Thursday, September 29, 2011

Feeling Unspecial

One of the draw-backs to not having all your kids in the same school is that sometimes, one of them has a day off when the other one doesn't. Today is one of those days. Ben is off, Mitchell is not.

Matt and I thought it would be fun and special for him to be able to go to work with daddy all day. He is old enough to be able to do this on a real work day. During the times when Matt has to get work done, Ben can read silently, play computer games, draw pictures, and hang out with co-workers easily.

I gave him the choice of staying home, sleeping in, staying in his jammies all morning, and watching some cartoons or going with dad. He immediately chose "go with dad!!!"

Mitchell chose that option as well. Poor guy. I had to explain to him that he couldn't go along because he still had school. He was just crushed. He moped around all day yesterday and then this morning, when Ben and Matt were getting ready, he just kinda slumped down, bordering on tears. (Real tears are a pretty big deal with Mitchell - very rare.)

He even ran up the driveway, following them as far as the street as they drove away, then just stood there watching for a few minutes.

He came back inside and said, "Mom? I'm special too! Howcome I don't get something so special like Ben?" I explained to him that although he was just as special to us, sometimes things are more special when things aren't exactly even - when it seems unfair. Sometimes, in order to understand when something is really special, you have to also know what it is like to feel... well, unspecial. He didn't get it. He is nothing if not stubborn - his thoughts and ideas are no exception.

I tried to make every day life a little more "special" for Mitchell today without buying him things and trying to make up for what Ben got to do. Someday it will be reversed and Mitchell will be the one getting special treatment. Perhaps then he will get it.

In the mean time, I've got a mopey little boy, waiting for his big brother and his dad to get home so he can stop feeling so left out.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My New Torture Technique

I have found something that all three of my boys have decided is worse than death: soup.

Yes, you heard me correctly: soup. I made the most delicious pot of minestrone soup the other day that, judging from my boys' reaction, tasted like #2. There was so much crying, gagging, moaning, whining, and questions such as "what is this chunk?" and "what is the green thing?" and "why are you making me eat this?" that by the end, I needed a good, stiff drink just to keep myself from "spanking them soundly and sending them to bed!"

Their dislike of the dreaded "soup" is so strong that I think I may use it as a disciplinary tool from here on out:

"Mitchell, if you pester Jack one more time by grabbing his tractor out of his hands, I will make you eat soup!"

"Jack, don't screech or I will feed you soup!"

"Ben, if you use that voice with me, I will make soup for dinner!"

I think I am on to something here.

Meanwhile, Matt and I are eating a lot of soup for lunches and dinners. I made a lot...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Jacket

Hah! I forgot to update you on what happened to Matt's jacket the next day! Remember? The one that kept moving into more and more obvious and obnoxious places?

Well, I must have only encouraged him with my blog about his antics because the next morning, I found this:


Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Perfectly Normal Place For Keys

I had to take Matt's car grocery shopping today. That is not a big deal. What is a big deal? The reason why I had to take Matt's car grocery shopping: my keys were no where to be found.

When I drive my car, the keys immediately go into the exact same little pocket in my purse. Matt drove today though and he usually just tosses the keys on the counter. That is a a perfectly normal place to put one's car keys if you don't have two little boys who love to take things and hide them away somewhere.

Since I no longer live in the city, but in the suburbs, I absolutely need my car keys. I can't just say "oh well!" and look for them over the next couple days. I can't walk to everything anymore. That is why if you drove by my house tonight, you would have seen Matt and me outside with flashlights, searching the yard for keys that may or may not be there.

After a thorough search of the entire house, we began the outdoor search. Not too long after we went out, my flashlight beam hit a toy in the yard that should not have been there. That has Mitchell or Jack written all over it. That's a good sign. We should look inside that space ship to see if someone thought it would be a good place to store some car keys and fly them out to the back yard.

Yep. The keys were inside the space ship parked on the lawn under the rope swing. That's a perfectly normal place for them, right? Why didn't I look there first?

Where is the funniest place you have ever found your keys?

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Matt has been pestering me for the last few weeks to get something done for him. I have been "forgetting" about it and putting it off, as I don't see it as a high priority at this very very busy time in our family's life.

Apparently, it is a bigger deal than I thought though and he is not going to let it go. This is what I saw as I came downstairs into my entry way this morning:

Are you trying to give me a "subtle" hint, my love?

It was too funny to be annoyed. He has now hung this same jacket in 3 different places, each more obvious and annoying than the last. I wonder where it will end up tomorrow if I put it off another day?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

They Call Me Mellow Yellow

Every time I walk into one of my bathrooms, it smells like urine. I know what you are thinking: "clean your bathrooms more often, lady!" I promise you, the problem is not my lack of toilet cleaning. The problem lies with my middle son. Suddenly, he has taken on the habit of not flushing the toilet. Seems like he remembers to do it if he does more than pee, but I feel like every time I open a toilet lid to use it myself, the water is already yellow.

Who told him "if it's yellow let it mellow?" Certainly not me, the only one responsible for smells and dirt and cleaning in the house. We aren't conserving water here, Mitchell. Flush the stinkin' toilet!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Early Morning Shouting Match

My boys are strange. They prefer to be woken up early on a school morning in order to get a little extra playing in. If, for some reason, they get up late and we don't have time for that play session, but they have to head right out the door after breakfast, they look at me stricken and ask why they can't play first. As if I have taken something away and am punishing them!

So school has started again, and with it has come the reinstatement of early morning play date for my boys. It usually goes pretty smoothly, but this morning I had to put a stop to it. As I was upstairs getting dressed, the noise level downstairs hit an all-time high. What it sounded like was all three boys shouting at the same time.

That is exactly what it was, in fact. Jack had gotten into something he shouldn't have, and when Ben tried to get it away from him, he began yelling (as usual.) In order to be heard over Jack's noise, Ben shouted a little louder, "no no!" Mitchell must have felt left out at this point because by the time I got down there, all three boys were sitting in a circle, a few feet apart, all yelling at one another. Each one was trying to out-do the other in the noise department.

Needless to say, the rest of their precious before school play time was spent with each of them in separate rooms. Stay with me, sanity!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I'm Not With Him

You know that annoying person who forgets to turn their phone off at the movies or at church or some such place? When their phone starts playing some obnoxious tune like "California Girls" or any other Katy Perry song, do you turn around and look for the offender? (As if we didn't have to listen to her enough everywhere else!) Do you give them the evil eye or ignore them?

Well, today at church, that annoying person was my husband. Right in the middle of the service, we both heard a muffled song near bye and started looking around. It only took a couple seconds though for Matt to recognize the song and start scrambling for his phone in his pants pocket. In his attempts to get to the thing, he spilled his coffee on his crotch, but in his fumbling to get it to stop, only made it louder! He finally just stood up and got outta there as quickly as he could. It wasn't quite quick enough though to spare us all the song that somehow began playing in his pocket. This is what we were all treated to mid-service:

Well I stumble my way into my local bar.
Where I saw the devil in my glass.
The bartender told me it was time to go.
I told him that he could lick my sack.

Whiskey's gone but I ain't leaving.
There's got to be a bottle in the back.
Whiskey's gone but I ain't leaving.
Got to get this devil off my back.

Thank you, Zac Brown Band, for your classy and eloquent words. Thank you, Matt, for downloading them onto your phone. Thanks again, Matt, for sharing them with us all at such an appropriate time and place.

I love how he took off out of the service as fast as he could, leaving me there with the spilled coffee and an equal mix of snickering and evil eye. If I wasn't too embarrassed to find my voice, I may have said, "I'm not with him!"

Friday, September 9, 2011

Mitchell and Mini Mitchell... Heaven Help Me!

It has been interesting to watch Jack transform from chubby baby into a bruiser of a toddler. Whereas he was once a peaceful and content little blob, he is now an unstoppable force! We have been watching him, always comparing him to our older boys, trying to figure out who he resembles more and who he takes after in personality more.

Well, it is no longer a guessing game as to which brother he is most like. He is a mini Mitchell. Apart, each boy is a handful. Together? Watch out. Nothing suprises me anymore. Today I found them outside, laughing hysterically and tossing a soggy old snake skin back and forth at each other, trying to get it to stick to the other boy. It was nasty. Neither boy has any fear of bugs, bees, or spiders and will chase Ben around with whatever they have managed to catch. Sometimes they just scream at each other and think it is perfectly normal and hilarious. Mitchell will dress him sometimes, putting his jammies over his clothes and Jack will love it so much he will cry if I try to dress him a little more conventionally. They often just have such an overabundance of energy that they just have to run laps around the yard (or house if I allow it.)

Both of them love mischief. Neither of them is too terribly bothered by consequences. Both boys are very loud. Both can turn a room upside down in a matter of seconds. Both of them laugh easily and often.

I could do a whole separate blog about how Jack is like Ben too, and when Ben is home, the three of them are always together, usually kept in line by big brother. For now though, Jack is more taking after his bundle of unstoppable energy brother, Mitchell. I no longer roll my eyes when strangers daily tell me I look like I have my hands full. I now agree with them.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hey, Kevin!

My neighbor jokes with me that he feels like his name has been changed to "Hey Kevin." I didn't notice how often the boys say that to him until he pointed it out, but now that he mentioned it to me, I can see that they really do say it a lot.

They say it when they first see him as a way of saying "hello." They also say it any time they want to get his attention. They say it if he is talking to someone else, but need to tell him something. They really just begin most of their sentences to him with "Hey Kevin." Sometimes it is said as a sentence all on its own. Sometimes it is the beginning of a question. Sometimes it is followed by a lengthy sentence or explanation of some sort.

I now listen and watch as they talk to him and every time one of them says it, I see him smile to himself.

By the way, now that I have been made aware of it, I notice they do the same thing to me. I bet I do it too. I bet I say "Hey, Matt" and "Hey, Ben" and "Hey, Mitchell," and yes, even "Hey, Kevin" quite a bit as well. That must be where they got it and why I never noticed it before. Any else ever notice that from us when you're around us?

Tea and Ice Cream

Mitchell starts school a week later than Ben is beginning to get antsy at home now without his older brother. He keeps asking when his school starts and if his classroom is bigger than Ben's and if his teacher is cooler than Ben's and does he get to go all day too. He keeps Ben up at night discussing his plans for making friends and what he will do on the playground, but, most importantly, he talks about ice cream and tea parties.

Where did he get the idea there will be ice cream and tea at school this year? About a week ago, he received his very own piece of mail inviting him to an ice cream social in a nearby park to meet some kids and families from his school. His teacher will also be there and personally invited him! This letter has joined other precious items he is keeping in his backpack to take to school with him next week. When it isn't in his backpack, he carries it around "reading" it to us all over an over again and asking if we want to come with him to eat ice cream and make friends.

There is also a day next week at school where I have been invited to stay after drop off to have tea and coffee with the other moms. These are two separate events, but they are one and the same in Mitchell's mind. No amount of explaining on my part can convince him that we are not having an ice cream and tea party at the same time. He hears me but clearly isn't listening. He keeps asking me which I like better: ice cream or tea. "Which are you going to choose, mom?"

I love how excited he is getting. I love that he and Ben stay up at night talking about school and the best ways to make friends. I even overheard them talking about sharing their friends with each other the way they share all their toys. Just a few more days, Mitchell, and you too can put on your backpack every morning and explore life away from your mother! I love a chance to miss you!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Thump, Thump, Thump...

The rain ruined Ben's first drop off of first grade. I won't go so far as to say it ruined his first day of school, as he has not finished it yet, but the day he has been looking forward to for weeks now got rained on; not just sprinkled either - DUMPED on!

He woke up excited, ate breakfast excited, got dressed excited, even walked to school under his umbrella excited. It all started to get less exciting though when the pouring rain forced all kids, parents, and siblings all into one room with one door leading to it. It got a little crazy. I think Ben was picturing himself showing up to a sunny schoolyard where he would be able to run around a bit before I dropped him at the door, where he'd give me a quick hug and blow me a kiss before following his teacher neatly and orderly through the door and up to his classroom.

When he joined the chaos and other clearly nervous kids in the wet, humid, and crowded hallway, he squeezed my hand extra tightly and said quietly, "Mom, it hurts a little bit right here" with his other hand over his heart.

With a little lump in my throat, I explained to him that he was just getting a little nervous because it wasn't quite as orderly as he so loves it and that was just his heart thump thumping a little too hard. I assured him the feeling would go away once he got up to his classroom and away from the chaos. He squeezed my hand again and said, "Yeah, you're probably right. I do feel a little nervous and can't wait to find my teacher and my class!"

It continues to amaze me how alike Ben and I are sometimes. I remember quite vividly my first day of first grade and the uncomfortable thump thump thump of my heart.

I can't wait to pick him up in a couple hours to hear how the rest of the day went for him. Milestones are tough sometimes (for kids and moms) and growing up requires a lot of courage for kids, even if it is just the courage to face a crowd of strangers and fight the discomfort that comes with being a new kid in a new place surrounded by chaos. I am "all grown up" already and just the thought of being in Ben's place today makes me a little sweaty...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Just Make It Stop!

Last night, I woke to the sound of a loud, high-pitched beeping every 20 seconds or so. I followed the sound out into the hallway to find the carbon monoxide detector acting up. In my sleepy state, all my efforts to stop the noise only made it worse until it was finally a constant, high-pitched screech. I panicked at this point and just tried to muffle the sound by hugging it close to my body and completely covering it while I shouted for Matt to help me.

I'm not sure how he slept through the original beeping which seemed so loud to me, but by the time the thing was a constant beep and I was shouting for it to just stop, he came to my rescue. He wordlessly took the shrieking thing from me and marched it downstairs. I heard the front door open, then shut, then he came shuffling back into bed.

I asked him how he got it to stop, and he said, "I didn't. I just chucked it out the front door." He was asleep moments later.

Well, as I sit here in my living room today with the windows open, I can hear a faint beeping coming from the yard somewhere. I suppose we want our yard to be as free from harmful carbon monoxide as our house though, right?

When I Grow Up

Ben takes a very realistic and cautious approach to the question: what do you want to be when you grow up? He usually answers something along the lines of "I'm not sure yet. We'll just have to wait and see."

Mitchell, however, is all over the place with that question. Lately though, he has set his sites quite high. He has decided that he would like to be an astronaut surgeon. Not a surgeon who only operates on astronauts, but an astronaut who also performs surgery in space. He'd also like to have a space dog to accompany him on his life-saving space missions.

Although this astronaut surgeon idea keeps coming back to him, he occasionally sees something that will change his mind for a day. A couple days ago, we had some men here cutting a tree down after the storm. Mitchell took one look at that truck and all the controls the man up in the bucket was using as he zoomed around in it with a saw on the end of a large pole and decided he might like to be a tree trimmer when he grows up.

He has also had garbage truck phases where he'd like to be the guy riding on the back of the truck and operating the "smusher." Our gardeners ride quite large mowing machines as well, which has gotten Mitchell thinking about a career riding a lawn mower.

At what point does the idea of being a garbage man stop sounding appealing to a young boy? When does riding a lawn mower become a chore and not exciting? Perhaps once he actually starts mowing and helping out more with garbage I suppose. But if trying things out is the way to eliminate them as an eventual career, how will we ever move on from astronaut surgeon?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Let's Get It Started!

Remember how I told you I have a soundtrack for my life? Well, today, it is yet another annoying song. This time by the Black Eyed Peas:

Let's get it started in HAH!
Let's get it started in here!

That's just a snippet of that oh-so-annoying song, but it has been running through my head all day since we stopped by Ben's adorable school (K-3) this morning to drop off some paperwork. I intended to stop in, drop it off, and then take off before any of my three kids could do any damage to any students' artwork or projects or flood the drinking fountain.

Well, the staff had other plans for us. After dropping off the paperwork, the lady in the office took us on a school tour (the second we have had since arriving here; I couldn't say "no" when the boys were just as excited to do it the second time as the first.) She then searched the school for Ben's teacher. After finally locating her, the teacher then insisted on showing Ben his new classroom (which we had just seen with office lady) and chatting with Ben about anything and everything under the sun.

Plenty of stickers later, I finally forced the visit to an end, only to find the boys wanted to stay and play at the school playground! They were pretending they were at school and on recess and having lunch and sitting at desks. Ben made me be Ms. Jinks (his new teacher) and pretend to give stickers for good behavior.

What a refreshing change from last year where I basically had to show up the first day blind - no idea who his teacher was or where to be or what was expected of us. I am so glad we stopped in today. I guess when you pay your teachers and administrative staff as much as those at our school get paid, you go the extra mile.

This visit this morning has only made Ben and Mitchell more ready for school to start. I remember feeling the same way by the end of summer when I was a kid: let's just get school started! Ben especially thrives under the kind of structure and schedule that school provides not only during school, but for the rest of our day, and Mitchell can get excited about just about anything!

Now, more than yesterday even, we all feel that in regards to school beginning next week, "let's get it started in HAH!" (is that really what the BEP say, or is that just what we say? anyone actually know the lyrics?)

Just Can't Get Enough

I try to be intentional about noticing and commenting on my boys' good behaviors and attitudes. I rarely say to them,"Mitchell, you're such a good boy." Rather, I find something that I love about him specifically and find an appropriate time to mention it. I love catching them working on something I have been reminding them about for some time (for forever it sometimes feels like!)

It is so fun to see how they respond to the specificity of my praises though. If I ever use a lame generality such as "you are so good," they sometimes barely even seem to hear it. If I tell Ben I have noticed what a good job he has been doing rinsing his own dishes and putting them in the dishwasher without me asking him to, his face lights up and he says, "Thanks, mom! What else have you noticed?"

If I mention to Mitchell that I appreciate him sitting and eating like a gentleman rather than with his feet on the table and food in both fists, he actually hears me and asks, "Did you see me do that without you even telling me?"

I sometimes bust out with random, "I love you because..." and I always come up with something that is so very "them" that they smile and ask for more.

If I tell Ben why I think he is special because he has made me proud for some reason, Mitchell will always jump in with "Why do you think I'm special, mom?" It isn't too difficult to come up with something for each one, but I think it is funny how neither big boy wants to be left out when it comes to why I love them, why I think they are special, why I am proud of them, and what I appreciate about them.

They just can't get enough of it!


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