Friday, October 28, 2011

Caelism of the Day

I never know how to approach conversations about God.  Cael is very interested in the idea of "heaven" but can't yet grasp a non-tangible place that he simply has to believe is there.

So last night, as I laid him down to bed and we said our prayers, Cael asked me about God and heaven and I decided to try putting heaven on his level.

"Cael, God is a little bit like Santa.  You don't get to see him, but you have to believe that he is real.  Except God is WAY bigger and knows everything about everyone."

"God is like Santa?!"

Uh-oh.  Parenting misstep.

"He's kind of like Santa."

"Does God come down our chimney?"

"No, honey, he is up in heaven."

"Up in the sky?"

"Yep.  You can't see heaven, but it is there."

"Could I take a train there?  Like that steam engine we rode before?"

"Nope, you can't visit there until God is ready for you."

"Oh, okay."

 But there was more.

"What will God be?"

"I don't know what you mean.  What will God be?"

"For Halloween.  Will God dress up for Halloween?"

"I don't think so, Cael.  Halloween isn't God's thing.  He has bigger fish to fry."

"He's going to be a fish?"

"No.  God's gonna stay in heaven and pass out candy."

"Can I show him my train 'ductor costume?"

"He can see it already.  God sees everything you do."

"God watches me go potty?"

"Well he could, but I think he cares more about making sure you make good decisions."

And in a rare moment of clarity...

"I don't always make good decisions."

"Not always.  But you're learning, and as long as you keep trying, that's okay with me."


Taking advantage of the brief pause in conversation, I practically sprinted out of the door after offering a quick kiss and "I love you" to my very confused boy.


"What is it, Cael?"

"Did God get his fish costume at Walmart?"

"Yep, he sure did."

Sorry, God.  That was just a little white lie.  

I'll keep trying.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Hunchback of Mt. Vernon

You'll have to be patient with me today.  You see, yesterday I woke up fine.  Early, but fine.  I chased bare bottoms around the house before capturing them and covering them with teeny, tiny dinosaur underpants and jeans with adjustable elastic strips.  I brushed teeth and fed one cat, one dog and three fish.  It was a normal morning until I began making breakfast for the kids.  I whipped up some french toast and when I reached into the refrigerator to get a jug of milk, I felt a jolt.

No, I wasn't electrocuted by my refrigerator, but when you add my luck with appliances to my luck with plumbing, being shocked isn't that outlandish.

But this time my back was the culprit.  One small area inside my shoulder blade hurt with a such a force that I could not lift my head or drop my shoulders.  Within a few minutes, my entire perspective changed. 

I went from this:

To this.

So I went to the doctor for help.  Or, more specifically, because I knew I couldn't suffer through five days of impersonating the Hunchback of Notre Dame without some sort of medicinal intervention.  At the doctor, an exam revealed absolutely nothing, so I was on my way rather quickly with the promise of relief.

Photobucket Photobucket

Papa stayed at the house to help me wrestle the children and dish out meals.  At each moment when I'd normally work on the blog, my eyes would close slowly and I'd make my way back to the couch to my heating pad and DVRed episodes of the X Factor.   

How cute is Rachel Crow, anyway?

I'm hoping that my drug-induced state won't prevent me from sharing Cael's latest offense with you tomorrow, because he is really giving 100% these days.

So.... I hope you'll... tune.  in tomorrow..... for morrreeeeee.............

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

School Daze

Now that Cael is officially four and preschool is in full swing, we are starting to settle into a nice, quiet, predictable routine.


At 5:47am, Cael jumps into my bed knee-first with a direct hit to my bladder.  For a kid that is so active, he has evolved to require less and less sleep, and now that afternoon naps are becoming a thing of the past, early morning sleep time will be the next to suffer. 

"Mommy, wake up!  I want to watch a show!"

Cael used to demand a specific movie or television program to watch, but I have learned which of our DVRed movies have loud screams, music or explosions and can now select one for him without actually opening my eyes.

See, progress!

When I've hit snooze a sufficient amount of times, I get up and head to the bathroom to pee since Cael's knee assault left me somewhere between awake and asleep battling the urge to get up and go.  As soon as I set foot in the bathroom, it is Cael's cue to burst in with any accessible toy that makes ridiculously loud train whistles and prevent me from experiencing any personal privacy.

We have the same conversation almost every morning.

"Are you pooping?"

"No, Cael."

"Why you don't have nuts?

"You know why, Cael."

"Because you're a girl."

"Please go out of the bathroom so I can have some privacy."

"La la la.... look at me! I'm in the bathroom!!"


Once the boys and I are dressed, I try to choose a breakfast that will take little time and won't leave the boys dirty, sticky or smelling like syrup.  If I'm really in a bind, we opt for the "banana and yogurt" breakfast which is actually really healthy and requires no thought or effort on my part.

During breakfast, the boys jabber at one another and discuss many of life's great mysteries, like the afterlife, the gravitational pull of the moon, and why gobs of snot are called "boogers".  Sometimes I try to join their conversations, but most of the time they are way over my head.  These boys are conversational wizards.

We wash hands and faces, brush teeth again and Cael thunders into the bathroom for his daily 8:00am constitution.  I could set a clock by his regularity, but I think I'd be sidetracked by the exclamations he shares as he cleans himself up.

"Mommy!  Come in here!  You've never seen anything like this in your whole life!"

No thanks, Cael.  We buckle into the car for the exhausting two minute drive to preschool.  Once inside, Cael knows the classroom routine by heart.  First he must find his name on one of the hooks (the placement changes daily) and hang his coat and backpack.  Then he takes the nametag and shoves it onto the "who's here today?" board, and gets in line to wash his hands.

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This is the point at which I usually slip out, and for many reasons.  Firstly, I am not needed anymore.  Secondly, and most importantly, I don't know how this next part will play out.  You see, Cael is a bit of a wild card in the bathroom.  With two stools at the sink for a pair of children to wash up simultaneously, there is great "wet t-shirt" potential and I don't want the parents of the well-behaved children to see me laugh at his antics and not be able to discipline him when need be.  They should be grateful it's me taking him to preschool, however, because Daddy would probably be high-fiving out the door.

From 8:30am - 11:00am, I am the parent of one child.  And let me tell you, one child is WAY less than half the work.  Separating them seems to drastically reduce the drama, noise and bathroom humor, so I'm currently considering a rental property for one of them.  Or maybe just a masking tape line down the floor... as yet I'm undecided.

Graham and I, along with Papa, usually enjoy a trip into Cedar Rapids to run errands and get out of prison the house, where Oscar is often pacing in fear of any and all future thunderstorms that may take place and appliances and pipes burst at will.  It's not that leaving home will prevent a flood, it's just that a chocolate turnover from Arby's makes me care a little less.

At 11:00am, I retrieve Cael from preschool and ask him the typical after school questions.

"How was school today?"


"What did you do?"


"I don't believe that.  Did you play?"


"Did you read?"


"What was the book?"

"Don't know."

"What was it about?"


It's only weeks later that bits and pieces of information about his life at school begin to ooze out. 

"Hey Mommy?  When I went to that pumpkin patch-- not the big pumpkin patch, but the other pumpkin patch, we were looking at the animals and there were lots of animals, we saw the chickens and I said 'hi chicken!' and I stuck my finger through the fence and the chicken was walking and he just comed over and he bite me! Why he bite me, Mommy?"

I guess I'm just glad he didn't bite the chicken's finger.  I can totally see it going that way, too.

Once home, our days are much the same as any other.  We play, we battle over meals and toys and bedtimes.  Cael asks fifteen times whether he will go to preschool in the morning, and when I lay out the schedule for the week, he looks as me blankly and asks again. 

Once in bed, I clean up a bit, write a bit and prepare to snooze a bit.  Because morning comes early in our house...

"Mommy.  Wake up!"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When Children Attack

And here I thought I was going to make a quick lunch before naptime.

Nothing is ever easy.  :)

Caelism of the Day

"Psst.  Wake up, Mommy!"

"What, Cael?"

"I want to watch Polar Express!"

"I don't have that recorded, and the DVD is downstairs."  (whew)

"But the DVD is up here, remember?  See, Mommy?  See?"


"I forgot about that, Cael.  I'll put it on... just a minute."

"See, Mommy?  I told you it was up here."

"Yep, you're right."

"Oh snap, Mommy."

Monday, October 24, 2011


The last time I checked, there were only 24 hours in one day.  It's possible there was a bill passed to change that number like the government's unsuccessful bid to change "french fries" to "freedom fries", but as far as I know there are still only 1,440 for me to squeeze in an entire day's work.

The problem, however, is that over the last six months I have accumulated various activities that have become part of that daily routine.  For example, this blog is fairly time-consuming and as much as I love it, there are days when I'd rather go to bed an hour earlier or just slap up a cute picture and call it good.  I also love to go for a walk/jog around town (especially this time of year).  Not only do I need the exercise, but I also love an opportunity to take my camera to the park and click away until I lose the sunlight.

But the problem-- the biggest problem-- is a little website called Pinterest.  If you're not familiar with Pinterest, allow me to make a suggestion.

Don't go there.

If you have a family; if you have a job or even if you feel that you benefit from more than two hours of sleep, don't create an account.  Don't add the "pin it" button to your toolbar.  Don't start pinning things to your pinboards because I guarantee that you might misplace one of your children or accidentally forget to feed your pets.

Learn how to make it here.
I think Pinterest is really a gateway drug of sorts.  My addiction started innocently enough with a few photos of Halloween decorations.  I'm a real sucker for pumpkins and gourds, so a website that would allow me to compile my favorite ideas in one place while simultaneously feeding me new ideas seemed too good to be true.

But then I got the app for my phone, so that I could be pinning random and completely insignificant pictures of granite countertops and cute giraffes while I shop at the grocery store or as I wait for Cael to be released from preschool.  And then one pivotal day, my sister and I decided to try to make one recipe for a pumpkin shake that we'd seen on Pinterest.

It was good, and I was hooked.

Since then, I have purchased countless cans of pureed pumpkin and have developed a new and much more time-consuming addiction to making things I have seen on the website.  When Cael needed a birthday treat to bring to preschool, I knew just the thing... leaf cookies!

Learn how to make it here.
My interpretation.

And when my nephews Ethan and Keaton came to my house after school, there was no treat more festive than pumpkin trifles!

Learn how to make it here.
Here's a tip:  If your dishwasher floods and you are left with no water and a big and soon-to-be expensive mess, make yourself feel better with pumpkin fudge!

Learn how to make it here.

Did you know that caramel apple dip is made better with pumpkin and nutmeg?

Or when you finally begin to regain your motivation to lose weight, quickly thwart your efforts with homemade Butterfinger bars with only three ingredients!  (And you'll never guess what they are!)

Learn how to make it here.

My name is Mary Foreman and I have an addiction to Pinterest.

Learn how to make it here.
I think what I really need is for one of those interventionists from A&E to come to my house and convince my family to throw me out if I can't quit pinning pictures.  Or maybe I need a cleaning expert from Hoarders to sit with me and force me to purge a lot of the photos from my pinboard in an effort to put my life back in order.

Or maybe I just need to stop cold turkey.  I think that's what I will do.

Right after I make this Pottery Barn-inspired wall hanging for Christmas.  

How could I not?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Mommer, Hone and Captain Cheekerbottom

I must have missed the memo, but Thursday's unofficial theme was "nicknames".  I felt as though I was in high school and forgot to dress up for "Spirit Day".  But instead of neglecting to don my red and grey, I woke up ill-prepared to combat the onslaught of aliases I'd be given throughout the day. 

"Hi, Mommer!" 

At least I thought that was what he said.  I was sleeping the sleep of a mother with two tireless boys, and at that point he could have asked for the keys to the van to head to Vegas for the weekend.  I probably would have handed them over with two Monopoly 20s and a pat on the back.

"Hmm.  Did you call me Mommer?"

"Hee, hee.  Mommer!"

So you see, I don't know if he started it or I did, but my kid likes to beat a dead horse, so the nickname stuck throughout the day.

"Mommy-- err, Mommer, what are you making me for breakfast?"

"You are having oatmeal.  Would you like peach or banana?"

"Ooh, I want peach.  Is that what you want, Graham?"

"Uh, hone."

Allow me to explain.  For several months now, I have noticed that Graham would not say Cael's name.  Even when asked point blank to say it out loud, he'd blush and shut his mouth tighter than Cael's death grip on Thomas the Train.  So for the last few weeks, I've been encouraging him to address his brother rather than avoid him like the rest of us do when we can't remember someone's moniker.  After some practice, he has confidently named Cael "Hone".

Is it home?  Is it honey?  Who knows.  I'm just glad it's not "hey you".

By mid-afternoon, I was glancing up in the corners of my house for the "totally hidden video" that I was sure was recording my every move as I went through the motions of my day with my sons, Hone and Graham.  We attempted a craft project-- ironing crayon shavings to leaf shapes to be hung on the window, but I quickly realized that no one had the patience necessary to see the project through to fruition.  What I was left with was four trillion bits of earth-toned crayon embedded in my carpet, one magenta crayon that fell victim to the dog, and one really bizarre conversation with Cael.

Photobucket Photobucket

"Mommy, why does Graham call me 'Hone'?"

"Honey, he can't say 'Cael' just yet, so it comes out like 'Hone'."

"I can't say 'Graham' either.  I think his name is 'Poopy'."

"That's not very nice, Cael.  Try something else." 

"'Stinky, yucky, dirty pants' boy."


"'Smelly toots and toenails with broccoli' boy."

"That's not any better."

"Maybe I'll just call him 'Ham'."

"Ham?  Well, I guess it sort of rhymes with Graham."

"Yep, it rhymes.   Graham, Ham, poop and bicycle.  They all rhyme!"

I probably should have corrected him, but I didn't want to discuss poop anymore, so I let it go.  We cut out our colorful leaves and put them up in the window.  As I dished out their dinner, I realized that both Hone and Ham had crayon shavings under their fingernails and in every crevice of their soft skin.

I figured that a bath would not only be a nice way to end the evening and clean up the boys, but also a fun way to wrap up what was a silly and easy day for us.  My boys love to take baths, but as I've shared before, the moment I open the bathroom door, all hell breaks loose.

"Okay, boys, it's time for a bath.  Can you go in the bathroom and take your dirty clothes off?"

"Yea!"  They yelled in unison.

"Mommer, Graham has a cute cheekerbottom!  I think that's a better name than Ham.  I think I will call him 'Cheekerbottom'!"

I did manage to clean the filth off of my sons, but I'm not sure I'll ever scrub away the strangeness of this day.  But maybe that's just how it is in the land of Mommer, Hone and Captain Cheekerbottom.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

It's A Monster!

I think I've created a monster.

Cael is constantly after me to play with my phone, or see Daddy's iPad.  The kid seems to have megabytes flowing through his blood and I fear there is little I can do to stop it.  The great battle to limit television began raging at age two and has never stopped, and I should have known better than to add another, more advanced dimension.

But there was laundry to be done.  And dishes.  And as much as I love him-- and I do, the kid wouldn't leave me the heck alone.  He followed me into the laundry room.  He followed me out of the laundry room.  If I needed a drink, he needed a drink.  And when I had to pee, his bladder was about to burst.

So I took a chance and did something we'd never done before.  I opened Yahoo and made a quick search for "good websites for kids", although I may as well have searched for "how to sell your soul to the devil".  I clicked on the link for the PBS Kids games and saw Curious George's smile light up the page, immediately knowing that Cael would think it was fun to use the computer for himself rather than as another avenue to torment me.  At George's main game page was a selection of sixteen educational games from which to choose.

I randomly chose a color-themed game about grabbing hats, and although he had difficulty manipulating the mouse for the first time, he was wholly unconcerned with the laundry, his thirst or his selectively bursting bladder.

After he'd exhausted the hat game's potential, we returned to the main game hub, and that was when I saw it:  A TRAIN GAME.

Cael literally jumped out of the desk chair.

"Mommy!  Mommy!  It's a TRAIN game!"

"Oh, cool!  Let's see what it is about."

But once we began the game, I knew it was beyond his current level.  While Cael is reliable with letters, he is not interested in numbers or basic math, which was the whole concept around which the game was based.

For the next thirty minutes, I witnessed Cael catapult back and forth between locomotive elation and arithmetic annoyance.  He wanted help, but wouldn't accept help; torn between his love of trains and what heredity tells me will likely be a hatred for math.  Knowing that there was little I could do to pull him from this slump, I suggested we leave the computer for awhile and play with something else. 

For a moment, I thought he might stab me with the ballpoint pen I'd innocently left out on the desk.

So I backed off for a moment, leaving him to mellow out while I went to check on Graham.  When I'd left my Bubba, he was happily stacking his colorful buckets and delighting in the novelty of knocking them down, the same action that landed Cael in his first preschool time-out just last week.  (I don't have any ownership in that problem, right?)  But Graham is still innocent enough that he rarely premeditates naughtiness and still young enough that he is not permanently affixed to the computer screen.

Because he was permanently affixed to the television screen.

He'd found the stash of remotes and not only selected the appropriate remote, but actually managed to turn on the power to the TV without affecting the satellite feed, a task that I myself can't often achieve.  Recognizing that it was recording his favorite program, "Mickey Mouse Clubhose", he pulled up a chair and made himself at home in front of the tube.

"Graham?  Can we go play with your toys?"


"Can I read you a story?"


"Would you like to help me do something?"


Please, God, don't let them be pasty nerds!  Please don't let them be pasty nerds!

As the afternoon wore on, I managed to pry both of my boys from their respective addictions, but not without a fight.  And what's worse is that it's a battle I know I will fight their entire lives.  I want them to be active and healthy, and while I want them to be technologically savvy, I don't want it to rule their existence.  Wish me luck.

All of this computer work has me exhausted.  Off to play with my phone...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Caelism of the Day

In one of our more diplomatic moments, Joel and I were discussing a particularly irritating store clerk and piqued Cael's interest with the word "annoying".

"Who is noying, Mommy?"

"Oh, it's nothing you need to worry about.  Just a person at the store."

"Oh.  Was it a lady person or a man person?"

Tickled by his innocence and broken English, I smiled and said, "You're so smart, Cael!"


"Actually, you're BRILLIANT!"

"Mmmhmm.", he said with a confused look.

"Do you what 'brilliant' means, Cael?"

"Yes!  It's Spanish."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall, Farm, Fun, Fort, Fear?

As I look out my window today, the sky is grey and the colorful leaves on my maple tree are all but gone and are losing their luster.  I know that the calendar says "October", but the downright cold breeze and gluttonous amount of cream soups I've been eating read "winter" loud and clear.

Knowing that it is right around the corner, we've been squeezing in as many fall activities as we can, and it has been... interesting.

We took advantage of Cael's birthday to visit Bloomsbury Farms, a super-huge farm and pumpkin patch about 30 minutes from our home.  We visited Bloomsbury last year as a family and were impressed by its imposing size and abundance of fall paraphernalia.  That sort of place is heaven for children and autumn-obsessed mothers like me, and a necessary evil for Joel.  He is a good sport to come along and humor me, just like I am always ready and willing to spend a few hours at Bass Pro Shops or Scheels, perusing tackle boxes and perfectly preserved severed deer heads.

I live for that.  Ahem.

Foreman Family at Bloomsbury Farm - 2010
So after church on Cael's birthday, my family and my sister's family piled into the van to visit the farm and pick some pumpkins.  The older boys were most excited for the pumpkin cannon that shot a pie pumpkin with greater velocity than gas is expelled from Cael's backside.

Cael and Graham were enamored with the goats, llamas and donkey and had fun feeding bits of petrified grain in exchange for a quizzical look from a llama who seemed to have an irreverent sense of humor.

I think he reads my blog.

Once we'd made rounds through several of the attractions, we took advantage of the short lines and jumped on the hayrack ride.  A family photo on the hayrack has become a bit of a self-imposed family tradition, so my sister snapped a few shots of us before we jumped off to grab a pumpkin.

Foreman Family at Bloomsbury Farm - 2011
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Just as Amy, Keaton, Cael and I were contemplating gnawing the stems off of our perfect pumpkins, the hayrack let out a grunt and left us in the field without tools to MacGyver our way back to the farm. 

Once back, Joel and Ethan had decided to take a trip through the haunted house they'd assembled in a large barn on the grounds.  Thinking the attraction was more "fun" house than "haunted" house, Daddy brought Cael along. 

You know, because we hadn't thoroughly messed him up.

Ten minutes later, a quivering Cael emerged from the barn, sniffling, talking nonstop about a very scary clown and trying his best to push his PTSD way, way down inside so that we would stay at the farm and he could ride his most favorite attraction of all-- the barrel train.  Since we first set foot out of our van, he'd spotted and remembered the barrel train from last year's visit and felt that neither his birthday nor his entire year would be complete without a spin around.

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He took a turn on his own and then one with Graham, all the while sitting very quietly and not exhibiting his traditional enthusiasm.  After his second ride, he disembarked his barrel and quietly said to me, "Mommy, I still don't like that scary clown."

Why can't they fill those haunted houses with images of used hypodermic needles and teenage pregnancy so as to create a useful phobia for my son? 

Over the next several days, we did our best to take advantage of any sunny moments to get outside and roll in the leaves.  First I handed the rake to Cael with strict instructions to keep the rake on the ground and away from Graham's face.

"OW!  Maaaamaaa!"


Next time I assumed control of the tool and raked (and raked, and raked) crisp, red leaves into a pile for Cael, who begged with fury to jump in them.  After creating a large enough pile to cushion what I knew would be a catastrophic collision with the ground, Cael promptly announced that he wanted to go inside and watch Thomas the Train.

How could I make it more interesting?

I ran in the house and emerged with beat up cardboard box and a blanket-- the fixings for a leaf fort that I knew they would love and not want to leave.  I pulled the box apart to create a three-sided shelter, and piled the leaves around the box and above, with a blanket to close up the rear.

The boys were ecstatic and giggled as they crawled in and out of their tent.  Cael announced that he wanted to have his supper inside the fort and sleep out there at night.  They invited Oscar inside as a goodwill gesture to escape the evil monster otherwise known as Mommy.  (How come I'm always grotesque and villanous in their fantasies?)  Wait-- don't answer that.

As my boys and my dog played, I happily snapped photos, knowing that these are the moments my boys will remember as they look back on their childhoods, just as I lovingly remember the same things from my youth.

And then the dog dropped a deuce in the tent and Graham put his hands in it.  

"Mommy!  It's dark in here and I don't like that clown!  MOMMY!" 

Happy Autumn, friends.  Off to the psychiatrist...