Friday, July 25, 2008

CHOO CHOO at the ZOO


With Mary Carmen visiting and the July weather cooperating, we headed to the Columbus Zoo yesterday for a day of science and biology. This summer camp homeschool thing is a piece of cake but remind me of how tired I am next year when I consider this. We are having a blast but the days are L-O-N-G and the weeks go by so fast.

Our 4 car choo choo wagon schlepped from one end of the zoo to the other and I snapped all kinds of photos- there was even a special Panamanian Golden Frog exhibit- how timely with my two Panamanian divas along for the ride.

Look at these beautiful Latinas
Natalie was fascinated by the snake and wanted to get out of the wagon to take a closer look and touch it.

This is my new favorite photo of me holding the triplets!
Ridiculously Cute isn't she?
Seriously... I don't know where she gets it????

The animals put on quite a show for us, right at two year old viewing level too!
The penguins were performing too, and Natalie was sure to reference their HAPPY FEET!
I could write volumes about all the animal exhibits and things the kids absorbed and retained. They are sponges I tell you- and they remember it all. The 4 story jungle jim playspace was a hit too, and despite his small size, fearless CJ was climbing and manuevering through the entire structure. I was nervous that he would manage to get to the top and then be too scared to slide or climb back down. WRONG! The kid would not quit playing- everytime I suggested we get back in the choo choo wagon to see more animals, he said, One more minute please....like 20 times. It was so friggin cute I let him play way longer than planned and hoped that this would count as two physical therapy sessions and guarantee an early bedtime from exhaustion.



























The most fun for me was watching another mom in the food court. I could not help myself. I know I am a total bitch. She commanded my undivided stares, so I will explain. This was prissy-stuck up mommie with her husband and one child in tow. Who wears an Ann Taylor linen sundress and full make up to the zoo? Let's face it, I am card carrying member of the glam mommie club and I did not even get that faputzed. I scaled it way down to just mascara, sunscreen, lip balm and a fierce Eric Javitz raffia hat with a tee and capris.

I would guess that her son was about 13-14 months old. YES, one toddler. I am not a supermom, far from it really, but when you are carting around 4 kids born with 19 months of each other you make some drastic decisions and you re-prioritize. You do what you gotta do-Yeah, I usually wipe the table if they are eating directly on it, and I almost always wash their hands before a meal. I protect my kids from danger and harm the best I can and I understand that no matter how hard you try, they are going to touch germs and skin a knee once in a while. That is life.

I got some twisted sense of entertainment while viewing this one woman make such a spectacle of herself in front of all the grungy, sweaty, tired, and hungry zoo patrons in the food court. It took her forever to select a table and when she did it was right next to ours.

I was like a deer in the headlights because she was micro-managing every aspect of this lunch. I watched as she rifled through her cutesy over organized Vera Bradley*** Peacock print diaper bag, she pulled out all the matching accessories- sunglass case, make up bag, cell phone holder and finally she found her small zippered pouch with the cleaning supplies. I proceeded to observe as she sanitized the entire table with some kind of green goo and antibacterial Clorox wipes. Her husband just stood there patiently waiting as if this was necessary and normal. She scrubbed that table like a pro, and I started giggling inside when she wiped down the legs of the table too. Who wipes the legs of a table in the food court? Then she motioned for her puppet, ooops, I mean husband, to fetch her a high chair from the corner. She examined it thoroughly from top to bottom then snubbed that particular unit, and made him exchange it for another. The second high chair then got a proper disinfecting treatment as well. Now she has been standing there prepping her table and high chair for more than 15 minutes. The husband finally grows a set, and announces that he is leaving to stand in line for food and he hands off the small child to ultra clean and perky mommie.

Realizing that she can't finish the drying of the table with a child in her arms she gingerly stands the kid up right next to her. I was thinking that even if I had only one child, and I had a unlimited resource of time, I would not go to such extremes. Whatever.

As she was rearranging the seating configuration to make room for the high chair at the table, I noticed that her small guy was bent over onto the concrete floor. It looked like he was bending down to pick something up, but he was just crouching down. Then, he proceeded to lick the cement floor. A full on tongue lap. Like a dog licking peanut butter- it was a huge swipe of tongue on food court floor. It was truly priceless, ahem, I mean disgusting. I could not stop laughing inside. I have not had that much fun in a long, long, time. She spent all that time and energy cleaning and the kid licks the floor. Hilarious. Typical.

Don't flame me but I am still smiling just thinking about it.

****** p.s.- I have nothing against Vera Bradley or her quilted bags, in fact they, like some other very special things are/were made in Fort Wayne, Indiana. wink wink!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tres Latina Chicas y Un Gringo (edited to add photos)


Simply translated, this is my husband, the gringo. He is pictured with our beautiful Panamanian Au Pair, Argenida and her latina diva friends- also both from Panama. He has a school boy crush on all of them- and yeah, I keep reminding him that he is indeed, older than their fathers. My husband the gringo, and his latina divas.
There is no need to see where Mitchell gets it... the apple does not fall far from the tree folks.

Monday, July 21, 2008

CJ, Celiac and the Cleveland Clinic- the three C's

Today was the one year follow up appointment for CJ. Last year at this time he was diagnosed with failure to thrive and was wasting away before our eyes. After his admission at the Cleveland Clinic and with the help of the AMAZING doctors there, we discovered that CJ has Celiac Disease. This was the diagnosis we prayed for, given the other options that might have been- G-d Forbid a million times! After one year of going gluten free he is on the growth chart for weight, for the first time in his life. To put it into perspective, he was born at 2 pounds, 2 ounces and at his smallest he was down to 1 pound 9 ounces. It was 26 days before he was back to his birth weight. He has always been small- that is his nature. But at 16 months he was still thinner than his siblings but he weighed 20 pounds. At his worst again July 2007 at 19 months of age, he weighed a scrappy 18 pounds and was regressing in every way. Today and I am proud to report he weighs 27 pounds and is full of energy, and he is excelling beyond our imagination. The kid freakin knocks my socks off!

Today was the day to show the doctors what a difference a year can make. Last year CJ was miserable and so lethargic that it was truly heartbreaking, but now there is no looking back to that boy. I made sure that his visit today would be memorable for the opposite reasons. He dressed like a gentleman in a button down oxford shirt, striped silk tie and blazer with linen slacks.


















CJ was styling beyond his two years, and he WOW-ed everyone at the Clinic. Even patients and staff in the halls smiled and commented on how cute and handsome he is- they could not help themselves. If there was an absolute opposite behavior and appearance to last year, this was it. We nailed it. While waiting for Dr. Krishnan to come into the exam room, CJ was busy "working" at the computer station. It was hilarious to see the reaction from the team when they opened the door and saw CJ using the PC and writing orders at the same time.

Thank you to our hero, Kadakkal Radhakrishnan, M.D- as seen in the smiling faces here:



















I am grateful beyond blog enteries and thank you notes to the wonderful team in the Cleveland Clinic- they gave me CJ back. The drive home could not have been sweeter. Our boy crashed after a hard day at the office and his sweet face
, suit and tie showed it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Our Baby is WALKING!

With tears in my eyes I report the latest NEWSFLASH! Charlotte is walking. She stands from sitting unassisted, and then walks- and not just a step or two, but 7 steps. The child is an athlete I am telling you, first a supermodel, then a genius, now she is an athlete. Not that we are into labeling her, of course....click to see the video of BABY CHARLOTTE walking.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Amanda & Mitchell


With two birthdays to celebrate in a 10 day period of time, {plus Cousin Connor in between} we have started combining the festivities for the older kids. Keeping it simple works for us, so just having a quiet dinner at home with a special select menu pleases all of us- plus all the extra friends that show up for dinner on any given night. I am already feeding NINE people every night, so what is a few more?

Since today was Jodi's birthday too it seemed fitting to have a family meal with both kids. Amanda and I acknowledged the date but did not make a big circus about it. It was sweet really, I admire her for remembering the details. She is good like that.

Enough about dates and details, let discuss the spread I made for these people. Seriously, I worked my ass off to purchase the necessary ingredients alone, then I schlepped it all home, cleaned and prepped it and crafted it into a gluten free/red dye free delight.

I made a buffet so that everyone could load up on their favorites, and they did!


The main course of Alaskan KING crab legs and claws


Grilled Fresh Asparagus

Marinated Cucumber-Tomato Salad with Feta Vinaigrette

Stuffed Mushroom caps with Zucchini and Parmesan filling

Roasted Garlic and Mashed Potatoes from scratch Grilled Sweet Corn
Sundrop candies- they are the dye free version of M&M's

After the mess was cleared we noticed that Charlotte had enjoyed a few too many items from the buffet. She was covered in kernels of corn and had smeared garlic mashed potatoes in her hair. So we ended our evening with a verse or two of Happy Birthday, and Baby Charlotte got a bath in the sink- after the dishes were done.


Happy Birthday Amanda and Mitchell!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Summer Lovin- Loving the Summer

Since it is summer and the days are LONG- we have started taking walks after dinner. We load up the choo choo wagon and walk to the neighborhood playground. Along the way we get to stop and visit with the neighbors, see some furry friends like Nelly Lou Rajczyk and recruit her people to come with us to the park.

Last night was a spectacular evening. The "two J's" from the neighborhood were back from Sleep away camp and they went with us to invade the swingset and playground. The kids adore these girls. The triplets want to drive by their houses, see if they are home, ask them to "Come wiff us" and genuinely just love the attention they get from two lovely teen-age girls.


It was like having two extra physical therapists and photography assistants tag along. I was loving it too. The kids even boycotted riding home in the wagon and they insisted on driving it, so they did. The pushing and pulling of the wagon was what iced the cake on the night.



Ahhhh Summer- the sun slowly set as the kids were all too ready to finally call it a day. We walked all the way home as it started to get dark. Eli kept saying," C'mon Mommie we hurry up, it getting dark, I see the moon, it almost night, Hurry guys, C'mon guys, it late. We go home now, see it is dark, Mommie!" So we called it a day and now we recall all this summer lovin!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Good Clean Fun- for Mommie(?)

Last night after the kids had sufficiently colored themselves (and various pieces of paper) with markers we had dinner followed by a mud-bath. Not the old fashioned, dig a hole outside kind either. This was civilized and spa like. Right in the comfort of Mommie's jacuzzi tub.
I bought myself some
FANGO MUD by Borghese It was a retro indulgence because back in the days of being single, footloose and fancy free, Mommie had time to do crazy stunts like exfoliate in the shower and lay around reading gossip magazines while waiting for the Fango mud mask to harden and rejuvinate her dehydrated face. Mommie's glam friend, Michelle Giele used to do the same thing, it was FUN! Good Clean Fun! I guess I was delusional in thinking that if I bought a huge tube of Fango Mud again, I would actually find time to use it as intended. As it sat in the bathroom staring at me (unopened) I got the brilliant notion that maybe the kids would like to enjoy a mud-bath?

I filled the big tub with warm water and four small tushies. I smeared them all with the rich, dark green Fango Mud Mask from head to tummy and I let them play around.








They thought it was funny. They did not immerse themselves in the spa experience at all. They just continued pouring water from empty bottle to bottle as if that was supposed to be a good time. My kids had the audacity to mock me by winding up a plastic frog and sea turtle watching them splash around in the water, calling that fun. I educated them on the finer points of taking a mud bath- like drawing on your slathered skin using your fingernail. I let them make squiggles in the mud on each others backs. Not interested. Did these kids not understand the importance of having clean unclogged pores and invigorated skin? Oh yeah, note to self, they have that automatically- hmmmmm, perhaps this is why they could have given a rats' ass about Fango Mud!

So this Queen capped up the orange tube of Fango mud and tucked it neatly into the overnight travel case. It is no longer sitting there on the counter reminding me of the past. I vow that during my next vacation- away from Mommieville, I will grab a current copy of some mindless magazine, spackle my face and decollete with mud and I will have some GOOD CLEAN FUN!

XOXO-

Helene, your very own:


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