Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Dreaded Swim Lesson

We went to swim class today and Cooper did NOT throw up.

Not to say that he has gotten sick at every swim class (he hasn't) but it's been quite a journey to get to a happy(ish) place in the pool.

We started lessons back in June. I elected to try private lessons given how AWESOME Cooper is at trying new things and mingling with new people…NOT! Anyway, we show up on the first day and he was pretty cooperative in the pool with someone he didn't really know, until she made the mistake of asking him to put his face in the water that is! Silly, silly swim teacher, this is what happens when you ASK a three year old to do anything! Cooper started to whine and very directly told her "NO THANK YOU!" After this, she promptly pulled the plug on the lesson telling me she wanted him to be a little more comfortable with her and in the water before lessons.

We opted to come back in two weeks after more pool time. At this lesson, it only took him two minutes to tell her "NO!" and earn his "done for the day" card. Yeah, he figured her out pretty quickly. She told me, "I really want him more comfortable here and with me. He should be running up to me excited to start the lesson with a hug and be willing to go underwater." I took everything I had not to laugh in her face. He's got your number, lady.

Private lessons with pushover instructors, as it turns out, are not for us!

Next stop…group lessons at the YMCA in July and part of August.  I felt like he was getting behind and the Y offered two week crash courses where you went for four days in a row. We did three sessions and actually had some luck here. There were kids in his class that were actually terrified of the water so ornery little Cooper came out looking like a shining star! He blew his bubbles as instructed and was willing to swim (assisted) as long as his eyes didn't get wet. Top of the head? FINE! Nose, ears and mouth? OK! But don't you dare get his eyes in the water! No, he will not wear goggles. That would just be too convenient!

His instructor at the Y was a huge college football linebacker that looked like he could have eaten Cooper for lunch. No matter his size, Cooper had that 300 pound teddy bear like putty in his hands by the end of the first lesson. Cooper was the only one not crying. This guy was not going to risk that by making Cooper put his face in the water and you better believe Cooper knew it!

So we finally settled on a once a week swim class with two of Cooper's besties. This is where we should have been all along! They are a lot tougher on the kids and Cooper started making strides from the beginning. Plus, all the parents sit behind a glass wall to watch so I only had to see the crying boy, not hear him too. As much as he would cry and have anxiety before class, he was pretty ok with things after the lesson and my chocolate donut bribe. He was FINALLY progressing.

Until last week.

The day started with the normal pleas from the boy about not going to swim class. I countered with my typical bribes, condolences and encouragement which got us to class virtually tear free. Once inside, he started his wind up and his usual routine of crying and "I want my Mommy" which makes my stomach turn, even from behind the glass. That day they were working on floating on their backs which is really hard to do when you are yelling at the top of your lungs!

The next thing I know, I'm watching his head dipping down into the water. Through the flailing limbs I could see that he was actually coughing up a little water. Uh oh. "Oh man, please let that be water and not…" As soon as I could think it they were putting him on the outside of the pool where he promptly tossed his cookies. Ugh.

I hand Sister over to a friend and she immediately starts crying from the commotion. Awesome day to forget her binky!

I ran into the pool and scooped him up. One of the lifeguards helped me over to the shower to get him cleaned up. Wouldn't you know that in the comedy of errors that was my crying baby and my barfy kid the lifeguard pulled the chain and started the shower ON ME as soon as I bent over to set Cooper down.

At that point, soaked from head to toe with two crying kids, I considered letting Cooper learn how to swim once he got to college. But, as life would have it, we did go back and he showed up today with no tears and did perfectly fine. I did notice that his instructor didn't really make him go underwater today. Like, at all.

Don't mess with Cooper, he's willing to puke to get out of what he doesn't want to do! I wonder, has he outsmarted this instructor as well or are we finally turning a corner? Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dear Sleep Gods

Dear Sleep Gods,

I truly hope you are busy answering the pleas of my dear friend Chelsea whose 5 month old isn't sleeping a wink. I feel bad even bothering you if that is the case. However, if you have a minute, I have just a teeny weeny favor.

Remember when I had a 5 month old that wouldn't sleep a wink and I all but traded my soul to get just a little more shut-eye? Remember how I told you that I could easily spend the rest of my life only getting up once a night? Remember how I told you I would never ask for anything again if you just granted me a little relief?

Well, here I am, not with another "ask" but just a little teensy tweak. You see, I really wasn't kidding about the once a night business. I would much prefer to deliver milk or a pacifier at 4am and then go back to sleep until 6:30am than get up at 5am with Sister and be up for good. Here's the deal, a 5am wake-up ensures that: 1) I will have 8 hours of entertaining to do until nap time; 2) I will not have had even a sip of coffee before said entertainment; and, 3) I will definitely not be at the top of my Mommy-game for the rest of the day.

Don't you want me to be at the top of my Mommy-game?

I promise that I have exhausted all of my options before even coming to you. I've tried and earlier bedtime, a later bedtime, a shorter nap, a longer nap, warmer milk, essential oils, less visual stimulation during the day…nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. The girl just has an internal alarm clock that we just can't shake!

Seriously, I'm over it. I will take any time with a 6 in front of it.

Your pal,


P.S. Don't worry about Sister. She just makes up for it by falling asleep EVERY TIME WE GO SOMEWHERE. I'm not bitter or anything.

How I find her most days when I open the car door. Sloppy.

Still holding her packet. Impressive!

Strollers are for sleeping! 5am is for playing!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Inappropriate Superman

When the movie Frozen came out, I purchased it but didn't let Cooper watch it until he and Kyle made their trek to Rosemary Beach for vacation in May. I saw what a big deal it was and thought it would be a nice little trip treat for the boys. A new movie for Cooper and a big time distraction for the 10 hour drive for Kyle. Win, win?

Well, that little plan of mine backfired just a wee bit. It was great for the road trip but it did not end there. Frozen turned my three year old into a walking, talking Elsa. I know there was many a kid out there that loved Frozen but I have to think Cooper was in a category above and beyond.

The kid was obsessed. OBSESSED. Every waking moment of the day he was either singing "Let it Go", running around in his Elsa cape, begging and pleading for a "long beautiful dress", asking me to put his hair in a ponytail. He gave up his bedtime books for Frozen stories and would only answer to Elsa. IT. WAS. INTENSE.

This went on for months around our house. MONTHS! When we were both at our wit's end (I mean, how many hours a day can you play Frozen?!), Kyle decided to try to reverse the obsession by getting him hooked on Superman. Because, what's the opposite of Elsa? Clearly, Superman. OK, I bought it. I was desperate! So Kyle went out on iTunes to download a new Superman movie for him.

Enter: Inappropriate Superman

Have any of you out there seen "Superman: Unbound"? This is the movie my sweet husband picked out for our 3 year old. Kyle was with him for the initial viewing and he couldn't stop talking to me about how hot Lois Lane was. The ogling was my first clue to the inappropriateness. May I present Exhibit A:

Um, yeah. Hi Lois. Nice to see your boobs you.

My second clue was when Cooper came to me and asked "Mom, what's it called when the bad guy puts tubes into your head and squeezes until the blood comes out? Also, what's blood?"

OMG. Parental failure.

I went to look at the computer and found out that the movie Kyle picked to cure our Elsa obsession was rated PG-13. "But it was in the Family section of iTunes!!!", he said. "Don't blame me! They shouldn't make cartoons that aren't meant for kids!", he pleaded. 

I'm pretty sure this is not going to go over too well at Cooper's new school. Double rods? Really Lois, is that necessary?

To the trash, Inappropriate Superman! But, for what it's worth, we did cure the Elsa addiction!

Superman in [couch jumping] action!

In search of a more suitable Superman movie…any suggestions are welcome!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fall Firsts!

It's been awhile, hi! Just over here blogging while Sister is sleeping and Cooper is at school. Ahhhh, it's Fall (ish), although you can't tell by the weather.

I suppose I have a little catching up to do. We've been mucho busy starting school, traveling to Georgia/South Carolina and going to Carrington's first music class…all within one week! Our Fall has definitely started off with a bang.

Cooper went back to school last Wednesday!

This is the best picture I could get. His Papa gave him a fancy new State Farm brush and he would not put it down! #notaframer but that is one cute mug!

For those of you that have followed from the beginning, you may be curious as to what kind of nightmare adventure I am about to tell you about the first day of school…at a NEW school, I might add. For those of you who don't know, there is only one word to describe school drop offs for the past two years: hellish. The first year he got so anxious he vomited. The second year was marked by crying and clinging. Let me tell you, I couldn't wait to see what year three had in store! [insert sarcastic cackle here]

Cooper had a little preview of his new school this past June during the school's summer camp. Each day they did a different theme: Frozen! Petting Zoo! Water Play! Cowboy! etc., etc. It was a three-year-old's dream. After the camp session was finished, he would ask me all the time when his school would be open again. I was left cautiously optimistic about the new year.

Fast forward to Wednesday drop off…  I had done everything in my power to prepare him. Took him to the class preview party, talked it up, let him pick out his clothes and I even bit my tongue when he wouldn't put down his lovely State Farm brush for a picture. Choose your battles, right? When we pulled into the carpool line my nerves were working but he seemed fine. His teacher came out to the car to greet him and he eagerly hopped out. Gulp. "Bye bud! I love you! Have a great day!" He turned to me, waved and said "Love you! Bye Mom!" Double gulp. After I picked my jaw up off the ground I cried, hard. It was 90% tears of joy and relief that it wouldn't be another hard year of drop offs and about 10% tears of sadness. My baby bird is leaving the nest.

I was first in line to pick up up from school that day. Not because I was crazy anxious to see how his first day went (OK, maybe a little), but because Kyle and I had a plane to catch! We were headed to Savannah to spend time with Kyle's Aunt Phyllis and head up to South Carolina for the opening A&M game.

"Hi Coop! Hope you had a great first day of school! (He did.) See you Saturday! Have fun with your grandparents!" The kids were left in the capable hands of their Papa with a hand-off to Cita and this mom-of-the-year hopped a plane to Georgia. Oh, and did I mention Sister was battling a double ear infection?! And, by the way, she wakes up at 5:15am these days. Have fun!

Savannah had always been on our "list" and it did not disappoint! We ate and drank and ate some more and when we needed to burn some calories we did the tourist thing and walked around downtown. We had an awesome time visiting family and relaxing at their beautiful home.

I'm not sure if it was Savannah or the lack of crazy kids around us, but we sure did the R&R thing right! This view didn't hurt!

The icing on the cake was the Fightin' Texas Aggie win over the South Carolina Gamecocks. Kyle and I do NOT have a great record of wins on the road together. Let's just say one of our first dates was an away game at Baylor that wasn't pretty. We pulled into the stadium conversing about how we "just didn't want to be embarrassed" and walked out with a HUGE win. Gig 'em Ags!

Next up on the list of fall firsts…Carrington's music class! We went for the first time today and she rocked it. She did exactly the opposite of everything that I remember Cooper doing when we used to take him to Gymboree (wanted to play alone, didn't want to sing, didn't want to sit in a circle…). She sat in my lap, tried her best to sing the songs and basically owned the room. She walked around the circle telling people "Hi!" while giving her best head-tilted smile of course and when it was her turn to sing on the "mic" she grabbed it from the teacher and belted out "DA DA DA" in her loudest little 14-month voice. This girl is friendly…and FEARLESS!

Posing before music class!
And, because this had to go on the blog somewhere and I can *kindof* work this into a "firsts" post…will you check out these pink tooters! I mean, ridiculous. 

Happy (almost) Fall!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cheeseburgers on China… My Blog Name, Explained!

I've been asked many times over the years how this little blog got its name. I recently realized that I have never shared it here. Well, besides my blog banner that makes me hungry every time I see it! (Am I right?!)

As much as I hate to admit it, Kyle named the blog. He's been bugging me to fess up to that for a lonnnnng time now. (You're welcome.) It has nothing to do with the country of China and not a whole lot to do with cheeseburgers. Sorry to disappoint those of you who come looking for a great Chinese-style cheeseburger recipe!

I had been toying with the idea of starting a blog ever since Cooper was born and finally got serious about it when he was around 18 months old. I wanted a name that encompassed all aspects of my life… the ones that are beautiful and the ones that are messy, too.

A lot of the time, those moments are all one in the same.

Just like planning a perfect dinner party, laying out your best china but only having enough time/talent/patience/what-have-you to muster up cheeseburgers for dinner. 

BUT, here's the deal, people love cheeseburgers and the ones that really matter love your "cheeseburgers on china" moments. Good news for me indeed!

On that note, I was going through my photo stream the other day and realized that my favorite pictures are usually NOT the ones that are perfectly edited out of a photographer's lens. How many of these do you have on your phone right now? In my mind, the most perfect pictures are usually not "framers". I'm actually going to start tagging all of mine #notaframer on social media. Join me if you want!


#notaframer (So very, very much #notaframer.)






Here's to life's less than perfect moments!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cooperisms, Fourth Edition

It's been a long time since I've updated you on the current Cooperisms. So for fun (and documentation), here are the things that have us rolling as of lateHere are my previous Cooperism posts if you're just catching up! (Man Meat and other Cooperisms, More Cooperisms and Cooperisms, Third Edition)

  • "Grandpa! Hush!" - I told you before that every time Cooper hears someone over the loud speaker (at a grocery store, for example) he thinks its my Mom and talks back to her. Now he has suddenly distinguished male and female voices. We were at the grocery store the other day when a man's voice came over the loud speaker: "Clean-up on aisle 2", to which Cooper replied: "GRANDPA! HUSH!" That turkey.
  • "We Didn't Start the Fire" - This Billy Joel classic is hands down Cooper's all time favorite song. He requests it in the car, on my phone, over the TV and always ON REPEAT! While I appreciate that his taste in music definitely strays from your typical kid bop, I'm wondering if I should be concerned that my three year old is yelling out: "Birth control! Ho Chi Minh!"? 
  • "I've got a package. I've got a package in my pants." - This one really threw us for a loop. Apparently, in Cooper language, package and tag are of similar meaning. Yowza.
  • "I'm angry." - Cooper tells us all the time that he is "angry" or "mean" or "mad". We always ask him why and every time his response is a long, drawn out: "BECAUSE. I. AM." OK, we are getting there on expressing those feelings, ha!
  • "I love you all the time." - Cooper rarely just tells me that he loves me. It's usually "Mommy, I love you all the time." I'm pretty sure he got it from this book, but I'm going to go ahead and highly recommend it to all of you parents out there because it's the biggest ego boost…original thought or not!
  • "Man, I really messed up this time." - The other day I laid down the law about yelling in the house. After reprimanding him for this offense and making him apologize to me he turned around, dramatically slapped his forehead and said, "Man, I really messed up this time." I died.
  • Who's the boss?! - I am CONSTANTLY reminding Cooper that I am the Mom and I don't need his help parenting Carrington. He is all over her for her missteps (real or imagined). In fact, if he catches her playing with a toy of his, she is usually handing it back to him before he can march his little bossy tush across the room to retrieve it. Hmmm, maybe I should take note!
  • "We can't do things we can't control." - If you know my cautious, Type A first-born you'll know exactly why this is so fitting. He tells me this when he's scared to try something new. This is sooooo Cooper, but when did he start talking like an adult?
  • "Dad! You've got a mosquito on your arm!" - This statement is always followed but a big SLAP (of the imaginary mosquito)! He thinks he's so clever and I love his budding little sense of humor. It's too funny to call him out over, especially since Kyle is almost always on the receiving end of that one. BOYS!

This kid.

And, just for fun, here are all of the pictures that I had to take to capture this winning grin. (He only smiles for selflies!)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Affordable Kid Things to do in Houston this Summer

My life as a stay-at-home-mom started off with a bang. In the beginning, I spared no expense toting the kids all around the city to a different place every day…making up for lost time, I suppose. We had a plan for every day of the week and I really enjoyed all of these new experiences with my kids.

Well, my working-mom ways haven't completely left me…I still thrive on having something planned every day! However, I quickly realized that on my no-salary salary, upwards of $30 a day in admission fees alone to do all of these things wasn't going to cut it! I wanted to share some of the free and more affordable places that I've found and would love your feedback on the same. Yes, I realize summer is coming to an end (maybe?!) but it's going to be boiling in Houston through September so you still have plenty of time to give these a whirl!

My HOT Houston Summer Kid Picks!

  1. Splash Parks - I was introduced to the wonderful world of splash parks when I went to visit my friend Chelsea in May. I don't know why this was such a novel idea to me but I just envisioned chaos and dirty water. NOT THE CASE. In Houston, there are some great city parks with water features that are FREE FREE FREE! Here are the two that I have visited and loved:
    1. Discovery Green - You can find "Gateway Fountain" towards the corner of McKinney and La Branch downtown. The splash park was big enough for Cooper to get a kick out of it and gradual enough for Carrington to crawl around at the edge and play. As a bonus, there is an awesome playground right next to it that the kids can run back and forth to. Really, it is too dang hot to play on a playground midday in Houston in the summer so the chance to cool off in the water was awesome. Double bonus, at the time we went, Kyle was still working downtown so he picked up some sandwiches and we had a family picnic on the lush lawn!
    2. Jaycee Park - My friend Shelby told us about this place and we love it. The splash area is small enough for me to feel safe letting Carrington loose and she had so much fun. This is a great place for crawlers. Also, they have a really unique playground as well…not your typical slide and swing set. When Cooper tired of the splash area, as three year olds do, he was very content to explore the playground and I was easily able to keep him in sight. Jaycee Park is located right inside the 610 loop and very easy to get to.
  2. Looscan Neighborhood Library - We visited  the library for the first time last week. This library has story time every Wednesday. We walked into quite a scene in the second floor meeting room. There were kids EVERYWHERE playing with all sorts of toys on a big colorful carpet. The sight had Cooper immediately running for the hills but I somehow convinced him to say. The storyteller was really enthusiastic and sweet and started the class with a couple of songs before she read books and led craft time. Cooper very enthusiastically told the teacher he would not be participating in crafts (yeah, ok) but I'm sure the other kids had a great time. All in all, this was a great place to spend an hour for free in the air conditioning.
  3. The Little Galleria - A free air-conditioned play area for the win. Located in the Galleria, the Little Galleria is a foam replica of the buildings in the Galleria. Cooper could climb to the top of all of the buildings and there was a little slide small enough for Carrington to scoot around on. While small, this play area held their attention for about 30 minutes. I would definitely bring them back and would use it as a bribe if I ever needed to run a dreaded Galleria errand with kids! 
  4. Houston Children's Museum - OK, so this one isn't free but I think the membership is such good value. For $95, you can get a family membership for a year and use of the express entry line. The three of us would burn through $95 in admission fees in just about three visits so the membership was a no brainer. We now go about once a week and love the kinetics room, the science experiments and, of course, the outdoor water park. Let me tell you, enjoying a $1 coconut popsicle outside while your kids happily play independently is such a treat.
  5. Houston Zoo - Again, not free, but the membership is such a steal at $96 for a family for the year. My father-in-law has gifted this to us for the last two years and both of my kids thoroughly enjoy it. The Houston Zoo is one of the rare kid places in town that actually opens before 10am (9am to be exact), so if you go early you can beat the heat and the crowds a little bit. Plus, you can always pop into the reptile house or cruise through a mister if you get too hot. And then there's the ice cream…

The proof is in the pictures!

Carrington at Discovery Green

Cooper at Discovery Green

Jaycee Park
Smiles for Jaycee Park

Waiting for story-time at Looscan

The Little Galleria (and typical blurry Cooper pic)

Of course Sister LOVED the Little Galleria!

Teamwork at the Children's Museum

Zoo Carousel with Cita!
My list of summer recommendations would not be complete without mention of our beloved shark pool. For the days when your activities are confined to the house, this is a no brainer. I bought two from Academy last year when they were on sale for $10. Sorry, the price has now gone up to $12.99, ha! We are still on the original after two summers of play. You can hook up your hose and water shoots out of the tail. Throw in a plastic slide and you are practically at a water park!

Since it would be a disservice just to mention the places I loved, I do have one for the "DO NOT RECOMMEND" list. My friend Lyndsey and I took our kids to the Soto Exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts this morning. As advertised, this exhibit is "intended to be touched, handled, and waded through" and our kids really enjoyed doing just that. However, I did not appreciate the docents hovering around asking our kids not to hold on to the strands or get them tangled every five seconds. "NO RUNNING! NO HOLDING! NOOOOOOOOO TWIRLING!" I have never been more relieved to see a troop of big kids from a summer camp show up to divert the attention!

Here's the thing, either a place is kid-friendly or it isn't. I am not the parent that brings my kids to fancy restaurants or other places that are not age-appropriate and in fact frown upon parents who do. I'M A RULE FOLLOWER PEOPLE!!! However, the MFAH advertising was clearly geared towards kids and the environment was anything but. When Cooper tripped and fell in this tunnel (we were all a little disoriented), the docent came running over not to offer help but to ask the we return to the pathway immediately. Yeah, got it! I think the final straw was when a docent at the park across the street (not even a paid part of the museum) asked Lyndsey's two year old to back away from the bronzed statue she was admiring and sweetly pointing to. Yes, the statue that was outside that birds poop on. 

The kids had fun nonetheless but I will NOT take them back until they are at least 25!

Clearly these kids were about to tear the place down:

Admiring the exhibit from the safety of my arms!

Big kids had no time for photos!

That's a happy boy!

Sister was not sure what to think!

Yeah, we got it.