Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dragon Makes a Friend: A Play For Dad

My handsome hubby had a birthday this weekend! While I personally am not one to make a huge deal about birthdays, my boys are just crazy about them - their own, each other's, mine, Matt's, really anyone's as long as they get to be a part of it!

The boys woke up bright and early, eager to FINALLY give dad their present they were so excited about and that we had all wrapped up (and then rewrapped after Jack thought it was for him) the day before. As happy as Matt was to receive his thoughtful gifts from his sons, (Mitchell wanted to keep wrapping up more and more of his toys to give him, plus they both made him 3 or 4 cards each, plus the knife) I think the boys might have been even more excited. Mitchell's feet were just dancing around all morning. He just could not stand still and was hopping around and spinning and grinning and... just being so Mitchell.

After the presents, it was time to get down to the entertainment: the play they worked so hard on all week! Remember my fairy wings? Well, it was time to get them out of hiding, get them on, get costumes on, set up the stage, get the props, and paint Mitchell's face! It was like a party around here!

We had a blast. Ben remembered every one of his lines, Mitchell looked fabulous as Jack Skellington in his tuxedo, the sets turned out so nice, and our front porch was just the perfect stage as daddy and Jack and Uncle Carl sat down below in the audience, cheering us on.

I am so proud of my boys. They love their dad so much and were so excited to do this for him. They are already planning their next production and I have heard rumors of a space theme with an astronaut dog and a space alien. I wouldn't be surprised if a dragon or skeleton made it in there too somehow...

That Other Place

Last night, as the boys were getting ready for bed, the boys were talking about our lazy tooth fairy. I hate to tell you, but she skipped over our house two nights ago. Ben was certain it was because he slept in Mitchell's bed that night and it confused her. I'm glad he came to that conclusion. Let's hope she actually found him last night and did her job!

Talking about the tooth fairy got them on the topic of things they believe in which they have never actually seen, which led from the tooth fairy right to Santa. Ben said, "You know, not everyone thinks the Tooth Fairy is real. Some people think Santa isn't real too." We asked him who thinks this, and while he didn't have an answer, he was pretty sure the validity of these characters is often in question. We asked if he thought they were real and he said "Yeah, I think they are real, I'm just saying some people don't."

From Santa, we moved to Jesus, another person Ben believes in but is quite frustrated that he can't see him. Although there are not a lot of similarities between Santa and Jesus, we seem to always talk about them in the same conversation! Must be more similar to a kid than I tend to think...

Mitchell was listening to all this and jumped in here with some of his hard-thought-out opinions. "Yeah, mom, some people don't believe in Jesus and those people have to go the bad heaven!"

I just wonder what his imagination pictures for him when he sees the two options after death: good heaven and bad heaven. Is the good one the one where you don't have to eat your vegetables and you get to stay up late, while the bad one is the one were every dinner is the dreaded mashed potatoes and you have to go to bed while it is still light out?

"Bad heaven" made Matt and me smile. We haven't talked a lot about the alternative to heaven with the boys, but he pieced that one together on his own.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Never Thought I'd Be Doing This!

Ben and Mitchell are planning a play for Matt's birthday. They came up with the story, the characters (a dragon and a skeleton, of course), painted the sets on big cut up moving boxes (with a little help from mom, but I'm just about as artistically gifted as they are), found costumes, and even found a part for me, the lone girl!

Now what part could a mere "girl" play in their fantastic performance (besides organizing and overseeing this whole production, plus being the narrator)? Well, I get to be the fairy. What did I expect? I'm a girl!

Once I was assigned a role in the play, the question of what my costume should be came up. Now since I have no little girls, I have no princess accessories; no wings, no magic wands, no glittery skirts or tutus. Ben suggested I find a costume store and stock up on some costume staples, as he just might need me to play a fairy more than once. "You will need this stuff again, mom!"

Well, I don't know of any fairy princess stores around here, so we decided to draw, cut out, and paint some giant cardboard wings for me. So that is what I have been doing for Jack's entire nap today: painting my fairy wings.

I have three boys. I have come up with plenty of dragon and monster and dinosaur costumes, but I never thought I'd find myself making fairy wings!

When I asked what part Jack could play, Ben thought about it for a bit and said, "The only thing he could be would be a tornado that messes it all up!"

Monday, July 25, 2011

Too Good To Keep It Quiet

As I was racing through the aisles at Costco a few weeks ago with all my kids riding on/hanging onto the cart in some life-threatening (or, at least, toe/foot-threatening) way, we stumbled upon the coveted "snack lady." This time, she was handing out tiny helpings of frozen deliciousness: Icees - the boys new favorite frozen treat.

All three of my boys gobbled theirs down in no time and I had to keep "circling the block" to "happen" upon this poor little old lady who was so slowly and methodically cutting them up into tiny, bite-sized pieces and even more slowly arranging the individual bites into a nice little arrangement on her tray before she'd let anyone touch them.

I tried to avoid her evil eye and ease her annoyance at us for taking so many of her little creations of art, by picking up two boxes of what she was promoting, making sure she saw me put them in the cart, amidst cheers from my kids. It's not every day mom actually buys the yummy treat they ask for!

These are loaded with sugar I'm sure, and the bright colors dye my boys tongues and lips green, red, and, worst of all, blue, but they are a fun and refreshing treat on these hot summer days. They can get them themselves and open them themselves. Other than the permission part, it is a mom's-help-free snack!

The bad news is Jack. He also loves these things but isn't quite so good at eating them. They are too cold on his teeth, so he never bites them, just licks and licks until they are melting all over him. He hasn't quite gotten the squeezing technique down either, so he just spills it all over himself, drops it out of the wrapper, and picks it up with his hands, melting the terribly bright juice all over his hands, arms, face, clothes, and anything in a 3 foot radius.

So we now try to sneak a snack without Jack knowing. It is a difficult thing to attempt. Poor little guy... I'm not trying to deprive him, but I do hate that mess!

Yesterday, the big boys successfully snagged one for themselves out of the freezer, and used their super secret spy moves to smuggle it outside to eat it before Jack was any wiser. I did my part by keeping him occupied with something else, and the mission was going down smoothly. Ben finished his, snuck back in, threw his garbage away. So far so good. But then Mitchell came in a few minutes later, waving his empty wrapper at me, saying, "Look mom! I finished mine without letting Jack see me even once!" Jack took one look at that wrapper, dropped what he was doing, and ran to the freezer, shouting, "Icee! Icee! Pees! Pees!"

Ah shucks... Mitchell just has such a hard time keeping good things secret! Even this time, when he was trying, he still couldn't keep from letting Jack in on it. He will do the same thing any time he gets something Ben doesn't get. He will go out of his way to find Ben wherever he is and either show him what he got or tell him all about it. It really is impossible to just give something to Mitchell. It's just too good for him to keep it quiet.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sometimes My Better Judgement Is Wrong

One of Matt's coworkers gave us his seats at a soccer game tonight. Very generous of him, but I am betting he doesn't have 3 kids 6 and under that he takes with him every time. My first reaction was, "Uh, thanks but no thanks!"

My attitude toward going only worsened during the day today. It... was... hot today. We laid around the house, attempted to play outside for a bit, getting on each others' nerves, watching the clock waiting for this darn game to begin. I truly almost sent Matt with the big boys and stayed home with my little one. It's just too hot for this nonsense. And I'm not even much of a fan of any sport!

Well, I'm glad I went against my better judgement on this one. We had a blast! I was happy because I got to get out of the house and actually do something and even happier that I got to eat a giant, salty soft pretzel with extra cheese sauce. Ben and Mitchell were happy to see the giant stadium, sit in the second row, eat junk food, guzzle Gatorade, yell and boo, and sit next to "Mad Cow" who had his face painted crazy, a giant silver hoop through his nose, and constantly shouted obscenities at the opposing team.

I admit, for the 15 minutes of so I actually got to sit and watch the game, (before the food ran out and Jack needed something else to do and we had to spend the rest of the time cruising the concessions, making friends, eating food, jumping up and down stairs, and being amazed with anything out of the ordinary) I actually enjoyed watching it! It really makes a difference to be in the second row, surrounded by lunatics, actually able to see what is going on!

We left before it was over. A true fan of the team would have found this experience quite frustrating, as they would not have been able to actually watch the game, but our attitude of "let's just try it out for as long as it lasts to see how it goes" worked out perfectly. We knew it would be overambitious to try to stay for the whole game, so we stopped buying more junk food and left while we were still ahead.

The boys are still talking about "next time," wearing their old soccer jerseys, and playing soccer matches with their ugly dolls (with plenty of chanting, cheering, and unusual rules.) It's getting almost as wild as the real thing...

Sometimes, mom's desire to stay cool and comfortable makes us miss out on fun (although sweaty) events such as tonight. I guess I don't always know best.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I'd Say That Counts

As I sent the big boys off to the basement for a little "quiet" time so I could go upstairs and shower uninterrupted, I reminded them that they needed to stay put until I came down to get them. Being the lone female in my house, I don't love tattling visitors while showering. A girl's got to have a bit of privacy!

I told them I wanted them to stay playing downstairs and not to come get me unless there was an emergency. Ben looked at me and said, "Would it be an emergency if Mitchell's leg got cut off?"

Yes, I think that would count as an emergency. When I told him they may come get me if Mitchell's leg came off somehow, the launched into a heated debate as to who would come get me and how. Ben didn't think Mitchell would be able to manage the stairs with one leg and a bloody stump, but Mitchell insisted he could hop up on one foot to show me.

They were still discussing other possibly bloody emergencies on their way down the stairs, but somehow they made it through one more quiet time in one piece.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Just Go To Sleep!

I may have gone a bit overboard with the whole "it's summer-no school in the morning-we're moving-sleep as late as you want-it's hot so take long naps again-eat dinners late-go to bed late" routine we have slipped into.

It was fun at first. The boys have been getting some extra time with Matt at night and making up for it by sleeping in late. It is beginning to wear on me though. I can often hear the big boys thumping and giggling and goofing off in their room as I am finally going to bed and drifting off to sleep myself.

Today, since Matt is traveling, I decided to begin to bring back the old schedule and I tried to stack the deck in my favor. I woke them up early, did not allow them to nap, bought them a slip n slide (ok, that was just for fun and not part of my plan) which they played on out in the sun all day long, ate dinner at a reasonable hour, even watched a movie to get them in the proper sleeping position at least!

They looked pretty tired when I marched them up to bed, and as I was tucking them in, I reminded them how tired they were and that they should have no problem just falling right to sleep. Ben looked at me like I just told him to sleep naked on the roof or something and said, "We can't do that! We never just fall right to sleep! We have plans!"

I then tried a different tactic. I pointed out that Dad is not here and that I was going to be in the shower, so please don't wander the house looking for me to tattle on each other or ask if you can have your light saber in bed. I won't be able to hear you. This was also a dumb thing for me to say, I guess. "Oh mom, I think we can find you. I know where your shower is. Silly... And anyways, when I can't find you, I just send Mitchell and he always finds you!"

I finally just said, "Ben, just stay in your bed and talk quietly, ok?" To which he answered, "But I might have to poop! What if I need a drink? What if I want to look out the window for Kevin (the neighbor)?"

This is when I just stopped talking. Clearly, he is his father's son and prefers to get the last word in. I just ended it with a strange combination of "I love you" mixed with evil eye... I heard giggling from both of them as I walked down the hallway, but they were asleep by the time I was done showering and I didn't have any visitors while I was in there.


Jack has been making quite a bit of progress in his speech over the last month. I can no longer measure his vocabulary in neat and easy terms such as "Yeah, he has about a dozen words." I can no longer list all his well-used words off the top of my head, and I am not the only person who can understand his words anymore.

Despite his advances, the last week or so, he has begun adding his own flair to his words, that are a funny but frustrating development. He is adding a "ch" or "ts" to the end of many of his words. One of his most-used words, fan, has become "fanch." Hands have become "hants." Spoon = "foonch." Even his brother has gotten a new name - "Bents."

My new favorite evolution though is his new word for balloon: boonts!

Yesterday, I bought a bag of water balloons and they kept us busy all day. I must have filled and tied hundreds of balloons. Keeping up with three boys who can explode them faster than I can fill them keeps a mom occupied (and more than a little wet.) Every time Jack needed a new balloon filled, he would hand me an empty one and say, "boonts! boonts! boonts!" until I finished filling it for him.

Now half a dozen "boonts!" for every balloon I filled for him equals A LOT of the same word over and over again!

It must have been cute and catchy enough though, because the rest of us eventually started calling the water balloons "boonts" as well, and now they big boys say it without even using a baby voice or laughing. That is just what they are calling them now, apparently.

Today promises to be another hot one and with daddy out of town, I think we will probably use up the rest of our "boonts" (and possibly the rest of my sanity as well...)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dirt, Dude Style

Summer is all about getting sweaty and dirty when you're a "dude." At least, that is what my boys tell me when I ask how they get so dirty.

They tell me I shouldn't worry about it too much, it's "dude style" to get dirty and make messes.

Mitchell can't quite decide if dirty feet is a good thing or a bad thing though. He has a certain pair of shoes that he LOVES because they are exactly like daddy's and he gets to slip them on with no socks, but they also make his feet quite stinky and sweaty. Every time he kicks them off, he has to sit down and clean out between each of his toes with his finger. It is so funny to see him sitting on the floor, foot pulled up into his lap, methodically wiping the dirt out from between each of his toes.

The other day, he kicked his shoes off in the car though and began his cleaning ritual right there in his seat next to Ben. Ben was severely grossed out and said, "Ew, Mitchell! Stop taking your stinky shoes off and stop touching your stinky toes! Don't even think about touching me now!"

Mitchell didn't even look up from his grooming, just said, "Ben, my feet are dirty and I'm cleaning them 'dude style'."

I am constantly getting schooled as to what exactly "dude style" means. Apparently, it includes both having dirty feet and also cleaning dirty feet with your fingers in the car.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Matt's birthday is coming up. For the boys, this momentous occasion is only slightly less exciting than their own birthdays. We love sitting around while Dad is at work, talking about him and what kind of things he might like as presents for this big day.

This year, the boys have come up with some good ideas: a motorcycle, a bicycle, a helmet, weights, track shoes, a sword, and a space ship (Mitchell is quite mad about outer space right now...)

The boys and I decided that they could chip in some of their own money to get dad a pocket knife (that's almost a sword, right?) and I ordered one online. Today, it arrived.

I wasn't thinking when I opened up the package (if I had been thinking, I would not have opened it up in front of them) but when they saw what was in there, they were beside themselves with excitement! Three reasons why they were so excited: 1. a package came in the mail, 2. it was dad's present, and 3. it was a knife!

They wanted to hold it and "try it out" and open and close it. They wanted to carry it around in their pockets. Jack just wanted to get a turn to hold it (yeah right.) They wanted to wrap it and give it to him as soon as he got home!

I convinced them that it would be more special if we wait until his actual birthday to give him his gift, so we put it away somewhere secret and swore to each other not to talk about it at all to dad. This is where Ben gave Mitchell a stern look and with an even sterner voice said, "Mitchell, you can't spoil the surprise! You can't talk about it at all! You can't ruin it! Do you even know how to keep a secret?"

Well, half way through dinner tonight, Mitchell started to leak. It was just too much to keep quiet. "Hey Dad! We got you a birthday present but I'm not going to tell you what it is!" This is when Ben started evil-eyeing him. "We got the packadidge today, but we hid it away and it's a secret!" This is where Ben told Mitchell to stop talking.

I am sure Mitchell thought he was changing the subject here and wasn't spoiling anything, but his next comment made Matt and me laugh, and Ben punch him in the arm. "So maybe when I'm a man, I could have a pocket knife too?"

Matt pretended to be none the wiser and we eventually got Mitchell to start talking about something un-knife or birthday related, but it must be heavy on his mind because it came up again later, when he and dad were having some "dude time" doing a project together down in the basement. "Dad, we should get some knives to work on stuff together... But I'm not going to tell you what we got you for your birthday!"

I wonder how often "knives" will come up in conversation in the next couple weeks...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Strong Cop the Spy

Ben and Mitchell have always loved playing "cops," and when they are in cop mode, they require me to call them "Strong Cop." Strong Cop usually puts bad guys in jail (the closet) and swaggers around looking tough and punching bad guys (furniture.)

Well, after watching Cars 2, which apparently has a spy car or two in it, Strong Cop has evolved. He is now a spy and Mitchell especially is acquiring all sorts of tools and gear to add to his costume. His ear warmers, flashlight, weight-lifting gloves, sunglasses, and various other assorted finds are complimented by a fierce scowl and a sting-inducing punch! Something about donning those gloves that makes him punch straight and hard and it hurts!

Watch out for my spies! They are out for justice!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Putting Them To Work

Why, oh why must movers insist on sticking an orange, yellow, or blue stamp-sized sticker to EVERY piece of furniture they move? I do realize there is a purpose, but surely the moving industry can come up with something better than that? Some way of organizing and keeping track of things that does not involve stickers that may or may not want to come off in the end?

For those of you who do not list "moving" as one of your regular activities, perhaps you have no idea what I am talking about. I'll tell you: every item that a mover moves gets a sticker with a number. Every box, every piece of furniture, every vacuum, broom, bike, scooter, stroller, rug... anything that they pick up and put in the truck. They don't take them off when unloading either.

Now since I have not always been the amazingly tidy and organized person I am today (haha), I actually have more than one sticker on some pieces of furniture - from other moves! How terrible is that!?

Well, no sticker is going to live long in this house! I have decided to no longer be the kind of person who has moving stickers stuck to everything or anything! I am putting the troops to work! I made heavy-duty sheets of paper with squares all over them (much like a sticker or chore chart) one for each boy. Soon, I will let them loose to fill up their papers! I have promised a penny for every sticker they find.

This sort of reminds me of the time my dad promised my sister and me a penny for every cigarette butt we picked up one time. We jumped on that, thinking we'd make a killing (we were young enough to actually think we'd make a killing) but after spending hours picking them up (nasty), we then had to re-count them! Imagine two little girls with bags of cigarette butts, counting them one by one...

Fortunately, we will be dealing with stickers here, not dirty, smelly garbage! I just hope the stickers come off easily, or I will have to run around even more than they do, trying to respond to all the "Help, mom! I can't get this one! This one is stuck! I ripped this one! Ben is trying to steal mine!"

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Thankful For Sickness

Ben was not himself today. He was lethargic and moping around. He even crawled into his bed and got under the covers at one point! He couldn't think of anything to play and when I took him for a bike ride, he wouldn't shoot bad guys with me, just rode along in silence.

All day, I was asking him if he was ok and if anything was wrong. "No, I just don't have anything to do and no one wants to play spy cars with me..." I just thought he was moping because I don't know how to play "spy cars" and wasn't showing an eagerness to learn.

Well, right before dinner, I found him curled up on the couch down in the basement. It finally dawned on me to take his temperature and, sure enough, he is sick. Why did it take me so long to suspect he was sick, not just moody? Well, normally he lets me know when he isn't feeling well and will just find a place to curl up and sleep. Today, he kept trying to keep going. He threw me off the scent!

After choking down a few bites of dinner, he took a bath without his pesky little brothers (not a luxury I usually grant any of them), and asked if he could just get in bed. He was asleep before I even finished reading a story.

I have to admit that when I discovered his temperature, I was relieved. I just breathed a sigh of relief that he wasn't entering into some moody phase or some hard-to-figure-out phase. Ben has always been so easy for me to read. I rarely am left wondering what he is thinking or why he is behaving a certain way. Today had me worried, like our connection was weakening. The fever eased my worries. Sometimes I am just thankful for little sicknesses.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Parades, Classic Cars, Candy, and... Vampires?

We took the boys to see the 4th of July Day parade today in our new town. They LOVED it! Ben was very excited about the classic cars, Mitchell was a pro at scrambling for the candy and snatching more than his fair share before other slower kids could get there, and Jack loved eating the candy. I have never had such an easy time out with Jack since he was an infant! He sat in his stroller sucking on lollipops the whole time! Maybe I'm on to something with candy here....

They loved the car show and parade so much that they have been playing "parade" at home ever since. They sit in daddy's classic '66 Porsche, windows down, waving and throwing candy at us, with Jack shrieking at us and attempting to open and close, open and close the doors.

Long after Matt and I tired of scrambling for pretend candy, the boys' game had evolved into something... well, a bit stranger. A little while later, Ben shouted across the yard, "Hey mom! I'm driving in the parade with my good friend, Vampire here! Say 'Hi,' Vampire!" Mitchell then added a, "Hey guys! I'm a vampire!"

I'm not sure what vampires have to do with classic cars and parades, but I'm sure it made sense in the evolution of their game. Mitchell usually has to add his own twist to whatever game Ben has made up.

Oh, To Be A Kid...

Who loves moving? Well, I guess on some level, I enjoy moving. I like seeing different parts of the world and new beginnings, but I am talking about the physical act of moving: the packing, the moving, the unpacking that drags on for weeks, the boxes, the mess, the piles of possessions you wish you had disposed of a long time ago and now have to find a spot for...

Who loves moving? I'll tell you who: my kids! They love new places and new houses and new adventures just like I do, but they love the other stuff as well! Packing up? Sweet! It gets them excited about the adventure beginning and they get a break from cleaning up their room! Boxes everywhere? Rad! We have dedicated one whole room in our new house of too many rooms just for box forts! Packing paper exploding out of every box? THE BEST!

I tell you, these movers must have used 5 or 6 pieces of packing paper for EVERY item in my kitchen. That is A LOT of paper to mess with, and mess with it we have done! I filled my new living room with a mountain of paper and the boys were leaping off couches and doing canon balls into the pile. They were completely burying themselves. They were having fights where they just threw it at each other until they collapsed in laughter.

Of course, they might not love the mess so much if they had any concept of the work involved cleaning up that much mess, but I'd rather they enjoy this as much as possible and not worry too much about how much work it is to move. That's my job.

Just Don't Call It Football

Ben got off to a fantastic start in sports. Before the age of two, he was quite excited to throw, kick, or hit a ball. He was an amazing little golfer and ran early. "Ball" was one of his first words. If I was ever stuck for something to do with my one little toddler, I could always count on him to be happy just heading outside with a ball or a bat, or a whole bag of sporting equipment!

Then something changed. Although he is big, strong, and fast, for some reason, he now has an attitude towards all sports. In his words, "I'm just not that into sports, mom!" We have had him in soccer and t ball, and he likes to go, but certainly hasn't shown the typical Ben enthusiasm that is so characteristic of him. Getting him to play catch or practice batting or kicking a ball around is more like a chore at best, punishment at worst.

A couple days ago, though, I discovered the secret to re-opening the world of sporting games to him! I found out if you call soccer "kick the dragon's egg to the nest," he will play the game of soccer with gusto! If I call a football an egg and say he's a raptor and I'm an allosaurus and we have to attack each other while trying to get the egg back to our own nests, he can play with speed, strength, and, most importantly, excitement!

Of course, I don't love the sound effects that come with turning football into dinosaur's egg, but I'll take it if it gets Ben (and Mitchell too) excited about using the physical abilities they have been blessed with, but up until now, have chosen not to care about.

It is pretty fun to finally watch Ben excited about throwing, catching, tackling, and coming up with elaborate game plans on the field with his dad and brother (and me, of course.)


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