Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Post Blog

Morning good!

No, I'm not channeling my inner Yoda.  In fact, I'm channeling my inner Cael, an even stranger character with speech equally as mismatched and slightly better hair. 

Lately Cael has been inverting some of his words, a phenomenon that I'm not blaming on dyslexia or any permanent cause, but rather the result of not thinking and overall weirdness.  For example, Cael is constantly asking me for a "scratch back" (seriously, constantly) and will adamantly refuse any offers for the more traditional "back scratch".  Even as I sat on the couch with him before bed, enjoying a late-night episode of Curious George, he offered to give me a "rub back" in exchange for 15 more minutes to stay up before being sentenced to bed for the night.

Way no.

In fact, I've noticed more and more of these strange inversions in his speech lately as his vocabulary grows and he learns how to articulate the thoughts his rapidly expanding brain puts forth.

"Mommy, can we buy some more of those 'tart-pops'?"

"Do you mean 'Pop-Tarts'?  Maybe sometime.  They taste good but they're not the healthiest breakfast."

"Oh.  But you let me have doughnuts and those aren't healthy!"

Bad my.

It seems that on an almost daily basis, my eldest is pulling a switch-a-roo, putting his shirts on backward or his underpants on inside out.  Even Graham gets in on the action when he is not already occupied by Mouse Mickey or his compulsive suck-thumbing.  Anytime we find ourselves in the window seat of a restaurant, Graham makes quick work of reading the letters despite the fact that they are inverted.

"C-R-A-P, Momma!"

"Ugh, no, that "r" is actually an "n".  The whole word is "Pancheros".

I'm not too worried, though.  Two years ago, when I was still wet behind the ears and a little naive to what was to come, I might have been concerned.  In fact, I probably would have called all of the leading experts in dyslexia and called a conference to be held, complete with comprehensive testing for Cael and Graham, who I would have almost certainly introduced as each other.  I think I have whatever they've got.

But today, inverted words and jumbled underpants are low on my priority list.  My bigger concerns are that the boys get to eat three meals a day, that those foods don't all come from a cellophane bag, that no one pulls any large furniture over on themselves, or that no one falls head first into the toilet. 

If those objectives are met, I can tolerate some reversals here or there, provided that Cael doesn't introduce me as his father and Joel as his mother.

That would really buff my busters.  Or something like that.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Snow Day!

For the families of teachers, there are few events more highly anticipated than the "snow day".  In fact, as an adult, I find myself more excited by Joel's unexpected days off than I did as a child, learning that school was canceled due to copious amounts of snow or freezing drizzle that covers the street, house and what's worse-- the satellite dish, leading to no where to go and nothing to watch.

The modern convenience of my iPhone by my bedside with the local news "cancellations" list as one of my bookmarks has streamlined the process even further, allowing me to plan the course of my morning without ever leaving my bed.

So far, this post really makes me sound lazy.  Perhaps I need to find new motivation in my life.  Let's start by changing my bookmarks to reflect a new, more ambitious lifestyle.

There, that's better.

It's too bad I didn't have my sights set that high last Monday when Joel was off from school.  A layer of ice above a dusting of snow proved too much for the school buses when it lay atop the melted and then re-frozen snow of the previous week.

Why do I live here again?

Although the weather was less than ideal, we could see that the main highways were clear and dry so we took the opportunity to make a quick trip into town to locate some snow pants for Cael who had been begging to make a snowman for weeks.

4T or 5T?  4T or 5T?  I had the traditional mental battle with myself as I debated which pair of snowpants would allow me two years' worth of snow day fun as I stood in front of Walmart's only display of (surprise, surprise) camouflage-patterned winter gear. 

Once home, we put the kids down for a nap and Joel and I managed to successfully waste away an afternoon of unexpected free time with Grand Theft Auto and Pinterest, respectively.  By about 3:45pm, I tempted fate and got the boys up before they were done sleeping so that we could do some sledding and snowman assembling, a rare treat with Daddy by their sides.

But it wasn't the kind of treat I had in mind.

I've mentioned the difficulties in dressing the boys for playtime in the snow, but the more I do it the more I have come to equate it to squeezing a seal into a size 4 shoe.  It's tricky, it takes forever, and you're likely to get slapped in the face.

Once we got all 49 layers of waterproof fabric on their skin, we scaled the only incline in our backyard so that we would have a valid excuse to shove the boys down a hill at speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour.

First we sent Cael to blaze a path, then Graham, who ran square into Cael, then Oscar who would rather have five more teeth pulled than lose his footing, Cael and Graham together and finally, one more almighty push for Graham which sent him halfway across the backyard and peeled his face back thanks to the sustained g-force of his descent.

After they'd tired of sledding, we made the trek around to the front yard like a 19th century farmer following a stretch of rope between the house and the barn.  Despite the fact that the weather was sunny and miraculously above freezing, the boys barely walked upright, tousled around by the nonexistant wind and tripped repetitively over their thick boot-laden feet.

When the rope ran out in the front yard, we set up camp to make a snowman, or more accurately, an ice/dirt/leaf/snow mound; a memorial for all of the marriages that dissolved thanks to disgruntled children and sub-zero temperatures.

We mourn your loss.

Unfortunately, our snowman never developed past this mound stage as the snow was as ineffective at packing as Graham is unable to keep his clothing on while playing outside.

"Graham, where are your gloves?"


"But where is your hat?"


"And where is your boot...?"


Does anyone know if CPS considers frostbite to be "willful neglect"?

With the sledding a bust, the snowman a failure and simple walking a test of our patience, we threw our hands in the air and asked the boys to pose for one quick picture before heading inside.

Cael gave Graham a hug...

And Graham shoved snow in Cael's face.

I'm sure he had it coming.  The kid has a serious backlog of offenses for which he needs to make restitution, so I pretended like I didn't see it happen. 

Once inside, with all of the wet, snowy gear in a big heap on the carpet because that is the place where it can make the greatest mess, our shivering boys sat next to the fire and I made a big pot of homemade hot chocolate.

So there we sat, laughing at the table together as our numb toes tingled and Cael and Graham fought over the extra marshmallow.  It may not have been the memory-making snow day I'd hoped for, but in the end it was perfect in its own way.

"Mommy.... my tummy hurts..."

Scratch that.  I'm ready for spring.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Virtual Facelift

Notice anything different?

Unless this is your first visit to the ol' blog, you might have noticed that things are changing in my little corner of cyberspace.  For some time I had been wanting to update my header photos since they are almost a year old and, no matter how much I tape them down or refuse to feed them healthy foods, my boys are continuing to grow and change.

As long the photos were getting a facelift, I thought the blog itself might be ready to grow and change.  I know that much hasn't changed yet aside from a few new pages for you to check out, but you should know that I do have some good ideas in mind. 

And they didn't come from Cael.  

Well, most of them.

So I hope you'll be patient with me this weekend as I tweak and play with the site.  And if you have any suggestions of things you'd like to see me incorporate into the blog, please leave a comment!  As much as he may claim to be, neither Cael (nor I) are mind readers.

Or hyenas.  He wanted to make sure I cleared that up.

Have a great weekend, friends.  I hope that your days are half as happy as these two.

But way less smelly.  You know, for your own sake.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Caelism of the Day

As much as I would love for Cael to become a doctor or a lawyer, or any other high-paying respectable career, his behavior as of late has me anticipating his future as a bartender in a dingy dive or an employee at the paint counter of a small town hardware store.

It's possible that he could still become a train "ductor" of course, but given his current preoccupation with mixing things, it seems doubtful.

"Mommy, what happens if I mix blue and white?"

"You get light blue."

"What happens if I mix orange and white?"

"You get light orange."

"What happens if I mix purple and white?"

"Cael, any time you mix white with a color it makes it lighter.  Any time you mix black with a color, it makes it darker."

"What happens if I mix black and white?"

"You get gray."

"Light gray or dark gray?"

Um... uh...

Sometimes, like when Cael wants to know the Pantone label for the color made by combining pink, gray and brown, I simply have to shift the conversation to other more easily understood combinations.

"Cael, do you want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?" 

"Oooh yes, Mommy!  But what happens if I mix jelly and ice cream?"

"Well, I think that would probably taste pretty good.  They are both sweet treats."

"What happens if I mix jelly and chicken?"

"I don't think you'd like that very much."

"What happens if I mix pizza and watermelon?"

"Yucky.  It's better to stick with things that go together."

He had to think about that one.  I was anticipating a barrage of recipe ideas not likely to make it on to the Food Network, but instead his quirky little brain went in another direction.

"Mommy, what happens if you mix a frog with a lion?  Or what happens if you mix a truck with a puddle?  Mommy?  What happens if you mix today with yesterday?  Mommy?"


Mommy is out.  She's busy mixing rum with coke.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Sporting Group

Winter in Iowa can really be brutal. 

I'm not talking about the weather, specifically, but more the lifestyle we're forced to endure as we live weeks or even months trapped inside our homes watching the same television programs and playing with the same toys.  And breathing the same air... a real feat considering the toxic output my boys produce on a daily basis.

When you have kids like mine that have no tolerance for extreme heat or cold, it means that outside play in July lasts 20 minutes and play in January lasts less than ten.  Ten minutes, unfortunately, is only a fraction of the time it takes to don four layers and two pairs of socks, squeeze into snowpants, zip up his coat, remove the coat, snowpants and layers to pee, put layers and snowpants back on, zip up the coat and finish up with boots, gloves, a hat and the kitchen sink.

It's just not worth it for five minutes of tripping over his own feet.

Instead, we've been trying to entertain ourselves by getting out of the house whenever possible, taking advantage of opportunities and events that might not normally capture our attention.  Rather than returning to the Children's Museum and repainting the facial hair on Cael and Graham's faces, we have attended a handful of high school basketball games at Joel's school.

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I should mention that I am NOT a sports person.  I embarrassed myself played volleyball in junior high for one year until I decided that the best way I could support my team and my school was stay at home and eat ramen noodles.  So my ineptitude with athletics has left me the odd nerd out in my house full of boys that jumped at the chance to watch a bunch of sweaty people run back and forth across the floor.

The first time we went, Cael and Graham found more enjoyment in watching the pep band blast tunes when the team wasn't actively playing.  My boys aren't able to be inactive, however, and were in constant motion as they danced, jumped and wiggled around the bleachers.

Cael busted out his best moves.

Graham ate popcorn off of the floor.

I checked Facebook on my phone.

Joel cheered us all on.

When the music would stop, they would both freeze like they'd been caught with one hand in the proverbial cookie jar, only to quickly resume their hip-swaying and bootie-shaking when the music started up again.  They danced until they were wet with sweat and collapsed in their beds when we returned home that night, only to dream about basketballs, popcorn and 24 hour dance marathons.

I dreamed about Ramen noodles.

Knowing how much fun the boys had that night, we knew they would jump at the chance to attend another basketball game and spend some additional time with Daddy who was supervising the game.  They were initially disappointed by the absent pep band but quickly found their niche as ropeless climbers of the uneven bleacher terrain.  They searched for bears and howled when the noisy buzzer sounded.  And although they didn't watch one second of the game, they still had a wonderful time.

Cael peed every five minutes.

Graham ran around shirtless.

I played Temple Run and nursed a Diet Pepsi.

And Joel?  Joel drew mustaches on the boys.

I give up... just like I did with volleyball.  Where are the noodles?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Step Right Up!

I hope you all had a great weekend!  Our three-day weekend, while cold, snowy, drizzly and overwhelmingly dreary, was jam-packed with all of the the excitement of a tropical getaway. You know, if your idea of a tropical getaway is spending two days stuck indoors with an accident-prone four year-old and a terrible two-er hopped up on Prednisone.  We did watch The Lion King, though. 

The desert is sort of tropical, right?

Since it was clear we weren't headed for Tahiti, we planned some activities to fill our chilly weekend and crossed our fingers (and toes) that our unusually grouchy boys would cooperate and we wouldn't have to toss them from the island.  On Friday night, as I nosily perused Facebook to see what my friends and barely-there acquiantances would be doing over the weekend, I noticed that several of the profile pictures representing my friends depicted them with large fake mustaches.

Did I miss something?  I know that there are strange Facebook games being played all the time, something I occasionally do myself.  For example, I post a link to a blog post and then I play a little game where I pretend like I don't care how many of you read it. 

No comments?  I really don't care.  I swear, I don't.  

Okay, I do.  See, wasn't that fun?

But it didn't explain the barrage of bushy mustaches splashed about the Internet.  I turned to Joel and told him about the virtual display of mustachery I'd unconvered, and his first instinct was to join the club.  No, he didn't slap on a 'stache and a smile, but he did grab a ballpoint pen and transform my youngest into a french singer on a gondola in a striped shirt with a romantic handlebar mustache.

And not to be outdone, Cael eagerly played the role of a 1940's newspaper reporter with neatly quoffed facial insulation.

See?  Joel likes games too.

Saturday morning, we bravely decided to venture out on the snowy roads to visit the Iowa Children's Museum in Coralville.  The weather didn't scare us, but we knew that taking the kids into public in their current state might just cause us to make a scene of carnival side-show proportions.  But Cael and Graham have enjoyed playing there a few times before, and their frequently changing exhibits keep the museum fresh and interesting for our two hairy weasels, so we went ahead with our plans.  Once inside, they ran frantically from one room to another, trashing the grocery store in a record four minutes as they filled their carts with frozen quiche and plastic danishes.

I was almost disappointed that their inked mustaches had faded, because a little 5 o'clock shadow might have warned the other small children to get out of the way-- NOW-- when my kids rounded the corner to purchase their three watermelon wedges and hollow turkey.

We blew through the various rooms, permanently damaging our eardrums in the music room...

Plotting each other's deaths in the ambulance and hospital rooms...

Climbing to new heights in the ball/car/track room...

Defying gravity in the flight room...

And after we'd wreaked havoc on most of the museum, we made one quick stop in the art room.

"Can you draw me a train?"

I can draw a train in my sleep.

While I was busy drawing Cael's locomotive, my husband was busy making some art of his own.  He grabbed some markers and gave the boys another shot of testosterone to grow new, much more voluminous, mustaches. 

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So if you were at the mall on Saturday and saw the crowd gathering, it's a safe bet that they were staring at us.  And just in case you missed, I'll be sure to let you know the next time we plan to attend the museum.

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Step right up to see the rare Bearded Toddlers!  And today only, the greatest oddity of them all-- the World's Strangest Father and the woman who loves him!  

Funnel cakes are in the next tent.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I Love You This Big

What is it about the sweetness of a sleeping child that makes you forget the atrocities of the previous day?  All of the assaults, thefts and possible arsons of the waking hours are but a memory as I tuck Cael and Graham into bed, and both of them know how to make the most of those quiet moments of individual attention.

When I carry Graham to his bed, he immediately begins spouting off his signature catch phrases that he has learned are helpful in securing extra cookies, an extra story, or maybe the starring role in a cheesy '80s sitcom.

"Okay, baby.  Let's go to bed!"

"I dream about YOU, Mama!"

"I will dream about you, too, Graham."

"No, no, no.  I dream about YOU."

"Okay.  But I will dream about you."

"NO!  No Mama dream.  I DREAM ABOUT YOU NOW."

Okay, so he has to work on his delivery a little bit.  But once in his bed, he is all kittens and puppy dogs as he begs for kisses and more hugs and to snuggle in bed in the morning for an early morning viewing of "Toy Story 3". 

But Cael... Cael's nighttime sweetness is an acquired taste.

I try to keep the routine the same each night lest Cael get disoriented and start wandering the house at night banging aluminum cans and rolls of toilet paper around in the bathtub at 3am.  So after we brush his teeth and use the potty, we climb into his bed and snuggle as we pray and talk about our day.  Cael's prayers frequently have a "Rain Man"-esque quality about them, detailing every move he made, every bite he ate as well as the size, color and consistency of every, well, you know.

But after the prayer is done, Cael is the picture of affection.

"Mommy, can I have a hug?"

"Of course.  (Hug)  Okay, time for you to go to sleep."

"But can I have a kiss?"

"Sure.  (Kiss)  I love you.  Goodnight."

"But Mommy, can I have another hug?  And another kiss?  And some water?"

Okay, so maybe his affectionate nature is just a strong desire to avoid going to bed.  But last night in particular, he found a way to demonstrate his love for me.  Sort of.

"I love you, Cael."

"I love you too.  But I love you a big lot."

"I love you all the way to the moon and back."

"I love you to the bottom of the stairs."

"I love you all the way around the sun."

"Mommy, I love you over there to the closet."

"You know, that's not really very far."

"Yes it is.  And I love you to the bottom of my bottom, too."

I guess that's pretty big.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Zip It!

I'd like to issue a public apology to the people of the Midwest.  It was I, in fact, who has been begging for snow for the last two months, and I feel partially (if not completely) responsible for the influx of snow we've had over the last week or two.

But secretly, I like it.  Winter just isn't winter without a blanket of soft, white snow to lighten the landscape and get me stuck sideways in the church parking lot.  Unfortunately, winter also isn't winter without cold and flu season.  Both of my boys are little germ factories that sputter and sneeze like the age-old cars of the college students that race about town.

Accompanying Graham's cough has been persistent croup, and the signature croup "seal-bark" cough has been keeping us, and him, and Cael up all night.  So on Monday I took Graham to see the doctor and secure a prescription for the most dreaded of all drugs-- Prednisone.

Back in September I rewrote the drug warnings for Prednisone to more accurately depict the side-effects.  While those warnings are as true today as they were then, this go-around Graham is the only Foreman boy on the medication and I am able to see how they respond differently.  While on the steroid, Cael exhibits wild physical responses while Graham, already a more emotional child, has mood swings so wide that he could drive their Gator right on through.

First he's happy because I gave him Cheerios.  Then he's sad because one fell on the floor and the dog ate it.  Then he's angry because he discovers that there are no more.  Lastly, he's laughing because his violent crying made him toot.

Basically, he's a pregnant woman.

But in the rare moments when he's not swinging from one emotional plane to another, he has shown us the silliest, strangest side of his budding personality.  At dinner on Wednesday night, he decided to talk back to Daddy and, thanks to a little extra forgiveness for his behavior, launched into a full-on "zip it" attack.

He's lucky he's cute.  And he's lucky he's medicated.

And I'm lucky that the bottle is empty. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Oops, He Did it Again

They say that history repeats itself. 

I don't know who these people are, but they are really on to something.  I have noticed history repeating itself repeatedly since I had kids.  For example, in October of 2007, I had one of the most beautiful babies that was ever born.

And then, mysteriously, I had an almost identical and equally as adorable baby in September of 2009.

Last June I woke one morning to discover that Cael had ransacked the house in an apparent effort to secure FEMA funds for some home improvements.  (Replacing the shower, perhaps?)  But after a thoughtfelt, mature conversation, he struck again.  And again.

And again.

In fact, my entire experience with parenting has been a series of events and activities repeated ad nauseam.

Wake up, do damage control from boys' early morning antics, change diaper, plunge toilet from Cael's toilet paper overuse, make breakfast, battle over breakfast, go downstairs to play and destroy basement, kill time until lunch, make lunch, battle over lunch, put kids down for naps, put kids back into bed for naps after escaping, kill time until dinner, make dinner, battle over dinner, give kids a bath, put on pajamas, kill time until bedtime, put kids to bed, battle over bedtime, and crash.

So it should have been no surprise to me when history repeated itself last week during Bampa's visit.  While I was bedridden with stomach flu and seriously questioning every food decision I'd made for the last 48 hours, Joel and Bampa took the boys out to give me some peace and quiet and the potential for rest.

I couldn't rest, of course, and instead watched a marathon of "Say Yes to the Dress" because I was too tired to locate the remote.  While I was reliving our wedding day, Joel and his Dad took Cael to the "haircut store" and cut his hair off.  CUT. HIS. HAIR. OFF.

I thought he needed a haircut.  I really did.  But I wanted to do it, or at the very least I wanted to be there.  The mere thought of his beautiful golden curls all over the floor makes me want to rip a big hole in a very expensive Vera Wang wedding gown. 

I felt that way one time before, and you may remember it as well.  Just a couple of months ago as Joel and I were shopping for Christmas gifts, he sneaked off with my youngest and had him buzzed as I perused the aisles, unknowingly, with Cael.

History repeating itself.

It should be said that Joel thought he was doing me a favor.  He knew that I wanted Cael's hair to be trimmed to fend off the increasing references to our "daughter" that we were fielding at restaurants and grocery stores.  And while his intentions were good, I found myself feeling the same way I did back in November.

So I think it's time to do Joel a favor.  He got his hair cut while my sweet boy was being sheared, so giving him the buzz isn't an option.  Perhaps I need to revisit history to find the perfect target for my retaliation.  Hmm...

Remember Herman?