Saturday, December 17, 2011

Princess Emaline

"That's a pretty horse," said Emaline. "When I get to that castle, I'll be a princess."

We heard about a book deemed the Worst Book Ever: Microwave for One by Sonia Allison. When we looked up the book on Amazon, we found, among other items also viewed, this gem of a t-shirt. Emaline, eating pancakes at the table with us, beamed.

Of course, five minutes later, I heard screams coming from our bedroom, followed by the familiar, "Keillor, you need to go to time out." Seems he had hit his sister in the head. Time out is the area at the bottom of our stairs. It is enclosed on three sides by the gate to the stairs, our bedroom door, and the door to the dining room (now the makeshift shared bedroom for the twins during construction).

In time out, Keillor likes to scream like he is being beaten. Red-faced, tears streaming down his cheeks, beating on the door, Keillor is a delight. His sentence would conclude if he could calm down and apologize to Emaline. Instead, he hit me in the face. He would not be getting out early for good behavior.

Eventually, and abruptly (like flipping a switch) his tantrum ended, he said, "I'm sorry, Daddy." He was ready to make amends with his victim. Walking over to his sister, he said, "I'm sorry, Emaline," to which she responded. "It's OK, Keillor; I giving you a hug." A heartwarming toddler hug was shared, followed by more shenanigans. "I gonna be a princess," said Keillor.
"You can't be a princess, Keillor. You a boy."


When I was a kid, I used to love getting oranges in my stocking at Christmas. My mom would quarter them, and I could eat them the only way a kid should eat an orange: making monkey lips. Until recently, the twins were not into oranges. However, a trip to Cracker Barrel and a piece of garnish changed that. We bought them tangelos, and they are quickly making their way through a bag.

This is life at the Mau house.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

...Three Months Later

The irony of maintaining a blog about raising kids is that when they required the most attention and time (and were, really, let's face it, the least interesting), I seemed to have plenty of time and energy to write about them, post pictures, take videos. Now that they are more independent, can entertain themselves for minutes at a time, and do some of the most amazing things, now that I should have more time and more reasons to share their funny and amazing stories, now I find other things to do, now I take fewer photos, now I write less down. Infant blobs who just stare get thousands of photos; toddlers who ride tricycles, brush their own teeth, help make biscuits, go to the bathroom by themselves (sort of) get nothing. Well, I am trying to change that.
What's new in Mauland?
Cat doors. This morning I was installing a cat door in our back door to allow Leo the opportunity to escape to the mudroom when the Schmookies attacked. Unfortunately, installing this contraption was not easy. There I am sitting on the floor trying to think of other words to say besides curses, fuming, spitting, angry, when a little hand touches my shoulder and a sweet little voice says, "Are you frustrated, Daddy?" Then another voice says, "It's OK, Daddy. Don't be fusterated." Emaline knows all the big words, but Keillor is a great mimic. I was frustrated, to say the least, but when one's two-year-olds try to comfort their daddy, it's easy to soften and change one's perspective. Right now, though, they are asleep and Leo is on the couch getting fur everywhere.
A while back, when we had to replace the back screen door, we bought one with a dog door for LB and the cats to use. The kids love the dog door and prefer to crawl through it rather than use the actual door. The cat door is much smaller, so when Emaline tried to go through it after a panicked Leo, she didn't make it past her head. I am just waiting for the day when I hear screams coming from the kitchen from a toddler who has gotten his or her head stuck in the cat door. "Are you frustrated, Emaline?" I'll ask.
The Tricksy Potty. Potty training is a longer process than I expected. Actually, I'm not sure if we're through the training part and just in the remediation part. Anyway, we have a schedule set up, a big potty and a little potty, stickers for trying, treats for success, high fives, Pull-Ups, big boy and girl underpants. We still have plenty of wet pants and poopoo accidents. It is not uncommon to look over at Emaline who seems to be concentrating a little too much and ask, "Do you have to go potty?"
"Is that yes or no?"
"Doo doo, Daddy."
"You have to doo doo?"
"Emaline went poo poo, Daddy."
Sometimes we catch it, sometimes we don't. The past week, interaction with Keillor has gone more like this:
"Keillor have to go potty."
"OK, let's go."
"Keillor have to poo poo."
We'll take him in to the bathroom, ask, "Big potty or little potty?" For Keillor, big potty (putting the toddler seat on out toilet) is for #2. He likes a nice plopping sound. Little potty (the training toilet) is for #1. He likes the pee guard that keeps his stream contained. He also likes the satisfaction of seeing the pool of urine, which he can't see in the big potty.
Bed time is a whole other struggle. We have the bed time potty routine, which involves Keillor peeing 30 times and Emaline trying to poop for 30 minutes. Then it's upstairs, where, after story time, Keillor has the urge to pee again. "Keillor go potty, Daddy." Then it becomes contagious: "Emaline go potty, too." Like a camel, Keillor seems to be able to store pee for later use, so when we take him to the bathroom again, he can produce some freshly-squeezed. Emaline is less likely to actually do anything. Still, on those mornings when they wake up dry (or mostly dry) we know it was worth one last trip to the potty.
Halloween. We always have big plans for Halloween that involve homemade costumes. This year, we settled on Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter. Aimee would knit scarves, we'd sew robes, and adhere Hogwarts house emblems to them. This will not happen. Instead, we will go last-minute Halloween costume shopping and take what we can get. When asked what they want to be for Halloween, without hesitation, Emaline said, "Minnie Mouse," and Keillor said, "Mickey Mouse." Had they already had this discussion?
TV. Well, we did it. We became those parents. Our kids love television. While we do not have cable, we do have Netflix, which allows us to stream Dora the Explorer, Yo Gabba Gabba, Thomas and Friends, and thier favorites, the Backyardigans, right into the living room. While we do atleast limit the amount of TV watching they are allowed, last week when they were both sick with the croup, they snuggled up on the couch with their blankets and vegged out in from the television. You know what, Dora? Yelling at us doesn't make us like you.
To see more of what your grandchildren or children of your friends are up to, visit the site below where you can watch short iPhone videos.
More Videos of the Schmookies

Emaline as a cave girl

Keillor as a cave boy.

The big girl swings. Wow.

Someone had to go potty during bath time.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Making Liszts

Alabama has had an interesting effect on the Schmookies. They have found a love for the piano at Gee Gee and Ga Ga's house. At first they were just pounding on the keys, but then after a little practice, they began to develop a real talent. I am still amazed.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Driving Miss Ga Ga

Keillor and Emaline say that the best part about having a grandfather in a wheelchair is that they get to push him around and ride in his lap. They asked me to video them driving him in the kitchen and post it to the blog. Keillor thought people would get a kick out of it. Emaline suggested music from Peter and the Wolf as an accompaniment. It works.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Gimme a Little Foot

When I was a kid, I loved bath time. At  least, I remember loving bath time. For whatever reason, the most vivid memory is my dad bathing me and singing to me. He took the old standard "Gimme a Little Kiss" and changed the lyrics to "gimme a little foot," or "gimme a little arm," or "gimme a little leg." I'd gleefully stick out the requested part to be cleaned. I can still hear my dad crooning, "Gimme a little foot, a will you, huh, and I'll give it right back to you."
Bath time is part of our nightly routine. They bath, take their allergy meds, brush their teeth, get into the jammies, read stories, sing, and go "nigh' night." I suppose we have continued a Mau family tradition because the Schmookies won't let me bath them without "song, song, Daddy." So, 34 years later, here I am with my two-year-olds singing the same song my dad sang to me.
Here is a little taste of the song. Just replace "kiss" with "foot" and you've got yourself a toddler favorite.

Emaline sports a bathtime mohawk

Keillor communicates with other dimension Keillor

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Elmo in Mauland

When it comes to television characters, the kids have three favorites: Thomas the Tank Engine, the gang from Yo Gabba Gabba, and Elmo. They have only ever seen three Elmo videos, but their first, The Best of Elmo 2, is an often requested film. It features songs by Jason Mraz, Feist, the Goo Goo Dolls, Ray Charles, and many others. We have watched the DVD so many times, it is wearing out. Then there is the dreaded Elmo in Grouchland. This is where the twins show how different they are. Keillor, a blanket connoisseur like Elmo, loves the story of how Elmo's blanket is sucked into Grouchland. It scares the $h!t out of Emaline. She will literally start crying if it is played while she is in the room. She has such empathy for other people's misfortune that it just breaks her little heart.
While they have had an Elmo stuffie for some time, they recently inherited Granddaddy's Tickle-Me-Elmo (don't ask). I got a call from my mother (hi, Mom) asking how the kids like Elmo. See for yourself:

Since I haven't updated in a while, I should also add that the twins have finally gotten their own rooms. They started off together upstairs in a room that we renovated just for them. We then moved them downstairs, more than anything just to see if we could haul a queen-size Temperpedic mattress up a flight of stairs. We have known for some time that they are both keeping each other awake and waking each other up. Keillor gets up early in the morning and likes to wake his sister up. Emaline takes a shorter nap and wakes her brother up. Not any more. We are back downstairs in the master suite with its Winnebago bathroom and they each have their own room upstairs. It only took two years. This move seems to have done the trick. It's also super cute to hear them say goodnight  and "I love you" to each other.

We took the minivan for its maiden family voyage up to Cinci for the 4th. All the way there, Keillor talked and talked and talked. They were very excited to see Lila who took them to her park and to her grandparents' lake, and shared all of her toys with them.
Hanging out at the house

Safety first

Robot dance

Keillor and Lila escape

Relaxing at the water park with hot dogs

Emaline finishes her swim


Keillor is more of a sand Mau than a water Mau

This is what happens when Keillor plays with girls

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Don't Be Jealous

Emaline attempts to escape the car seat

Well, we did it. We finally did what we said we would never do, then said we really needed to do, then said we absolutely had to do: we got a minivan. The last day of AP scoring in Louisville, Brad Webb and I hopped a jet to Tucson, AZ, spent a couple of days visiting family and friends (my family, our friends) and test drove the van all the way back to Lexington. The 2003 Kia Sedona came to us courtesy of my very generous parents (see Rogue Artists). The road trip home was exhausting, but seeing my amazing wife and two adorable Schmookies reinvigorated me (and gave me some virus--nice homecoming gift).
We wanted a minivan because it would provide more room for packing for trips, and would also make getting the kids into the car easier. Oh, they get in alright--they love it. However, getting them into their seats is another story. They just want to explore the van. They climb on seats, press buttons, sit on the console, sing, scream, and have a ball. Once I strap them into their seats, they remain excited because now they can see everything from their captain's chairs. Riding in the car is a whole new experience for them. All they want to do is ride in the "big car, big car, Daddy!"
So that I could remain cool driving a minivan, Aimee picked up a t-shirt and bumper sticker (above) for me and the van to wear.

So, you can't see it, but it reads, "Don't Be Jealous"

Thank you, Grandmommy and Granddaddy!

We love the big car

They also got fun hats from the Desert Museum

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Park

We had our first play date of the summer when we met Hank and Erika at Shilito Park. The park's big playground is a giant wooden fortress with tunnels, stairs, slides, lookouts, and swings. When Emaline, Keillor and I arrived, we were the only people there, and it wasn't yet 95 degrees, so we had our run of the place. Emaline went right for the swings, while Keillor just wanted to climb--different directions always.
Hank and Erika got there, and we played in the sand, slid down the slide, and had snacks. At one point while I was chasing Keillor, Emaline worked up the nerve to go down the twisty slide all by herself.
In true Schmookie style, one distracted while the other did something dangerous. They found all sources of stagnant water, mud, and other such substances.
About 9:30, every daycare and church group in Lexington descended, playing "Ride of the Valkyrie." We played on, but had to dodge unsupervised kids and half-stoned camp counselors and daycare workers.
Sweaty and tired, we hopped in the car to go home for lunch. They were out quickly, but rallied for lunch before taking a marathon nap.
Next time, we are getting there at 8 a.m.
Their brief time together on the fire truck

Snack in the pavilion

Sliding with Hank

Emaline digs in the sand

...and then covers herself in sand.


Three friends in the sand

Emaline's favorite place

Cool tunnel

Emaline decides to wait to slide until I am not looking

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Trip to the Aquarium

For their second birthday, we took the Schmookies up to Newport to see some big fish and the Kings: Dave, Rachel and Lila. A late start put us in the worst traffic ever. Just a few miles from the aquarium, we were in a parking lot on the interstate. We were moving a mile every twenty minutes. Not off to a good start.
We did eventually make it. A trip to the bathroom of a nearby Barnes & Noble was in order. Mommy took one and I took the other. Once in the stall, my very bright little boy began to yell, "Daddy go poo poo. Poo poo, Daddy. Daddy's going poo poo." This from a boy who screams in terror if I try to even touch his bottom to a toilet seat. He'll get his one day.
We saw big fish, little fish, fish with teeth, fish that looked like snakes, fish that looked like spiders (big spiders), see-through fish, otters, and penguins.
Emaline and Keillor go whale watching.

Keillor watches penguins

Emaline helps Lila climb a giant frog

The girls play with amphibians
Emaline pet's a crab

Holding Hands

Playing in the shark theatre

What a cute boy
The highlight of the trip was watching Emaline and Lila playing together and later eating pizza. Because we got there so late, we missed nap time by three hours. They were asleep before we left the parking garage to go home.
Keillor before we are out of the parking lot.
Emaline about two minutes later

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Here Comes Emaline

In 1926, the song "Here Comes Emaline" was a hit in speakeasies and jazz clubs. Little did swingers know, the song would also sort of inspire the name of my sweet daughter.

If anyone knows of a song with Keillor's name in the title, pass it along to me. Otherwise, I will have to post a slideshow of photos accompanied by Prairie Home Companion.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

New Table

A new table arrives. Great for eating fruit outside, but not so great for sharing.

Monday, May 23, 2011


The backyard has become our children's favorite place. While Aimee and I are excited that we finally have outside children, they never want to come in. Still, we're happy that they are happy out in the wild. As luck would have it, our future next-door neighbors donated a plastic slide. Coicidentally, my dad gave me an ancient rubber boat that I used to love as a kid. Ironically, we have found that the boat makes an excellent slide collection pool. Slide + Pool = Nonstop Schmookie Excitement.

Keillor scales the ladder to the slide.

Emaline on her maiden voyage down the slide into the icy water

Keillor takes the easy way up

Emaline lays seige on Keillor's castle

It becomes Emaline's castle

Emaline in her garden helper

Keillor finds that the space under the slide is fun also

A fun pasttime for our kids: eating dirt
The poison ivy, mosquitoes, spiders, rocks, and other dangers of our backyard are little adventures to our children. Emaline picked up a spider, brought it over to me and said, "Daddy. Spider." It's going to be a long summer.