Sunday, August 28, 2011

We Survived - Dude Style!

For those of you who aren't aware, I live on the East Coast. As I recently canceled my cable service and haven't turned my TV on for anything other than our new Apple TV (which rocks, by the way!), the first I became aware that a hurricane was heading my way was from the many loved ones sending concerned emails and phone calls. It was sunny and warm and beautiful. I had my doubts any serious weather was brewing. My panic level was at an extreme low.

Well, a day later, the sky was a tad darker and it was raining a little, but I still laughed in the face of the danger those far away seemed so concerned about.

Well, Irene came and went during the night. We only suffered a flooded yard, leaves covering everything, two downed power lines, and a little wind and rain. Most of it occurred during the night.

What do you do with a house full of not only my kids, but my adorable little niece as well when it is this windy outside? Go outside of course! Matt took them outside with some giant garbage bags as sails and had them wait at the top of the hill until a gust would come, then they'd come flying down the hill, pushed along with their sails flapping and pulling them fast enough to make them shout and scream in delight.

Although Matt finally tired of running in the wind, my dudes kept it up all day. That big black garbage bag has seen more use now than many of their actual toys. Ben was a big black ghost. Mitchell was running and sliding on it in the wet grass. They pulled each other around and swung them onto their bums.

So we survived Hurricane Irene with very little inconvenience and a whole lot of dude-style fun! I wonder what their reaction would be if they each received a large, black garbage bag in their Christmas stocking this year....

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Welcome To The Gift Shop

Yesterday, we took an adventure on a boat out to see Lady Liberty. She's big. She's green.

The kids were all fabulous the entire time. They loved the ferry ride, gobbled the pb&jsandwiches on the ground at Ellis Island, were helpful with Jack when need be, and stuck with us without lagging behind or complaining about anything from beginning to end! That's the way sightseeing with little kids is done!

Although there were many highlights for the boys, including standing at the back of the boat and leaning over the edge to see what they could see, I believe their favorite part was the gift shops! I was hesitant to even bring them into the first shop, knowing that even on their best behavior, something was likely to be knocked over and broken and I'd end up buying a broken Statue of Liberty snow globe or something.

When I let them peek in though and they saw the entire room full of treasures, they just had to go in and promised to be careful. Wow. They were in heaven! I think I have told you before how my boys love treasures. Well, this was a big room stuffed full of treasures! They had some of Mitchell's favorites: pocket watches, compasses, lockets, and key chains. They had some of Ben's favorites: masks, toys, light-up pens, and funny Statue of Liberty hats. They even had a candy section they stopped and stared at for a while. I am pretty sure they would have stayed in that gift shop all day if I let them and the patient cashiers didn't eventually run out of patience for my enthusiastic little treasure hunters.

After picking out plenty of items to put on their Christmas list (hopefully Mitchell forgets he needs a special coin with Lady Liberty on it and Ben no longer sees the importance of an elaborate masquerade mask), it was time to get back on the boat to head to the next island. What did the boys want to do there? See the big green lady or climb up to the top? Ice cream treats maybe? Nope. They wanted to head straight to the gift shop!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Just Checking

Today, my sister and I took our kids to Central Park to play around at the water fountains (the ones made for kids, not the other ones I would get busted for putting my kids in, of course.) They had a great time running around, getting wet, and climbing the big rocks.

After a while, Mitchell decided he was getting cold so came and sat in the sun with me to warm up. At one point, I glanced over at him and he was looking down his shorts, clearly searching for something. When I asked him what he was doing in there, he said, "Oh, nothing really. Don't worry about it. Just checking my balls for hair. There isn't any. Guess I'm not a man yet."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Be Careful Where You Fall Asleep!

I get so tired sometimes. I know I have blogged about this before - how I sometimes am so tired I feel I could lay down and sleep just about anywhere at any time of the day? Any other moms feel this way, or should I go see a doctor...

Well, today was another one of those days where I just wanted to lay down in every room I was in. Playing in the basement with the boys: I set up a nice bed of couch cushions and made that home base for the Autobots. Living room: couches of course. I was trying to read stories to the boys but Ben had to take over for me after a while. Boys' bedroom: in the nice, warm, clean pile of laundry of course! It was just so inviting that I had to snuggle up in it. Soon enough, my eyes didn't want to stay open anymore and I was drifting off to semi-consciousness (I can't actually sleep with three boys playing around and on me.)

Well, I knew Mitchell and Jack were messing around with the laundry around me and I could certainly feel them climbing on me and playing with my legs. I sensed no problem though, so I continued to drift. Finally, Mitchell came up to my face and softly said, "Mom! Are you cozy enough now? I bet you are nice and comfy and warm!"

Come to think of it, I was feeling a bit toasty. The room wasn't that warm when I laid down. Curiosity overcame my sleepiness and I sat up, only to find the boys' shirts, pants, underwear, and jammies all on my legs. Not just laying on my legs. They had put my feet through one of the holes in each piece of clothing, a leg hole or a neck hole, and filled my legs up with as many pieces as they could get on there! I just looked at my legs, then looked at the happy expressions on my boys' faces, and started laughing.

I really never know what will happen if I start to sleep around these boys.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Need Some Rules!

The last couple weeks have really pointed out to me how rule-oriented Ben is. He really finds comfort and freedom in a certain amount of structure.

He has jumped into Pop Warner football with both feet. He has had practice every weeknight and a couple weekend days from 6-8 every evening. He was a little lost at first, especially the first week when he was practicing with all the big boys, but now that his team has been formed and he is familiar with the coaches and drills and kids, he is having fun. He knows where to go and what to do, even if he is still a little fuzzy on the exact rules of the game (I feel the same way about the rules of football, to be honest.)

Now that he is comfortable at practice, I have been encouraging him to play with his team-mates before and after practice as they run around chasing each other, tackling each other, and playing their own crazy game of football. At first, he didn't know anyone so he was a little hesitant because of that. I can understand that. But now that it has been a couple weeks, he no longer has that as an excuse, so I wouldn't take that excuse from him this evening. I gave him a smile and a shove and a word of encouragement and he walked over to the group of boys like a man walking to his death.

When he got to the boys, he had no idea what to do. They were clearly not playing by any rules, just goofing around, so Ben didn't know his place. As they ran off chasing the boy with the ball, Ben stayed frozen to the spot, looking around worried, like he had no idea what was expected of him.

As I battled my feelings of protectiveness for my lost little boy and annoyance at him for not jumping in and figuring it out as he went, I realized that his love of structure and rules works out perfectly for practice and drilling. He is always where he needs to be doing what he is told; never goofing around; never out of line. He never has to run extra laps like so many of the other boys constantly do because they aren't paying attention.

His need for rules doesn't quite help him out though when there are no rules. When no one is in charge and no one has told him the rules of the game, he is totally lost. I could just see him standing there waiting for one of the boys to say, "Ben, chase me! Come get me!" But no one knew he needed that, so he stood there waiting for the coach to show up.

I don't know what to do to encourage him in this area, as I was exactly the same way as a child (and still pretty much am.) I have never been able to just "jump in" to a group and act like I know what I'm doing either. I need someone to tell me exactly what my part is and how to do it, then I'm good to go. I don't want Ben to be an outsider though. I love his focus during practice but want him to let loose at the appropriate time.

Any suggestions how to get him to move out of his comfort zone here? Everything I say seems to just upset him and I don't want to enforce his hesitancy by making too big a deal out of it. Should I just let him sit by me until practice starts, or should I find a way to get him to play with the other boys?

We'll Leave The Light On For You

Mitchell is in another funk. He is such a funny kid. He will go weeks without any sort of issue and I will be convinced that he has grown out of something and is becoming so much easier to understand, when BLAM! he wakes up one morning, changed yet again!

This time, he is fearful Mitchell. He's not afraid of the dark exactly, but has a thing for turning lights on everywhere he goes, at all times of the day and night. I will be the first one downstairs in the morning to sneak in a cup of coffee before my little monsters are up, only to be greeted by the entire ground floor ablaze with lights! Knowing that first, I would never have turned that many lights on and second, I always turn all the lights off when I go to bed, I know Mitchell snuck downstairs sometime in the night to illuminate the place.

Last night, I woke up to all the lights on upstairs! That one even woke Matt (and that's not an easy thing to do!) Matt got up around 3am grumbling about being blinded in his sleep, only to find Mitchell wandering the hallway, making sure all the lights were on!

Even during the daylight, he prefers the lights all on. We have many unused rooms in our house that I check multiple times a day and sure enough, lights are all on.

Strangely, this funk of his follows right on the heals of his last one: turning all the lights off! I kept getting left in darkness in the basement if I tried to play down there. The boys assured me "this is how we like to play down here!" I would be cooking dinner in the kitchen and Mitchell would walk in, turning all the lights off for me with no explanation as to why the dark is better for cooking in. All movies needed to be watched in as much darkness as possible.

I just can't keep up with this guy! Mitchell being who he is, it is difficult to get a real reason from him as to why he currently needs all the lights on, even in the middle of the night when his eyes should be closed anyways. He will mumble something about hearing a monster or how he thinks our house might have ghosts in it. As his thoughts on this monster and ghost are not very organized or well-described though, I suspect he is just repeating to me some idea Ben has inadvertently put in his head in his effort to sniff out the root of the problem.

Whatever his reasons, I feel I have been patient and understanding enough and it is time to get over this. I am tired of him being afraid for no reason. Fear of this sort is not something I coddle my boys for. I will not let him sleep in my bed all night and I will not let him leave all the lights on. I will need to find some way to keep him from wandering the house all night, scared and wasting electricity. My boy was not created to be fearful.

My plan is to cut out all his favorite books and movies. Both my boys love spooky things: monsters, ghosts, and all manner of make-believe scariness. I have always been OK with this sort of thing because we have always been diligent about talking about the make-believe nature of it all. I have no problem with my boys pretending skeletons can walk and talk, or pretending Gabe the green monster lives and drools under their bed, or pretending a ghost lives on the third floor. That's just good fun!

Perhaps I have over-estimated Mitchell's ability to draw a solid line between make-believe and reality though. We will not be reading any of his favorite silly monster books for a while or watching any of his top faves as far as movies and shows go. We are back to PBS cartoons: Clifford, Dinosaur Train, Super Why... good shows (in my opinion) but certainly not the level of entertainment then have grown accustomed to.

Let's see if we can just "forget" about monsters for a while and see if that doesn't keep the lights off at 3am...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Morning Spiders

Ben and Mitchell wanted to look at pictures of tarantulas this morning, so Matt obliged. Perfectly normal Sunday morning activity, right? Who doesn't want to look at close-up pictures of hairy spiders to get the day going? The pictures got grosser and grosser and scarier and scarier I guess because what started out as, "Oh, check that one out!" and "That one is huge!" turned into "Ewww!" and "That one is too scary!" and "Ahh! Change the picture, dad!" together with plenty of shrieks and eye-covering.

Not one to miss out on a good, loud time, Jack quickly joined in. He loved the pictures and every time a new one would come up, he'd point and say, "Flies! Eww..." followed by plenty of laughing and jumping up and down. "Flies" are what he calls all bugs and spiders. Obviously, we have a problem keeping our doors closed, if Jack is that familiar with flies...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Boredom FIghters

We had a boring day at home today.

Sicknesses have taken on a whole new meaning since having kids. I don't just feel badly for a day or two, tough it out, and get back to life. Now, one boy gets sick. Just as he is feeling better, he passes it on to another brother. This repeats until every one of us have gotten sick seperately! No two of us ever seem to go through it together, drawing out total sick days until I stop counting them.

This kinda takes us out of commission for a large chunk of days! I can't even go to the gym as I can't really exercise while sick, nor can I bring even one sick boy in there for fear of infecting everyone else!

Yuk. I hate it when we all get sick...

So back to our boring day. We are just running out of things to do and driving each other crazy. I sent the big boys down to the basement alone for a while though and they were happy enough to escape Mom the Grouch. When I went down to check on them, they had dug out their light sabers (or, life savers as Mitchell calls them) and were busy attacking each other and the couches.

An idea hit me then: why not replace the batteries in these old things and return them to their functioning, though obnoxious, state? So we hunted up all the "dead" toys and had a little toy clinic where we fixed 'em up! The result was something amazing to watch!

And here are my two boredom fighting super heros:

Saturday, August 6, 2011

We'll Just Ignore Him For A While

Sometimes, Jack just doesn't want to cooperate with the family. Last weekend, we were celebrating Matt's birthday, enjoying a nice BBQ out on the patio - well, I should say, attempting to enjoy the BBQ. Jack was not happy about something and once he was told "no" one too many times for his liking, he lost it.

Now what do you do when your baby won't stop crying, simply because he isn't getting his way? Well, I don't know what you do with yours, but after attempting appropriate distraction without giving in to his demands, I knew we were just in for a little fit.

Now, as he was sitting right next to Matt this evening and he was being quite loud, Matt had the great idea to just turn his chair around to face away from us and ignore him until he could calm himself down and stop his silliness.

Once again, my blogging obsession took over and rather than being heartbroken that my poor baby was upset or annoyed that my child is acting embarrassingly and never admitting to such things in my own children, I ran for my camera. Seeing Jack turned backwards at the table, facing away from the action while the rest of us went on with dinner as usual, pretending we could not hear him was just too funny to leave unrecorded. So.... I snapped a few shots.

(I will admit that I felt a little badly taking pictures of him in this state; not out of embarrassment, but out of fear of what my little guy must be thinking of his evil mother for making a joke out of his ordeal.)

As you can see from that last shot, his dislike over being excluded from the action dried his eyes and he just stopped the crying. After a minute or so of peaking over his shoulder at us, we turned him back around and he was ready to rejoin us! Of course, the arrival of birthday cake may have had something to do with his change of mood...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Which Would You Rather?

Mitchell has started a new game, one that has caught on with Ben and now a day does not go by where I don't find them playing it. It is a silly game they play while they are supposed to be eating dinner and one they play while running endless errands with me in the car. It is called, "Would you rather?" and it goes something like this:

Hey Ben! Would you rather have no skin or eat poop?

Hey Mitchell! Would you rather live on the roof or in the Cheez-it box?

Would you rather ride in a cool car or fly yourself?

Would you rather be an orange or a stinky sock?

Would you rather eat stinky cheese or cucumbers?

Would you rather be eaten by a sharp tooth or smell a stinky flower?

Would you rather get a rock thrown at your head or be dropped by a dragon?

Would you rather get thrown off a dragon or sit down and relax?

(I promise these are the boys' very words. I just sat down with them and typed as they talked.)

The options get wilder and wilder and often depend on what their surroundings are. If we are in the car, the options are usually car-related. In the kitchen, we begin with food and just get sillier and sillier.

The funny thing is, I actually remember playing this game when I was a kid too! I didn't introduce them to this game though; it came from the mind of Mitchell, as many of our silliest practices do.


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