Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Retailer Rant

A quick update: the Sunshine family has been house hunting, church helping, family visiting maniacs the past week. And we all got the flu. Yay family!

For the most part, the kids and I have recovered from a version of the 24 hour flu. Rob is still a little under the weather, but he's planning on returning to work tomorrow. With all this excitement in the house, I was getting a bit stir crazy. I needed some time to myself. Naturally, I went shopping.

Usually, I shop at Target - they have a pretty routine markdown schedule for their clearance items, and as we all know... a budget hound like me is a sucker for clearance items! Unfortunately, I ripped a pair of shorts at my last visit to Papa DeeDee's house and could no longer ignore the shortage of shorts in my closet. When Robert assured me he could handle two tyrants and a bout of the flu, I took off with nary a backward glance. Tonight was the night! One pair of jean shorts, coming up!

I had a coupon for Kohl's (saw that comin' didn't ya?) and they were having an end of season clearance sale, so off I went with high hopes. Kohl's has become the de facto replacement for Mervyn's. Remember Mervyn's??? (Sigh.) I like Kohl's very much, and have purchased quite a few items from them over the years. However, even if I weren't a ridiculously cheap frugal value conscious cheap shopper, even I know only crazy people pay $32 for a pair of children's shorts. (Uh, if you are one of those crazy people, please ignore that last sentence.)

As I wander the aisles, I begin to wonder if there are shoppers who really pay the full retail price, or if everyone knows to at least wait for a sale, percentage off coupon in the mail or coupon from the paper? And, if you don't wait for the coupons or sales, do you realize the mark up on these things? Even CNBC admitted it's a common practice to jack the prices sky high in order to discount them. Oops. My inner coupon nerd is showing.


So here I am, shopping the clearance racks for a decent pair of shorts. I see denim material and a tag that says "waist minimizing panel". Eureka! Dear Lord, can you please let this be in my size? I yank the garment from the rack, ignoring the size clearly printed at the top of the hanger.

Why in the world do stores bother to put the size of the clothing on the hanger, only to hang clothing on it that isn't remotely close to the size indicated? If they saved the money they spent on marking the hangers, maybe they wouldn't have to charge $32 for something I pay $4 for on clearance (and suspect they still clear a profit). Oops. My inner efficiency nerd is showing.

This is NOT what I found at Kohl's.
If I had, this post would have been
dramatically funnier.
Where were we? Oh yes, waist minimizing jean shorts in a size.... four. FOUR! Well gee Wally, don't you think every garment would be waist minimizing in a size four??? Goodness, if I could fit into a size four, I don't think "waist minimizing" is something I'd be too concerned about, would I? My superior logic tells me this is why it probably remains on the clearance rack. Honestly, do these clothing retailers get a chuckle at their own ridiculousness? Oops. My inner mom jeans are showing.

After an hour of searching, I failed to find a pair of denim shorts. I did find five t-shirts, one amazingly cute dress, and a pair of brown pedal pushers. None of which I needed. Also, I've found that clothes shopping after having had the flu makes you feel awfully good about how well your clothing size (which is not a size four, in case you were wondering) fits. All in all, a good night. And so, this quick update to let you know that despite my absence, we are not dead - just ill and in need of a good pair of waist minimizing jean shorts.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Another Week Gone...

I took very few pictures this week. Don't worry, I'm not ill or anything.

We did a lot of the usual; running errands, playing in the backyard, even went out of town to visit some friends yesterday. Thinking about my post today, I decided to pull out the camera this morning so the Grands wouldn't go into withdrawal for lack of pictures. But a funny thing happened on the way to the backyard...

Today I didn't take pictures for the Grands, or for my readers, or even for my children (seeing as how this has become their virtual baby books). Today I took pictures for me. Actually, for the future me.

Outside it was seventy two degrees with a light breeze. The sky was a beautiful blue, with wispy clouds that made you nostalgic for a park, a blanket, and time to just reflect. I found myself reflecting on my children as they played on the swings, dug in the dirt (naturally), and shared (or stole, depending on where you were standing) the tricycle. I listened as Grace let her imagination spill out of her mouth, telling Mark about her cooking. She rushed to make pancakes as Mark happily brought dirt to the table for her to cook with.

The weather and innocence of play combined to make me feel nostalgic for what was playing out right before my eyes. I was watching Grace and Mark through the eyes of the future - knowing that mornings like this would be what I would miss.

For my future self, to help you remember:

When Mark was small enough to sit on your belly
and squeal with delight as you rocked him back and forth...

When Grace would literally jump on your back
in the hopes of a horsie ride...

When she brought to your attention the
smallest things that you would pass by...

When she concentrated so hard on making
the perfect mud pancakes...

When she showed such pride in herself for what
she had made (despite any fashion faux paus
her mother committed with her clothing)...

When, despite the joy it would bring to your kids,  you decided
to save the life of a snail by keeping its hiding place a secret...

Knowing the kids would make other discoveries, like
the worm in the grass only a toddler would see...

Yes, they will grow up. But somehow, they just keep
getting better.

And on another day, when the sky is blue and
the clouds beg for reflection, you will
have your memories.

Awwwww.... quit yer snifflin'. Next week they'll be throwing rocks into the toilets, lauching blueberry yogurt onto the windows and eating the dirt pancakes. Trust me.

Since today was actually a pleasure, and I'm in a pretty good (albeit nostalgic) mood, I thought I'd share yet another first. The kids got haircuts. Grace is a pro, and had no problems in the chair:

"Yes, as a matter of fact I AM the star of the Sunshine blog!"

A little pampering to make sure I look fabulous for the camera...
Mark, on the other hand, was a bit less enthusiastic, as this was his first cut...

"I was saving that hair!"

"C'mon people! It took me 16 months just to grow
the hair I've got!!"
Okay, time to pull out the big guns. I don't think there is a man on the planet who cannot be sated with just a small bit of television or video games. My son is proof:

"Ooooohhh! Look! An iPhone! Go ahead
lady, do whatever you want."

Mark is actually watching himself
through the phone's camera.
(Apparently he finds himself as entertaining as we do!)
I hope your week didn't completely pass you by. Take some time to just sit back and watch your loved ones. Young or old, God has really created some amazing people! Have fun this week and if you can't find anyone around worth watching, you can always use the camera on your phone to watch yourself. Mark swears it's pretty enteraining.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

So What Did You Do Today Honey?

You know the 'ol soap opera and bon bon joke? Well, I never bought into that one. I did however, wonder how a woman could be home ALL DAY, with no appointments, obligations or demands on her time, and still not manage to have the dishes and laundry done.

Now I know.
Why yes, that is half a roll of paper towels coming
from the kitchen. Thank you for noticing.
For those of you who are still wondering, let me tell you about one afternoon last week. After returning home from our shopping trip (no, not the mall - the grocery store. *rolls eyes*) we settle in to eat lunch. As usual, Grace requested PB and J, so I made two quick sandwiches, threw in a side of cottage cheese and peaches, secured them to their chairs and proceeded to put away the groceries. Luckily, I grabbed a spoonful of peanut butter while making lunch - otherwise I may have had no lunch at all.

As I put away the groceries, Mark busied himself with the cottage cheese. He immediately dropped his spoon. Being the genius innovator that he is, he lost no time in using his  hands to shove fistfuls of white goop into his face. Grace was busy peeling apart her sandwich so she could lick the jelly off one side and scrape the peanut butter off the other before shoving it into her face.

"Trust me. You have no idea what I'm capable of."
As the children proceeded to make a complete mess of themselves, I silently thanked them for not flinging food like they did at breakfast. Mark is still mastering a fork. While he is getting quite good at stabbing items, the process of bringing it to his mouth is more like a catapult motion over his right shoulder. Pancake bits found their way into a number of places. I'm not sure I've discovered them all just yet.

As I put the last of the groceries away, Mark's high pitched squeals reminded me that neither of them had drinks. I walk the house looking for the sippy cups from this morning. Blue cup under the coffee table. Check. Pink cup... pink cup? Oh, of course. Pink cup in the bathroom cupboard where the Elmo underwear resides. Naturally. Take them both back to the kitchen for a quick rinse and refill. Notice that the kids are about halfway through and I haven't put away the lunch fixings, emptied the dishwasher or eaten lunch. Okay, move faster.

I quickly empty the dishwasher, silently thankful once again that the children were strapped down. The last time I attempted this chore, the children were roaming free. One got stuck after pulling out the bottom rack and catching his foot in the grid trying to reach the water pitcher in the back. Luckily, he left enough room for his sister to stand on the edge of the door and begin jumping. All of this in the four seconds it took for me to put three plates in the cabinet. Not today though; today they were happily tilting their plates heavenward as they drank the last bit of peach juice from the compartmentalized plastic.

"What? I left room for Grace to stand on the door too!"
Hmmm.... if their plates are upside down, I haven't much time left. I have learned if the kids eat all of their food, it does not necessarily mean they are finished. It is at this point I see Grace drinking milk from her cup and spitting it into her plate. Meanwhile, Mark is fishing in his chair for bits of sandwich that escaped the first go round. I pause from dishes to remind Grace that spitting is not acceptable and remove her plate. (I have also become adept at dodging sticky little hands intent on grabbing my shirt if I get within six inches at mealtime.)

The plate is almost rinsed off when I hear "Pee pee mommy!" I head over, intending to wipe her hands prior to sending her toward the bathroom. After seeing the carnage the PB and J has left in its wake, I instead decide to follow her to the bathroom along with instructions not to touch anything.

I have her wash her hands before using the potty. I also wipe her face and torso down a bit while I have the chance. She goes potty, then jumps up and runs out of the bathroom - free from the lunch chair and anxious to play. I call her back to remind her there are a few other steps to using the bathroom... at a minimum she needs to put some underwear on.

I head back to the kitchen to find Mark happily crushing his peach and cottage cheese encrusted plate onto his head. I send up more thanks that short hair releases food particles easily. The plate gets rinsed and put in the dishwasher and I head over to give Mark the equivalent of a sponge bath.

Mark is released into the wild while I wipe down two chairs, a tray, and a kitchen table. During this time the kids manage to throw every toy out of the playpen, remove three pots and pans from the cupboard and take the broom I need into one of the bedrooms. My stomach has sent only one signal reminding me that a spoonful of peanut butter does not constitute lunch.

Blessedly, nap time immediately follows lunch. I've been home almost an hour. There are toys, pans and brooms scattered throughout the house. The dining room floor does its best impression of teen acne angst with its strawberry jelly and cottage cheese covering. That's when the dryer buzzes with shirts needing to be hung up.

I'm tempted to open the dishwasher door, just to show that I have indeed accomplished something. The closed door mocks me - there is nary a hint of my putting away dishes and groceries. There's no evidence of meal prep or clean up. Clothes sit wrinkling in the dryer as a testament to my laundry handicap. I'm certain I have been busy the last hour...

Mark screams indignantly in the playroom. I walk in to find Grace looking innocently at Mark. She's embracing three toy trucks as though their very existence depends on her protection. Mark holds nothing - a scene that looked quite different two minutes ago. No, I didn't see it - I know.

"Hmmm. He seems a little dramatic don't you think? I've
no idea why he's crying. Best send him off to bed..."
It's definitely nap time.

A quick diaper change and Mark will be ready for bed. I hear Grace closing all the hallway doors as I get him ready. As I'm finishing up, I hear "Pee pee mommy!" (Didn't you just go?) I know the bathroom door is closed, and Grace cannot open it without help because it sticks.

I can't leave Mark on the changing table, and I've not got his pants back on. I should put him in the crib but by this time my brain fails me. I set him on the ground to go help Grace. It is then I discover the entire contents of the linen closet have been brought out into the hallway. "Grace!" I scold her as I usher her towards the potty. She does her thing while I clean up the linens. Once again, she returns sans underpants. I ask if she wiped, which she assures me she did. I am equally sure that she didn't. I tell her to go back and wipe. I have almost finished putting the linens away when I look up to see that Grace has brought the toilet paper to me. By "brought" I mean she has unrolled the TP from the bathroom all the way to the end of the hall. Well, at least she's obeying...

After re-rolling the paper, wiping a bottom, clothing said bottom, and washing three pairs of hands (What?  You think Mark doesn't get in on the toilet action?) I pick Mark up, put on his pants, turn on his fan, turn off his light, give him his blankie and a quick hug and put him to bed. Whew. I then follow Grace to her room, get her tucked in and head back to the kitchen, sidestepping brooms, pans and toys the entire way.

I reflect on my younger, single, child free self. I had no idea what having small children entailed. On the bright side, even after missing lunch I won't go hungry - I can always eat my words.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Another (Few) Week(s) Gone...

Hmmm... the title says it all. If you actually make it to the end of this post, you'll know why. My last post was in mid-July. I think it's really rude that July just up and ended so quickly. It would have been far more polite to hang around a bit instead of rushing off like that. Oh well, maybe August will slow things down a bit.


I can hardly believe how quickly the kids are changing and picking up on new things. It's only been three weeks, but the pictures show all kinds of firsts, and everyday I'm reminded what fast little learners they are. Mark is saying new words everyday: wawa (water), nana (banana), uh-oh, shoes, all done, hi, and bye-bye are just a few. He also makes the sign for hungry, and even though he can't say eat, he gets his point across by heading straight to his chair when he wants breakfast. When he runs out of milk in the mornings, he stands in the doorway of the kitchen whimpering. Once he sees me headed his way, he bolts for the refrigerator door and tries to open it. "One sippy cup of milk, coming up!"

Grace is communicating quite well herself these days. She always pulls a chair into the kitchen saying "I wanna see. I wanna see Mama, I wanna see." Then she climbs on the chair to observe whatever it is I'm doing. Recently I was cooking at the stove, and Grace pretended to be cooking dinner on the other burner. When I asked what she was making, she replied, "Ice." Well, it was either that or PB&J, since those are the only two food requests she makes these days.

As I was slogging through three weeks of pictures I realized there has definitely been a theme the last few weeks. Mark discovered the water hose for the first time and took to it like a fish... well, you know.

Everything works better when you stick your tongue out.

He also mastered the "drink from the hose" trick.
Sort of.
That weekend Daddy got some time to himself while we headed to Disneyland Papa and DeeDee's house. After we settled in, Papa took Grace to try out the trampoline. Since "hop" is one of her favorite things to do, she thought this was the best thing evar.

"Look at me Mama! Look at me!"
(Another one of her favorite lines.)
After that, Papa washed his "big truck" and guess what? There was water!

"Uh, Grace? Why is there soap in the water? Are they
afraid we're going to find dirt somewhere or something?"

Lo and behold, Papa had a water hose too!
Mark was mesmerized.

"Look Papa! I already mastered the Drink from the Hose trick!"
As usual, my kids found the perfect spot to dry off:

"Gee Mark, all this land and they choose to cover it in grass.
Good thing we found a tiny spot of dirt to keep us occupied!"
After being such big helpers with washing Papa's truck, we went inside to help DeeDee:

"More cleaner please DeeDee!"
(Mark would hold up the towel for some cleaner,
then wipe the mirror. He wouldn't be fooled by a
"fake" spray of cleaner either, he waited for the real thing!)

"Hmmm. I wonder why DeeDee gives us three baths a day,
and Mama only gives us one bath every three days?"
After nap, cousin Lizzie (who was also visiting) introduced Grace and Mark to the new puppies born just the week before. Grace was very delicate with them, and did NOT want to hold any puppies. She was okay with approaching them on her terms, but if we tried to give one to her, or if they started to crawl toward her she would freak.

"Here puppy, let me pet you with one finger..."
Mark, on the other hand, had no such reservations:


"OOOOHHHH! You're smaller than I am!"
"How come you don't open your eyes?"

"Oh! You're waitin' for a kiss! Here you go...!"
Nope. No reservations at all.

When we went out front to put the puppies back into their house, guess what we found???

"Look Gracie! A water hose!"

Yep, he's got this trick down.
He should. He's had plenty of practice.

It took the kids about five minutes to figure out
the best spot to try and turn grass into mud.

Luckily, Grace is good at completing the clean up!
Uncle Kevin and Auntie Kim came to pick up Liz, and after all the excitement from the weekend, Mark was happy to find a great place to snuggle up and rest:

Uncle Kevin, a.k.a. "The Mark Whisperer"
The following weekend, the cousins came to our house to visit while Auntie went to the homeschooling conference. (I'm determined to go next year!) We played outside (sans water) and played some games too...

"Hey! What happened to my motor?
No stopping for the papparazzi!"

"Good job Grace! You're a super duper Xbox player!"
"Yeah, I learned it from my dad. Watch this!"

"Hey John! I'm a super duperer Xbox playerific! Watch me too!"
(Mom disclaimer: Neither of my children play Xbox.
They only play "controllers".)
Don't worry, amid all this excitement we got in some of the usual activities too. Grace was given "real" puzzles from her cousins. They varied from 12 to 24 pieces. She loves them. It's her new favorite request. "Play puzzles? Play puzzles?" She's amazingly good at finding the pieces and turning them to fit into the right place.

She's also had her first encounter with band-aids. She got a scraped knee, and it was enough to warrant some attention. Oy. Can I take that action back? She requests band-aids at all sorts of random intervals now! In the middle of a meal, halfway through a cartoon... and of course, as a ploy to keep from going to bed. I may hold some of the blame. When she asks... I usually give her one. What can I say? They're Strawberry Shortcake bandaids, and she's even cuter than the little redhead on the package!

Since we're past potty training, we're now into bathroom training. Or toilet paper training. Or put-your-underwear-back-on-before-leaving-the-bathroom training. Whatever you want to call it, we're there. Grace is pretty good at handling the mechanics of actually going to the bathroom, but once the deed is done she often ends up running around the house half naked. And typically with unwashed hands. Luckily, I have evidence that she is at least aware she's supposed to be using toilet paper:

Good thing there's a plunger handy.
This week the weather has been beautiful, and the kids have played outside quite a bit. I often have my camera in hand, which is how I managed to record just how quickly Mark can go from playing to eating:

Mud Pie!
I swear this happened in a shutter flash. I snapped the shot while reaching with my other hand to get the dirt out of his mouth. In the photo below, the water under his eyes is tears, not a product of the garden hose. He was quite irritated that I didn't let him swallow the dirt. Since then, he's eaten at least four handfuls. (That I've witnessed. I try not to think about what I haven't seen.) There's only so much I can do. So far he seems none the worse for wear. If he starts to grow turnips from his ears, I'll crack down.

He got this shirt as a birthday gift.
Someone knows him very, very well.
Another first for Mark this week was his very own, not shared, not-held-by-anyone-but-himself ice cream cone! He walked around with it stuck to his mouth like a bottom feeder for the first five minutes. He would suck on the ice cream like it was a sippy cup. Maybe he was afraid if he took it from his lips he wouldn't get anymore. Once he finally came up for air, he consumed it so quickly I barely got any pictures. Until he dropped it on the ground. That slowed him down - but not for long. It was mostly gone anyway, so I let him finish. Hey - you saw the picture up there. I'm going to take away his ice cream because there's a little dirt on it? Who am I kidding?

Must. Eat. Quickly.
Cannot. Share. Cone...

Of course, Grace loved it too. She made sure to show
my camera her treat, and her face says it all.
Yay for summer and ice cream cones!

"Grace? Do you think Mama will take away my ice
cream if she finds out I dropped it in the dirt?"

"Nah, she'll let you finish it. She's crazy nice like that."
Thanks for catching up with all the summertime fun! Hope you're getting some good times in this summer too. I'll leave you with just one more potty story - they're too entertaining not to share.

This week at breakfast Grace announced she needed to go potty. Seeing that she was finished, I excused her from the table and sent her on her way. (It's so nice not to have to accompany her all the time, even if it ends up in a small TP disaster on occasion.) As she sprinted toward the bathroom, I cleaned up Mark and let him wander free too. I heard them playing in the front room as I finished cleaning the breakfast dishes. It's so nice to be able to focus on something while they play and giggle, rather than running in to referee every two minutes. Once I was done, I headed in to check on the kids...

...and I found this.
The END(s)!