Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Warning: This Post May Have No Point and Contain a Plethora of Made-Up Words

I'm used to weird stuff happening at night, both actual and my-brain-making-stuff-up-tual.  (It's almost 10 pm, which is late for me.  I can't promise this post will be anywhere near coherent.  In fact, I should probably wait and write this tomorrow, but I'm feeling gamble-some... or... something... and have decided that this needs to be posted TONIGHT.)

Anyway.  Weird stuff at night.  Right.

I grew up with a sister who would do things like sit straight up in bed in the middle of the night, glare at me and bellow, "WHERE'S MY SUNSCREEN?" before lying back down and going right back to sleep.  (P.S. I didn't know where her sunscreen was.  Still don't.)

Sunday night, I was washing up in the bathroom, getting ready for bed, when I heard Adelaide talking in her sleep.  That in and of itself is not at all unusual; most nights she's yelling something or other in her angry voice:  "Noooo, dooooon't, STOP IT!"  I don't know what her dreamscape looks like, but it's either inhabited by scary monsters or people telling her that cookies don't exist.  Either way, she's consistently angry about it.

Sunday, however, she decided to be a little more mysterious, and instead of the normal negativity issuing from her room, I heard, "JABAR-JABAR-JABAR-JABAR-JABAR..." before trailing off in a monologue even more incomprehensible than all the jabar-speak.

This all provided a lovely if unorthodox soundtrack for my teeth-brushing; the only problem was, my overly tired, slap-happy brain decided that this was simply the most hysterical thing it had ever heard, so I went into one of those silent, shaking laughter episodes we're all seized with now and again, which would have been fine except for the fact that I had a pointy plastic thing in my mouth and I somehow managed to stab myself in the throat a couple times, causing some painful gagging, which caused the foamy toothpaste to overflow out of my mouth.  A glance in the mirror proved that I did, in fact, appear to be rabid.  But happily so.  I was rabidly happy.  Which caused more laughter.

We have good times, me, myself, and I.

Derek capped off the night a few hours later with a little sleep talking himself.  I was climbing back into bed for the umpteenth time after calming Atticus down, when Derek said in a perfectly clear, I'm-wide-awake voice, "Did Jeff give you all the markers?"

I answered, "No."  Because he hadn't.  And who's Jeff?

Right about here is where I'd supply a witty little conclusionary... concludatory... conclusion-ey... sentence that wraps this whole little story up with a pretty purple- and silver-striped bow, but I just can't.  My brain slowly winds down when its tired, like one of those talking dolls who's batteries are dying, and we're just about at the point where the doll's voice is so slow that it's scary and masculine.

Good night.  I hope everyone has lots of fun conversations with your loved ones while at least one of you is asleep.  (Did you see that?  I tried.)

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Letter To The Birthday Boy

Dear Caedmon,

Today you are two.

It's incredible for me to think back to a time, just a little over two years ago, when I was a little bit scared of you.  Well, maybe not of you, but of what you were going to do to our family.

Close to three years ago, we were a family of four.  We had one little girl, we had one little boy.  We already had one of each- what more could we possibly need?

Then I found out I was pregnant with you.  As the months passed, I got more and more freaked out.  Not by any of the labor and delivery stuff, or even the baby stuff- I had already had two babies; I was a seasoned pro.  No, what scared me was the thought of having three small children.  Atticus would still be one when you were born, Adelaide had recently turned four.  I felt like I was barely keeping it all together as it was- how on earth could I handle all that plus another baby?  I was a little bit torn:  happy because, hey- a baby!  I love babies!  But also a tiny bit resentful at how much I knew you were going to mess up my carefully balanced world.

Then, on September 21, 2010, you were born.  It was a blessedly uneventful labor and a blessedly uneventful delivery.  You were healthy and perfect, and we were thrilled.  You nursed like a champ, and we loved you instantly.

You also started crying.  And didn't stop for three months.

Oh, Caedmon.  Those first few months were rough.  Atticus turned two soon after you were born, and really began testing us- normal, two-year-old developmental stuff, but still draining for your Daddy and me.  Adelaide was a pre-schooler and a pretty easy little girl, but still young enough to need help with most everything.  And there you were, our colicky baby, screaming to be heard over all that.

Going from one to two kids had been a pretty smooth transition for us.  Adelaide was two and a half when Atticus was born, but was relatively mature, and a pretty docile little kid.  Having two kids turned out to be pretty easy.  Having three was not.

I remember having to swallow my anger when, time after time, people would well-meaningly say to me, "The baby weight just falls off of you, doesn't it?  You're so lucky."  And I'd think, Yes, it's amazing how easily it falls off when you spend every evening running around and around the house, doing hundreds of squats a day, just to keep your colicky baby from crying all the time.  How fortunate for me.

Because you, my son, were not an infant who liked to be stationary.  I couldn't just bounce you around, I had to do what amounted to squats and plies to pacify you.   And walking around the house?  Forget about it.  You required me to lope around the circle that makes up the first floor of our house, somewhere between a jog and a run in order for you to stop crying.

To be fair, you weren't the worst colicky infant I'd ever been around.  You had your quiet, peaceful moments.  They were just hard to remember when you wouldn't stop crying every evening.

Sometime around the three to four month marker, however, something changed.  You changed.  You went from this fussy, high-maintenance infant to a sweet, gurgling, engaging baby boy.  And you haven't looked back.

Because you, my boy, are a joy.  You are pure, unfiltered joy to this family.  I miss you when you're upstairs taking a nap.  I feel sorry for people who haven't met you.  I could spend all day with you in my lap, just breathing you in.

You love your Daddy.  We can't go up or down the stairs without you insisting we stop so that you can kiss the image of Daddy in our wedding portrait.  You love Atticus and Adelaide.  Atticus is the second person you ask for in the morning (after Daddy), and when you get hurt, you first ask me to kiss the place where it hurts, then you go to Adelaide for another kiss and some extra love.

You're a ham.  I've seen you walk in front of groups of people, face them, clasp your hands behind your back, and sing the ABC's at the top of your voice.  You often seem to know just how to make yourself as cute as possible so you get extra attention from the pretty girls who help in your Sunday school class.  You love to give eskimo kisses.

More than anything, you've taught me that I shouldn't worry so much.  God knows what he's doing 100% of the time.  I just knew that you were going to be this extra person that we would have to try and fit into our lives, when what you are was the piece of our family we didn't even know was missing.  And I love you in a way that is about as perfect as it can get this side of heaven.



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Nothin' But Caedmon

Tomorrow is Caedmon's second birthday.  I'm really having trouble wrapping my brain around the idea of the words "Caedmon" and "two" being in the same sentence. 

In anticipation of his birthday, I thought I'd put up a bunch of pics of Caedmon over the last year; mostly things that somehow didn't make it on the blog, but I'd still like to remember.

Like how cute he was, right after his first birthday.

A few weeks later.  Still adorable.

 Playing one of the kids' favorite games, which they have entitled "Running Soccer Ball."  It's basically Derek running after them, trying to kick a bean bag-type soccer ball at them.  I'd forgotten that Caedmon used to insist Derek carry him around as he chased the older two.  You can tell it's right before bedtime here; Caedmon has his fingers in his mouth and looks half-asleep already.  It's a big wintertime game around here.

Easter Sunday.  Carrying his basket like a purse.

Easter Sunday.  Playing golf with a fly swatter and a dyed hard-boiled egg.

Easter Sunday.  Eating candy with the wrapper still on it.

Going down the slide while visiting Grandma and Papa.

You should really click to embiggen this, just to see the looks on all three of their faces.

Eating potting soil- because he's too discerning to just eat the mud in the grass.  He only ingests the stuff I buy from the store.

Sick boy.  Caught a virus that gave him a fever and a nasty rash.  That was a bad day.

Adelaide's first day of 1st grade.  On our way to the bus stop.

Same day.  Waiting for the bus.

Sitting with Adelaide at the PrairieFest parade.

Look at how you've grown, Caedmon!  I'm totally not depressed about it!  At all!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Some Things Should Just Be Banned

Most weekdays, Derek gets up super early and goes to the gym to work out before heading off to work.  Then, in the evenings, after we've put the kids to bed, I go for my walk.  Thus we both get some kind of physical exercise in on most days.

Last week, however, Derek missed a couple mornings at the gym.  This might be due to the fact that he was getting up at night with Atticus more than usual.  I guess being screamed at throughout the night kind of kills your motivation.

To make up for those missed mornings, as soon as I walked in the door from my evening walk, he left for the gym.

So there I was one evening last week, post-walk, sitting in the rocking chair, laptop in my lap, tv on to drown out all the scary things I hear when Derek's gone and it's dark outside.

Out of nowhere, I heard a whistle.

I don't mean a lifeguard's whistle or a train whistle; this was definitely human, more the kind of little three-note whistle you might give to catch someone's attention.

And I had heard it

in my house


somewhere close to me

from a human being.

I flipped out.

BUT, to my credit, if you were watching me, you would never have known that I was flipping out.  Checking my vital signs, sure, but just looking, nope.  I stayed completely still (even though my heart was racing), continued to click my finger on the mouse at random intervals (even though I had no idea what was on the computer screen; I was too busy straining to see movement in my peripheral vision), glanced up at the television every once in awhile (to increase the range of said peripheral vision).

This is my standard protocol when I think a home invasion has occurred:  act natural, continue doing whatever you're doing even while your ears are straining for the slightest abnormal noise (don't worry, they'll find plenty of fodder to give you heart attack after heart attack), then casually make your way to whatever stations you have in your home that house weapons against just such a situation- preferably something heavy or poisonous or pointy or that involves gunpowder.

I was following the protocol beautifully, especially for someone convinced that there was a man in the front room watching her.  I had just moved to get up and retrieve my something poisonous (hairspray) along with my something heavy (favorite cast iron skillet), 'cause I'm a two-handed warrior.  You have been warned.

Then Atticus started crying.

If you know us and/or have read this blog for any length of time, you know that Atticus crying/screaming/thrashing throughout the night is pretty normal around here.

I thought about going ahead and retrieving my weapons, but I was afraid this would tip the intruder off; wouldn't a normal mother go straight upstairs to comfort her crying child?

Instead I walked as calmly as I could toward the stairs, expecting a blow to the head at any second.

I made it to the stairs.  (I know, you're shocked, right?)

I also made it up the stairs without harm.  (Surprise after surprise today.)

I settled Atticus back down, then stood at the top of the stairs, listening intently.

And I heard it again.

THIS GUY WAS TOTALLY MESSING WITH  ME.  Obviously, what was happening here was that some guy had broken into our house, saw me on the laptop, whistled in a menacingly friendly manner, you know, just to let me that he was there, waited to see what I would do, watched me go up the stairs but didn't do anything because that would be the obvious kill, and this guy was evidently a subtle homicidal maniac, and when it became apparent that I was waiting him out, he whistled again to let me know that the game was still on.

(By the way, I didn't call the cops on the off chance that I was wrong about the whole there's-a-deranged-killer-in-my-house thing; if I called the cops every time I thought someone was out to get me, our kids would have been taken away a long time ago.)

Eventually I walked down the stairs (I would have crept but there is no creeping down our stairs- our house is 112 years old, no one seems to have done any home repair on them in all that time, and I kind of think they just like to make you feel like an elephant as you walk up and down them).  I had a sudden burst of bravery (or sanity, I often confuse those two), turned on the light to the front room, and encountered...

no one.

Apparently he had slunk into a different room of the house.

At that point, Derek walked in the front door, I said something like, "OH MAH GAH!" and babbled out the entire story to him.

He then told me that the whistle was the iPad that he had brought home from work.

"Your iPad was whistling at me?"

"No, it means I had an incoming message."

So my question now is this:  Who does that?  Who makes technology that makes pseudo-friendly human sounds specifically designed to freak people out?  Or perhaps if not specifically designed for that purpose, then with that being the obvious byproduct?

One of these days someone's going to have a real cardiac episode or stroke and there's going to be a lawsuit.

Because I can't be the only one freaked out by that stuff.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cool, Calm, and Collected

A while back, I read a quote online.  It went something like this:

"Always behave like a duck- 
keep calm and unruffled on the surface 
but paddle like the devil underneath!" 
-Jacob Braude

Now I have no idea who Jacob Braude is, if this quote really belongs to him, or really any idea as to the veracity of any of it.  And I don't really care enough to google it, even now.  For now and for the purposes of our discussion, we'll just go ahead and assume it's legitimate.  


Something about this little quote struck me.  I've been ruminating on it over the past few weeks.  It really just won't leave me alone.  I can think of plenty more useful things to stick in my brain, but this whole duck thing is the one that has taken up residence.  Story of my life.

I think the reason it's hunkered down into my long-term memory is because I would love to be that kind of person:  Calm and unruffled, appearing as though to glide right through the waters of life, serene as a madonna, keeping any inner chaos or turmoil firmly tucked out of sight.  People would say, "Wow.  That lady really has her act together.  How does she do it?"

I know a few women like that.  I try really hard not to hate them.

Instead I tend to get kind of frantic, too often flustered and a little bit manic, and people that see me are less, "Look how calm and unruffled she is," and more, "I think that girl's drowning."

Take last Friday.  We had to be two hours south of our home by a specific time Friday evening, as we had a rehearsal dinner for a wedding to attend.  I arranged to pick Adelaide up from school rather than having the bus bring her home, hoping to get on the road 30 minutes earlier.  

2:50 pm found me whipping through the house, throwing things into bags, wrestling Caedmon's fat feet into newly-shrunken sandals, throwing things into the back of the van, running in and out of the house as I remembered item after item we would surely need for our weekend away.  My last trip involved an armful of clothes I'd snatched out of the dryer and then threw into the front seat.  We left the house at 2:59.  School gets out at 3:00.  

I'm halfway to the school when I realize I've forgotten something important.  I would have to pick our daughter up and go back home, killing our schedule.  

I arrived at the school at 3:04.  That may not seem terribly late, but for someone mildly obsessed with punctuality, that's 240 seconds of failure.  240 seconds for my hysteria to mount to a level that made me appear slightly wild-eyed as I entered Adelaide's school, snatched her, and dashed back out.  

We raced back home (I mean, we drove the exact 55 miles per hour that is the posted speed limit on the country highway).  As we pulled up to the house, I jumped out of the van, and began to run up to our front door. 

I mounted the steps to our front porch and found not only a pair of my underwear waiting there for me, but in addition, swinging in the wind so as to taunt me, a pink bra hanging from the front doorknob, for the viewing pleasure of anyone passing by our house.  

I thought I'd felt something snag when I went out the door that final time with a load of clothes to pack, but chalked it up to the universe plotting against me to make me late.  

Nothing says, "Someone calm and unruffled runs this household," like undergarments on display in the front yard, right?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

To Tide You Over

I'm overdue for a post.  I know.

I know what I'm going to write about in my next post, but only kinda sorta know how I want to say it.  It needs more time to marinate in the cerebrospinal fluid of my brain.

Until then, I'm going to blame the infrequency of my posting on our children.  Because that's why people have kids, right?  To blame stuff on them and get out of things you don't really want to do.  I'm pretty sure the same goes for pets.

Today the blame goes to Caedmon.  I'm convinced the fact that he no longer likes having his picture taken is the reason behind my lack of posting.  Somehow.

The camera has come out.  He is displeased.

Things are getting serious.

He's about to break the camera.  Sometimes I don't know when to stop.  Usually this face clues me in.

The end.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

To That One Mom at Aldi

To That One Lady I Saw at Aldi Who Looked Like She Was About to Die of Embarrassment:

Hi there.

You don't know me.  I would have introduced myself today, but I could see it wasn't really a good time.  I was the other mom in the store, trying to keep my boys from staring at your kid as he had a complete and total meltdown.

I want you to know that I feel your pain.  You looked like you wanted the floor to open up and swallow you whole today, while your toddler first threw himself onto the floor and then proceeded to scream himself hoarse because you wouldn't buy him those cookies.

I want you to know that I wasn't judging you.  Those two little boys I had with me?  Yes, they were being really good today, but that's only because we'd had a stern conversation in the van before entering the store and I'd said a lot of prayers and the moon just happened to be in the proper alignment.  (And honestly, because they were so busy staring at the spectacle your kid was making of himself.  Nothing makes kids behave like watching someone else throw a tantrum.  So thanks for that!)  They're not always that good.  In fact, you could say they've set a pretty good precedent for your son; those Aldi employees have learned that you never really know what to expect from little kids in a grocery store.  So yes, while you saw our youngest sitting calmly in the seat of the cart, and our older son walking sedately alongside me, what you didn't see was the time the little one took a ride on the conveyor belt at the checkout when I was distracted.  Or the time our older boy shut himself in the milk case and freaked out.  Or the time our daughter burst into tears because the store was out of cottage cheese and she assumed they had done it on purpose because "Aldi hates me!"  And I have lots of friends with small children who also shop there.  For my own sanity, I assume their children behave in similar ways when out in public.

I hope you didn't pay too much attention to those college girls glaring at you the entire time you were trying to pick your limp-boned child off the floor.  Anyone could see that you were trying to calm him down, and really just doing your best in a difficult and humiliating situation.  Don't worry.  I'm praying that someday those young ladies will have children, too, and then they will learn that even the most obedient kids have their moments.  I say we make a pact to get together and follow those girls around Aldi in, oh, say five, ten years, cackling malevolently each time their kid misbehaves.  It will be about as helpful as the staring and eye-rolling that they employed was today.

Just one more thing, my fellow Mama.  I didn't get to see how the situation resolved itself.  I know your kid quieted down within a few minutes.  I was trying to get through my list as quickly as possible, and couldn't tell if your little darlin' had simmered down, or if you had forcibly removed him from the store.  I just want to remind you: Be strong!  I understand that in that moment, all you want (aside from a brain aneurysm that promises instant death) is to get your kid to quiet down as quickly as possible, and while getting him those cookies may appease him this time, each time you give in, you're only making it worse for Future You, not to mention teaching your kid some pretty terrible life lessons.  I know it's hard.  Parenting includes a lot of long-term thinking and planning, and sometimes it would be so much easier just to give in.  Remember:  this is America, and America doesn't negotiate with Terrorists.


A Fellow Sympathetic Shopper

P.S. Please don't be offended that I referred to your two-year-old as a terrorist.  Mine is, too.  

UPDATE:  I didn't get around to publishing this post until a few weeks after I had written it.  The day after it was posted, I went to Aldi with our two boys.  On that trip, I was the mom with the terrorists.  It felt like a very cruel sort of irony.