Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Easter Negativity

Easter has come and gone, and all of the plastic eggs have been opened. But even though the festivities have ended, the Easter candy rationing battle continues.  What has surprised me, though, is that Cael and Graham are not the worst perpetrators of the "Easter Candy Meltdown". 

That title belongs to Adler.

In fact, Adler was the real star of this year's celebration.  With this being the first Easter he has been aware of and able to participate in, he quickly latched onto the concept of the Easter egg hunt and basket full of goodies.

Don't ask Adler about it, though. All he has to say on the matter is "no".

Despite the fact that he has an entire roster of words he can say clearly and in context, "no" is the only thing he is willing to verbalize without being prompted.  And boy, is he vocal.

So naturally, I thought it best to ask Adler to narrate the review of this year's Easter.

"Hey Adler, were you happy about having to take a nap while Mommy the Easter Bunny hid eggs all around our yard?"


"Did the big boys seem to enjoy finding their eggs, even though it was super cold outside?" 


"Did Mommy do a good job of disguising the fact that she forgot a few things that belonged in the baskets?" 


"Did the boys seem happy with their baskets?" 

"Did you sleep for three hours and finally wake up super grouchy?" 


"Were you confused when we went outside to find your eggs?"


"Did you fill your belly with ham and corn casserole?"


"Not even pie?"


"Even though you did nothing, enjoyed none of it, ate no food and hated your basket, are you still the sweetest little bunny around?" 


I won't ask his thoughts about Mother's Day.

Hope you all had a Happy Easter!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Swap Meet

Apparently that old adage about March coming "in like a lion and out like a lamb" is wrong.  In my area, March came in with gentle, warm breezes and sunshine, and although the month isn't done yet, the temperature has slowly (and consistently) dropped. 

Like the rain.  Like my motivation.

On days like this that are so grey and dreary, I find it so hard to get going.  My lack of energy isn't helped by Adler, who seems to have a sixth sense that allows him to detect when the weather has provided me with a killer headache, and his new favorite game of surprising me by yanking my ponytail backward like a built-in noose.

Yeah, the laundry isn't going to get done today.

Instead, when my scalp can't take any more, I turn to my secret weapon: Face Swapping.

If you read my post on Tuesday you saw one example of the combined humor and horror that ensue when you take the face from one person (with one sized head) and superimpose it on top of another person (with a completely different sized head).  Face swapping is fun for the whole family, and no one need leave the sofa.

The only problem is that sometimes it works a little too well. 

Swapping Graham and Adler just showed me alternate combination of my own genes.

I was boggled at how swapping Cael and Graham kept Cael's look the same, and made Graham look like a chipmunk.

And swapping Graham and myself made me seriously contemplate a blonde pixie cut.

But not all familial combinations are positive, ya'll. 

On a different day, Graham and Adler changed my baby into a different sort of... creature.

Cael showed Papa what he'd look like after losing some teeth in a street fight.

And for this point forward, I will include a thank you to God in my daily prayers for not letting any of our boys look like either of us does in this abomination.

But despite the weather, after you've swapped all of your friends and family you may feel drawn to seek out new face swapping challenges.

 I always wanted to look cook like Ina Garten.

I wanted to see of I could swap with a photo on the wall, but I learned that a copy of a copy can lead to a frightening image.

In case you're wondering, yes, you can swap with an inanimate object.

Just make sure that no one is "swapbombing" your efforts.

And remember this-- if you find yourself really desperate, inspiration can be found anywhere. 

Like outside your favorite Asian food restaurant.

I'm much less hairy in real life.

But when the rain stops and the sun comes out, don't forget to take a photo of how you really look to stave off the nightmares.

On second thought, maybe I'll get to work on that laundry after all.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Before and After

There have been many articles and blog posts written regaling the difference between life before kids and life after.  My thoughts on the subject would likely blend into the mesh of data that makes up the internet and not provide a unique perspective.

But the thing is, I do have a unique perspective.  I am a mom of three boys, all of whom are boy’s boys (think dirt before books, farts before, well, anything) and all of whom are under ten years old.  I also watch two additional boys weekly which means that, when their collective energy level is taken into account, it would take 119 of me to keep up with them.   I’m also over thirty, a milestone that didn’t mean much to me until I actually became thirty and started to prioritize sleep over luxuries like nail polish and clean laundry.  And lastly, I face the bewildering reality of dealing with toxic levels of testosterone after growing up with only girls and thinking that a mess was a box of Crayola 64 crayons not arranged in rainbow order. 

So for the sake of comparison, we’ll call my single life “BEFORE” and my parenting life “MOF3BBU105W119MEO30NPFDTTOGC64” (Mom OF 3 Boy’s Boys Under 10 5 Weekly 119 of ME Over 30 Nail Polish Furniture Dusting Toxic Testosterone Only Girls Crayola 64).

It has a nice ring to it, huh?  I tried to be concise.

There are so many ways that having kids has changed the course of my life, but over the last week as we tried to rest and recuperate during Spring Break, the differences became alarmingly clear.


When work let out for Spring Break, Joel and I would plant ourselves on the sofa, watch a few episodes of Friends, and go to town for a leisurely meal out.


Having exhausted the rotation of Carlos O’Kelly’s, Chilis, and any other restaurant ranked highly by Cael and Graham based on a complicated algorithm involving crayon-to-child ratio, quality of activites on kids' menu, and who serves mini corn dogs, we opted to take the kids out to breakfast at Perkins, where they'd been begging to eat for months.  Joel and I don't particularly like the place, but who could begrudge three boys their maple syrup fix on the first Monday of Spring Break?  One hour, nine silver dollar pancakes, 1.5 cups of multi-colored sprinkles, seven extra sets of silverware, four bathroom breaks, two conniption fits, and $37 later, breakfast was done and Cael announced that he was ready for tacos at Carlos O'Kelly's.


After a couple of days of relaxation, Joel and I might decide to take a day trip, or catch a show somewhere to get out of the house.


Wanting to surprise the boys after their much-requested Perkins fix, we loaded back up in the car and set off for Dubuque, a city about an hour away from us where we've visited a "resort" hotel with an indoor waterpark that we've frequented a few times in the past.  After thirty minutes of driving, the boys got a bit restless, but it wasn't until an hour had passed and we crested a hill, bringing the river into view that Graham muttered, "We've never gone home this way before."  We dropped a pretty (sticky from syrup) penny on our hotel room, waterpark passes and admission to the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium only to discover that Dubuque, IA on a random Monday in March, well, sucked.  The Museum's coolest features were closed.  Every restaurant downtown closed to honor Monday as if it were a revered holiday.  The interactive water exhibit was marginally interesting until someone else's syrup-sticky kid splashed what I can only hope was not river water on Graham's pants, causing him to awkwardly adjust his crotch for the duration of the afternoon.  Thinking we'd enjoy a "show", we purchased tickets to a 4-D short film about Robots that the older boys did enjoy.  Adler and I enjoyed my face-swapping app from the lobby of the theater as our bellies rumbled for lunch.  Popcorn sounded good, but they weren't selling concessions that day.  Why?  Because it was Monday.


After taking in a show at a local events center, Joel and I might find it fun to take a dip in the hotel's hot tub for a few moments of relaxation.


When the time came to swim in the waterpark, Joel and I looked at each other, mentally dividing three kids by two parents, and realized that we'd be doing less swimming and more treading proverbial water.

Cael wanted to ride the purple slide, but Graham wanted to ride the green slide.  Adler started grunting... I pleaded with him not to poop in his Little Swimmer.  Where was Graham?  Cael wanted a snack.  Joel took Adler to the baby area and the big boys decided they wanted to be with Daddy.  Switch.  I went on the lazy river and someone threw an errant basketball lob that landed on Adler's head.  I wanted to ride the big, scary, dark inner tube slide and tried to persuade Cael to go with me.  "No way!"  I tried to persuade Graham, who is not a strong swimmer, not to go.  "No way!"  Graham loved the slide. I peer pressured Cael to do it and spent the next two hours alternating slide rides between Cael, Graham, Cael, Graham, Cael, Graham.  Where was Joel again?


After a busy and eventful day, Joel and I would settle into bed, perhaps watching a rented movie, and sleep a deep, peaceful sleep.


The hotel room had double beds, and Joel and I are accustomed to a king at home.  Joel's snoring kept Cael up all night.  Cael's restlessness and rustling sheets kept Graham up all night.  Graham's titanium-pointed elbows kept me up all night.  Adler slept like a baby.



Looking for some laughs, Joel and I would get tickets to a comedy show at our local club, and spend a few hours sipping cocktails and laughing until our sides hurt.




When Spring Break was over, we'd look back on our fun and restful week fondly, and feel appreciative for all of the things we were able to do, making note of what we'd like to plan for the following year.


"Mom, how come we didn't get to do anything good this Spring break?"

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Bye, Bye, Bullet

I've been MIA for a little while because my family was tolerating enjoying some extra time together on a mini spring-break trip, but now I'm back into the grind and counting down to days that don't include "Moooom, I'm bored!" on constant loop.

Back before this supposed respite began, we finally reached the limit and scheduled Adler's first haircut.  His locks weren't too long in the front, but in the back they were not only lengthy, but constantly tangled and sticking out in all directions.  It's not that I couldn't appreciate the humor in a baby mullet (aka "bullet"), but I couldn't handle being the one to hurt him whenever it was time to tame his tresses. 

So off we went to Cost Cutters (where I discovered I'd forgotten my camera, so please forgive my poor quality cell phone pictures) to transform Adler from a canned beer drinking hillbilly into the handsome little future ivy-leaguer I knew he could be.  I just hoped he'd behave.

I kept envisioning nightmare scenarios where he'd scream and fuss or simply be too frightened to handle the experience, or be too traumatized to get another haircut again.  Ever.  I imagined how he'd look after four or five years of no hair intervention, and felt the bullet becoming a permanent part of his identity.

I also feared him turning quickly and getting scalped by the buzzers and having to tell friends that we were experimenting with a new avant-garde style for our toddler.  Maybe I'd dress him in a lot of vinyl and zippers. 

But, to my surprise, he was as still as a statue.  I didn't get any mid-cut photos because he was seated on my lap, but even without my moral support, Adler seemed unfazed.  They shortened the back and cleaned up the front a bit, but left some of the length around the mid-section of his head until it was fully grown in and not likely to look so choppy with a shorter cut.

After it was done, Adler looked as though he'd aged a year.  His curls might be gone, but he's made up for it with extra attitude and spunk.  And I'm pretty sure that if he could talk, he'd say, "Momma! I'm bored..."

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Wrong Words, Wrong Time

Raising children is hard stuff, and few will deny that one of the hardest phases to tackle is when your children are very young.  Mercifully, as Cael gets older, he is starting to exit this phase and grow into more adult problems.  But for symbolism's sake, I'm sure, he decided to bookend this phase of his life with his signature offense, the very thing he has always done and prompted me to create this blog in the first place... saying the wrong thing at an even wrong-er time.

Cael at 4, plotting his next caper
It all began with a four year-old Cael asking family members (and eventually strangers) to see their nuts. Bizarre, yes.  Funny, completely. But offensive?  It took an older, wiser Cael to simultaneously embarrass, horrify, irritate, and shock me with nothing but words.  And exceptional timing.

After an unprecedented string of birthday party invitations for Graham, I could sense that Cael was getting frustrated watching his younger brother head out the door to yet another celebration.  So last Saturday, I set it up for one of Cael's best friends to come play for about three hours while Graham was away.

They made up their own game.  They played on the Nintendo DS.  They made an infinite number of fart jokes and laughed at themselves until it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.  And before they knew it, we found ourselves at the friend's front door, saying thank you and looking forward to his next visit.

And then, in a decidedly "outdoor" voice, Cael struck.

"Mom, I still don't understand why you don't like him!"

"What?  Wait... what?  Why would you say-- WHAT?!"

I should have seen it coming, I suppose.  There may have been a look in his eye, or a slight shift in pressure around me.  But I was too concentrated on saying goodbye and closing the door to notice Cael preparing for the inevitable.

I hurried him into the car and brought out the inquisition.

What makes you think I don't like your friend?
Why would you be so indiscreet?
How come your voice is SO loud?
Why do 8 year-old boys think farts are so funny?

Through his confusion, Cael tried to answer, but the damage had already been done.  I considered ringing the doorbell again and trying to undo my son's mistake, but I feared that my ramblings would come across as desperate and insincere.  So instead, I facepalmed the entire drive home and figured we'd never see the friend again.

The misunderstanding was eventually uncovered.  A couple of years ago, I made a comment about preferring Cael not to play with a different boy he'd befriended at school.  He and that boy became proverbial partners in crime, and while that child never came to play at our house, I tried to encourage Cael to spend his time with other kids that didn't bring out the negative side of my boy.  Two years later, my words had somehow stuck, Cael's wires got crossed, and I looked like the bad guy.  Or gal.

The next day, my heartbeat had finally returned to normal when the doorbell rang and the friend's mom stopped by to drop off a loaf of homemade bread.  I was so relieved that Cael's offensive words had miraculously not been heard, relieved that we'd not shunned this kind family, and relieved to put the entire episode behind us.

So I said "goodbye", and Cael said...

"Why did they give us bread, mom?  Isn't that totally weird?"

Sounds like friendship, just like discretion, will be a lifelong challenge.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Born Free

Adler seems to have a bit of a problem.  I'm not referring to his complete rejection of any vegetable or his problem hoarding dirty socks in the measuring cup drawer, however.

No, it seems that my sweet baby is something of a nudist.  

If it weren't for his inability to escape from the shackles of his zipped and snapped onesies and rompers, I think Adler would happily go about all of his daily business in the buff.

So yesterday, after enduring a serious case of Mommy guilt, I let him do just that.

We took the big boys to school and when we came home, I promptly launched into a flurry of dishes, organizing, and hunting for socks.  When I finally came up for air, I realized I'd made a neglectful error and hadn't changed Adler out of the very, very wet diaper he'd worn all night.  

As I dug through his dresser for the clothing pieces that most make him look like a miniature Ivy League fraternity brother Adler's favorite outfit, he gaped and fussed at me as though I wanted to drape him with poison ivy leaves and anthrax-coated shrouds.  But since the nineteen books I'd read and the enormous empire I'd constructed of Mega Blocks and Little People paled in comparison to the neglectful act of leaving him in a wet diaper, I turned up the heat in the house a bit, and let him run free.

As predicted, Adler went about his daily business.

He watched from the window for trespassing squirrels. 

He climbed on and leaped from every piece of furniture in the house.

 He spent some time developing a vegetable-free salad.  

Further studies are needed.

He read several books to himself, no doubt researching nude recreational areas in our state. 

And finally, after a few hours, he emerged with a pair of socks that materialized from some dusty corner of the kitchen, and I thought he had forgiven my earlier transgression and was ready to get dressed. 

Instead, I put the socks on him and he peed all over me. 

I guess forgiveness is hard to come by... And in this house, so are clothes.