "the day" was circa 1981/1982 for purposes of this post), I was known to attend the school skating parties at my local roller skating rink. Which one of my elementary school friends on Facebook so helpfully pointed out was The Great American Skate on the Berlin Turnpike in Connecticut (was it in Berlin or Newington?).

I can still see that rink in my mind's eye. Everything about it. It wasn't in our town so we didn't hang out there per se - just birthday parties and the occasional school skate. But I remember it with excitement. A purely social co-ed activity when there were few others. Fifth and sixth grades were the height of roller rink excitement for me. (Which coincided with the general discovery of boys as cute, giggle-inducing entertainment.)

My big kids are first and second graders. Their school has a few after-school skates every year - but we've never attended. Until this month.

On a whim, I decided that we'd brave the rink. With the three-year-olds. I didn't tell them until I picked them up from school. We drove from school to Skate City*. They were very pleased.

Let's just say the rink doesn't hold the same cache at 38 as it did at 11. But all four kids had a ball. Two skated and fell and skated and fell and generally enjoyed themselves. One skated about 15 feet and quit but looked ridiculously cute doing it. The other refused to even put on the skates but quite enjoyed the arcade, even without any quarters.

We'll be back. And because I have the smaller ones who will eventually skate, I might actually get to stay and watch the older ones when they reach that obnoxious flirty fifth grade phase that I still remember so well. It's gonna be awesome.

*for those readers in Kansas City, Skate City is the old Skateland South at 103rd & 69 Highway.

Friday, February 12, 2010


In honor of Valentine's Day (a holiday, I am convinced, was created to make mothers of elementary schoolers crazy), a few things I love:

  • my baby's wild hair and strong chin
  • the way my other baby winks
  • my girl's enormous eyes
  • my oldest son's labrador-thick hair and crazy big-boy-teeth
  • my husband
  • Coke
  • the smell of hazelnut coffee
  • chocolate Necco wafers
  • roasted garlic hummus
  • sushi
  • history museums
  • movies made from Jane Austen novels
  • And bad reality TV
Have a love-ly weekend.

Friday, February 5, 2010

How the World Has Changed

For most of the summer of 1988, I was in the Netherlands, living with a Dutch family. It was some kind of exchange program - I can't even remember the organization that arranged the trip. It was the summer between my junior and senior years of high school.

Fast forward 22 years, my sister announced that she has a job interview in the Netherlands later this month and asked, via Facebook, if anyone had any Dutch language CDs she could borrow. I didn't but I did have my trusty Berlitz Dutch for Travellers still packed in a box in the basement. So, I dug it out to send.

Published in 1980, it was kind of old by the time I bought it in '88. But, I figured, it's not like the language has changed. So, big deal.

And then I leafed through the book.

Page 22 revealed the first major change. Marked "Arrival", it starts with the helpful phrase "Here is my passport" (or "Hier is mijn paspoort"). Things get a little dicey further down the page though.

In the subsection about customs, it says "As at almost all major airports in Europe, an honour system for clearing customs has been adoped at Amsterdam-Schiphol airport. Baggage is often not even opened, although spots checks are a possibility." I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that procedure has probably changed. Just a bit.

Conveniently, the book (not a dictionary, mind you - just helpful words and phrases for tourists) also contains the words for milliner, typewriter ribbon, carbon paper, cassette tape, record player stylus, film negatives and flash bulbs.

The section about money is all about the gulden or guilder - no Euros here...

There is also a section about the post office, mailing letters, sending telegrams and asking the whereabouts of a phone booth. There is no section about the internet, wifi or international mobile phone usage.

So, for what it's worth, I'll be popping the book in the mail to Cara tomorrow. Here's hoping she doesn't have to break out the phrase "Ik wil het graag laten wassen en watergolven."

'Cause that'll mean she went retro for her interview and asked for a shampoo and set at the beauty parlor...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

First Confession (or Reconciliation as the Kids Call It These Days)

This is my church.

I was married here. My children were baptized here. I taught CCD (religion classes) here last year to first graders. A lot of lovely memories.

Tonight, we made a new one.

G made his first confession this evening. Officially called "First Reconciliation", this is an 8-year-old's first chance to say "Bless me Father for I have sinned..." and later rattle off the freshly-memorized Act of Contrition before bolting the confessional. Oh, and to be absolved his sins.

He had three choices of confessional priest tonight. Two sat in chairs in far-off niches of the church and took confessions face-to-face (or really shoulder-to-shoulder so the kids wouldn't have to actually confess their heinous second-grade sins while looking a priest in the eye). One sat in a traditional screened confessional behind the red velvet curtains.

(Not our church but the confessional looks basically like this one.)

G picked Priest #3 behind the curtains. Of course.

For those of you who have never been to Catholic confession (or have never seen of the hundreds of movies that depict confession), the old-fashioned way of confession looks something like this:

(Though generally without the pillbox hat.)

He waited in line. And was nervous. I told him that Father Bob was super nice and he had nothing to worry about. He knew his lines backwards and forwards.

Finally, he disappeared behind the curtain. Now, above our confessionals on the wall are two tiny lights - if either is lit, that confessional is occupied. Not sure how it's triggered but my guess is that the kneeler (the padded low bench at the floor) has something to do with it. So, I took a spot in a nearby pew and proceeded to watch that little light flicker on and off and on and off and on and off as my kid fidgeted his way through his first confession. (It's supposed to glow a steady light. As most people don't wiggle while confessing.)

And then he was finished. He found me in the pews. I asked him his penance - one Our Father and one Hail Mary. "That's it?" "Yep." "You must not have had many sins to confess. That's a light penance." "Yep." He knelt and said his prayers.

We then had a few minutes to quietly chat while the other kids finished up. I asked him how it went. "Great," he said. He wouldn't tell me what sins he planned to confess before we went - so I tried again.

"What sins did you tell Father about?"

"Ummm, I told him about not listening in class because I was reading something because I really, really like reading. But the not listening wasn't good."


"And I told him about that time that I diarhhea'd but didn't flush the toilet because I was really afraid I was going to clog the toilet."


"And that's it."

"You told him WHAT?"

"About that time that, you know, when I didn't flush because I was scared the toilet would clog."

And, so, gentle readers - that is how Father Bob won the "Best Confession of the Night" contest when he got back to the rectory. Poop.

Best. Confession. Ever.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rock Chalk

Gotta love it! (Now if I can just get them to learn the Notre Dame fight song...)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Maybe I'm Just Slap Happy

My children have been at home, with me, in my presence, every day since December 18th (except this past Tuesday, which was the worst kind of tease). It is now January 8th.

Everything - school, sports, lessons - canceled "due to extreme weather conditions". I'm going a teensy bit insane.

Which may explain why I find this so funny.

Call the Nestle Crunch Hot line at 1-800-295-0051. When you are asked if you want to continue in English or Spanish, just wait quietly for about 10 seconds and you will smile. Promise! Keep going and press 4. Listen to the options, then press 7 (then press 9 and go back to hear others).

Seriously. Do it. And then tell me what you think!