Thursday, September 30, 2010

Baby In A Bar

I spent my morning in a most unexpected place - a pub. Why they chose a pub as the site for free TB tests for school volunteers, I don't really know, but the coffee was hot and good and I'm not complaining (too much.)

Given that I still have one child not in school and no nanny like most of the rest of the moms seem to have, I just packed that big baby into the bar with me. Where am I supposed to put him while I fill out paperwork? On the dirty floor, of course! I'd sit him down at my feet with my entire purse in front of him to choose his toy from (something he would normally go crazy for) but he had no interest in that women's accesory today. He had bigger aspirations - the bar.
I'd just get my papers back in my lap and start writing again, when he'd be off, sprint-crawling, trying to get behind the bar before I could catch him again. I finally sat my chair right down in the way of that path, so he decided under the table full of papers and files and directed by bossy nurses would be a fun place to explore. "Excuse me, bossy boots, I need to get my baby out from under your table."

When that lost its charm for him, he decided to make friends. Every woman in there had her purse at her feet and Jack took that to mean they were set there for him. Plenty of unsuspecting women looked down to find a big, slobbery baby chewing on her expensive purse or digging around in it to find her cell phone and make an embarrassing phone call.

Any attempts at annoyance at this child though disappeared the moment they spoke to him and he looked up and showed them his toothy smile. Yes, those teeth were a hit! I must have had a dozen comments on how cute his teeth are! At least we have moved on from "Wow, he sure has big cheeks!"

Now this process of getting one tiny shot took longer than you can imagine and we ended up spending over an hour at the bar, waiting for my turn. Where were all the other babies and young kids? Like I said, I think a lot of these moms either work outside the home or can just afford it for their own sanity and have nannies who help out so they left the little ones with them. While Jack was definitely a nuisance, he was still a hit with all the moms and even charmed the owner of the bar. Once, he pulled himself up to a standing position, using a woman's legs to help and ended up standing with his head under her skirt! "Excuse me, let me get my baby out from under your skirt."

What an interesting way to spend a morning. I hope this isn't the beginning of a love of bars for him.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Spiders: Friend or Foe?

My older boys are best friends but are so different from each other!  They don't look alike, they don't have similar personalities, they don't respond the same way to correction or to encouragement.  One loves rewards and hates punishment, the other doesn't seem terribly concerned by either.  One is a snuggler, one needs a lot more space.  One savors his special treats, one gobbles it down in one bite if possible.  Maybe part of the reason they get along so well is because of these differences.  Their interests are similar, so that keeps them together and the differences keep them from getting bored, maybe?

Well, the difference in my boys was obvious to me today in regards to a spider.  I heard Mitchell down by our front door, talking in the kind of baby talk he usually reserves for Jack, but Jack was with me, so I was curious who he was talking to.  I called down to him and asked who he was talking to and he said, "I found a friend spider down here and we are just talking!  He's nice!  I'm going to pick him up now."  He played on the stairs with his new "friend" for 10 more minutes or so.  I forgot to ask what became of his new friend - whether he was left to go free or ended up squished on the wall.  To tell the truth, I'm not too concerned with it.  

Ben was not home for this, but I knew exactly what he would have done, had he found the spider instead of Mitchell.  Picking it up would be the last thing he would do, I'll tell you that!  We had a conversation about spiders a few days ago, actually, and Ben admitted that he was afraid of spiders and if he saw one, he would be too afraid even to step on it with his snow boots on.  "It would be way to scary!"

While they disagree on whether real, live spiders are a friend or foe, they are agreed on scary pictures of spiders on the internet.  They regularly ask me to look up pictures of tarantulas and "the biggest spider I can find" and we have even added a new "kiss" to our dozen or so fancy bedtime kisses: the tarantula kiss.  Yes, I regularly give my boys a tarantula kiss before I turn the lights out and leave them to their silly nighttime rituals.  

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Dentist Is Evolving

I have another update on my dentist.  I know, I post a lot about dentists, but I just happen to have a 3-year-old who is obsessed with being a dentist!

This afternoon, I left Mitchell and Jack together, playing unbelievably well together considering their age difference, to clean up the kitchen a bit on my own.  When I finished, I checked up on them and Jack was laying on the couch in Mitchell's room, mouth open, with Mitchell "working" on his 4 teeth.  I could not believe first: that Jack had climbed up there, second: he had not fallen off, third: he was laying still, fourth: he was allowing Mitchell to poke around in his mouth without biting him, and fifth: he was loving it!  When Jack saw me, the game was over, of course, and he wanted me to play with him instead.  

With his first patient all fixed up and moved on to other things, it was my turn to see "the dentist."  This can be a scary thing as I never quite know what to expect, given the assortment of tools he has to choose from.  Well, this time, my dentist was quite thorough and showed he has learned a few more skills and added some new services to his list of jobs he performs.  After a quick flashlight in the mouth, I then got my hair brushed (with a real brush, not a toy saw!), my hair blow-dried with a power drill, and my back scratched (this one was performed with the toy saw, but it was surprisingly effective!).  Then I had to sit with my feet up in the air for "about 12 hours" and I was good to go!   What a full service dentist I have!  So relaxing!  This time at least...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sometimes I Really Love The Smell of Shaving Cream

The one down side to Matt doing well at work is that he is gone a lot more.  I really can't complain as his success is what allows me to do what I love to do, which is stay home with my boys, but we sure do miss him when he is gone!  

I have had many years to get used to his traveling - first on my own, then with one baby, then with two little boys, now with three.  Although it isn't ideal, we have a system worked out and we get along just fine, but I still feel the same way I did when we were first starting out in our life together and he'd have to leave.  That first day is a killer!  It doesn't matter what time of day he leaves, even if he leaves at a time he'd normally be gone at work anyways.  I know he is gone and I get an unshakeable, sad feeling.  Kind of a nagging worrisome feeling that is there all day.  I am always surprised by this feeling and how strong it is every time because it doesn't seem to fit with me and my personality.  I really don't expect this from myself, but it happens every time.

In response to this "sadness" that comes upon me, I have begun doing some funny things, just to remind me of my missing husband.  I wear his boxers or t-shirt to bed.  I shave my legs with his shaving cream because it smells like him.  I drink an extra beer in honor of him (ok, that one I do for myself and my own sanity!), I sleep on his side of the bed, and sometimes wear one of his hats around all day.  I'm not sure any of these things make that first day less... "blue" for me, but I do them anyways.  

After that first day, I feel just fine again.  Sometimes we have a great time while he is away, doing special "mommy" things like movies in my bed or eating out at places Matt doesn't ever want to go to.  Other times are tough and I just need him home to help me with my crazy kids, but it is only that first day that produces the crazy, weird feeling in me.  I guess I just love my husband.

A Girl Could Get Used To This

About a week ago, Matt and the boys started having secret meetings without me - "no girls allowed" type of thing.  They had important plans to discuss and afterwards, secrets to keep from mommy, lest they spoil the surprise.  So off Daddy went on a trip for a few days while the boys bravely attempted to keep their secret.  I'm pretty sure Mitchell wasn't paying too much attention in the first place while the plans were being made so it was not too difficult for him to keep his thoughts off of it and his mouth shut.  Ben, however, was very excited about it and kept wanting to drop hints to me without actually giving the secret away.  He'd bring it up at funny times and try to get me to guess what they were planning and then trying to find ways to give me clues without actually giving it away.  It was all very cute, I must say.

Matt returned home from his trip late a few nights later, but got up very early the next morning and woke the boys up.  Their special plan was to make mommy coffee and breakfast and have it ready by the time she woke up.  Well, they of course were not able to accomplish this without waking me, but I did enjoy staying in bed while the smell of coffee and breakfast wafted up to me.  I could hear all sorts of whisper laughs and hushed giggles and quiet instructions on how to best crack an egg or how to brew coffee.  They were having a great time down there before sunrise.  After a while,  Mitchell carefully climbed the stairs to my room, bringing a hot cup of coffee to me with a giant smile on his face.  He told me to sit up and drink my coffee but don't come downstairs yet!  "We aren't quite ready!  You just relax with this special coffee!  Bye!"

Well, I usually make cereal for breakfast - the clean up is minimal and I have a lot to do in the mornings.  But this breakfast was delicious and huge.  It was even worth the giant amount of mess that was left covering my kitchen from counter to counter.   The boys were so proud of what they had done for me and it was such a fun, early time together for us all.

Since then, the boys have been finding little special things to do for me all on their own.  Today was a perfectly cute example of this.  Matt took the boys out to the park this afternoon and when they returned, Mitchell and Ben had picked out "beautiful leaves for mommy" that they carefully brought home without smashing them.  Matt said it was funny how excited they got when they saw the leaves, came up with the idea that I would love them, and then spent time picking out the best ones to bring home for me.  My leaves made it home in one piece, despite their brittleness, were presented to me with much hugging and smiling, and are sitting prettily in my kitchen window.  It is times like this that I love being a mommy, especially to my sweet, thoughtful, and loving boys.  

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Just Because You Don't Get It, Doesn't Mean It Isn't Funny

A few nights ago, Mitchell came running up to me, insisting he had something really funny to show me upstairs - a joke, as he called it.  I followed him upstairs, insisting that my eyes were closed until the proper moment of revelation.  He led me to my closet (I may have peeked a tad on the way there - I don't fully trust him with my eyes closed) and instructed me to open my eyes!  I looked around my closet, but didn't quite see the "joke."  I'll show you what I saw:

What, you don't see it either?  I smiled and asked him to show me what it was that was so funny and he directed my attention to the empty beer bottle he had placed on the shelf with a look on his face that said, "Are you kidding?  Can't you see the hilarious beer bottle I put there?"  He then started cracking up as if placing a beer bottle on the shelf in the closet is the funniest joke one could play.  He then called Ben in and he got it!  He saw that bottle immediately and started cracking up too!  "That's so funny, Mitchell!"  

Ok, I don't really get it, but in the end, it was pretty funny.  We don't get to laugh together in the closet very often.

It's A Good Thing He's Handsome...

We were having toilet troubles a few days back, but trying to get someone out here to take care of things for us, as is our right as renters, was not working out well for us, so my loving handyman husband took matters into his own hands (with a little prodding from his loving wife.)

One trip to the hardware store and only about 10 minutes of messing around in the bathroom later, he had successfully fixed the toilet problem!  Or so I thought.  Notice anything wrong with this picture?  No?  Let me show you a close up:

Now do you see it?  I was not the first to discover Matt's handy-work; Ben was, and he discovered in true "Ben style."  He went in to use the toilet, but after doing his "duty," he turned around to flush and was momentarily paralyzed.  Something was not right here and he did not like it.  "Mom!  Something is wrong with the toilet!  It looks funny and I don't know what to do!"

Yes, the handle has been put on upside down.  It does take a bit of getting used to to flush your toilet upside down.  You almost have to re-learn how to pull the flusher up instead of the life-long habit of pushing down.  This is just so funny to me that I insisted he leave it as it is.  I LOVE that he fixed the flushing problem for me and putting it on this way has only added to the amount of smiles and chuckles I get in in a day.  Thank you, my loving husband for "fixing" things for me.  Yes, you are handier than I sometimes give you credit for, but not quite as handy as you might think you are :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Boy And His Blankie

Since my last few blogs have been without pictures of my handsome little boys, I have been searching my mind for some inspiration - what can I do a quick blog about that I can add a picture to?  It came to me as I was trying to play with my tired and fussy baby, but he did not seem interested in any of my great ideas.  When I handed him his little blankie (we call it "bibi" pronounced "bee-bee") he instantly stopped fussing, smiled, smashed it into his face and wiggled in happiness.  Knowing my Jack as I do, I knew this was his way of saying, "You may put me in my bed now, mom!"

That boy loves his bibi.  He comes by it naturally though.  Both his older brothers are huge fans of their blankies as well.  Ben's has a smell that only he can smell that is special to him.  He loves the rough side of it and will absentmindedly run his fingers across it while watching a movie.   Mitchell will wear his over his head, ghost-style, or bury Jack in it to play a full-body game of peek-a-boo, or just wrap himself in it at night.  Jack's smells a tad..."iffy" because I try not to wash it too often, but he must have that over his face in order to fall asleep peacefully.  I let him hold it while I feed him his bottle at night and he pulls it up over the bottle, burying both his face and the bottle until it is finished.  

Some parents have asked me why my kids all love blankies so much, sharing with me that none of their kids have ever shown any fondness for a particular blanket.  My answer to this is the guess that I must have had something to do with it.  For whatever reason, I wanted them to have a special blankie (probably because I did: my "pretty") so I consistently gave it to them at night until it caught on!  Will I wish I had not encouraged blankie usage?  I doubt it.  They don't try to take them to school with them or out to play and they really come in handy when they are sad or scared or in trouble or just need a good snuggle on their own.  

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Play Date Changes Our Thoughts On Girls

Yesterday was our first time doing an afternoon/evening play date.  I have to say, it was awesome!  Mornings are the typical time moms choose to get together with their little ones, but I have always found mornings busy enough as it is and difficult to find an empty morning in common with whatever mom I am attempting to connect with. 

Thank you to my friend who decided to be the brave one and pack her three kids up and head over here to the chaos that is our house. We let the kids loose, emptied a few toy bins, poured ourselves a glass of wine, added a cookie or two (for the kids, of course!), and there you have it!  A recipe for success!  

I realize it may have been a bit tougher for her, as she was the one who had to pack her crew up and get over here and then get home again with tired and possibly cranky kids, but my boys and I loved it and it made those normally impossible hours between 4 and 6 fly by in style!  

After our friends went home, and we ate dinner, had a bath, and wound down a bit with some time together talking, I am left with some thoughts on the play date according to my boys: (I forgot to mention that this was their first play date with a girl since they have made their "opinions" on girls)

1. girls aren't as messy as boys (we could still see the floor of their room, which is a rare occurrence after a play date)
2. we need a girl to be the mommy sometimes
3. girls are good at making rules for games that have mommies
4. girls are good at playing dogs
5. girls have nice voices
6. we can't hear girls very well because they are more quiet
7. girls can jump almost as far as boys!
8. girls like dirt too!
9. we like some girls

I like the progress we are making here.  We like girls, but not all girls.  We have definitely maintained our position on the "bossy boots" type of girl.  She is still NOT to be trusted!

His Teeth Are NOT To Be Underestimated!

This morning was a busy morning for my two little boys and me.  We had a lot to fit in to one morning, but bravely accomplished almost all of it!  One of the last things we got to before heading across the street to pick up Ben from school was the dreaded grocery store.  Mitchell did great after I let him pick out a special treat (he insisted on Gatoraide, of all things) but Jack was loosing it.  I kept giving him little things to play with from the cart and he would gnaw on it for a couple seconds, then give up on it as soon as he found it only tasted like plastic.  He normally likes crinkly packages though, so I gave him the pack of cookie dough to play around with - you know, the kind of cookie dough that not only comes pre-made, but pre-formed into little cookie squares?  I know, I am such a fabulous baker!  Anyways, it was keeping him quite entertained while I rushed around the store, steering the race car shopping cart with grace and skill, when I happened a glance at my baby.  He was covered in cookie dough!  He had ripped open the package with his teeth and was busy sucking that cookie dough down like he was afraid he'd be caught at any moment!  Stifling my urge to trade that pack for a new one, I put it back into my cart.  After that, I really had to shift that race car into high gear because none of the other groceries tasted quite so yummy as that last one!  

Oh, Be Careful Little Mouth What You Say

I have heard that there are people out there who do not care what others think or say about them.  I have heard people say that they are unaffected by unkind words or critical comments or sarcastic remarks.  Do you actually exist, oh immune ones?  Perhaps.  If I had to guess, I'd say there are those who are less affected, but none that are 100% immune to  negative attention.

With that thought in mind, I have been giving some thought to how I talk to not only other adults, but even more so to my children.  Think about it: how do you feel after a rude gesture from a fellow motorist, a sarcastic comment from a spouse or friend that hit you just in the right spot at the wrong time, an insensitive remark from someone?  Maybe you are one of those whose back it rolls right off of.  I wish I was you (although if that is you, I am going to make a wild guess you struggle with sensitivity in other areas where you need it!)  I am fairly thick-skinned and resilient, but I struggle with handling this sort of thing with forgiveness and grace.  Certain interactions with others stick with me for longer than I care to hold on to them, infecting my thoughts and mood for a while.  

A recent experience with this got me thinking about how I speak to my kids.  Now I realize that I am the parent and they are the children and it isn't quite the same rules as between adults.  I am allowed, and even required, to speak to them with a bit more authority and sternness at times than I should speak to my friends, but do I ever stop to think how my words and looks and attitudes are making them feel?  Yes, they can do a good job ignoring (or, at least, pretending to) a grumpy or frustrated mommy's sarcastic or too loud remarks and demands, but are they really immune to them?  I doubt it.  We, as the parents of young children, are the most important people and influences in our children's lives.  Remember that!  Oh, be careful little [mommy] what you say!  Handle your child's feelings with care and don't let your frustrations or anger in life cloud your judgement and dull your ability to filter your speech and actions toward them!  I sometimes catch myself in the act of treating one of my boys unfairly or speaking to them in a way no adult would ever let me get away with.  How sad.  I vow to be more vigilant with myself and keep a tighter reign on my tongue, and to attempt to find the "teachable moment" in each situation where correction or sternness is required, rather than resorting to flippant sarcasm or immediate annoyance and negativity!  

Monday, September 20, 2010

To Lock or Not To Lock

Lately, Mitchell has developed a new fear - one of locked doors.  A few weeks ago, he and Ben were goofing off in the dark in their room after bedtime, when suddenly, they both started screaming and crying as if something had gone terribly wrong.  I imagined a severed leg or at least a puncture wound, but when I got to their door and tried to open it, it was locked.  Mitchell had locked the door and couldn't figure out how to unlock it, thus causing the screaming and beginning his fear of locked doors.

My first reaction was to tell them they were silly for being so afraid of the door being locked, but I remember as a child, my best friend and I once locked ourselves in the bathroom and couldn't figure out how to unlock it and we were afraid also.  Anyways, we escaped in the end without any long term fears established.

I am fairly confident it will be a similar situation for Mitchell - that he will be scared for a little while, then forget about it.

But for now, he is afraid of the door being locked.  Every time we close a door, whether it be a bedroom door, a bathroom door, a car door, garage door, grocery store door, school door... you get the idea, he has to turn around and ask me if it is locked.  He is especially concerned when we are going in a door more than out a door.  He really just does not want to be stuck inside, behind that locked door.

With his fear of locked doors, you'd think he'd be very strict in keeping doors open and especially unlocked, but that is not the case with him.  He tends to have his own style with most things in life, so why not this locked door obsession?  It seems he is a bit bipolar on this issue.  One half of him is afraid of the door being locked on him, but the other half has developed a need to actually lock all doors he can!  I can't tell you how many times I have run to the bathroom, only to find the door locked and no one in there!  Yesterday, I heard Jack waking up from a nap but couldn't get into him, because someone had locked his door!  I'm pretty sure Jack didn't do it...  He has also locked us out of the house numerous times, necessitating some gate climbing/jumping skills on my part, and teaching me to bring my keys with me everwhere, no matter how few steps we take out the door.

So I have to leave his door open at night and promise two or three times not to lock him in while he goes around the house locking me out of the rest of the rooms.   

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I ♡ Riverside

I am hesitant to admit it lest I scare you a little, but I am watching you all!  Yes, I am monitoring my audience.  As soon as I saw a visitor counting device on a friend's blog, I knew I had to have it!  Up until fairly recently, since most of my readers are hesitant to actually sign up as "followers," I have had no real idea of who is reading and how many.  Enter the "counter."  I love it!  I have a new obsession!  I can watch you on so many levels: location, entry page, how many pages you visit each time, I can even view a map of the world with a little dot on your approximate location each time you make my day by reading my blog!  It is so exciting!  (I know, I don't get out much...)  I am pleased to announce that I am being read on all continents but South America, Australia, and Antarctica (Come on all you Antarcticans, get with it!)  

So I check a few times a week to see where you are and what you read (is that weird??) and I have to applaud my reader in Riverside, whoever you are.  I have a lot of readers in California, and am not sure which one of you is in Riverside, but you are my biggest fan!  I have as many hits from you as my home town, Chicago!   I   U! 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Is It Nap Time Yet?

Ever since school started a couple weeks ago, I have been more tired than usual.  I am still figuring out how to manage my schedule so that I can get all the drop-offs and pick-ups done, baby napped, meals made, clothes changed, gym visited, house picked up, plus all the other things that I squish into a day.  In all the schedule changes, the one thing that has gone away is any sort of down time for me.  The boys' schedules are not the same anymore and are just staggered enough that I am basically "on" from when they wake up until they go to bed.  

All this business is wonderful.  I love it.  We are all loving the new changes in our lives and adapting well, for the most part.  At about 3:00 in the afternoon though, it hits me - that wave of sleepiness that mocks me for voluntarily getting up so early and begs me to lay down immediately and just close my eyes for a few moments.  I have found myself falling asleep in the funniest circumstances, actually.  A few days ago, I fell asleep sitting up on my patio while my boys played out there.  When I woke up (surely only a few minutes later), I was still in the sitting position and Jack had painted his face with dirt and was cracking his brothers up.  Yesterday was funnier though.  Jack was down for a nap, so I had the big boys crawl up onto my bed so I could read them a story.  Mitchell was asleep by the time I turned the second page (yes!  one down, one to go!) but Ben was not showing any signs of sleepiness.  It certainly was making me feel sleepy!  At one point in the story, Ben interrupted me to say, "Mom, you're reading it wrong!  That word you said didn't even make sense!"  I re-focused my blurry eyes and began again.  This time, he interrupted me with "Mom, I think you are falling asleep because you are talking really funny."  One more try on my part resulted in the book slipping and hitting me on the forehead.  Ben laughed at that one, but made me finish the story anyways.  He then had mercy on me and let me doze for about 10 minutes or so.  That was all I needed.  I woke up, made some coffee and was ready to tackle the rest of my day with a bit more gusto.  

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Maserati or Margarita? I'll Take One of Each, Please!

Mitchell was very excited today to catch a convertible Maserati in the act of putting down it's top.  It only took a few seconds to happen, but we were standing right next to it and he shouted, "Mom!  That cool car is a transformer!" and jabbered on enough about the car and it's "transformation" that it caught the attention of the man inside, who was quite pleased that Mitchell was so pleased with his car.  He even offered to put the top back up and lower it again just for Mitchell to watch.  Show off...

As Ben was still at school and didn't get to witness this exciting event, Mitchell made plans to tell him all about it when he got home.  On our walk across the street to pick Ben up a couple hours later, Mitchell suddenly remembered that he had something very important to tell his brother.  He turned to me and said, "Mom!  I just remembered that I want to tell Ben all about the margarita!"  It took me a second, but I figured it out.  Either one sounds nice to me though!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Not Off To A Very Good Start

My boys have yet to learn how to play with girls.  Now I realize you don't really have to "learn" to play with girls any more than you need to with other boys, but since we have no "girls" in our family (I don't count, apparently), my boys need some extra encouragement to even realize girls their age exist!  I don't know if it is normal for this age boy to stick to his own kind and if girls do it as well.  I really have nothing to compare it to since I only have boys of a certain age, but they really seem completely ignorant of the fairer sex.  For example, they play a lot of father/son games.  All their dinosaurs, cars, dragons, etc all get divided into two categories: "dads" and "sons."  I hear them playing their imaginitive games in their room, calling "Hey, son!" and "Yeah, dad?"  Never is there a mom or a sister or a neighbor girl or even a serving wench!  Like I said, their world is suspiciously lacking in that area.

It doesn't help that their last couple "run-ins" with girls have not been entirely pleasant.  Twice now in the last week, we have come across "Bossy boots" at the park.  Two different girls on two different days at two different parks have taken it upon themselves to monitor my boys' behavior.  They have followed us around, pointing out all the dangerous activities they are involved in, telling them the "rules of the park according to her," and even trying to physically stop them from playing in certain ways.  Both times, this girl bit off a bit more than she could chew with team Mitchell and Ben, but it has stuck with them enough that they came up with the name "bossy boots" for girls and I can't help but think this hasn't helped their avoidance of girls in general.  

I have tried to explain to them that not all girls are like this - bossy, that is, but they don't believe me.  When I reminded them that I am a girl and asked if they thought I was bossy too, Ben said, "Mom, you are not a girl, you are a mom, and you are bossy!"  One look at my face, and he changed his statement a bit: "Well, you are the boss, but not always bossy.  Is that the same thing?"  

Oh boys, I guess we can be a bit bossy.  Get used to it, but don't take too much of it!  Maybe we are off to a good start after all...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Don't All Boys Love Boxes?

When I saw some giant boxes in an alley today, I had to have them.  Yes, I had my hands full already with my two younger boys, the stroller, my purse, and my own box I had already picked up from the Post Office, but I couldn't pass these babies up!  So I piled them on top of my boys' heads in the stroller and struggled home with all my stuff.  It was worth it.  Endless fun, these boxes are.  

I thought all boys love boxes - all kids, for that matter!  I mean, I'm not a boy or a kid, but I love them!  I love them so much I steal them out of garbage cans and lug them home!  I love to build forts with them (especially if they are big enough for me to fit in too!) and see all the creative ways my boys use them also.  So it's settled: we all love a good, big box, right?  Apparently not.  

I watched my friend's two boys today for her.  They are the same age as my boys and great friends, so it was no trouble at all to have them here - makes my life easier, in fact!  We had already dumpster dived for these boxes before the boys showed up and I was happy that we were going to be able to share this adventure with more boys.  My assumptions were proven incorrect when not only did these boys not want to build a fort with these wonderful boxes, they didn't even seem to notice them!  When I finally pointed them out to them, they asked me why I had boxes in my house and where the stuff that goes in them was!  After a brief conversation about the proper use for a box, we had to agree to disagree that a box is a good toy.  

Oh well.  We had fun anyways.  Our boys always have a great time together, even if it isn't in a box.

I do have to say though, that when Ben got home, he ran upstairs before I did, and when he saw those boxes in his room, he went wild!  "What?!  Mitchell, where did these come from?!  These are huge!  We can do all sorts of stuff with these!" can you go wrong?

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thriving Amidst The Chaos

This week was the first week of school for my big boys.  They have been so excited for the last few weeks, counting down the days till that first momentous day finally arrived.

Ben has done all this before, but Mitchell was a first-timer.  How fortunate for him that he gets to attend the same school as his big brother!  In fact, their classrooms are right next to each other!  Knowing Ben would be so close erased almost all fear from Mitchell and, for their part, it was a fun first day.

I wish I could say the same thing for myself though.  I did not have fun amidst the total chaos that surrounded the drop off and pick up.  It was as if two giant mobs descended on the place, pushing and shoving each other, competing for the ONE door that all the kids had to get through.  After asking plenty of clueless parents, I finally found out that my kids had to be dropped of in different areas, regardless of the fact that their rooms were right next to each other!  Thank goodness Matt chose to come with us, so we divided and conquered!  After circling the school, dragging Ben with me, I did eventually find the correct place to bring him.  Matt had a similar experience getting Mitchell to the correct place, but in the end, they both joined their classes successfully.

This chaos was repeated at the end of the day at pick up.  They really thought it might work to dismiss each kid in the lower grades and preschool one at a time through one door.  Now since this was the first day of school, there were two parents for each kid (and sometimes a nanny and a stroller) you can imagine what this must have looked like!  I know what it looked like as a parent on the outside, but now imagine what the poor 
little kids were seeing from the other side!  More than one poor soul burst into tears at the door when faced with this terrifying mob of parents yelling and reaching for their child.

How long has this school been in operation anyways!?  117 years, my friends!  One would think they'd have the kinks worked out by now.

On the positive side, I must say that it was really just that first day that was so chaotic.  The staff regrouped and came up with an alternate plan, and that added to the fact that I actually knew where to be and when made subsequent drop off and pick up much smoother and more efficient.  

Actually, so far, those two instances of disorder are the only things I have to complain about with school this year.  Both boys love their classes and teachers and are bringing home glowing reports of their days.  Ben is really making a great transition from "playtime" preschool, to real school with lessons and desks and pencils and gym class, while Mitchell is quickly learning how to play in a group of kids and follow directions and figure things out without his mom helping him.  

One positive thing that has come from school starting that I wasn't expecting is how excited they are to see each other when Ben finally gets home!  I pick up Mitchell a few hours before Ben is finished, and while we have a good time together, he really just is not himself until his big brother gets home.  They immediately pick up right where they left off, only with more enthusiasm and camaraderie because they haven't been together the whole first half of the day!  It is so cute to sit back and hear them tell each other over a snack what they did at school that day - things they claimed not to remember when I ask them.

I think the very first day of preschool calls for a trip to Dairy Queen, don't you?  I let him pick what he wanted, and he, as always, picked a vanilla dipped in chocolate ice cream cone.  Well chosen,  my big big preschooler!

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Friday, September 10, 2010

The Dentist Strikes Again!

I think that the "killer" phase is over.  At least, I haven't heard any more about it since a couple weeks ago, when he made the decision that he would like to be a "killer" and kill bad guys (and sometimes Ben) when he grows up.

My little dentist is back.  He no longer just works on teeth and the mouth in general though.  This is a special dentist who can do...well, just about anything really.  It depends on what kind of tool he has recently discovered.  Sometimes, he is sawing off my legs and re-attaching them with water from his water bottle.  Sometimes he needs to draw on my belly to show where he is going to cut me open and fix my stomach.  Sometimes the tools get a bit creative: a few days ago, he made me lay still while he put puzzle pieces down the back of my shirt.  I forget exactly how that was fixing me...

He finds tools for his "dentistry" everywhere he goes, but just yesterday, he finally discovered my drawer in the bathroom full of odd hair styling equipment.  When he found these tools, his eyes got wide and he said, "I didn't know you had dentist tools in here!  I need these!"  He ran to get his goggles (they are one of his constant tools when he's working) and got to work with his new equipment!  What a discovery this was!  To be honest, I rarely use this stuff anyways, so I am glad someone is getting some use out of it!  

The next day, he returned to his treasure drawer, digging deaper to find a small bag of nail polish.  Oh man, what can we use these for?  In the end, he ended up setting them all up in a neat little row, got a cup out of the bathtub, and proceeded to make mixed drinks with them (not opening them, of course, just pretending.)  He'd shake one in the cup, then another, stir it up, and name it something gruesome like "bloody goo" and "sticky tub water."  I had to pretend to drink them, but I didn't pretend to like it!  One of the grossest mini-bar selections I've ever seen!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

There Goes My Ego or Road Rash

Matt has been out of town for a few days, so now that he is back, I was really looking forward to a real run tonight.  By "real" I mean making good time by myself without pushing two kids way over the weight limit of my double stroller with a very chatty 5-year-old riding bike in front of me, beside me, behind me, on my get the picture.  It feels more like punishment than exercise.

I was loving my run tonight though.  It was just me and my feet and my thoughts.  I had made it about a third of the way through my run and was running around Depaul University.  I turned a corner and suddenly, I had the wind at my back and I found myself running faster without any more effort!  I found this quite exciting for some reason and thought to myself, "I should go even faster!  It will feel like flying!"  Well, faster I went, flying I did not, unless you count the dive I took about 10 giant steps into my "flying."  Remember, I am running right around a university so there are college kids all over the place.  When my toe hit the two-inch raised section of sidewalk and I ate it, I almost dove right into two young college boys and nearly scared them to death!  I think they jumped almost as high as I did!  They had the decency not to laugh at me outright and immediately rushed to my aid as I played dead there on the sidewalk.  Out of all the empty sections of dark sidewalk tonight, I had to pick the section with two young guys on it!  

I'm fine.  I have scrapes all up my right arm and shoulder, plus holes in my new running pants and stinging knees, but my I think I left more ego there on the sidewalk than skin.  I have to say  though, I did make good time, despite the crash.  I think I ran faster than ever once I got up to get as much distance between myself and the very gentlemanly witnesses I left behind.  

Oh!  As if one episode of maniac running wasn't enough for one night, I scared the you-know-what out of a biker tonight too!  I was almost home and was coming up on a patch of wet cement on the sidewalk that was roped off.  In order to get around it, I had to run in the street for a bit, so I hopped out between two parked cars and into the bike lane and right in front of a biker going the opposite (and correct) direction!  He skidded and ran his bike into the curb while I apologized profusely.  He didn't seem too upset for some reason and there was no damage to his bike, thank goodness.  I was a menace on the streets tonight!  Watch out for me if you are ever in my neighborhood past dark!

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Bad Case of Morning Breath

The first thing Mitchell said to me this morning, after groggily slumping his sleepy self downstairs and plopping down next to me on the couch (he ALWAYS gets himself up too early!) was "Pew mommy!  You smell stinky!"  I hadn't even talked to him yet, let alone made any smells of my own, so I had no idea what he was talking about.  I told him not to be rude and then he insisted that I smelled badly, so I sent him to sit somewhere else away from me.  When he sat down in his next choice of seat, he said the same thing, "It's stinky here too!"  He curled up on the floor next, buried under his blankie only to re-surface and complain of the smell in there too!

I smelled the places his complained of and since there was no smell whatsoever, I concluded that it was mearly his own morning breath grossing him out.  Putting a blankie close to your face or covering your head completely with it first thing in the morning is not recommended if you have a sensitive nose like Mitchell.

It's So Cute, You're Not In Trouble...This Time!!

Have I mentioned how much my older boys LOVE their baby brother?  I had high expectations before he was born because both boys were already showing plenty of excitement over the coming addition, but I never expected this kind of reaction!  When picturing how the boys would all interact together, I never imagined I would have to encourage a little less attention from the boys to Jack.  

Gone is the little slug who lays there relishing every kiss, every snuggle, every smothering with a blankie, every time his face is strangely contorted into a funny shape, every steam-roller, every poke and tickle and squeeze.  Developing along with his ever-increasing mobility is a little personal bubble.  He takes after his mom and his brother Mitchell - he just needs some space.  Too much cuddling, snuggling, and smothering makes a fussy baby (or mommy or older brother.)  I am finding that instead of needing to encourage the big boys to play with him or not to forget about him, I have the opposite problem - I have to remind them to give him space or to squeeze him then let go or not to lay on top of him and most of all - let him have some alone time in his room when he wakes up from a nap!  Going in there when we first hear a noise is way too soon for him!  He needs some time to wake up on his own and "prepare himself" for the barrage of boys about to hit him.  Takes some psyching up, I think.

So one of our house rules is that no one is allowed to go into Jack's room without permission.  The boys fight over who gets to go in first.  I can't believe they do that.  I can't believe how special it is to them!

A few days ago, Mitchell, Jack, and I all took an afternoon nap while Ben had quiet time alone in his room.  Shortly after falling asleep, I heard noises on the monitor and not the usual noises.  Ben was definitely in there!  I rushed downstairs, but paused before entering Jack's room.  They were both just cracking up!  I peaked in and saw Ben in the chair, performing for Jack, who was laughing and and standing and bouncing up and down in his crib.  They were having so much fun I left them in there for 10 more minutes or so until the magic was gone and Jack was bored of it.  After reminding Ben that this is normally not allowed and he assured me that Jack was already awake when he went in there, he got off easy this time.  He sure does love that little baby boy...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Dad, Watch!

My boys are no fools.  They know when you are paying attention and when you are only pretending.  It is difficult to give them the real kind every time, especially when I hear "look, mom!" and "hey mom, watch!" and "watch me!" at least once a minute, but I think we hit a pretty good ratio of the real kind to distracted kind.  It works for us.  

Mitchell especially, maybe because he has more recently made the discovery that there are two different levels of paying attention from his parents, is more insistent on the real kind.  I often hear something like this from him, "Hey mom, watch me!  Mom, really watch me!  Mom, turn your face to me!"

The whole "watch me" really gets amped up a notch when Matt returns from a trip.  The boys climb all over him, both talk at the same time, getting louder and louder to drown the other one out, and insist on his "real" attention.  Matt is usually pretty excited to see them as well, so while figuring out how to pay attention to both who are going in separate directions is somewhat difficult, he at least has no problem with being distracted by something else.  Sometimes though, he just wants to talk to me or has paid attention for a while and now has moved onto the other kind - the distracted, pretend kind.  

This last time he returned, Ben and Mitchell were very excited about a new movie we had rented and were just positive Daddy would feel just the same way when he got home.  They made him sit in "their" seat (the one closest to the TV which they both sit on top of each other for) and watch it with them.  Matt is not so into the kids' movies so he lasted about 3 minutes of really watching, then attempted to sit with them, but not actually watch it.  Mitchell noticed this pretty quickly and took care of it.  Ben quickly joined the fight for daddy's attention and he was trapped.  "Watch this, Daddy!  Watch!"

Every time he'd try to turn his head, Mitchell would physically turn his head back in the direction of the TV and scold him for not watching.  Ben joined in the battle for attention by sitting on his head so he couldn't turn it.  You're not getting out of it easily this time, daddy! 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Special Date

Did I mention Ben and I are HUGE Shrek fans?  Well, we are, and on our way home from the gym the other day, we saw a sign on a taxi for Shrek the musical.  Ben spotted that and said, "Mom, did you see that Shrek taxi?  It had a real Shrek on it!  What's up with that?"  When I told him it was sign for a real, live Shrek musical, he was a bit incredulous.  For the next few days, he could not get it out of his head, and he kept me informed of this: "Mom, I really just can't get that Shrek musical out of my head!  It's really stuck there!"  

Well, I knew this would be something he would really love and enjoy, so I got us tickets last weekend and we had a special date - just the two of us.  He was so incredibly excited on the way in, LOVED the entire show (he was literally on the edge of his seat most of the show, laughing and whispering and clapping/chearing when appropriate), and made it back to the train ride home before his excitement and constant chatter gave out to sleepiness and he crashed on my lap.  What a great night.  I will let the pictures fill in the gaps for what I have left out.


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