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!


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