Friday, May 31, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary!

I skipped my Thursday posting yesterday so that I could bring you greetings today, on my second blog anniversary (blogiversary).  Don't worry, I didn't get you anything either.  I thought briefly about buying you a pair of the same pink footed pajamas that Joel bought be for Christmas a couple of years ago since that was a memory we shared together, but we also shared the time that Graham threw up all over me at the movie theater.  I think it best that we not revisit either of those experiences.

You can get me a sweater or something later.  Or maybe thisJust sayin'.

Now I know that things have been much slower the last few months than they were when I began this site, but my life was a lot different then.  I had a toddler and a baby, was still firmly planted in my twenties, and thought naively that I was busy.  At the time, I also thought I could sustain five weekly postings while feeding, bathing, dressing, educating, counseling, triaging, entertaining, chauffeuring and loving my husband, two animals, Cael, Graham and a partridge in a pear tree.

I also thought I wouldn't gain any more weight.  But that just goes to show you what two years and an inappropriate amount of Nutella can do.

I'm just as committed to keeping the blog going as I was two years ago today, and I'm hoping that you'll stick by me through the site's highs and lows.  In the next two weeks, I'm planning to update its look with a new layout and photos, and I might, just might, finally update those feature tabs that have been "under construction" longer than one of Graham's magnetic tile towers.

While I'm busy with that, please continue to stop by, comment on my posts, and share the blog with your friends.  Because as much as I love to write and to share my family's antics, it is so much more fun to know that someone out there can relate to a life filled with crazy around every corner.

But what can I do?  It is what it is.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


"Mommy, I needs a haircut."

"You think, Graham?  I know that you need a trim, but I kind of like your hair a little longer."

"But I'm gonna look like a girl!"

"No, your face is a very handsome boy face, and your clothes are obviously boy clothes.  I don't think anyone will think you're a girl."

"Yes they will!  Right, Cael?"

"Good one, Mom.  Now everyone is going to think Graham is a girl, and then Daddy will be mad at those people and they will all get into a huge fight and Daddy will go to jail for 800 years and you'll be sad and Graham will get really sick because he would only eat candy.  And then he'll be in the hospital for a really long time and they'll give him the wrong medicine because they'll think he's a girl and it will make him even sicker and then he'll die.  He'll be dead, Mom.  Dead.  Guess you should have just given him a haircut."

 "Yes, hello, is this Cost Cutters?..."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

News Flash

In the Nation - All across the country yesterday, American citizens remembered those lost to preserve our freedoms.  While many used the national holiday as a time to spend with family and engage in outdoor activities, those in the small town of Mt. Vernon, IA frustratedly looked skyward at the ominous grey clouds that have shrouded the town and ruined many holiday plans.  When asked to comment on the importance of Memorial Day, Mt. Vernon native Cael Foreman provided the following statement, "I remember lots of stuff.  Remember that time we went to that white place?  And we were outside and it was hot and I went to that tiny house and had that green icy thing?  You know, that one day?  I'm so good at remembering stuff." 

Arts & Leisure - In Iowa, preparations have begun for the 2013 summer camping season.  This year, in an effort to save money, the 1988 Airstream motorhome previously owned by Joel and Mary Foreman has been sold and the couple has purchased a tent.  Joel Foreman, a self-proclaimed outdoorsman, cited cooking over an open flame and hiking/fishing as positive points of the camping experience.  Mary Foreman energetically endorsed an opposing viewpoint, citing the lack of room service and chocolate pillow mints as negative aspects.  The debate continues. 

Agriculture - While an abundance of wet weather has local farmers concerned about the viability of their crop, avid morel mushroom hunters have taken advantage of damp conditions to yield a large haul of the sought-after items.  While many fans of the delicacy prefer to eat the mushrooms in their purest form, a group of outspoken Midwesterners swear by dredging them in craker crumbs and egg and lightly frying them in olive oil, thereby eliminating any remaining nutritional value present.  (No photos were available as the camera lens was covered in greasy fingerprints.)  

Education - In education news, parents across the country continue to mourn for the end of the academic year.  While many studies have demonstrated the educational benefits of year-round school for scholastic retention and growth, local area schools continue to adhere to a more traditional schedule.  In an effort to preserve the knowledge acquired during the 2012-2013 year, Iowa mother Mary Foreman has taken to quizzing her children.  Foreman relayed to reporters that she has seen some growth in math skills but a major loss of progress in behavioral development.  Three year-old Graham Foreman, who will be starting preschool in the fall, shared his thoughts on the area's educational system.  "I'm ready for school.  I can read all of my letters and I go potty on the big potty.  I learned lots of things, like adding and take-aways.  And I learned that you can't flush a tennis call down the potty."  In response, local school board members have proposed major changes in the preschool curriculum.

Economy - In our final story, the garage sale originally scheduled for May 18th at the Foreman home was postponed one week prior.  Global apparel retailers are closely monitoring the situation as many fear that such a large sale of baby and toddler clothes may eliminate the need for popular stores such as Baby Gap and Gymboree.  When asked, the Foreman family provided the following comment, "There are 400,000 bags of baby clothes in here.  I can't wait to get all of this crap out of the house, but please, sweet Lord, don't let us get accidentally pregnant."  The Lord was not immediately available to respond as he was occupied with a fried mushroom supper.

And that is the news of the day!  Join us next time.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Two Plus Two

Stating that my kids are mischievous would be as obvious and inefficient as bothering to explain that grass is green.  It is simply a given.

Rather than wallowing in frustration at the temperamental card I've been dealt (okay, I do that sometimes, too) I try to switch my perspective to a more optimistic outlook.  I like to remind myself that the reason my boys so easily find mischief and test my patience is because they are smart.  Really smart.

Too smart for their own good, really.

We put those smarts to the test the other day when Joel worked on math with Cael and Graham, the latter surprising us with his unexpectedly quick finger counting.

Graham saw our enthusiasm for his math skills and, desperate to relive that praise, started applying his newly-found arithmetic abilities to everything in sight.

"Mom, want to hear me add again?"

"Sure, Bubba."

"Otay.  What's a chair plus a pillow?"



They really are smart.  I promise.

"That doesn't really work, Graham.  You can't add objects and get a number as the answer."

"Yes you can!  What is an apple minus Oscar?"

"You tell me." 

"Onehundredthreehundredsixhundred.  And two."

"Oh, I see.  But Graham, listen.  Math uses numbers, not things around our house.  I know that you're very smart and I'm proud of you and how good you are at math.  So if you want to work on it, that's great.  But what you're doing right now isn't really 'math'."

"You're mean.  And Mommy?  You plus me?  That equals farts!"

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Grief and Loss

First day of school, August 15, 2012.
Friends, we are gathered here today to mourn the loss of the 2012-2013 academic year.  It is with great sadness that I write today to commemorate this school year, whose days were much too short.  For those of you that did not know this year personally, I can attest to the fact that it was wonderful, filled with many hours spent educating my oldest son and keeping him out of the house and unable to pound on his little brother.

I first met this school year on August 15, 2012, when I dropped my son, Cael, off at the doors of the elementary school for his first year of daily school.  From the very first day of our relationship, I noticed how much quieter and less confrontational my home felt, and I developed an instant bond with the school year.

Last day of school, May 21, 2013.
Throughout our relationship, the '12-'13 academic year enriched my life in many ways.  In addition to teaching my son to read and write many new words and providing him with educational opportunities unavailable in my home, it also allowed me to spend some one-on-one time with my younger son, Graham, and taught me the merits of Starbucks coffees and lazy Friday mornings.

If the school year were here today, I'm sure it would tell us not to be sad, but to remember the good times in the difficult summer days to come.  And even though it may be gone, the memories of the times we spent together will live on in our hearts until this fall, when we may allow ourselves to believe again when we begin the 2013-2014 year.

School year, I appreciated your camaraderie and will never forget you.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Gift Whisperer

"Cael, since it's your last real day of school, I think it would be nice to take something for your teacher.  Don't you think?"

"Yeah, I want to do that!"

"What should we take her?"

"A squirtgun."

"Really?  I don't think she's really play with that.  Plus, it's not appropriate to take a gun to school, even a watergun." 

"But she told me that's what she wants.  She told everyone in the class to bring her a squirtgun."

Yeah, right.

"Well, then I'm sure there are other kids that will do that for her.  I was thinking a picture of you with a nice note and a pretty plant that she can keep."

"No, what about a light saber?"

"That's not a gift that an adult would really like."

"But it's something I'd like."

"How would you feel if, for your birthday, I only gave you stuff I wanted?  Maybe when you turn six, I'll get you a gift certificate for a massage, some new sunglasses, some clothes and I'll be sure to take you out for sushi.  Okay?"

"...Ugh.  What kind of plant should we get?"

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Milestone Denial

There are a lot of things I don't believe. 

I don't believe in buying pay-per-view movies.  I don't believe in cooking a steak past medium.  I don't believe I can tan.  I don't believe that female sportscasters really care about the score in football games.  I don't believe that hot air balloons are safe.  I don't believe in using margarine as a substitute for butter or oil.  And I still don't believe that I deserve this great home, these beautiful boys.  This loving family.

And yet there are things that I know to be true and choose to deny.

My Graham cracker, my baby, will be headed to school in the fall.  And that thought is even scarier than the knowledge that my next birthday will see me saying goodbye to my twenties.  You won't see a post about that, however. 

Denial, thy name is thirty.

I have only mustered up enough courage to write about Graham's milestone because this blog was created for that very purpose, as a virtual memory book of the highs and lows of parenthood.  And while this event is classified as a high, the mere thought that his "babyhood" has come to end signals an emotional low.

I think I've faired better as Cael has aged because I've had Graham's tiny hand to hold along the way.  Cael's progression has also brought with it a bit of logic and enough age to temper his mischief at times.  But my youngest was born with a gentler sensibility, and a sweet innocence that I desperately don't want to see tarnished by bullies, stress and getting older itself.

He welcomes it, of course.  At his preschool open house, he flitted from one station to another, building castles in one corner and navigating the balance beam in another.  Every few minutes he was quick to return to my side for a reassuring hug before he was off to explore another room and another future away from my side.  It was only then that I realized how his reassuring hugs were probably for my benefit, not his.

I'll do my best to savor the last few months before this new academic phase of his life will begin.  I don't think I'll cry, or spend the time wishing he were with me instead of gaining this new independence.  Just as with Cael, Graham is bright and capable, and I'm excited to see the new facets of his personality that emerge as a result of these experiences.

So this time I'm letting it go-- I'm not going to worry about what embarrassing things my son will say, or whether his potty training will prove reliable.  In fact, those are thoughts best directed at myself.

I am turning 29 again, you know...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mother's Day

I hope all of the moms out there had a fabulous Mother's Day.  I hope you slept in, ate a breakfast more substantial than the scraps of your child's peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and I hope you were able to take some time for yourself during the day.

I know it's a long shot, but I'm wishing, here.

I had the distinct pleasure of spreading Mother's Day out over several weeks; my gift of top-of-the-line kitchen gear from Joel (specifically Wusthof knives and All-Clad pots/pans) arriving during April and Cael's school event for mothers taking place last Friday. 

The latter was one of those events that moms live for; an opportunity to get gussied up and show off one's child to the other parents in the class.  Or, roughly translated into my language, "where the heck is that one skirt I own" and "sweet Lord, please don't let Cael embarrass me in front of these well-adjusted children and their parents".

As much as I joke, however, Cael put his manners on display, and despite wolfing down a bowl of fresh fruit like an animal and refusing to do the sign language motions during a song featuring said hand movements, he made me proud. 

And not at all worried that four separate girls gave him hugs at the end of the day.

On Mother's Day proper, my boys presented me with a nice and very honest card as well as an iTunes gift card and a meal out at the restaurant of my choosing.  And best of all, the hugs, kisses, and dandelions I received were given freely, with no thought of what they would want from me.  And while I love providing for my boys, sometimes it is nice to know that they think of me, too.

"Mom, the cat threw up and Graham peed in his underpants!"

Well, there's still hope for my birthday.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Parental Bragging in the Digital Age

There's been so much action in our house in the last two weeks- enough that my blogging was limited to three days last week, and the lengthy post I'd planned to share about my Mother's Day experience is still only partially written (along with about five other stories I plan to share as soon as I've recovered and caught up on my sleep). 

It is during those very busy times that I most appreciate Cael's now obsessive interest in art.  Not only does he enjoy illustrating stories and assembling books in his free time, but when I am bogged down with chores and am not able to color with him, he retreats even further into his own world of art.  A world, I might add, where reality does not apply to color, and "abstract" is more often than not the name of the game.

I like his unrecognizable scribblings as much as his more successful attempts, to be honest.  Although I get tired of tiptoeing around his feelings while attempting to decipher the subject matter of his latest work, I do enjoy a challenge.

Cael is, if anything, a challenge.

You can imagine my surprise when Cael dragged me from dishes over to his latest "canvas" on the floor where I was expected to "ooh" and ahh" over his artistic endeavors.

"Mom, I drew a ninja.  Come see!"

Midway through my perfunctory glace at his paper, I stopped in my tracks.

"Yeah, Cael, that's a really g--  Wait, who drew this?"

"I did!"

"No, really, Cael.  Did Daddy draw this?  Papa?"

"No, Mom, I did!"

Stunned by what can only be described as an astonishingly accurate depiction of a ninja by the hand of a five year-old, I did what any mom would do.

I texted a picture of it to the family.  Then I Instagramed it.  If I were on Twitter, it'd be there too. 

Too bad no one uses MySpace anymore.  This deserves exposure.

So even though the horse Cael went on to draw immediately afterward looked more like a shoe than an animal, I can still carry the pride of knowing there's some real talent hidden in there.

And if not, I still have the text. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ism of the Week

"Come on, Bubba.  You don't need to suck that thumb anymore.  You're a big boy."

"Why can't I suck my thumb?"

"Because it's not good for your teeth.  And it's just not something that big school-aged boys do.  You want to be a big preschool boy next year, right?"


"Well then you need to stop sucking that thumb, okay?"

"Okay, Mommy."

That was surprisingly easy.  There must be a catch.

"It's okay.  I'll suck my finger instead."

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Easy Street

Don't you love it when everything goes just right?  When it seems like, for once, things just come easily?  I thought briefly that it was the warm air and plentiful sunshine that had sparked my optimism, or perhaps the fact that it was Saturday, but as the day progressed with no crises, it became clear that for once glorious day, I'd have it easy.

Unlike most days, I wasn't rudely awakened by my alarm clock at 6:00am.  I was able to sleep soundly until 7:30am, an hour of the morning that, ten years ago, would have been closer to my bedtime than my waking hour.  After breakfast and a quick check of my home which, shockingly,  revealed no vandalism or early morning candy theft, I was able to take a relaxing bath without interruption.

Because Joel had prior commitments, I spent the afternoon with my boys, dividing our time between "The Incredibles" and a large pad of coloring paper.

"I drew a picture of you, Mom.  And I put a heart by it because I love you so much."

"You're so sweet!  I love you too!"

They ate their lunches without complaining.  Cael offered to clear the dishes.  Graham happily trotted to his room for his nap, and a cool breeze drifted through the open windows that smelled of spring and the promise of rain.

Because everything was going my way, plans came together seamlessly when Papa suggested that the entire family head to Texas Roadhouse for dinner.  The rest of the family called ahead and reserved a table, and we arrived just in time to bypass the hoard of people waiting for peanuts and steak.

I knew that my boys would eat well; not just because they were being unusually agreeable, but because they would do just about anything when faced with the prospect of fresh rolls with honey butter.  Graham sneaked rolls while the rest of us laughed together and munched on a free appetizer.
When the meal was done, we made a quick stop at Walmart to purchase a birthday gift for the boy I watch during the week.  Joel and I each took a child and headed in different directions so that we could tackle our errands quickly and return home.  It was a great day, and there were still a few hours left, after all.

That's when, without warning, Graham threw up all over the buffed floors of our local Walmart.  And just like the rest of our day, he threw himself into the act with no reservations, unleashing a volume of pureed honey-buttered rolls and shelled peanuts that I would not have believed could fit into the petite stomach of my three year-old son. 

Easy street has more potholes than I remembered...

Monday, May 6, 2013

Oh, Bother...

"Graham is bothering me, Mom."

"I'm sorry.  If you'd just play with him, he wouldn't follow you around like that.  He just wants to be with you."

"But I don't want to be with him!"

"I understand that, but he's your brother and he loves you.  And I know you love him."

"You know what?  When I was growing up I never fought with Sarah or Amy.  Not even once!"

"But you didn't have a brother.  And Sarah and Amy didn't break your tower.  And Sarah and Amy didn't wear your underwear all the time.  And Sarah and Amy didn't eat your candy when you went to put socks on.  And Sarah and Amy didn't put poop under your bed!"

"You're right, I didn't have a brother, but I had two sisters.  And no, they didn't break my things or wear my underwear and and they didn't steal my candy.  At least not that I know of.  And they didn't put-- wait, what?!"

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Hidden Talents

I'm always learning new things about my kids.  Most of those things force me to question my very qualifications to be a parent, or at the least guarantee I'll be going prematurely gray.

But over the last few days, I've learned that they both possess unique and unusual talents that have remained hidden from me until now.  Graham, for one, has perfected his ninja-like stealth mode, and now moves about my house in the early morning hours in complete silence.  But rather than using his secrecy to exact revenge on his brother or steal my iPad to play Temple Run, he has taken to pilfering Easter candy from the basket in the locked pantry cabinet.

The first few times he did it, he remained undetected.  But then he got cocky and didn't carefully cover his tracks.  Candy wrappers on the carpet alerted me to the problem, and after a lengthy conversation I felt confident that he knew better than to attempt his morning sugar robbery again.


I discovered that, in addition to being a very successful sneak, Graham is just as persistent as his brother and only slightly more remorseful.  This news wasn't quite as shocking as the realization this morning that the entire bucket of candy was gone, in addition to about ten Fig Newton cookies and a box of Teddy Grahams.  If his shenanigans weren't enough of a hidden talent, the kitchen door thrown open and stool pulled up in blatant disregard of the rules alerted me to the fact that Graham's true hidden talent is being the instigator and averting the consequences by pretending to be the innocent one.  

Lucky for me, I have a talents too.

Cael is less of an enigma.  With two years on Graham, I've had that much more time to observe Cael and come to the conclusion that I will never fully understand him.  And it's no surprise, really, with his effortless ability to shift from "shy and well-mannered student" to "oh my gosh that's NOT my kid" at the blink of en eye, he leaves little room for psychological analysis.

So when I catch a glimmer of a previously unexplored ability, I feel a tingle of excitement but force myself to suppress the desire to push it along.  I learned that the hard way when Cael, still learning to write words other than his own name, presented me with a paper captioned "LOVE".  I don't know if it was his shockingly crisp penmanship, or the red crayon he'd used to write the letters, but I executed a textbook mother "freak-out" and demanded he allow me to keep the paper for sentimental reasons. 

Then, sitting him down at the table with a fresh paper and green crayon, I asked him to show me what else he could  write.  After three attempts that yielded little more than a string of unrelated letters, Cael proudly handed me his last effort; a hastily scribbled drawing of a man with an oversized hat, crowded to the edge of the paper by the word "ASS".

Sometimes it is best to let skills develop at their own pace.

That's why I should have known better than to laugh when Cael demonstrated a unique (and thus far hidden) talent for bestowing nicknames upon his brother and other unsuspecting people around him.  I suppose what he does is little more than pairing an adjective (any adjective, really) with a noun (any noun, for that matter) and announcing his creation with his signature flare and a twinkle in his eye.

"Graham, you know you're not supposed to steal candy from the kitchen!  We've talked about this!"

"He's such a slippery pirate, Mom."

"He's a what?"

"A slippery pirate.  Or a slimy piano bench."

"You are such a  goofball, Cael."

"I'm funny, too!  And you're a bumpy banana!  Or a scary casserole!  And Daddy is a fluffy dinosaur!"

Sadly, one of Cael's hidden talents is not knowing when to quit.

So, while this week has led to some interesting discoveries, I hope they are ones I can use to my advantage.  And if not, I can sleep well knowing that I have a talent of my own-- documenting every one of their quirks and preserving them for the future. 

Or at least their high school graduations.