Friday, December 30, 2011

DanceCamp Studio

When Adelaide was two years old, she began asking to take ballet lessons.

I, of course, was thrilled.  I spent ages three through eighteen camped out in a dance studio in my spare hours, and now Adelaide, too, could know the thrill of having ugly ballet feet but killer legs.  Joy!

I did a little homework, and found that she could take classes at a studio fifteen miles north, one fifteen miles to the south, or one located two blocks away.  Because I always prefer walking to driving, the Huxley studio became our first choice.  I checked out their website, asked around, and set up an appointment to tour the studio and meet the dance instructor.

And that's where I went a little crazy.

I loved- loved- my former dance teacher, Mrs. Camp.  Naturally, I wanted Adelaide to have what I had growing up, so I started to compile a mental list of all the attributes her new teacher must possess.  After I got to around the thirty-seventh bullet point, even I realized I was starting to sound a leetle bit crazy, so I instead switched to a yes- or no- question format that I could pose to this poor woman when I met her.  The list of questions went something like this:

What kind of exercises would I see in your average class?

How many shows does your studio perform per year?  Would Adelaide be expected to participate in all these?

Around what age do you put girls en pointe?

Is this there some sort of funk or hip hop team she might audition for when she's older, or any sort of elite or advanced team of any type?

Are your recital costumes overly revealing or provocative?

-See?  I started off relatively normal.  But soon, things started to get... not quite so normal.-

What sort of moral code do you possess?  Do you think it's your responsibility to integrate those ethics and morals into your daily life to the extent that it's very obvious to everyone around you, including but not limited to the dancers you are training?

Are you, yourself, an excellent dancer?  Do you demonstrate and go through the exercises and routines with your students?

Do you know how to be silly?

Do you have the extreme tolerance and self control needed to work with groups of hormonal and extremely emotional teenage girls?

Can you yell things like, "Keep your legs together, girls!" when my daughter is leaving the studio when she gets older?

Will you love my daughter unreservedly?

Is there any way you could dye your hair red?

Fortunately, I stopped myself there, and didn't ask a single one of the latter, possibly more inappropriate questions when I finally met Adelaide's new teacher.  Our daughter did end up taking classes there for a year, but elected not to continue at the end of the term.  I was a little relieved;  the studio was nice enough, and I liked her teacher, but it just didn't seem to measure up to my (impossibly high) expectations.

I got to visit my old studio and see Mrs. Camp when we were down South last week.

Would it be a little extrme to move almost seven hours South just so our daughter can take dance classes at a certain studio?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Random Thoughts

The Crislers have spent the past week and a half celebrating Christmas by spending approximately 26 combined hours traveling in the car.  I had fully intended on sitting down in front of our computer and tapping out a post today to try and make up for the blog silence over the past two weeks, but I'm not gonna lie:  I got nothin'.

There's just too much stuff going on in my head right now; I can't seem to separate individual thoughts long enough to try and express any single one in the short story fashion appropriate for this blog.  So instead, I'm going to use this post as a kind of exercise in the hopes that when I'm done, my mind will be a little clearer, and I'll be able to go about my day and be a little more productive.

1.  Today is Derek's birthday.  I really need to hurry up and get his cake frosted/ get the pork loin in the crockpot for the pulled pork sandwiches/ have the kids make something crafty as a cute gift.

2.  Mmmm, pulled pork.    MMMMM, Head Country Barbeque Sauce.

3.  Atticus makes the best camera faces.

"Thank you Jeeeeesus for sugar cookies!"

4.  I got to see so many beloved friends and family over the past couple weeks, including my sister Kelli, who is pregnant and due with her and her husband's first baby at the end of February.  I am super duper excited about this baby, not least of all because I think she's going to be ridiculously cute, and also because I finally get to be the one loving on and squeezing a sweet little baby, then giving it back and going home to get some sleep.

5.  My baby sister Steph is also pregnant and due with her first baby in May.  I'm also excited about this baby, but my feelings are a little different about Steph having a baby.  This is probably due to the fact that Steph is my baby sister.  I remember changing her diapers.  I remember using a warm wet washcloth to clean the gunk off of her over-active-tear-duct-eyes so that she could open them in the morning.  I still call her things like Shteffer Beffer.  She can't have a baby; she's still a baby herself.  Except that she's married and out on her own and actually a legal adult.  A baby adult.

6.  The kiddos got Lincoln Logs for Christmas.

Derek's been having a great time building old-timey forts.  

7.  I wonder what manna tastes like?  
Head Country Barbeque Sauce?  Perhaps.

8.  I had my first vision-darkling, roaring-in-my-ears brush with claustrophia while stuck in an elevator with a friend in downtown Wichita.  I think I'll be taking the stairs from now on.

9.  I love Table Rock Lake.

10.  Mitt Romney and I are on a first-name basis.  He calls me Kristy.  I call him Mitt.  

No, really.  There were several messages on the answering machine when we got home, and in them he referred to me as, "Kristy."  As a result, when I answered the phone last night, instead of my standard, "Hello?" I said, "Hi, Mitt!"  It wasn't actually Mitt calling that time, but his Des Moines campaign manager.  I'm sure all this attention has nothing to do with the fact that I live in Iowa and there's a little thing called the Iowa caucus coming up.  I will say, however, that one of the messages actually sounded like Mitt talking, not just a recording.  He sounded tired.  It kind of made me like him more.

11.  Caedmon's new favorites are the Itsy Bitsy Spider and the Beaver Song. 

He's learning all kinds of new words.  He is so amazingly sweet.  He also eats a ton.  Non-stop eating is what our Spud is all about.

12.  I really enjoy having Adelaide home all day.  Maybe I just won't send her back to school next week.

That's better.  Time to go forth and be productive.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Precious

For some reason I have been thinking a lot about hoarders lately.

Maybe it's because there's quite a bit of gift-giving and receiving going on right now, which often results in the accumulation of stuff.  I myself am not a hoarder.  On some level, however, I can sympathize with those people who find it emotionally impossible to ever throw anything away.  While I often have to restrain myself from throwing away every last toy in the house, I do have specific types of items that I find myself compulsively storing away, year after year. 

I recently mentioned that I like practical gifts.  On the occasions that I receive a particularly lovely or fine practical present, I find that I can't make myself use it.  Instead, I find myself carefully storing them, only pulling them out of their little hiding places a few times a year to gaze upon them fondly. 

It's kind of starting to bother me that I do this.

The last time I pulled out the storage box from under my bed and caught sight of the beautiful letter-sealing kit Derek gave me years ago, I swear that I went into some kind of fugue state, gently caressing the sticks of wax and metal stamp.  When my children finally found me, it was all I could do not to throw the items under the bed before they could see them and demand that I share.

I find this behavior in myself disturbing and borderline unhealthy.  I'm afraid that if I'm not careful, next time I won't just hurriedly hide my beloved objects, I will instead starting stroking them and whispering, "My precious,"  then hissing things like, "What has it got in it's pocketses?" when I see my children. 

At least it was a gold ring that Gollum loved.  I would instead be holding things like the reams of Lisa Frank paper I refused to write on as a child because they were just too pretty.

Because I do try to correct odd behavior in myself (when the mood strikes me, anyway), I tried to use the letter-sealing kit.  I love to write letters to my far-flung friends, and decided a wax-sealed envelope would communicate some extra care and affection. 

I burned two fingers and caught three envelopes on fire, and decided there are worse creatures out there to be compared to than Gollum.

Like Stalin.  Or maybe Satan.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

No, I Do Not Take Recreational Drugs

Yesterday was weird.

I just couldn't seem to keep up.  My thoughts lagged, my response time lagged, everything about me was slow. I wasn't sick.  I wasn't in a bad mood.  I was just... I don't know, stupid?  Does anyone else ever have stupid days?

It started shortly after breakfast, when I decided to give Caedmon a bath.  It wasn't until after I had washed his hair that I realized he still had his socks on.

It continued mid-morning when I could not figure out why Atticus was crying.  It took me way longer than it would any other rational adult to realize that his very favorite song was playing on the radio ("Oh, Holy Night" as sung by Josh Groban) and he couldn't hear it because I was running the vacuum, had a load of laundry going, and Caedmon was playing with a really loud musical toy.  After pantomiming for a full minute, Atticus finally yelled over the vacuum, "If you would turn the vacuum off you could hear me, Mommy!"  Oh.  Right.

Then before naptime, I told Atticus to pick out a book to read, and reminded him that it was not to be a long one.  I automatically accepted the book he brought over and read it twice before I realized that not only had he chosen The Little Engine That Could (and not any of those incredibly-abridged versions they've been publishing for the past twenty years, but an early, full-length edition that came from an old school library), but he had dragged a step stool out of the bathroom to reach up and pluck it off one of the shelves where I keep our older, more fragile books.

During naptime, I went upstairs into the bathroom.  I had mistakenly left Caedmon alone for two minutes, and he had used that time to unroll all the toilet paper, fill the bathtub with toys and bars of soap still in their boxes, and throw a plastic medicine spoon in the toilet.

And finally, after Adelaide got home from school, I was in the bathroom, plucking my eyebrows.  She was sitting on the step stool, watching me, when she declared, "I think I should pluck my eyebrows."

I retorted with the brilliant reply of, "No, you shouldn't."

"Why not?"

"Because this is really only something adult women do- and besides, it kind of hurts," I appealed to the pansy in her.

She was not going to be so easily dissuaded.  "But I think I would look prettier if I plucked my eyebrows!"

"Adelaide, you look pretty now!  I like your eyebrows just the way they are!"

She thought for a moment, then asked, "Do you think you look prettier when you do it?"

Boggy ground.  "No, not neccessarily..."

"Then why do you do it?"

How was I losing an argument with a five-year-old?  What was wrong with me today?

I fell back on the standard, "Well, I'm an adult, and sometimes adults can do things that perhaps kids shouldn't do while they're young."

She paused again before saying, "Mommy, I think that's a double-standard."

That made me stop completely and gape at her in astonishment.  What pathologically foolish person had taught her the term "double-standard"?  Why would you ever teach it to a kid?  Childhood is nothing but double-standards!  "Here, kiddo, you can have one cookie, and don't pay any attention to me eating half a dozen,"  "Yes, you're still going to bed at seven tonight.  And yes, I'm still going to bed whenever I want,"  "I know you want to sit up front, but you have to sit in the back.  I'm sitting up front."

I managed to conceal my building fury and nonchalantly asked, "So who taught you the words, 'double-standard,' Adelaide?"  Oh, someone was about to feel my wrath.

"You did, Mom.  Don't you remember?  You told me all about it a few days ago."

Oh, yeah.  A dim memory came floating back.

Apparently yesterday wasn't my only stupid day.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Let's Make a Deal

I have an idea.

Let's go to someone's house and rifle through their cast-off belongings.  You know, the things they're trying to get rid of and out of their own house.  Oh, and let's pay them for these items that they don't even want anymore.


It sounds kind of crazy, right?  Maybe even a little bit gross.

But you know what?  I don't care.  Because I love garage sales.

Garages sales, yard sales, tag sales, whatever you call them in your neck of the woods.  I love them.

It's gotten to the point where someone can't even compliment my children's clothing without my feeling the compulsive urge to tell them exactly where I got it and how much I paid for it.  Sometimes I even include the brand name if I feel like I got a really good deal and am feeling extra- annoying that day.

"Adelaide has on a cute jacket today."

"Thanks!  I got it at a garage sale FOR A DOLLAR.  It's a Gap jacket, and it was $1.  Did I mention I only paid a dollar for it?"

For someone who can't remember half of what I need to get done today, let alone this week, I have a near-encyclopedic knowledge of how much I paid for garage sale finds.  I can go through each of our children's wardrobes and my kitchen cabinets and tell you exactly how much each item cost, and usually where I found it.  White milk glass cakestand, $2, from that nice old lady down the street who was downsizing.  Pink Children's Place cardigan, $2, upscale neighborhood in Ankeny.  Vintage beaded handbag (Christmas present for Adelaide in a couple weeks), $2.50, older couple escaping the Iowa winters and moving to Florida.

As fun as it would be for me to continue this list, I'll spare you.

It's gotten to the point where I have trouble shopping for new products.  "Three dollars?  Three dollars!  They expect me to pay three dollars for a t-shirt!  And it's not even a nice brand!  Gosh, Wal-Mart has gotten expensive!"

It's one of my complaints about winter.  To you un-initiated, winter is garage sale off-season.  Sure, you might be able to find one here or there, but they're often in people's homes, and I'm way too paranoid for that business.

But I have found a solution.  Something to get me through the paucity of garage sales that make up the winters here in the North.

It's a swap shop, and it's on Facebook.

I'm not a real big FB person.  There's way too much personal information and way too few filters, to my mind.  One big positive it now has in it's favor, however, are the swap shop pages.  My area has one, and it allows people to post photos and descriptions of things they want to sell.  I peruse our local shop several times a week, and have thus far netted six name-brand sweaters for $15 for Atticus, and a free 7' artificial Christmas tree in a nice Rubbermaid storage bin (and when I went to pick it up from the sweet older couple who had posted it, they threw in a Christmas wreath with door hanger, and two sleeves of ornaments-for free!).

Again, I could go on and on, but I won't.

True, it's not the same as a good garage or estate sale, but it's enough to get me through.  I liken it to a nicotine patch for people who are trying to quit smoking for winter, but plan on starting back up in the spring.  Or something.

And hey, it's only five short months until the Huxley City-Wide Garage Sale- which is like Christmas for people like me!

Thursday, December 8, 2011


I felt kind of bad yesterday posting those three photos on here.

Sometimes I get really sick of looking at people's photos online, especially the ones where everyone is perfectly perfect all the time, and the parents say things like, "Look at our darling little darlings.  Aren't they just darling?  And aren't we just the perfect little family who has our act together all the time?"

This may just be my own insecurities talking here.

So in the spirit of transparency, I decided to post some of the photos that don't usually make it on the blog.

You know those pictures I posted yesterday, where all three children are more or less smiling?

This also happened.

As did this.

Atticus having a meltdown...

...then running to me for comfort, despite the fact that I'm probably the one who told him to stop doing whatever he was doing.

Caedmon eating a stick.  Fiber!

Caedmon on the right.  Me on the left.  Caedmon's puke also on the left, on my face, in my hair, and on my shirt.  Can you tell I'm trying really hard not to get it in my mouth?

Me, hugely pregnant with Caedmon, cruelly trying to force-feed a s'more to Atticus.

Wha...?  How'd that get in here?  Sorry, Aaron!

Caedmon, apparently a little peeved about something.

Atticus in time-out at the playground.

And finally, what may be the least-cute picture of Caedmon.  Ever.

I feel better now.  Cleansed.  I have dispelled any notions anyone may have had that we are a perfect family.

Stop laughing.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Time Is On My Side

I love punctuality.  I would rather be thirty minutes early than five minutes late.  If it ever starts to look like I'm going to be late for something, I start to panic.  My voice becomes shrill, my breathing pattern shortens and becomes somewhat erratic, and I overall just kind of freak out.

Blame it on the fact that the thought of making others wait horrifies me, blame it on the fact that my father used to call the US Naval Observatory in Colorado to get the exact time down to the second when it was time to change the clocks.  Blame it on God for making me a big old freak.  I don't know.

What I do know is that since having kids, I've had to relax my whole "If I'm going to be late, I just won't go at all" stance.  Small children love to make you late for things.  They work against you at every level to ensure that you are going to be that obnoxious person strolling in fifteen minutes after you were supposed to.

Adelaide had a winter vocal concert at her school last night.  The instructions sent home from her teacher were that she was to be in her classroom between 6:15 and 6:20.  We were not to arrive any earlier (foiled at every turn!), because there was another concert at 5:30, and the school was doing their best to synchronize the movements of families leaving one concert and arriving for the later one.

Guess what?  We were on time.  I had Adelaide deposited in her class and ready to go at 6:15.  Oh, and Derek had to work yesterday evening.  Go me.

The secret is having a plan, and lots of time.  I knew Derek had to work, so I started mentally reviewing our schedule days beforehand, then made a physical list that morning.  When you have a five-year-old, three-year-old, and one-year-old, you have to be super-anal.  It's that, or slowly lose your mind.

We started getting ready at 4:30.  Three baths, four wardrobe changes, one hair styling, several diaper and bathroom breaks, four meals, and pounds and pounds of coats, mittens, and hats later, we were ready to go.  I firmly believe it's all because I made them start getting ready an hour and 45 minutes early.

Of course, in between clothing and eating I made them all sit in front of the Christmas tree for an impromptu photo shoot.  It's a rare occasion indeed when all three of them look presentable at the same time, and I knew I wasn't going to be able to take pictures during the concert itself because I'd be too busy chasing Caedmon around (and I was right).

And to think that it only took an hour and a half to get them to look like this!

Oh, and the concert itself?  Lovely, and all of fifteen minutes long.  Nearly two hours of preparation for fifteen minutes of an actual event.

Welcome to parenthood.

(And Happy Birthday to me!)

(I just couldn't resist.)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Silence is Golden

Our daughter has the most exquisite timing.

Over the weekend, Adelaide and I drove down to Kansas City to attend a performance of The Nutcracker with my mom and two sisters.  After a hearty lunch, the five of us headed to the Kauffman Center to find our seats and await the performance.  Luckily for me, Adelaide insisted on sitting in between her grandma and two aunts, which put me down at the end of the row, three seats away from her.  This means I got to spend the whole first half focusing on the ballet itself, although I did frequently steal glances down the row to see how she was doing.  Every time I checked, she was sitting up straight on the edge of her seat, eyes glued to the stage.  So far, so good.

Intermission arrived.  After a bathroom break, where I forced Adelaide to use the facilities (because I'm a mean, mean Mommy, and also didn't want to have to get up during the performance), we found our seats again, but Adelaide wanted to sit by me now, and started asking Whhhyyyy is this ballet sooo looooong?  I ever so patiently explained that the second half was more exciting; more styles of dancing, costume changes, characters, etc.

The house lights came down, the curtain once again was raised, and the second half began.  Adelaide was very quiet and attentive while the little angels were dancing and during the dance of Mother Ginger and her Polichinelles.

While all the other kinds of food representatives (chocolate, coffee, tea, ribbon candy, and marzipan) were dancing, and during the Waltz of the Flowers, she asked all kind of questions in a distracting stage whisper.  So basically DURING MY FAVORITE PARTS she wouldn't stop talking.

Chocolate (Spanish):  "How do they get the curtain to go up and down like that?  Why is it purple?"

Coffee (Arabian):  "Doesn't it hurt her to do that?  Why isn't he wearing a shirt?  Is he cold?  Doesn't he know it's winter?"

Tea (Chinese):  "How do those girls push that box around when the man is in it?  Isn't it really heavy?"

Ribbon Candy (Russian):  "I'm hungry.  Can we go back to the hotel?"

Marzipan-the Dance of the Reed Pipes:  "They look like candy canes!  When can I eat the candy canes I got from Santa the other day?"

The Waltz of the Flowers:  "Why doesn't she have a big tutu?  How do they not run into each other?  Why is this so long?"

I did my best to maintain my composure and answer her questions quietly (if a bit curtly), reminding her that she could ask all the questions she wanted when it was over.

Then, during the Grand Pas de Deux by the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier, she whispered, "I have the use the bathroom again!"

I reminded myself that Derek doesn't smother her when she won't stop talking during his Vikings games, although I have seen him gripping those throw pillows pretty tightly.  I tried not to think about the fact that the Vikings play about a million weekends out of the year (or it just feels like it), whereas I get to go to the ballet once every few years.

After having this little talk with myself-during which time she twice repeated to me that she really had to go- I hissed, "This is almost over, and we are almost done.  I will take you to the bathroom the minute it is over, but until then, we are going to sit quietly, listen to the lovely music, watch the beautiful dancing, and STOP TALKING TO EACH OTHER."

Then we sat quietly, listened to the lovely music, watched the beautiful dancing, and stopped talking to each other.

It was the best ten minutes of the entire ballet.

Friday, December 2, 2011

I Love My Job

Every occupation has it's positives and negatives, the parts you love, and the parts that you don't love so much.

At this point, I consider my job to be that of raising our three children.  I stay at home with them rather than leaving the house to work.  For the most part, I love my job.

Obviously, there are parts that I don't like quite so much.  Earlier this week, I was lying on the floor, building a giant block tower with Atticus.  Caedmon was toddling around, idly swinging a plastic golf club.  I became a little too immersed in the construction of the tower, and just caught a glimpse of Caedmon swinging the club back and forth a little too close to me before he whacked me in the head, square on the temple.  I saw stars, immediately experienced some severe nausea, and obviously, a killer headache.

All I really wanted to do was take some ibuprofen and lie down.  Atticus and Caedmon did not care.

Yesterday, Atticus took a mighty swing with that same freaking plastic club, and although he was aiming for a practice ball, he hit me on the elbow, and magically managed to hit my funny bone.

The plastic golf clubs have since been banned.

That didn't stop my boys, though.  They seem to have a hardwired need to swing stick-like tools at balls, and they don't care if I have laid down a no-golf-in-the-house rule, or how many injuries I have sustained.  I may have confiscated all the toys that I think could possibly be used to hurt me, but they make do with what they can find.

I found Caedmon hitting a baseball around the house with the toilet brush this morning.  Honestly, I'm just lucky he didn't find his other favorite forbidden toy:  the plunger.

Disgusting childhood habits aside, I know I'm very fortunate.  This morning at 8 am, after readying Adelaide for school,  Atticus, Caedmon, and I were still in our pajamas, reading books together on the couch.  I get to spend all day with our children, and even get a nice break every afternoon during naptime.

Speaking of naptime, now that it's here, I need to go disinfect our house.