Sunday, October 17, 2010


This morning, Hesperos and Mommy were talking about helicopters. Mommy shared with Hesperos the bombshell that he has, in fact, taken a flight in a helicopter. Hesperos' 4-year-old world was shaken - he had no idea he had participated in such an exciting experience. He asked when and why he was in a helicopter.

Even though Hesperos was born almost fully baked and nearly nine pounds, his lungs were a little under-developed with fluid in them that turned rapidly into pneumonia. Consequently, when Hesperos was only a day old, he was air-vac'd from his hospital of birth to another hospital in the city that had a dedicated neo-natal ICU division for care.

As any parent can imagine, it was extremely stressful - at that point, we'd never had an unhealthy newborn anywhere in our immediate or extended family and losing your newborn to an incubator for two weeks (when you already have a toddler at home) is a difficult experience, to say the least.

Hesperos, with all the joy and simplicity of a 4-year-old, laughed when he was told about his NICU experience. "Mommy," he said chuckling, "of course I had problems breathing when I was a baby. I had a very little nose!"

And with that, the memory of two weeks of parental anxiety was wiped away.

Run, Boys, Run!

There are few things that come more naturally to children than running (unless it's depositing a thread of toilet paper still attached to the roll directly into the toilet, flushing the toilet, and watching it pull the toilet paper in...but that's another post). Genius was the (wo)man who invented the school jog-a-thon fundraiser where a child's energy can be put to good use (on a school day, no less!) and every lap around the track equals a little bit of money out of a hapless relative's wallet.

Living in the land of Nike and Adidas, running is the trans-generational activity for the trendy. Having seen 3.5 of my (somewhat sedentary) relatives convert into running enthusiasts, I am fairly sure that a pair of sneakers has an evangelical power second only to one of Jesus' disciples. Is it any wonder that given such an influence, combined with their own natural competitive enthusiasm and zeal for activity, that both boys would be good little runners?

May was jog-a-thon month for us (yes, this post is tardy) with events sponsored by each child's school. Helios' school featured a (standard?) 1/4-mile marked grass-track where the children ran during a full lunch hour. Mommy even took a break to join Helios for a bit, shedding flip-flops where necessary to run along. (Although flip-flops are an appropriate handicap for an adult racing with a 5-yr-old.) Helios completed his race at 3.25 miles or 13 laps, a distance we feel is very respectable for a child his age. We also learned that when Helios races, he immediately puts himself into the "Speed. I am speed." mentality of Lightning McQueen, complete with imagining his fellow contestants are other race cars trying to force him into the pit.

In that respect, Hesperos is not that different in that he, too, experiences delusions of being a Disney-fied dolled-up race car with non-functioning headlights. However, his motivation was more to either catch-up with or show off to the little 4-yr-old girl with the bouncy curls just a little ahead of him. Hesperos raked up an extremely ambitious 25 laps on a 1/8-mile course at a park...which just goes to show his generous relatives that before making a "per lap" pledge, first confirm the size of the course and check that against the anticipated energy of the child. Intelligent was the supporter who made a flat pledge, and generous was the supporter who didn't begrudge the per lap payment.

Impressively, the Saturday after their jog-a-thons, both boys ran with Mommy and Daddy in the local 10k. By "ran" we mean that Helios had to be cajoled, encouraged, blackmailed, and slightly threatened to make the last two miles of the ~6.25 mile run -- and Hesperos was carried on Daddy's shoulders alternating half miles. The chips reveal that Mommy and Judah came in fifth/sixth to last. But, given we beat Daddy/Hesperos (who came in second to last/last, preceded immediately by the man pushing his pregnant wife in a wheelchair and the other man running on a prosthetic), we felt pretty good.

All told, the boys managed to raise about $700 combined for their two schools. And they felt a great sense of accomplishment. We're feeling brave enough to have them both run with us for the Thanksgiving 10k fundraiser for the local food bank, although we'll probably park a car halfway just in case.

The Rice and Beans and Cheese and Chips Place

As I went through photographs tonight, seeking pictures of experiences that should've been blogged about but were not, I was struck by the number of photographs taken at ... of all places ... Chipotle.

At the risk of sounding like a corporate endorsement, there are few dining places that get the kids as excited as the "rice and beans and cheese" place. For the uninitiated, this magical place is Chipotle, mecca of affordable (albeit high sodium) customizable meals, the most important of which is the a la carte selection of rice, beans, cheese, and a little fresh tortilla. Preschooler heaven!

The trip to Chipotle proceeds like this:
- Run inside.
- Grab a few menus, preferably 3 or 4 per child. Mommy argues with children about how they're wasting paper.
- Children insist on being lifted high enough to order their own food.
- Children order their own food, may press noses or mouths against Plexiglas, leaving the Chipotle staff thankful for the health code requirement that placed the glass there. Parents' arms buckle under the weight of carrying children, employees politely indulgent even as parental ire increases.
- Mommy pays, children run away, Daddy chases them.
- Children play Goldilocks at the tables ("this one is too big, this one is too small, this one is just right"), Daddy chases after them, Mommy fills drinks, children shout orders from their table.
- Children shovel food in, liberally sprinkling rice over the floor like dandruff from a leper.
- Mommy tidies the area before the bus staff can get there (because she wouldn't want them to think her children are piglets).
- Children run to vehicle, clamber in, and immediately insist upon going there for lunch or dinner the next day.

We thought that (eventually) the children would grow tired of Chipotle (as we did so long ago). In a way, they have. They still want to go to Chipotle but now they insist we try new locations.