No Harm Done

Sunday, July 23, 2006

This About Sums Up Our Week.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

So today Brogan and I were noticing that he's grown out of his sandals and needs a new pair.

Me: "Wow! Your feet look really big in those too-small sandals!"

Brogan: "My feet are big. And you know what they say about big feet!"

Me: (Warily, not really sure if I want to hear the answer) " What do they say?"

Brogan: (Confidently) "Big feet - Big shoes!"


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Searching For Sio Bibble

Yesterday Braden participated in a Star Wars Trivia Tournament. He’s played Star Wars Trivial Pursuit a couple of times before, but has never attempted to test his skill in a public forum.

We got to the meeting room and found 19 other children (ages 10-12) waiting for the game to begin. The kids were divided into teams and each team assigned a game piece. During play, the first answer called out would be deemed the correct one, so each team was encouraged to consult with each other before answering.

The tournament was scheduled to last for 90 minutes and, honestly, I did not look forward to this. Ninety minutes can be a loooong time. Now, I have seen all the Star Wars movies, and I actually enjoyed the first three that were made. However, unlike the four men in my family, I do not enjoy watching these movies ad nauseum. I do not memorize lines beyond those akin to “Laugh it up, furball!” I neither dwell nor delight in Star Wars minutiae. “What kind of gas is mined at Bespin?” “What alien designed the B-wing?” Puh-lease.

These kids were in their element. If you sign up for a public competition, you have feel pretty confident in your knowledge of Star Wars trivia, and these kids did. They loved Star Wars, you could tell. They were totally geeked out about spending the next 90 minutes discussing Star Wars. Some dressed up like characters, some brought props, but most just chatted excitedly with their teammates about the movies.

I watched the kids interact, somewhat bemused, and I commented to the mom sitting next to me that I didn’t realize that this sort of thing started so early. I remember boys gathering like this in high school. I’d overhear snippets of them discussing the newly released book in the “Dune” series, or arguing over their favorite Piers Anthony books. But I don’t remember any of that appearing in elementary school. She laughed and remarked that it was a relief to see other kids with an interest (obsession???) in the films.

It was neat, too. It was fun to see these kids in their element. Poor Braden tries to talk Star Wars with me (Or Bionicle. Or Transformers.) and I have no idea what he’s talking about beyond a very basic level. I nod and smile, but he knows I don’t really know the intricacies of what he’s talking about. But these kids did, and they’d banter back with him: “Dude, if Vader fought Palpatine, who would win?”

The contest was fun to watch. Braden earned two pie pieces for his team. They came out of the box strong but lost momentum when, midway through the game, the judge made a controversial call:

The question for a pie piece was, “What part did Qui-Gon go to Watto’s shop looking for?” The boys all called out “Hyperdrive! The hyperdrive!”

Everyone was stunned when the judge said, “I’m sorry. That is incorrect.” What? Incorrect? How? Even I knew it was a hyperdrive.

“The correct answer is ‘hyperdrive generator,’” the judge ruled. Huh?

The boys tried to appeal their case, but the judge was firm. His reasoning: “If your team was behind, I’d give it to you. Because you’re in the lead, though, I’m going to insist on the exact answer.” Good grief. The boys were deflated and tried to come back from that, but they didn’t and in the end they took second place.

Overall he had fun, and is excited about participating again next fall. Until then, movies will be watched, books will be read, trivia will be practiced, and I'm fairly certain I'll learn more than I ever wanted to know about Naboo's governor, Sio Bibble.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I don't think I could pass this test.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Things have been very busy since we've been back from vacation, and I haven't been able to post the rest of the vacation stories. To catch up family and friends, here are some "Postcards" from our recent trip:

The traditional "Many Kids on a Rock" photo. This started years ago when Braden was four, I think. We were visiting the zoo with the M. family, and Braden asked if I could take his picture sitting on the rock. It kind of surprised me, as Braden is not a "Hey, please take my photo while I pose like this" kind of boy. But we took it, and it started a tradition. Both families now have years worth of pictures of children sitting on the rock. The area has grown up around the rock - flags were added, as was some ground cover. The rock appears to be getting smaller and more crowded in the photos over the years.

Brogan pretending to be a turtle.

The butterfly exhibit was beautiful! We saw so many beautiful butterflies all around us. They landed on us, which we all thought was pretty cool. But then one landed on Colson and he freaked. out. Thankfully, he held still and did not run screaming around the exhibit. He stood still and cried, terrified of the creature he could only just see out of the corner of his eye.

Eventually he calmed down, but he was frozen in place, afraid to move. We kept oohing and aaahing over the butterfly on his shoulder, though, and eventually I was able to get him to turn slightly so I could get a picture of him.

Backyard Party We ate, played volleyball, ate some more, had a Dance Dance Revolution, ate again, and then gathered around the fire pit for s'mores.

Mrs. B. taught Colson the s'mores dance. This dance is to be done before, during, and after eating s'mores. It basically involves moving about the yard waving your arms wildly, kicking your legs, and calling out "S'mores! S'mores! S'mores!" over and over and then over again.

Toward the end of our trip we visited the S. family. We had a wonderful time catching up with them. We've known them since Braden was 6 months old and their oldest girl was 3 months old. We enjoyed seeing them again. We squeezed in a game of Apples to Apples, and listened to the kids play the piano for us.

Colson and Mr. S. got along very well. I think they are kindred spirits. I took many pictures of the two of them, and in every single one someone was blurry. They were constantly moving, wrestling, tickling, laughing, flipping - it was constant activity.

Look out! He's got a sweet ride! Nothing could stop Colson from driving! Well, nothing but the decorative rocks, flower bed liner, a potted plant, and ultimately the wooden fence. That stopped him.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Narcoleptic in Training

While on vacation we spent an awful lot of time driving. It often took us 20-30 minutes to drive a short way through town to get from where we were staying to my parent's house.

Say what you want about living in flyover country, I love not having to sit through 2-3 light cycles at busy intersections. I love being able to get nearly anywhere in town in 15 minutes.

But I digress.

By the time we arrived at our destination, at least one of the littles were asleep. Usually it was Colson. We laid him on cousin A.'s bed to sleep, as once he's out it's usually quite difficult to wake him up until he decides he's ready.

One evening I went upstairs to check on him, and found him asleep in the hallway at the top of the stairs. Apparently he woke up, walked out of the bedroom, and then, perhaps overcome with fatigue, laid down on the floor to continue his nap.

Tonight, I discovered Colson in the living room under a chair. Asleep.

I'm thinking I may need to dig that baby gate out of storage.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Awwww...Isn't This Sweet?

Such a sweet scene: a small boy joyously swinging under a tall tree at a Fourth of July party. So innocent. So carefree. But while I took this picture, I had no indication of the trauma that was to come.

Apparently this deceptively mild-mannered tree swing had been harboring some resentment towards small children. Mid-way into the party it attacked a toddler, P., callously bonking him in the nose. As we adults watched from the porch, it appeared that small P. was okay and mostly crying for attention. "He's okay, "we reassured his mother. "That doesn't sound like serious crying." Moments later, we spotted the blood pouring from his nose and his mother rushed to his aid. Poor guy!

Later in the evening the swing struck again, this time felling both Colson and Brogan simultaneously. They were on either side of the swing, Colson standing and Brogan bending over to pick up a ball that Colson had rolled to him. The swing struck Colson in the cheek, and then bounced off him and hit Brogan squarely in the mouth as he stood up. Colson escaped serious injury, but Brogan's mouth was bloody as he ran toward the adults on the porch.

You may remember
the infamous sledding accident of Christmas 2005. Here is a picture of Brogan's face after the accident:

The accident loosened two of Brogan's top teeth and three of his bottom teeth. He has since lost the three bottom teeth, but the top two have hung in there; wiggly, but clinging to their positions, reluctant to leave. The blow from the swing loosened them even more, and as we put ice on his now puffy lip and cleaned up the blood, we could see the teeth hanging at crazily cockeyed angles. It would not be long before the Tooth Daddy would be paying us a visit.

Sure enough, the next morning we noticed a hole between Brogan's teeth. Somewhere one of the teeth had fallen out. True to form, Brogan didn't notice the missing tooth, and we had no idea where it could have been. Of the four teeth he's lost, I have none of them. None. He's managed to lose them all without noticing.

The other front tooth hung at crazy angles and gave Brogan a sort of snaggletoothed look, similar to that of nanny McPhee, but without the warts, unibrow, and bulbous nose, of course.

By the end of the day that other top tooth was hanging on by a thread. As we brushed his teeth that night I knew it would not be long until it too came out. I thought of the sweet little box I'd been saving in which to collect Brogan's baby teeth. It sat empty in my dresser drawer. I envisioned Brogan losing the rest of his teeth as he grew, and that box remaining empty.

Impulsively, I stopped brushing, reached up, and plucked out his tooth. I showed it to Brogan in victory, "Look! there's your tooth! There it is!!" He was not terribly impressed, but was excited about finally having something to place under his pillow for the Tooth Daddy.

Here he is, with his cute toothless look. He looks adorable as he tries to learn how to articluate certain sounds without those two front teeth. He looks older. When those adult teeth come in it will change his look forever.

Friday, July 07, 2006

I’m going to give you a scenario, and I want you to be ready to tell me what the first thing was that popped into your head. Ready?

You’re at a playground on a play date with several other moms and children. One of your children runs over to you and says excitedly, “Mommy! We found a blanket over there under the bushes!!”

Now, what’s your first thought? Have you got it? Hang onto that. I’ll come back to it.

I wanted to set you up with that scenario because it speaks directly to conversations I seemed to keep having with people.

Three months ago, my friend Mrs. G. and I went out to coffee. We are both transplants in this fair city; she is from Pittsburgh and I am from Boise.

Anyway, we both commented on how, while this area is much smaller in population, we felt safer in the larger cities in which we grew up. (Okay, Boise is not as big as Pittsburgh, but it’s still pretty big: pop. 300,000-400,000, depending on how many suburbs you count.) Why did the larger cities feel safer? Is this area really so dangerous? Are our home cities really more safe? Or was it just that we felt safer in them because we’d grown up there and they were more familiar?

On the way home from that “coffee tawk” I ran by the library to pick up some books. Driving around the parking lot were FOUR (!) police cars. Inside the library I spotted two more policemen. Not wanting to appear too nosy, I tried to casually ask a librarian what was going on, hoping I didn’t come across like some sort of library rubbernecker. She had no idea why they all were there and didn’t seem to think anything of it.

Since that evening, I’ve learned that there is always a visible police presence at our library. At least two officers are there during business hours. The boys and I even once saw a man being arrested at the library. He sat meekly in the back of the police car while two officers, in no apparent hurry, leaned against the trunk and completed his paperwork. This seemed to strike no one as odd or unusual. Maybe it’s just me??

Last month a man
M. works with was entering a pancake restaurant with some friends. On their way up the walk, they found themselves in the middle of a gang fight. (“Dude! There’s a rumble at the IHOP!”) Unable to move either forward into the restaurant or backward towards their car, they stood there, hopefully out of the way of the flashing fists and knives, and called the police and waited for them to arrive. Fifteen minutes, one gunshot, and more than likely a soiled pair of pants later the police finally came to break things up. (There’s a donut joke in here somewhere, I can sense it. Perhaps after another cup of coffee or two I’ll be able to articulate it.)

Anyway, on our recent vacation I discussed these events with friends and family who, seemed to think I was overreacting to the criminal climate in which we live. And, after several conversations and “Oh, I’m sure it’s not that bad” – type comments, I started to believe them. I came home from vacation with a firm resolve to change my attitude of our new hometown. I would look at my town with fresh and optimistic eyes.

Until that day at the park.

When a friend’s daughter came running to her excitedly shouting about a blanket she’d found under the bushes. My first thought was probably much like yours: “Do NOT touch it! It’s probably filthy!”

The girl’s mother turned to me before responding to her daughter, and in a whisper pled, “Oh, please don’t let there be a body under that blanket!”

That was her first thought. A body. Under a blanket. In the park. A likely enough possibility that it was her first reaction.

Typing this entry really made me think about the climate we live in and assume is normal. My mom has told me that when she was young(er), birth announcements in the newspapers included the addresses of the new parents. Nowadays that’s unthinkable! We used to leave the front door unlocked during the daytime and our windows open at night. I remember walking nearly a mile daily to and from school when I was 8. Or spending summers running around the neighborhood unsupervised; just checking in from time to time. At school, the big safety concerns our teachers impressed upon us were looking both ways before crossing the street and not taking candy from strangers.

Our world seems to have gotten scarier and more threatening in such a short period of time. It’s happened so slowly, that it seems as if it’s always been this way.

I’ll tell you what, though: After thinking about all the things they must have to deal with, I’m sure going to be a lot nicer to those policemen at the library!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

So it appears to me yesterday that Colson may be acquiring some of my hypochondriac tendencies.

Colson ran into the kitchen yesterday in a slightly agitated state. Obviously upset, he cried, "Mom! There are two cracks on my face! We need to go to the doctor!"

ME: "What? Where are the cracks?"

COLSON: "On my face." (Gestures repeatedly toward his cranial area in a random manner.)

ME: "Honey, I don't see- ummmm... Did you fall down or bonk your head or something?"

COLSON: "NOoooooo! I have two cracks on. my. head!"

So I take him to the bathroom mirror and have him look into it. "Touch the two cracks so I can see them."

In dramatic fashion, with an "they-are-so-obvious,-I-cannot-believe-I-have-to-show-them-to-you-like-this" air, he ran his fingers along each of his eyebrows.