Monday, November 30, 2009

It Is Upon Us!

I hope everyone has had a good Thanksgiving. I know we did.


Yes, the Holiday Season is officially here. After Thanksgiving, we no longer need to apologize for Christmas shopping, or decorating, or blasting the 24 hour Holiday Music station from our cars. It is now acceptable to wear Santa hats and string lights up all over the place and to hand out candy canes as if they were.... um... candy.

As you can tell from certain obnoxious changes in this blog's format, I am embracing Christmas is all it's joy and tackiness this year, and my my goal is to spread the joy. But to do that, I may need your help. Let me know your favorite and least favorite Holiday songs, books, movies, and games. Leave them in a comment, email me, Facebook me, whatever, but let me know your favorite parts of this time of year and your least favorite parts of this time of year.




Today's Holiday Link is for the Festival Of Trees. The one we go to in in Methuen. We go every year, and once we even won a tree! (I think we won it because Nick was sticking our raffle tickets in every boxhe could reach and nobody wanted this tree because it was boring and irritating, but still!) I suggest you look around and see if there are any similar events near you. It's worth it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

List For Santa

Dear Santa

I hope this letter finds you well, and that you were able to enjoy your Thanksgiving, as I know things get very busy for you at work on Black Friday. Since you have so much to do and so many many people to think of, I thought I would help you out and eliminate some of the guesswork in getting gifts for our family, in the case that we would be receiving gifts from you this year.

We'll start with the kids. The boys love and appreciate, but do not need toys, so please don't feel pressured to go that way. They also love clothing (sizes below) and have asked for bathrobes and slippers. They also all like books, posters, soaps, and art supplies. Anything, really. These guys are easy to please. I might request no weapons or war toys, and please, please, please try to remember to hold back on the stuffed animals, unless it's a Pillow Pet. We have enough. Really, really. We do. video

Andy - (who in case you forgot, Santa, turns two on the 17th, and might like a card or phone call)
Sizes - 2T pants and shirt, 7 shoes.
Loves Thomas the Tank Engine - He's getting a big one for his birthday, but anything with his picture on it, including books, would be loved. He loves Elmo, and also loves tickling people - so Elmo tickle hands might be a good choice if you're really stuck. He loves cars, and music.

Nathan - (who will be four January 16th, and same thing goes with card or phone call)
Sizes - 4T pants 4T/5T shirts, 11 shoes
Has requested a penguin Pillow Pet. Loves Transformers, Digimon, Bakugan, Star Wars. If you happen to have an Optimus Prime talking helmet, he really might like that. Or roller skates. He's mentioned the Handy Many workbench, but it may be too big for your sleigh.

Nicholas
Sizes - 5T pants and 5T / small boys shirt, 12 shoes.
Has been asking for a dog Pillow Pet since the summer. Loves Bakugan, Pokemon, Etc. He would like anything Bakugan, Roller skates, Legos, and "Touch 'n Brush." He has also asked for Chuck-E Cheeze coupons.

If you're still stuck on things to get the kids, check out some of these places:
Mabel's Lables
LitlDesi9s
Pillow Pets


Steve
I don't have a lot of ideas here, Santa. I'm sorry. But he just got a boat, so anything to do with sailing? He likes bars of soap, good steaks... tell you what, ask me in a few days and maybe I'll have pried something out of him.

Kathleen
I don't need anything. Honestly, if you give my kids a gift, its a gift for me, too. But if you cannot help yourself, here are more than enough ideas:
- CD cases - I need a few of these, big ones and little ones.
- New dish towels, not kidding
- Organic Bath Products (Burt's Bees is my favorite, and I always need shampoo)
- Clothing: the clothes you get me are much cooler than the clothes I buy myself. I have no style.
- I still do not have winter boots.
- I left my hair straightener in Santa Fe and could use a new one.
- The crock pot I hauled back from NY was never even used before the dog knocked the lid to the floor.
- Chocolate?
- Pens
- Diet Dr. Pepper. I'll smile.

That's about it, Santa! Remember, a visit is just as good as a gift. I hope you have a safe Holiday season, and that you are able to enjoy yourself a little.

Take Care,
Kathleen

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Multi Tasking

- prepare surface for rolling out pie crust

- place pie crust on surface to warm from fridge a bit

- take toilet plunger away from baby

- wash hands

- let dog out

- pick up bowl with cake ingredients in it, and stir

- take baby out of laundry room and turn off empty clothes dryer

- roll out pie crust

- change baby's diaper

- wash hands

- let in the dog

- fill pie and place in oven

- take broom and dustpan away from baby

- spend fifteen minutes tracking down bowl with cake ingredients

- locate bowl with cake ingredients in laundry room, on top of dryer

- wonder why it was that I thought making a pie, a tart, and a cake in one day was at all possible

But guess what? It was.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful For These Things

As Thanksgiving draws closer, the day becomes less and less a historical celebration or a day of gratitude and more and more a day about pie and mashed potatoes. But I would like to take this opportunity to list a few things I am thankful for, and that had me so overcome with wonderful that I was in tears on the way home from Nate's school.

Andrew loves gymnastics. A lot. In the morning I usually have to run him down to get him dressed, but this morning all I did was mention his gym class and he ran right over. When we get into the car to take Nate to school he says over and over "Gym! Me! Gym! Me!" I am so glad that he not only loves it when he's there, but loves it when he isn't there, and talks about it.

Nathan can spell his name, and write it.

I caught Nicholas reading this morning. Not just looking at a book, but holding a reading flash card and sounding out the letters. He read "CAR," "CORN," "CUP," and "COOKIE." With a little help.

Steve called a place that sells our model of treadmill and ordered an emergency stop for me. This guy can wait for months before throwing out an empty propane tank, but I didn't even have to ask him to call this place. He just did it. Hooray!

Now I shall go weep tears of joy into a chocolate cake. That I'm making, not eating.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nowhere to run

This morning I hopped on the treadmill for a run and realized that the Emergency Stop was missing.

For those who do not know, the Emergency Stop on a treadmill is a magnet on a string. If you start to fall or need to stop suddenly, you are supposed to pull on the string, and when the magnet pops off, the treadmill stops. It's so you don't pass out while the treadmill keeps going and rubs away all your skin. But the important thing in this case is, the treadmill does not work without it.

The kids used to like to pull it off and pretend to fish with it. After all, it's a weighted string. It's interesting when you jerk it and swing it. And if I've said it once I've said it a thousand times - it's NOT A TOY! So you can imagine my frustration when I discovered it missing, looked around for it and couldn't find it, and finally tried replacing it with magnets from our fridge, but failed.

I moaned and pouted and sulked and lectured the kids. When I picked Nick up from school I told him what happened. "It was Nate," he said. But when I explained it to Nate he said "It was Andy." Oh, the unfairness of it all!

But then I got over it... kind of. Because if this is my biggest problem right now, then I should be pretty happy with my life.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Love

Nicholas is a very sweet little boy. He is always the first to say "I love you" or to offer a compliment. Sure, he's very sensitive,and sometimes I think he's really a hormonal teenager stuck inside a five-year-old's body. But I think it has something to do with being five.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thankful Bags

I gave the boys some paper bags to decorate. After scribbling on his, Nicholas declared that he was going to put items in his bag that he is thankful for. Apparently he is overcome with the spirit of Thanksgiving. He brought me back a bag full of buttons and a stuffed sea turtle.

Then Nate started talking about what he was thankful for, so what you get is the tail end of that conversation, and then Andy being kind of cute.

video

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fog At Sunset



Today was a very hard day.

There is something about these kids. It's almost as though they need me to do every little thing.

Oh, some things they do just fine on their own. Nick usually gets dressed with few issues, for example. But the other things that he does on his own aren't always things that I want him to be doing. Such as fixing his brothers' toothbrushes (toothpaste all over the counter and floor) or getting himself a drink of water (climbing on counter, water on floor) or juice (climbing in the fridge. Or getting a toy off a high place.

Nathan absolutely refuses to do anything he's asked. He doesn't say no, he just avoids it. "My name is Megatron!" And getting him to get dressed or pick up a toy usually involves a lot of crying and counting.

And Andy just says no, runs away, then cries. But he does try to be helpful. A few second ago I had to stop writing this because he was trying to clean the toilet and got water all over the floor in the process. Also, he had dragged the sit-n-spin into the bathroom. When I came out, he had opened the drawer I keep all the extra keys we might find a use for someday and was putting them in his pocket one by one.

When I do have a moment of quiet it is usually interrupted by a scream because someone took someone else's toy, but usually before I can intervene the screamer hauls off and whacks his brother anyway. And that makes me so angry. If he wanted to solve the problem by himself, why scream? Just smack your brother and give me a few extra seconds of peace!

This, and the boys seem to think I should be fetching glasses of water and juice all afternoon. Give someone a cup, and soon I'll be getting two more, unless, of course, I get them before I'm asked, and then they will request milk, or juice, or some sort of snack because they are feeling rather peckish. I do give them snacks, but they don't seem satisfied.

Anyway, Steve has been on a trip since Sunday and is finally getting home tonight, thank goodness, because I really need another adult I can send the kids to when I start thinking the best way to solve the problem is to pock them each in different rooms forever and slide pancakes and American cheese under the doors so they won't starve.

Deep breath... deep breath... calm... calm...

After all, now that Dad is sue home in two hours, they are playing nicely in the next room.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sharing

Andy has gymnastics on Wednesdays.

He absolutely loves his class. He might cry when I leave him with Lillian or Steve, and he might wail when I leave him in the child care room at church, but at gymnastics he runs right up to the teacher and walks away without turning around. Although he does wave to me every five or ten minutes. "Hi Mom!"

I cherish this time because, I am ALL ALONE! I have no other child to watch, so I am free to pay attention to Andy's antics, to chat with other mothers, and to use the restroom without company.

Today, a woman settled in next to me and started talking. I had never seen this woman before, nor had I noticed her son who she assured me has always been in the 3-year old class. By the end of the forty five minute class, however, I knew quite a bit about her.

I know that she works in retail and would rather be in bed to sleep as much as she can before Black Friday. I know she used to have a really great job in the midwest, but the company closed, and thank goodness she was renting, not buying. I know that her mother is planning on moving in with her next year, and that she sometimes keeps her son up until ten. I know certain details about her divorce, including how much child support her husband pays and how many hours he works. I know facts about her cervical cancer, her menstrual cycle, the biopsy she's soon to have, that she's getting her tubes tied, and that she had words with the nurse who kept asking "are you sure you want to do this?"

You think I'm joking, but I'm not.

Part of me thinks this woman was totally inappropriate, and is half afraid she will track me down and insist we become best friends, because why else would you share those details?

But another part of me thinks she might not have been able to help herself. There have been times when I've found myself in the middle of some story with a person while at a class or in a line, and I think "I should not be sharing this with anyone." But another part of me thinks it feels good to talk about it. And who is this other person? Probably someone I will never see again. I don't have the time to develop a relationship slowly until we reach the level of intimacy where it would be appropriate to talk about how often I shower. I have to jump right in, or these things will remain unspoken!

I may never see this woman again. Her son also does soccer, and his father usually brings him, anyway. I know quite a bit about this woman, you see. Except her name.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stage Whispers

I've been discussing Christmas and gifts with the boys quite a bit. My secret quest is to find out what they really want as opposed to what they think they want, or the last commercial they happened to see on TV.

All three boys were sitting in the bathtub when Nick started mouthing words at me. "What?" I asked. I bent closer, and I could hear Nick whispering, but I couldn't hear the words. Finally Nathan realized something was going on and quieted down.

"I want to get Nathan a special transformer for Christmas," Nick whispered. "It's cool, and had two different color legs."

"OK," I whispered.

"Yeah," Nate whispered. "One leg is green and the other is yellow."

"Nate, you aren't supposed to whisper. It's a surprise for you," Nick whispered.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Why We Don't Homeschool

We got this book at the library called "My First Picture Math Book" or something like that.

It's a great book, actually. It has bright and colorful pictures, and it asks the reader to do things. For example, it will ask "Which number is the pink house?" And they will be in order - 6, 7, ?, 9. And Nate took one look, placed his finger on the pink house and said "Question Mark!"

But the best part was on one of the last pages. "How many more players are needed to make a team of ten?" was the question. And underneath are six shiny soccer players. Nate's face was a blank. I could see he didn't understand the question - after all, he's three. So I tried to help him out.

"Look, Nate. We need ten players for a team. How many are there here?" We counted the six players. "Is that enough?"

"No."

"So how many do we need?"

"Ten!"

"OK, but we only have six, so let's count and my fingers will be the extra ones, OK?"

And together we counted to six, and then I placed my fingers on the page next to the picture of the shiny players as we finished counting to ten.

"So Nate, how many fingers do I have?"

"Ten!"

"Um, OK, but how many players do we have?"

"Six!"

"OK, there are six on the page, and then we counted to ten with my fingers, see?" I wiggle my four fingers. "So how many did we end up needing?"

"Ten! Mom, why are you laughing?"

.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Potty Talk

Yes, it's everyone's favorite subject!

Actually, I'm not going to go into this much, today. After all, I haven't really started potty training Andy yet, as he's not even two, and Nate's been potty trained for over a year now.

The thing is, every once and awhile there is some, um, backsliding. And Nathan will decide he doesn't really need to go use the bathroom until he really needs to use the bathroom, and then he doesn't get there in time. And this may happen three or four times in a 48 hour time frame.

The most unfortunate part of this backsliding is that there is suddenly a lot more laundry to do, especially if sheets and mattress pads are involved. Additionally, some times Nate tries to get away with not telling me, so puddles do not get cleaned up, and then they dry, and I get to walk around the house sniffing, trying to figure out what part of it to clean and disinfect to make the smell disappear.

So... yeah, I lied about not going into it. I totally did. Sorry.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Seriously?


Is there anything worse than having to share your stuff?

.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stop-The-Crazy Cure

There reaches a point every weekday morning when I've got five minutes to put my clothes on, get shoes on the kids, pants on the baby, pack a snack for Nick, and get outside so Nick can catch the bus. And when I glance at the clock I'll yell out something like " Guys! We have five minutes until the bus comes, so lets hurry!"

And as soon as I say it Nathan will launch himself down a flight of stairs head first, or Nick will bonk his head on something, and they will begin crying, and need to be held and comforted, and all that takes time. Time we don't have if we want to make the bus.

Nick's gymnastics teacher once remarked that Nick should slow himself down. "That way he won't get hurt as much," he said. And it's true, Nick does seem to injure himself in gymnastics a lot. Not seriously, or in the way you'd think, but by stepping on people's hands, or jumping into other people, and once even kneeing himself in the head.

When I was a kid I read all the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books. If you haven't read them, well... Mothers have troubles with their children they can't solve, but they call Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, a friend to all children, who gives them cures - either in advice or medicinal form. And one of these cures in one of the books was for a girl who was always running late and seemed to break everything she touched and injure herself constantly. And the cure was some sort of drug (probably illegal) that slowed her down. She couldn't move quickly if she wanted to. And oddly, she began getting everywhere on time. She no loger fell down, stumbled, forgot anything, or knocked things off tables.

Yes, I know, my mind is a maze of useless information.

Anyway, all this junk is going through my mind and I started to wonder: would the boys would hurt themselves if I never asked them to hurry? And even if we didn't, would Nick still make the bus?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Buried Lead

I had choir rehearsal, so it is later than usual, and I would like to read a little of my Margaret Atwood novel before bed. Coupled with the fact that I can't think of anything relevant or interesting to write, this means I am left with two choices.

1 - see how long a post I can make with no content whatsoever, or

2 - don't post.

As you can probably tell, I opted for #1. Why, you ask? Well, I get to tell someone I'm reading The Year Of The Flood.

Also, my cousin Hillary had a baby girl today! Her name is Charlotte. Hooray!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thomas Off Target

I do a fair amount of shopping at Target. I like it there, as I can buy many of the things I need in the same location: clothing, school supplies, toiletries, cat litter, bacon.

Target likes me so much that they are always sending me flyers and, in some cases, actual coupons that I can use to buy even more items. And last week they were kind enough to send an entire flyer with coupons dedicated to TOYS.

The boys looked through it, and looked through it again. They pointed out what they wanted, and then pointed out other things that they wanted, and then showed me new things they never knew existed that they also wanted.

And so this morning, after Nick left for school, I clipped a few of those coupons and packed the younger two kids in the car, heading out for Target, the Big Red Dot. After all, not only is Christmas only a little over a month away, but Andy's birthday is right around the corner, and then Nate's!

(Santa, if you are reading this, I'm writing you a letter and it will go out right after Thanksgiving, OK? Don't worry, I won't leave you guessing.)

While I was there I happened to see something that I wanted to get Andy for his birthday. It's a Thomas the Tank Engine, which talks and whistles and responds to your child. Andy also saw it, and seemed to like it, and I had a coupon for it, so I tried to discreetly place it under the cart while the boys were looking in other directions.

The trouble was, it responds to movement and loud noises. And I couldn't find the off button. So every time I made to put it underneath, it started talking. "Hello! I'm Thomas! Welcome to Knappford Station!"

I manged to direct the boys to the noisy Transformers and stuck it under then, but it was hard to ignore the whistling that was coming from under the cart as we were checking out. "Choo choo?" Andy asked. I shook my head. "No!"

Lie.

And Andy knew it.

As soon as we got the the car the thing started talking and I couldn't get it to stop. "Choo choo? Choo choo?" Andy was saying over and over. And the stupid thing is saying "Let's take a trip! My name is Thomas!"

Finally I wrestled a screaming Andy into his car seat and left hi there, sobbing, as I stood in the parking lot and ripped the box apart so I could reach the stupid off button! BAD ENGINEERING! ALWAYS put the OFF switch where the people can SEE it. On the OUTSIDE of the box. At least if you are going to make a noisy toy with the words "TRY ME" on the box.

Anyway, he seemed to forget about it after awhile. I also managed to get the boys new bike helmets, and Andy was distracted by that. When I made him take a nap after lunch he sobbed and pointed to the garage. "Bike! Bike! Bike!"

Monday, November 09, 2009

A Poke In The Eye

This is Andy on Halloween. (I haven't taken any photos since then.) He's carrying one of the little glow sticks that Aunt Nancy got the boys. Nick ad Nate immediately began fighting with them and calling them "Life Savers." You know. Like Star Wars, but for kids. And Andy immediately began sticking it in his eye.

I have no idea why, but he kept doing it. Slowly, deliberately, repeatedly.

And in other news, yes, I have had a birthday, which is why I didn't post (taking the day off, you know.) This year I can no longer pretend that I am in my "early thirties" and must admit to being in my "mid-thirties."

You know, I don't feel old. I don't feel geezer-like or any more out of it than I have always felt. I attribute this to the fact that I was never that fond of popular culture or doing what young people do. OK, I'm a lot more tired. But that's the kids, right?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

If I Lived In New York...

... here's what I'd be doing:
Yeah, I know, you can't read it. Me either. But you wish you could. It's tomorrow afternoon, reservations can be made right here.

Also, I'd be going to see this. If you're looking for something on Wednesday night, check it out. If you live in NY. If not, we're in the same boat.

Friday, November 06, 2009

No Dick Tracy! No Dick Tracy!

At one point the summer I was fifteen, there were eight or nine children living at our house. Maybe not all at once. But there certainly seemed to be a lot of kids there. And a lot of doing things that kids do, not bad things, just things that aren't very considerate of other people who have to cook, clean, do laundry, share the same space, etc. And my mother might have had a nervous breakdown or two, threatening to withold certain outings, one of them being the movie Dick Tracy.

We still make fun of her. "No Dick Tracy! No Dick Tracy!"

I managed to see the movie twice that summer, don't ask me how.

Really, this post has a relevant, more recent point.

In the movie Dick Tracy, there is a little boy who is constantly eating. As soon as he finishes one thing he tosses the container of his shoulder and shouts out "When do we eat?"

This is Nathan.

Five minutes after a snack or a meal, he tells me he's hungry. If I do not respond in some way, he usually manages to steal something out of the fruit bowl - a pear. A tomato. And this afternoon, a lemon.

And each time I track him down and wrestle the lemon out of his hands, or pick up a tomato to cook with and find it riddled with teeth marks, I feel like shouting. "No Dick Tracy! No Dick Tracy!"

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Winter


It's winter. I have dragged humidifiers out of the closet, closed storm windows, put away the summer clothes, and set out the basket of hats and gloves. I hung the heavy curtains and banished the sunscreen and bug spray to a high shelf.

Kids are not so quick to catch on. Nick keeps trying to sleep in only his Transformers underwear, and Nathan has been asking to set the table since 4:15.

"It's not dinner time," I tell him.

"It's getting dark," he says.

The boys are ready, though. They've been trying to go out in their boots ever since I let them wear it in our "snowstorm" that one time it snowed.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

About Last Night...

Last night was one of the most horrible nights of my life. As far as sleep is concerned, that is.

I fell asleep quickly enough, but I woke up an hour later feeling just terrible. I kept running to the bathroom, but this malady called for me to feel sick without actually being sick. What's more, I had this sense of panic. Whenever I would relax enough to think I was actually drifting off, I would think I had forgotten something - left a burner on, a child in the oven, one of those things.

Steve snored a bit, then coughed a lot, then had a massive nosebleed. Puck somehow got himself shut in Steve's closet and meowed loudly until I let him out.

Thank goodness the boys all took good naps this afternoon so I could catch up!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Cooking Advice

When making chili, please be advised that 2 canned chiptole peppers are not the same as 2 cans of chiptole peppers.

It's a good thing I tasted the chili before it was done, because it would have been cruel to serve something this hot to a child, and we also had time to order pizza.

Steve liked it, and kept taking bites and then rushing around trying to find things to cool down his mouth.

If I were more familiar with peppers I would have realized my error earlier. Too bad.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

November

Last night was a perfectly wonderful Halloween. We went to Lillian's for dinner and Trick-or-Treated in her neighborhood, where the houses are much closer together, and there are more children. The 70 degree weather, the wind, and the leaves made it a perfect night.

Once Andy realized there was Candy, he let me put his costume on. Nick and Nate would say "Trick Or Treat!" and Andy would say "Me! Me! Me!"

Things have been a lot harder for ma lately. Not unhappy, just busy. I reach the end of the day more tired and frazzled than I feel I have been. Maybe some of that is the weather, or our busy schedule. But I attribute a lot of it to the fact that Andy can now open doors, drawers, and reach counter tops. If I turn my head for a minute to load the washer or put something away or pee, I may come back to find a running sink and a soaking floor, or broken glasses, or... well, see above.