Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bucket List

Well, it took a few weeks before the Ice Bucket Challenge found me.  I saw it on Facebook, watched my nephews drenching themselves, and finally felt it cornering me from all sides.  Friends, acquaintances, church members, former work colleagues... I knew it would happen sooner or later.

It did.  

My day care family nominated us (Graham specifically) to take the challenge, and Graham being Graham was game for it.  It took Cael some serious negotiating, an extra cookie and $1 to get him to agree, but when the time came he backed out after looking up at the bucket over our heads.

Graham stood by my side, however, and when the water fell he got a minor splash on his shorts but was otherwise unaffected.  90% of the water landed in my lap and 10% on my head, and although Joel thought I should try again to make sure I was sufficiently head-drenched, my camera crew was gone and it was raining outside, so this will have to do.

I learned a few things from this experience.

1) Despite not having "man parts", ice water dumped in one's lap is still cold.  Very, very, numbingly cold.

2) Waiting for the water to fall is akin to waiting for your parents to receive a report card that you know has a lot of bad grades on it.  Minus the weird faces, I suppose.

3)  Graham will do anything for a dollar (including but not limited to: trying guacamole, scrubbing the toilet, eating wasabi, and being doused with ice water.

4) People care more about helping others than I would have guessed.  All of the "dumpees" out there could simply say they'd make a donation and not, but the ALS webpage shows that donations have reached $88.5 million so far from ice bucket challenges alone.  So that's why I made sure to do the same, and placed my donation this morning after a lengthy conversation with the boys about why the money wasn't supposed to go to me for allowing water to be dumped over my head.

So now that I am dry, I'm nominating my sister's family as well as my friend Alissa.  Here's hoping they'll still be speaking to me come tomorrow.

Happy #Icebucketchallenge!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Diner's Club Disclaimer

After two months of living on only our first floor, our basement is nearly finished.  The boys are back in their rooms, Adler's nursery is almost complete, and my sense of claustrophobia seems to be receding.  The boys are enjoying the toys they'd been missing, and I've enjoyed the return of my personal space, or at least as much as a mother of three young kids can hope to have.

Thankfully, we weren't at each others' throats as much as I would have expected, but I credit that to my restlessness that lead us to venture into town nearly every day for errands, a grocery run or just a meal out.  But as I sat at a restaurant last night and plugged my ears as a nearby child screamed every few seconds for over an hour, I thought about how dining out isn't always the luxury it is intended to be.

How do your kids behave in a restaurant?  We eat out a lot, so we have worked very hard to perfect our boys' dining etiquette.  First we choose a restaurant in the car after 10-15 minutes of "I don't care, you pick" while Cael screams "McDonalds!" in the background and Graham makes his plea for Granite City, Olive Garden, or any other option where he can get a meal that will cost more than I have in my checking account.  Once we've decided, we spend the remaining part of the drive promising Cael that we will surely, definitely go to McDonalds sometime soon despite the fact that I upchucked mcnuggets when I was twelve and have no intention of returning in this lifetime. 

At the restaurant, Graham will wait until we have been seated and begun looking at the menu to announce that he has to pee so badly that he will, without a doubt, wet himself if he can't go to the bathroom immediately.  I take him, because he's too little to go alone and sending him with Cael into a public restroom is like letting two orangutans loose in an antique store.

Once we have ordered, Cael will discover that whatever place we have chosen either: has no kid's menu to color on, or has one that he has deemed insufficient.  I don't know whether his judgment is based on the colors of crayon he's been given or a complicated algorithm he's developed to rate the difficulty of the hot air balloon-shaped maze on the paper.  Either way, there had better be some free bread on the table, or he'll be begging for someone's cell phone in a matter of minutes.

Mercifully, food does eventually come.  Cael inhales his meal like he's not eaten in a week while Graham critiques his, arranges it on the plate, probably drops some onto the floor where some unidentifiable sauce has been spilled and chooses that piece to eat quickly before I can tell him not to, and then goes back to the rest of his food at a snail's pace.  Eventually he will either get too full to finish thanks to the free bread, or we will have to cut him of before he can eat his fruit side.  Crying ensues.

Cael, having been done at least ten minutes before everyone else, starts in about dessert and goes as far as to order something from the server, so I have to make sure I am not focusing on my meal at any point so that I can be mentally present to cancel the turtle cheesecake Cael has requested.

No, Cael, there are not real turtles in that.

The server drops off the bill for our meal and walks away before Joel can hand them our payment, seemingly disappearing from the premises altogether.  Maybe he's out back having a smoke, or she escaped to her car crying after one of my kids incorrectly commented about the baby in her tummy.

Either way they will vanish for a substantial period of time during which Adler will wake up, start crying loudly enough to receive angry stares from older women, (why is it always the women?) and when I take him from his car seat, will have soaked the back of his clothing with pee, poop and/or spit up. 

I'll begin to take him out to change him, but Graham will immediately discover that he has to use the restroom again, even more urgently than the first time, so I will be halfway to the bathroom with both boys before Cael shows up at my side announcing that he, too, has to go.  Now.

By the time we reach the bathroom one or both of them will declare it a false alarm.

When I return to the table and the server has still not returned, we encourage the older boys to revisit their kids menus.  Because the provided puzzles and coloring spaces are old news, we practice writing and reading or numbers, which inevitable backfires when Cael gets tired of all of our names and tries to write "nipples".  Nipples turn into boogers, and before long all decorum is out the window.  I try to ignore the fact that Joel started it all by writing "poop".

Nipls = nipples.
Where is that server?!?

When we have finally paid and headed back to the car, Cael will realize that he left behind either a Pokemon card, a dinosaur figure or a balled up piece of paper napkin that he grew emotionally attached to, and based on how tired we are we may or may not go retrieve it.  Every time we claim that we will never, ever back for abandoned toys in a restaurant again, but we all know that getting the toy is so much easier than listening to an angry rant from a very vocal six year old.

"Look, Mom, a tadpole!"

Graham falls asleep on the way home and Cael does everything in his power to wake him up, including (but not limited to) making fart noises and throwing pointy objects.  When Graham does wake up, it will be with some sort of minor scratch that he will interpret as a broken bone and expect me to respond accordingly.  I scold Cael and he lists off a ridiculous but inventive list of offenses that Graham committed that make his look minor in comparison, and after listening to the two of them argue for nearly 15 minutes, I inform them that they have used their allotted words for the day and must now be completely silent.

Joel and I will use that time to discuss where to eat out next time.

Oh, and Graham has to pee again.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Preschool Dynamo

"Come on, Mom!  I don't want to be late for school!  I'm already having a great day!"

"Now I can write and read and draw and cut paper pieces into triangles with scissors."

"Couldn't you do those things at home before?"

"Yes, but now I can do them at school."

 Have a great day, Bubba.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

First Grade Heartbreaker

He may not want to go back to school, but at least he'll look good while he's there.

Good luck, big boy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pain is Beauty

There's nothing like the feeling of waking up in the morning to see the smiling face of your sweet baby.  Bright eyes, a head of peach fuzz, and that soft, clear, unmarred skin.

Or something like that.  

Lately each morning I've been greeted by a new scrape or gouge out of Adler's pristine skin.  I know it's not uncommon for babies to scratch themselves since baby fingernails are comprised mainly of glass shards and metal shavings, but at the sign of his first laceration I made sure to trim them short.  I gathered up the nail trimmings (complete with enough of my skin cells to supply an entire season's worth of Jerry Springer DNA tests) and tucked my baby into bed.  Problem solved.

The next morning there were two marks.

By the following evening, three.

This got me thinking.  Since I know Adler wasn't particularly agitated throughout the night, there must be another reason or his facial mutilations.  I mulled it over and decided that his behavior can only be explained by one of the following:

-Adler is a hypochondriac.  After overhearing a discussion I had the other day about the chicken pox vaccine, he was so concerned and distraught that his fears led him to pock himself in his sleep.  So glad he wasn't present for that chat about herpes.

 -When he awoke hungry in the early morning hours, Adler felt hungry and thought, as most babies do, that I would surely never feed him again EVER, and used his fingernails to create a buried treasure-style map to his mouth just in case I had forgotten how to feed him in my sleep-deprived stupor.  He really is a considerate baby.

-Because Joel and I have been successful in instilling in our children an appreciation for vintage television, Adler's scratching could have been an homage to the "Cream for a Day" episode of Saved By The Bell, in which the gang uses a homemade zit cream to clear up their blemishes, only to find that it stains their faces maroon.  (I'm so excited!  I'm so... scared!)

Or maybe I just missed a nail.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Ism of the Week

"Hi.  My name is Cael and I will be your waiter today.  Can I get you started with something to drink?"

 "Sure.  I'll have a beer."

"Oh.  I guess someone is making bad choices today."

I guess someone else won't be getting a tip.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

An Open Letter to the Tooth Fairy

Dear Tooth Fairy,

I am writing to thank you for your ongoing support of my son's dental hygiene and tooth loss.  I must confess that I was slightly concerned when, at the beginning of July and at almost seven years old, Cael had not lost a single baby tooth.  But with renewed excitement about your nocturnal arrival, he began a tooth wiggling frenzy and soon had extracted his first baby tooth.

You left $1.00 and a new electric toothbrush, in accordance with his wishes.  You might have encouraged him to ask for a new dining room set or several packs of size 2 diapers, but instead you honored his request and undoubtedly set a precedent that will haunt me for years to come.  I suppose that was the right thing to do.

With the knowledge that lost teeth equaled free stuff and money, Cael declared war on the remaining teeth in his mouth.  Within ten days, he had worked over a front tooth until it surrendered in a bloody, slobbery mess that I had to pretend wasn't gross.  Putting mind over matter, I cleaned and stowed the teeth in a clear plastic bag.  After all, what is Motherhood if not a series of gross events celebrated as milestones?

The very next day, Cael simultaneously lost his third tooth, the ability to make an "s" sound, and a pair of my earrings.  It's possible that the earring loss was unrelated, but I'm not ready to rule it out as an unfortunate side effect.  Perhaps his common sense leaked out through the hole in his face.

Meanwhile, and probably in a bid to capture a bit of the glory you often feel, our family members also began rewarding Cael with money as he yanked his teeth.  Overwhelmed with tiny rootless teeth, I began storing them in a plastic baggy, and then promptly lost that bag.  But don't you worry, I eventually found the teeth in the refrigerator, mixed in with about 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese that I'd placed in a zipper bag I thought was empty.  Everyone can use a little extra calcium, right?

And last Sunday, three days after tooth number three was removed, tooth number four narrowly escaped being swallowed.  After cashing in on a dollar from Papa, my six year-old son officially had more cash on hand than I carried.

 Do you offer parent loans?  Used tooth storage lockers?

It is with these losses in mind that I write to you today, asking you officially to stop.  Cut it out, wrap it up, nix your schtick, pack up and go.  Cael doesn't have any more loose teeth, you hear me?  But because of your lifestyle and the way you throw money around, my son is actively trying to loosen teeth that are still firmly rooted in his jaw. 

You may submit your apology in writing, or in lieu of a letter, I would accept $17.25 for funds lost (toothbrush included).  In addition, I would appreciate if you would send either Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny as proxy should you need to conduct any future business in our home.  Please, no leprechauns-- they freak me out.

On second thought, you'll be hearing from my lawyer.

Mary Foreman