Thursday, January 30, 2014

Out of Context

In a family that is as linguistic as mine, it should come as no surprise that my boys have certain words and phrases that make constant rotation in their speech.  For Graham, nothing is better than uttering, "Oh, great!", dripping with sarcasm, not only when things don't go his way, but also when they do, like when he gets his dessert, or I tell him we're going to pull out the Play Doh and he's free to sculpt poop out of the green dough.

Cael's language has always been questionable, but he hasn't used any particular phrases repetitively until this week, after a misunderstanding turned the word "crocodile" until "taco dial".  Almost immediately, tacos sprung up in every conversation and in multiple incarnations until he settled on one in particular that seems to have stuck... taco supreme.

In the words of Graham, oh great.

Credit to Taco Bell
Cael doesn't even know what taco supreme means.  Sure, he's had a taco, but the entire phrase is foreign to him save for the persistent and reliable laughter it brings him when he says it.  And boy, does he ever say it.

"Check out this huge tower I made with the magnet tiles, Mom.  Oh, yeah, taco supreme!!"

"It's really windy outside, Mom.  It's blowing taco supreme hard out there."

"Graham, give that back!  You are such a cheese weasel!"

(Okay, that last one wasn't about tacos.  But what the heck is a cheese weasel?)

I should probably knock on wood that I'm not dealing with profanity at this stage, although that has popped up time and again, thanks to new friends at school with new words to share.  But I do long for the simplicity of the days when Cael was little and his best means of expressing his frustration was to repeat Thomas the Train's locomotive-related outbursts.  Fizzling fireboxes!  Cinders and ashes!

Now times are more complicated and here I sit, with a sarcastic four year old, a six year old with an affinity for mexican food-related comments, and an ever-growing bump in my belly that still doesn't have a name.

"Hey, Mom.  You know what would be a good name for the baby?  Taco Supreme!"

"Oh, great, Cael..."

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ism of the Week

"Mom, I really like this picture of you and Daddy because he looks so young."

"Why is that?"

"He looks young because he doesn't have his beard and mustache in this picture."

"Yep, and ladies don't grow hair on their faces, do they?"

"No.  Well, not much."

"What are you talking about, Cael?"

"There's this old lady that works at my school and she's got a really hairy face.  I asked her if she wasn't shaving until summer like Daddy but I don't think she heard me."

"Oh, Cael, tell me you didn't."

"I didn't."


"No, I totally did."

That's Cael for you, always getting into a hairy situation.  My apologies to the mystery school employee.

Monday, January 27, 2014

X or Y?

As many of you may recall, Friday was the big day of our gender reveal ultrasound.  And...'s a boy!

So, this is where I provide the traditional pregnancy disclaimer where I say that I will love him no matter what, and I just want a healthy baby, yada yada yada, which I've always understood but found a little ridiculous.  I've never heard a mother prefer an unhealthy baby over a healthy one of the opposite gender, and of course I will love this baby the same if it were a boy, a girl or a ferret.

That being said, I am a little disappointed.  Not with the boy we'll have, but with the knowledge that I'll never get to experience having a daughter.  No pretty dresses or fake press-on nails, no Barbie dream house and no shopping for Prom.  And in my family, where this child will be my Dad's seventh consecutive grandson (with not one girl in sight), it feels like a let down for everyone. 

Give me a few days and I'll be over it, though, because I know how sweet it is to nuzzle a brand new baby boy.  But until then, here are a few key phrases to avoid when speaking to me on this subject: 

"Sorry he's not what you wanted." 
That's not true.

"Just dress him up like a girl anyway.  He'll never know."


"Just keep trying until you get that girl."


"Trust me, you don't want a girl anyway."
Yeah, I did. 

But that's okay.  Now I don't need to buy much to prepare for his arrival, and I won't have to pay for anybody's wedding.  And let's face it, if I get another boy like the two I've already got, I'll be a pretty lucky woman.

Or I'll be in serious trouble.  It's too early to tell.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pregnancy Brain

I'm kind of scatter-brained at times, and that is a frustrating admission for a Type-A person like myself.  So when I realized late last night that I had not posted anything on this here blog in two full days without as much as a thought about it, I knew what was to blame.

Pregnancy Brain.

If you've had a baby, you know how it is.  Your body is so busy constructing a human that some of the energy previous allotted for brain function gets diverted for creating microscopic toenails or signaling to your stomach that you can, in no way, eat grape jelly on anything.

For me, pregnancy brain has generally manifested as forgetfulness, an excuse that I wield shamelessly each and every time I misplace something or forget something important. 

Forgetting "Pajama Day" at Graham's preschool last week?
Pregnancy Brain.
Sending Cael with two pieces of dry bread in his lunch because I forgot the peanut butter?
Pregnancy Brain. 

But no conversation about maternity-related foolishness would be complete without mentioning my experience while carrying Cael, and the holy grail of pregnancy brain atrocities.

When Cael was on the way, I had no other kids at home to blame for my stupidity, just a loosely house-trained puppy, a full time job, and a big pile of dirty laundry that was getting increasingly difficult to handle with my protruding belly.

I dumped the dark colored items into the washer, turned it on, and waited while it washed away the grime.  When it was time to move the clothing into the dryer, I hardly noticed that I couldn't detect the smell of detergent, and definitely didn't notice the wet, crumpled dryer sheets that were agitated with our shirts and pants. 

I did notice, however, when I pulled those same things from the dryer an hour later and found that everything was stiff and crusty from the baked-on detergent that coated the inside of the machine.

Yep, I put the dryer sheets in the washer, and the detergent in the dryer. 

Pregnancy Brain.

I can look back on it now with a chuckle and only a little embarrassment, realizing how ridiculous a mistake it really was.  So please forgive me for not posting earlier in the week, because I had a really good excuse.

Pregnancy Brain.  

That and also the fact that it took me three days to remember my Blogger login information.  Is it June yet?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What's In a Name?

I've thought a lot about baby names recently, for obvious reasons, and I think I am even farther from making a decision than I was when I got that first positive test result.  I shouldn't be surprised, then, by the dream I had last night that my baby was assigned a name by the hospital from a rotating list as if he or she were a hurricane about to make landfall.

And the name given to my baby?  Gertrude Wilbur.

Sure, you don't usually see a girl's name and a boy's name on the same birth certificate, but this is my overly hormonal subconscious talking, and this particular combination is probably not on my list.  But the even bigger dilemma is that I have no list.  I love the names we chose for our boys, and the way they suit their childhood personalities so well but would also sound sophisticated on the nameplate of a future architect or lawyer.  Cael Thomas... Graham Elliott...  Gertrude Wilbur?

There are so many odds stacked against us.  Our last name Foreman nearly eliminates any more modern choice ending in -an, -en, or -on, because they feel as though they rhyme.  We've exhausted boys' names and no longer find anything appealing, and as a teacher, Joel knows a girl with nearly every conceivable name and wants something new for our child that comes with no preconceived notions.

Maybe we need to take a step back and look to others for advice.  When Cael and Graham were asked, we were provided with the following suggestions:  

Sweaty Balls
Hot Potato
Sweetie Pie

Hmm... not quite my style.  I do like names that are not frequently used, though, so maybe we should look to celebrity baby naming trends to choose something fresh and unique.  Perhaps something like:

South Wynd
Axl Rod
Oranje Julius
Moonbeam Sunshine

Yikes.  Sometimes it feels like we'll never come to a decision, so I am glad I still have until June to come up with a moniker that all of us enjoy.  

And if all else fails, we can always go with George Foreman.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Pushing the Point

One thing I really struggle with is how hard to stress a point with my boys.  For example, when a child grinds cereal into the carpet and pours milk on top because, naturally, "cereal needs milk, Mom", you can't laugh if off, or you'll inherit the cost of outfitting your home with vinyl flooring.  Similarly, if you throw the book at them (don't really throw a book, you know) they just might develop a food aversion to cereal and then you'd have make fresh scrambled eggs for breakfast each day, and who has the time?

It can be really hard to find that middle ground, and last night I went too far.  Considering that we had struggled through a very challenging day, I thought I was being charitable by letting the boys use their bathtub crayons to scribble their names and vandalize the shower walls with rudimentary rear ends.  I stepped out from time to time to flip my kale chips in the oven, and upon my return one of those times, I noticed that the water was a bit murky.  Quickly, my brain scanned through the possible causes.

Vomit?  No, no one is sick.
Poop?  Not enough laughter.
Cereal and milk?  Sounds like something they'd do, but I was in the kitchen and saw no such heist.
Then, using my mothering detective abilities, I scanned the room and zoned in on the roll of suspiciously low and crumpled toilet paper, and it all clicked.  When Cael had stepped out quickly to use the toilet, he'd returned with a souvenir from his trip, and he and Graham spent the duration of their bath swimming with millions of shreds of floating paper.

I found myself in the same dilemma as before.  If I drained the tub and filled it up again, giving them another chance at a bath and not teaching them the reasons why it is disgusting to bathe in what I can only hope was clean toilet paper, they'd surely graduate to napkins or cardboard boxes within the month.  So I quickly pulled them from the tub, dried and dressed them, and sat them down to explain what a poor decision they'd made.  Putting toilet paper in the water is unclean.  The pipes could clog.  And as a result, the basement could flood.  Again.

They had to sit quietly and think about it, had a few minutes to clean up, and after I read them a story, tucked them into bed.  Before I could leave the room, however, it began.

"Do you have enough money to pay a plumber to fix the toilet?"

"Mom, will we wake up underwater tomorrow?"

"Will we ever get to take a bath again?"

"If the basement floods, will we die?"

I couldn't send them to bed thinking they'd drown during the night, so I had to concede a bit.

"No, guys.  If the bathtub clogs, which it didn't seem to do, it would just mean that I couldn't drain it next time.  There's no way the house will flood as long as the water isn't turned on.  You can go to sleep now... I promise you will be fine."

I gave them an extra kiss for good measure and shut the door, frustrated that I'd scared them so badly but glad they had at least considered the consequences and sure it wouldn't happen again. 

"Psst, Graham.  If the bathtub is fine, next time we should swim with your underpants!"

So close.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Potty Mouth

I got pretty lucky with my boys.  We never went through the aggravating biting or hitting stages, and despite a uniquely intense desire to trash our home, Cael and Graham's behavior is pretty typical of children their age.

Along with that typical behavior, I understand, is a love for all things inappropriate.  Body parts, things that stink, bottoms, diapers, belches and armpits.  These things and more are like catnip-laced crack for four and six year-olds.  But as time has passed, their interest in bathroom humor has grown exponentially, just like their ability to produce gas (and laughs) on command.

At first, my husband (a former boy) reassured me that this activity falls under that rhetorical list of What Boys Do that mothers will never understand.  I have also placed "beating each other senseless and coming back for more" on the list, right behind "eating sandwiches into the shape of a weapon".  He urged me to let it go, and know that this too, as many say, will pass.

Expect it didn't.  It hasn't, that is, and now it bothers him as much as it does me.

Their bone-deep need to be inappropriate is like a terrible itch that, if they had any semblance of control I would likely let them scratch from time to time just to get it out of their system.  But that itch has become an obsession and I can barely speak without triggering a vicious cycle of bathroom humor hatred.  I speak some innocuous word that causes laughter; laughter leads to lack of control; lack of control leads to forced farts; and forced farts cause laughter again.

And let me just say that you don't want to be trapped in a car with them when this laughter > loose bowel > fart cycle hits.

It goes something like this.

"Okay, boys, who wants to go with me into Target?"

"We just want to go home."

"Okay, but if I don't--"

"Hahaha!  Graham, Mommy said 'butt'!"

"I did not, I was just saying that--"

"Butt!  Butts and poop!  Poop stinks, Cael!  Your butt is stinky too, when you poop!"

"Graham, that's enough.  I was just saying that if I don't run into Target I can't get noodles and peas for--" 

"Pee!  Like peeing in a toilet or in a diaper like a baby!  Mommy pees in a diaper!  I have to tell my teacher that Mom pees her pants into a diaper!  I bet my teacher pees her pants, too.  I'll tell her that and she'll think it's funny."

"It's not funny, Cael.  Neither your teacher or I pee our pants.  We are far past the point where stuff like that is funny." 

"Point, Cael!  Like pointing a toot at you.  Excuse me!  Excuse me!"

And then the air turns green and my hair goes straight.

It seems like too ridiculous an offense to escalate to timeouts and loss of privileges, but we are far beyond the point of ignoring the constant, never-ending, mind-grating bathroom banter.

So what is a Mom to do?  (Do, not doody.)  I just hope to nip this in the bud (the BUD!) before I expel a little potty talk of my own. 

"Mom said potty!"


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Christmas Festivities, Part II

When the boys got up the next morning, it was finally Christmas and time to open presents!

Well, that's not exactly true.  When I was awakened by the sound of the television and toys being rattled around, I prepared for the holiday extravaganza only to realize that it was 5:07am, and far too early for my small children to be up.  Children who hadn't gone to bed, mind you, until nearly 10pm, pushing back my bedtime until nearly 2, since we still needed to assemble the "big gift", and I had some Christmas brunch prep work to do.  I stumbled downstairs and tucked them back in, reminding them that Santa hadn't even returned to the North Pole yet, and hoped the threat would be enough to let me sleep until 6:15am.

The second time I was roused from sleep it was lighter in my room, and I was immediately grateful that some time had passed.  Checking my alarm clock, however, I could see that only 11 minutes had passed, and the light in my room was streaming from the hall where the boys had been sneaking peeks at the wrapped gifts since I'd left their room.

Or probably sooner.

We managed to distract them until 7:30am when my Dad came by to open gifts with us, and we subjected them to the pain of opening gifts one by one, an offense that must be comparable to any of the torture methods banned by the Geneva Conventions.

But one by one, the stockings and gifts were opened.  Joel had gotten his main gift in November for his birthday, but we still wrapped up a new shirt and tie for him (an annual tradition), the game Cards Against Humanity and a hunting/utility flashlight tool.  Joel had surprised me with a very large spa set, a new sweater and a brand new phone to replace my faulty device that had taken a swim in the toilet last March.

The boys, as it always seems, had too many things to count.  I've learned that, at their current ages, I can get away with spending more on one than the other because they have nearly no concept of what things cost.  But should one of them receive one more gift than the other?  Watch out.  They'd have all of us strung up in front of the fireplace by our stockings.

I was so happy that we could provide a nice Christmas for them, but no holiday would be complete in our house without the customary surprise.  Every year we hold out on one gift that we deem to be the best (although Graham's week-long obsession with a tiny whizzing airplane from his stocking proved me wrong) and we pull it out as the pièce de résistance of the day.  Once it was the Gator.  Another time, it was the Polar Express train set, which now graces our tree each year.  But this year, it was a kitchen.

We'd been considering a kitchen for the boys for several years, but I hadn't found one I liked and that wasn't adorned with pink flowers.  Some more serious searching this year yielded my first choice, a faux-stainless steel kitchen that is slightly taller to accommodate older kids.  We ordered it shortly after Thanksgiving, and let the box sit in our house so long that neither Cael nor Graham considered it suspect.

But come the night of Christmas Eve, Joel and I learned what selflessness is all about.  Sacrificing for your children is sitting on your knees, bleary-eyed, until 1:15am, assembling mismatched and unmarked boards and avoiding a landmine of weak and tiny factory provided screws.  My Dad once told me that if a couple can put up wallpaper together without someone being assaulted, they have real staying power.  Wallpaper may be "out" now, but I've found a suitable substitute, and I'm glad my boys' Christmas surprise was not the news of our impending divorce.

After all of the effort made, I was a little bummed that they were not as excited as I'd hoped when we revealed the kitchen, but over the last week I have eaten enough fake doughnuts and cobs of corn to wrestle in a higher weight class, or at least to prompt people to ask me if I'm carrying twins.

Yeah. It's the kitchen's fault.

Later my sister's family came and we shared our traditional Christmas brunch, and it was with full stomachs and full trash cans of wrapping paper that we promptly fell asleep and caught up on those missing hours of sleep.

I hope you all had a great Christmas as well!  My kids are finally back in school after a ridiculously long winter break that was compounded by three additional snow days, and life can begin to return to normal.

For a handful of months, that is.  Next Christmas there will be a whole new stocking to fill...

Monday, January 6, 2014

Christmas Festivities, Part I

With the windchill this morning approaching 50 degree below zero (no joke), it has been a bit hard to make my numb fingers type this morning.  But today, of all days, I am grateful that my furnace died a little over a month ago during a cold snap that I now understand to have been balmy in comparison.  The large sum of money we shelled out to replace it was little cost to sleep well last night knowing that the house would be safe and warm this morning.

This winter has been exceptionally rough; lots of ice and snow pelted us a couple of days before Christmas, and the brutally cold temperatures have kept the blanket of white from melting even on the days that dare rise above freezing.

We did have a beautiful Christmas, however, and since I was unable to share it with you at the time, let's do a brief recap, shall we?  After all, this blog serves as something of a virtual scrapbook for my family, a place where I can edit the truth to say "my children looked so angelic performing in the church Christmas Pageant" rather than "I had to practically drag Cael onto the stage and nearly drag Graham off of it"


It just doesn't have the same poetic ring.

Christmas Eve was a similar affair, with Graham rearing to go to church as it symbolized another step closer to Santa's arrival and the overindulgence that he knew would occur.  But Cael, being Cael, was feeling stubborn and didn't want to leave our warm house when it was, shock of shocks, snowing outside.

But after the Christmas Eve service, both boys knew it was time to open their one designated present, which despite always being pajamas, we feel we must pretend we don't know about in the interest of preserving the magic of Christmas.  In the end, there was no need for lies or shiny wrapping paper to get them excited, because it only took one brief glance at their pajamas for them to bounce up and down in joy. 

Butt flaps do that to a kid on Christmas Eve.

So we tucked them in with kisses and whispers of Santa, and hoped against all hope that they could open that flap during the night if the need arose.  There are only so many surprises meant for Christmas morning...

Friday, January 3, 2014

Ism of the Week

Sometimes, when the boys get things wrong, I find that their mistakes are even more accurate than what they meant to say in the first place.

"Cael, can I have that paper that was on the table?"

"No, it's mine now."

"Excuse me?  That paper had a phone number on it that I needed to keep."

"No, Mom, don't you know?  Finders keepers, losers sweepers."

"Oh really?"

"Yeah.  I found it and I cut it up with scissors, so I get to keep it.  And you lose, so you have to sweep the floor."

Yeah, that sounds about right.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Class of 2013

Happy 2014!  So far, ours is off to a very uneventful start, which given the alternative in a house full of wild men, is completely welcome.  2013 ended dramatically, with 12 half-written blog posts in my iPad that never came to fruition thanks to a series of interruptions and holiday celebrations.  So let's start fresh, with a wrap-up of 2013's superlatives, in no particular order, including a few stories you may not have heard.

Most Exciting Announcement - In November we revealed that we are expecting baby #3, which until recently when I began to feel movement and have hit the grace period of my second trimester, I had affectionately nicknamed "the unseen beast within that has ravaged my complexion and destroyed my stomach lining".  Isn't it catchy?  We're still very excited and only minimally concerned that the child will emerge as a rabid animal or even more fearsome, another energetic blond haired, blue-eyed boy.

Most Likely to Get Arrested - It seemed as though Graham lost all of his inhibitions this year, taking each and every opportunity to drop his pants when we weren't looking.  Three guesses as to what my resolution is for Graham this year?


Tastiest Treats (a.k.a. Why I Didn't Sleep in 2013) - I had the opportunity to make four fun cakes this past year for my nephews and my own boys, helping me to hone my decorating skills and my ability to function without sleep.  All jokes aside, I enjoyed making their days more special and the chance to get my hands dirty rather than constantly picking up others' messes.

Best Investment - While we were drying off sunning ourselves in Seattle last summer, our latest addition was being constructed in our backyard.  And like all other aspects of our lives, it wasn't easy.  The assemblers arrived several days late, behaved badly in our absence, and left with a large pile of lumber and plastic in our driveway.  Upon further inspection, the materials were revealed to be a second playset which the company seemed uninterested in retrieving, so a small donation to the foul-mouthed assembler left us with what we now refer to as "The Fortress".  With the boys now housebound thanks to laughable amounts of snow this winter, I can look back at the purchase with affection and serious confidence.

Most Likely to be King - Cael was asked to serve as the Homecoming Prince last October, giving the high school students in Joel's district a lesson in good looks and how to treat a lady.

Most Mysterious - In March, I awoke one day to a ridiculously swollen and bruised knee that I had not, to my knowledge, injured in any way.  It took a couple of weeks to return to normal, and the mystery remains unsolved to this day.  Where is Robert Stack when you need him?
Scariest Sale - Most recently in our revolving cycle of Airstream purchases, Joel sold off our 1980s Airstream motorhome to a special effects director from California, who flew out, picked up the silver beast and attempted to drive it back to the west coast.  Instead, the huge trip led to a series of new mechanical problems that, in an as-is (Craigslist) sale were not our responsibility but did cause us to receive several threatening emails demanding money for repairs.  By late June when it all blew over, we were grateful to have several weeks of radio silence and a large mountain range for protection.

Most Challenging - In our quest to have one more baby, we received our first positive test result in late July, and waited little time before sharing the news with our immediate family.  God had a different child in mind for us, however, and we lost that baby not long into the pregnancy.  We are happy to now be expecting our healthy baby in mid-June, and for Cael and Graham to take on the new role of being big brothers.

Hairiest Valentine - For Cael's preschool valentine party, he was asked to create a unique valentine that he made himself.  My son was unfortunately born to a type-A perfectionist, however, and I was unable to let him go through with his idea of painting live frogs pink and taping them to construction paper.  Instead, our hand-crafted mustaches were a hit and a good source of laughs through much of February.

Most Likely to Hit a Rock - I still maintain that I am a safe driver, but after sideswiping a concrete planter two years ago and driving straight over a decorative granite boulder this fall, I was forced to reevaluate my driving skills.  I came to the conclusion that all child and adult passengers are safe under my vehicular care.  But rocks and hard places?  Watch yourselves...

Biggest Milestones - Graham began preschool this year in his usual, quiet way, and Cael ascended to the ranks of Kindergartner with a few weeks of consecutive calls and emails home.  Some just take a bit more time to adjust, I'm guessing.  But judging by the ever present marker-written words on any shred of unused paper or tabletop (or wall), a fair amount of the actual learning is sinking in between the newly-acquired bad words.

Most Horrible Purchase - After hearing Joel mention that he'd heard of a funny new game available on Amazon, I jotted down the name and purchased "Cards Against Humanity" for one of Joel's Christmas gifts.  On the box is written, "A party game for horrible people", a statement that I didn't quite understand until we played the game with a group of friends and laughed and cried in horror at not only the shocking suggestions given by the game, but in shame for finding it funny in the first place.  If you're easily embarrassed, don't even go there.  But if you do, don't judge me.

Cutest Reader - Graham showed off his adorably cute and remarkable memorization reading skills with his favorite book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.


Strongest Craving - It was only a few weeks into my pregnancy before I started having cravings for certain foods, and about ten weeks before I knew, with absolute certainty, that I needed to eat a lobster tail.  Thoughts of lobster inundated my every waking moment.  No other foods held the same excitement.  So when my good husband drove us to Red Lobster, something special was going to happen.  And I've never felt less guilty about powering down so much seafood.  (We also managed to take a special video, too.)

Most Trying Trip - As a nice break for our family before returning to work and school, Joel and I packed up the boys and headed out of town for a night to spend some Christmas money and get away from our usual routine.  Instead, we battled dangerous weather at every turn, found nothing that we wanted to purchase for ourselves, and halfway through our return trip had to stop in a small town along the interstate to book a hotel room to avoid the wind and snow that had made driving nearly impossible.  The boys were exhilarated by the constant surprises and hotel pools, and we were relieved we hadn't blown that extra cash after all. 

So that's it!  There was so much more we did that I couldn't fit here, but I'm ready to put 2013 to rest and practice writing 2014.

I should have it mastered by mid-April.