Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I've heard before that the best reason to have a second child is to make up for the mistakes of the first, and I think there's some real merit to that theory.  For example, we knew to allow Graham to sleep in his crib from the very start rather than hold him all of the time as we had with Cael.  The nonstop "go to sleep" dance wore a path in our bedroom floor and shaved a good year or two off of my life expectancy.  We also learned that, for our children, fruit as a first food was a parenting misstep and guaranteed vegetable rejection down the road.  We offered up homemade "pea" baby food to Graham and it has remained one of his favorite foods to this day. 

But through all of our mistakes and in our infinite parenting wisdom, the best thing I ever did for Graham was to purchase a back-up Barker.

And now for a brief public service announcement:  I would advise all parents to take this step and ward off the nightly search and rescue effort when a stuffed animal is missing.  But do be sure to purchase them at the same time and follow a rotation to create even wear on both animals.  Because if you don't, your back-up who has been waiting idly for his moment in the spotlight will look shiny and new, while the well-loved friend will look worn down and deflated.  Here's a visual of my poorly executed Bloose duplicate in case you need further evidence.

This is your friend.

This is your friend on love.

 Any questions?  No?  Moving on.

You may remember the co-dependent nature of my boys' relationships with their stuffed friends.  Cael can't sleep without Bloose.  Barker doesn't leave Graham's side.  And Bloose and Barker themselves have gotten involved.  A little too involved.

But when Barker #1 went missing a couple of weeks ago, I checked the obvious spots.  Not in the toy basket.  Not under the couch.  Not behind the toilet.  I shrugged my shoulders and traipsed upstairs to retrieve his doppelganger and tuck Graham in, confident that he would go quickly to sleep clutching his blue dog.

All was well until last Friday when, at bedtime, Barker nĂºmero dos was unaccounted for as well.  Where had he gone?  Bloose was in Cael's bed, so we quickly ruled out a late night rendezvous under the pool table.  As we continued searching, I noticed that Bear and "Cheeky Monkey" were also missing in action.  As long as Barker is present, these friends are expendable.  But because his right-hand dog had gone AWOL, Graham mourned for each one of them, and it broke my heart.

I pulled him out of his bed and instructed him to tear apart his toy closet in case Barker and the gang had been thrown in the stuffed animal bin with his other less-loved friends.  While he sniffled and searched, I picked up some clean shirts off of the floor that Cael had crammed inside the closet rather than putting in his dresser drawer.  When I opened the drawer to put them away, I saw each of Graham's bedtime pals, snuggled amongst Cael's warmer weather clothes.

As I called Graham back to his room, I felt like a rock star.  Not in the wildly promiscuous/drug-induced head-shaving/two-day marriage kind of way, but more like the "I kick bottom" kind of way.  And as amazing as I felt, Graham saw me in an even more glorious light.  He looked up at me, eyes sparkling by the nightlight, and said, "Mama!  You find mine friends!"

I tucked him under his covers and he held each one tightly and told me their story.

"Bubbut (Barker) is happy.  Bear is funny.  Cheety Muntey is stinky!"

We laughed together and Graham rejoiced in his friends' return.  Forty-five minutes later, when it was time for Cael to go to bed, I tucked him under his covers like I'd done for Graham not long before.


"Yeah?"  I whispered.

"I want to tell you about my friends like Graham did."

"Okay, but be very quiet."

"Puppy is goofy.  And Bear is kind of mad.  But Bloose is very, very naughty."

"Why is he naughty?"

"Because he hid Graham's friends in my dresser and told me not to say anything."

"Oh really?  I think Bloose might have had some help doing that.  What do you think?"

"I guess so."

"And who do you think was the helper?"

"Back-up Bloose.  He's even naughtier than first Bloose."

On second thought, stick to a blanket.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Best Medicine

When I woke up yesterday, I was sick.

By noon, Cael was sick.

At bedtime, Graham was sick.

Our house is a petrie dish of germs that each of us seems to pass to the next irritable, achey, not hungry sneeze factory that passes by.

But it's not all bad.

When Cael awoke from his nap with a relatively high fever, I buried him into the pillows on my bed for what turned into a movie marathon while I did some housework.  As soon as Graham rose from his nap with the same telltale watery eyes, I tucked him in alongside Cael.  They nuzzled up against each other while they watched "The Polar Express".  And "Tangled".  And "The Lion King".  And "Cars".  I peeked in on them and smiled as they shimmied closer together and patiently waited on them when they begged for medicine and blankets.

As soon as I was done with my to-do list, I squeezed between the two and tried to savor the sensation of holding both of my boys; knowing that they still needed me and longed for me to provide comfort.  In that moment, all was forgiven.  Every time they said things to me in anger and every time I was treated like a maid was nothing but a memory.

And then Graham sneezed and shot a booger across the bed that landed on my forehead.

Oh, well.  You win some, you lose some.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Losing My Marbles

It's Monday morning, and I'm sick. 

I think I've come down with one of those when-the-heck-will-it-be-spring colds that is potent enough to make me feel like I'm talking with a trash can over my head, but weak enough to prevent me from waiving the white flag of surrender and going back to bed.  I'd really like to, but I know how these kids behave when I'm not looking.  And I really don't want another house flood or for the boys to conjur up any long-dead spirits.

As is the case with most Mondays, the boys are restless and bored with the lack of entertainment and activity taking place at the house.  If I were feeling better, I might have more ambition to provide an activity that would captivate their attention, but every time I go out of my way to do so, it seems to backfire.

For example, a few weeks ago, I gave in and decided to let the kids play in the backyard during an unseasonable warm stretch for late January.  Aside from my kids' extremely low tolerance for extreme heat or cold, we don't play outside often this time of year because the melting snow creates a mud and slush pit so intense that the WWF would very quickly send out a bus load of scantily-clad women to roll around in it.

Why can't us ladies ever catch a break?

When I set them free in the yard, they immediately gravitated toward the muddiest spot available, dragging their boots, coats and hands throughout the sludge. 

"Mama!  Dirt here!"  Graham yelled as he held up a pile of mud across the yard.

"Nope, that's poop!"

So much for outdoor play.

Other sources of entertainment seem to yeild a similar result.  If I set up the pop-up tents and tunnels for the boys to build and explore, I can guess with great accuracy that, within 8 minutes, either the dog or the cat will be trapped within its polyester walls and subjected to experimental procedures involving tongue extraction or crimped whiskers.

With this playtime history, I shouldn't have expected perfect behavior from Cael and Graham when I pulled out one of my favorite toys from childhood, Marbleworks.  We purchased a similar set for the boys when Cael was Graham's age, but not suprisingly, the quality of the newer and flashier set paled in comparison to the sturdy contruction of Marbleworks.  Even the box reminds me of my house and when I hold it, I can see where it sat on the shelf in my basement.

I pulled the pieces out and assembled a structure that would be sturdy enough to withstand being pelted with marbles like a tornadic hail storm, and I sat back to supervise and make sure the dog didn't eat any marbles.

After a few minutes, however, my Dad arrived after picking up my repaired computer (hallelujah!) and we chatted for a few moments before he left and I returned to the living room and noticed that something was different.  The boys stood still and looked at each other, trying to devise a way to play with the toy sans marbles.

"Where are the marbles?"

"By the couch."

"I don't see them.  Are the under the couch?"


"Show me where you put them."

Cael started peeling the cushions off the sofa before I realized that they had not only shoved the marbles under the cushions, but forced them back so far that they fell behind the coil innards of the furniture and were suspended below the couch by the fabric that covered the underside.

"This is unbelieveable.  Why would you put the marbles in there?"

"The marbles were popcorn.  'Member that time we had popcorn and I put it in the cushions?"

"Unfortunately, yes." 

I guess I can add watching a movie to the list of forbidden activities.

I flipped the couch over and retrieved a pair of scissors to slice open the protective fabric and reach inside to blindly locate the lost marbles amongst an obstacle course of sharp coils and rough-edged wood.  I excised as many as I could and sealed the sofa up again, deconstructed the marble tower and stowed the pieces away in the box. 

I collapsed on a chair, tired out and mentally exhausted from the most recent of a string of fiascoes, ready to relax.

"Mommy, can we paint with our fingers and our tummies?"

Fat chance.  I didn't lose all of my marbles...

Friday, February 24, 2012

iDeath Notice

Perhaps I cracked too many jokes at my kids' expense.  Or maybe I tempted fate by promising not to miss any more days this week after Monday's Presidents' Day debacle.  Who knows.

The only thing I'm sure of is that I am paying the price for some unknown sin today, as I type to you on a borrowed laptop that sits on the desk that once cradled my beloved iMac.  She rests entombed, unceremoniously, in a large cardboard box; her cord wrapped around her neck and her screen as dark as our grieving hearts.

There's really only one thing left to do.

iMac Foreman, age 1.75

iMac Foreman passed away on the afternoon of February 22, 2012 after a brief and unknown illness.  She was beloved by all who knew her.

iMac was born in an overseas factory in early 2010 and at an early age, was adopted by an Iowa couple, Joel and Mary Foreman, the following May.  iMac displayed a strong aptitude for graphic design, music and file storage, and delighted everyone with her big and bright screen.  Over the next year and a half, she continued to process a great amount of data, and enjoyed spending time with her companions, iPhone and iPad.

On Saturday, February 18, iMac began acting very lethargic and displayed other symptoms such as the "spinning wheel", freezing pages and error messages.  After rallying for several days, iMac froze completely and her hard drive was pronounced "unable to be fixed" by the disk utility diagnostic feature.

Preceeding her in death are a string of lesser computers, one iPhone, a Sony CD player, several missing television remotes and a large bin of tangled and mismatched cable cords.  iMac leaves behind two brothers, Cael and Graham, as well as a household full of electronic devices and small appliances.

The body will be transferred to a certified Apple service provider where iMac will undergo a complex hard drive transplant.  Service times have yet to be determined.  In lieu of flowers, the family is accepting donations of food, money or free babysitting hours.

Our hearts will go on.  RIP, iMac.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ism of the Week

It is with a heavy heart that I retire the "Caelism of the Day".  But let's face it-- I'm only posting an "ism" once a week anyway, and Graham's vocabulary is increasing daily from the Joey Lawrence-inspired "whoa" that he was balking when I began this blog.  So from now on, you can look forward to the "Ism of the Week" and the often ill-advised ramblings of either Cael or Graham.

Or you can dread it.  I sometimes do.
And speaking of dreaded things, the unthinkable has happened.  My computer has crashed in a most grandiose fashion, and encased within it are all of the photos of my children, every video ever taken and a lot of blog archives that, depending the sense of humor of whoever may get ahold of them, could land me a book deal or get my children confiscated by CPS.  Cross your fingers for me.

So, to christen the new "Ism of the Week" feature of the blog, enjoy Cael's commentary on my technological debacle.

"I'm bored.  Can I watch 'Thomas the Train'?"

"Cael, I can't put Thomas on for you because Netflix isn't working.  The computer is broken, so I can't get wireless internet."

"But I want to watch it!"

"I'm sorry.  But there are lots of other things to do.  Sometimes I like to draw a picture, or build a fort.  I always love to read a book, too."

"I know what I want to do!"

"Okay, what?"

"I want to eat ice cream and watch TV in your bedroom.  You always like to do that, right?"

Wound.  Salt.  Rub. 

I'm ready for the weekend.  Anybody with me?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rain Boy

Cael never ceases to amaze me. 

I understand that this is old news since I've been typing nearly nonstop about his escapades since last May.  But one of my favorite things about Cael, aside from his spirited style and all-knowing smirk, is his ability to completely shock me even after more than four years.

Sometimes I'm shocked by the inventive ways he disobeys me.  Sometimes I'm shocked when, in an uncharacteristic act of valor, he chooses NOT to disobey me.  Sometimes I'm shocked that a four year-old boy can fit inside my smaller-than-standard refrigerator.

What surprised me most recently was Cael's savant-like memory.  He is frequently asking if I remember the details of random and nonspecific events like "that time that we did that thing" and I am frequently shocked at my own ability to decipher that code and answer back with responses like, "Yes, I remember.  But don't even ask to go there again.  They probably still haven't gotten figured out how to get your wooden train our of that urinal drain."

But that's just part of being a mom.

I never expected that motherhood would find me being schooled by my son about specific and unimportant events from his past.  Just last night, as we pulled out of the driveway to make a quick trip into town, Cael totally weirded us out with his unnatural memory of a similar jaunt that took place early last fall.

"Daddy?  Do you remember that time we drove the motorhome into town and got ice cream?"

"Yep, I remember that."

"Remember how Mommy said that Graham and I could each pick a toy to bring?"

"Yeah, I guess." 

"And you remember how I brought my tiny Thomas and Graham brought the tractor?  Not the green one but the orange one?

"Uh, not really."

"And Daddy, we went to the ice cream store and you got the ice cream inside and brought it out to the motorhome and Graham and I had our little ice cream and you and Mommy had your own ice cream and when we were all done we went to Walmart and got some stuff and we got back in the camper and you drove us home in it and it was so funny?"

Fizzling fireboxes.
  This kid has superpowers.

Cael has offered up these sorts of details before, describing events that I would swear never took place.  But each time, either as an epiphany during our conversation or while browsing through old photos two weeks later, I come to discover that Cael was right all along.  He did ride an airplane "that one time" and he did climb inside a tree "at that place".

But I had to challenge my little memory keeper this time.  Once he started quoting the instructions I'd given him about riding in the Airstream, I concluded that either he'd been watching movie clips of that night that I didn't remember taking, or I needed to put a call in to Tom Cruise to help take care of the newest Rain Man. 

"Cael, what kind of ice cream did you have?"

"I don't remember."

Hah.  I knew it couldn't last. 

"You guys shared some vanilla."  Joel offered up.

"No, Daddy."

"Well then what was it?"  I questioned.

"I still don't remember."

Satisfied that my son still had a shot at a normal life, I dropped the subject until this morning, when I remembered a detail of that day and, on a whim, asked Cael if he remembered too.

"Do you remember what you wore when we got ice cream?"

"My red shirt.  And Graham wore his peejees.  The ones with the penguins, not the Elmo ones."

He can't be human.  Not human.  No, definitely not human.  Definitely not.

I wish I could say that Cael's superhuman gift has led to a wealth of memories; advice and lessons to teach him how to behave and how to navigate the world as he grows.  But like most extraordinary minds, he is not able to filter out the important details from the white noise.

And unfortunately for Cael, the important details could lead to his success in life, while the "static" is mostly fart noises and snippets of "Thomas the Train". 

Poor guy never stood a chance.



"I had my own."

"What are you talking about?"

"That night that we drive the motorhome.  Graham and I had our own ice cream.  But there was no cone, just a bowl.  And I didn't have to share with Graham.  But it wasn't really a bowl-- it was one if those lids like the one you had on your ice cream.  And I ate all of mine before Graham because he was playing with the pillows and you......"

Definitely extraordinary.  Yes.  Definitely extraordinary.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hail to the Chief

My apologies, friends.  Yesterday did not reflect my best work.  In fact, my lack of posting reflected no work.  I wish I could say that I was too occupied training for a marathon, or pursuing my dream of riding a diving horse in Atlantic City circa 1930.

But the truth is, I just plain forgot.

I thought about claiming this oversight as merely my observance of President's Day, but the one conversation I had about the holiday didn't go so well.

"Why doesn't Amy have to go to work today?"

"Because it's President's Day."

"What is that?"

"Today was George Washington's birthday.  He was our first president."

"He was my first present?"

"No, he was our country's first president."

"What's a president?"

"The president is the person that makes all of the decisions about the country.  He is the boss of the country, just like Mommy and Daddy are the bosses of our house."

"All of the presidents are having a birthday today?"

"Nope, just Washington.  But someone decided that it's a good day to celebrate all of the presidents." 

"Is Amy going to their birthday party?"

"No, she gets the day off so that she can remember them." 

"Are they all dead?"

"Most of them are, because some of them lived a very long time ago.  But there are some that are still alive.  You remember us talking about President Obama, right?  He's alive." 


"Obama.  He's our president right now.  He's the country's boss.  He decides what we should do just like I decide what you eat and how you should behave." 

"I think Obaba wants me to play the jumping game on your phone."

I think he's the stealthiest politician of them all.

So rather than running or horse jumping, we had a lazy day at home.  And while bathtime and "hide-and-go-seek" may not register in importance on a presidential level, they are hot-button issues in my jurisdiction.  I think my constituents approved of the day off, but don't worry-- I'll be back tomorrow.

Cael put in an executive order.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Going Viral

It's been relatively quiet around here this week as we recover from the V-day festivities and begin the slow countdown to spring break.  I've kept the house relatively clean, stayed on the top of the laundry and even gotten a few jaunts on the treadmill.
For those of you about ready to click on over to Pinterest because you aren't interested in my gloating, please wait.  This is not my opportunity to brag about my accomplishments, rather it is an opportunity for me to rationalize the unhealthy amount of time I've wasted on the internet this week.

I've wasted a LOT of time on the internet this week. 

There, I said it.  And one of the biggest things I have noticed is the abundance of memes (small pictures imitating social or popular cultural behaviors) and humorous images plastering the walls of Pinterest and Facebook.

None of them really pertain to me, however.  So on this slow Friday, I thought I would contribute to the phenomenon and create a few of my own.

What about you?  Have you noticed this new phenomenon?  Have you made any yourself?  Are you lusting over Ryan Gosling?  I'll be enjoying a lazy weekend and I hope yours will be great also.  Or are you planning to play some "Bejeweled"?  I hear it's addictive...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Caelism of the Day

As we sat at the dining room table, two parties' worth of valentines and six cavities' worth of candy splayed out before us, Cael contemplated the holiday.

"Mommy, why did I get so much candy?"

"It's a tradition to pass out valentines to your friends and anyone you love.  A lot of people give candy, but not everyone."

"Why you didn't give me a valentine?"

Because less than two months ago I broke the bank on a bounty of junk that you don't touch anymore and I'll be expected to provide you with an additional plethora of treats in less than two more months.  You can eat leftover chocolate.  I think we still have some from your birthday.  

And Halloween.  

And Christmas.

"I did draw you a valentine train, and you got to do some special things like meeting Daddy for lunch, remember?"

"But you didn't give me candy."

"You don't think you have enough candy here?"

"Nope.  I need more candy.  I want to eat candy for lunch and dinner and supper and my snack."

"What about breakfast?"

"For breakfast I want french toast sticks."


"Well then maybe I'll get you some french toast sticks for Valentine's Day next year."

"Really, Mommy?  I guess you love me a lot."

"I do.  Do you love me?"

"Yep, I do."

"What will you get me for Valentine's Day next year?"


"You won't get me any french toast sticks?"

"Nope, you don't need that.  We have too much candy here already."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In Plain Sight

You know the kind of day that has you looking at the clock every five minutes, willing it to be bedtime?  It goes like this.

Is it 8:00 yet?
2:33pm.  Crap.

I feel like I'm not only waist-deep in one of those days, or weeks, rather, but I think this just might be an is-it-over-yet kind of year.  While I must admit that Cael's behavior has improved lately (although incrementally), I also have to admit that Graham has been letting his "terrible two" flag fly. 

And man, oh man, is he patriotic.

It's like a switch was flipped inside his brain.  If I didn't know any better, I'd guess that he was menopausal, violently swinging from one emotional extreme to the next.  He's also stripping off his pants at every opportunity which I'm guessing is the result of a hot flash of some sort.

While he is an equal-opportunity tantrum-thrower and will execute a perfect meltdown in any environment, Graham's specialty is to erupt in anger right before we are ready to go somewhere.  Anywhere, really.  And if he knows that we are about to depart the house, the only hope for success is distraction. 

Sometimes a snack will work.

Sometimes a toy will work.

As Cael learned, smacking him on top of the head with a metal fireplace tool will NEVER work.

But thankfully, playing "hide and seek" will ALWAYS work.

So last week, as we were waiting for our day care friend to be picked up and for us to head out for dinner, I saw the look of terror coming over Graham's face.  I grabbed his bio-identical hormones and offered up the idea of playing "hide and seek" in an effort to offset the inevitable.

When the boys play the game amongst themselves, there seem to be two unwritten rules.  First, when one hides, he must make as much noise as possible and eliminate the element of surprise.  Second, and most importantly, they must hide in the same spot.  Every.  Single.  Time.

To switch things up, I offered to hide and let them find me, thinking that my size would limit my potential hiding spots so considerably that the game would be easy and over quickly.  I was wrong.  Perhaps it is the hormones, but both Graham and Cael seemed completely oblivious to my presence as they trotted around the living room and kitchen, often passing right by me.

I started in the closet, but that was way too hard.  I had to act as my very own homing beacon and emit tiny "psst!" sounds to clue them in to my whereabouts.  

Next I tried hiding behind the open front door.  The window was at a perfect level for me to watch as the dog and cat both tried to rat me out, but neither boy seemed to notice.

Perhaps I was trying too hard.  I moved the boys' toy basket and crammed myself into a tiny space below our bookshelves.  Surely they would see me immediately when they came out of the bathroom, where they were counting.

"One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Seven, Ten, Eleventeen!  Ready or not, here we are!"


Joel and I had a hard time keeping a straight face as the boys would look right in my direction and then ask if I was in the oven.  If my pasty-white hands weren't noticeable in the crawlspace, surely my entire body would be noticeable... on the counter?

While the boys counted, I practiced my planking and awaited the giggles I'd hear from Cael and Graham as they discovered my silly positioning.  But the only giggles I heard were coming from Joel, since the boys did not see me, even at point-blank range.  In fact, it seemed like the more obvious my hiding spot, the harder I was to find.

When I jumped down from the counter, the boys' faces were priceless.  And even though they didn't find me without hints from Mommy and Daddy, we had a good time and Graham hardly noticed that our friend had been picked up and the shoes were begin gathered in preparation for our departure. 

"Okay, Graham!  It's time to go!"


If you need me, I'll be hiding on the counter...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Market Meltdown

I'd like to take this opportunity to issue an overdue public apology. 

Dear Anyone-in-my-local-grocery-store-last-Wednesday-after-my-children-attended-a-sugar-laden-Valentine-party, 

I'm so very sorry for the scene that unfolded within the aisles of the supermarket.  I take full responsibility and ownership of the emotional and auditory damage that may have been done due to my son's screaming, crying and general state of whininess.  I made the poor decision to allow my children to push the "tiny cart", and I now understand that all of you were forced to pay the price.

Photo from Gary's website.
I do not, however, take responsibility for the actions that took place.  For example, it was not me that chose to pull seven boxes of tampons and pads off of the shelf in the toiletry aisle.  Similarly, it was not me that stashed said boxes in the cart of an older gentleman shopping for toothpaste.

Sir, you deserve a special apology for this unique form of embarrassment that came courtesy of Graham.

"Graham, tell the man you're sorry."

"Sorry, Man!  Sorry, POOP!" 

As you can tell, we're all really broken up about this.

I would also like it to be known that I was not the person (or persons) responsible for shaking various items and then throwing them on the floor in the dairy section.  I am perfectly satisfied with the consistency of your butter, yogurt and, ahem... eggs.

I would like all of you to know that I did do my best to contain the situation and leave the store as quickly as possible.  I selected my grocery items and made way to the registers to be checked out, but Cael decided that he was in great mortal need of some chocolate ice cream and, despite my pleas to follow directions, both children took off toward the freezer section to commit any number of atrocities before I was able to contain them.

You might want to check for some feminine napkins hidden amongst your Lean Cuisines.

Lastly, we owe the largest apology to the young clerk who patiently waited for me to pay for my items while I was, instead, physically dragging my youngest across the tile floor from where he tried to escape through the automatic doors.  Thank goodness you had that ATM in the lobby to keep Cael occupied.  Good call.

During future visits, I will do my best to more adequately restrain my children while shopping.  (Do you sell rope?)  I will also make a concerted effort to have my fly zipped up as well.

Yours truly,
Mary Foreman

PS- That smell wasn't coming from me either.