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!  


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