Friday, August 31, 2012

Hand-Me-Down Routines

Graham always gets the hand-me-downs. 

Whether it be clothing or toys, Halloween costumes or birthday ideas, Graham seems to always be second-in-line.  And since he's younger, it makes sense.  But there is something nonsensical about two young kids that would rather memorize comedy routines than run and play outdoors.

Yes, Cael's Jim Gaffigan obsession has been handed down to Graham.


(If you can't understand him, check out Cael's version above and see Jim recite it himself.)

I hope that you all have a wonderful Labor Day!  I will be enjoying the 3-day weekend and will be back on Tuesday.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ism of the Week

"Mommy, there's syrup in my crack."


"Yeah, there's syrup in my crack.  From breakfast."

"How did you get syrup in your crack?"

"I don't know.  I guess I'm just a messy eater."

"That's an understatement, Cael.  Isn't that uncomfortable?"

"Yes, it's sticky."

"Gross.  Would you please go to the bathroom and clean yourself up?  There are diaper wipes in the white cabinet."

"Why do I need Graham's wipes?"

"To get the syrup out of your crack!"

"No, I'll just do it in the sink."

"Cael, I don't want your sticky bottom in my kitchen sink.  Please go to the bathroom."

"My sticky bottom?  Why would my bottom be sticky?  You're silly, Mommy."

"But you said there was syrup in your crack."

"Yeah, Mommy.  This crack here between my lips.  In the corner of my mouth.  It's very sticky."

"Oh, that crack.  Yes, you can wash your face at the sink."

"How would I even get syrup in my bottom, Mom?"

"I don't know, dude, but I've seen you eat."

"Yeah.  And I guess I did find those two cookies in there the other day...."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Brutally Honest

I'm so relieved. 

Not about Cael's successful first weeks of school, and not about finding that dirty diaper that vanished for a solid four hours yesterday (crisis averted).  No, I'm very happy to discover that what I thought was my son's burgeoning puberty-like bad attitude is simply his own internal battle to discover how honest is too honest.

I'm not even talking about the dinner out where Cael called me "really, really fat and full of pizza".  I'm talking about the way his inquisitive nature and desire to question our motives leads his mouth to speak in a not-so-eloquent manner.

"Cael, come over here for a second."

"Why should I?"

He's lucky he's cute.

"Bugger, I need you to pick up those cars."

"I'm not going to do that."

Oh no he didn't.

If I'd been able to hear through the steam escaping my ears, I would have been able to hear him continue.

"Mommy, I'm not going to do that because I'm still picking up the blocks in my room."

Sometimes it's not the content, but the delivery that ruffles my feathers, and there is no better feather-ruffler than Cael himself.

"Mommy, how come you're not smart enough to be my teacher for school?"

I considered telling him that not being his teacher was actually one of my smartest moves, but alas, I'm not quite so brutally honest.  I'll leave that skill to Cael.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Compilation Album

I always knew I'd have a musical child.  Wish it hadn't manifested exactly like this.

You are my sunshine, my poopy sunshine.  
You make me happy, when poops are grey.
You'll never know, poop, how much I wuv you.
Please don't take my poopies away.

Maybe I'm missing an opportunity, however.  There are so many compilation albums out there, and everyone loves a pretty face like Graham's.  Perhaps I should pull together his best performances and pawn them off on some other unsuspecting, childless music lovers. 

On top of pahsgetti, all covered in cheeeeeeese,
I lost my old meatball, when somebody sneezed.
It rolled off the table and on to the floor,
And then my yucky meatball rolled... it rolled...
Mommy, where did the meatball go?  (To the garden, Graham.)
It rolled to the garden, right over to-- around, by the bush.
And then my poor meatball was nuffin' but mush.
The mush was so tasty, nobody could see,
And the next time the meatball was, the next summer,
It be'd a tree.
The tree was all covered with beautiful moss,
And on it growed meatballs and pahsgetti sauce.
So if you eat pahsgetti all under some cheeeeeeese,
Hold on to your meatballs, and don't ever seize.  Ahhhh choo!

Let's not forget the classics!

Twintull, twintull little star,
I wonder about what you are.
Up around the world up high,
Like a diaper in the sky.
Twintull, twintull little star,
How I wonder where you went.

And, because fall is nearly upon us and fall is the inevitable precursor to winter and Christmas, you can now fill your home with the warmth of the holiday spirit.  In August.

Crashing through the snow, in a fun horse open sleigh,
More the fields we in to it go, laughing on our face.
Bah, bah, bah!
Bells on the thing for Santa, you know the thing?, making spiders white,
What fun it is to hide and seek a playing game tonight!

Jingle balls, jingle balls, jingle all the way,
No, what fun it is to ride in a horse boat house chicken sleigh.
Jingle balls, jingle balls, jingle all the way,
No, what fun it is to ride in car to Old McDonald's to eat fries in a sleigh.

All this can be yours! 

No, seriously, take it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Hare-Brained Scheme

Anyone want a dog?  Because I have one that I'd like to get off my hands.

Wait, I don't mean that.  Well, maybe a little.

You see, I'm somewhat conflicted.  Early on in the life of this blog, I mentioned that I'm not one of those pet owners that considers my dog to be equal to my children in terms of importance.  However, I love him and certainly wouldn't wish any harm to come to him. 

Until now.

Oscar, while loving and unfailingly devoted, often drives me crazy with his perseverance.  (Sound familiar?)  If he wants to go outside, he will whine at the door without so much as a breath of silence regardless of how busy I am or otherwise unable to help him at a moment's notice.  If he wants to eat, he will follow me around and claw at the back of my ankles and twist around underfoot until I trip over him and he starts whining again. 

So when Oscar discovered that he could use the retaining wall like stairs to access the planter bed in our backyard, I wasn't surprised that he was constantly rooting around and peeing on what were once my best flowers.  I tried for months to keep him out of there, but he persevered with his quest until I gave up and let him sneak around the overgrown flowerbed as if he were on a poor-quality jungle safari.

Last week, my family was sitting in the backyard, letting Oscar and my sister's dog, Gus, chase each other through our revitalized grass, when we heard a high-pitched squealing.  At first I thought it was a squeaky toy, but upon remembering that we didn't own one, my heart sank.

I knew that squeak.

We chased the dog from the planter and reluctantly pulled back the leaves of my black-eyed susan to find four tiny baby bunnies-- eyes still closed, and amazingly unharmed. 

The next day, when my dog, the least preditorial canine I know, manhandled another bunny while he was supposed to be peeing, I ran outside and scooped up the tiny bunny without thinking and barely contained myself from raging on the mutt.  I knew it was an instinctual response and truly not his fault, but as I held the tiny rabbit in the palm of my hand, I felt myself get attached.  Hard. 

Operation Oscar Lock-Down was officially in full force.

I began taking the dog out to pee in the front yard on a leash.  I did a bunch of internet research to make sure it was okay for me to handle the bunny babies and not do anything that would lead the mother to abandon them. 

When I knew it was okay, I held them all.  I took pictures of each of them.  I took pictures of myself with each of them.  I counted tiny toes and miniature white tails.

I nearly forgot that I owned a dog.

Until Wednesday night, when we went out for pizza and came home to find that the dog had accidentally been left outside for almost three hours. 

My heart sank even further.

I quickly ran to the bunnies' hutch only to find it completely empty.  All four bunnies had grown and could hop a bit, but were not mobile enough to escape if a predator invaded their home.  But there was no blood or tufts of misplaced fur, so I kept my fingers crossed and surveyed the yard.  When I found nothing, I figured that the rabbits had miraculously evaded my furry white tyrant, and I let Oscar resume his backyard gallivanting.

And gallivant he did, right over to the corner of the yard where he resumed munching on the carcass of one of my newest and furriest friends.

I could have killed him, and was tempted to do so in a manner similar to his preferred method.  I couldn't bury the rabbit bones, because Oscar would unearth it in a matter of moments, and I couldn't leave the messy remains there for fear that one of the kids would find it.  So I did the only other thing I could do, and grabbed a plastic bag to unceremoniously dump it in the trash.

The whole event turned my stomach and broke my heart.  I felt that it was my own mistake for not double-checking Oscar's whereabouts before leaving the house.  I couldn't feel worse.

Until I found him shredding another tiny body on the west side of my lawn. 

So... any takers?

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Best Part of Waking Up

"I'm hundry, Mommy."

"I know, Bubba.  But we need to get dressed first and I need to cook something.  But I'll hurry, okay?"

"Otay.  What are we eating?"

"I don't know.  What would you like?"

"I want 'ohhhh!'"

"What does that mean?"

"I want to eat 'ohhh!'"

Thanks for clearing that up, Graham.

"Baby, I have no idea what you're talking about.  Can you tell me what it looks like?"

"It looks like that stuff that is 'oh, oh, oh, oh'."

"What does it taste like?"

"It tastes like a song."

Sure it does.  "What does it smell like?" 

"It smells like birds."

This could go on all day.  And if parenting has taught me anything, it is that sometimes the best thing I can do is distract, distract, distract.

"Okay, I'll think about it.  But for now, do you want to wear a red shirt or a blue shirt today?"


"Blue it is.  And should we wear shorts or jeans?"


"Sounds good.  Now you go to your room and try to find shorts and a blue shirt.  Now this is a big job, can you do it?"

"I can do it!"

"Ready.... go!"

And just like that, breakfast was forgotten.  But before I could enjoy my brief quiet moment to make breakfast, I realized that we'd wasted so much time discussing bird-scented "ohhh" that there was not enough time for eggs or toast or anything of value.

Cereal it is.

Back at the table, Graham made a discovery.

"Mommy, dis is it!"

Suddenly it all made sense, as Graham pointed a sticky finger at each colorful Fruit Loop floating in his cereal bowl. 

"See, Mommy?  Oh, oh, oh, oh!  Fanks, Mommy.  Dis is soo yummy."

And that might just be the second best discovery I make today.

Because this is the first.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Baby Love

Even though the next ten months will see both Joel and I turning thirty, it seems that we aren't the only ones with anxiety about growing older.   

"I don't want to grow up."

"Why not?"   

This could be anything from not wanting a real job to simply being a "Toy 'R Us" kid.

"I don't want to have a baby in my tummy."

"Honey, we've talked about this.  The mommy has the baby."

"I don't want to have so many kids."

"Then you only have as many as you want."

"But what if they keep coming?"

"What-- babies?"

"Yeah.  What if I can't stop making babies?"

"I think you'll figure it out.  And if not, your wife will know."

"Okay.  Because I don't want so many kids.  I only want, like, eleven or twelve."

"That's actually a lot of kids, Cael.  Way more than most people have."

"Nope.  That's not very many.  And I'm gonna be good on babies."

I sure hope so.  Because with twelve kids, I don't want to read in the newspaper that my son had a relapse of his early baby phase.

"You're going to have to be really patient and you'll need to work very hard if you want to have that many kids, Cael.  Babies are expensive."

"I will.  I'll work hard and the mommy will work hard and the babies will work hard."

"You think the babies need to have jobs, too?"

"Yep.  They can go to work, too."

I hope he has a really, really good lawyer.

"I think babies are too small to work.  How would you feel if you had to go to work everyday and you couldn't play at home with your toys?"

"That would make me unhappy."

"That's right.  Your babies would be unhappy."

"But you said babies are expensive.  Who has to pay for them?"

"You and the mommy."

"No, that's not fair.  I'll just get you to do it for me."

And "turning thirty" suddenly seems like a walk in the park...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ism of the Week


"Yes, Graham?"

"I'm cute."

"I agree."

"I is perfect."

"I think so, too."

"You wuv me."

"All the time."

"Guess what, Mommy?"

"Um... you wuv me too?"

"Nope.  I have poo."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Winning the Aluminum

The Olympics are over, which has been a tremendous blow for Cael who has taken a sudden and uncharacteristic  interest in sporting events.  The television-watching part is right up his alley, of course, but the paying-attention-to-something-long-enough-to-see-it-through-to-completion part is new and totally out of his element.

But then again, what captured his attention wasn't the sporting events; he's simply taken an interest in a million different things that Mommy just can't do.

It all started innocently with a conversation about Michael Phelps "swimming like a fish". 

"Mommy, can you swim like a fish?"

"No, Mommy's not a good swimmer.  Especially not like that man."

"Is he the best in the whole, wide world?"

"Yep, he sure is."

"And you're just not good?"

"When it comes to swimming, I guess not."

"I like the jastics."

"...The gymnastics, you mean?"

"Yeah, that's what I said.  I like the jastics.  Can you do those flips, Mommy?"

"Nope, those people practice for years to be able to do those things."

"And you're too young?"

"No, actually they are a lot younger than I am."

"So you had lots of time to practice, right?"

"I guess I could have been practicing to qualify for the olympic gymnastics team, yes.  But instead I was busy cooking for you and doing your laundry and buying you toys and driving you to school."

"See?  That's why you're just not good."

Cael wins the gold for bluntness, while Mommy wins the less-envied aluminum medal for being marginal at best.

"Well if you're so much better, you show me how to do those sports!"

"Okay, I will, but get ready... I'm AWESOME."

He's awesome at running races...

And he has an awesome gymnastics floor exercise routine....

He's very strong and awesome at weightlifting...

And although he didn't know what fencing was, I bet he'd be awesome at that too.

If only I hadn't been wasting these last nearly five years raising him, I could join him on the podium.  Instead, I guess I'll have to settle for the aluminum.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Symbol Worth One Thousand Words

Have you ever been surprised to learn something unexpected about someone you thought you knew well?  If not, get ready.

Cael, who has to be the most outgoing and extroverted person I know, has a tendency to execute a mental shut-down every time he is asked to complete a task by someone outside of our immediate family.  It's not even shyness, but a total brain lapse during which he slumps over but remains standing, locks eyes on his shoes and refuses to show any visible signs of life. 

At first I thought that he was just very shy.  Then I considered that he was antisocial or had some sort of anxiety around people.  But after an exhausting week of vacation bible school culminated in a concert during which Cael did a spot-on impression of a pensive mannequin, it became clear that his behavior was completely intentional and wholly unnecessary.

There's no sense trying to move him in this state.  His feet, barely mobile, shuffle along at a glacial pace and words come out slurred and unintelligible.  But for Cael, the only thing that matters is that it works. 

If he doesn't want to participate, he won't.

Knowing this unexpected tidbit about my son's personality, you can understand my concern when I saw him beginning to shut down at his school's open house-style "meet and greet" last Monday.  It was an opportunity to check out his classroom, chat with his teacher and see who his classmates would be.  But Cael, my social butterfly, found it more entertaining to pick at the edge of the carpet with his shoe. 

One of the items of business we were asked to take care of was for Cael to choose a symbol to represent him for the coming year.  The small picture would be on his coat hook, on future papers and would be inevitably tied to "all things Cael" until he takes the plunge into Kindergarten.

Pardon me, I just got the chills writing that.  Brrr.

There were dozens of choices.  A car.  A rainbow.  A boat.  A sunshine.  As we gazed at the possibilities, Joel and I tried to point out the ones that we thought might appeal to Cael, only to receive the occasional grunt or shrugged shoulders in response.  After several minutes of fruitless searching, Cael slowly stretched out one clammy, pointed finger.

"That one."

"That's the one you want?"


"Are you sure you don't want the boat?  What about that cool moon?"

"Nope, that one."

And there, at the end of his outstretched finger, was his symbol of choice.

A snail.

I have a feeling that this will be a long, slow, slimy year.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Time Zoned Out

A quick chat between Joel and his Dad last night led to complete and utter confusion for Cael.  Bampa, who lives in Washington state, appeared on the screen with the unmistakeable glow of sunlight from the sky, while Cael watched from our dimply lit bedroom at nine at night.

"Bampa, how is it daytime there and it's nighttime here?"

"That's because I'm in a different time zone.  It's earlier here."

Cael seemed to accept that answer, but as I strained to listen from the kitchen, I knew that the conversation was far from over.  As we drove to school, he struggled to understand just what this "time zone" thing was all about. 

"Mommy, is it morning in Washington?"

"Yes.  They are two hours behind us, but it's still morning."

"They're behind us?"

"I mean that when it is 8:00 here, it's only 6:00 there.  It's always later here."

"But it is summer there?"

"Yes, honey.  The only thing different is the time.  That's why it's called a 'time zone'."

"And is it Iowa there?

"No, it's Washington, remember?"

I could tell that it didn't really register, but he was content enough to stop grilling me until we reached his school.  I pulled up to the door, put the van and park, and turned toward him, surprised to see him glued to his chair and in no hurry to join his class.

"Get yourself unbuckled, Cael.  It's time for school!"

"No it's not, Mommy.  I'm in another car zone." 

Can't argue with that logic.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ism of the Week

"Cael, how was your first day of school?" 

"It was good."

"What did you do?  What happened?"

"I played.  I did a puzzle and went outside.  And somebody farted at school!"

"Oh, yuck.  Did they say 'excuse me'?"

"Nope, they didn't."

"Oh, I bet your teacher didn't like that.  It's important to use good manners."

"She didn't hear the toot."

"Well, even if the teacher didn't hear it, they should use good manners.  Who did that?  What was his name?"

"Um, uh... Cael Foreman." 

At least he made an impression...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Back to School

As predicted, the first day of school was old hat for Cael, while I was biting my nails in anticipation.  But in addition to Cael's elementary school premier, I was nervous for my upcoming coronation as the most irritating mother at Washington Elementary School.

Thank you, thank you. 
I made Joel pull up to the door so that Cael could get used to the routine of the drop-off despite the fact that I was planning to accompany him in the classroom.  Once out of the van, I flipped into paparazzi mode.  
We snapped photos outside the building.  
I photographed him in front of his classroom.  
I pointed the camera at anything with my son's name.
 I made him compulsively repeat his actions so they could be documented on camera as if he were a celebrity.  Which, in his mind, he pretty much is.

As I was preparing to leave, I assured him that he looked incredibly handsome and studious.

"Cael, you look wonderful today."

"Yes, I know."

"And you're going to have a great time, right?"


"Remember to follow directions and speak up.  Be friendly."

"I know, Mommy."

"Alright, it's time for me to go.  Are you excited?"

"Ugh.  Yes, Mommy.  I'm excited.  And I look awesome...  And you have a sticker on your butt."

Thank you, thank you.
Good luck, big boy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Times, They Are A-Changing

It feels like everything is changing lately.  Summer is coming to a close, Cael is melting down gearing up about another year of school, and even the constant drought that has killed off most of the corn is finally coming to a close with low hanging clouds that sporadically drip and drizzle like a wet washcloth left in the bathtub after Cael used it as a vehicle to deliver soapy water to Graham's eyes.

The Cedar River after the drought pulled the drain plug.

But I guess some things never change.

That's the thought that danced in my head when I opened my eyes this morning-- the morning before Cael's first day of school.  Because no matter how much the kid tests my patience, and my oh my, is he skilled in that regard, there is an ever-growing part of me that wants to sit him up on my mantle like a beautiful oil painting and admire his sweet face everyday.  To completely halt the passing of time and freeze him just as he is, an enigma of dirty fingernails and potty jokes and long lashes and curls like spun gold and big, blue eyes that look to me as though I hold the key to every door he longs to unlock.

My mantle could use brightening.

But instead, time ticks ahead as I dig my heels in the ground.  It pushes me past my comfort zone and into a new dimension of reality where I can't always influence his world.  A dimension with kids I don't know and lessons I didn't teach.  A dimension that, admittedly, I am insufficient and unqualified to tackle, but I know that with each step he takes from my outstretched hand, he walks farther from that small, soapy-headed toddler roughhousing in the bathtub, and closer to his future and the man he'll become.  When he gets there, I hope he'll look back and feel that I taught him something valuable.  Something about love, or something about respect.  Heck, I'd settle for something about trains.

Even though this is only my second year as the mother of a student, I can tell that it will always be a sentimental time for me.  Letting go is never easy, especially when the thing you're releasing is the thing you've been holding onto the most tightly.  The thing you feel that you're the only one truly capable of holding.

Cael on his first day of preschool, 2011.

But I'll get used to it.  After all, while Cael takes those steps into his classroom and toward whatever bright future he sees for himself, Graham will be at home, throwing wet toilet paper at the wall and wearing my bras on his head.

There are still hands to hold.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ism of the Week

"Mommy, why can't I have a sleepover with my new neighbor?"

"Well, Cael, first of all she's a girl and that's just not appropriate.  Second, we're going camping tomorrow, so we won't be around to play."

"We're going camping?!?"

"Yep.  Won't it be fun to go one more time before school starts?"

"We're going camping at school?"

"No, we're going camping at a campground and then you'll start school next week."

"School is at the campground?"

"No, honey.  It's in a classroom."

"There's a classroom at the campground?"

"Oh, Cael!  Listen carefully.  We are going camping at a campground tomorrow.  When we come home, we will have a few more days of vacation and then you start school in a classroom.  At your school.  Got it?"

"That's what I said, Mommy, jeez... why would I have school at a campground?  You're silly..."

On that note, I'll be taking a few days off to enjoy the last of our summer vacation.  Check back on Tuesday, when I'm sure I'll be buzzing with anticipation of Cael's first day of school this year and a few hours of totally deserved quiet.  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Rhyme Time

"Mommy, listen.  Ham... Sam!  That rhymes!"

"Good job, that does rhyme.  Can you do another?" 

"Um... okay.  Dog... long?"

"That was pretty close, but the ending of the word has to be the same.  If 'dog' ends in 'og', the rhyming word does too.  So instead of 'long', it should be 'log'."


"Just try again, Cael."

"Momma, I rhyme too, see?  Bat and... bat!" 

Technically, that does rhyme.

"You boys are really good at this.  Let's try another.  What rhymes with car?" 

"I know, I know!  Plar!"

"Yeah, that rhymes, but 'plar' isn't a word, Cael." 

"Yes it is.  That's like a car with green hair and pizza.  And it smells really bad and takes you up in the air like an airplane, but it's not an airplane.  Like a bicycle in the air.  Or a car, but not a car... a 'plar'.  And it plays music that I dance to with Graham, and we shake our bottoms with our Toy Story underpants.  You know, Mommy, a 'plar'!"

I stand corrected.  Car... plar. 

"Okay, last one, boys.  I need to make breakfast."

"I've got it already, Mommy.  And it's a good one.  Ready?"

"Yep.  Lay it on me." 

"Okay.  Duck..."

Yikes.  At least he earned an "A" for rhyming properly.  Or maybe an "F" is more appropriate...