Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Story Time

"Cael, I tell you a story."

"Okay, Graham."

"It's a story.  I a big, big bear and you is a birdy.  And, and, and... you is flying up in the sky really high, and I'm a big bear, so I jump up into that sky and catch you with my teeth.  My teeth is SHARP!  And purple!  I have purple teeth!"

"Wait, Graham.  Can I have green teeth?"

"NO!  Birds don't have green teeth.  Only bears has purple teeth!"

"Jeez.  Fine."

"So I jump high in the sky and gets you in my teeth.  I not eat you, because you taste yucky.  You tastes like potatoes.  I don't like potatoes, but I like peas and corn.  And candy!  Cael, do you like M&Ms? or potatoes?"

"I like M&Ms!  But I like potatoes, too.  But I don't like peas and corn.  Those are yucky.  I like pizza."

"I not like pizza... bears don't do that."

"So where did I go after you didn't eat me?"

"What?!  You silly, Cael."

"In your story, Graham."

"OH!  I not eat you, so you flied away and got a mountain lion!  And the mountain lion was stinky like poop because it eated potatoes.  And the mountain lion catched you and ate you and it was gross and you had blood."



"And did you cry?"


"Did I cry?"

"No.  You was dead."

The end.

Monday, July 30, 2012

How to Change a Diaper

The other day I thought, since I'm so incredibly skilled in parenting, that I really should put out a series of how-to books or instructional videos with step-by-step directions for basic childcare.  And I know that there are thousands of child-rearing texts out there, but mine would be different because my test subjects are so unusual.  Think "Encyclopedia Brittanica"/"For Dummies"/"The Bartender's Black Book".

A best seller, I'm sure.

But before I launch into another business venture, I thought it might be a good idea to break down the task into six easy steps that even the most cynical parent can follow.

Step One:  Remove child's pants.

Translation:  Chase down child.  Pin child to ground using knees and/or elbows.  Curse yourself for choosing pants for your child that fasten with snaps rather than elastic, allowing them additional time to escape.  Yank down pants with one hand while retaining your vicegrip with the other. 

Step Two:  Remove soiled diaper.

Translation:  Watch out.  Just because the kid isn't a baby or liable to pee on you anymore doesn't mean you can't get dirty.  If you have any joint injuries, ask for assistance before grasping the child's ankles as they may twist and wriggle like Houdini in a straight jacket. 

Step Three:  Wipe child's skin until clean.

Translation:  A good rule of thumb is to count how many times the foul diaper content makes you gag and pull out the same number of wipes.  Wiping from front to back and breathing through your nose, remove as much of the waste as possible before resorting to the sprayer setting on the kitchen sink.   

Step Three Point Five:  Wipe again.

Translation:  As you reach for the clean diaper, you may have the unfortunate experience of discovering an errant swipe of poop on your hand.  Perhaps you didn't hold on tightly enough, but most likely, your child has been eating too many doughnuts and not enough bananas.  Either way, resist the urge to wipe it on the wall or back on the child.  Gag.  Get another wipe and clean it up.

Step Four:  Put clean diaper on child.

Translation:  Spend fifteen minutes alternating between wrestling said child and trying to rationalize reasons why he or she should stay still.  Contemplate your own sanity for trying to be rational with a child still in diapers.  Accept inevitable conclusion that the child may never be rational as long as they are living (and pooping) in your home.  Pull the diaper tabs into place.  Sit back. 

Step Four Point Five:  Diaper is on backward and/or inside out.

Translation:  Repeat step four.  Rip out three large chunk of your own hair and then call to make an appointment with a therapist in your area.

Step Five:  Redress child. 

Translation:  Beg the child to put his pants back on as if he were a teenage boy.  Suffer through panic attack at the realization that, in a short time, the child will be, in fact, a teenage boy.  Research vasectomies on the internet. 

Step Six:  Give up and let child run around half-naked. 

Translation:  They're only small once.  Clap like crazy when they throw the diaper away.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Getting Out of Dodge

We're taking advantage of our last few days of summer to take a weekend trip with some friends, leaving the kids behind.  I have figured that if I tune the TV to "Thomas the Train" and set out a few bowls with candy, we can make it three days before they start to notice that we're not around.  Wish them luck!

 Or better yet, wish my sister luck.  I owe her BIG.

See you all on Monday.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Young At Heart

I'm a really light sleeper, something that until I had children I felt was a curse rather than a blessing.  Once a parent, my mind was at ease knowing that I would not miss any newborn cries during the night because even a tiny sniffle would jolt me upright from a dead sleep, a behavior that has continued until this day.  You can imagine how difficult a night's sleep can be with two noisy boys and a husband that likes to shout out what sounds like broken German in his very heavy, deep sleep.

Maybe it is a curse after all.

But the burden of being a light sleeper has fallen on my children as well.  Both of them are slow to fall asleep and quick-- very quick-- to wake from as little as a hiccup from his brother.  So when I put Cael in bed for his nap yesterday afternoon, only to stub my toe on his dresser and jostle Graham from his slumber, I had no choice but to stash Cael away in a different bed so that Graham could go back to sleep.

I grudgingly ushered Cael back upstairs and into my bed before he discovered that Bloose had been left behind.  Sure, I probably could have gone back down to retrieve him, but there is direct correlation between the number of times I sneak into their room and the number of minutes shaved off of my already limited "free time", so I assured Cael that Bloose would be fine on his own for one nap.

Cael, on the other hand, was not.

He begged for Bloose.  He pleaded.  I refused to get him simply on principle because I wouldn't give in to his tantrum.  Finally, we reached a compromise that I would locate some other stuffed animal for him to snuggle that could serve as a suitable alternative until he and Bloose were reunited.

Just as I began to head downstairs, I remembered that I had a small stuffed lamb in my closet that Joel had gotten for me from a small shop during my first visit to Seattle after our freshman year of college.  I saw it, said it was cute, he bought it without me seeing, and since I was just 18 I thought that it was just the greatest thing, like, ever in the history boys buying gifts for girls.

So when I pulled out the lamb, Cael gawked at me in shock that I, a grown woman, would have a stuffed lamb in my walk-in closet.  Bet he'd be really surprised to know that I have half of his future Christmas presents tucked away in there too.

"What else do you have in there, Mommy?!"

Uh oh.  I could see his gears turning and knew that he was reevaluating all of his previous ideas of what make children different from adults.

"Do you have toys in there?"

"Nope, just my clothes and shoes and some other stuff."

"But you had a lamb!"

"Yeah, I had a special animal in there." 

"Aren't special animals just for kids, Mommy?"

"Usually, honey.  But I like to keep this one."

"Do you like to play with him when you wake up in the morning, too?"

"No, I like to sleep in the morning."  Remember sleep?

"Do you think toots and poop are funny like I do?"

"No, I never think that's funny.  Just bad manners."

"Do you go to preschool?"

"I'm way too old for that.  Do you really think I am in preschool?"

"No, but you like stuffed animals, so maybe."

And then, his proudest moment.

"Mommy, do you wear a diaper?"

With that, I tucked him in my bed with my lamb and plopped down on the couch for some much-earned peace and quiet. 

"Mommy, you never answered me about the diaper!"

Ugh.  My lamb and I might need a stiff drink and some Melatonin before bed tonight.  If all goes well, I'll be the one speaking German in my sleep. 

Gute nacht.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Medical Malpractice

We have too many toys.  And like most children, my boys seem to take more interest in a toy's packaging than in playing with the item itself, so once the thin cardboard and shrink wrapping are completely shredded and halfway through the dog's digestive tract, we are left with a huge pile of neglected toys.

Finally, I enacted the "bait and switch", which is not only an effective tactic for entertaining your kids but also an excuse to blatantly lie to them under the guise of their best interests.  All this really involves is a good 30 minutes when the kids are sleeping, one really big box, and a shelf tall enough that the kids can't see in.  Put a third of their junk in the box and pretend like it never existed for a few months, and when you replace those items a few months later, they'll completely forget that you lied because they are so excited to see their army men/airplane/scrap of cardboard from the storage box.

With this cycle in mind, I very carefully removed some hidden toys from the Hoarders headquarters storage room and replaced them with items that have lost their playtime potential and have been treated more like you'd expect an actual scrap of cardboard to be received. 

One of the reintroduced toys was a small doctor's kit that Cael had received last year at his birthday.  The stethoscope disappeared shortly after it's inaugural use and was later located, encased in poop, in the backyard, signaling that it met a very unhealthy end, ironically enough.

But with the other pieces intact,  Cael and Graham donned their white jackets and launched into complex medical procedures on the furniture, the pets, and finally themselves, demonstrating for me their complete lack of education in human biology.

"Cael, I cut your tummy! 

"Okay, Graham.  Use the knife from the toolbench!"

See how nicely they've integrated their toys?

"I fix your stomach.  I fix your tummy next to your brain."

Disregarding the fact that one's brain is, in fact, not located in one's abdomen, Graham launched into a full-out surgical adventure, pretending to fist through Cael's innards until he claimed to have found "a germ and two Little People".  One big piece of Scotch tape closed him up and Cael was released with a clean bill of health.  But the procedures weren't complete. 

"Otay.  Now you fix me, Cael!"

"Lay down, Graham.  Here's some medicine."

 And with that, he plunged the fake syringe into Graham's foot and threw his head back in an evil cackle.

"That's right, Graham.  Lay still.  This shot is gonna make you a better kid."

I'll take a case, please.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ism of the Week

"Okay, Graham.  It's time for bed."

"Momma?  Can you snuddle me?"

"Of course... scoot over."

"Can you give me a tiss?"

"Yep, plant one on me!  I love you, Bubba."

"Mommy?  I wuv you."

"Oh, you're so sweet.  I 'wuv' you too."

"But I not like your hair."

"You don't like my hair?  Why not?"

"It's not nice hair."

"Oh, that makes me sad.  I like your hair."

"Yes.  I have good hair."

"You do.  And it's very soft.  My hair is different, but it hurts my feelings that you don't like it."

"Yes.  I not like it."

"Oh, alright.  Well, I'm sorry you don't like it."

"I don't.  Now say 'sorry'."

"I don't need to say 'I'm sorry', because I didn't do anything to make you sad."

"Yes you did.  You had bad hair."

"Goodnight, Graham.  I love you."

"Night, Mommy.  Bye bye, not nice hair!"

Monday, July 23, 2012

Shooting Fish in a Barrel

You know that I'm not an outdoorsy girl.  While I make no bones about this, I have been trying to incorporate a few more UV rays into my lifestyle for the sake of my kids.  The little heathens just can't get enough of that irritating "sunshine" and "clean air".
They (and Joel) are obviously better people than I am, and clearly have more well-rounded interests and less pasty skin.  But for all of their wisdom and all of my short-comings, each of these attempts I make further reinforces my opinion that I belong inside the house.  With air conditioning.  Eating ice cream.  Watching the Bachelorette.  (Hooray, TeamJef!)

See?  They're so much better than I am.

But I put my feelings aside on Saturday and loaded the boys into the car so that they could go fishing.  I knew that this activity was a little beyond Graham's ability, but I didn't want to leave him out and I did want to be there to document their excursion.

As soon as we got to the lake, we scouted out a perfect spot that was not only covered with copious amounts of goose poop, but atop a small hill riddled with large rocks and an unstable surface.  You know, the perfect place for a stress-free evening with two inquisitive maniacs with poor balance and a disregard for their own safety.

They tripped.  They covered their faces with dirt and worm guts.  They got tangled in fishing line.  I turned my back and found Cael with his pants around his knees.

After raising the water level, the fishing gear was finally put to use.  Joel dropped a line in for Cael and within seconds, he felt a bite.  Moments later, his first fish was caught.

And within five minutes, nearly as many more fish were captured.

It seems that we stumbled upon a bluegill nest so saturated with fish that it was more of a challenge not to hook one of the little swimmers than to pull one in.

Everyone got in on the action, and even I set aside my girlish ways to cast a line into the bluegill "promised land", although I didn't want to remove from the fish's grasp because it was so, like, totally gross... and wet... and "fishy".

Joel was much more manly, however.

Only a short time into our outdoor adventure, both boys launched into a rock/stick/goose-poop-throwing challenge that I unsuccessfully attempted to squelch.  When a rock grazed my forehead, I plopped Graham down in a sling chair, only to find that while his body could be contained, his irritation with me could not. 

I spun around just quick enough to see my iPhone, the small rectangular device that holds my entire life together, being chucked out of anger toward the lake and landing, hard, on the rocks mere feet from the water's edge.

You can mess with me, or ridicule my blog or say whatever you want about my frizzy, overcolored hair.  But you do not-- DO NOT submerge my iPhone in a lake where my son has just peed.  

I turned on Graham and gave him a death glare (sans words, because at that point none were needed to make my point) that registered anger greater than when he vomited popcorn down my shirt but admittedly less than when Cael dove the motorhome.  Graham erupted into a fit of tears upon realizing his mistake, and I reminded myself exactly why I'm an indoor girl.

But if I hadn't gone, I would have missed the looks of pure excitement and joy on their faces as they reeled in their catches.  I would have missed their giggles and explorations.

I would have missed kisses cooled by the breeze from the lake.

I would have missed this.

And there's no app for that.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ism of the Week

"Mommy?  Mommy?  Mom!  Mommy!  Hey Momma!  Mommy!  Mom.  Mom.  Mom.  Mommy!  Mommy!  It's me, Mommy!  Mom!  Momma... Mommy!  Talk to me, Mommy!"

"What is it, Graham?!"

"Shh, Mommy, I'm watching a show."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Very Punny

My Dad is well-known for his unique ability to wilt a room with his bad puns.  They're well executed, granted, but as all puns strive to do, his elicit groans and shaken heads as effortlessly as Graham can with one blast of gas.

In fact, Joel's first real experience spending time with my Dad without me took place the summer before our senior year of college, and while on their way into town to get a bite to eat, Papa hit my future husband with the first of many puns.

"See that over there?" Dad asked as he motioned to the municipal airport down the street.  On the horizon, Joel could see the remnants of the large air show that had concluded the day before.  All that remained were parking signs and some partially disassembled white tents.

"You know what they call it when they take everything down?"

"What?" Joel asked, not realizing that he was on the cusp of an unfortunate discovery about my family.

"Past tents."


He still married me, obviously, so he's a pretty forgiving guy.  And as much as he'd probably want me to maintain his privacy, I have to admit that he has been known to engage in a few pun battles himself.  While he's good, however, no one can beat the master. 

Except maybe Cael.

This morning, when Papa stopped by for a quick morning visit on his way to the store, Cael lead him to the kitchen to show him a craft project he'd completed at vacation bible school last night.

"Look, Papa!  I gave the bug three eyes!!"

"That's very silly."

Although tickled by the prospect of having three eyes, Cael understood the improbability of that outcome and looked for an alternative place to stick the googly eye.

"I can put it on his arm.  Or on his tummy.  Ooh Papa, I'm going to stick it on his bottom!"

And then it happened.

"You know what that is, Cael?  Hindsight."

Dear Lord, please let this not be genetic.  Amen.

"Papa, what is hindsight?"

"It's when you remember things clearly that happened in the past."

"Oh, okay.  Hindsight is remembering that when I put an eye on a bug's bottom, you say something weird and Mommy laughs at you.  Got it."

And I think he really does.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Best Laid Plans

(Hope you didn't miss me yesterday!  Technical difficulties wouldn't let me upload my post, but I seem to be up and running today!)

I am so tired of being awakened at ten minutes to six in the morning.  I'm so tired of traipsing around the house to queue up various movies by the hazy light of dawn in the bleary-eyed hope that I can milk another fifteen minutes of sleep out of the arrangement. 

I guess I'm just plain tired.

And while I'm perfectly content with sleeping until 9am, my little tyrants are less than accommodating.  So most days, when one of them wakes up and is incapable of functioning while his brother is unconscious and the noise level in the house is below 100 decibels, he rouses the other and, as a team, they awaken me from a dead sleep in the most jarring manner possible.

Sometimes they jump on me, concentrating on joints and my bladder.  Sometimes I get hit in the head with a hard plastic toy (never a stuffed animal).  Sometimes my brain jumps to life at the sound of large amounts of splashing water or the doorbell being rung by an elusive four year-old wearing nothing but dinosaur underpants.

No matter how they did it, it needed to stop.

My first choice was to chain them into the bedroom using some sort of weapons-grade materials, but knowing that one of them occasionally needs to use the toilet forced me to reconsider.  Joel and I talked about setting an alarm clock to go off at a predetermined time, but I was hesitant to encourage them to wake up on the exceedingly rare chance that they might sleep in.  You know, someday.

The best option for us was this nifty little device that seemed to fit our needs perfectly; a clock that could be set to the time we felt was acceptable for our young kids to leave their room.  When the clock would strike that unfortunate hour, the picture on the clock would change from a blue star to a golden sun and signal that it was time to get up.

But that product is made overseas, and I'm cheap.  Even when it comes to my sleep, it would seem.

So we tried to purchase a similar product, only to discover that it was sold out and badly back-ordered because America clearly has an epidemic of early risers with curly hair and a penchant for maternal torture.

The best do-it-ourselves alternative we could come up with was to put a lamp timer on, well, a lamp of all things, set to kick on at 7:30am, a time still well before my preferred wake-up, but better than 6:15am.  We stocked their closet with a bookshelf and a plethora of toys to play with until they were allowed to leave.

We rigged it all up, tossed the kiddos in bed, and crossed our fingers.  And you know what?  The most amazing thing happened.  Tiny footsteps padded up the stairs at 7:30 sharp the next morning. 

"Daddy, our lamp turned on, but I just wanted to tell you that Graham and I are going to keep playing in our room, okay?"

I'm sorry-- WHAT?

I think I got better sleep that morning than I have since I had children.  There might have been a double rainbow, and I bet I dreamed about newborn puppies.  It was a great day.

The next morning I woke up to this.

And the day after.  And pretty much every morning since.

In fact, what began as such a well-executed attempt at self-preservation has turned into a disaster of my own making.  Every day they succeed in trashing the room more thoroughly than a grunge rocker in a pay-by-the-hour hotel.  Sheets are ripped from the bed, blinds are bent in every direction and those tiny dinosaur underpants are strung from the fan blades. 

And yesterday they still came out before the lamp came on.  So many times, in fact, that I was up for good from 5:57am on, either herding the boys back to their room or pulling wooden trains from between the mattress and box spring of Graham's bed. 

So as I stumbled through yesterday's activities with a foggy mind, I had only one lucid thought-- what was so wrong before?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Recipe for Disaster

When Graham got a hold of my short grocery list yesterday, I figured he'd pretend he was shopping with his bucket of faux produce and plastic cans of tomatoes, but instead he grabbed another piece of paper and made his own list.

"Bubba, what are you doing?"

"Making a list for the store."

"Oh, I see.  Why are you making a list?"

"I have a respisee."

"You're following a recipe?  Cool!  What are you going to cook?"


"Yummy!  So what's on your list?" 

"Bananas, toilet paper, milk, bubble stuff, band-aids, cheese, chicken nuggets, ice cream, toys and Oscar."

"That's pretty weird, but let's give it a shot."

So we mixed what felt like 20 pounds of air "ingredients" into the bowl, rolled it, patted it and marked it with a G, and threw it in the "oven" for Graham and me.

Except it wasn't quite as cute as patty cake.  

He pretended to eat the imaginary cookie, spat it out, hurled himself onto the floor in a fit of pretend-induced food poisoning, and then he threw me under the imaginary and proverbial bus.

"Dat cookie is YUCKY!"

"Yeah, it's pretty weird.  But maybe that's because you put those crazy ingredients in it."

"No, YOU did, Mommy.  You not make any more cookies with dogs."

And then Graham walked over and licked the dog.  

If I quit baking, do you think I'll save up enough money to pay for his therapy?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ism of the Week

"Daddy, you're bigger than Mommy."

"Yeah, and thanks for pointing that out, Cael."

"Are mans always bigger than girls?"

"Not always, but usually."

"Are they smarter?"

(Before I proceed with this, let it be known that my husband was teasing me and in no way trying to undermine my intelligence.  This is obvious, of course, because it simply can't be done...) 

"Oh, yeah.  I'm smarter."


"Yep, and I'm stronger, too.  And older."

Cael knew that we were being silly, but I still wanted to defend myself.  And apparently he did, too.

"But I'm so much prettier!" I piped up.

"Yeah, Mommy... and I have the most gas!" 

No argument there.