Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Graham's Ark

Joel and I have recently been a part of a new ministry in our town, (check it out!) and with all of the preparation involved, we've had a lot of religious conversations with the boys.  But when your kids are only six and four, it is hard to know how much and how well they are absorbing the information. 

Cael, for his part, stages epic battles between his Pokemon cards and Jesus, and although I find the scenario ridiculous, I am relieved to see Jesus come out ahead of Pikachu every time.  Graham, however, remains quiet about most things.  He saves up his energy and introspection until he lets it all out in one grand display.

That's why I choose to believe that his latest escapade was not mischief, but a faithful demonstration of Noah's Great Flood.

On Monday, while I was putting one of my day care children down for a nap, Graham and another devout disciple (the older brother of the child I was helping) decided to test the seaworthiness of my basement by filling every chalice-like item they could find with water from the toilet and sink and began baptizing the room.

Now if you've been following my blog for a while, you know that my basement is no stranger to invading waters, but never before have those waters covered not just the floor, but also the furniture, walls, toys, soaked the mattresses and bedsheets, television and remotes, every paper product on my bookshelf, my computer, two printers, my keyboard, mouse, digital cameras, a host of cables, all of the Christmas decorations in my storage room, photos on the walls, the windows, my husband's guitars, much of the clothing in the closets, a CD player and lamp, and likely many more things that I've yet to discover.

Come on, Graham.  Thou shalt not flood my stuff.

Understandably, I think, I freaked out and spent well over an hour using already damp towels to soak up as much water as possible, but still had to set up fans and pull back cushions to draw out the moisture.  A brief survey of the flood zone last night revealed that the Dish Network-owned remote, one lamp, 14 battery-operated toys, my Apple bluetooth keyboard, all of the aforementioned paper goods (including my childhood photo albums) and my Canon photo printer have all moved on to a better place.  A drier place, at least.

Graham is busy learning from this as he marches his freshly laundered stuffed animals into the closet, two by two.  I am busy learning a few phrases in Aramaic, like "don't move a muscle" and "back away from the toilet".

So, to my dearly departed electronics and lost items, peace be with you.

(Today's post has no photos as I am afraid to bring any of my still-working electronics into the flood zone.  Please also forgive my late posting as this story could not be shared until I had purchased a replacement keyboard.  Isn't parenting home ownership great?)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Ism of the Week

"Mom, why can't Oscar talk like Mickey Mouse does?"

"Why do you think he can't talk?"

"Because Mickey isn't real."

"That's right, he's just a cartoon.  That would be funny if he could talk, though.  What do you think he would say?"

"He would yell at Cael.  I think he doesn't like it when Cael blames all of his farts on him."

"Cael blames farts on the dog?"  News to me.

"Yeah.  And it hurts Oscar's feelings."

"I bet it would."

"But Mom?"


"Oscar doesn't mind when I do it."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Distraction Action

Baby Cael feeling feisty at a restaurant.
When the boys were small, I had mastered the art of distraction.  It was a necessity, really, because with two very wily, noisy boys, it was physically impossible to dole out timeouts for every infraction.  Instead, when voices got too noisy at a restaurant, I would swoop in with my magic carpet bag of crayons, matchbox cars and floor lamps to distract them from whatever mischief they were about to attempt. 

I was good, too; I will admit that.  Distraction is a tool every mother should have (and wield) in her tool belt, right along with the ability to draw multiple car length locomotives in basic primary crayon, and a knack for turning any casserole into kid-worthy fare with little more than a pack of Saltine crackers.

Mercifully, having four and six year-olds means that I don't have to resort to distraction quite as often.  Desperate pleas for silence happen daily, but they understand reason a bit better, and have learned the signs that I'm about to implode with frustration.  And in a grand "aha moment", I realized last week that those are the moments when my kids turn the tables to distract me.

"Graham, I need you to clean up your crayons and paper from the table so that I can make lunch.  Graham?  Graham, I mean it.  If you want to eat lunch today, I need you to clean up.  Grammy?  Come on, Graham!"

"Tadpoles have tails and grow into frogs."

"Yes, I know.  But are you not listening?  I need you to pick up now." 

"And butterflies start out as caterpitters."

"Your lunch won't start out at all unless you collect your things and put them away."


I won that round, but only because Graham doesn't have the years of experience I do and isn't stubborn enough to see it through to the end.  But Cael?  Cael is a worthy opponent.

Leaving a restaurant last week, (if all of these stories take place at restaurants, why do I keep going out?) he took off running for the van across the parking lot without checking for cars crossing his path.  When I'd finally caught up to him, I was buzzing with anxiety and ready for the lecture I'd mentally composed.

"Cael, you CANNOT run off like that in a parking lot.  What if a car had whipped around the corner and you didn't see it?  Do you know what would happen if you got hit by a car?"

"I'd get dead."

"Probably, or very badly hurt.  I don't want to hold your hand just to keep you from having fun-- I do it to keep you safe.  And the very first second you hear me say 'stop', you need to freeze and come right over to me.  Do NOT keep going.  My job is to keep you safe, and your job is to trust me and follow directions.  Do you understand?"

"I hate the opera, Mom."

"Didn't you hear me say-- wait, what?  You hate the opera?  When have you even seen an opera?" 

Photo credit here.
"I don't like all the singing.  It's too much singing.  And on tv yesterday they were singing in a different language and I couldn't even understand it."

"Well, if the opera is good, you should be able to figure out what is happening by watching the people on stage.  And I think the programs tell you a bit more about what's going on, too."

"But they look weird and movies are cooler."

"Most kids probably feel that way, but when you're older if you still really like music, you'll have to watch a real opera and you might change your mind."

"Okay, Mom.  Can I have a piece of my Easter candy?"

"Sure, dude."

Wow, well played.  Both of my boys have managed to use distraction to get out of trouble or to divert my attention long enough to cause some.  Sounds like I need to sharpen my skills to distract others.

"So, Mary, have you guys picked a name for the baby yet?"

"Did you know that strawberries aren't really berries but bananas are?!"

Yep, that'll do it.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Easter!

Happy (belated) Easter!

This was one of those picture perfect years where Easter fell late in April and we awoke to birds chirping and it was already 60 degrees by 8am, making the task of stashing plastic eggs around the yard much more tolerable.  Nice, even, when you're already in a pleasant mood and you see two overly excited boys smiling up at you.  Or down, as it were, since they woke me at 6:30am begging for breakfast. 

Yes, you can have chocolate.  You can have a basket full of crap gifts even though it hasn't been long since Christmas and I've spent most of that time dreaming of when you'd be able to go outside and give me ten minutes of peace.  You can eat monkey bread for breakfast and we'll pretend it's healthy.  I'll overlook that argument over how to divide the baseball cards.  Just keep smiling today...  I have a lot of cooking and cleaning to do.

Before the actual egg hunt could take place, the boys dug into their baskets.

There were some new wiffle balls for batting practice, chocolate crosses from Joel's Mom, fancy multicolored crayons, light-up bouncy balls, baseball cards and a voice changer toy that I had hidden a bit too well at Christmas time and rediscovered when I rolled away the "tomb" of duffle bags I'd used to disguise the gifts.

(Unfortunately that Easter miracle is a very noisy one that I wish had maybe stayed hidden, but it makes them happy and that was the whole point.)  Once they were dressed, buckets in hand, they ran out to see how well the "Easter Buddy" (Graham's festive invention only slightly more logical than the Holiday Armadillo) had hidden the eggs.

There were eggs on the baseball field...

Eggs on the firetruck...

Eggs in the big playset...

And the bonus tower...

And pretty much anywhere else the Easter Buddy could think to put them without climbing. 

The Easter Buddy is not quite as agile these days as she used to be.  Oh, um, HE.  Yeah, as he used to be.

Afterward, exhausted from running but fueled by candy, we headed in to count the spoils.  We'd divvied up a bag of jelly beans into the eggs as well as some robin's egg candy that was meticulously organized by color, and then knocked onto the floor for the dog to eat.  A few Cadbury eggs (a perennial favorite) were stashed away for later, and I got to work preparing for the big Easter lunch we'd have with my whole family and cramming toys into nooks and crannies to be discovered next Easter.

I was too busy to take any photos of the meal, but we did manage to grab a few shots of the family for tradition's sake.  This might even be the last "nice" photo we take before becoming a family of five, so I will try to cherish it and not dwell on the fact that my big pregnant stomach looks less like it's holding a baby, and more like I consumed the entire ham.

I hope your Easter was as sunny, candy-filled and nice as ours.  And if you have any tips on how to make my four year-old smile for photos, I'm all ears!  And belly...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Which Came First?

I've spoken at length about how at one minute, my boys shock me with one identical look that reminds me just how alike they are, and promptly respond by acting so very differently that it is hard to believe they are related.

Is this how all brothers are?  Is one always introspective while one is zany?  Is one more affectionate while the other is combative? 

Is one always constructing an effigy mound of every piece of clothing in the bedroom while the other is complimenting my hair?

That's the way things operate in our home, and it amazes me how two boys, born of the same parents and raised in identical environments can come out with such equally different and utterly bizarre personalities.  And I majored in Psychology.

A recent school project of Cael's really brought this to light when he was asked to find something for sharing (show and tell) that would fit inside a plastic Easter-style egg.  Before he'd even arrived home, and despite having a 3-day weekend to make a decision, Cael had all the answers.

"Mom, look at this.  I have to put something in this little green egg for sharing, and I have this brown rock!  It's heavy and it probably came from a volcano or something.  And it's kinda dirty and isn't really very cool, but I'm gonna take it.  It smells weird too, like an animal pooped on it.  Maybe it's actually poop, and that would be really cool.  Like super hard rock-poop.  Volcano rock-poop."

"Um, Cael, you have several days to figure this one out, so let's look around the house and see what you can find that would fit.  I'm not crazy about you bringing volcano rock-poop to school."

I was frantically trying to come up with an alternative, because if you are trying to talk a six year-old out of something, specifically something involving poop, you'd better have a pretty outstanding alternative.

"You could put a key inside.  Or a folded up picture?  Let me think... a little ball, a seed, an acorn, a piece of food (mental note-- wash out plastic egg to avoid contamination with rock-poop), a pinecone or even something about the baby."

"Hmm, no."

My suggestions weren't "kid" enough, but Cael's heart was set on something I didn't agree with.  But who else could I ask?

"Hey Graham, what could Cael put in his green egg?"

"Ooh, Cael!  I know, I know!  Put a hug in it.  Or maybe you could sing the spaghetti song loud into the egg and then play it for your class.  Or color a picture of a rainbow like you did the other day and it will make everybody smile.  Or you could send my Puppy.  I love him but if you like him you could take him for the day.  I know he can fit if I squeeze him in--"

"--or maybe cookies for all of your friends.  Or me!  I could go to school with you!"

"Graham, none of those things will work!  You know you can't fit in my egg... you're way too big.  And none of the kids in my class will think that those things are cool."

My suggestions were lame, and I guess that Graham is just too soft-hearted, too different from his brother to relate. 

"Well then you should just bring some poop, Cael."

Welcome back, Graham.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Photo Journalism

Things have been uncharacteristically drama-free around here lately, and I'm certainly grateful for the break from malfunctioning appliances and persistent snowstorms.  Instead, I've been devoting the majority of my free time to setting up the nursery, weeding through old baby clothes, wondering what I was thinking when buying certain unattractive baby clothes, trying to pawn off said baby clothes on unsuspecting consignment store employees, and spending unnecessary funds on some new baby clothes.

And no, I don't need them, but hello- whales?  I think so.

Photo credit and items available here.

With that and multiple other projects gearing up, I have found myself in need of ways to keep the kids happy for stretches of time when outdoor play isn't an option.  And although I am not an advocate for hypnotizing children with television and video games, I am an advocate for my personal sanity, so there are times when the iPad comes out.

I spent a great deal of time organizing it so that all of the utilities and setting apps were hidden, while only basic games were accessible to them.  And it only took about 20 minutes before Cael had discovered the App Store, dissected the system and assessed any potential purchases he wanted me to make, and waited until someone entered the iTunes password into their phone to go on a buying spree that ended up costing my Dad $10.00.

Graham, on the other hand, was equally sneaky, finding the iPad's Photobooth app and taking what, when I first made the discovery, were incredibly cute, Graham-centric photos before going to on play Sonic for half an hour.  Loudly.

With no harm done and no funds stolen, I figured I could let him snap a few distorted photos on my personal iPad before school last week. 

But if I thought his willpower was greater than Cael's, I was mistaken.  After having not used my iPad at all yesterday but leaving it awake in my alarm clock app, I turned it on today and made a questionable discovery.

Perhaps it was the shock of knowing he'd been using it without permission.  Or maybe even the shock of realizing even the littlest Foreman boy was not immune from Apple's addictive properties.  But no, I really think it was the shock of the shockingly bizarre photos he took.

Looks like it's back to crayons and paper for these two.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ode to Gestational Diabetes

They say that the key to beating one addiction is to replace that action with something positive and healthy.  So, since I can't eat sugar (and there's sugar in, like, everything) I've decided to start writing poetry as a means of channeling my frustrations. 

Ready to be done...
Chicken, veggie overload
Might kill for a pie.


Cookies are sweet,
Brownies are too.
I'd love
crème brûlée...
Can that be made from tofu?


I've loved dessert since childhood,
and eaten it more than I should.
Now my diet's just mean,
and I'm so sick of greens!
This baby?  It'd better be good.

 Oh yeah, this is going to be a long ten weeks.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Conscious Unbearding

Now I'm no Gwyneth Paltrow, but I, too, can relate to the controversy of a relationship coming to an end.  Thankfully for me, that relationship is not my marriage, but Joel's longtime attachment to his beard.

Joel last summer, sporting a socially acceptable beard.
I blame "No Shave November".  Joel has had facial hair for nearly a decade-- so long, in fact, that if he shaves it off completely he also shaves off so many years from his appearance that I risk a prison term, and he risks his children not recognizing him.  But when NSN came around this year and a few men at his school decided to have a contest to see who could grow the best beard in one month, I had no idea it would take on a life of its own.

It wasn't until January or so that his face approached Grizzly Adams territory, and by March I was begging asking politely if he'd agree, at the very least, to lose the scruff before the baby makes his appearance in June.  I was given no such promises.

But miraculously, I received an email from my husband last week with the greatest news I'd heard in quite some time, not only for razor companies everywhere, but for my enthusiastically victorious husband who'd apparently made the greatest achievement of his life.

When you see me, please be careful not to look directly into the light of my awesomeness.  As Last Beard Standing Champion, I would like to give thanks to those who have supported me.  

First, my personal Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who gave his life so that we may spend eternity with our Father in Heaven.  

Second, to the guy at Granite City who said "that's a great beard" with a mug in his hand causing me to think he said "that's a great beer".  I replied "It's diet coke for me tonight", making for an awkward conversation on the way to taking my four year old to the potty, but I appreciate the support nonetheless.

Third, to the children at my son's bus stop who saw me for who I am and didn't tell their parents about a strange hairy guy hanging around the neighborhood.

Fourth, to Paul Mitchell for his line of Tea Tree products including a moisturizer that has kept me tangle free and well-groomed for the past 5 months.

Fifth, to the lady at Target who didn't judge me when I purchased a woman's eyebrow comb to keep those tiny mustache hairs that kept curling onto my lips from driving me into an insane asylum.

And lastly, to Jacob Munson for being a worthy opponent and standing firm long after everyone forgot there even was a contest and just thought we were incredible lazy.

I promised the kids if we win championships tomorrow that I will shave and wear a neck beard on Wednesday.  Here's to the hillbilly in us all!

I was so happy that I was willing to overlook not being thanked for putting up with said beard for nearly half a year.  But what I hadn't considered was that the UNbearding, or disbearding, if you will, might be even more painful and embarrassing than the beard itself.  But it is.

My, how it is.

Solon's voal jazz group "Fifth Street Jazz" took top honors at the State Jazz Championships, and
I awoke the next morning next to a man that looked like this...

And again today to one, much improved sans neck beard, but that looked like this.

I'm choosing to believe that this beard is going out in a blaze of glory, but at this point I could go for a bit of unconscious unbearding.

Or maybe it's just about time for me to quit shaving my legs...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ism of the Week

Yesterday for April Fool's Day, I briefly considered putting out spaghetti with meatballs for breakfast, but considering the boys' loose grasp on the concept (see Cael's "fooling" plans in 2013 and 2012) I dished out cereal and opted instead to warn them of possible pranks.

"Hey guys, do you remember about April Fool's Day?"

"Yeah, Mom.  You trick people."

"Well, yes, but not mean tricks, just silly stuff."

"Like if I told everyone I was a girl?"

"While that wouldn't really hurt anyone, I don't think it would work too well.  It's pretty obvious that you're a boy."

"Well then, what?"

"You don't have to trick anyone today, Cael.  But just watch out, because some of your friends might be silly with you today."


Up until that point, Graham had been uncharacteristically quiet, or perhaps characteristically confused because he hadn't been totally listening.

"Got it, Grammy?"

"Yeah.  Now it's April.  You're a fool."

On to Easter.