Aug 20, 2016

It's Hard To Be Bennett

8/20/2016 — cori

Yesterday, we had some friends from out of town stop by for a visit. We only casually know each other, so there were a lot of questions floating around. Since Gavin is a senior this year, he naturally fields lots of questions about college, his interest of study and so on. We spent quite a lot of time talking about how he loves computer programming as compared to web design that Chuck does. Then these sweet, unsuspecting people decided to ask Bennett a question.

Bennett may be in the room with us, but he is not always 'present'. He loves to let his mind wander while people are conversing around him. What he's thinking, nobody really knows; probably basketball, basketball, basketball.  He gets confused easily when people ask him questions. His first response is usually, "Wait, what?" That is because he's coming back from that far away place he just spent the whole conversation whittling away time in.

So on this fine day, when he was asked, "Bennett, what do you enjoy?" he was surprisingly ready with his response. "I like basketball."

"Anything else?" friend asks.

"Ya. Maybe coaching." Bennett responds. We don't need to go deeper, just one word answers seem to be appropriate.

"Oh. So are you interested in designing a program to help athletes not get injured so much?" friend throws out there.

And then comes the response that reveals Bennett has zero clue what he's talking about and is said in typical Bennett fashion: "No. I'm not into programming or design."

Everyone else in the room knew that's not what friend was asking, except Bennett. All he heard were the two key words we had been talking about earlier 'programming' and 'design' in relation to computers. He wanted to distance himself as far away as possible from those two things.

We all had to hide our smirks and giggles. Friend moved on to asking what Chloe's interests were. Once these friends left, Chuck was like, "Bennett, what were you thinking?!" And Bennett was all, "I was confused!" And we were like, "No duh! When people are confused they normally ask someone to rephrase the question." Bennett says, "So, should I have said, 'wait, what?'"

"Not exactly." It's hard being Bennett's parents people. Very hard. That kid cracks us up all day long. So now, whenever we ask Bennett a question he answers, "I'm not into programming or design." Typical Bennett. Never a dull moment with this kid.

Aug 18, 2016


8/18/2016 — cori

We've become hooked on this podcast. Not just Chuck and I, but the kids as well. I love it. I love that the kids enjoy listening to this (and others) as much as we do. I love that they're old enough to appreciate these types of topics and intellectual stimulation they bring. We enjoy talking about what we learned and the other/new ways of looking at things we hadn't previously thought of.

New episodes come out on Thursdays, typically. Today at lunch the kids asked if there was a new Revisionist History we could listen to while we ate. Can you believe that?! What started out as a something enjoyable for Chuck and I, turned into an activity that the whole family can enjoy. Who knew?

So, even though we typically travel to some new country every day at lunch (thanks to House Hunters International), today we took a detour and enjoyed learning something about the past in a way that only Malcolm Gladwell can explain it.

For us, it all started with Episode 4, Carlos Doesn't Remember. It's about education reform - a topic near and dear to my heart. It also deals with getting into college. Since we're in that phase of life right now, we were intrigued. After listening to it, I asked the kids to take the time to hear what Gladwell had to say. That's all it took - they hooked.

Not only is it how he speaks, in a gentle, non-threatening manner. But it's how he links seemingly unconnected stories together. He's not trying to be popular either. Many of his opinions are not mainstream. He doesn't care about image. He's kind. He's gentle. He gets at the heart of the matter. He cares for the underdog. This all comes through in a simple little 30 minute podcast.

Aug 9, 2016

Would You Rather

8/09/2016 — cori

Let the record show that I HATE this game BTW. But, be that as it may, I was coerced into playing this little nonsensical game while on a recent road trip. I was taking a turn at the wheel so Chuck could have a reprieve. Chloe was all the way in the back and talking in whisper mode and still expecting me to hear every word she said. If I said, "What?" or "Honey, I can't hear you, please speak up" she would sit back, put on her pouty face and say "Never-mind." This scenario plays out repeatedly in the car. So as to avoid it one more time, I determined to just pretend I could hear her the next time she spoke.

And of course there was a next time. And this was what I heard, "Mom, would you rather lie or have a disability?" I knew immediately that we were in would you rather territory and I cringed. I can't make split second decisions like this...there are way too many factors involved that I must consider and weigh before committing to an answer that ties me down from now until time eternal. Oh man, which would I rather, I think to myself. I make split second cognitive comparisons on the pros and cons of each while at the same time concentrating on driving. All my mental energies are operating at full capacity. I blurt out (in record time, I might add), "Lie. I would rather lie." I felt that was a rather easy choice. Who in their right mind would choose to have a disability, after-all.

The entire car erupts in laughter - except me. Apparently I'm the last one in on whatever is so funny. "What's so funny?" I ask. Chuck proceeds to make some comment about my poor hearing ability (I have fine hearing by the way, I just get confused easily so I block out confusing noises). Then someone, I can't remember who (because I was DRIVING!) says, "Your choice wasn't between lying and having a disability. Chloe said, 'would you rather fly or have invisibility?'"


Well, in that case, I would totally choose invisibility. End of game.

And we all got to our destination safely because I refused to play stupid mind games the rest of the trip and we all lived happily ever after. The end.

Aug 2, 2016

That Time We Got Locked Out Of Our Car At The Chocolate Shop

8/02/2016 — cori

Believe it or not, this is only the second time I've gotten locked out of my car (3rd if you count the time Uncle John 'accidentally' did it). But I have to say, if you ever get locked out of your car, make sure it's at a chocolate shop. Oh my...were they ever nice! 

Here's how it all went down. We were running errands around town. We stopped at one location that Gavin didn't want to go in to. I have the type of car where you don't need to put your keys in the ignition to start it. As long as your keys are in the car, you can turn the ignition and it will start. So I left my keys in the car to keep it running. 

Next stop, Chocolate Shop. We all got out. You get to taste a bunch of free samples, so everyone definitely wanted in on this. I actually didn't even lock my car when we went in, as I am typically in the habit of doing. (All I have to do is push a button on the door handle and the car automatically locks.)  We eat our samples, buy our chocolate and walk back out to the car. Out of habit, I hit the button on the car door handle and the car locks. I hit the button one more time to unlock it, but it does nothing. Absolutely nothing. Uh-oh. "Guys, I think we're locked out." I peer inside, "Yup, see those keys sitting in the middle there?" Then I remember that I took my keys out of my purse and left them in the car at the last stop. Ooops. "Well we're in for an unexpected adventure guys." 

This doesn't upset anyone too badly for several reasons, 1) they've come to expect this type of behavior from me (forgetfulness),  2) we're at a chocolate shop, and 3) we're not in a hurry, late or have anywhere we have to be.  So it's kinda really no big deal, just an inconvenience. You would think by the kids' reaction that we get locked out of the car everyday.

I then put on my thinking cap (figuratively, of course) and try to decide what our course of action should be. I decide to try calling Grandma and Grandpa first. They didn't answer their phone, so I had to leave a message. At that point, I figured we might be waiting longer than I first thought. My next thought was to save the chocolates I just bought. If we have to be sitting outside in this 88 degree weather, I could at least rescue the chocolates. So I went back inside and told the lady our predicament and asked if I could please leave the chocolates on the counter while we wait outside. She was super kind and told us we could even come and wait inside and eat as many samples as we wanted! I thanked her but headed back outside to my awaiting posse. I told them what the nice lady said but we still had to come up with a plan B since we couldn't reach Grandma and Grandpa. It was at this time that I really wished we knew more people - especially people who can drive. 

Gavin and I were looking at the car like there might be some answer there if we just stared at it hard enough...and what do you know, there was an answer. There was a clear sticker on the window in the corner that said, "Mazda Roadside Service". "Ah Hah!" I announced. "I will call this number. Gavin, can I please have your phone again." At that moment, nice lady from the store comes out with 2 handfuls of chocolate bars and says, "Here, eat these while you wait." No wonder the kids weren't really too upset about this whole shenanigan.

That was another problem, I accidentally left my phone at home. I was already off the grid and off to a bad start. I was not feeling like a very responsible parent at the moment...forgetting my phone and my keys and all. Thankfully, 3 of my people had phones on them. As I was dialing the 1-800 number, Grandma calls back. I explain our dilemma and they are able and willing to help. Thank God!

As much as I love the sun, summer and heat, we decide to go back inside the Chocolate Shop to wait until they get here. Three of us sit on a bench. Gavin is sitting on a stool on the other side of me. He is sitting there sharing interesting things he is reading from his BlinkFeed. On the other side of me, Bennett and Chloe find it hilarious to copy every single thing I do and say. This is how we whittle our time away in the chocolate shop. And by eating chocolate bars, of course. Actually, Gavin is too practical to eat his, he hasn't had his lunch yet, afterall. You're supposed to eat dessert after lunch, that's the rule and that's what he's sticking by. Chloe holds out for a good 10 minutes, but then can't stand it. Bennett is shoving chocolate down his gullet the moment we sit down. 

Chloe and Bennett are very pleased with themselves in the first picture with their attention to detail of every bit of mimicry. The last few minutes of the wait drag out and we end up taking Zoolander selfies the rest of the time. Once our savior arrives, I pay him with a chocolate bar.

Just another day in the Mallott house. It's all good.

Aug 1, 2016

Backyard Sleepover

8/01/2016 — cori

This is what you do when you're 12 and it's sleep in a tent in your backyard because you can. You also bring in a ton of games, flashlights, snacks, sheets, pillows and writing paraphernalia.  The girls had this thing up all by themselves in under 15 minutes. Impressive.

I love that these two still have a such a huge, active imagination. They create worlds and ideas and join each other in them. That's the beauty of a tent in a's a whole new world to enjoy if you have a big enough creativity and someone to share it with.

Jul 24, 2016

Texas Hold'em

7/24/2016 — cori

So the other day (after much fore-thought), Gavin announces to the fam, "Guys, I think it's time we learned poker." 

"Um...okay. Sure. But like, we have no clue. We've never played before. And why poker?

"Well...I just feel as though its a card game we should know since we love to play cards and all."

"Good point. One can only play Nertz and Hearts for so long. We should diversify our interests."

Thus began our foray into a whole new world. The first step was to get some 'chips' to bet with. Thus, the m&ms. Step two, decide which type of poker to learn. Gavin did some research and found No Limit Texas Hold'em to be the most common form, check. Step three, read the instructions. Google is great for finding things. So, that's exactly what Chuck is doing in this picture: reading 'how to play poker' to us. 

Unfortunately, that didn't work so well for two reasons 1) Chuck speaks in a monotone voice and so we all kind of just check-out or fell asleep and 2) it was really confusing sounding. The lingo, the directions, none of it made any sense. So much emphasis was put on the betting part, I kept wondering when do actually get to play any cards?

Our kids' generation is all about YouTube. Gavin has learned most of his programming skills via this medium. So he comes up with the idea, "Hey, why don't we just look for a YouTube video to watch and learn how to play." Brilliant. Yes. We will do that. So that's what we're all doing in the above picture. Visuals are my friend. I work much better with a picture to look at occasionally. Plus, it was very nice that the lady who "taught" us had such a proper British accent. Everything sounds smarter and better and a British accent. Thus, our tutorial began.

And Chloe was the winner of our very first hand of British No-Limit Texas Hold'em. We had to leave our tutorial open and refer to it often during our first round. I also like how neatly organized all our 'chips' are. For those of you interested in using m&ms as poker chips....a word of caution: they seem to disappear throughout the game. These little sneaks like to eat our poker chips.

This was our game the following evening. Notice the absence of the laptop - we're moving up. Our 'chips' are neatly organized and mostly not eaten. And we look rather concentratingly, don't we? I happened to win on this particular night. I have no idea how. It's rather slow for me and too much strategy and all that. I prefer games of speed and stealth. Oh well...welcome to the next phase of our life. 

I've read that its good to learn new things as you age, it keeps your brain young and the synapses firing. Who knows what we'll be learning next month?!

Jul 21, 2016

Remember When...

7/21/2016 — cori

This is how I like to remember my grandparents...dancing in the kitchen, smiles on their faces.

In memory of my Bapchie's life. It's been 3 years ago today since she passed. 2 years this month since my Jadziu passed. I still think of them and miss them every day. 

Jul 19, 2016

You Know You're Bored When...

7/19/2016 — cori

These two crazies came up to me today and asked, "Mom, can we go ride our bikes around the neighborhood and get lost and try to find our way back?"

"Um...sure, I guess." What else could I say? This seemed like a good activity. Plus, they were coming up with their own plan instead of relying on me the All Time Event & Activities Coordinator (by the way, nobody ever told me that would be one of the hats I wore for this whole mom gig). Even I, the "planner" couldn't have come up with an activity this fun and exciting.  

I remember a couple of years ago when all the kids in the neighborhood were younger, everyone ended up at our house, bored out of their gourd asking me what they could do. So I came up with an indoor obstacle course. Yes. We were the party house. This was THE place to be on a boring summer afternoon. 

On their way out the door I couldn't help but contribute to their "fun" by suggesting they ride up to the convenience store for a slushy first. I scored major points for that one. 

No lame parenting today. I let my kids get lost and suggested they fill up on liquid sugar. Mom of the Year Award, here I come.

Jul 13, 2016

Hammock Time

7/13/2016 — cori

How Chloe and Bennett spend most every day. They lay on the hammock and giggle, tickle, talk as well as try to push each other off. I don't know who treasures this time more; me or them.

First Ever Mallott Family Smasting

7/13/2016 — cori

We have spent the summer watching and laughing hysterically at these two crazy people - Rhett and Linc from "Good Mythical Morning" on YouTube. Hilarious! They do crazy stunts, silly ridiculous songs and eat every & anything given to them. Thus, their certain brand of humor is very popular with the teenagers amongst us. And I have to admit, I have sometimes laughed till I cried with some of their stupid antics.

They invented "Smasting" - smelling and tasting at the same time. After watching this video we (meaning me) had the rather brilliant idea of doing our own Mallot Family Smasting. Hey, it's summer, we're bored, we have ALOT of extra time on our hands and it's fun. Thus the idea was borne into our collective heads. The kids agreed and it was game on. In order to fully appreciate the depth of what I put my family through (I was not about to participate in such a dastardly activity involving food), take few minutes to watch this video:

Crazy, hilarious, stupid, ridiculous, awesome, fun all rolled up into one - right?!

Now it was our turn. Here is the list of ingredients my subjects had to smaste. The smell was on the cotton ball (except for #5 where it's on a spoon). They had to proceed simultaneously with the smelling and tasting. I had to alter the original smasting method since we weren't lucky enough to own visors. So we wrapped dad's socks around our eyes and used both our hands. This method seems to work just as well.

Here are the smasters.

Game Idea

7/13/2016 — cori

Bennett has spent much time this summer sitting and thinking about what to do. Here's an example of a game idea he came up with yesterday:

"Hey, I have an idea...why don't we all go around the room and say a number until we run out of numbers."

*head shaking*

Bennett, Bennett, Bennett....what are we to do with you?!

Welcome to my summer.

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