Friday, June 29, 2007

the jewelry party

If you know me, you know the unadorned truth: I am not a jewelry person. Oh, I wear my wedding ring and a pair of diamond earrings, but that’s as far as my accessorizing goes. It’s not that I don’t admire people who are put together and polished. I do. I just have no idea how to do that.

One of my dear friends has a theory. In junior high, all of the girls were rounded up and taken on a weekend away where they learned how to apply make-up and put together outfits and do hair. She missed that weekend and has been playing catch-up ever since. I feel much the same way. It was just never a priority, and now I simply don’t know how. It’s sad, really. A thirty-five year old woman who doesn’t know how to accessorize, and, quite honestly, doesn’t really care.

I wanted to laugh out loud last night at my neighbor’s house. It was like the jewelry lady was speaking a foreign language and I only understood every fifth word. She actually asked, “Do you prefer Jewel or Dominicks? This is a great necklace for Jewel. And if you’re going to CASEY’S, well, then you want something more dramatic…”

Is she kidding? Seriously. Wearing jewelry to the grocery store because…why exactly? Is this what housewives do after their children go to bed? Polish their jewelry for the grocery store tomorrow? Come on. I’m too busy wiping pee from the toilet seats to worry about my jewelry.

Sometimes I think I live on another planet from everyone else.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

good times

What’s noisier than two five-year old boys? FOUR five-year old boys and a bucket of water balloons!

We invited a couple of preschool friends over for some backyard water fun earlier this week, and, well, had a lot of fun. Serious fun. The Amazing Spiderman Slip ‘n Slide was a big hit, and I managed to hold myself back this time around. (And, incidentally, I noticed the bold print on the front of the slide: CAUTION. Adults should not use this product. May cause serious spinal injury or death.)

The four boys took a play-break for a simple lunch at the picnic table, and I asked each child: “What’s been your favorite thing about summer break so far?” When I asked, I fully expected answers like, “Our trip to Disney World,” and “The Shedd Aquarium.” Both of our guest have been super busy—so busy I had to schedule this playdate a month out. But you know what they said? Without hesitation: “THIS!”

Just hanging out with their friends and a working hose, with hot dogs and fruit salad for lunch, was the highlight of their summer.

Do you have kids home this summer? Are you having fun? Fun doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, especially for little ones. Just providing a place for them and their friends is often enough.

Monday, June 25, 2007


The noisy boys have been exonerated. They weren't peeing on the floor, our toilet is leaking. That is either good news or bad news, depending on how you look at it.

And, in case any of you Moms read my last post on Summer Fun and are actually thinking about going on a slip 'n slide with your children, do not do it. I repeat: do not do it. My back is finally feeling normal again some four days later.

A dear friend has told me my blog is becoming an oasis of superficiality and encouraged me to post about more deep and meaningful topics. I told her the next time I have a deep and meaningful thought, I'll consider blogging about it! Seriously. Summer definitely limits my blogging time, which is not a bad thing. I'll get back to deep and meaningful posts at some point, I promise! Until then, enjoy my sporadic wandering thoughts. Or not.

I'll leave you with a friendly reminder: it's not too early to make out your Christmas lists! The noisy boys are sitting at the table, working on theirs right now. (I don't know what prompted their Christmas thoughts , but it's very cute!) So far, twin b. wants: a spy hat, seeds, a robot costume, and water bottles. Twin A. wants: two robots, a snowglobe, a pet turtle, and a shark.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

summer fun

I had to do it. Never mind my to-do list and the three baskets of laundry waiting to be folded. The noisy boys were having so much fun, I couldn’t resist. As soon as baby b. went down for his afternoon nap, I donned my bathing suit and joined them in the backyard for some serious water fun: the Amazing Spiderman Slip ‘n Slide.

Let’s be perfectly honest: these are not made for thirty-five year old women. I had no business on that Slip n’ Slide, which I discovered on my first run. The noisy boys thought it was hilarious and cheered me on and gave me more than my share of turns. (Plus I didn’t actually break anything, which is a bonus!) Aches and pains aside, we had a blast.

By the time baby b. was up, everyone was starving. I whipped up smoothies while our Trader Joe’s Rolled Chicken tacos were warming in the toaster oven. Twin B. sipped his berry-yogurt smoothie and chatted happily, summing up our spontaneous afternoon of play in a sentence: “Now THAT’S what I call SUMMER FUN!”

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

quote of the day

"The next person who pees on the floor will be punished. Seriously. I am sick and tired of stepping in pee."
Llama Momma

Those of you with little boys know exactly what I'm talking about. I'm sure aiming is tricky and all, but come on. It can't be that difficult!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

one thing

Sweaty and tired, I slap the teak oil onto the chairs. It’s getting dark, and I don’t care anymore. I just want to be done. One thing. I just want to finish one thing today. Well, one thing besides the housework and the dishes and the laundry and the constant cooking.

“Those will look nice when you’re done,” my neighbor encourages from over the fence.
“Thanks. I’ve been trying to get this project done literally all day.” I respond with a tone of irritation.
“Oh, I remember those days,” she says.
“Is it too much to just start and finish a project in the same day?” I wonder aloud as she smiles.
We are on different sides of parenting, she and I. Our swing set went up the summer theirs came down. Three kids, the last one a senior this year, she has walked roads I haven’t even considered yet.
We chat politely, even as I envy her manicured lawn free of plastic toys.
“I saw you and the kids walking to the pool the other day. Boy does that bring back memories! Those were good days,” she continues, with envy in her eyes.

And as the sun sets, I finally finish the one thing I’ve been trying to do all day. I know she is right. These are good days. Long. Hard. Messy. But so good.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

pilates = bad idea

A friend has been singing the praises of pilates for over a year now. “Take a class! You’ll love it!” She encourages. But I have issues with coordination, and some serious baggage with aerobics classes that make me feel klutzy.
“Oh, it’s not like that at all,” my friend assures me. “It’s nothing like aerobics.”
She almost had me convinced. Almost. Looking over the schedule at the Y, I almost did it. But I am so glad I didn’t.

Instead, I checked out some pilates videos at the library. And, let me tell you, they require coordination and abdominal muscles I do not have. I realize that’s the point, but seriously folks. It’s bad.

I have reached new levels of humility with these videos while the noisy boys either flawlessly complete every move while shouting out, “Come on, Mom! It’s fun!” or critique me from the couch, “Don’t just lay there. Lift up those legs! You can do it! CAN you do it, Mom?” and questions I do not wish to answer like, “What’s a firm buttocks?” Oh, yeah. They do not need any more vocabulary to add to their repertoire of body-part humor.

I’m just glad I’m in the house with the curtains closed and not at the YMCA.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Juggling the baby, a spatula, and fielding random questions about snakes represents just another day in the life here at the Llama household. This morning I was cubing up stale bread for croutons, turning the same stale bread into french toast for breakfast, cutting up bananas for baby b.’s breakfast, and answering a random assortment of questions when Twin B. chimed in with, “When will my French toast be ready?” Not in that polite, I’m-just-wondering tone, but with an edge of demanding, a where’s-my-breakfast kind of tone.

“Be patient,” I answered. “Mama’s doing a lot of things at the same time. You need to wait patiently for your breakfast.” I resisted the urge to add, “Hey. Some Mom’s don’t even make breakfast. Heck, you could already be at daycare eating a baggie of cheerios, so buck up buddy.” But I didn’t.

Twin A., who tends to be careful and observant, said, “Yeah, Mom’s doing three things at the same time. She’s making our breakfast, making something for supper, and keeping her eye on the baby.”

I’m impressed. The kid nailed it. And he gave me an important reminder: when you don’t think they’re paying attention to the details, they are. They’re learning from us whether we think we’re teaching them or not. And, I believe, the biggest lessons are not in the big things, but the little things. How we treat the plumber who shows up thirty minutes early; finishing the promised and much anticipated game of UNO and letting the answering machine take care of the ringing phone; and responding with kindness and respect to a child’s question—even when we’re doing three things at the same time.

Friday, June 8, 2007

a dream come true

The kids and I spent the better part of the morning wandering around the neighborhood, going to various garage sales. We now own two more big trucks that make lots of noise, and two more stuffed animals to keep the three thousand stuffed animals we already own company.

When we got home, there was a box waiting for us at our door. “What is that box?” Twin B. asked.
Glancing at the front of it, I evaded the question. “Let’s get these new trucks inside and check the batteries!”
It can’t be. No. Who would send that to us? I do mental gymnastics as I get down the battery box. It must be someone who reads my blog. Craver? Does Craver have my address?
“Mom? What about that box?” Twin B. asked again.
Finally, I go out and get the box. It’s inevitable at this point. And when they see the front, the noisy boys exclaim in unison: “AN ANT FARM!”
Twin B. talks a mile a minute as we bring the box inside. “It’s an ant farm, my very own ant farm just like on Max and Ruby! Oh, this is so exciting. A. – look – it’s our very own ANT FARM! This is the happiest day of MY LIFE. It’s a DREAM COME TRUE!”

We’re just a tad bit excited.

Our dear friend, LB, is so very generous. How will we ever repay her?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

new fence

We got a new fence on Tuesday. Our old one has been falling down since we moved into this house five years ago, and with another baby getting ready to start toddling around, it was time.

I don’t take this fence for granted. In fact, this post by Erika Haub was on my mind much of the day. I wonder which thing is harder from a spiritual perspective: to be in want or to be in plenty? I’ve been in both, and they’re both difficult places to be, spiritually. Raising my children in this affluent suberb is a balancing act. I want them to seize the many opportunities available to them while avoiding the sense of entitlement that too often accompanies having lots of opportunities. Is this possible? I honestly don’t know. I pray it is.

A crew of hard-working Mexican men installed our fence, working through drizzly and, at times, pouring rain. I couldn’t fix this for these men, though I wanted to. Instead I warmed their lunches in the microwave and offered them galletas y cafĂ© and the use of our restroom. After the men went back to work, Twin A. asked, “Can they talk in regular talk?”
Sighing, I corrected him. “You speak English, not ‘regular talk.’ For some people, Spanish is regular talk. The term regular is a matter of perspective.”
“What’s perspective?” he innocently asked.
I try to explain ethnocentrism in words a five-year old can understand, adding, “This is why you’re taking Spanish classes: to communicate with people who speak Spanish.” I want to weep and shout at the same time, “It’s not to improve your overall communication skills or get higher scores on the SAT. It’s to communicate with people.”
“What’s S-A-T?” his brother interjected.

I give up.

Did I mention I’m very grateful for this new fence? I am. Come on over and play! Anytime.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Mom's night out

Last night I went out with a group of dear friends from our twin’s playgroup. I was struck by how this group of women has evolved, and how much it means to me at this stage in my life.

When the noisy boys were babies and we were new to Illinois, my husband took on his current job that involves a heavy travel schedule. This was hard. Unbelievably hard. I remember standing in the shower one morning, sobbing, and praying for just one friend who would really understand what I was going through. Just one.

That day, for no real reason, I packed up my two babies and went to a craft store I had never been to before. While there, I ran into another woman pushing a double stroller with twin boys the exact age as mine. We started comparing stories, and realized our lives overlapped in an uncanny way. At this point we were still smiling politely, and yet both of us were desperate too—for a friend who really got it. We exchanged phone numbers that day and began getting together the next week. We became fast friends, and gave each other courage and strength and understanding to get through the long days of mothering little ones. The four boys are best friends. (And in another uncanny coincidence, we each had a third son within months of each other!)

My friend, Ang, started a playgroup through our twin’s club a few months later. I still remember that first meeting with all of the babies crawling and toddling around and yelling. The Moms didn’t talk much during those early meetings, but just to be in the presence of other adults brought sanity. As the kids got older, we were giddy as we sat around the table, drinking coffee. “Look at us! Drinking coffee!” We would exclaim. We had arrived.

And last night, we all swapped stories of our babies, who are going to school now and crossing the Daisy bridge and reading real books, and I thanked God again for this gift of friends who understand.