December 16, 2011

Summer Round Up 2011, Part 2

So where did we leave off? August. In August, it was Milihram Time! Kind of like Hammer Time, but more awesome, check it:



You can't touch this....fanny pack!

But Pokemon can touch Aunt Kara's magic gold belt...

Oh where did the Milihrams go? On top of the Intrepid!

Inside the Intrepid.

In the Toys R Us Ferris Wheel.

On top of the Empire State Building.

In front of the former WTC site.

Inside the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in Times Square.

Sadly, we had to say farewell to cousin Frank and cousin Luke.

Recently, we were talking about sisters and brothers and what it means to be related to a person. In the course of this conversation, I asked young Master Bertram why he thought he lived with Vivian. I expected him to answer, "because we are brother and sister." Instead he said, "because we are friends."

So here are a few pictures of friends from the late summer:



November 2, 2011

Summer Round Up 2011, Part 1

Since we've already had our first snow day, I thought I'd take a step back and recall a fine summer's worth of shenanigans with young Master B and Mistress V.

We re-discover the park. This particular structure was enjoyed as a boat and a bus. IMG_20110619_102235.jpg

We find that we like wearing straw hats.

Even though the sun is blazing down on them, the Parental Units attempt to take two small children to an outdoor sculpture park--without a stroller. One child had a great time:

And, one child did not:

Young Master B re-discovered the promised land where the streets are paved with gold and everyone drives ride-on mowers. We call that magical place, Maryland.

Young Mistress Viv blew bubbles in the front yard.

After 23 years of deprivation, we witnessed Aunt Kara finally get an honest-to-goodness, store-bought birthday cake at Grandma Edie's house.

Grandma Edie even made an appearance, albeit a blurry one.

Back home, young Mistress Vivi took an alligator for a ride.

We held picnics with friends like Perri Party Pants.

Young Mistress Vivi finally transitioned to a more toddler-like bed. We had hoped this would encourage her falling to sleep in her bed versus being rocked to sleep. Hmmm...

Sitting on the yellow bench, Young Master B reflected on the fact that he liked the Warren Zevon version of Knockin' on Heaven's Door best of all.

We visited friends in Southold. Young Master B decided to marry Ella Bean (in the yellow dress). They do make a fine couple.


The miniature train in Greenport (few towns over from Southold) was not working, but Bert and Vivi made the best of it.

Vivi enjoyed paddle boarding and relaxing on the beach, where she whipped out her new sunglasses from Aunt Kara.

Not to be outdone, Bert put his sunglasses on at snacktime.

We rode the carousel - twice.

Back home AGAIN.

Arriving at the start of a massive heat wave in late July, Big Daddy rolled into town.

July 11, 2011

Ice Cream!

IMG_20110625_120721.jpg, originally uploaded by hal(var).

It's going to be a scorcher today, so make like young Mistress Vivi and grab a cone!

June 2, 2011

Hot Day at Storm King

shot_1306776250149, originally uploaded by hal(var).

I think Parental Unit #2 looks rather fetching in this photo. Note how young Miss Vivi's pants match Parental Unit #2's shirt.

May 25, 2011

Sailing the Seas of Cheese

“I like most music, except Primus and yodeling.”

I remember saying that more than once in my days at Florida State University. So what better way to title a post about tantrums—then by citing the album by a band I that I loathed to hear. Even now, my shoulders kind of creep toward my ears in anticipation of the first few dreaded notes of “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver.”

Likewise, we—the Parental Units—have been on guard waiting for young Master B’s Mega-Epic Bad Time Tantrum Explosion. When he’s a teenager, I’ll be sure to suggest that he name his first band that. To which, I’m sure he’ll reply, “Suck it, Mom.”

But I digress. I remember when other parental units used to sigh and shake their heads when I mentioned that young Master B had hit the terrible twos. “Just wait until he turns 4,” many people said. Wait indeed. In the blink of an eye, he will transform from a pleasant chatty boy to a screaming mess of flailing limbs. The crazy part is that these tantrums arise from seemingly benign situations—he watched a Diego, but wants to watch another one; or he doesn’t want to change from pajamas to day clothes. Imagine the Incredible Hulk as a 4 year old—angry, impulsive, and nigh impossible to contain. Trust me, you won’t like him when he’s angry.

Once underway, these tantrums require every inch of my own self-will to stay calm and emotionally disconnected, because frankly, I’d rather tell him to suck it and walk away. I’m not always successful in keeping my cool—as Parental Unit #2 would tell you. When I do manage some degree of patience and the Mega-Epic Bad Time Tantrum Explosion ends, I just want to crawl into a little ball and watch reruns of America’s Next Top Model. What? Oh c’mon, you know that show is even more hilarious over repeated viewings—unlike tantrums.

We’re trying new pre-emptive strategies—kudos to Parental Unit #2 for talking to young Master B this morning about how to handle situations when you don’t get what want. Dare I hope this little chat made an impact on young Master Bertram? As for my own attempts, I could feel Bertram ramping up for Mega-Epic Bad Time Tantrum Explosion last night. Instead of getting angry when he yelled at me, I used humor. I told him in my best announcer voice, you know the voice of the dude who does commercials for mud bogs or vehicle demolitions, that guy, “Oh that’s too bad, because I’m going to read the greatest story in all the world.” Then, I proceeded to go around the apartment, dramatically turning off the lights, while promoting the story I intended to read, “Greatest. Story. In. The. Wooooorld.” It worked—situation diffused.

Honestly, I feel that I’m still holding on to the shell shock of young Master B’s colicky past—so the anticipation, the waiting for the next Mega-Epic Bad Time Tantrum Explosion is actually more stressful than the tantrum itself. It’s an anticipation similar to what I felt like during that summer of 1993, when I could bank on hearing that Primus song, eventually.

May 16, 2011

Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want

Good times for a change
See, the luck that I've had
Can a good man
turn bad

Bertram doesn’t sleep well. Still.

I hate to say it, but I’ve given up on sleep training, on naps, on spending ridiculous amounts of time coaxing him to sleep. Some people are just craptastic sleepers. I’m one of those people, and I passed that trait to young Master Bertram. Lately, I just fire up the old lap top and invite Bert to get comfy and watch old music videos with me. The rule is, “No Dora. No Thomas. Mommy picks what we watch.” Somehow, he rolls with this. Good, quiet videos include

David Sylvan’s Orpheus
The Cure Caterpillar Girl
Grace Jones Slave to the Rhythm (quite possibly best video of all time)
Xymox (aka Clan of Xymox) Moscovet Mosquito
The Smiths There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

I’ve found that after three or four of these videos, young Master B is on his way to Snoresville. Almost four years of struggle only to realize I only had to turn to the power of 1980s music. Have I ever mentioned just how much MTV I watched? Gosh, no I haven’t?

My own parental units will attest that, as a teenager, I spent countless hours glued to MTV. It annoys me that I can’t remember what I did two weeks ago, but I can recall Robert Smith and Porl Thompson huddled together in falling wardrobe in Close to Me. Parental Unit #2 spent his own teenage years in Hawaii, mostly free from mainstream pop culture. He can’t indulge me.

So it is these past nights, my son lays on my lap while I play Youtube video clips of Morrissey, Gene Loves Jezebel, the Cure, and Siouxsie & the Banshees. Dark, gloomy music full of lost and unrequited love, of hopes quirky and sad, solitude and suffering. This music was the soundtrack to my teenage years, when I stayed up until 2 or 3am, writing in a journal about boys who didn’t notice me. I also wrote a crazy amount of fiction then, short stories, poems. I imagined myself an ARTIST.

I’m 37. I would like to believe that I’m an adult, but traces of that teenage storm and drang remain in me, a twinge of what I did not accomplish as a writer, as an artist, as a creative person. Yet, when I look at these photos of my children, I think, for once, I got exactly what I wanted.

Take that Morrissey.

January 2, 2011

Resolution 2011: Blog More!

Playground @ NY hall of sciAye carumba. How did it get to be 2011 already?

For far too long in my life, January would arrive, and I—Parental Unit #1—would set about on an impossible to-do list: Eat better, exercise more, read more, write more, be more social, more, more, more. One week later, I’d be exhausted and feel like a failure.

Too much, grasshopper.

So I started aiming for one very achievable thing as the focus of my yearly resolution. Last year, I resolved to stop using so many disposable coffee cups. I’d say, I was about 85 percent successful. I’ve yet to find the right re-usable iced coffee container.

This year, I resolve to blog more. I’ll start with a few bits about young Master B. This morning, Parental Unit #2 and I were slogging through grand breakfast preparations. “Grand” for us is anything beyond toast or cereal. In this case, Parental Unit #2 was rocking the iron skillet frying up leftover Christmas ham and eggs. I was on coffee duty. Young Master B kept nagging me for pretzels. After the third no to his request, I explained, “You need growing food for breakfast. Pretzels aren’t growing food. You need something substantial for breakfast. Get it, you are breaking the food fast.”

“I don’t want to break the fast. I want to break the slow, Mommy.”

This exchange is typical, contradictory Bertram. If it’s time for breakfast. He’ll say that he wants lunch. When you offer “lunch,” he says, “no I want dinner!”

You offer dinner and he wants breakfast. And so on. Preschoolers!

Ahem, but young Master B also has a lovely tenderness. I came home from work early the other day and he ran up to me with his plush, baby blue dinosaur wrapped in a blanket and said, “isn’t he so sweet and cute, Mommy?”

OR in the following rare photo, Bertram pretended he was taking care of our friends’ “baby” Zeke—truthfully, Zeke is more of a toddler, only a few weeks younger than Vivian. Anyway, here he is cradling and rocking his baby Zeke down for a