Thursday, June 30, 2011

Anatomy 101

I'm asked frequently how I am able to recall the many goofy things Cael says.  The truth of the matter is that I don't remember a lot of it.  Almost every word out of the kid's mouth is blog-worthy, so some of those words are bound to disappear.  I'm too busy changing poopy diapers and drawing trains to document it all, but the real gems-- the things he says that surprise even me-- stick with me. 

Take, for example, the conversation I had with my son yesterday afternoon.  He was up from yet another incredibly short nap and I was assembling some stuffed peppers.  I turned on the babysitter TV and successfully latched him on to an episode of Thomas the Train.  (You like how I've all but forgotten Tuesday's post?)  This is the easiest part of my day, believe it or not.  Of all the traits Cael could inherit from me, God blessed him with the bionic hearing which wakes both of us from a dead sleep with little effort.  Because of this, I have to turn the television on before I lay him down for a nap simply for some cover noise.  Heaven forbid I sneeze-- the kid is there within seconds to check out the snot on my tissue to see if it's clear.  Once he's awake and immersed in a show or a toy I finally get that "me time".

Sounds enchanting, right?  Sadly, most days my "me time" is spent either cleaning or digging in the flowerbeds.  But yesterday I got a real treat.  I got to pee in peace.  Or not.  Within seconds, Cael had weaseled his way into the bathroom, 3 different trains in hand, to set up camp.  He staked out his spot on the edge of the bathrub a mere two feet away from me and stared. 

"Are you pooping, Mommy?"  (Is nothing sacred anymore?)

"No, Cael.  I just have to pee.  Could you please go back downstairs and give me a minute to finish?"

"But why don't you stand up to pee?"

"You remember, honey.  I'm a girl... girls just can't pee standing up like boys can."  (To date, we've had this conversation somewhere around 2 trillion times.)

"You don't pee from your nuts?" 

"No, Cael.  And neither do you.  You pee from your penis."

"That's silly, Mommy.  I pee from my nuts.  YOU pee from your nuts!"

"I hate to break it to you Cael, but no one does that.  There's no hole in your nuts for the pee to come through."

On a good day, that might have been acceptable.  And I was oh-so-hopeful the conversation was done, since I was still stranded on the toilet with a child that has yet to grasp the concept of personal space.  But no such luck.  I must not have chosen a very compelling episode of Thomas, because our invasive conversation continued.

"Mommy, can I see your nuts?"

"Cael, as I have told you time and time again, I do not have nuts.  And you know that it's not good manners to ask people about their private parts."

"Would I get in trouble?"

"You might.  When you're in preschool they will not find it funny if you talk about private parts."

"The teacher won't think it's funny?"

"That's right.  It's not appropriate."

"But do you think the teacher pees out of her nuts?"

"Cael Foreman, I would like you to go downstairs please.  I will be down in just a minute when I am finished."

"Okay, Mommy."

But wait... could it really be that easy?  Was he simply waiting for me to use MY good manners?  Nope, he wasn't.  I heard him open and close the door in the hall bathroom and lift the lid on the toilet.  But rather than peeing as he normally would, I hear a series of thuds and bangs that I can identify as the little trainer potty being dragged around the room.  What is he doing?

I opened the door to a scene from the kind of movie I would NOT let my kid see on Netflix.  He was standing on the little potty, legs spread-- but weirder still, he was facing backward and away from the toilet.  My face must have read confusion like a book, because he immediately started explaining.

"I'm a boy Mommy."

"Yeah.... but what in the world are you doing?"

"I'm pooping standing up."

"Cael!!  You can't poop standing up.  Nobody can.  The poop won't go in the toilet and we'll be left with a yucky mess to clean up." 

"But you can clean it up with the vaccuum!"

"No, if you poop like this and it gets on the floor, it will be your job to clean it up."

"Oh.  I think I'll just sit down."

Crisis averted.  Averted, that is, for today, since I catch him the some bizarre act on a daily basis.  Whether it is trying to poop standing up or trying to take his own head off (yes, really), his gears are always turning.  I've yet to decide whether he's simply learning about his world, or if he is an evil genius plotting my mental breakdown.  I'm leaning toward the second. 

Dressed and back downstairs, I put Thomas back on for my son and I headed up the stairs to my peppers.

"Mommy, I'm gonna ask you a question.  Why won't you let me see your nuts?"

Good thing I got that "me time" in the bathroom.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

News Flash

Good afternoon, friends.  Today is Wednesday, June 29th, and it is time for the news of the day.

Restorations are ongoing with the wooden firetruck in the backyard of the Foreman home.  After extensive washing and sanding projects were completed, Mr. and Mrs. Foreman began staining said firetruck last night mere moments before dark.  With one floodlight to illuminate the area, the couple applied an appallingly bad coat of stain to very little of the wood and a great deal of the unpaintable surfaces.  When asked for a comment, Mr. Foreman replied, "I'm the man.  I'm gonna get this truck stained if it's the last thing I do."  Mrs. Foreman was unavailable for comment as she was busy picking moths and june bugs out of her teeth.

In related news, the Foreman family continues preparations for yet another camping trip.  Tensions ran high as Mr. Foreman suggested eating nothing but hot dogs throughout the duration of the trip, while Mrs. Foreman gathered interesting recipes requiring 15-20 ingredients to make the trip "fancier".  The Foreman children requested "poop" when asked for their input regarding food choices.  An investigation with CPS is underway.

The scientific community is rejoicing today on the heels of a discovery which promises to change the lives of wives around the globe.  Studies have shown a direct correlation between inhaling stain fumes and shouting "FIFTEEN!" in one's sleep.  The test subject, a 28 year-old man from Iowa, repeatedly yelled out the number as he slumbered.  Attempts to stop the yelling were unsuccessful, however a witness informed us that when she abandoned hopes of awakening the subject, she simply said, "No, fourteen..." to which the subject responded by becoming agitated and then rolling over and returning to sleep.  While there is still no known cure, pharmaceutical companies report that beer is an effective treatment.

In business news, the stock market plummeted thanks in part to a drastic reduction in diaper purchases.  Representing boys worldwide is Cael Foreman, who provided the following statement: "Now that I have a big boy bed, I sleep in underpants at night.  Sometimes I still pee, but usually I don't pee.  Sometimes I toot, but I don't poop.  That's because I'm a big boy."  Proctor & Gamble, the parent corporation for Pampers, Luvs and many other child products, admitted concern over this growing trend, but cite promising quotes from younger children like Graham Foreman who said, "Poopoopoopoo."  P&G plans to boost sales by heavily marketing water and other liquid beverages to children.

And here with your weather report is meteorologist Graham Foreman, via satellite.

And that's the news!  Tune in tomorrow afternoon for more goings on in the Foreman Family.

Caelism of the Day

Leaving Granite City a few days ago:

"Mommy, we need to run to the van."

"We don't need to run, honey, it's right there.  Let's walk."

"No, we neeeeeeed to run!"

"Whats the hurry?"

"I'm sick!"

"Are you going to throw up?  What's wrong?"

(arriving at the van)

"I'm not really sick, Mommy.  I just really have to itch my bottom.  It's very scratchy." 

"Good call, Cael."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Last Legal Drug

Cael is addicted to television. 

Admitting that feels like admitting some failure on my part, but we are taking it day by day.  But even that is difficult when each day begins with:

"Pleeeeeease, Mommy, can I watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse?"

"Mommy, I want to see Chuggington!"

"Do you have Super Why recorded?"

This TV obsession is a constant battle in my house, and one that I fear I'm not fighting as fervently as I should.  He watches a Curious George each morning as we get ready for the day, and when he wakes up from his nap which is often more than an hour shorter than the other kids, he will watch a show or two, or part of a movie.  It's such a fine line to walk-- I try to let him watch some so that he gets his fill, but I try not to let him watch too much, since I really don't want him to turn into a lumpy couch potato.  He'll get that genetically.  We don't need to encourage it along.

But the days that I attempt to remove it from our lives completely, the withdrawal sets in.  The fit that ensues is likely more intense than any addict in detox.  He's writhing on the floor; scratching at his arms and speaking in tongues.  He lashes out in a voice two octaves lower than his own and I think I may have seen steam shoot out from his nostrils a time or two.

I can't blame him, either, because it's my fault.  I allowed my son to get hooked on his very first show-- a gateway drug of sorts, called Caillou.  Brrrrr... even the sound of his name sends shivers down my spine.  If you have a toddler, you likely know of this demon.  Caillou is a 4 year-old that is constantly throwing fits and being coddled by his wimpy parents.  At first, the show isn't so bad-- as one of very few shows with a young boy as the lead character with (more or less) real-world scenarios, it's refreshing and I must admit that Cael learned quite a bit from watching.  It also captured his attention in a way nothing else could, allowing me to use the bathroom or change out the laundry.  (You know, have some "me" time, right?)  The theme song would come on and Cael would run to the television, salivating like one of Pavlov's dogs.  But after 6 months or so, there came a shift.  His innocent adoration of the little boy was lost.  When the show was over, rather than the "Aww, it's done!" that he once would have uttered, I heard "Nooo!  Put another Caillou on NOW!"

Oh no you didn't.

That whiny little bald-headed weasel tainted my son.  This had nothing to do with me, and it had nothing, I repeat NOTHING to do with him turning two.  Right?  Right???  It was that horrible Caillou, encouraging my son to argue and disobey like a tiny "bad fairy" on his shoulder with an unusually piercing voice.

There was only one thing to be done.  Cut him out of our lives cold-turkey; withdrawals and all.  My first attempt at this was unsuccessful, as even toddlers in today's society are as savvy with electronics as the masterminds that dream them up.  At two, he was able to locate the remote, put it back into satellite mode (from whatever setting I'd changed it to in an effort to throw him off course) and tune in to PBS at 11:00 each day to get his fix.  His pupils would dilate and his body would go limp in satisfaction.   Strike one.

My strategy for attempt number two was distraction.  "You want to see Caillou, Cael?  But what about Toy Story?  Or what about playing with your trucks?  Or we could read a book!"  I think he heard me speaking, but the twitching and head-banging of his jonesing prevented him from comprehending my words.  Strike two.

My last attempt used the only truly effective strategy.  If you find yourself in a similar scenario, I suggest you employ it as well.  LIE.  Lie through your teeth.  I'm not suggesting you make it a habit, but a Mommy does what a Mommy needs to do to make things happen.  "Cael, I saw a commercial yesterday that said Caillou isn't on television anymore.  What a bummer!"  Just like a child emerging from a demonic possession, he blinked a few times, looked around and emerged from his addiction.  Free at last!  And although he has been "clean" for almost 2 years now, I do worry about what will happen when his reading skills reveal my betrayal.  Hopefully by that time he won't be so interested in watching Caillou.  I will have to hang garlic and wooden crosses around the house in an effort to save my sweet Graham.

I can't keep them away from the television completely-- not when they see me watch the Today show in the morning, or tune into Ellen from time to time.  My one hope is that even when the tube is on, they can "just say no".  Or they can just say "let's dance".

Monday, June 27, 2011

That Hurt Something Fowl

I grew up in a great time.  My childhood fell during that great period of the 1980s - 1990s, when technology had advanced enough that I got to experience computer and video games, heat sensitive t-shirts and was able to cool off in the air conditioning during the hot summer months.  (As an aside, was I the only one whose father had A/C but was never willing to switch in on?  I remember the house being dark as night with the drapes closed in an effort to preserve what cool air we'd trapped inside.  If we had the AC, why wasn't it on?  Maybe we grew up in the dark ages after all!)  But along with the benefits of technology, my little Iowa neighborhood was safe and innocent enough that by day my friends and I were off exploring in the woods, riding bikes through puddles and relishing in the independence all kids need and want.

But we're not in 1990 anymore, Toto.

Cael and Graham won't experience that childhood, or at least the same way I experienced it.  And while I'm saddened by that thought, I have to admit that a piece of me is a little relieved.  Because just as Cael had a hard time letting me go get a pedicure with a friend, I will have a difficult time letting him go with a friend to ride bikes through puddles.  Not because I don't like bike rides, but because I'm just that anal.

VanderVeer Park - Davenport, IA
So I'm trying to do my best to bring back some of those fun things that I remember from my childhood that I can introduce to my children, like playing in the sprinkler, capturing caterpillars in a jar and watching them dry up until they are shriveled and crispy like a Cheeto, or something as simple as feeding ducks at a park.  Feeding the ducks was one of my favorite things to do as a little girl in Davenport's Central Park-esque VanderVeer Park, where there were ducks, geese and a few beautiful swans.  So after a get-together with friends last Friday night during which we dined on a really healthy dinner and blew it with fried ice cream (the kind that would give even Paula Deen a blockage) we were left with the crust from two loaves of bread.  Let's go to the park.

As we drove down the highway headed for Noelridge Park, I though to myself what a nostalgic day this would be.  Fun, free family time with all of my boys.  I beamed, thinking that they'd enjoy it so much that there would be no behavioral problems, no bad manners and certainly no obstacles to overcome.

But those poor ducks never saw us coming.  We bounded out of the van like a herd of buffalo-- two big bags of bread in hand that would become ammunition to pelt unsuspecting ducks in the head, neck and back.  Anything above water, really.  As we reached the water's edge, Cael wasted no time capturing the ducks' attention.  His strategy was two-fold: first begin by yelling, "HEY DUCK!!!" in a voice that, if not for the innocent words, you would have thought was hollered out by a drunken sailor.  Once the duck, stunned by his aggressive calls, would stop swimming, he was riddled with a spray of bread chunks.  Not one, two or three, but an entire handful of crust strips squeezed tightly into a ball.  I'd given him a pile to work from, but had mistakenly placed them in his left hand out of force of habit.  Being a lefty, he was unable to manipulate his right hand well enough to transfer them or pick them out one by one, so he assessed the situation and decided that his best option was to hurl the lump of bread at a group of three baby ducks and a Mommy duck.  I breathed a sigh of relief when he missed, and made a mental note to continue to put the bread in his left hand.  I certainly don't need any lawsuits this summer.  Little did I know my imaginary case of "the City of Cedar Rapids vs. Mary Foreman" would fade to thoughts of "Mary Foreman vs. Walmart" in just a few short hours.

Our park excursion was brief, but the boys did enjoy it.  Graham filled his time by eating a large majority of the bread crusts, while Cael continued to inform us how good this bread was for the ducks "Because it's weet bread, Mommy!"  He shared this information with the Mommy duck, too.  She saw him coming and decided that she'd rather eat the green gunk under water than partake of my son's bread strips.  Good call, Mrs. Duck.  Out of bread and with sprinkles starting to fall, we packed it up and piled back into our van.

Realizing that my plans hadn't played out as I'd wanted, something needed to be done to salvage the day.  We swung by Walmart so that I could pick up a couple of extra grocery items.  I knew that Papa and T. would be coming for supper, so I thought it would be a nice touch to roast some garlic or go out of the way to do something special.  Joel took Cael to the other side of the store and into another zip code as Graham and I perused the produce.


Ouch!!!  What WAS that?  I felt a piercing pain in my foot and realized I'd stubbed my pinky toe against the wheel of my cart, and badly at that.  A few steps into another aisle I made the discovery that I was leaving a trail of blood behind me.  That can't be good.  I grabbed my cell to call Joel, and in an effort to keep blood off of my new Nike sandals, I put that foot against my other leg.  Three phone calls later, and still nothing.

Wives, do you play the cell phone dance with your husbands?  You know, where he tries to call you and you (for whatever reason) don't answer, and you then have to sit through the "You never answer your cell phone!" conversation?  The irony behind this dance is that, inevitably, the next day you attempt to call him and he does not answer his phone.  I mentally drew a tally aside Joel's name and tucked my phone back in my purse just as it began ringing.

"What's wrong?"

"I think I broke my toe.  Bring paper towels, I'm bleeding everywhere!"

"Fantastic.  See you in a minute."

Joel and Cael arrived just in time.  I felt like a sideshow act.  "Step right up to see the AMAZING 9-toed, bleeding, balancing woman!!"  I peeled my foot off of my leg to find that my toenail had come off.  I'll give you a moment to process that.  Got it?  My toenail was bent back and flush with the lower part of my toe.  Not wanting to rip it off and cause any further trauma, I gave it a stern look, threatened a lot of time-outs if it didn't re-adhere and pressed it back in place.  Here's hoping.

We flagged down a young employee to fetch some band-aids and he, clearly loving his job, meandered off to retrieve them, stopping here and there to straighten a shelf or pick up a can off the floor.  Rather than getting help, however, we'd simply attracted attention to ourselves.  A very officious woman came over and tried to gather the details of what had happened.

"I hit my toe on the cart."

"How did you do that?"

"Well, you see... I thought that this nostalgic day with my children just wasn't complete.  So, I mustered up all of my strength and kicked the wheel of my cart as hard as possible.  I made very certain to aim carefully and only hit my pinky toe, as it is the smallest and would cause the least amount of pain.  I think I was successful-- Go me!" 

Broken toe - Day 2
Okay, so I didn't really say that.  But how do you ever explain a stubbed toe?  I just told her, "I don't really know how I did it, but I'm pretty sure I broke it", knowing from past experience that it takes very little to break that particular toe.  As soon as the word "broke" left my mouth, she went into legal mode, calling over a manager to inform them that I thought I'd been injured on their store-owned cart.  I assured them I had no intention of suing them OR their cart (that jerk) but they wouldn't leave my side until I'd given them my name, number and had recorded the details of the incident.  Only after they'd documented the event did my bandaids arrive from my employee in shining armor.  Or blue polo shirt.

At the end of the night, I kicked myself for thinking that I have to recreate my own childhood in order to make my kids' experience special.  They're smart and tough boys, and they will adjust to whatever reality becomes their own.  Whether that be a more technological world, one with less independence but more opportunities or even one with no toenails.

They'll be just fine.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Letting Mommy Go

You'll have to forgive my late posting today, since I was out having some much needed "girl time" with a great friend.  As I pulled away from the house, Graham pressed his tiny nose against the front door and watched us leave.  He was probably confused, as me leaving the house without the boys OR Daddy is a rarity.  So rare, in fact, that it's only happened twice in his lifetime.

Cael didn't accept this new reality quite as seamlessly.  It was obvious that he was confused and thought I was breaking the rules somehow.

"Okay, Cael.  Be a good boy for Daddy.  I'll see you in a little bit when I get home." 

"But, Mommy, where are you going?"

"I'm going into town.  I'll be back after your nap." 

"Is she here to babysit me?" (Motioning to my friend)

"Nope, she's going with me.  You're going to stay with Daddy."

"But Mommy, you can't leave without me!"

"It's okay, Cael.  I'm coming back in just a bit.  You'll have a good time."

"No, I won't, Mommy.  You have to follow directions!!"

There are so many of these times as parents when your children regurgitate phrases they hear you say on a regular basis (and others you wish they didn't hear you say) and you are forced to make a choice.  Do I address this and demand an apology?  Do I repeat the "There Are Certain Things Mommy Can Say That You Can't Say" speech?  Follow it up with the "Mommy is the Parent" speech?  Finish with the "Be Respectful of Adults" speech?  (Being a parent will either make or break your organizational skills.  I choose to catalogue my speeches in a 3-ring binder for safe-keeping).

The other option is to let it go, knowing that none of the above speeches will be successful and plan to have another conversation about it later.  This was my approach today.  Probably not the smartest parenting move I've made, but Bridesmaids was waiting.  And there's nothing like a raunchy comedy to wash the "Mommy" off of you for a few hours.

When I arrived back home after a fun afternoon of Starbucks, pedicures and the movie, Cael had made it through the day.

"Mommy!  You came back!"

"I did!  Did you have a good afternoon?" 

"I did.  I played and I had meatballs and lima beans and chocolate and I took a nap.  What did you do?"

Same thing, dude.  Exact same thing.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Home Improvement

As you know, a lot of my time lately has been occupied by painting and redecorating.  Our bedroom "redo" is coming along nicely, although we've currently reached a plateau.

It's always at this point of a redesign that I kick myself for not taking "before" pictures.  What was I thinking?  How can I sell you on my incredible decorating skills if you can't gain some perspective by seeing where we started?  Thankfully, in this case, I do have the photos we took when we were first courting this house; during the initial love affair and before we could imagine flooded basements and seven major appliance replacements in a year and a half. 

Master bedroom with previous owner's items
Our master bedroom was pretty plain, and clearly built to accommodate a king-sized bed.  Our queen looked like a refrigerator magnet on the large expanse of wall it touched.  It had a very sterile quality, most likely attributed to the neutral walls, almost white carpet, and light colored flooring in the bathroom.  We moved in our furniture, hung some drapes and called it good.  We managed to fill the space sufficiently along the way by putting up an old bookshelf here, a picture on the wall there, and we took care of that white carpet with an exorbitant number of dog vomit stains.  You know, for character.

Master bath with previous owner's items
The bathroom was the real head-scratcher.  I fell in love with the huge whirlpool bathtub and additional storage closet (behind the bathroom door), but we quickly started to discover that it really left something to be desired.  Herein lies the rub:  I HATE GOLD.  Sorry, 1990, but gold is the new "orange and avocado".  Our bathroom is adorned with brass around every corner, and I have found that looking at the brass is like starting at the sun-- it is so distasteful that staring at it will, in fact, burn your retinas. 

So, after viewing every bedding set on the internet, and an ensuing battle almost on par with the great "Name Our Baby" fiasco of 2009.  Finally we closed our eyes, spun around and threw down a finger.  We bit the bullet and ordered the bedding set.  With that obstacle out of the way, we were able to purchase the other linens and wait for the bed to arrive.

Our bedroom now feels much more sophisticated, and yet I feel like a little kid in a friend's living room with plastic on the sofas and carpet.  I'm afraid to sleep in the bed, much less use the bathroom-- something I am being desensitized to every time Cael gets in bed with us in the morning without his underpants on.  He's probably just pooped in the potty, too.  I'm trying not to think about it.

The bathroom got a bit of a makeover as well, thanks to a coat of paint, new towels/bath mats and by replacing a few of the seizure-inducing brass accents with more modern brushed-nickel fixtures.  There are a number of things that still need to be addressed, however.  Some art will need to be hung on the walls (especially above the bed) and the remainder of the brass items in the bathroom will need to be replaced.  That, however, is a much larger project and will involve new flooring and an updated shower. 

Wait one minute-- did I not tell you about the shower?  Our too-ugly-to-show-on-the-internet shower?  That's because I am much too embarrassed to share it with you.  I consider myself to be a pretty clean person, and I do my best to keep my house looking as nice as I can.  But as all of you stay-at-home-moms know, there are skeletons in the closets of every home.  Or the shower, rather.

Seriously, there could be dead people in there for all I know.  I won't use it unless I'm covered in radioactive material, which is ironic because I would not be at all surprised if the shower itself is covered in radioactive material.  There are stains and streaks of mystery substances abound, and the shower itself is crumbling into a pile of metal shavings even my dog won't eat.  Replacing the shower was actually the next item on our agenda of upgrades, but as our queen bed was moaning and groaning at us in protest, the furniture replacement put the shower on the back burner.  I'm still hopeful that in the next couple of years we will be able to put a clean, new shower in its place and send the old one packing.  I'm planning to ship it to Pfizer, where I am confident it will lead to new pharmaceutical breakthroughs.

Until then, I will put on my hazmat suit and a smile.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Not That Kind of Animal Lover

If you don't mind, I'm taking a little break from ratting out my kids and instead I'm going to rat out my dog.  I love animals, and I do love our dog Oscar, mind you, but he has to be, without a doubt, the most high-maintenance animal I've ever met.  Other than Cael.  And he most certainly counts as an animal.

We got Oscar as an 8-week old puppy; a tiny handful of curly white fluff that wanted nothing more than to nap on your chest or lick your face.  He came home with us the exact same day we picked up our cat from a farm family whose cat had a litter of "mystery kittens".  After requesting a male but getting a female cat instead, we named her Olivia only to take her to the vet for shots and find out that she was, in fact, a "he".  Olivia became Ripley.  (Believe it or not!)  It was our hypothesis that by bringing them home at the same time the two animals would grow up together and not fight like, well, cats and dogs.  Our plan worked, for the most part.  They loved to nap together and share a water bowl, and even met on one particular blue square on our living room rug where the sun would shine in.  There they would sit and groom each other in warmth of the sunlight.  Sounds lovely, right?

Then there was the wrestling.  At almost twice the size of the cat, Oscar could easily have dominated him.  Instead, during their incredibly intense wrestling sessions Oscar would initiate the fight and then roll onto his back, signifying his unconditional surrender.  The cat, with his clawless and therefore completely ineffective paws, would beat him senseless with punches to the head.

In these easy days before children we loved to watch their ridiculous interactions and Joel would provide the play-by-play.  (Really, what DID we do before kids?)  Ripley had mastered the "evil eye", and one glare with tilted ears would force Oscar to shrink away as if he'd peed on the rug.  (Incidentally, I've found that this look is quite effective with the kids, too.  Even when they pee on the rug.)  But despite his pooping in the house/eating Christmas lights/falling in the bathtub shenanigans, we loved that crazy dog with all of our hearts, because he was our first "baby".

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I love animals.  Perhaps I should clarify a bit.  I love my dog a reasonable amount-- I like to take a nap with him and I like to put my cold feet in his soft fur at night.  He's a furry companion for our family and he has a pretty cushy life, but that is as far as my affections extend.  I am not a "my pets are my children" kind of person.  I don't let my dog sit up at the dinner table, I don't dress him in designer outfits and I don't speak or write letters from the perspective of my dog.  And here's why.

Behind every memory, every tender moment-- there is the dog, licking the cat's butt.

Several years down the road, Oscar has found new and less intimate ways of demanding our attention.  His anxiety of thunderstorms has lead to an increase in the already astonishing amount of urine on my carpets, as well as an astonishing decrease in my nightly sleep.  At the slightest indication of an impending storm, he is circling underfoot-- unable to function if he is not touching one of us for security.  In recent weeks, he has become a Houdini of sorts; escaping from our fenced in backyard on an almost nightly basis.  Are there visible holes in the fence?  Nope.  Was the gate left open?  Nope.  Is another dog freeing him in exchange for sexual favors?  Possible.  That mutt and I will be having a conversation if this proves to be the case.

Despite his faults, Oscar loves us with a depth and devotion I can never match, but I don't think he minds.  His day is made full and happy by a back scratch, a jaunt around the yard and a warm spot to sleep.  With his goofy dancing, overly-enthusiastic barking and obsession with all things "poop", he fits into our family perfectly. 

Just what I need.  Another Foreman to clean up after.  :)

Love, Oscar Mary

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Priority Mail

Apparently toys are unnecessary.  I say this with total confidence as I sit in my office surrounded by Little People, cars, balls and unidentifiable pieces of who-knows-what.  That's right, toys are totally unnecessary.
This isn't breaking news.  I think every parent I know has said the exact same thing, "Why purchase the toy when all the kids want is the box?"  (That's a rhetorical question, by the way.  Don't expect any fresh insight from me.  I haven't gotten a decent amount of sleep in a week.  I'm too busy picking up who-knows-whats.)  This fascination with boxes and packaging is so puzzling to me, and I won't pretend to understand it.  What I do know is that from now on when friends of mine have babies or kids' birthday parties, I'm not bringing toys.  Don't stumble over yourself rushing to invite me to your next party.  I'm really popular.

From now on, when you get pregnant you can take your pick of gifts behind doors 1, 2 or 3.  Door number one?  Earplugs.  Just stay in the same room as the kid and chances are good you'll see the "thud" even if you can't hear it.  Door number two?  Stock in Rug Doctor.  Because, well, you know.  Door number three?  A gift certificate to the Container Store.  That's right, YOU get a box!  YOU get a box!  And YOU get a box!  (Channeling my inner Oprah.)

One poor, unsuspecting box.
Last Thursday could very well have been Cael's birthday (except that it was my birthday) because there were boxes galore.  While we bought a really nice bed for ourselves and two twins for the boys, we decided to go the build-it-ourselves route for the nightstands and bookshelf.  Three pieces of furniture and one reeeeeally late night later, we had three large left over boxes.  Knowing my boys as I do, I decided not to flatten one so they could play around in it the next morning. 

And play they did.  It was like Christmas, save for the snow and my will to get out of bed.  In the box, out of the box, under the box.  An accidental left hook from Cael, one incredibly ripe "brownie" in the pants, courtesy of Graham.  But of all of the games they created to accompany this ah-mazing box that God himself must have left on our floor, the best was to turn it into a train.  Was there ever any doubt?
"Graham!  Come get into my train!"

"Graham, let me push you!

"Let's fix the engine!"

"Graham, you can shovel the coal!"

"Let's climb under the box!"

"Eww, what's that stinky smell?!"

"Mommy, Graham has POOP!"

"Play with us, Mommy!"

"Hey!  Your bottom is too big for my train box!"

"Are you stuck, Mommy?"

I think I got lucky this time.  I usually find that when I supply one or both of them with some sort of household-item-turned-toy, it backfires on me big time.  Take, for example, the time I thought Graham (still a baby at that time) would get a kick out of banging on a metal bowl with a wooden spoon.

Parenting misstep, anyone?

Not only am I still recovering from my bleeding eardrums, but I unintentionally instilled in my son a love for beating on things (and people).  Of course Graham is quite gentle with his assaults, but my wood floors and stainless steel appliances have looked better.  Plus, he gave Cael some new ideas, and that's always a scary thought.

This incident was replaying in my mind as the boys were climbing in, under and around the beaten and battered box.  I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, and amazingly enough, it never happened.  Instead, we created another toy-free yet equally bizarre game in which I pretend to sneeze on my children.  You know, we just hadn't utilized enough bodily functions yet that day.

Just when I thought we were officially having a calm, "ism"-free day, Cael dives right in.

"Mommy, what are boxes for?"

"Boxes hold things.  You could use a box to keep things protected, to organize things or to mail something."

"I want to mail something.  Let's mail something in this box."

"Cael, this particular box is pretty roughed up.  But the next time I need to mail a package, you can help me."

"Mommy, I don't want to mail a package.  I want to mail Graham."

"Um, you want to mail something TO Graham?"

"NO!  I want to mail Graham.  Let's send him in the mail.  Waaaaaaay, way far away."

"Oh, that's not very nice.  We love Graham, and I would miss him very much.  But I'd like to have someone mail another Graham to me!"

"Well, okay.  At least it wouldn't be MORE BILLS!"

Is this kid some sort of Shaman or mystical spirit trapped in the body of a gassy three year-old?  He amazes me with not only his random wisdom and occasional sophisticated thought, but even more impressive is the way in which he weaves them throughout his regular jabber and comments about poop.  That's true comedic genius.  And there's only one other person on Earth with that same ability to make people laugh and that devilish grin.


I'll claim the hair, however. 
Other than that, he's not like me at all.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Foreman Always Wins

Yesterday was Father's Day, and although my celebration for Joel took place last week with a surprise dinner out, tickets to a comedy show and dueling pianos at the Piano Lounge, the "official" Father's Day brought with it plenty of excitement.

After a rather uneventful morning spent mainly away from our house, we decided that when the boys were up from their naps we would pull out the sprinkler and water table to let them burn off some of their excessive energy.  I convinced Joel to abandon the air conditioning and sit outside with me while the boys played in the yard.

Ever had an idea?  An idea you thought would play out a certain way, but instead took on a life of its own?  It happened to me.  I imagined a picture-perfect afternoon spent outside; my husband and I chatting away while my children gently splashed and giggled in the cool mist of the sprinkler.

Yeah, right.

Instead, when the afternoon was said and done, I looked like this:

And Joel looked like this.

Dry as a bone.  It's my own fault, really.  As Joel always tells his students, "Foreman Always Wins".  But I'm a Foreman, too, right?  Legally, perhaps.  But not by blood, and as we know, blood is thicker than... that's right, water.  So how did it happen?  It all started with Willy.

If you're like me, there are a handful of items that you have clung to because they ooze memories of childhood.  The smell of the plastic, the feel of the water on my skin, the sound of feet splashing in wet summer grass; all are a permanent part of me.  How fun, I thought, will it be to share this piece of nostalgia with my own boys?  They will squeal with delight and play for hours on end.  NOT!

Although Cael is a tough-as-nails kid, when it comes to water he is reduced to a quivering puddle.  Which is fitting, because that's about the only body of water he would consider entering.  He has an irrational fear of water in his eyes, even in the bathtub, which has evolved into a general avoidance of water or all things wet.  So what do we do with a sunny June day?

Dump water on the kid.

Seriously, he has to toughen up a bit.  What better way to tackle a fear than to face it head on?  After 10 minutes of circling the water table like a pregnant woman at an all-you-can-eat buffet, (yes, I've been there) Joel took matters into his own hands.  Something had to be done.

My sweet, quiet Graham took the full-on naval attack just as I would have predicted.  He toddled back and forth from the water table to the firetruck and back to visit us in our lawn chairs.  He smiled, laughed a time or two, but more or less seemed not to notice what was taking place.  This, of course, made him the easiest target for Cael and Daddy-- Cael because he needed to exercise his dominance over someone, and Daddy because, well... Foreman Always Wins.  Sensing a theme?  Cael eased into things, eventually accepting the occasional splash as he understood that by sustaining a hit, he, in turn, was allowed to splash Graham.

I had been particularly careful to guard my phone and camera from the incoming tsunami waves, but as the boys were winding down and enjoying their last few, wet moments with the water table, I let my guard down.  I walked away from my chair and technological companions which had served as my protection, and in one swift motion, a large measuring cup filled with what felt like a swimming pool's worth of ice water poured over my face and drenched my clothes.

Oh, it was ON.

I put up a good fight.  Really, I did.  Without possession of the hose or the larger buckets, my offensive strikes were pathetic at best-- trying to shake out poor Willy and empty the remaining water over my husband's head, scooping up handfuls of water from the lake that had formed in the yard to chuck at him or even ringing my shirt out over him.  The dog, always underfoot, tucked in his panting tongue and made a quick exit while somewhere in the background I could hear Cael shouting,

"Stop it you guys!"  Does he think we're fighting?  Better dump some more water over that curly head to let him know it's still a game.

Once the hose was turned up to full strength and then turned on me, there was no hope.  I latched on to him hoping that at the very least he could get wet from my drenched clothing, but even that was ineffective.  The scene must have been comical; Joel practically waterboarding me, me unable to give up my secrets and frantically flicking water at him off my fingertips.  Yeah, that will do it.

After the waters had receded, I was down, defeated and forced to accept the one unwavering truth-- Foreman Always Wins.  I say these words with a heavy heart, but one still bursting with love for my family; especially on days like this.  There was a lot of goofiness...

There were some covert operations...

There was a lot of splashing in "Lake MacForeman"...

There was no shortage of smiles...

And yes, there were butt cheeks.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy.  We couldn't love you more.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Caelism of the Day

We're busy settling down and wrapping up loose ends, but time keeps on a-chugging (like the train reference?) in Cael's busy brain.  After a potty stop before naptime,

"See, Cael?  You needed to pee!"

"But it was short.  I didn't need to go."

"It was short because you had a lot to do and you peed really fast."

"Mommy, I peed fast because the pee was in a hurry."

"Why was it in a hurry?

"The pee was in a hurry for a dentist appointment.  I think it was running late."

I'd hate to think of what #2 would be up to...

Friday, June 17, 2011

A "Tourette" of Words

Before I even begin this post, which, like all others, paints a picture of my boys that seems so outrageous that it must be invented or embellished, let me assure you that every word I've shared in all of my posts is true.  Cael and Graham are much stranger than fiction, and I couldn't invent two less predictable characters.

Is that settled?  Good, now on to poop.  Eh-- not poop specifically, but rather my son's inability to control his mouth.  In my home, we are involved in a war of words, and the words in question are undeniably naughty.  What is it about being three (or 13, for that matter) that causes a child to seek out the things that he/she knows will most consistently get him/her into trouble?

It all began with "stupid".  There is a vague category of words that are not truly "profane" but that fall more accurately under the heading of "Stuff My Kid is Too Cute and Too Young to Say", and this is where "stupid" resides.  There are a lot of other tenants in Vague-ville, and those are the hardest things to keep my boys from saying because they are socially acceptable and widely used.  How do I keep Cael from telling Graham he's stupid when Shrek says it?  (Or worse, when other three year-olds say it.)

Cael, being exceptional as he is, couldn't just say the naughty words.  That's too simple.  He has to create a new dimension to his naughtiness, and in this case he has chosen the element of surprise.  Or maybe he's just got a strong spirit of spontaneity, but seriously, kid.  Fly a kite on a whim, don't yell "Stinky POOP! in the check-out line at Target.  They don't sell it there.

And that's exactly what it's like.  In the car.  At the store.  At church.  At home.  Alone in his room.  At a restaurant.  In the doctor's office.  At a friend's house.  WHEREVER WE ARE.


"Stinky diapers!"  

 "Nipples!"  Yes, really.

"Yucky bottoms and smelly trash cans!"  Now he's getting desperate.

"Dirty dogs and toots and a smelly potty with broccoli and peas!"

The bizarre tirade flows out like a stereotypical case of Tourette's on television-- seemingly uncontrollable and wholly unexpected.  He weaves together a web of bathroom references, vegetables he doesn't want to eat (and therefore must be naughty) and a while host of other things that he has deemed inappropriate enough to share with the general public.  These outbursts are random and are often accompanied by his new favorite question,

"What's that awful smell?!"  

He never asks this when we're alone, or when there really is an awful smell.  No, he reserves this gem for when we're alongside the cart of an elderly woman, or when our dinners are just being set on the table at a nice restaurant.  Yes, Cael is so exceptional that he can assess any situation and gauge how badly his outburst will embarrass me.  And he's ready to go pro. 


Two can play at that game...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Short and Sweet

Today is my birthday.  And while turning 28 is about as anti-climactic as it gets, it has been rather dramatic around here, so you'll have to forgive me for keeping this short and sweet. 

I'm up to my elbows in paint while we tackle our bedroom makeover.  And yes, for those 800 of you that asked me on Facebook, you can see it when it's completed.  Ya'll are persistant.  Come back tomorrow and I promise I'll have something more interesting to share.

Until then, thanks for all of the birthday wishes.  Nothing makes me feel more loved than 146 emails in my inbox.  Really, ya'll are persistant.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Condensing the Craziness

There are a number of websites that will help new parents calculate how much money a baby will cost them throughout his or her life.  I'm not even going to visit one of these sites as an example, since I already know that the website overlords making these calculations don't have Cael.

In addition to the traditional expenses of feeding and clothing a child, paying for medical expenses, education and the like, all parents should have a realistic understanding that all of their material possessions will soon look like crap.  Not my most eloquent statement, I know, but true nonetheless.  The phrase "We just can't have nice things" was uttered by a tired and likely partially deaf mommy experiencing an "aha moment". 

You see, we are in the middle of a mini makeover at our house.  There won't be any construction or renovation, but Joel and I are finally upgrading our master bedroom.  Every time one of us would roll over in bed, our wooden-framed queen bed would creak and grown as if to say, "hheeeellpp!"  And, at 6:06 am daily, a 12-armed monkey climbs into bed with us and somehow manages to execute a flawless gymnastic floor routine.

It's time for a king.

We set out to the furniture store on Monday night, determined to take advantage of the no-interest financing that would make biting the proverbial bullet a little less painful.  Another parenting misstep.  I'm guilty of committing them from time to time.  On this occasion, my misstep was a lack of foreshadowing.  Have you ever looked up the definition of painful?

pain·ful  (pnfl)
1. Causing pain.
2. Full of pain.
3. Attempting to contain two small children in a furniture store for three hours.
"Whoa, look at that mother.  Dealing with those kids must be painful."

The employees at the furniture store had cautiously marked the bunk beds and children's furniture with signs that read, "Please do not climb on the furniture.  Thank You."  Although I did have to remind Cael of this rule several dozen times, he did somewhat comply.  Unfortunately, the management neglected to post a sign saying, "Please don't climb in the bunk bed, get under the covers and take your shoes off." Chances are good he also let one or two rip while he was under those sheets.  I wouldn't put it past him.

After being confined to the car so that Daddy could close the deal, we finally arrived home Monday night, so far beyond both boys' bedtimes that my anxiety level was already on the rise knowing what Tuesday would bring.  When the day starts at 6:06 every day regardless of bedtime, there's little one can do to prevent tantrums and grouchiness.  Sure, I considered loading them up with Benadryl to keep them asleep longer, but it was just a fleeting thought.  I'd never drug my kids for my own convenience.  I might consider it, though.  Just for a second.

Although we purchased new bedding/towels/curtains when we moved to this house, the transition to a king bed requires purchasing everything again, and despite my husband's best efforts, I was able to convince him that matching towels and bathmats are a true necessity as well.  I'd like this room to be the escape it was intended to be; the one place in our home where I am not a slave to mommyhood, which can often be an assault on all five senses.  Yes, even taste.  Sure, it's a long shot-- as I mentioned before, the kids are in the bed frequently and there's no real privacy to our mornings, but that's a problem easily solved by a strong lock or a big piece of chocolate.  It's like rawhide for kids.

Tuesday night brought with it a trip to Target to purchase the linens and corresponding accessories.  What should have been an hour long trip (at most) took almost three, thanks to 2 trips to the potty, a disagreement over towel patterns, one phone call to our credit card company to turn our card back on (it had been turned off due to "excessive spending" which they viewed as potentially fraudulent), a great quest for a rug in the soon-to-be boys' room, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Yep, you heard it right-- we are going to put the boys in one room.  We have four bedrooms in the house, so sharing isn't a necessity, but with Cael's room being in the basement and us upstairs, we thought they might find some security in being together.  They might kill each other, too.  It's hard to predict just exactly how this scenario might play out.  I figure that by trapping them in one room we are either containing and therefore limiting the craziness in our home or we are condensing it and making it more potent.  I'm hoping for the former.  If you have found it to be otherwise, please keep this information to yourself.  I'm happy in my Benadryl-like haze of naivety.

As we left Target we were tired, a bit grouchy, and a little hesitant of this change.  As we checked out (after the embarrassment of our declined card) the manager stopped to say hello to my incredibly beautiful boys.  To Cael:

"Oh my goodness, you are so handsome.  I love your curly hair!"

"You have a bottom!"

Yeah, some nights are just like that.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Cael talks a lot.  A lot, a lot, a lot.  Seriously, the kid talks all the time.

Oh, were you expecting more?  I was busy enjoying a brief moment of silence.  They are so rare in my life that when one comes around I have to savor it.  Considering how expressive my sons are, I am amazed that they feel it is necessary to be speaking nonstop.  But before I continue, I feel that I must clarify-- what they say cannot always be classified as speech.  Let's break it down, shall we?

Using a very scientific system, I have divided the noises I hear daily into six categories:

Speaking/Yelling - 45%
Laughing - 35%
Crying - 20%
Singing - 15%
Nonsense/Gibberish - 5%
Imitating Bodily Functions - 5%

Speaking/Yelling - Each day I hear about 10 bazillion words (I told you this was a scientific study) and some days that number creeps closer to 11 or 12.  Most fly at me from two or three mouths all at the same time, and it is my job (in addition to cooking, cleaning and wiping faces/noses/hands/rear ends) to decipher what's being said. 

"Hey, he took my toy!"

"Can I have a drink?"

"Mommy, if you don't have nuts, how do you pee?"

Most of these words are propelled through the air with such enthusiasm and volume that my eardrums (and my brain) are forced to shut down occasionally to conserve energy.  Think of it as a "rolling blackout" of the mind.  I'd be lying if I said I was able to maintain 100% sanity when a handful of voices are demanding my attention at the same time.  I find myself answering questions like those above with responses like, "Just follow directions!" or the ever popular, "Because I said so!" They don't always pertain to or even answer the question, but they do seem to get my point across.

Laughing & Crying - We laugh a LOT.  You can't have a "Cael" in your midst without a good belly laugh every now and then.  We also cry a LOT.  I've put these two in the same category because I've discovered that the two are inexorably linked.  Anytime one boy finds something amusing, the other is under foot, trying to steal either the toy or the spotlight so they can get a good laugh too.  But by taking that toy, one or both of them is now upset.  I guess my parents were right.  "It's all fun and games until someone gets their feelings hurt."  Or until someone takes a knee to the face.

Oddly enough, it works in reverse, too.  Nothing turns around a real conniption fit of tears like someone tripping,

Singing - "Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd..."  Need I say more?

Nonsense/Gibberish - Communicating with my sons is like a glorified game of "Telephone".  Remember the playground game where one person whispers a phrase to a friend who passes it on to another?  The secret message makes its way around a circle and back to the first person who can discover how badly the original message has been mangled.

"Cael, what do you want for supper?"

"What do I wuffer supter?"

"What would you like for dinner?"

"What woodjulite for dinder?"

"You're having a hot dog."

Cael, being exceptional as he is, doesn't always require other people to warp a phrase over time.  His favorite movie is "The Polar Express" and he is reciting lines from it relentlessly.  They evolve slowly and bond together with other phrases he knows, and soon enough he's changed, "Attention!  Are there any Polar Express passengers in need of refreshments?" "Attention!  Are there any Po rats?  Ra-rats!  We get a "ha ha", we get a- we get a "ha ha!"

I promise I didn't drink when I was pregnant with him.

Imitating Bodily Functions -  This category needs no real explanation other than to say that every time my son fakes a fart, a little piece of my soul dies.  I am no more comfortable in a house full of gassy boys than I would be at a Star Trek convention.  Perhaps the only thing worse would be a Star Trek convention filled with gassy boys, but I'll save that for a later post titled, "Things I Hope My Son Never Becomes".  No offense, Trekkies.  Just don't be smelly and you're okay in my book.

Now you may notice that, although my process is clearly scientific, my math is a bit suspect.  Not so.  I am, in fact, subject to a whirlwind of noises 125% of my day.  Even my dreams are not safe from a barrage of language--some of which sounds more like German than English, which is bursting forth from my subconscious.  Can't a momma get some peace and quiet?



Monday, June 13, 2011

Hurricane Cael-trina

"Mommy, I pooped on the potty and I need you to wipe my bottom."

This is how I woke up on Saturday morning.  Or, to be more accurate, this is how I woke up the second time.  The first time happened at 5:50am when Cael realized the child-proof cover had accidentally been left on his door and he was stuck in his room.  So rather than waking up when I was fully rested, I stumbled down the stairs with my eyes still closed and only one sock on to rescue my screaming three year-old from a scenario that was totally not scream-worthy.

After sleepily putting Curious George in our room and whispering a quiet thank you for our DVR, I fell asleep again.  That is, until my oh-so-glamorous mommy duties began just barely after 6:00am.

"Mommy, I pooped on the potty and I need you to wipe my bottom."

"Okay, Cael.  Go sit on the potty and I'll be right there."

"But I have to poop!"

Huh?  "I thought you already went.  Do you still need to go?"

"Mommy, I'm gonna tell you the truth.  Mommy?  Are you awake?"

 "Yes, Cael.  What is it?"

"Okay.  I'm gonna tell you the truth now.  I need you to wipe my bottom."

This could go on all day.  You've all heard what happens when I indulge him--the questions get longer, the questions get louder, and the questions get so. much. weirder.  If this line of questioning continues, we will soon be discussing the composition and common characteristics of poop.  Rather than having to google the answers to a question I'd rather not know myself, I get my tired body out from under the warm covers and down the hall.  It's much easier to run a wipe between those cute little cheeks and throw myself back into bed.  So I did just that, snuggled up next to a wily three year old, and closed my eyes again.


That can't be good.  I look to my right... no Cael.  Still not good. 

"Psst, Mommy?"

"What, Cael?"

"I put some water in puppy's dish in case he gets thirsty."

You know those scenes in cartoons where the character is in bed in the dark, but when they open their eyes they glow bright white?  That was me, mentally analyzing the situation.  How bad could it be?  A little water in the dog's dish?  This isn't an emergency.  I can wipe it out when I put food in the dish at breakfast time.  While reaching out to pick up Cael to put him back in bed, I can feel that his pajamas are completely saturated with water, and we all know it can't be pee, since I worked the morning shift in the bathroom not long before.

"Cael, why is your shirt wet?"

"It's not wet.  Nope, not wet."

I was tired, no doubt.  I don't wake up with perfect mental clarity, but the scene in my laundry room was more reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina than my own home.  Wet footprints began down the hall and led in and out of the scene of the crime.  Reeeeeally not good.  Cael had, indeed, put some water in Oscar's food dish.  What he had forgotten to tell me, or omitted intentionally as I would suspect, since this kid's memory is tighter than an airplane blackbox, is that he had put the water in the dog's dish via his blue Easter BUCKET that he'd filled to the brim with water.  And dumped out.  And filled again.  And dumped out again.

The hurricane's aftermath was tangible-- I could feel the sand under my feet and stranded dogs barked off in the distance.  Loudly.  Dogs that sounded just like Oscar.  How long was I asleep?!?  I followed the barks and tried unsuccessfully to locate the dog.  Where would Cael stash him?  This is a loaded question, because Cael's ability to hide things is legendary.  (Want to hear about our 2-day hunt for his sandals?  No?)  Oscar could be stuck in the bathroom, or behind the baby gate in the basement.  (Heck, at this point the oven isn't out of the question.  Nope, nope (nope).  I checked the backyard on the off chance he'd let him out properly in what would have been the behavioral high point of the morning, but alas, the dog was not there.  Joel's Hawkeye flip-flops were out on the deck, however, dewy with tiny size 9 footprints.

There was only one other door to check for the dog, and it didn't make sense.  Was my dog barking and scratching at the front door?  I hollered for Joel to wake up, call FEMA and help with the clean-up efforts.  He rolled out of bed, completely unaware of the morning's activities because my husband (and all men, from what I understand) sleep so deeply that any efforts to awaken them before they are ready are not only unsuccessful, but yield conversations like, "I can't talk to you.  I have to take the trash out by 2:30."  Sure you do.  (And yes, Joel actually told me this in his sleep when I came to bed last week.)

As he empties out the flooded contents of the closet, I let my own dog in my house like a visitor stopping by for tea.  How did he get out there?  We have a fenced-in backyard and the front door was still dead-bolted, so I know he didn't leave the house this way.  I pondered this for a moment and my ears and still foggy brain tried to decipher the sound I was now hearing.  Glug, glug.  Clogged toilet?  Glug, glug.  Joel scrubbing the floor or siphoning water back into the sink?  Nope.  That's just the cat regurgitating a hairball on the still wet carpet, and on the stairs, and down in the basement.

Is this karma?  Which thing am I being punished for this time?  Is this because I went back to sleep?  Or is this because of that Ben & Jerry's I downed the other night?  Surely other mommies have found themselves on their knees, wet, cleaning up cat vomit and wiping poop, right?  Or did I take a wrong turn somewhere?  I gave up trying to understand any of the morning's weirdness and said a little thank-you prayer to God for keeping Graham asleep and therefore reducing my stress level even just a little bit.  I threw the wet towels in the utility sink, let out a sign of relief and remembered that sand underfoot earlier during the flood.  What WAS that?

"Mommy, I need to do another poop on the potty!"

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Few of Our Favorite Things

Other than my family, there are very few things I can’t live without.  (Let’s pause for a moment as Joel laughs somewhere off in the distance.  You done, honey?  Okay, let’s proceed.)  Sure, there are things I depend on, like my phone or my morning caffeine, and there are most definitely things I enjoy (like this blog and soaking in the tub) but when it comes to what I feel I need to survive, the list is pretty short.

If you asked this of my boys, I think you would get a very different answer.  (That is especially true of Graham, as the answer you’d get from him would sound more like “heh” than any distinguishable word.)  I'm not surprised that they have grown attached to things, as that seems to be their nature, but I am surprised that their reliance on certain items borders on obsessive. 

Take, for example, the stuffed “friends” that I chose randomly from a pile and so lovingly provided upon their birth.  For Cael it was Bloose, who swiftly became his first love.  Cael drags his poor blue moose (get it?  “blue” + “moose” = Bloose) around the house and treats him like a glorified crash test dummy all day. 

“Want to ride in my truck, Bloose?”  “Let me take you for a piggy-back ride, Bloose!”  “I’m gonna throw you by your ear, Bloose!”  “Do you pee through your tail, Bloose?”

Bloose has gone through the wash, been dumped in the trash, accompanied us on trips and to the doctor, been peed on, thrown up on and in general, loved hard.  One mention of a night without Bloose’s company instills a fear in my son more traumatizing than a world without baseball. 

Graham, being different as he is, has an alternative approach to his puppy friend, Barker.  Graham is a gentle kid, so Barker gets snuggled, tucked under blankets and kissed repeatedly throughout the day.  But then occasionally I will catch Graham in the act of some assault on his poor friend, like trying to lynch him or surgically remove his eyes with a small piece of uncooked macaroni he’s found on the floor.  I’m not really sure how to interpret this behavior—do I chalk it up to his way of taking out aggression that he can’t direct toward Cael, or should I be locking my door at night?  Will he snap one of these days?  I can imagine Graham’s tiny little feet hobbling to my room during the night to beat me senseless with a soft-soled shoe.  I think I should invest in a baby-proofed padlock or even more effective, I could just dangle a pair of nail clippers in front of the door.  That oughta keep him out.

Okay, maybe not.  But he is very reliant on Barker nonetheless.  I have back-up clones of each of their friends, but given the amount of love and “affection” each has received, they look like drug-addicted and malnourished shadows of their former selves and I fear a switch-a-roo at this point would not go unnoticed.

But what other items are must-have for my maniacal sons?  Although Cael has outgrown it and Graham can’t yet navigate it, our Cozy Coupe is still an essential item.  It is the first thing to be pulled out each morning, the last thing to be put away and is without a doubt the single most argument-inducing item in our home.  So why keep it there when it is such a source of strife?  That’s easy—because I’m a glutton for punishment--err, a Mommy.

And while I might not really dig the added hassles/aggravations/dirty diapers each day, I am willing to put up with all of it and more for those few moments of pure, oozing silliness that come when two boys decide to give each other rides to the grocery store and return home with items like “tomato milk” or “blue apples”, or like last fall when a plastic car got turned upside down and magically became an orange hand-crank ice-cream maker straight out of the 1960’s.  Where did this kid come from, anyway?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Play Ball!

I am forced to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" dozens of times each day.  I have found that it is an amazing cure-all in my home, just like Windex in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding".  In fact, I think from now on when the cat throws up on the carpet or the power goes out in my home, I will try singing the baseball song and I truly expect that it will resolve my issues. 

Okay, maybe it’s not that powerful, although singing this song has elicited amazing results.  For Graham, who as of late has decided he doesn’t like riding in the car, this song takes him from wail-to-smile in less than 10 seconds.  For Cael, it’s been most effective as a distraction method.  You parents know all about the distractions, right?  I think it really is the only method available to mommies alone in the car traveling down roads with no shoulder and therefore no place to pull over and administer a time-out.  (Yes, that is a scenario in which I find myself more often than I’d like to admit!)  Whatever he’s doing, be it taunting Graham, saying naughty words or gagging himself (yes, really), all is resolved with “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

But why that song?  I think it’s because my kids have baseball in their blood.   Joel has always loved playing and watching baseball, and our boys have embraced it whole-heartedly.  As much as I love that and look forward to watching their little league games and baseball practices, if I have to play catch one more time, I’m going to beat myself over the heat with a wooden bat.

Not what a loving Mom is supposed to say?  Whoops.  Cael is good at the throwing part--good aim, nice arc, but the catching is nonexistent.  He holds up the glove and I am expected to toss the ball in from across the room with pinpoint accuracy.  And since he can’t figure out how to squeeze the glove when the ball lands inside, I have to carefully select a ball that fits the perfect criteria of weight and softness so as not to render Graham unconscious.  But here’s the kicker; he wants me to miss.  Remember how I mentioned in a previous posting that if you do something even remotely funny, you will be forced to repeat this action ad nauseam?  I learned that lesson the hard way.  (I’m warning you now.  You can thank me later.)  When one of the infinite tosses I made bounced out of his glove, I made a goofy “UGGGHHH” sound that struck Cael as funny as anything he’s heard in his short life.  Soon thereafter, after 80,000 noisy missed catches, I was having to pretend I was hit by the ball and injured so I could develop a new and equally annoying sound.

Graham, meanwhile, with an equally strong love for baseball but a very different way of expressing excitement, spent the entire game on the “sidelines”, watching and waiting for one of these faux “injuries” to take place so he could come running to kiss the ouchy spot and make it better.  Could they be any more different?  While one is tending to my wounds, the other is belly-laughing and continuing to assault me with the perfect baseball. 

Of course I loved every minute of it.  In all honesty, one of the best parts of these goofy games is that the focus and interaction with me means that Cael is less likely to clobber Graham.  The only downside to these moments of fun family silliness is the descent to anger that will inevitably occur when my eldest hears those four most dreaded words… “Baseball time is over.”  You’d never know he was nearing four.  He’s on the floor howling, arms flailing and his little face is all scrunched up in protest.  And I know there’s only one thing I can do to make it stop…

Ugh.  “Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd…”