Thursday, September 30, 2010

Also...

Could have posted this yesterday...


video

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Toy Story

Last week I took Nate and Andrew to the Halloween store that pops up every fall in one of the buildings in the next town.
I am not planning on buying costumes this year. After last year, I decided that paying the $30 per costume each year was excessive. We end up with all these costumes at home, and they never get used again until we was to go somewhere and make a good impression, and suddenly Nathan refuses to take off the Spiderman mask and Andy dons a pair of black 'wings' and insists we call him "Mr. Penguin."

But I did say I would buy a few accessories if they wanted. And Halloween is fun, right? So I took the boys.
Well... Halloween IS fun... if you're a teenager. Or maybe even a bigger kid. But when you're under five, Halloween can be scary. Because it isn't fun to be scared. Being scared is just... scary. So, let's say, the big life sized witch statue that cackles and waves her arms around? Scary. The ghost with red eyes that floats up? Scary. The Pinhead statue? Scary. And that mechanical old lady in the rocking chair that rocks back and forth? Scariest Of All.
So I terrified my children. But not before Andrew spotted a few Toy Story costumes. I refused to purchase any of the full costumes, still clinging to the dream that we can make them at home. But I DID end up buying Andy a Woody hat, one almost as expensive as a whole costume. I just got suckered into it. He wanted it so bad, and he was so cute. And he's going to be Woody for Halloween!

Now he doesn't have a choice.

Honestly, I think he looks more Canadian Mountie than Cowboy, but he's satisfied.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Run Run, Far As I Can

Also, last week, before I got the cold-of-doom, I had the opportunity to run the trail I've been trying to run.

70 minutes. 7.92 miles.

And then I got the cold that night and couldn't tell if I was aching from fever or from muscle soreness. And also, my foot started to hurt, and now I can't wear flip-flops without limping.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cold

I was a little excited when the director of our church choir sent out an email letting the singers know that he would not be at our rehearsal this past week. Instead, we would be getting a guest director, someone with years of experience as a choir director.

I always appreciate guest directors because it's an opportunity to get a different sort of direction, and to pick up different tips. Especially when we're singing music I happen to like, such as the piece we sang Sunday.

So I was really looking forward to this particular choir rehearsal. I was planning on going.

I planned on going all day long. I was thinking about it when I picked up Nick from school and took him to piano lesson. And when I stopped by the grocery store to buy decongestant and a night time cold medicine. I planned on going all through making dinner and setting the table.

And it wasn't until we all sat down to dinner and I said "Remember, Steve. It's choir night," that Steve looked at me and said "You're kidding, right?"

Well, he didn't say that. But he could have. Because instead of "remember" what I said was "rebebar" and it sounded like Darth Vader was sitting at the table with us. That's how much difficulty I had breathing. What Steve said was "You can stay home if you want to. It's OK."

And so I did. And I took enough cold medicine to knock me out by 7:45.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Heat

I know it hasn't really gotten cold yet, but I already have to keep myself from turning up the heat. I'm going to see how long we can make it. After all, that's what all these cozy sweaters are for, right?

It's just... they are a lot less cozy when the sleeves are dipped in dinner sauce and dishwater.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

And so it begins

We have already received not one, but two invitations to birthday parties already this year.

Nick has been invited to a party at a movie theater, which should be fun for him, but the party is going to be three hours long.

And Andy has been invited to his first party ever, at least without one of his brothers being the original invitee. A little boy in his class is turning 4. He's obviously one of the older kids in the class. Andrew, who will not be 3 for a few more months, was thrilled with the Transformer invitation that was his his his. How can you tell him he can't go?

So now I'm off to buy birthday gifts. Maybe I should buy a whole bunch of extra gifts, just so that I'll be ready for the next time. I swear that's what my mother did.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Noise Noise Noise Noise

The boys are loud.

Without saying a word, they can hum out the tune of a song on the radio. A toy car being pushed along the floor can drown out the sound of the person speaking on the phone. Even the sound of markers on paper can be deafening. Or maybe it's the sound of the hums and vocal expressions, mixed with he sound of markers being shifted around in the box so that the right color can be found. Or maybe it's the sound of marker caps hitting the floor again and again and again.

And me? I'm the crazy lady in the next room shouting YOU ARE SO LOUD to three boys who, in their own minds, are being perfectly quiet.

Happy Birthday to my baby brother, Jamie.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Making Grown-up Choices

Hmmm... a school Open House is at the same time as the Season Premiere of Grey's Anatomy?

What should I do? These are the sort of decisions that one should not have to make.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Responsibility

Last week Nathan's teacher sent a newsletter home informing the parents of some upcoming plans for classroom activities.

This year, apparently, they begin show-and-tell.

But not just any show-and-tell. They are also doing a letter of the week, and every week each child is to bring in something to sow-and-tell which begins with the letter of the week.

I think this is a fabulous idea. It requires a little thinking and planning, but should be interesting. Nathan is already making things up in order to bring in his favorite items. The letter is D. "I'll bring Miga (a stuffed animal.) His middle name is Doug. That starts with D."

The rest of the newsletter bothered me. In order to space the show-and-tells out, each child has been assigned a different day of the week. Kathy and John on Monday, Nathan and Will on Wednesday, etc. This makes sense, right?

But the newsletter said that "in order to teach your child responsibility" they would not be allowed to make up their show-and-tell should they forget to bring it in on their own day. They would have to wait a week.

And I just had to laugh. Responsibility? These kids are four years old! Nathan is a smart cookie, but he doesn't know what day of the week it is, and when you tell him, he doesn't know if he's even going to school on that day. There is NO WAY he'll be able to remember to select his alphabetically correct show-and-tell item and remember to bring it in on a specific day of the week. Who are these teachers kidding? The ones that are learning responsibility are the parents. Do we really have to pretend the kids are involved here?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sick Day

We've had our first sick day already.

Nick caught a cold. Early one morning I overheard him coughing that barking cough. We kept him home for a couple of days, but he seems better, now.

While he was out, he messed everything up. We couldn't go to the pool. I couldn't make him do Karate. Worse, I had to take him grocery shopping, which means stopping for a cookie, haggling over breakfast cereal, coaxing him away from the ice-cream, and reminding him to keep up every thirty seconds or so. By the time we made it home, I realized I would not have enough time to run on the treadmill before picking up the other kids. This made me very grumpy.

But, once Andy was asleep, I took the older kids downstairs and ran for an hour. I started out slow, but managed to get more than 10k in, and it felt wonderful. I wish I could do that every single day. Like, maybe Monday?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Apple Pie

After apple picking, we had about five thousand apples that we needed to use. If you're good at math, this breaks down to about a thousand apples per person. To put this in perspective, when I buy apples at the grocery, I usually get three. For a week.

So, yeah. We had to increase our apple consumption.

Aside from the obvious solutions (eating them and packing them in snack bags) I decided to cook with them.

I made a pie.

Nathan loved it.

Nate: Can I have another piece of pie?
Me: No, one is enough.
Nate: I have an idea! Whoever eats all their cereal tomorrow morning can have a piece of pie!
Me: Nice try. Maybe at lunch.

Nick and Andy liked the pie, too, but mostly just the crust.

Nick: Mom, sometime can you make a plain pie?
Me: Plain?
Nick: Yeah, not apple, just plain, with nothing.
Me: Just cook up the crust, just plain like that?
Nick: Yeah. Just the crust.
Me: That's called a cookie

It actually was a really good pie.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Miracle Of Life

I had no idea so many apples could grow on a single branch.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

You're Missing It

You would not believe how big he's gotten, how well he can speak, how much he can do, or all that he knows.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Super Mom

I think I love being busy.

I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when everything goes smoothly, or even semi-smoothly. When I look at my schedule, all written out and ready for me to get at it, I feel like I'm flying.

Seriously, it's very odd and probably psychotic, but I become very confident that I can do anything. It's a mixture of anticipation and determination that produces joy.

Of course, it only lasts until I tell the boys to put on their shoes for school and fifteen minutes later Nick appears in flip flops, Nate in black socks and sneakers, and Andrew can't remember where he took his off. Then I start yelling and the nice feeling goes away. But hey - it was there for a moment, which means it's all doable.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ta-Da!

One of my kids loves to be the center of attention. I wonder which one it is?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Apple Picking

We went apple picking with the kids at a place near our home. Here's what I learned:

It is impossible to know which rows of apples are for picking and which aren't ready yet.

Honeycrisp apples are good.

Andy will eat any apple he picks.

Nick likes the big green apples.

Nate will drop any apple he bites into once on the ground.

None of the kids will walk to the bag once they've picked an apple, they will stand there and wave the apple around shouting "Bag, Please!" until I walk over there so they can drop it in.

Apples are much much much less expensive at the grocery store.

No one needs more than fifty apples. Ever. For anything.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Hurried Child

I sometimes think I should rename this blog "101 Worries I Have About Nick."

Maybe it's because he's my first child, my oldest, my test-run. Or maybe it's because he's "sensitive." But I really do spend a lot more emotional time, if not actual real time, on him.

Nick is in school full time. It's Transition, which means he has little to no homework. But it is all day. Everything before school is about getting ready to go there.

Nick has piano lessons Wednesday. Tuesday and Friday is Karate. I like to make it to the pool at least once a week (to justify the money spent on membership). He has church school on Sundays, and also Youth Choir. He

Is that a lot? It seems like a lot. Most of these activities take place in a time slot I had previously tagged as "Home Time," time to rest and finish up whatever we didn't get done. Off Limit Time.

I try to think back to when I was a kid. I seemed to have taken a lot of lessons. And I went to school full time, and further away from home. I remember being miserable with homework, but that was when I was older, more of a fifth-grader. Then again, the lessons didn't seem to overlap as much.

I think I just feel bad when Nick comes home from school and I rush him to and from Karate, and he plays for ten minutes before I bug him to practice piano (but only for five minutes at this point, so it's mostly symbolic), and then we eat dinner and before he can start to play I'm bugging him to feed the dog, and then it's bath and bed. Tucking him in, I'm wondering when he played. I'm thinking that he has hardly seen Andrew all day. I'm wondering if I'm doing the right thing, or if I'm giving in to a pressure to "enrich the education" at the expense of letting my child discover on his own what he wants to pursue.

Oh, for Pete's Sake, I wish I hadn't lost the Child Raising Handbook.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Working It Out

I know I've already mentioned how much I have been looking forward to the two-and-a-half hours I get to myself three mornings every week. Hours I can do what I want. I can shower without interruption. I can shop without rushing. I can clean without having my work undone almost immediately. (Let me help = Let me undo)

The problem is, there was too much on my list. And I only have, after all, two-and-a-half hours three mornings a week.

I immediately designated one day for food shopping. And another has been set aside for voluteering at Nick's school via PTA, at least every other week, but possibly every week, depending on if they get another teacher, and of the two volunteer positions I get will let me overlap on one day.

What I have effectively done, it seems, is make it even more difficult to fit a run into my day.

See, running takes time. Yes, I've read articles, especially for new mothers, that say over and over that it's the total workout that counts. So do smaller workouts throughout the day. Which is fine, as long as you are an alien that doesn't sweat. Fifteen minutes of running makes me look like I've jumped into a pool. I can't very well show up at the school, red-faced and panting. Can you imagine? "Quick! Gimme my kids before my heart-rate goes down!"

No, I need a good hour for a short workout, and ninety minutes for a satisfying run. Which appears nowhere in my daily schedule. I have plenty of twenty minute gaps where I am stranded at a location with nothing to do, but no ability to smoosh them all together into anything productive.

Oh, to be Samantha Stephens, if only on Mondays!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Non-Stick Madness - advice needed.

The other night I was making pop-overs...

Well, to be honest, they are not real pop-overs. I follow the recipe for pop-overs but what comes out is usually a kind of buttery muffiny roll. I even use muffin tins. But since I always have the ingredients and the family seems to love them, I make them.

The other night, though, as I was taking the rolls out of the muffin tine, I noticed something. The bottoms of the fake pop-overs had little flakes of gray on them. And the muffin tins were missing little bits of gray coating.

In other words, the non-stick coating of whatever was coming right off and sticking to the food I was preparing for my family.

Seriously, I was using organic milk, organic free-range eggs, whole wheat flour, and then cooking them in something that is, obviously, leaching poison into the whole thing. WHAT, I ask you, is the point.

I ate a couple of the pop-overs anyway. And today I feel like I've been hit by a truck, and yes, it might be just because I'm tired because our schedules have picked up and I'm going full swing, but it could also be that my body is in shock because I ate a chunk of metal and teflon and whatever.

Yes, yes, I'm paranoid. Insert jokes here.

But seriously, I don't like this. I don't like this at all. All I need to be able to do is cook muffins for my kids. How do I do this in a safe way? Can I spend money on a muffin tin and keep it for more than a year, safely? I mean safely as described by me, not safely as describes by some government department with lax guidelines bought off my the people who make the darn cookware.

So... does anyone know what I should be cooking with? Baking with? I'm ready to turn all my bakeware and cookware into sand toys and garage tools and start from scratch.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mini Golf

Playing mini golf with our kids is kind of like handing them power tools in a crowded mall.

Seriously, they swing those things all over the place. They don't play golf, they play hockey. And by the eleventh hole, they don't even pretend to be taking turns. Andy doesn't even pretend to use his club, he just picks up the golf ball and rolls it, sometimes just walking right over to the hole and dropping it in. Which would be fine, if Nick and Nate weren't swinging their clubs all over the place. They swing them as though they were trying to get the ball to go three hundred yards instead of ten feet.

We always end up wedged between two groups of people, the ones in front taking their time, re-taking shots, posing for photographs, and then the ones behind us professional speed mini-golfers.

By the end of the course, I'm just happy we finished. Because I'm tired of being the crazy lady yelling "Get Off The Green!"

I had fun. I did. I just think ten holes were enough.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Defining Tired

It's not a physical weariness that I'm experiencing. This is an emotional kind of tired that turns me into a snapping beast, and someone I really hate being.

I'm mentally tired. I'm tired of having someone open the door when I'm in the shower and telling people to take their fingers out of their noses. I'm tired of not being able to choose what I want to do, of having to wedge my hobbies into two-minute time spans. I'm tired of finding my books with the bookmarks removed. I'm tired of the same old dinners, tired of making them, tired of being told they suck, and tired of cleaning up after them.

Every day.

As I write this, it's Labor Day Weekend. I'm not even sure what Labor Day is for. I'm sure it's something. But for me, it's just one extra day on the weekend. And the Weekend, my friends, may be a two-day break for most people, but for me, it's a sham. It's a day I'm supposed to pretend to relax, but in reality I'm not allowed to do anything I want. Instead, the kids run around and make huge messes. Steve sleeps in front of the TV, relaxing from his job.

And instead of joining my kids I complain because they get nosebleeds on my quilting fabric and can't remember where they put their shoes. What is wrong with me? Why can't I just enjoy this time I have instead of wanting to crawl back into bed? Fleen, get over it!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Early Angst

Nicholas is the only child I know who can become emotionally attached to his toothbrush.

It happens that, every once and awhile, I need to buy the boys new toothbrushes. When the old ones get so frayed I have a hard time finding the plastic in the tangle of bristles they chomp on.And my kids get excited when I let them choose new brushes. My only rules are 1 - no battery toothbrushes (they wear out just as fast, use batteries, and so are more environmentally harmful) and 2 - every child must have a different toothbrush. Nick and Nate may not have identical toothbrushes. For the same reason Steve and I may not have identical toothbrushes. Because then we will get confused. Actually, Steve and I still get confused because at some point one of us will make a Bugs Bunny like switch in our brains and forget which one of us had the red one, and we'll both claim it as our own, neither of us saying anything, but both of us using it for weeks until Steve walks in and freaks out because I am using his toothbrush.

But that's not what this post is about.

This post is about Nick.

See, Nick will get excited over his new toothbrush. But once he brings it home and I gather the old ones to throw away, he will start to whimper. He will cry. Yes, cry, because he just LOVES his old toothbrush. Getting a new one does not, apparently, replace the old one.

The past week Nick gave his new toothbrush to Nathan. "I'm just going to use my old one a bit longer," he told me. What followed was a week long saga where I purchased a third toothbrush for Nick - the most inexpensive kind that came in a 2-pack. Nick unwrapped that toothbrush and used it, causing Andy to have a tantrum until I gave in and let him use the second of the toothbrushes, despite his having a toothbrush he used only for a week. Nick rescued his old toothbrush from the trash. He used it, then hid it. I found it, and threw it in a secret trash receptacle.

I'm serious. The crying, the despair... over a toothbrush?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Nemo Pool

They love this.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Control Case

I had a revelation not too long ago.

You know how I like to make lists? I make them compulsively. I schedule everything, from days to pick up the dry cleaning to days I should change the sheets on the beds. I write down everything from menus to shopping lists to jobs that need to get done around the house. And recently I've started planning a number of vacations.

Yes, vacations. Long, expensive vacations we will probably never take. Some to amusement parks, but many also to other locations - Australia. The Grand Canyon. Scotland. Disney World. Tokyo. China. Hogwarts. We can't possibly go to all these places. It's too much time, too much money, and... too much time. We can't fit every vacation in there before the boys will be off to college.

But I can't stop the planning. I just do it.

Recently I've decided I make all these lists and do all this planning because I like to feel that I am controlling something. When the reality is, I control nothing. I can't step into the shower and be sure no one will have lost a limb before I step out. Everything I do depends on the cooperation of everyone else in my household. Will I get to sit and read my book, or will my chair become a fort? Can I make my bed and have it stay made? No. Even the furniture gets moved around.

See the planning is an illusion. One that will make it look like I chose to eat ravioli again because I like them not because it's the only thing Nate eats. One that lets me pretend I'm going on vacation, because anticipation really does go a long way. And one that lets me feel like I am in control, when really, I am anything but.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Running On Empty

Ever since I signed Andy up for preschool last spring, I have been looking forward to that first day. I would have almost 3 hours of time just for me. Sure, I've had people watch the kids while I shopped or ran or went to parties, but that was time set aside to do specific things. And this time, this 3 hours, was mine.

I decided I would go running. Not on the treadmill, which is kind of boring, but outdoors. After all, once winter comes, I won't have that as an option, do why not take advantage of the warm weather? And I picked the perfect place - a paved 4 mile trail. Almost all of it is in the shade. I was so excited for this run!

So, after dropping Andy and Nate off at school and sniffling a little in the car, I drove off to this trail. I hopped out of the car and laced up my sneakers. And I started running. It felt great.

For about twenty seconds.

Then someone threw a rock at the back of my leg. At least that's what it felt like. Really, I just pulled my hamstring. And despite stretching it out and trying to walk it off, I couldn't run on it. The pain just kept growing until it felt like the back of my leg was on fire. So I had to turn around and limp back to my car.

Not only did this mean no running outdoors, it meant no running for a few days. Argh.

I'm trying the trail again next Wednesday.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Day 1

The boys have survived the first day of school.

This year is Andy's first year of school, ever. As a December baby, he barely makes the 2.9 years required to be legally eligible for this classroom. He's one of the youngest kids in the class. But he seems to do just fine. This means he never cries when I drop him off, and the teachers have reported no screaming, biting, or unruly behavior. Yet. But I have never seen him interact with the teachers or the other students, only the train table with the Thomas train on it. And one of the two times I came to pick him up he had wet his pants and not told anybody. So... I guess we'll have to see.

Nicholas is also facing big changes. This is his first year of a full day of school. To be fair, I started him out at preschool from 9 to 3pm, but he got to take naps. This year he has informed me they just "do resting", putting their heads down on the tables for a few moments. A full day of school also means taking the bus home, which made me nervous at first - what if he didn't get on the right bus? He also eats lunch at school, which means I can either pack him a lunch or he can eat the school lunch. I wasn't sure which he preferred. I packed him a lunch the first day, and after that he begged to eat the school lunch, mostly because it was hot dogs. But Friday was the first day the meal ticket went through, and even though it was pizza Nick said it was gross. He also said he picked strawberry milk and that stunk, too. So now I'm allowed to pack him lunch again. I told him we'd be playing it by ear.

Which, I supposed, can be applied to most of the school year at this point.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Friday, September 03, 2010

Last Few Days


The last few days of summer are here.

With school starting, there are even fewer warm days to take advantage of, and I find myself scrambling to fit everything in. We're dragging out the water toys one last time, taking that last trip to the sprinkler park, a final Saturday at the beach...

When I was a kid, summer was forever. Now it's just a couple of weeks in between school grades. I'm trying to fit a lifetime of summer activities into these summer weeks, and there's no way to enjoy it that way.

With fall here and school starting, not to mention the karate, the gymnastics, the piano, the library story hours... I need to take a breath. I need to remember to let a few things happen on their own. I don't need to schedule every memory or arrange every detail. Maybe we'll get to go apple picking this year. Maybe not. We'll have to see. No big deal either way.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Petting Zoo

The zoo also had an enclosed area where you could pet a few goats and sheep. You could also purchase a handful of corn for a quarter and feed them, and the goats knew this. It made them very friendly.
Lillian was especially loved.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Feed The Birds

The zoo had an aviary, a place where you could stand in line and then walk through a cage full of parakeets, and purchase sticks with birdseed on them that the birds would then land on and eat.
I have lost no love over birds, especially parakeets. Sure, I take the boys over to Parrot Safari to look at the big birds, but honestly, they are a little scary. They have big wings, and they can fly, and they have claws, and they have these creepy eyes that stare at you and they turn their little birdy heads all sideways and blink and you just know they want to peck out your eyes.
We had parakeets when I was younger, and like many of our pets, I didn't bond with them. Instead, the birds either escaped and then got killed by our cats, or gave birth to defective offspring.

I still view parakeets as pets rather than a breed to be kept in a zoo, so the whole thing seemed a little forced to me, especially after a long wait to get inside (they only let a few people in at a time.)
But once we were inside, it was worth it. The boys carried birds around, and let them land on their arms. Andy bonded with one in particular, petting it gently with his free hand. When it flew away at last, Andy cried "My Bird! I lost my bird!" And we had to get him another.