Friday, December 31, 2010

Spreading Christmas Cheer

For my Christmas gift this year, Matt's great-grandpa Norquist gave me fifty $2 bills with the instructions to use them to spread Christmas cheer.

Later that evening, our first "spreading of cheer" went down at the McDonalds drive-through, where we paid for our "best friends" behind us in line. The boys were pretty excited at the idea of someone pulling up to the window behind us only to find their bill was already paid.

So I think the big boys understand the assignment and will be excited with each new mission of "operation cheer."

Jack, however hasn't quite grasped the concept and is finding other ways of "spreading" our money. He found my purse foolishly left within his reach with an irresistibly fat envelop of $2 bills stashed away in there and went to work spreading Christmas cheer. Somehow, I don't think that is quite what Grandpa had in mind!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I Can't Use That!

My boys always wait until the last possible second to use the toilet. It sneaks up on them EVERY time! It is a common, daily occurrence in my house to see/hear boys running to the bathroom, fast as the wind, yelling, "I have to go potty! I'm not gonna make it!"

Why do they wait so long? They claim not to know until the last second but my guess is that, just like their mom, they are too busy to waste time with it until they no longer have a choice.

Just what they needed was one more reason to not want to use the toilet - Gramma's toilet is pink! The first time we sent Mitchell down the hall to use the facilities, he came back a few seconds later truly puzzled, exclaiming, "I can't use that! It's a girl potty!"

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Coffee and Boots

Jack and I have a shared love of two things: coffee and boots. Now I love to drink coffee and wear boots but Jack likes to mix it up a little sometimes. I suppose it is only natural for him to come up with interesting combinations involving the two. Why not drink coffee out of a boot or wear a mug on your foot?

This morning, I mistakenly left my full coffee cup in jack's reach and he decided to combine two of his favorite things.

I was busy with something else when I suddenly heard a watery, splatting sound. I turned to find jack pouring my full cup of coffee right into my leather boot! Now he usually shakes his head side to side in a classic "no" action when he is doing anything he understands to be naughty or not allowed, but this time, he looked at me with no head shaking or naughty grin - just a look of interest in what he was doing.

I stepped in at this point, of course, but I wonder if after filling the boot, would he then have tried to drink it out of there?

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Roller Boy

We are spending some time at my parents house for the holidays, and every time we come, the boys stumble upon some old treasure that was mine long ago like old toys, clothes, rain boots, treasure chests, and, today, roller skates.

As I was rummaging around in an old cupboard with the help of Mitchell, looking for something to clean up one of Jack's messes, we suddenly moved something aside and stumbled upon a true treasure - my old roller skates! Why does my mom still have these? Probably saving them for her grandson to find some day, I would guess.

Well, Mitchell loves to dig around in old cupboards, he loves to discover old treasures, and, I have discovered, loves roller skates! These skates are just his size and he immediately wanted to get these babies on his feet! Once we got them on and laced up tightly, they did not come off until bedtime, and only then because I insisted. He even begged to wear them out to dinner, so he skated in place under the table all through dinner at the Mexican restaurant, making plenty of noise, but having so much fun, I was glad I let him keep them on.

I am glad I brought an empty bag with me on this trip for this very reason: I knew they would find treasures they couldn't live any longer without!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Stinkin' Christmas!

Now, I do realize that Christmas has already come and gone, making the title of this post a bit out-dated, but it has taken me some serious effort to enable myself to blog from my phone! This is my trial run at updating my technological abilities...

On Christmas eve, we drove through Tacoma, WA to visit with friends. For those of you unfamiliar with this particular area, let me inform you that certain parts of this city have... Well... an unpleasant smell. I have heard it referred to as the "Tacoma aroma."

Now for those of you still unfamiliar with my Ben, he has a very sensitive nose. This kid seriously plugs his own nose when he poops.

So we are driving peacefully along (well, as peaceful as can be expected with my family) when we suddenly entered the odor zone! Panic hit the back seat as first Ben, then his copy-cat brother gasped for air and pinned their noses and blamed daddy for stinking up the car (that is what it smelled like and if I didn't know any better, I would have assumed it was him also.)

We did get a good laugh out of the town that made the whole car stink.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Longest Day

If I am ever in charge of buying plane tickets and I have choices, I will make sure to leave late morning, rather than in the evening.  All this waiting around is really killing the boys!

Mitchell and Ben got up before the sun this morning, asking if it was time to leave on vacation yet.  I stalled them for a little while (until the sun came up, at least) with cartoons in bed with me, but after one episode of Curious George, they were again asking if it was time to leave yet!

I don't know how many times today I have reminded them that we do not leave until after lunch, but my helpful reminders did not keep them from packing their backpacks with all their good stuff and then wearing them on their backs around the house all day long.  

I finally convinced them to lay down and try to nap as a way to magically make the time to leave come sooner and it worked!  Now I have a few last minutes of peace and quiet before this "longest day" gets even longer for me!

I hope their excitement carries through this entire trip - from long ride to the airport, through the long lines at the airport, waiting around to get on the plane, then the long sit on the plane.  My guess is as long as Matt and I have fun, they will have a lot of fun as well.  

I am not sure how much blogging I will get done over the next couple weeks, so Merry Christmas, everyone!  (Does this count as a the Christmas card I never got around to making/sending out?  Hope so...)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What Do I Do With This?

I am not a saver.  Perhaps I once was.  My mom and sister would have to remind me on this one, but my current self does not hang on to unnecessary items, as a general rule.  I don't keep birthday cards.  I don't keep clothes I never wear, I get rid of baby things as soon as they are no longer being used.  I never re-use Ziplocs and don't fix holes in my worn-out socks.  I have moved enough times now, in and out of all sizes of homes, that keeping boxes and boxes of things I don't need and have no real use for is only more work and takes up room I don't currently have.  

The only time I struggle with keeping unnecessary things is when my adorable children make/bring me something from school, church, or here at home.  I do keep the best of their work in their journals, but there is something from each boy almost every day - from well-done homework to thanksgiving turkeys made from cut-out hands and feet to small houses made of sugar cubes.  They bring memory verses with corresponding pictures they've drawn and paintings and framed photos.  Mitchell even brings a little booklet home every week in which he has practiced writing his name on every page!  It is one of the highlights of my week!  

My kitchen and their bedroom is fair game for hanging these masterpieces.  I don't allow them to hang things anywhere else in the house, but these two rooms are a constant art show, for those who appreciate the fine art of pre-school and kindergarten art!  It honestly makes my unsentimental heart sad to have to throw something away to make room for the next onslaught of art coming in.  It is so unlike me to hesitate over throwing away a painting consisting of black and orange swirls of finger paint, swirled together in a "storm," which is what Mitchell labels all his... unrecognizable paintings, but I truly do feel sad to throw them away after they have had their share of wall space for a time!

Some of the stuff they come home with though is puzzling at best, and it just can't be hung.  What do i do with these things?  I can't just throw them away right in front of them!  What, for example, do I do with this gem?

And I have more dragon paintings and drawings than I can possibly use.  I could decorate an entire wing of a museum with them!  

Fortunately, the boys make so many things, it is rare for them to get too terribly attached to any of them.  I rarely just dump things when they are watching, but neither one notices when they wake up in the morning and the walls are much neater and tidier, if a bit less colorful and entertaining.  They don't stay that way for long!

Just Let Me Be Mad!!!

Tomorrow, we are off on our Christmas vacation!  The big boys are beside themselves with excitement.  Not only do they get to take a plane trip (as if they haven't done enough of those in their short lives) and see both sets of grandparents, they get to do Christmas all over again with both sets!  What's not to love about that?!

Notice I only said the "big" boys are excited.  Jack has no idea what is going on, and I'm sure doesn't really care much about two Christmases, but he is most definately not excited these past couple days!

My normally happy, peaceful, easy-going baby has fallen upon tough times, I'm afraid.  Let me list for you his ailements:

1 ear infection
1 nasty case of diaper rash covering the entire diaper region
1 common cold complete with constantly dripping nose and cough
3 molars breaking through the skin
1 hole through his lower lip (which is now healing and, I assume, itching like mad now!)

Let me tell you, this guy cannot be consoled!  He does not want to be held/snuggled/sat in my lap.  If I try that, he wriggles with all his might until he is just a heap on the floor.  He does not want a toy.  Don't try to give him one unless you want it thrown right back at your nose!  He doesn't want his big brothers to tickle him or try to interact with him in any way.  They get their hair pulled or head smacked if they get too close.  

Seriously, we have tried everything to make him forget his pain and discomfort, but he is not having any of it!  The only thing he wants to do is sit alone on the floor, point at me (as if I purposely did this to him!), make a mean face, and cry/whine at me!  The tone to the whole thing is, "Don't try to make me happy!  Don't touch me!  Don't you dare smile at me!  I am so MAD!"  

It appears he has inherited both a bit of Mitchell's attitude and also Ben's drama and is letting them both combine in his misery.  Poor little boy... Please get well soon!

Monday, December 20, 2010

My Favorite Stocking Stuffer

Nothing says "Merry Christmas!" like a pooping polar bear.  

The boys are having quite a bit of fun with these and I keep finding nuggets all over the living room.  Don't worry, they taste like root beer...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Just Doing A Little Re-Arranging

Because we are traveling to see family this year, Christmas is coming early to the Norquist family  Don't worry, we've already alerted Santa.

For obvious reasons (Jack), I have not put the presents out until just last night, but with the amount of fun the big boys are having with the presents even still in their wrappings, I wish I could have put them out weeks ago!

Ever since they discovered them this morning, the boys have been shaking, guessing, sorting, laughing, and constantly re-arranging their piles of presents.  Ben especially keeps coming up with new ways to group his loot: size, color of paper, weight...  At one point, I asked him what he was so busy with over there and he said, "Oh, just doing a little re-arranging!"

Friday, December 17, 2010

And They Play Christmas Music Too!

We bought my Christmas present early this year.  Do I care that there was no element of surprise or that I have no present under the tree?  Nope!  I'd much rather get something I really want/need and start using it the day it gets here, rather than wasting wrapping paper and waiting weeks.

I have been so grateful for my new boots every morning when I slosh through the snow and slush on our walk to school.  They were a tad more expensive than other boots of their kind, but they were the ones I wanted and they were my Christmas gift!

They have been well worth the money already, but this morning, I discovered a brand new feature I didn't realize they had!  I left Jack playing with my IPhone on the floor while I refilled my coffee cup, and when I returned, I found a grinning Jack, no visible phone, and a singing boot!  From the dark depths of my tall, black boot came the sounds of Bing Crosby crooning "Oh, Holy Night!"  Jack thought it was pretty funny and we played that game all morning until time to wake the big boys for school.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another Use For Those New Teeth

Why is it that when little boys bash or gash or slice or dice themselves, they always do it on their adorably perfect little faces?!  A few weeks ago, it was Mitchell attempting to blind himself on one side by head-bashing the coffee table and only narrowly missing his eyeball.  

This week?  The injured one is my sweet little baby boy, Jack.  While Mitchell's gash was scary and traumatic, it was also not his first war wound.  He has already had his face glued back together twice before, so his perfection had already been marred.  But Jack!  His face was untarnished by any lasting cuts and scars so far!

I must say, he has the worst timing for beating himself up too.  Not only was Matt already gone this morning for work, but he took my car!  We were just getting all of us bundled and ready to head out the door to school (and Mitchell's Christmas performance) when Jack fell forward just shy of the coffee table - just close enough to bash his chin down onto it, biting clean through his lower lip.  He plopped down on his bottom, took a deep breath, and then let it rip!  It was one of those wails that takes a really long, scary intake of breath before beginning, to allow for full velocity and feeling!

Now what!?  I have to get these guys to school, Mitchell's Christmas performance is in an hour, I have no car, I am nowhere near a hospital...

My  more cautious friends will shake their heads at me here, but I changed his clothes, cleaned up his gash, gave him some tylenol and some big chunks of ice to suck on/chew on.  He seemed to like that ice pretty well and it really stopped the bleeding.  

We somehow got out the door and got the other boys where they needed to be and Jack went right to sleep when we got back home.  I had plenty of other moms to bounce my story and concerns off of and receive opinions and feedback from at drop-off.  While a few were adamant that I should take him to the ER immediately, most seemed to think that would be unecesary.  The cut is clean and straight and I think it needs no further medical aid, but what a place for a scar!  Why, oh why, do they do this to their faces?  I don't mind if they scar up their elbows or knees or legs or arms.  Those might even look "cool" some day and be shown off to admiring friends who delight in such "manliness."  Perhaps they will proudly show off their facial scars as well, but as a mom, I just have to wonder why it ALWAYS happens on the face!

So Mitchell has had his fair share of medical attention to his face, and now Jack put a new hole in his face.  You better watch out, Ben!  You must be next!  Actually, I'm sure Mitchell will beat you to it...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Building a Small Village

Are you familiar with those little Christmas villages some people collect and decorate with?  Some have a piece or two, while others have dozens covering an entire table or mantle with the town they have collected, complete with ice-skating ponds, carolers, post office, grocery store, giant Christmas tree, etc...

Well, my kitchen counter tops are beginning to resemble one of these collections, and I am feeling a bit gigantic looking down on the town forming around me.  

A few days ago, Matt and I decided the boys would just love making their own gingerbread houses.  I got some supplies, got it all set out, then fully intended to stand back and let Matt and the boys create some masterpieces together.  One look at Matt's plan for Mitchell's house though, and I decided I had better step in and help Ben with his if I wanted it to have any resemblance to a real house (only slightly kidding here, Matt.  You and Mitchell were really on the same page with this!  Mountains of M&Ms on the roof, lava in the front yard, and a giant robot monster gingerbread man in the yard are really not traditional in this activity, but are so "Mitchell" that how can one argue?)  

It just looked like too much fun in the end to stand back and cringe every time frosting got plopped on the floor, walls crumbled to pieces all over every imaginable surface, M&Ms scattered and rolled under refrigerators and tables and cabinets.  If I have to clean this gluey, sticky mess up, I might as well get my hands dirty and get creative myself!

Well, that turned out to be just "phase 1" of the home-building project.  

Today, after Mitchell acted out being a "storm" and completely demolished his house and surrounding... decorations, we decided to tromp back to the store for further supplies.  The theme this time (chosen by the boys, not me) is ogre houses in the swamp.  My instructions as I walked the boys to school this morning were "Make sure you get ogre stuff, mom!  We need green frosting and worms and bugs and eyeballs and that kind of stuff!  Do you think you can find green frosting?"

So in addition to one normal house, one house post-tornado, and several oddly decorated gingerbread men on the side, we now add ogre huts to our "Christmas village" and I think round 3 will have to spread out into the dining room (or else we'll have to pretend to be giants and start eating.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Another One Bites The Dust

Shortly after putting the boys to bed tonight, I heard a loud "pop" followed by a flood of tears. You might be wondering what they could choose as a bedtime snuggling toy that would make such a sound, but I didn't wonder at all; I knew exactly what it was and who was crying and why.

Ben is quite fond of balloons. He loves those giant balloons that have the rubber band attached to one end that you pound back and forth against your hand. He doesn't play with them in the traditional sense of the word, he draws faces on them and they become (for their extremely short life-span) his best friend. They get named, they sleep with him, and they wait in his breakfast chair for him while he's at school.

Now some of you don't like to get goldfish for your kids because they don't last long enough and you don't want your child getting upset by the death of a "pet." Well, balloons are even harder to keep "alive!" One time, his "best friend" landed on a box with some packing tape still stuck to it and when Ben tried to rescue him from the box, he popped. Ben wailed, "Oh no! I will miss Mr. Blue so much! He was my best friend!"

So tonight, when he took his new friend to bed with him, I didn't think much of it until I heard that terrible "pop" signifying the death of yet another great friend. Again, he was devastated, but decided that he maybe should not have tried to scratch off his face with his fingernail to re-draw him scarier.

My Ben can be so sensitive sometimes. It can really get on my nerves (like when his shoe falls off) and seem silly at times (like when his balloon pops), but on the whole, I am proud of his empathy and sympathy for others. He really has an ability far beyond his years to feel for other people and I am excited to find out how he uses that talent some day, once we conquer not crying over shoes unexpectedly falling off.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ultimatums and Promises

Both the big boys have started this new thing where they try to change my mind by giving me either an ultimatum or a promise.  The ultimatum goes something like this: 

If you don't play dragons with me, I won't be your best friend!
If you don't let me jump on my bed, I won't be your best friend!
If I have to go to bed early, I won't be your best friend!

The promises are much more pleasant and much more encouraged over the other tactic, but are used to accomplish the same purpose.  They go something like this:

If you let me carry Jack, I'll be your best friend!
If you give me more dessert, I'll be your best friend!
If you play dragons with me for just a little bit longer, I'll be your best friend!

I make and break best friendships so many times a day, I am beginning to loose track of who is my best friend at any given time!  Usually, if an ultimatum or promise didn't work out and I lost "best friend" status, the other boy swoops in to claim that privilege though, causing the other boy to quickly change his mind as well.  

I love these boys and their feistiness!! (sometimes...)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My, That's A Lovely Scent You Are Wearing!

I am always a tad jealous of the way other people's babies smell.  Babies can smell like any number of things, but unless they have just spit up or filled their diaper, they usually have a pleasant smell about them.

My baby does not smell so pleasant most of the time.  He was obsessed with my garbage cans, so I finally broke down and put locks on that kitchen cupboard.  In rebellion against such an offensive act as denying him his love of garbage, he has retaliated by waging war on my recycle bins!  I did not lock these because they are taller, making it more difficult to get into them, plus the items in them are less dirty and smelly.  Well, he has found a way to get both dirty and smelly in only a few minute window before I can discover him.  

Today, I found him with an empty (or almost empty) beer can in one hand and an empty can of smoked oysters in the other, waving them around with a look of pure glee on his face.  There were drips of beer not only flying around the kitchen, but all over his hair, skin, and clothes as well.  The smoky smell of the smoked oyster package only added to his... interesting scent.  

Let me tell you, those two smells are not just something eradicated with a simple wipe down.  I wonder what people think when they get near my youngest child; something along the lines of "Phew!  What are they feeding this kid?!"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Feats of Strength

A friend of mine recently asked me how we exhaust our boys' energy now that it is too cold to run around outside.  We invent Feats of Strength for them, of course!  It could be indoor Olympics, the exercise game, rearranging couch cushions, or sometimes, it could involve lifting a giant, 50lb beanbag chair up onto a bed!

Is this a normal activity for a dad to encourage his kids to do, or is my husband a bit... well, either unique or just plain out of ideas?

The Dungeon

We have a dungeon.  It is the dark, cold, scary place in which I store a few boxes and also make dozens of trips a week to do laundry.  My washer and dryer are a little old, so they take constant hand-holding, which makes a lot of extra trips down to the dungeon.

Have I mentioned the boys love it down there?  I have to sneak down there to move the laundry along in order to not bring them with me and loose them in the dark, shadowy, spider web-infested depths that run the length of my house.

I'm not sure why, but my boys have wild imaginations and no fear, it seems.  They are not afraid of scary things some kids fear such as ghosts or monsters or skeletons or dark basements.  

Today, while their imaginations were still running in high gear after story time with Dad, they got to talking about our dungeon.  Matt suggested they sleep down there from now on, and they were half in horror, half totally excited at the mere idea of it!  

Ben:  There are huge spiders down there, hiding in the shadows!
Mitchell: Dad, did you know there is a big arm down there that reaches for you and grabs you?
B: Dad!  There are spiky worms down there!  They are small but covered in spikes as sharp as knives!
M: And there are Keeves that suck you in with their legs and eyes and suck you down in!
B: And there are not-so-nice-sheep!  Don't pet them or you'll get stuck to their wool!
M: Big, scary shadows hide everywhere, Mom!
B: Stay away from the boxes, mom!  If you get too close, they will reach out for you and grab you and suck you inside them!

After this, it started to get a bit... creative.  It no longer made much sense, but it was hilarious.  I had plenty of reasons already to not want to do laundry already.  Now I have a few more.

 I'm not sure where they get all of these scary ideas, but I have a suspicion it comes from a certain "big dude" in the house.  I love that they can come up with these ideas and get imaginative and creative with it without actually being frightened.  What a couple of crazy boys...

Friday, December 3, 2010

I've Got A Potion For That!

Mitchell tends to not play by the rules.  I am not referring to family rules or being obedient to his parents.  I am referring to play time "rules."  Ben usually has a very specific game plan when it comes to what he wants to play, complete with characters and a plot, and likes the rest of us to fall in line with that plan.  

I am not sure if it because Mitchell doesn't like being told how to play by his big brother anymore, or if part of him just loves to get under Ben's skin in this way, but while Ben is busy making the rules of the game, Mitchell is just as busy changing them to his own liking.  

Oh!  You say I have to turn into a dragon now?  Well, I didn't!  I'm still a car!  

No, I won't get in the closet!  That's a jail and I am not going to be the bad guy anymore!  I am a helicopter pilot!

The gun can't shoot me because I am magic!

No, the lava doesn't burn me, I have lava-proof boots on!

This new exertion of independence on Mitchell's part has thrown Ben and me a bit of a curve ball and we are trying to find a way to get back to the harmonious playtime that once was the norm.  It is tough to all play together when one of us is so bent on "breaking the rules" and "doing his own thing."

A perfect example of Mitchell turning the game in whatever direction he chooses is by use of "potions."  He really has a potion for just about any ailment Ben can concoct!  If Ben kills him, he whips out his "alive potion."  If Ben breaths fire on him, he drinks his "fire-proof potion" and is safe.  If Ben turns him into a dragon, he drinks his "potion" and becomes a skeleton instead.  

He does this with me as well.  If I dare to invent my own character or, God forbid, don't stick to the script of what I am allowed to say in the game, he just fixes it with a potion.  I could be shot with flaming arrows and killed immediately, but if I dare shoot one back, well, there's a potion for that, you can be sure.  

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fo Fannah Rides Again!

Those of you who follow my blog, know my vacuum has been named Fo Fannah.  She's not much use when it comes to sucking up dirt and dust from my rugs (she's getting into her twilight years, I'm afraid), but she sure makes a great toy!

Maybe it is because I have been leaving her in her closet more and more often, choosing to actually sweep my rugs instead because that is actually more effective at this point, but she hasn't seen much action in either of her uses: cleaning machine or entertainment for imaginative boys.  

Well, I missed her I guess, so I let her come out to play, and after a quick and frustrating run at cleaning my rug, I gave her up to Mitchell to find something to do with her.  Always one to find a good use for one of my household tools, he quickly made her feel useful again.  Ride like the wind, Fo Fannah!  Yee-haw! 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things

Today is Jack's birthday!  I am tempted to say "I can't believe he's one already!" but I actually can believe it.  He seems "one."  It is a good age for him and we in the Norquist house are loving each new phase he grows into, each new skill he masters, each wobbly zombie step he takes as he crawls less and less.  Gone are his infant days, and while they were special in their own way, I am not missing them too much.  What a little character this guy is becoming!

As I sit thinking about his birthday and wondering what plans to make for this special day, I am left in a quandary over what to give him as a gift, as he has everything he could possibly need handed down to him (and sometimes NOT handed down, but taken anyways) from his older brothers.  He really doesn't need anything, and I suspect any toy we buy him, will not be played with any more than the toys already littering the house.

The more I think about it though, the more I am able to come up with a list of his favorite things:

A pot of dirt
IPhone (NOT to be confused with an older, unused, but working phone!)
Working TV remotes (NOT to be confused with any with the batteries taken out!)
Small pieces of bark from the ground outside
Any trashcan full of trash
Toilets (preferably with his brother actually using it)
Newspapers and magazines
My favorite coffee cup, full or empty
His brothers' water bottles
My laptop power cord
Christmas tree ornaments on the tree (NOT to be confused with ornaments already taken off!)
Beer bottles

So it appears I don't even need to go shopping for him!  I actually already have all of his favorites already on hand!  Now, how to wrap up a pot of dirt...

Happy birthday, my littlest big boy!  I love you so much!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

An Exception To A Very Important Rule

I am sure you have heard the advice, "Never disturb a sleeping baby" or some variation of this before.  It isn't just advice in our home, it is an important rule.  It has been a rule applying to all my kids, not just babies, since my first one was born.  

Well, times are changing.  I no longer have three nappers.  Jack is the only one who takes a nap anymore, so he is really the only one we tip-toe around while sleeping.  The other two are notallowed to take naps anymore, even if they could really use one, because just a few minutes of shut-eye causes them to be awake far too long after bedtime.  It really is amazing how just a half hour nap causes them to loose hours of nighttime sleep.

So while we still have this rule in our house, I make exceptions when the big boys fall asleep in the middle of the day.  I allow them to sleep for just a bit (obviously, they are in need of a little rest if they fall asleep on their own, despite their best efforts not to sleep) but not only do I wake them up after only the briefest of rests, I don't require a quiet atmosphere around them either.  In fact, I often enlist the help of the other boys to wake the sleeping one.  

While always grumpy towards their mom or dad for waking them before they are ready, they rarely get mad if I allow Jack to work his magic on them, and Jack just can't resist a sleeping brother!  I think he thinks it is a good game of peek-a-boo or something.  Whatever his reasons, he loves to play with them most when they are asleep.  He climbs on them, snuggles them, rolls over them, pulls their hair, slobber-kisses them, and just laughs and babbles throughout the entire waking up process.

Look at their faces.  This is not the look or response I get when I wake him on my own.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Psychedelic Discovery

Ben really has a way with describing things. For example: he describes his mind/imagination as his "tv" and when he is imagining something or trying to picture something in his mind, he looks off into space, at his "tv," then describes to me quite well the scene he sees there.  It is a very effective tool for him and comes in quite useful when he is trying to remember something or describe something to me that is difficult.  He is even beginning to use it to help him spell more complex words.  

Today, he described a new discovery to me, and it was so well-described and articulated, I felt I really could picture on my own "tv" his vision.  

After pressing his fists into his closed eyes for a minute or so, he suddenly opened his eyes, and, with an excited look on his face, described to me the wonders behind his eyelids, as if this was the very first time he has ever noticed it isn't just black and blank back there!  

"Mom!  when I close my eyes really tight and push on them, I see crazy things!  I saw a swirling, purple tornado and I was falling down through it!"  I encouraged him to try it again, telling him he might see something different the next time.  "This time the tornado is light grey and there are spaceships zooming around and at me!"

We then had a little talk about how he just discovered pictures and scenes in the seeming darkness behind closed eyes, and he suddenly remembered something related and had to tell me about this as well, only with a bit more of an ominous tone to his voice.

"Sometimes, at night, when the rest of you have all gone to sleep and the whole house is super dark but I'm still awake, I see things in the dark!  If I stare into my room in the dark, sometimes I see tiny things floating around in the air!  They sometimes look like little pieces of candy!"

Now, I don't really know what these nighttime visions are all about.  Perhaps I should pay closer attention to what he is eating at night!  I couldn't really tell him much concerning this other than to say it sounded pretty crazy, which he loved to hear.  "Mom, it is crazy, and also a little spooky!  But not scary spooky - just crazy weird spooky!  I've been meaning to tell you about it, but I keep forgetting!"

I do love talking with Ben.  He is so great at putting words to his ideas and dreams and visions.  I have even begun to picture my own memory and thought process as a TV in the air that I can look at and use to help me describe a picture.  Perhaps, this makes me a bit crazy, but so far, no nighttime hallucinations.

Friday, November 26, 2010

What I Am Thankful For

On top of the usual things on my list to be thankful for, this year I added a washing machine, skin glue, and butterfly band aids, and a quick-acting husband.

While the first half of our day yesterday went smoothly and happily, the second half was a bit more... chaotic, thanks mostly to Mitchell.  Have I ever told you that none of my boys like potatoes.  Ben is getting a bit better at eating things that aren't his favorites without too much drama, but Mitchell isn't there yet.  I only gave him a couple tiny bites of mashed potatoes, knowing there would be trouble, but once that first bite hit his tongue and he refused to swallow it, cue the gag reflex and up came all recently swallowed food.  Gross.

So the "fun" began with some vomit (hence my thankfulness for washing machines) and continued on later when he was goofing around and somehow dove face first onto the edge of my coffee table.  I was not in the room to see it, but I heard it!  Now my boys both have their things they whine or cry about, but getting hurt is usually not one of them.  They usually cry very little over wounds and brush them off and forget about them quickly.

Well, the scream coming out of Mitchell this time was worrisome, and when Matt yelled, "Deb, get in here!  I need your help!" I dropped what I was doing and ran.  Suddenly, Matt was shouting all sorts of directions at me - "Get me a wash cloth!  Get Jack out of here! I need some ice!  I need you to hold him!  It's his eye, his EYE!!"  

Apparently, Matt thought it was Mitchell's eyeball that had been wounded and was bleeding, hence the bit of panic there.  Well, he just missed his eye by a fraction, but you wouldn't know it by listening to these two.  

So Mitchell is wounded, scared, and in pain and Matt decides it is necessary to hold him down with an ice cube directly on the cut, further increasing Mitchell's pain and discomfort and now he has bloody water dripping into his eye!  Actually, once we figured out that it was the bloody water in his eye that was bothering him most and rectified that, he calmed down considerably.

We decided against the ER for many reasons, and I hope I will not regret that decision.  Although perhaps a tad panicked at first, Matt really did a great job taking care of things quickly and efficiently, and I'm pretty sure an ER trip was unnecessary. After a quick trip to the pharmacy, we cleaned his cut, glued his skin back together (not with super glue, but glue made for this, of course), put on a butterfly band aid, and gave up on any other plans for the evening and all camped out on my bed to watch a movie.  

After some Tylenol and a quick nap, he was feeling much better and back to himself.  He got bored with the movie and when I went to find him, he was busy emptying out my bathroom cabinets, looking for "tools" and piling up toothbrushes, fingernail clippers, band aides, dental floss, etc.  Like I said, back to the usual Mitchell.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Proper Attire

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  

I was recently reminded of one of my favorite TV clips, and it is very fitting for today:

As I work on preparing my own feast, I am considering whipping out my own "Thanksgiving pants," which I still have not bothered to get rid of, so I can fully enjoy my delicious meal in stretchy comfort!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Let's Do That Again!

Ever on the lookout for something to kill time on the weekends, I suggested the boys find a "project" to do with daddy.  Now, since this was the day they got to empty their money jars, count it, and spend it, they were eager to find as many last-minute ways to earn some coins as possible.  

There is a never-ending amount of "projects" that can be worked on in the backyard, so that is where I sent them to find one.  After putting bikes and wagons back in the garage and throwing away the week's collections of "weapons" that Mitchell always piles up from every time we walk somewhere (mostly big sticks and sometimes left-overs from the construction site that is our street right now), they decided not to wait for the gardeners to come and begin piling up all those leaves!

Well, this is where the "work" stopped and the "playing" began.  Isn't that the way work should be for young boys, out in the back yard with their dad?  I must say, Matt did most of the work, but he didn't seem to mind as long as the boys were with him, flattening and scattering the piles of leaves almost as fast as he could make them.

In the end, we all decided not to actually get rid of the leaves.  They were just too much fun, and, to be honest, would take a lot more work to actually bag them up than any of us are prepared for, considering we have a gardener coming to do it anyways.  When it was finally time to come in and the boys got their "wages" for all their hard work, they both decided they'd like to do that project again.  Anytime, boys.  Anytime.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Mountain of Down

I miss the days when the only thing I had to do between deciding to go outside and actually going, was tell the boys to go put their Crocs on.  We could be sitting on the couch one minute, and literally, within the next 1-2 minutes, could be out the door.

I would like to show you the mountain of clothing we are now required to put on in that tiny, 2-minute window that has now stretched to at least 10:

Our already tight morning routine/schedule has gotten even tighter, now that I have to factor in the "winterizing."  The first time I underestimated how long this would take, we were late enough to school that they had already locked the doors and I had to go around the long way and walk (or, more accurately, run) the worried boys to their classes.  

I have myself plus three boys to help bundle up, not just once, but at least three times a day!  Since a mountain of down jackets, mittens, hats, boots, and scarves is not something I want to have to look at or step around constantly and the boys aren't tall enough to hang all their own things up, I spend almost as much time putting all this necessary winter wear away!

Gone are the days I can leave Jack in his jammies, chubby little bear feet exposed, happily munching on Cheerios in his stroller as we get the older boys to the right place.  He now has to be fully dressed, then bundled until it would be impossible for him to get to a Cheerio, let alone get it into his mouth.

I have yet one more complaint about this whole process.  Perhaps it would feel more worth it if we were outside in the elements for more than 5 minutes, but their school is literally across the street!  I suppose I should be thankful for that (and I am), but most days the getting out/putting on/taking off/putting away takes more time than actually spent wearing the stuff does!

How many days until summer???

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mitchell's Backpack

Mitchell loves his school backpack.  I don't think he cares too much about what it looks like or that he can wear it on his back, but he LOVES having something to put his treasures in and bring them with him wherever he goes.  

Sometimes, he has specific things he is supposed to bring home from school like an announcement from the teacher or a picture he drew.  Sometimes he needs to bring something to school, like two objects that begin with the letter "F," for example. Most days, though, he doesn't really even need a bag, and any other boy might just either leave it home on those days, or at least carry it empty.  Not my boy.  Some days, when he gets home from school and I ask him if he has anything in his bag to show me (expecting a picture or an announcement), his face brightens and he says "Yes!  I have all kinds of stuff in here!"  He then sits down at the table and theatrically pulls one thing after another out, in a seeming never-ending stream of objects!  We are talking Mary Poppins style here!  

He hasn't pulled a lamp out yet like Mary Poppins, but sometimes the stuff coming out of it is quite funny and surprising: toys of all kinds (of course), assorted kitchen utensils, my checkbook, books, empty water bottle, flashlight, vacuum attachments, mittens, scissors, jack's hat, a fossil... you name it!  If it will fit in there, he will sneak it in!

Some Thoughts On A Clean House

As I spend my entire free time this morning cleaning house, getting ready for friends to come over this evening, I am blogging in my head.  I sometimes drive myself a little crazy now that I think in blog, so I just had to take a tiny break to write it down so I can stop talking to myself.

I think I sometimes give the impression that I do not keep a clean house or that messes do not bother me.  I fear some picture me living in a house with toys never picked up and put away, floors never swept or mopped, toilets beginning to grow scary things in them, laundry in piles, mice roaming the place (similar to Templeton at the fair in Charlotte's Web.)

This simply is not the case.  I joke about the messiness of my house, but only to make light of the fact that truly, I am ALWAYS picking things up, putting them away, cleaning, straightening, sweeping... It really never ends, but I do stay on top of it (most of the time.)  In fact, the best compliment I have had to my cleaning attempts was a few days ago when, out of frustration that I was doing laundry yet again, Mitchell finally sighed and said, "Mom, no more laundry!  You are ALWAYS folding laundry!"  While that was not meant as a compliment, I'm sure, I took it as one and it felt nice that someone noticed that I am ALWAYS doing laundry!  He might be the first one in my family to realize that dirty clothes do not magically make the transformation from heap of dirtiness on the floor, to clean and folded in the drawer!  So thanks for the props there, Mitchell!

I really do try hard to keep my home a neat, tidy, and clean place.  This is difficult, given that I have one grown man and 3 not-yet-grown men constantly "learning" to help me with this task, but you can erase the image of Templeton at the fair grounds.  We are not living in filth!

It would help if my husband was more of a stickler for cleanliness.  Don't get me wrong, he is a very neat and clean individual, but his neatness/cleanliness is like a bubble around him.  He keeps himself and his things clean and picked up, but will step over a toy or pile of laundry or pile of dishes that are not his without seeming to notice they exist!  He just doesn't seem to mind a little messiness around the house.  

This is evident to me by the way he praises me for all the work I do around the house.  He has actually gotten quite good at recognizing that I work hard to keep the house clean and also thanking me for it, but the way he does it is quite funny to me.  I tell the truth, he seems to compliment or praise me for a house well kept more often on days I have not done anything more than a daily pick-up, and is completely immune to the days the floors are shiny clean, toilets sparkling, fresh scent of Pinesol permeating everything.  

I suppose I should be thankful that he isn't tougher on me, requiring a higher standard in this area.  Perhaps I do a better job than I think, or perhaps he just knows I have more to do than keep things perfectly clean.  I just think it might be more helpful in keeping things extra clean if he knew the difference between toys picked up and the house being "extra" clean.  Oh well.

Monday, November 15, 2010

One More Thing!

Ever since school started, I have had NO trouble with the boys staying up late in their room, goofing off, constantly getting drinks out of the sink, draining some more "last drops," "reading" every book on the shelf, bickering, giggling, shouting, whispering, and, by the sound of it, square dancing or something equally loud and thumpy!  These were all regular nightly occurrences after 8:30 pm in the Norquist boys' room after lights out, but those days are gone.  Since there is no longer any chance of a nap for them, plus they are in school every day, plus we drain every drop of daylight left to us playing outside until it just gets too cold to do so, they are just too exhausted to even attempt their usual shenanigans.  

Occasionally on a weekend though, Mitchell will have fallen asleep on the couch watching a movie in the afternoon or in the car on the way to dinner, and that little 20 min "power nap" is all it takes to bring out the nighttime shenanigans again.  

Last night, Ben fell asleep almost immediately, leaving Mitchell awake and alone and bored.  This is when he begins his tiptoeing (or often slithering on his belly) out of his room and down the hall to peak around the corner and down the stairs to check out the action down here.  First he will say something like, "my covers are all messed up and I'm uncomfortable!"  I fix those for him (cause who really wants to sleep under messed up covers?!) but then a few minutes later, he will come out again with a new problem: "You forgot to leave the bathroom light on!"  "Ben won't talk to me!" "I heard a noise!" "I need the light on to read!" "I want to wear my slippers!" "I lost my blankie!"

Last night was a funny one though.  After 3 or 4 of the usual complaints, he finally just slithered out, laid down at the top of the stairs, and asked, "What are you guys watching down there?"  I answered that it was a show for moms and dads and not for little boys and that he needed to get back to bed and not come out again.  He gave me a look, got up, pointed at me, and mumbled, "I think it is a show for kids but you don't want me down there!"  After that, he stomped back to his room and we didn't hear from him again.  

Once again, Mitchell gave Matt and me a good chuckle and we spent a few minutes talking about how purposely and accidentally funny our little boys is.  

I checked on him a bit later to make sure he didn't have the dreaded "crooked covers" all night long, and he was as peaceful as can be, curled up under perfectly straight covers, arm around his blankie, head actually on the pillow, small pile of toys and books neatly piled up at the foot of his bed, no longer needed as distractions.  

Saturday, November 13, 2010

It Choked Us All Up A Bit

I just have to say, my favorite movie in a long time has got to be Toy Story 3.  We were lucky enough to borrow it from a friend today and after dinner tonight, we put it on for the boys.  Matt and I started out the movie immersed in our own activities: Matt reading his book, me on my computer.  

As I continued to not pay attention and get some things done while my boys were enraptured by the third and final chapter to what has got to be the best trilogy a child and his parent can watch together, I kept finding my attention drawn to the TV against it's will.  Every time I glanced at Matt, I noticed him in a similar state:  book in hand, held up to his face, but eyes glued to the TV in spite of himself.  

By the time we got to the "scary" part that I keep hearing parents warn against, I gave up any pretense at not being interested in it anymore and shut my computer.  I glanced at Ben during this part and he was close to tears and huddled up in a ball next to his dad, covered up to his eyes in his blankie.  There is nothing like a big, strong dad to help you through the intense parts.

But it was the ending that got to Matt and me.  I have not cried over a movie in some time now, but after a bit of holding the tears back, I finally let them flow.  Mitchell had climbed into my lap and was not facing me and Ben and Matt were in a similar position on a difference couch, so I felt it safe to let loose and let a few tears escape since no one was watching me anyways.

It was a touching ending to a wonderful three-part story and if you haven't seen these movies, I encourage you to watch them with a child if you can.  By the time the credits began, along with the credit entertainment that always accompanies Toy Story credits, I still couldn't turn around and face my family.  This is when Matt asked Mitchell if mommy was crying.  Mitchell whipped around, looked closely into my eyes, noticed the tears, I am sure of it, but answered "nope!" with a little smile on his face.  

I have to think if Matt knew enough to ask if I was crying, he must have been at least close himself.  

What Language Am I Speaking?

Matt and I are both thrilled to be discovering that our biggest two boys can definitely sing - on tune, that is!  They have a talent for quickly learning a tune and also learn the lyrics to just about any song almost immediately, it seems.  It is so fun to hear them not only singing along to songs they love, but also singing them on tune without any backup music!

Well, this morning, after singing one of their favorite songs about a hundred times in a row, they began to get bored with the same old lyrics and decided to write their own.  Let me describe it a bit better than that:  they each came up with their own lyrics and both sang these lyrics at the same time, each getting louder and louder, competing with each other, trying to out-do the other.  It got a bit... well, loud, to say the least.  

We adults tried to not to let this drive us crazy, reminding ourselves that we were happy they love to sing and focused on the humor of their made-up lyrics, rather than go insane by the competitive loudness of the situation.  Remember, they were both singing the exact same tune, and Ben's lyrics were real words with a bit of a story to go with it.  They at least made a bit of sense.  Mitchell's were a bit more nonsensical.  He was just speaking his own language and coming up with some pretty silly-sounding lyrics.  

When things began to wind down, as they inevitably do, even without parental intervention, Mitchell stopped his song and turned to me and said, "Mom?  Am I speaking Spanish?"

Shades of Honesty

Matt and I have always prided ourselves in our honesty with each other.  Do you like my hair this color?  No, not really.  How do you like this new dinner tonight?  Hmm... not my favorite.  What do you think of this top?  I really don't like it at all!  Should I go running in just my spandex shorts and no shirt (this one is Matt, not me, of course!)?  Not unless you want a lot of stares of the wrong kind!  Does this shirt go with these pants?  Are you crazy? 

We have always stood by the principle that a compliment isn't a true compliment if everything is a compliment.  If I always look incredible and my dinners are amazing and delicious 100% of the time, how do I ever know when it's actually true and when it is just flattery?  How can I learn to avoid those unflattering tops and never make that unfavorable crockpot goulash again?  

We both have done well under this seaming unkind but almost always smile, giggle, or at least eye-roll-inducing honesty.  I really do prefer to know the truth rather than never quite know if he is being honest or trying to spare my feelings.

But lately, I find myself wanting to re-examine and, perhaps, re-define our policy on honesty.  As my age increases, my youthful beauty and ability to handle less-than-positive remarks about it are decreasing, and I find myself thinking, "Did you really have to be quite that honest with me?  Really?  You think the reason we have no decent pictures of me at all is because I don't know how to wear make-up and I might benefit from false eyelashes?  Did that really have to be said and why are you so surprised that I prefer to read my book tonight instead of... well, other things?

I am sure I am just as guilty as he, or perhaps his skin has not begun to thin yet.  At least with physical appearance issues, as long as he doesn't begin to loose hair or gain extra pounds, he won't deal with problems like this for quite some time, if ever.  He will probably always wear his spandex for running and always think they look good, even in the decades to come, I suspect.  

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Really Don't Have Time For This

I have a lot to get done on a school morning.  I have to get Jack up, fed, diaper changed, and dressed.  I then have to wake up two sleepy boys, help them get dressed, shoes on and tied, and bladders drained.  I then have to get them fed and make lunches, get teeth brushed, make sure Ben's homework is done and signed, then somehow find time to get out of my jammies, then get us all into jackets and backpacks and out the door in time!  

Thank goodness Jack is such an early riser.  He normally wakes up so early, that I have plenty of time to get all this accomplished without too much rush.  I actually usually enjoy our morning routine and having so many good reasons to get up and get going first thing.  Normally, things flow along smoothly as long as everyone keeps moving.

Then there are the mornings that Jack decides to throw us off by sleeping in (well, sleeping in for us is sleeping any time past 6.)  When this happens, I oversleep and suddenly, what I normally have a couple hours to do while drinking my coffee, I now have to squish into one hour (how do I drink my coffee under such pressure?)

So this morning, amidst the craziness of trying to get the proper pants on the proper boy and making sure Jack doesn't have to do drop off in a poopy diaper, Ben and Mitchell decide they want to play dinosaurs!  Ok, I'm thinking, you may be dinosaurs while you get ready.  All is fine until Mitchell decides to mess with Ben, my play-by-the-rules boy.  Mitchell decided that he will be a dinosaur, but the only detail he will give about himself is that he is a sky-diving dinosaur.  This just ticked Ben off, as he was wanting Mitchell to give his full stats: what is your species, size, color, age, and name?  Nope, not gonna tell you, Ben.  I am just a sky-diving dinosaur with no name!  Deal with it!

Well, Ben was not happy about this and continued to push Mitchell to the point that he was no longer having fun messing with Ben and they both started complaining/whining to me!  "Mom, Mitchell isn't playing right!  Dinosaurs don't sky dive and he won't tell me his name!"  "Mom, Ben won't let me be what I want to be!  I'm the boss of me!"

All this is happening while I am still in my jammies, tying shoelaces for big boys while being climbed upon by a baby boy and I just didn't have it in me to handle it with any sort of grace or creativity, so I just looked at them and said, "I really don't have time for this" and walked away.  
Sometimes I just can't be the mediator in a silly argument between two stubborn boys and maybe I do it too much already anyways.  My desire to have them never bickering is a tad unrealistic and perhaps even unhealthy.  It grates on my nerves when they do this, but if someone told me (like my husband) that I was never allowed to disagree or argue with the person closest to me whom I love the most but also bugs me the most often, I'd probably give quite a skeptical scowl, if not laugh outright!  

So this is one rule I am going to re-think.  It can't be a rule just because it bugs mom.  I am going to use the line "I don't have time for this, I know you can figure this out on your own" more often.  

PS - "From the Peanut Gallery" (This is Matt hijacking the computer because I just got home to an empty house and had this on the desktop).  I laughed out loud at this - mostly because I am glad I was in another state during this morning's drama, and partly because my wife conveyed the situation with such precision that I felt like I was there!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Little Light Reading

After pointing out to Matt that we have not been doing a very good job reading to our third child, he decided to rectify the situation and make up for lost time.  Here they are, doing a bit of "light reading."

Although this wasn't quite what I had in mind when I said "read to him," I do appreciate it when he takes my suggestions seriously.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!

I know a lot of moms (and some dads too) are anti-guns and weapons when it comes to play things for their boys.  How you keep them from making their own weapons out of sticks, pieces of race track, and toilet paper tubes is something I'd be interested in hearing about though!

I don't feel very strongly on the subject.  I do give them some boundaries and rules regarding their use of weapons, but I do I allow them to mock fight and use foam swords and to let their creativity abound when it comes to fashioning their own weapons and hunting down "bad guys" in the back yard.  Their world is full of sticks and strings and interesting-shaped things that are just begging to be used in this manner!

So my boys play with weapons and feel quite heroic while doing it, I must say.  Today, they watched a bit of Robin  Hood before they tired of that and decided the day was just too beautiful to sit on a couch watching cartoons and they'd rather BE Robin Hood out in the backyard!

That is how I left things when I took off for the grocery store.  When I returned home, they had fully emersed themselves in the game and even enlisted the biggest boy: daddy (who is also a HUGE Robin Hood fan.)  Ben was busy shooting arrows at multiple targets with his home-made bow fashioned out of a piece of race track and a string (don't think that toy will work as a race track anymore...)  

Mitchell and Dad were up to worse though - they had out Matt's pellet gun and were shooting little yellow foam things all over the yard!  Now, these do not come out very fast and Mitchell was heavily supervised anyways, but that gun does not look like a toy and I cringe every time all three boys play with it together.  Although it looks it, it is not actually a dangerous toy - not unless, that is, you shoot it at your or someone else's eye!  

Boys are boys and, in my opinion, it is healthy for them to pretend to fight bad guys.  I love to watch them rescuing each other and other pretend characters.  But every time that ominous-looking toy gun comes out, the words of all the adult figures from "A Christmas Story" echo in my head: "You'll shoot your eye out!"  Someday that gun will mysteriously disappear and I will claim no knowledge of it's whereabouts...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What Could Be Better Than A Fort?

I think I have mentioned this before, but I think it is safe to say it again: I love fort-building.  It is one thing that meets all my criteria for a fun activity for everyone, not just some of us.  Why do I love this activity?

1. Everyone can participate/play
2. Everyone can help and give ideas (except maybe Jack...)
3. It uses physical energy as well as creative/mental energy
4. It often lasts quite a while (sometimes days)
5. The only mess is blankets and pillows

Yesterday, since Matt was using the living room for working, the boys and I decided to leave him in solitude and camp out upstairs, literally.  We got out every spare blanket we own (plus some that are not spares, but we just needed them!) and even completely rearranged their bedroom furniture so as to maximize fort-building efforts!  The result was one killer fort that was so big and had so many passages and separate rooms, that I kept hearing, "Hey!  Where are you, Ben?" and "Where did Jack go?  Oh, he's over in the dragon training room!"  Questions such as "Is mom still in here?" and "Did she sneak into the dungeon or is she in the guard room?" where common types of questions as we actually could loose each other in there.  

At bedtime, we were faced with a decision: tear it down or sleep in it?  We had to make this decision, as all their bedding was being used as roof pieces and they had nothing left on their beds!  I don't think I even need to tell you what we chose, even though it pretty much guaranteed a shorter night of sleep on a school night: yes, they slept in it.  They could have each had their own room, but they don't want that in real life, so why would they choose it now?  What kind of fun/mischief is to be had when you are separated?

I am quite proud of my/our finished product, but we already have plans to re-group and re-build it today.  Ben is even going to draw up the "map" of how he would like to see it built.  His ideas can get pretty "out there" as far as what is actually possibly with only furniture and blankets, but we will try our best!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

So It Begins

Needing something to do today to get out of the house, Mitchell, Jack, and I headed off to the craft store.  I can always use something from there and we needed an excuse to get out.  Mitchell LOVES the craft store, mainly because there is always some holiday close enough for this type of store to just go nuts over it.  For the last couple months, it has been all the Halloween decorations that have enthralled him - spooky costumes, skeletons, costume "weapons" and anything "haunted" (which to him, just means scary) were his favorite points of interest.  But I am finding out that was nothing compared to what is coming.

When we walked through the doors, Mitchell's eyes got as wide as can be and he just stared.  He literally stopped moving and just stared.  I feel like we were just there a couple days ago, but since then, the place has completely transformed into Christmas land!  He was too young last year, and we were busy with a new baby and just didn't get out as much during this season, so I think this really hit him as something never seen before.  Once his thoughts caught up to his initial physical reaction, he exclaimed, "Mom!  It's already Christmas in here!  Let's stay here all day!"

Oh Mitchell, you have made my day.  Yes, it is a bit early to be so excited about Christmas, but you have captured for me what Christmas can mean to a child.  He was so enchanted by every last thing on the shelves.  Each one was magical and worthy of complete inspection and discussion.  He was trying reindeer antlers on Jack, putting on Santa hats, ringing loud bells, rubbing sparkles off ornaments and onto his face, literally skipping up and down isles, shaking snow globes, asking questions, looking for Baby Jesus, and keeping Jack and me quite entertained.  

His top picks (for me to buy for him for making our house look just like this store) were:
reindeer antlers for baby Jack
a GIANT tree
loud jingle bells for the door
a cheesy snowman/penguin candle
a giant ornament covered in loose sparkles that were falling off everywhere
cookie decorating kit
Santa costume 
a dog elf costume (I don't think he  knows what an elf is or that it was for a dog)

No, I did not actually buy any of this stuff.  He actually wasn't upset by that at all.  He was just having way too much fun "shopping for cool stuff" as he put it, and didn't seem to have any expectation of actually buying it.  

I remember when Christmas was so enchanting for me and I can't remember when it lost that magic exactly.  Since then though, this is what I have been waiting for: to see my kids' faces light up over the things that have lost their luster for me and do my best to establish traditions (some borrowed from my childhood, some new) for them that will only  make this season even more special and meaningful for them.  Thank you for brightening my day with your enthusiasm and childlike wonder, Mitchell!  We will definitely be back soon!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Not the Usual Suspect

When I threw something away in the kitchen garbage yesterday, I noticed a pair of Matt's shoes in there.  Hmm... This one has "Mitchell" written all over it.  For a while, he went through a phase where he threw all sorts of valuables away, but that was some time ago now, and lately I haven't noticed anything either missing or in the garbage that shouldn't be.

But now, suddenly, there are shoes in the garbage.  No one was around at the time to question, so I made a mental note to talk to Matt and Mitchell about it later.

Of course, I totally forgot about the shoes in the garbage until later that night when I went to throw something away in my bathroom garbage, only to find yet another pair of Matt's shoes in this garbage can as well!  What in the world is going on here?!

This time, I immediately found Matt and asked him if he was missing any shoes.  When he answered "no," I broke the news to him: "Are you aware that someone is throwing away your shoes all over the house?  Naturally, I suspect Mitchell"  At this point, he burst out laughing at my suspicious behavior and admitted that he had thrown them away himself.  His laughter was so genuine and infectious that I got caught up in the moment, laughing aloud with him at the silliness of it all and at my instinct to blame my mischievous middle child, that I forgot to ask why he was systematically filling up my garbage cans with enormous shoes!  

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I'll Come In When I'm Ready, Mom!

Matt and I were talking together about why this Halloween has been such a big deal for our big boys, when it never has been in the past.  Last year, in fact, we just ignored it altogether and they never even noticed!

We agreed that there are many reasons contributing to their excitement over this somewhat made-up holiday.  First, their school made a big deal and had a lot of activities and crafts and projects pertaining to it.  Second, they just LOVED the decorations all over the neighborhood, which were constant reminders of the holiday.  We regularly had to take "Halloween walks" over the last month, to see and re-see all the scary and silly decorations that our neighbors have gone a bit crazy with.  Thirdly, I think spooky and scary and silly are all things that just make sense to these two boys at the moment.  Fourthly, (and I think this is the main one), they are just finally at an age where a holiday actually means something.  They know it is coming, they are able to count down the days until it arrives, there are activities leading up to it, and, in this case, there are costumes to be worn and played with.  Not even for Christmases past have they had this much excitement leading up to the actual day.  I think they are just at that magic age where this sort of thing is simply perfect!

The magic culminated tonight as we suited up, met up with some friends from the neighborhood, and hit the sidewalks for some trick-or-treating.  What a great neighborhood we live in for kids.  Everyone was out participating, whether giving or receiving candy, and hardly any house was "closed" to the kids.  It only took a few blocks for the dark to settle and their bags to be full to overflowing and we headed home.

But for Mitchell, the best part was still to come!  He just LOVED manning the candy bowl here at home.  He sat out on the front doorstep with his strobe flashlight, a voice-distorting megaphone, and a giant bowl of candy, calling one and all to him for some Halloween treats!  Ben and Mitchell did it together at first, but Ben kept hearing the call of his candy upstairs, and decided he'd rather keep an eye on his own candy (and organize, sort, and stack it like Scrooge with his piles of gold) than keep sitting in the cold, supplying the stragglers with treats.

Mitchell was just in his element though and flagged trick-or-treaters down with style, shining his flashlight in their eyes, handing out giant handfuls of candy to each person, trying to convince adults to partake, laughing a crazy laugh into the megaphone, and dancing around holding himself as he refused to take a bathroom break.  I wonder how many parents got a kick out of the potty dance as Matt and I did.  We finally had to give Mitchell the dentist a five-minute warning for coming inside, and he turned around and said, "I'm not ready yet!  I'll come when I'm ready, mom!"  We stuck to our five-minute time limit, but he managed to get rid of most of that candy for us!

So it has been a fun fall season for us, thanks in part to our friends' and neighbors' decorative efforts, and Halloween came and went and left us all with belly aches.  Tonight was a blast for the kids, but I am so glad it is finally over!  Now I can take down the spider webs in their room, I can stop trying to "save" Mitchell's costume from certain destruction, and we can get on with preparations for more real and meaningful holidays.  


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