Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Hope you have a spook-tastic, trick-and-treat filled Halloween night!  Stay safe and see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fly Me to the Moon

When I was little and I got sick, there was a very specific formula that my mom could follow to make me feel better.  It didn't ensure my health, but it was guaranteed to put a smile on my face in the midst of the worst cold or flu, and it involved only three things.

The living room sofa, orange ice cream push-ups and the Beverly Cleary classic, "Ramona."

 Happiness, for Cael, is a bit more complicated.  As I mentioned yesterday, "The Incredibles" served to capture Cael's attention while he was too tired and feverish to leave my bed.  But by Sunday afternoon, he had regained just enough energy to resume his typical outrageous requests, and this time there was only one.

"I want you to make a cardboard airplane."

I had been hearing it repeatedly last week since Cael saw a photo of the cardboard train I'd made last year and thought I'd been sufficiently lazy in not recreating another mode of transportation from pressed paper. 

At first I said no, citing "playing nurse" and "doing dishes" as reasons why I was too busy to make his airplane.  But as many of you mothers know, when your baby is sick you want nothing more than to make them happy.

So an airplane, it was.

Joel and I had conveniently cleaned out the garage and basement shortly before, so I had several empty boxes on hand.  I selected the sturdiest one as well as two others to use for parts, and spent a good twenty minutes staring at my equipment and wondering how in the world I was going to make this work.  Because a train car is simply rectangular, I didn't have to alter the boxes very much to make them look like a locomotive.  But an airplane body is more complex, with a pointed nose, and I knew I would end up using math at some point in the operation which made me shiver with fear.

See?  This story works for Halloween, too.

In the afternoon, I slowly but surely crafted the nose of the plane as well as the wings that would be inserted through a slot in the side.  But once the main body was assembled, I had to take a break.  Mainly because I was daunted by the propeller assembly ahead, but also because my butt was asleep.

Eventually, I did make the propeller blades by starting with a series of concentric circles, and then making them slightly oblong like traditional fan blades.  I knew that they would be seriously undersized and not to-scale for the plane, but I also wanted them to actually spin, and in order for that to happen, they wouldn't be able to touch the floor when the plane was on the "tarmac". 

Once I had them shaped properly, I cut them out and covered them with foil tape.  (I think the tape was actually left behind by the previous owners for the purpose of home repair, and with my house's history of poor behavior, I hope I didn't jinx myself by using it all.)  Finally, I secured the blades with a screw and washer from the boys' tool set.

With the propeller in place and a tail fin added for effect, the majority of the work was done.  I knew I would be working on this late into the night because I am such a ridiculous perfectionist, so I let Cael have a sneak peek before I tucked him into bed with a kiss and a syringe full of Triaminic.

Joel came home and surveyed the house, the bags under my eyes and knew immediately that I was involved in some sort of needlessly difficult project and smartly complimented my work before suggesting I give it a rest and get some sleep.  How could I sleep, though, when the airplane had no paint and no control panel?

As quickly as I was able, I covered the boxes in red wrapping paper and used the foil tape to secure it and make some shiny metal-like accents.  I also used one of the remaining pieces of cardboard to draw the control panel, complete with "auto pilot" and "evacuate" buttons, just in case of an urgent little-brother attack.

The next morning, Cael's first words were, "is my airplane done yet?"  I made him wait until after breakfast to test it out, and by that time he was bursting at the seams with excitement. 

"I love it!  It's so cool, Mommy!"

And so it was worth it, after all.  Or so I thought.

"Mommy, you make me a racecar.  And a racetrack.  And a BEAR!"

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Not-So-Common Cold

Today's post will be short because around here, things have gone from bad to worse.

Cael's fevers just got hotter and more persistent and our 'round the clock Tylenol-Advil-Tylenol routine wasn't able to keep his temperature down.  Finally we took him in and got an antibiotic that, so far, has not reduced his symptoms or his fevers, but has effectively made me regret that I wasn't seen at the same time because with my persistent cough and absent voice, a passer-by would surely guess me to be the patient.

Cael has been a shell of his former self, only leaving bed to complain that "The Incredibles", a movie we borrowed from my sister, was done and needed to be rewound so that he could watch it again.  For the ninth time.

Although I didn't send him to school today, I'm hopeful that he will be able to attend tomorrow for his preschool Halloween party.  I've been trying to lift his spirits with promises of pumpkin carving, cardboard airplanes and trick-or-treating in the days to come.  Stay tuned...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sick Day

Sorry for the late posting today, but my little patient has kept me on my toes.  Read all about it...)

It's official.  Cael no longer has perfect attendance.  Last night when he staggered upstairs to the bathroom while Joel and I were watching TV in bed, I noticed the telltale flush on his face that, coupled with the coughing I heard on the monitor and the sore throat I, myself, had started to feel, I knew he was getting sick.

But a sniffly nose is no reason to miss school, especially in a class full of ankle-biters that have undoubtedly covered every surface of the room with one bodily fluid or another.  So I got up as usual and headed to the boys' room with a laundry basket full of clean clothes to get them dressed for school.

Surprisingly, Cael was still in bed.  He was awake, but from his perch on the bed he was dictating to Graham where to place all of the toys Graham had unearthed and scattered across the floor of their room.

"Come on, Cael.  We need to get dressed."

"I'm not going to school."

"I don't think that's up to you to decide."

"I have a headache."

A headache?  With my caffeine addiction, a headache is no more shocking than a booger in Graham's nose.  They happen, but are no reason to miss school.

"But Mommy, my head feels like a rock."

"Like a rock?"

"Yeah, it's ouchy and hard and really heavy."

Okay, so maybe he wasn't faking.  I took his temp and he clocked in at 101.6 degrees, so I quickly called the school and reported his absence and then fed him a mouthful of children's ibuprofen.

"Does your throat hurt?"

"No.  My throat is like carpet."

"What does that mean?"

"It's scratchy and dry."

I asked him about his cough and whether or not he felt sneezy, so that I could try to assess whether his problem was caused by allergies or bacteria, but all I got from him were more cryptic, child-speak responses about the "gum in his throat" and his "sink nose".

Later, cuddled up in my bed and kept company by Woody, Buzz and the Toy Story gang, his innocence and frustration with being sick made my heart ache. 

"Mommy?  Remember how when I got those shots you said that the medicine was like little soldiers that would fight off the sicknesses?"

"Yeah, I remember that."

"Where did the soldiers go?  Why aren't they fighting to keep me healthy?"

"I don't know, honey.  Soldiers can't always fight off a cold.  But those same soldiers are doing a good job of keeping you from catching other sicknesses that are much worse than a cold.  So even though you feel yucky now, you know that you won't have to worry about those really bad things later." 

"But still, Mommy... good soldiers are supposed to fight the bad guys.  And this cold is a really, really, bad guy."

I'm sorry that he's sick, but I'm still very grateful that both of my boys are generally quite healthy and that I am able to do what I can to protect them from any "viral terrorism" the "bad guys" throw at us.  But if this cold threatens our Halloween, don't doubt for one second that I won't be on the phone with Homeland Security...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pumpkin Pains

As Halloween approaches, both Cael and Graham are getting more and more antsy to don their costumes and troll the streets for candy.  And as much as I want them to have fun, the bucket of candy from last Halloween/Christmas/Valentine's Day/Easter/parades/birthdays (plus the bag we bought to hand out to kids)puts a damper on my personal excitement.

 Since I won't allow them to wear their costumes before the big day, mainly because I don't want them to get stained, torn, used as parachutes or as tarps for yard waste, they have turned to pumpkin carving as an outlet for their Halloween-related energy.  Everyday I hear about what they want to carve and how they plan to carefully excise the pieces of pumpkin flesh to reveal its inner potential.

"What do you want to carve, Cael?"

"I want to carve a picture of Graham putting marker on the computer keyboard."

"Seriously?  I don't really want to remember that moment.  Plus, it would be almost impossible to put on a pumpkin."

"What do you want to carve, Graham?"

"I want to make a picture of Cael pushing me."

"Oh, that wouldn't make a very happy pumpkin."

For all of their enthusiasm, their jack-o-lantern concepts lacked any real imagination.  It seemed like any and all ideas they came up with simply mimicked real life, and negative ones at that.  I took another approach.

"Do you think we should make one that has a face?"


"Should it be scary, or surprised?"

"How about 'frustrated', Mommy?"

I know that look.

Even though they were both pretty adamant about their potential pumpkins, I'm certainly not going to carve a scene in which my eldest is assaulting his brother.  It may be up to me to come up with a new plan, and taking a page from their play book, I decided to let realism be the theme this year.

Always the type-A personality, I thought it would be a smart idea to create a mock-up of my jack-o-lanterns to use as an example when it's time to carve.  And if I do say so myself, I think they are a stunning and realistic representation of my life.

Forget the trick, that's a real treat.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ism of the Day

The car has been a battleground lately, with both boys throwing verbal punches at each corner.  Graham's new favorite weapon is to make behavioral recommendations to Cael before he leaves for school in the morning.

Cael doesn't appreciate the sentiment.

"Okay, Cael.  You be nice to your teacher."

 "Stop it, Graham.  You don't tell me that."

"But you should be nice!"


Cael's reasons for shunning Graham were four-fold.

"First of all, Graham, I don't like it when you say that.  Second of all, I think it's annoying and I don't like it.  And four-- number fourth-- it's just not something I like.  And because I have four reasons that I don't like it, I think you have to stop."

"Otay, I will stop, and you will be nice to your teacher."

I think it goes without saying that Cael was overwhelmingly irritated with his brother when I dropped him off at school this morning.  Because, contrary to what you may have thought, Cael just doesn't like it when Graham gives him advice.

Who knew?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pumpkin Bee

"Okay, it's time to do our craft project, guys.  I drew a pumpkin on a paper and you can color it in however you like.  Then we'll cut out the shape of the face you want to 'carve' out of the pumpkin and we'll put paper on the back that will show through." 


"It's just a fun little project, Cael.  I think it will look cool when we're done."

"But it doesn't look like a pumpkin, Mommy.  It looks like an apple."

"I don't think so.  An apple doesn't have these lines here.  See?"

"I still think it looks like an apple.  I'm gonna write 'pumpkin' next to it so people will know it's a pumpkin."

Rather than an orange, carved apple with a face.  Got it.

"Okay, that's fine.  Do you know how to write that word?"

"Can you tell me the letters and I will write them?"

"Sure.  P-U-M-P-K-I-N."

"That's not right."

"Yes it is."

"No, it's not."

"I've been writing for a lot of years, Cael, and I promise that is how to spell pumpkin."

"It's spelled "P-I-M-P."

"Yikes.  That spells 'pimp', and it's kind of a naughty word."

"No it's not.  Pimp is the same thing as pumpkin.  I'm gonna color my pimp and then I'm gonna draw a face on my pimp.  Then you cut the face off of my pimp, right Mommy?  And then we put paper on the back of the pimp and it looks neat?  For Halloween?"

"Sure, Cael."  Maybe we can find some gold necklaces for it, too. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Product Placement

Dear Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Miracle Worker People,

I'm writing today to profess my undying appreciation for your amazing product.  I've used the tiny little block of hope in my home for many years, but in the last week I found that its uses extend far beyond removing everyday scuffs and minimal clean-up.

My love for the eraser began to grow when my oldest son, Cael, decided that my bedroom wall, while nicely painted in a warm beige tone, was lacking in interest and decided to create an illustration of a monster or some kind of demon in lead pencil.  I was incredibly relieved to see that your magic eraser easily cleaned up the terrifying creature, but sadly was unable to remove the look of smug accomplishment from my son's face.  Future product, perhaps?

As if my heart hadn't already been won over, I turned to your product a few days later when I didn't feel like engaging in a battle of wills with my children.  For two boys that have no opinion whatsoever about their wardrobe choices, they both will nearly spontaneously combust at the mere suggestion that they wear their dressier brown shoes rather than their worn-in sneakers.  That day, however, those sneakers were covered in mud and quite possibly, dog poop, and with only three minutes before school was to begin, I grabbed your eraser in a last-ditch effort to clean the dirty sneakers.  I was shocked at the transformation of the shoes and was incredibly grateful not to have to replace the fire extinguishers in my home.  Kudos to you.

Shortly before I planned to pen this letter, I was forced to put your "rectangles of awe" to the test.  As I placed lunch in front of my children, I noticed that my youngest, Graham, was covered in a blue mystery substance.  Upon further inspection, I determined that the substance was actually blue Sharpie marker that was smeared all over his hands, arms and shirt.  Immediately, I rushed to the office where the marker had been stored, only to find a crime scene worthy of a "Saw" film.  Blue permanent marker was scribbled all over the floor mat, desk, walls, bookshelf, printer and most regrettably, my iMac keyboard.  An internet search yielded several suggested methods for removing the ink, however the vinegar, aerosol cleaner, rubbing alcohol and q-tips only managed to smear the stain around so that many of the keys were illegible.   

I was an angry, Sharpie-covered mess. 

Suddenly, I remembered my previous successes with your product and decided to make one last-ditch effort to return my keyboard to its former glory by scrubbing it with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  Within minutes, every bit of blue horror was extracted from my home office and trapped within the spongey confines of your white eraser.  All that remained was a smear of blue on my dropped jaw that I left behind as a reminder of this chilling episode in my life.

I'm not sure how you created this masterpiece.  I don't know if a random collection of chemicals collided in a divine "accident", just like the creation of the universe, only in a Procter & Gamble laboratory.  Perhaps you all sold your souls to the apocalyptic creature my son scribbled on the wall for the recipe to a miracle product that could rid the world of all dirt and dust-related imperfections.  Whatever the explanation, I owe you a giant, eraser-loving thank you.

One cut into the shape of a heart.  A heart that cleaned my scissors in the process. 

Yours truly,
Mary Foreman

Friday, October 19, 2012

Agree to Disagree

This is my life lately.  It's been rough.

But I'm gentler to you than my children can be to me, so for your sake I'll make Cael's words bold.  I don't want you to feel as though your brains are going through a centrifuge like mine did when I had to listen to it firsthand.

"Mommy, look!  Dat way is right."

"You're wrong, Graham."
 "No, no!" 
"No, Cael!" 
"Yes, Graham."
"No, dat's mean, Cael!" 
"Yes.  Yes, yes, yes."
"Yep and yes."

Time to change the subject, right?  Surely that will make them stop, right?

"Look, a train!  We're gonna drive right over it.  Do you see it, Cael?"

"Yes you did, Cael!" 
"No I didn't!"
"Wait, Graham.  Did you just say 'no'?"
"Huh?  No.  I mean 'yes'!"
"Yes or no?"
"No, Graham."
"No!  That's not true!"
"Yes it is, Cael." 

"Enough, boys.  I can't listen to any more of that arguing."

"Yes you can, Mommy."
"No, I really can't." 
"No, Cael."

Seriously, no.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ism of the Day

"Mommy, I think I want to be the President just like the man that was here yesterday."

"You do?  That's a ton of work."

"Yeah, I could do that."

"And there are always people that don't like the President very much because they don't agree with his decisions."

"I would make good decisions."

"And the President doesn't really make that much money, at least not as much as you'd think."

"Really?  Oh.  Then maybe I will just be a baseball player.  Ooh-- or an elephant!"

Good call.  Elephants really are commanding big bucks these days.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner-- Er, Town

My tiny town is on the map today because President Obama is in town speaking at the college Joel and I attended.  And as cool as that is, people are acting as though the sun might crash into the earth.  Roads are being closed off, crowds of people sleeping on the sidewalk in hopes of catching a glimpse and a good seat, and nearly every yard is littered with signs promoting their candidate's cause. 

Photo credit here.
Although I hadn't explained it directly, Cael could tell that something was up.

"Mommy, what is going on?  Why are there so many people walking around?"

"Because the President is coming today."

"Who is the President?"

"His name is Barack Obama.  He's the man that is in charge of our country."

"Mt. Vernon?"

"No, that is our town.  Our state is Iowa, and our country is the Unites States."

"That's not right, Mommy. Umbrella is not charge of the whole country."

"Obama, honey.  And yes, he is our country's leader."

"No, Mommy, Jesus is in charge!"

"Haha, okay, Cael.  But people are very excited because he is an important guy and he doesn't come around here very often."

"Does he have a beard?"

"No.  Why?"

"Because he's in charge like Jesus, and he's really important.  He doesn't come here a lot, and everybody is excited.  Umbrella must be Santa!"

I hated to break it to him that Obama isn't Santa Claus.  If the candidates dressed as fantastical childhood characters it just might improve their chances, however.  You think Romney would be the Easter bunny?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Cael speaks an entirely different language.  I mean that metaphorically, of course, because while he tends to chatter endlessly about drumkins and other indecipherable things, he does seem to be gaining a reasonable grasp on the English language.

What I mean in this case is that, while I often speak the language of sarcasm and Joel often speaks the language of bathroom humor, Cael has begun expressing himself through the use of hypothetical questions.  And just like my husband would say, the more graphic, the better. 

"Mommy, what would happen if a mountain lion came down from a mountaintop and jumped on the top of a car that was driving to a big city.  And in the big city, the mountain lion found a bunch of animals at a zoo and they danced around and broke out of the zoo and got on a train.  And what if the train was moving really fast so they couldn't jump off and the train finally stopped in our town and the animals fell off of the train in a box?  It would have to be a really big box to fit all of those animals.  Or maybe each animal was in a different box.  So what would happen if they got loose in the town and started eating people and the police tried to stop them and then they got eated too?  And then there was nobody left and the animals came after me and I tried to fight them with my toy bat but I wasn't fast enough and the bear came after me?  Did you know there was a bear?  He came from the zoo in the big city.  He wasn't with the mountain lion at first but he was one that got on the train, that train that came to our town.  And then what if that big, big bear came after me and wanted to eat me in my socks?  Would you still like bears?"


"No?  Oh, okay."

I learned a long time ago that I can't tell him these imagined scenarios would never happen because in his fast-paced psyche, they happen daily.  Plus, I simply don't have the time.  There's laundry to do, and bears to shoo away.

"Mommy, do you think there will be a big, huge bomb that will blow up our car?  Like, one day we'll get in the car to go to Walmart because you want to get pop and milk and bananas and maybe some bread even though I like HyVee better and they have those carts with the steering wheel that look like cars.  I like the blue one, but Graham likes the orange one.  But I'm bigger and smarter so I always win.  So what if we got in the car to go to Walmart and we went  down the road a little bit and all of a sudden there was a huge bomb in the car right on the seat and it blowed up and we went flying through the air and we landed on the roof at our house and maybe Graham was ouchy and maybe my hair was on fire?  And what if Oscar was on the roof too and there was dog poop everywhere?  What would you do?"

"That would never happen, Cael." 

"But what if it did?"

"It won't."

"But what if it did?"

"No one is going to put a bomb in our car.  We're good guys.  Oscar too."

"But Graham isn't!"

"Yes he is.  And even if there was a bomb, we wouldn't land on the roof."

"Why not?"

"Because bombs don't work that way."

"How do they work?"

"I don't really know, but not like that."

"So you don't know.  I don't want to go to the store because there is a bomb in the van!"

"There's no bomb.  That won't ever happen.  Never.  You understand?"


"But what if it did?"

After a couple of weeks of this, his strangeness lost some of its allure and went from quirky to just plain irritating.  I have four children to watch during the day, meals to cook and escaped zoo animals to guard against, and I simply don't have time to indulge him in his twisted, hypothetical fantasies. 
I do, however, have time for my own.

"Mommy, what are we having for lunch?"

"I'm not sure yet.  What would you think if I cooked a bird for us to eat today?  But I don't think I could catch one here on the grass or in a tree, so what if I got a huge balloon, kind of like a hot-air balloon, and flew it way up high into the sky?  And then, using a butterfly net woven from the many hairs which have left my head as a result of your fiendish behavior, I trapped a bald eagle or maybe a pterodactyl and brought it back down here to our house.  I think I would put it in a room with Oscar and hope that the dog could take all of the feathers off-- wait a minute, Oscar isn't strong enough or confident enough to take on a large bird.  I'd put the bird in the bathroom with the cat, so that if it got messy I could put the bird and the cat in the bathtub and clean them off while they played with your Lightning McQueen bathtub toys and arranged the bubbles so they both looked like Santa.  And then, I'd cook the bird (and maybe the cat) in the toaster with some chocolate sauce and peanut butter because everything tastes good with chocolate and peanut butter.  So if I did that, would you want applesauce or yogurt for dessert?" 

"That would never happen, Mommy."

"But what if it did?"

"I'd have yogurt."

Me too.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Photo Follow-Up

Remember a few weeks ago when I waxed poetic about Cael's school pictures and my fear of him not producing a realistic smile?  I sure do.  Those were the good ol' days.

As it turns out, I had nothing to fear about Cael's smile.  After an hour of translating preschool-speak in which my son informed me that the photographer told him he looked like a gopher, I deciphered that the employee coaxed an authentic smile out of him the same way I did.  But where I called Cael a "mugwump", the photographer simply told him he was goofy and guffawed just like Mickey's favorite dog pal by the same name.

Goofy, not a gopher. 

Unfortunately, the story doesn't end there like I thought it would.  When Cael came home from school on Picture Day, having promised me that he had indeed smiled for the camera, I could practically picture the shiny prints that I would soon slip from the envelope.  In my mind's eye, I could see Cael's bright blonde curls accented by the bright red plaid shirt I'd chosen for him.

But last Friday, when the moment I'd anticipated finally arrived, I tore into the envelope only to see that Cael was not wearing that red plaid shirt I had put on him and made him swear on a stack of Iron Man comic books that he would leave the shirt on.  So instead of the beautiful, colorful pictures I'd envisioned holding in my hand, I found myself staring a picture of my son in a flesh-toned t-shirt covered in splotchy dinosaur facts.

And I call myself a photographer!  Well, actually I don't.  Clearly I shouldn't.

I guess I got carried away by the idea of professional photos of my son taken by someone who doesn't incite misbehavior and doesn't rush through his photos because dinner is on the stove and the cat is licking the chicken.  Someone who doesn't have the  entire dialogue to Tangled memorized and doesn't feel anxiety over farts and buttcracks.

So even though the photos weren't what I was expecting, I think I learned a valuable lesson.  From now on, maybe I should save the $18 and let the crazy gopher wear whatever he wants. 

And call an actual photographer. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ism of the Week

"Mommy, Graham isn't listening to me.  I told him that I'm better than him at everything and he said no!"

"Well that's not very nice, Cael, because Graham is good at a lot of things, too.  He's very good at building with blocks and he makes the best towers.  I think it's cool that he loves books and he reads his letters really well, just like you.  He's such a good dancer and I like it when he sings with me, especially "You Are My Sunshine".  But I think the thing I like best about Graham is that he's such a sweet boy.  He is patient and gentle and he loves his big brother so, so much."

"Dat's right, Cael.  And if you say that again I'm gonna kick you.  Hard."

I guess I need to start making another list...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Feeling Five

This is a continuation of yesterday's post.  To read the previous story, click here

Who needs more than four hours of sleep?  Not this chick.  Apparently I function best with no rest and high blood sugar.  And a plastic bug in my hair, which has no bearing on my activity level but is Graham's newest way of showing his disdain love for me.

Early in the morning we headed off to church, with Cael sporting his Sunday best and a serious struggle with impatience as he attempted to argue his way into a piece of unfinished birthday cake for breakfast.  And lunch.  Or brunch.

I spent most of the day putting the finishing touches on the dinosaur cake.  The river the sprang from beneath the volcano developed quickly, as well as the oozing lava, several boulders and tufts of grass and even the "long neck" dinosaur. 

But when it came time to sculpt the pterodactyl, my lack of sleep caught up with me.  My fingers were completely inept and I kept creating small, colored triangular UFOs that would put Area 51 to shame.

Eventually, I had to practically trace the bird on the screen of my iPad and what resulted was closer to a warped bat than a pterodactyl, but the clock was ticking and I hadn't finished dinner.

The cold days we've been having, coupled with the crispy leaves escaping the trees, practically shouts for soup.  If you're me, you could eat soup every day and probably embrace a liquid diet with little protest.  If you're my husband, you have to "chew your food", which requires soup to tow the line of stew before it is worth your time.  Homemade Tomato, Ravioletti and Meatball soup is a decent compromise, but also the type of soup that has to develop flavor over the course of several hours in the same pan used to cook the 115 meatballs I'd made for the occasion. 

Why, oh why, did we not just order pizza and have store-bought cake?

I have come to the conclusion that I have an undiagnosable disorder in which I just can't help but to completely overdo everything.  Maybe it is perfectionism gone haywire, but it couldn't have struck at a busier time.  The cake was mercifully completed, but there were photos to take, dinner to make, and-- oh, no!  Did I ever wrap the gifts?

I took Cael outside for a brief photo shoot as I do annually on the boys' birthdays.  Aside from his requisite fake smile making several appearances, I got a number of cute portraits to clog up my computer and managed to tie up the remaining loose ends of the day.

When it was finally time to eat, we filled our stomachs with soup, bread and salad while Cael puzzlingly eyed the small pile of presents in front of the fireplace.

"Mommy, why aren't there very many presents?"

"I think they look like really good gifts, Cael."

"But Graham had so many more things!"

It's true.  Graham had a lot of little things to unwrap, because for Graham, the thrill is in seeing new things on which he can stake claim.  Cael, although his math skills are limited, is already keeping a running tally of who-got-more and whose-are-best that is cumulative over the course of his life.  And he thinks his list is always too small.

He was pleased, however, with his dinosaur toy and army tank.

He dressed up as a fireman and I considered the merit of an axe as a child's toy.

And when it was all done, he was still a bit confused until Joel attempted to put a blindfold on him to show him just one more thing.

Outside was a brand new ride-on toy, one intended for bigger kids, that Cael can drive and enjoy even when he's outgrown the Gator.  (Which Graham quickly understood was now his domain.)  Although Joel and I had read about it and locked it in the lowest speed setting just to be safe, we had no idea just how fast our son would be cruising the yard. 

Cael Earnhart, Jr. careened across the grass and whipped around corners with the finesse of a seasoned driver-- making artful 3-point turns and coming to a halt right in front of his shocked and wide-eyed family.

We should have stopped with the dinosaur.

We finished the night by singing "Happy Birthday" and eating a slice of the cake I'd devoted a ridiculous amount of time to perfecting, just to hack away at with a knife.  Seeing Cael's face as he spied the candles lit like fire atop the volcano made all of the hours worth the effort.

And this birthday wasn't yucky at all.