Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Missing Uncle Johnnie

We eased into the day this morning by listening to a little Legend from Bob Marley and I explained to Henry that this was Uncle Johnnie's favorite.
He was quiet a minute, then he decided, "It's MY favorite, toooooooooooo."
So he loves Bob Marley, along with Mary Poppins, the Little Mermaid and Prince Ali Ababwa.
I'm glad everyone gets along so well in his world.

He also has decided that he loves to go fishing. Here is his pole:



And this is his fishing hole:



He likes to drop toys down the center of the roll, fish for them awhile, then have me tip the roll back so he can retrieve the car or truck. I mean, the fish.

He told Brian and me the other day that Uncle Johnnie would take him fishing as soon as he got home from WORK.

oKAY mr. inFLECtion.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

He's Home

Svea:
I'm so glad Daddy is home I'm not letting him do anything but hold me.



Henry:
I'm so glad Daddy is home, too, but he gave me this new car and boat in my hand and I'm getting to watch Mary Poppins so I don't care where Daddy sits. As long as it's in the room with me.
My face is also chapped from the wind and the shine on my chin is my special medicine, Burt's Bees Face Cream.
Now I really can't stop licking my chin.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Days

We've had some funny days around here lately...some that I laugh at now, and others that I hope make me laugh in a few years.
I'm really holding out for that.

The past week, Henry has been quoting random phrases from movies at random times. He told me the other morning that he was "going to have MERCY on himself!"
Thank goodness for that, Henry. I'm not sure what movie that's from. I think "The Little Mermaid".
He also thinks that all zebras say, "Zzzzzziplock fresh!" since Marty on "Madagascar" says that one time - and only one time - in a not-so-memorable moment in the movie.

Svea likes movies too, but is much more interested in pointing and talking. She'll point to the TV and say, "Doovie?" about a million times. Her newest fave (just recently replacing her Thank You!) is "Help you?" whenever she wants to fit a weird top on a bottle that won't fit, or when she wants to get in the bath tub instead of her crib at nap time, or open the pantry so she can stick her hand all the way through the dog food bag.

She also has discovered how to ask for a cookie, which she calls a "tookie," and since I am in third grade, I giggle every time at how she almost said "dookey" (if that's how you spell it). Since Papa went around the yard pointing out the dog poop to Henry and yelling, "Dookey!" for all the neighbors to hear and cracking Henry up, I'm not the only one laughing.

Have I mentioned that Brian has been out of town for 5 days? He needs to return soon or I'm going to start laughing about boogers too.

Henry found this pencil on my desk yesterday and wanted me to put it behind his ear just like Daddy does when he's working in the workshop. I think he's really missing him.



I bought some flowers at Sam's trying to perk myself up (both kids had major crying fits through the shopping experience and when all items were placed in the cart, I couldn't find my debit card and, FYI, Sam's only takes Discover and Mastercard and I don't have those cards. Who doesn't take Visa? WHO?).



We not only have fresh flowers, but we have a fresh new modem. It is AMAZING what you can fill your time with when your Internet is down for two days. I almost hugged the cable guy when he came on a SUNDAY and checked all our wires and connections IN THE SNOW then replaced our modem right then so I wouldn't have to go out and buy one juggling naps and weather and two toddlers. But I didn't hug him.

Brian will be home tonight, the stars will align and all will be well.
Thank goodness for that, too.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bobbie and Pops!

Bobbie and Pops came to visit last weekend.

Lately we have noticed that when we get together with them, Henry immediately assumes Pops is there at his disposal, almost in a personal slave kind of way, and Svea entertains Bobbie.

I hate to assign gender roles already, but Henry is very clear that it is Pops who lines up the cars to have a parade on the dining room table and who will play t-ball with the tennis ball for AN HOUR (which in toddler time translates to 3 days in one afternoon) and will pick up sticks and play hide-and-go-seek and everything else that His Highness commands.





Svea, though she will smile and let Pops hold her, will go to Bobbie for the stirring of the "bowls" in the "kitchen" and the trips down the slide (while Henry sits in a toy box??!?) and the repeating of all phrases (especially "thank YOU!" which is her new main thing).





We had a great visit with them (I bet they are exhausted) and thanks to all their babysitting hours, Brian and I got to test drive and eventually buy a new car. The sexy new cream puff.

The New Easel

Not only is iHusband an amazing writer, connossieur of all things motor vehicle, wonderful husband and father (cheeeeeese) but he also is quite skilled in the workshop.



He bought one piece of plywood, a hinge and some chains the other weekend and built Svea and Henry an art easel.



Now it is in the living room and they color and paint all day (painting only when they can be closely monitored). Amazing.



They LOVE it and Svea has finally stopped eating the crayons so we can leave them out.

Our Very Own Cream Puff, by iHusband

The Legend of the Cream Puff:
Told by our favorite guest writer, iHusband.

Yesterday we purchased a minivan.

Along with the other exhausting emotions that come along with buying a car, I am mindful today that this is not simply a car, it is a minivan. Something has changed. I am more irrelevant than I was only 24 hours ago. I find the music blaring from teenagers' cars louder than it was, I crave drive-through food, and I want to learn how to smock.

We did not intend to buy a minivan. It just happened, which is, I guess, the way these things go down. No one sets out to do something like this, you just wake up one day, you are in your 30s, and you own a minivan.

One of the more difficult parts of this transition was letting go of our beloved Toyota 4Runner, a car that served our family for 120K miles of childbirth, long sojourns from Evansville to Birmingham and back, and general family formation. In the interest of full blogging disclosure, I wept a bit on the way to the dealership, the last ride in that silver box-on-frame wonder. I may even have said a few words, just to let the car know how much I appreciated how hard it had worked for us.



It has always been hard for me to say goodbye to a car. I blame my parents--particularly my father--for that.

The first time my parents sold a car after I was born, a 70s model white VW Rabbit (white is a theme in cars purchased by my father), I did not understand what was happening. This was a member of the family. At five years old, I was convinced that if my parents were heartless enough to let go of the Rabbit, I could be next. I ran down Hawksbury Lane, crying for that poorly made German econobox to return. Luckily, my dad knew the woman who bought the car, so occasionally in those first few days, he drove my by it to let me know it was doing okay in its new home.

The next car to grace the Erickson family was a turn-of-the-decade Subaru wagon, in a delightful non-metallic creamy beige. This was my parents' first effort at a legitimate "family car" (as it became clear that they were going to continue bearing children), and it was not a terrible first effort.



This car took its place in family lore as the car that rolled down the street with me and my sister in it after I learned to pop the emergency brake myself. As my mother ran screaming after us, I calmly opened the passenger door to catch a tree, which slowed us down, and ensured that said door would never properly close again. The more famous incident surrounding this car, however, was a classic Brad Erickson moment, who, just a few years old at the time, took an orange marker and added flair to the creamy beige paint job the way only a two-year-old can. When my father questioned me about the recent highlights to the paint job, I turned to Brad, asked him his favorite color, and he replied "Owanj." I looked at my father, and said simply, "I rest my case."

While my father had company cars during this time, an endless array of suit-tone Oldsmobiles, it was my mother's car where the legends were born. You see, my father has an amazing ability to keep things clean, unbroken, unscratched. If my father owns it and it is metal, it has fresh wax on it. My mother is a more functional person, which means that she likes to keep her metal coated in coffee, toddler vomit, or cracker crumbs. Since Mom was outnumbered by her children 3 or 4 to 1 depending on the decade, she did not have a lot of time to coat things in wax.

But that did not stop my father from trying. When we made the pinnacle family vehicle purchase, a mid-80s Dodge Caravan in a metallic blue, my father took all four children to the car dealership, where we proceeded to make life hell for the local salesmen until they accepted my father's demands. If Mel Gibson were to make an epic movie based on my father's life, my father would lead a group of screaming middle-class businessmen into battle against car salesmen. His fervor has not changed since the 80s. Last year, when my brother got a great deal on a new Honda, the vehicle had to be driven over to Alabama from Mississippi (none of the Alabama dealers would match this fantastic price that my father had found. In Mississippi.). But when the car arrived, my father discovered to his horror that they had driven the vehicle over, instead of loading it onto a truck so that it would not have any miles on it. "This is a used car! My son wants a new car!"

The large slab surfaces of the Dodge Caravan seemed made for waxing, so my father would often be found outside shining it up until he could see himself in the paint. These waxing excursions always produced 2 reactions in my father. Inevitably, he would find a scratch in the car from the grocery store parking lot or carpool. My dad would rather the vehicle not be used for such dangerous missions, so he would come in and let my mom know about the scratch, imagining she would be just as horrified. The second reaction would always be to buff out the scratch, stand back 5 feet or so from the vehicle, and proclaim it "a cream puff." This second reaction could last up to 45 minutes, and could include the consumption of beer in a can.



The "cream puff" designation was the highest honor my father could bestow on a car. It had nothing to do with handling, or the mechanical reliability of a car. For some reason, it only referred to the paint. The Caravan, the car that basically saved Lee Iacocca and Chrysler, was a terrible car. It had a 104-horsepower Mitsubishi-sourced engine, a 3-speed automatic transmission, and was built on the "K" platform, the same exciting family of cars that brought you the "Reliant," the "Aries," and the "LeBaron." Any car that uses a French article in the name probably is not going to run well for very long.

And sure enough, within a few short years, the Caravan began to struggle to make it up our driveway. In this particular vehicle, "automatic transmission" meant "transmission roulette." Whenever something mechanical would break, my father would do the same thing: clean the car. I am convinced this is where I got my anthropomorphic respect for automobiles. My father seemed convinced that the cars would heal themselves, if only they were shown respect and love.

But while respect and love were being shown on the outside, my mother's kingdom of children and easily spillable beverages reigned on the inside. The Caravan's abundance of cupholders and child-friendly third row seat meant that my brother could often be found in the back, simply pouring his drink into the cupholder. Since my father rarely went to the very back of the van, these half-filled cupholders could remain that way for weeks or months.

When it finally came time to let the ol' Caravan go, my father put a fresh coat of wax on it, poured some Transmission Fix into the transmission case, and parked it on the side of a busy road in Rainbow City, Alabama. He sold it in just a few days for exactly what he was asking (too much). He loves to tell that story now because he sold it to a mechanic. For my father, that is almost as good as selling a used car to a car salesman.

As time has gone by, my father's memories of the Caravan have only grown fonder. Like a lost loved one, a car that leaves my family usually becomes more precious in my dad's eyes. Occasionally even now, he will pass a mid-80s Caravan on the road (because it can only muster 28 miles per hour), and he will pause with disgust at the lack of wax on the paint. He will remind us of the Cream Puff, and what a perfect car it was, and how good it looked when he sold it. To a mechanic.

Religious sociologists (both of them) say that the healthy pattern for a young adult is to dissolve whatever values and ideals their parents have instilled in them, struggle for a bit, and then create a worldview of their own. Often this worldview looks a great deal like their parents' perspective, whether or not the young adult realizes it.

As this generation of the Erickson family journeys into the alternate dimension of "Life With a Minivan," my hope for our kids is that they can fill up those slab sides and cupholders with their own memories of adolescence, some carbonated beverages, and maybe a keener sense of their parents' humanity.

To the Cream Puff.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Tea Time

I had a little tea party, one afternoon at three.



It was small - three guests in all: just I, myself and me.



Myself ate all the cookies, while I drank up the tea.



It was also I that ate the pie, and passed the cake to me.

(This is a little poem that Papa J - one of the relatives Henry is named for - used to recite to make us giggle. He learned it as an elocution exercise like in the 1930's or something - right, Pops?)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

"Hat" by Svea

"I can't really see when all I'm wearing is my shirt and Daddy's hat...



...unless you look at me like this. I can, however,



take it off by myself."

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Peek-A-Boo with the Cake Stand

If there was audio to this post, it would sound like Grandaddy laughing.



The Dancer



Svea got a TuTu from her cousin Kelly for Christmas.
She cried most of the time she wore it the other day, deep down I think she really loved it.

When I asked her to dance she would dance like crazy. Then she remembered what she had on and started crying again.

Initiation

We have owned Play-Doh for awhile now, but I have kept it as a back-pocket-rainy-day activity and amazingly haven't had to use it yet. However, the other day, our friends Barbara, Calvin and Suzana initiated Henry and Svea into the world of smushy shape making. It was time.



Svea loved poking her finger in it. Uncle Brad, doesn't your index finger do that bend thing when you salute? Awesome that you and Svea share genes. Awesome.



Here's Henry.



And here's Henry eating some. I think.



Don't all kids eat a little Play-Doh?

The answer to that question is YES.

cMoe

We joined the Children's Museum! Alert the press! Our life is so exciting!

Seriously though, there is a new Children's Museum of Evansville (cMoe) downtown that is awesome. The executive director is a friend of a friend of ours from Birmingham (December Warren went to Samford with Chuck Jeane) and she has done a fantastic job putting together/collaborating and designing this creative place for kids.

I think it may be perfect once our kids are 4 or 5, but they still had fun.

Here they are getting "weighed" in the digger. Or something.



And building a bridge:



And wearing hard hats while launching balls to the ceiling:









And playing with bean bags that go on a scale to learn how to balance what you eat with your activities. I secretly loved it that Svea was running around and dancing with the "Dancing" bean bag...



I think Carter and Graham will love this place. Reggie, you need a weekend trip with Kristin out of town? COME ON UP!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Who Knew the Sink Could be so Fun

I filled the sink with water the other day, and filled Svea's tea pot so she could have a tea party, and I just had no idea that the water fun would last more than an hour.
Sweet.



We had a few spills, but it was so worth it.





Monday, January 08, 2007

Four More Good Lake Pics

I just couldn't resist posting these:







Window Washing

When we went to the lake over Christmas, we were there maybe 4 hours.
During that time, my dad Pops got to try out his new squeegie on the outside windows.



He let Lydia help with the final shine and while they were concentrating on that,



Henry was so delighted he could see his reflection that he had to lick the window.
That's MY son.



Here's Meredith and me laughing at the scene:



So I thought that was the end of it. Until we get home from the holidays and FIVE DAYS LATER Henry goes digging in his toy box to find HIS squeegie thing (that air pump for his new soccer ball) to wash our windows.





Yes, he is still in his pajamas and still refuses to wear pants indoors.


During most of the window washing at the lake, Svea was eating crackers next to her Aunt Meredith.