Thursday, March 29, 2012

I'm Going to Go Ahead and Chalk This One Up to "Boys Will Be Boys"

Atticus loves pockets.  I've spoken of this before at length.

I'm pretty good about remembering to empty those little toy/food/bug holders before throwing his clothes in the washer- unless he's been wearing cargo shorts, which have become the bane of my existence, what with each pair sporting at least six pockets each.  I also try and pat him down before we leave anyone else's house, because if I don't, I'll usually find a domino or screwdriver in there that he then has to return to its owner, along with an apology.

Yesterday, I was standing in the kitchen, washing some dishes.  Atticus was running through the house, naked except for a pair of car-emblazoned underwear.  I wish I could tell you that this is an unusual scene to stumble upon in our house, but it's not.

As he prepared to make another lap through the kitchen, our son came skidding to a halt behind me, and asked, "Hey, Mom, wanna see what's in my pocket?"

I turned around, inspected his outfit (or lack thereof), and stated, "You don't have any pockets, Bud."

"Yes, I do," he insisted.

I decided against pressing my point, and gave in.  "Okay.  What's in your pocket?"

He then reached into the front of his underwear and pulled out a plastic practice golf ball, a small car, and another little toy.  He displayed them with an air of delight.

Can I just tell you how hard it was not to burst into hysterical laughter right then?  I knew that to do so would be folly, however; he would decide this was a funny trick and start trotting it out at random times, like when we have company over.

Knowing this, I worked hard to school my face into a reasonable facsimile of one showing a stern expression.  I'm pretty sure I failed miserably;  Atticus cocked his head and squinted at me as I fought a losing battle to tamp down my hysterics.  I used facial muscles I didn't know existed, and although I didn't have a mirror handy, from the feel of it, I probably looked more like I had bitten into the world's sourest lemon than like a normal mother doling out precious wisdom.

Eventually I managed to say (in a trembling, I'm-coughing-not-laughing voice), "Bud, that's not a pocket."

"Yes, it is."

"No, it's not."

"Yes, it is!  See, it has a little flap here-"

"Bud!  It's not a pocket, okay?  Please don't put things in there."

"Why not?"

I admit with absolutely no shame that I completely gave up and passed the buck.

"That's a question for your Daddy."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Driving Miss Adelaide

You know how sometimes you meet a kid who seems to be in a hurry to grow up, prompting you to say something along the lines of, "That Suzy Sue. She's eight going on 30!"

There are times I feel that way about Adelaide; but rather eight going on 30, she's more on the five-going-on-87 track.

Last week, Adelaide participated in a dance clinic offered through her school.  It consisted of a few hours worth of practice one day after school, where they learned a simple routine, followed by a performance the next evening.

The performance turned out to be a part of our local high school dance team's Spring Show; so in addition to watching Adelaide wiggle around the high school gym for two minutes, we got to see local teenagers wiggle around for an hour and a half, too.  As per the instructions we received, our daughter sat with the other Kindergartners, which meant I was able to enjoy the show without being bombarded with questions and comments throughout our entire evening out.

Immediately after the show ended, she and I reunited.  It's possible I wouldn't have noticed how old lady-like she sounded, had it not been for all the other elementary school children around us.

The first difference I noticed was that all those other kiddos were running and jumping and excited.  Adelaide was dragging her feet and struggling to keep up with me.

Then I started to hear the chatter:  "Hey, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom!  What time is it?  Is it past my bedtime?  It is?  Yesssss!   Can I stay up even later, Mom?  Can I play right now?  I'm hungry!  Can I have a snack?  Hey, look, Mom!  ROCKS!  Can I go climb on them?  Pleasepleaseplease?"

Variations of this monologue abounded, except from Adelaide.

"Mommy, what time is it?  8:30?  Are you kidding me?  That's way too late!  I should have been in bed hours ago.  I'm going to be exhausted tomorrow morning.  Why did we ever do this?  I'm not going to be getting any sleep tonight, am I?"

She ran on this tangent for awhile before bitterly concluding, "This was a terrible idea."

She's five years old, worries about getting enough sleep and enough protein and fiber in her diet.  She loves prune juice and doesn't tolerate extreme cold or heat well.

Does that mean when she turns six she'll start saying things like, "Back in my day..."?

Because I think I'd be okay with that.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Things You Need to Know About Charlotte

Three weeks ago, my middle sister and her husband welcomed their new baby girl into the world.

Her name is Charlotte, and she is the cutest little love muffin you've ever seen.

She also makes me spontaneously erupt into baby talk that is gratingly irritating, even to my own ears.

Because I think more of the world needs to know about her, here are some fun facts about Miss Charlotte:

What she looks like:

She has a lot of hair.  I forgot to measure while I was there (I was too busy gazing into her already-turning-brown eyes), but it looks pretty long to me.

She has a cleft chin.  If you ever meet her in person, good luck not touching it.  It begs to be touched.

She's ridiculously tiny and cute.

What Charlotte does with her time:

She likes sleeping.

And having her hair washed.

And sleeping.

And having her hair brushed.

And sleeping.

And staring at her mama's face.

And laying on her daddy.

And sleeping.

By the bye, when this photo was snapped, my sister here was only two weeks post-baby.  Way to go, Kelli.

The only bad part of this trip to see our new baby niece was the confrontation of a startling fact:

This guy, our sweet Caedmon, is no longer a baby.  I now keep expecting him to ask for the keys to the car or tell me he's moving out.

I'm trying not to let it bother me.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Let's Go For a Walk

Last weekend, the kiddos and I ventured south.  Derek's folks were kind (and awesome and generous) enough to watch our three kids for a couple days while I traveled on to my middle sister and husband's house.

While I was there, I went for a walk, exploring the southern Kansas landscape.

It was a lovely morning:  cool, slightly foggy, and windy.  

It's always windy in Kansas.

Immediately after beginning, I noticed something unusual.  Look waaaay down the gravel road.  Do you see it?  

It's a hill!  Outside of the Flint Hills, Kansas is pretty flat.  So this is an exciting development.

I set my sights on the hill and sallied forth.

Look!  We're getting closer.

Right about here is where an old farmer stopped in his truck and asked, "You just goin' fer a walk?"  He seemed to have trouble perceiving the road's charms.

Whoa.  Are you seeing what I'm seeing?  That, my friends, is a curve.  A bend in the road.  

If you've ever driven the back roads of Kansas (or even flown over), you know that the roads around here are set up in a grid system.  A grid does not have curves.  Which makes curves exciting around these here parts.

Isn't it beautiful?

Sorry.  I got distracted by the barbed wire.  Speaking of which, on your next trip here, you should visit the Kansas Barbed Wire Museum.  Go ahead, plan your vacation around it.

We're here!  We're finally here!

And then... that's right.  Another curve- this one to the left.  The excitement is almost too much to bear.

Two curves on a hill.  I can't handle it.  

And guess what?  We're almost to the top!  

What magnificent vista will be visible from up there?

The suspense is killing me.


Another straight dirt road.

But hey, look to the left, and you'll see a pretty field...

Then turn around, and hey!  More hills!

And more barbed wire.

Let's go back down the curvy road.

I'm betting you're so glad you read this blog right now.

About this time I could hear something rather large coming up behind me.  I was guessing that it was another farmer, wondering what on earth I was doing just walking around.

I was right.  It was another farmer, and he was wondering why I was walking down the road.  But this particular farmer just happened to be Clinton, my youngest sister's husband.  Hi, Clinton!

Clinton's big, beautiful tractor.

The cows Clinton was feeding.  

You know what I find funny?  It seems like every time I drive down to Kansas, I see more of those metal silhouette-looking cows that people put up on top of hills.  In a state where cattle outnumber humans three-to-one, do we really need fake cows, too?

Anyway.  Time to head back.  I was in a much bigger hurry to get back down the hill than I was up.

I had someone very important to get back to.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

No, I Do Not Also Hate Kittens, Puppies, and Frolicking Lambs

You know that photo I posted on here yesterday of my sweet little tulip buds?

That photo was taken last week before we left for a trip down south.  When we returned Sunday evening, I marveled at how much they had grown, clucking over them and pulling an errant weed here and there.

Yesterday morning, the boys and I headed into the backyard to play.  As I was making my rounds of the flowerbeds, I came to those tulips.  They were no longer six inches tall, and they were no longer green and pink and beautiful.

They had been chewed down, eaten by those irritating, disgusting, pagan RABBITS.

I hate rabbits.  I'm not going to sugarcoat it anymore.  No more, "Well, I just don't like the rabbits in my backyard.  I'm sure there are nice rabbits out there somewhere."  No more Watership Down.  No more God-loves-all-his-creatures-blah-blah-blah.  I'm done.

I was still stewing over all this as the boys and I went to Aldi yesterday.  After successfully completing our grocery shopping, we stopped by a local nursery so that I could peruse their vegetable seeds.

You know what I saw the second I walked in the door?

That's right.  Rabbits.

They had cages right inside the front door, taunting me.  Why on earth would a Garden Center have rabbits?  Wouldn't that be like a chocolaterie having a scale and a full-length mirror?  Or a library having DVD's?  (Oh, wait...)

A salesgirl quickly approached me, politely asking if I needed any help.

I got right to the point.  "Why do you have rabbits in here?"

"Well, some people like to buy them around Easter."

"Gardeners do?  You're telling me gardeners like to buy rabbits?"

(Nervous laughter) "I guess so."

Her obvious discomfort helped me snap out of it and put my I'm-in-public-so-let's-not-scare-people face back on.  She seemed very relieved when I asked her what kind of carrots they had.

I managed to make it through the rest of our visit to the store without incident, although Caedmon insisted on continually drawing my attention to the rabbits by pointing at them and saying, "Doggie?  Doggie?"

As we were leaving, Atticus wandered off a bit, distracted by a display of strange contraptions, right next to the rabbits.

"Mommy, what are those?"

I peered at the tags, then started laughing.  "Those are rabbit traps, Bud."

Maybe those garden center people know what they're doing, after all.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Flowers, Vegetables, and Scat

After an unbelievably mild winter (we saw just a few inches of snow, which is, of course, due to the fact that we finally bought a snow blower last summer), spring has arrived early here in central Iowa.

You know what that means:  Gardening!

I've been cleaning out and weeding the flower beds.  We've been out of town, so I've gotten all of two beds done, which means I still have what feels like miles of them ahead of me.  I'd like to get them done before our spring order of flowers comes in.  This year we've got a bunch of pink astilbe, some orange candleflower, jack-in-the-pulpit, and a couple succulents I'm going to try in a container.  When it warms up a bit I'll go ahead and fill in the flower baskets on our front porch.  One of these years I'll have my stuff together early enough to get some cool-season annuals in those- I love pansies and snapdragons- but this is not that year.

I confess that I have not planted any veggies yet.  I know, I know, this basically means I'm lazy and a horrible person.  I do have the vegetable patch about 70% ready for planting, and I've wrestled last year's Giant Sunflower out of there. My only goal for now is to get the lettuce in within the next few days.

I'd also like to try a small strawberry plant in a pot this summer, and if that goes well, perhaps start a strawberry patch next summer.  Our family has started going through around a quart of strawberries each evening at supper, and it's getting expensive.

While I love the way our flower beds look in the summer, there's something about them in the spring.  They're not much to look at from afar:

But up close, they're so... hopeful.

Our children have also been spending copious amounts of time outside, which is great for both their physical health and their mother's mental health, but also has it's drawbacks.

One day a couple weeks ago, I went out back to see what our older two children were up to.  Atticus beckoned me to him and asked, "Hey, Mom, you wanna see what's in my pocket?"

I was filled with instant trepidation, but answered in the affirmative.  "Sure, Bud."

"See?  It's a little ball."

I mastered my gag reflex when I saw the 'little ball' he'd had in his pocket, and managed to reply, "Bud, put that down.  It's not a little ball, it's rabbit poop."  

He paused to inspect it a little more closely before dropping it; Adelaide, on the other hand, instantly reached into her jacket pockets and pulled out two big handfuls of rabbit poop, throwing them onto the ground.

Then we all trooped inside and scrubbed our hands like we were prepping for surgery.

It's with those types of events in mind that I'm both excited- but also a little anxious- for what spring will bring this year.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Slow Motion

I often feel bad for Caedmon.

He gets beat up a lot.  Not necessarily on purpose- his older siblings seem to view him as yet another piece of furniture, to be stepped on, crawled over, or knocked aside as they run past.

Atticus is by far the worst offender; I'm not sure whether this is due to his Y chromosome, the fact that he's three, or if he's just kind of rough.

Caedmon and Adelaide play very well together.  She's usually pretty gentle and patient with him, and still seems to find him to be exceptionally cute rather than exceptionally annoying.  But she's still only five years old, and has a lot to learn about how to handle a toddler.

He's obviously smiling and enjoying himself, despite having his shirt and jacket pulled up to expose his belly. I'd be snarling and scratching at my captor if someone tried that with me.  Compared to the kind of treatment he usually receives, however, this is bliss.

It has also resulted in an unusually tough kid.  When he fell down a step and landed flat on his face on the industrial carpet at the library this morning, he came up laughing- a far cry from how his older siblings would have reacted.

I suppose there is a positive side to all this abuse.

(Pssst... If you click on the first photo, it will bring you to a larger, slideshow format.  You can then use the right arrow button on your keyboard to scroll quickly through the pictures and watch as Adelaide and Caedmon slide down.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wrong Again

About a year ago, I wrote a post about how I generally believe boys and girls to be fundamentally different.  Since then, I've had a couple different people challenge my opinion and basically try to tell me how wrong I am.

On a completely unrelated note, here's how our kids have been spending their spring break so far:

Atticus has been golfing...

... and climbing stuff.

Adelaide has been reading stacks of books...

...and twirling.

Caedmon has been hitting himself in the face...

...and laughing.

And hitting himself in the face...

... and laughing.

Yeah, those people are probably right.