Thursday, December 26, 2013

Things You Need Water For

(Or "Things For Which You Need Water," if dangling prepositions drive you especially crazy.)

  • Bathing
  • Using the Bathroom
  • Washing your hands
  • Washing the dishes
  • Washing your clothes
  • Wiping down tables and countertops
  • Making more of your homemade cleaner
  • Quenching your apparently insatiable thirst
  • Cooking
  • Brushing your teeth

Plus many, many more things that I won't be taking for granted any time soon.

At one point Christmas Eve afternoon, Derek ventured into the basement to put some things away (just so we're clear, our basement is not a place our family goes to hang out, unless there's a tornado anywhere in our proximity; it's a cold, damp place, with concrete and brick walls, low ceilings, and countless spiderwebs), and discovered water all kinds of places it shouldn't be.

A pipe had sprung a leak.  A rather serious leak, actually.  Hoo- to the -ray.

We spent that night and all of yesterday- Christmas day- with our water shut off, except at short, specific times when we herded all the children into the bathroom to use the toilet and brush their teeth, and I did things like frantically wash whatever dishes had piled up and take mercilessly short showers.  The rest of the day we yelled at our kids for strange things like flushing the toilet and getting themselves a drink of water- Merry Christmas, kiddies!

This morning Derek got up bright and early in order to be at Lowe's at 6 am; he wanted to try and fix the problem himself before we called in any kind of professional reinforcements.  (This wasn't terrifying at all.)  I played the predictable role of anxious-hand-wringer after he retreated back into the basement to play plumber with some tools and parts he bought whose names I don't remember because they seem to be comprised of completely random words like "compression" and "joint" and "cheese."  Or maybe not "cheese."  I honestly don't know.

There was a bad moment when he was down there when I heard a rather large CLANK followed by the sound of gushing water.  Derek later reported that at that point he was thinking, Well, if we didn't need a plumber before, we do now.  Evidently this was supposed to happen, at least according to the foreign YouTube videos Derek was using as guidance (which inspires exactly as much confidence as you might assume).

Twenty minutes later, Derek emerged victorious.  I went down there and gazed in wonder at the shiny new compression cheese joint he had somehow affixed to the old no-longer-leaky copper pipe, then I started a load of laundry, drank three mugs of water straight down, and used the bathroom whenever the heck I wanted.

I'm still a little agog at Derek's somewhat new-found home repair abilities.  In the last year, he has completely dismantled the driver's side door of our van to repair the automatic window (something about replacing a little motor that had burnt out in there?  Or possibly signing a new union contract with the tiny elves that reside in there and winch the window up and down by hand whenever I press the little button?  Really, either is equally plausible to my mind), completely dismantled the bathtub faucet to stop what had become more of a constant stream of water rather than a leak (something about a tiny piece of metal that had to be replaced?  Or elves again?), and now cut off a piece of ancient pipe and put the cheese-plumber thing in its place.  It's all pretty amazing to me, and fortunate for our entire family that I'm not in charge of fixing pretty much anything that's not made out of fabric or food.  (I promise I'm not actively trying to spit in the face of feminism.)

So!  Three cheers for Derek!  And water!  And foreign YouTube videos and/or successful contract negotiations with the elves!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Mother Extraordinaire

While I've done a fair(ish) job of getting to most of the things I wanted to do this Christmas season, there are a few that I've either had to bump to the Next Christmas list (for the third or fourth year in a row) or get done today.  Because I don't know if you were aware of this, but tomorrow is Christmas Eve, making today Christmas Eve Eve.

This means certain things aren't going to get done today that probably should have been done weeks ago.  The floors aren't going to be cleaned.  Certain family members won't be bathed.  I'm counting on the scent of brown sugar and molasses to overpower any other slightly less desirable smells.  Now aren't you sad you aren't coming to our house for Christmas?

I had promised the children weeks ago we'd make gingerbread houses before Christmas.  Don't kid yourself:  I'm not talking about those amazing creations some families are capable of making that feature tinted hard candy for windows and something else creative for roof shingles and the tears of the mother who stayed up half the night to make it all happen.  These things aren't even going to be three-dimensional, because when it comes to baking, gravity is not my friend.  Actually, when it comes to most things gravity is not my friend, as my heavily scarred knees can attest.


When we woke up this morning, I told our children we would be making the gingerbread houses sometime that morning- probably mid-morning.  Before long that got pushed back to late morning.  But definitely before lunch!  Or, you know, maybe not- how about after lunch, pre-naps?

It is now naptime.  The cookies have not been made.

Our kiddos are really good sports about this kind of thing, probably because it happens to them all.the.time.  I once read an article that said something like, "The only consistent trait studies have been able to identify among the very old (those reaching an age of 100+ years) is the ability to accept change well, to roll with the punches."  I like to think I am instilling this trait in our children by constantly pushing back or flat-out changing plans on them.  It's a handy excuse, anyway.

I thought I actually had my act together today.  I had found the recipe I wanted to use in one of our cookbooks.  (Check!)  I had found the frosting recipe I wanted for piping.  (Way to go, me!)  I had even checked beforehand to make sure we had all the proper ingredients.  (Astonishing!)

But when looking over the recipe for gingerbread cookies this morning, I found that it didn't contain a single drop of molasses, and gingerbread cookies without molasses are dead to me.  I was able to find a suitable recipe online- with molasses, thankyouverymuch- but the dough needed to be chilled for at least three hours before rolling out and baking.  Children, prepare to roll with the punches!  (I realize this isn't that big of a deal, okay?  "Boohoo, I don't get to decorate and eat delicious Christmas cookies exactly when promised, but instead have to wait an extra six hours to do so!"  It's a classic first-world problem.  But just think:  If I always had my act together our kids might actually begin to expect life to constantly go their way.  We can't have that, now, can we?)

At this point, I have the dough prepared and chilling in the refrigerator, the frosting made, separated, and dyed different colors, and the dishes from all this is done.  Honestly, I hardly recognize myself.

I think I'll take this opportunity to bathe the eldest of our smelly children and cut her hair.

Which I meant to do a full ten months ago.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A List

  • Isn't it strange how little things can evoke sudden and unexpected pangs of nostalgia?  There's a pastor at our church that occasionally preaches in the regular service, and more than once I've heard him pronounce the word "wolf" the same way my dad does: "woof," with no detectable 'L' sound.  I remember for a while Dad worked with a man named "Wolfgang" who went by the nickname "Wolf," or "Woof" in the case of my dad.  This was endlessly amusing to me, no doubt because word pronunciation was something I could understand, as opposed to talk of thermodynamics and the ever-present injection molding machines, which might just be the most boring topic of conversation in the entire world, unless of course you're a plastics engineer, in which case they're apparently fascinating.

  • Derek and I got to go on a date the other day.  We went out for lunch, then did some last minute Christmas shopping, along with the rest of the population of central Iowa.  I was distracted half the time by the blaring music (why do so many places insist on blasting your eardrums with their poor choice of music?    I thought music played in restaurants and stores was supposed to be subtle, something to set a certain tone to your eating or shopping experience.  Am I just getting old and cranky?) of horrible- horrible- popular renditions of traditional Christmas music.  After listening to some talent-less pop star breathe her way through Let It Snow and some other current music flunky growl an almost incomprehensible, electric guitar studded version of Oh, Christmas Tree, I decided that unless your first name is Nat, Bing, Judy, Dean, Ella, Frank, or Harry, you should not be allowed to record Christmas music of any kind.  I can think of a few rare exceptions, and perhaps you can, too, but in the future any playing of those is going to need to be approved by me in advance, because my opinion is always the right one.  Obviously.

  • It snowed last night.  And this morning.  In fact, it's still lightly snowing now.  Not a lot, we've accumulated somewhere in the four- to five-inch range, but enough to give us a white Christmas.  Oh!  And here's the forecast for tomorrow:

This is just fine with me, as I don't have to leave the house.  Derek does.  Poor Derek.  He also had to get up at 5:30 this morning before church to clear all that snow on our sidewalk and driveway.  He also took care of our neighbor's sidewalk.  Poor Derek.  Nice Derek.  

Another reason I don't mind that forecast is that I've finally learned how to layer!  In the past I thought "layering" meant wearing a long-sleeved shirt with maybe a short-sleeved shirt underneath.  Then I moved north.  Right now I'm wearing lined pants with long johns underneath, a sweater, a heavy cable-knit cardigan, thick socks with slippers, a scarf, and a knit hat.  I may look homeless, but I'm warm.  

  • And finally, something that made me laugh and laugh and laugh.  It's very name is pure adorableness.  And yes, that's a word now, if only because of this video.  Be sure to turn your audio up before pressing play so you can force everyone around you to share in your joy.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Desperately Seeking School

See this guy?

This guy is desperate- desperate- to go to school.

He tries to hide amongst the other preschoolers when I drop Atticus off.  He listens with ill-concealed envy to his siblings' stories of school, then makes up fantasies about his own school that he attends daily (it's a magical place where all you do is eat snacks, read books, and play... wait a second, that sounds like real preschool), and says things like, "Batman has to go to school!" because he still self-identifies as Batman.  

It's at times like this that I'm especially thankful we don't live on a farm in 1940's Kansas.

Let me tell you a little story about my grandma, her little brother- who, like Caedmon, was dying to get to school- and a special adventure said little brother forced upon their family one fall day.  

I actually called my grandma before writing this, as my memory of this piece of family lore was especially rusty.  Sometimes there's just no improving upon the original telling of a story, so interspersed with my diction will be direct quotes from Grandma.  You can thank me later.

Once upon a time- the 1940's, if you must know- there was a farm in southeast Kansas.  On that farm lived a delightful little family, one member of which had recently started school.  ("I was in first grade, and Wayne was used to having me around; he was awful attached to me.")  Her little brother didn't seem to see any reason why he shouldn't also attend school, and one day he took it upon himself to accompany his big sister there.  

This was a problem because 1) he was four years old, 2) he lived miles from the nearest town and school, and 3) he decided the best way to get there was walking.  He saw no reason to inform anyone of his departure.  

I have no idea if he set out in the right direction, but clearly he was persistent.  ("He made it two miles!")  Right about that two-mile point a woman happened to look out her kitchen window and saw a little boy walking along the road.  ("She thought it was one of her own, which wasn't strange, I mean, she had eight kids.")  She went out, saw it wasn't, in fact, one of her own offspring, and brought him back to the house.  Fortunately, she wasn't the kind of woman who stuffs errant children into her basement as extra labor, although with eight kids, I guess she had plenty of "help."

While all this was happening, this little boy's mother- that would be my great-grandma- realized her four-year-old boy was gone.  Missing.  Nowhere to be found.  She found her husband, together they alerted various neighbors, and a search on horseback commenced.  ("The corn was 20 feet tall at the time, which didn't help matters.")  

After realizing the little boy walking by wasn't one of her own, the fertile mother packed Wayne and who knows how many of her own children up and went into town.  ("If you can believe it, Brazilton had two grocery stores back then!")  She took him to a grocery store, asking around if anyone there knew him.  They tried to ask him what his name was, where he was going, etc, but didn't get much out of him.  ("He called me 'Sissy,' but it sounded like 'Tussy,' because he was a late talker.  So all those people heard him saying was, 'Tussy!  Tussy!'  Well, they didn't know what 'Tussy' meant.  Oh, I had to stick up for Wayne plenty of times in school because he couldn't speak plain.  Then, of course he went on to work at the Johnson Space Center"- that's NASA to you and me- "traveled all over and won all kinds of awards!")  

At that point, the people at the grocery store started calling around, asking if anyone was missing a kid, and they eventually managed to connect my frantic great-grandparents with their school-bound son.

Now, you could argue that today's world is a more dangerous place, and if Caedmon were to set out for school on his own, he may not be returned to us so quickly, safe and sound.  That might be true.  But I also know that we don't live around dangerous farm equipment, and we have these handy little things called "cell phones," marvelous inventions that probably would have cut that search short all those years ago.  Not to mention our local small town police force, to whom I speak periodically when they drive by our house to admire our children's sidewalk art and ask if I've seen the pet dog/cat/whatever they're searching for.

All the same, I won't be mentioning this little story to Cade anytime soon.  We don't need to be giving him any ideas; I have no desire to take part in a panicked search for our son, on horseback or otherwise.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Oh, Iowa

It's always interesting to me how unique the different regions of our country are.

I was at a friend's house a few days ago when I was struck by the conversation I was a part of, along with several other women.  We were discussing how to get our children to wash their hands, not just because it's necessary for good health, but specifically because it's painful for our children to do so right now.  The air is so cold and dry here this time of year, and our children's skin is so parched and chapped, they complain of it stinging and burning when water is splashed on it, and many of them cry when we put them in the tub.

The conversation then turned to our own hands.  Several of us have open cracks and cuts on our fingers, because again, cold, dry air, plus running a household and being the mother of small kids guarantees your hands are in water for large parts of the day.  There were as many remedies as there were women there:  Use camphor, but only the kind found at this one tiny drug store.  Use Eucerin.  Use this stuff that's actually made for horses but my veterinarian brother swears by.  Use cow udder cream.  Use coconut oil.  The only unifying factor between everyone's chosen ointment is that it's a cream or oil, not a lotion, thus not something that could ever be contained in a pump bottle like common lotion; no, this is the kind of stuff that has to be forcibly extracted from its tub, then not so much massaged as violently rubbed into the skin until it's finally permeated the epidermal layer of your damaged skin.  Well, that and gloves.  Everyone says to wear gloves to bed after slathering gook on your hands.

Just the other day I was helping Cade get dressed when I found a spot of blood on his clothes.  Then another.  And another.  They were fresh, but I could not find the source.  He swore he didn't have any "owies," but I continued to hunt, trying to figure out in what way our young son had been hurt.

I finally realized it was me.  One of my hands was bleeding in two spots, and the more I looked on him, the more I was bleeding all over him.

I never had these conversations in Connecticut, and only rarely in Kansas.  In the latter we talked about how to avoid getting dirt in your eyes, mouth, and every other orifice on the windiest days, but never how to keep your children from crying and your own skin from constantly bleeding because everyone is so dang dry.  I honestly can't decide which is worse, but I am thankful I don't have both at the same time.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Good and The Bad From Adelaide's Winter Concert

  • Good:  I got Adelaide's Christmas dress at a garage sale last summer.  She was pleased with it.  I was pleased with it.  It cost $5.  Everybody wins.
  • Bad:  It turned out to be way too big.  The length was manageable, but the midsection was really loose.  I decided to try and baste the back of the dress real quick to try and create an inconspicuous gather, and lo and behold, it worked!  You have no idea how thrilled I was.  These little let's-make-this-work-ten-minutes-before-we-have-to-leave things rarely work out for me, so this felt like a triumph.  So this one turned out Good (I know, I know, it should be "turned out well," but I have a theme going here).

  • Good and Bad:  Listening to little children singing.  I know they're only two years younger than Adelaide, but those little kindergarteners are so darn cute singing their sweet Christmas songs, fidgeting, waving at their parents.  Their little voices are the most adorable thing you've ever heard in your entire life for exactly three songs.  At song #4, you feel the smile slipping from your face.  The end of #5, you give the most perfunctory clap possible, enough to satisfy the parents of the kindergarteners, but hopefully not enthusiastic enough to encourage the little beasts.  Halfway through song seven you wonder why you're being forced to listen to hell's soundtrack and your husband looks like he's contemplating mutiny.  Then, thank the sweet baby Jesus, they're done, the ticking under your left eye abates, and all is well with the world again.  Until you realize you haven't even heard your own kid sing.  It's not over.  Some part of your brain goes walkabout and you wonder if it's possible to get PTSD from a children's concert.

  • Good:  Adelaide's music teacher expects much from her students; as a result, they learn a lot more than one might expect from a standard elementary music program:  by the end of kindergarten our daughter could read music (just basic treble clef), and this year she had the second graders singing in a round, and although she allowed them to sing I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas, she stressed that the voice of the girl on the original recording was of a poor tonal quality; too nasal.  All this meant it was far less painful to listen to the second graders than it was to listen to their younger classmates (it also may have helped that they sang half as many songs).  Adelaide was one of the students chosen to play the metallophone:

Ours is the farthest to the right of those standing behind the metallophone.  If you click to embiggen you'll see she's also the weird one.  This is surprising to exactly no one.  I think she liked the feel of the fur collar on her chin; she kept unconsciously doing it when not singing.  Better than picking her nose, something a couple of her classmates felt no compunction about doing in front of an audience.

  • Good:  Atticus and Caedmon sat so still and quiet throughout the whole thing.  It was absolutely wonderful.  Last year Caedmon kept climbing in and out of his folding chair, which was only a problem because the chair kept folding him up into it, causing panic on Cade's part.  This did not stop him from doing it again and again and again.  Atticus was pretty good last year, but had not yet mastered the art of whispering things his parents really didn't want everyone around them to hear.  The year before that I hardly remember watching Adelaide at all because Derek and I were so busy trying to keep a one- and three-year-old quiet and seated for 45 minutes past their bedtime.  With these memories fresh in my mind, I did not take our sons' delightful social compliance for granted.  (It didn't hurt that the family in front of us had three small children they were trying to wrangle while watching an older sibling perform.  I felt such strong feelings of empathy I engaged in a tacit staring contest with the second-to-littlest, which only kept her busy for about 90 seconds, but still- 90 seconds can be a lifetime to mothers of littles.)

So: except for the nightmares I still have about those kindergarteners, it was overall very, very good.

Why, yes, that is a potty chair in the corner of the photo.  I'm not real sure what it was doing by the front door.  Nor do I know what's up with our children's faces.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

You Get What You Pay For

I've spent most of the past week decorating our house for Christmas.  This is something I love to do, and it's always extra-fun for me, as I seem to forget half of what we own between the months of January and November (having an inconsistent memory makes life so fun sometimes!).  One of my favorite parts is pulling different items out and recalling how much I didn't spent on them- as with so much of the other things we own, I buy most of our Christmas decorations at thrift stores and garage sales.  This, of course, means there's often... let's say tweaking that must be done before I'm willing to set them out.

Take the wreath that's not gracing our front door because it's -2 degrees outside right now and Jesus Himself would have to be knocking on our door in order for me to open it.  I bought that wreath at Goodwill (and it will go up, just as soon as it gets somewhere above ten degrees, which might not even happen tomorrow) for $1.99 because I could see it would be a good, basic green Christmas wreath just as soon as I removed all the early 90's-era plaid ribbon and flocked cardinals missing most of their velvet skin.

But easily the weirdest and best Christmas item I've found was at a garage sale:

See?  Three primitive Christmas trees (if I call them "primitive" it sounds like they're supposed to be scraggly) for a dollar apiece.  You can see they now have applesauce cinnamon ornaments the kids and I made hanging from their branches.  I put those on only after removing all the tiny baby figurine ornaments that came with the trees.

Excuse me, I misspoke.  I removed all the naked glow in the dark baby figurine ornaments hanging from their branches.

If that isn't bizarre enough, upon closer inspection of their little naked glow in the dark backs, I was able to see that once upon a time, there were wings attached (okay, so I'm assuming they were wings- I suppose they could have been... whatever else grows out of babies' backs).  To me, this means someone snapped the wings off of all those little cherubs, which makes me think this family was purposely going for a fallen angel theme that Christmas, complete with festive games like pin-the-horns on Satan and Red Rover but instead of clotheslining the member of the opposing team running toward you, you'd be lined up in front of a burning fire pit and they'd run into that- unless your theology runs more toward Hell is Eternal Separation From God, in which case you'd just have to designate a little area behind you with this sign hanging up:

Purchase a slightly different version of this sign here!  Or just click to embiggen!

What on earth happened to this post?  I swear when I woke up this morning and promised myself to finally write down one of the dozen posts floating around in my head, it had no Microsoft paint.  It didn't even have Satanic games.

I'm now trying to engineer ways to drive by that house- the home of the naked glow in the dark fallen angel babies- just to try and look in their windows.  Who knows what other treasures they're hiding!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Memories, or Lack Thereof

Yesterday was my birthday.  I celebrated by forgetting something.  It's just what I do.

The family of our beloved baby sitter Hannah kindly invited our children over to make cookies and do other fun things.  (I have no idea what those fun things were; I tend not to ask too many questions when people volunteer to watch our kids.  Parenting at its finest, friends.)  The plan was then for Hannah to take our kiddos back to our house, feed them and put them to bed.  Great.  Super.  Whatever.  As long as I'm not there having to help.

But as it turns out, a key is required to unlock doors that have been locked.  This would have been helpful information to remember after I left the house and locked the front door and before we dropped our children off but not our house key.

You should have seen Derek's face when he got the text from Hannah's mom about the lack of a house key.  (The text went to Derek's phone because my phone was, of course, dead as a doornail.  I also forgot to charge my phone.  Are you sensing a trend here?  No?  Just wait.  I'll hammer that point home before this post is over.)  It was a bit of a cross between mild surprise and grim resignation.  I'm pretty sure there was a sigh in there, too.

It's not like this has ever been a secret in our relationship.  A few days before we were married, we drove 45 minutes south, crossing the state line to visit the courthouse in the county our wedding was taking place to apply for the marriage license.  Upon arrival, I realized I had forgotten the letter from our pastor stating we had completed a premarital course.  (That's right:  The state of Oklahoma gives you a discount on your marriage license if you go through some kind of premarital advisement, course, or counseling.  Bravo, Oklahoma.)  Fortunately, I was able to call the church office (where they know me well enough to know that if we're talking memory work or an academic test, well, I'm your gal!  If you want something that's actually useful to everyday life, I'm one very small step up from worthless), and they were kind enough to fax a copy of the letter straight into the office there at the courthouse.

Then, just to make sure Derek knew what he was getting himself into, on our wedding day I forgot the marriage license at my mom's house- again, 45 minutes away- didn't realize it until after the ceremony when it was time to sign it, and a very kind guest drove to my mom's house and back to the wedding so we could sign it and, you know, legally be married.

His reaction was a little more pronounced all those years ago.  Not terrible, but not just a simple sigh and shaking of his head.

I wonder if it will even register when I forget something important in another ten years?  And what are we going to do if I ever develop dementia?  It's gonna take forever for him to differentiate between the red flags of the disease and my normal quirks.

I'm pretty sure I meant to go somewhere else with this post, but I've forgotten just where that was.  How peculiar.

P.S.  What's a doornail?  Seriously?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Now It's Extra-Dirty Laundry

Yesterday my mom asked if she should bring her carpet shampooer when she next comes for a visit here in a few weeks.  She has not yet learned that the answer to this question is always, always "Yes."  Not that I mind finding those surprise crunchy parts of the carpet upstairs- it's like a super fun game that no one wins.

This week's carpet deposits include the puke-fest that inspired a middle of the night half-coherent Christmas song rip-off and our other son's contribution, which we discovered when he came into our room the other night and proudly announced, "I just peed on my dirty clothes basket!"  I investigated this claim, and sure enough:  dirty clothes- soaked.  Hamper- soaked.  Carpet all around the hamper- soaked.  Wall behind the hamper- dripping.  That kid must have been banking his milk all day, looking forward to this little gift.  Three-year-olds are such givers.

He seemed genuinely astonished and not a little disgruntled when he got a spanking for his efforts.  It would seem that his imagination supplied visions of a pat on the back, or perhaps exclamations of wonderment at this new-found masculine ability to pee wherever the heck he wants, all while standing up.

It was my sad duty to disabuse him of this notion.

Yes, Mom.  Please bring the carpet shampooer.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Angle Trees

Apparently today is some sort of giving day.  Like, donate to your favorite charity, give money to those in need, think of someone besides yourself for once this Christmas season.  And I am all for that.  All. For. It.


If I see one more person use the internets to type "Can't wait to go visit the Angle Tree!" or "Our family is getting one Angle for each member of our family this year!" or "Headed to pick out an Angle off the Angle Tree!" I am going to lose it.

I know what they mean.  Obviously, they mean "Angel Tree."  (At least, I think that's what they mean.  I created the below Angle Tree concept because I guess you never know.)  You know, the tree where you pick out an "angel" that describes a local needy family and purchase whatever it is they need this holiday season?

Obviously, the Angel Tree program is a wonderful one.  The Angle Tree program, on the other hand?  That's forcing math on people, at Christmas of all times.  It's not going to make you any friends, except weird people who like math.

Art courtesy of moi.  Truly, I have a gift.  It's not artistic ability, but that's beside the point.

Would you look at that!  Mr. H was right:  I just used Geometry in my adult life.  The man was a prophet, not a liar like I'd so long assumed.  Or maybe he was just a desperate teacher trying to motivate his sullen students to care about Geometry.  

I'm leaning toward prophet.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving Travels

Our family spent the last week down south, eating and seeing family and eating and going to movies and eating and visiting with friends and eating and enjoying warmer temperatures and also eating.

I took half a million pictures (but still missed a bunch of stuff I wanted photos of), so I think I'll spend this week highlighting a few per day.

First up:  The Best Movie Theater in the Entire World.

View photo.JPG in slide show

Or at least in the midwest.  And if not the midwest, then in Kansas.  Or maybe just in southern Kansas.  Or just in the Wichita area.  Definitely the best movie theater in the Wichita area.  Also in the world, as far as I'm concerned.

ANYWAY.  The Warren Theatre ("theatre" because Wichitans like to pretend they're British?) on the east side of Wichita is my favorite theater ("theater" because I'm perfectly aware no one will ever mistake me for a Brit) ever.  But I think I've already established that.  It's huge and everything is art deco and covered in gilt and velvet, there's a fireplace in the bathroom, a balcony in the biggest theater (the one pictured above, where we watched Catching Fire) where 21+ can sit and have a meal and be waited on while watching the movie, and there's an old-fashioned diner just off the lobby and everything speaks of old Hollywood glamour.  Derek and I drove an hour north just so we could see the movie in this theater.  Oh, and so we could double date with old friends we don't get to see enough of.  That too.  (Somehow I got a photo of the movie theater but not of our friends.  Priorities:  I have them.)  Big thanks to Mom and Mark for watching the kiddos so we could visit the theater!  And our friends.

We also jumped on the trampoline:

That's Derek, Adelaide, and me, although Adelaide and I were the only ones who made sure to spend plenty of time jumping every single day we were at my mom's house.

I also finally got to meet my friend Megan's baby Iris, who is beautiful in fact and in name:

She's pretty and tiny and petite in a way our children never were.  (They were never tiny and petite.  Of course I thought they were pretty.  Most of the time.)  Well, Adelaide was petite for about five seconds after she was born then she discovered eating and started growing and hasn't stopped, which I realize is a good thing, but I'm still a little freaked out about the thought of my children someday being taller than me.  My sisters and I never reached the height of either of our parents, so it's sort of unimaginable to me.  Don't get me wrong; I want our kids to be taller than 5'4", but still... it's hard to picture.


We also got to ride in a horse-drawn wagon, and our friend Liza, the driver, invited Adelaide and Atticus to come sit beside her, which they jumped at.  She gave them an impromptu lesson and answered millions of questions.

Liza's sister Anna was there with her adorable baby Kenyon, but of course I didn't get a picture of that.  It would have made too much sense.

I also didn't get any pictures of Derek and Mark golfing (que lastima), or any of the portion of our trip at Derek's parents' house, which actually is a shame.  

Never fear, though!  There are still plenty of baby pictures to look forward to this week!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Do You Hear What I Hear?

(Sung to the tune of the Christmas song by the same name)

Said the dark house to the tired mom,
"Do you hear what I hear?
Ringing through night, tired mom
Do you hear what I hear?
The sound, the sound,
Splashing on the floor
Vomit containing reconstituted pizza, berries, and God knows what else
Vomit containing reconstituted pizza, berries, and God knows what else

Said the dark house to the tired mom,
"Do you see what I see?
Spread all through your home, tired mom
Do you see what I see?
Your son, your son,
A mere foot away from the toilet
Choosing instead to barf all over the carpet, the wall, and himself
Choosing instead to barf all over the carpet, the wall, and himself

Said the mom to her sick little boy,
"Do you know what I know?
Covered in your own bodily fluids, little boy
Do you know what I know?
This carpet cleaner, this carpet cleaner,
Doesn't work for crap
Oh for crying out loud please stop finding new surfaces to coat in your puke
Oh for crying out loud please stop finding new surfaces to coat in your puke

Said the the sick boy to his weary mom,
"Listen to what I say!
On your hands and knees, scrubbing, weary mom
Listen to what I say!
I'm choosing, I'm choosing,
(Just to make tonight more interesting!)
To view that perfectly innocuous thermometer as a medieval torture device and that liquid Tylenol as the devil's own elixir
To view that perfectly innocuous thermometer as a medieval torture device and that liquid Tylenol as the devil's own elixir

Note:  I'd like to thank my 3:30 am self for scribbling this little ditty down for me to find in the morning.  Thanks also to Derek for taking the long 4- 6 am Puke Shift, allowing me some sleep before I took a deep breath and dove back in.  My apologies for the overall delirious tone and blatant disregard for little things like meter, proper phrasing, and basic rhyming.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Things That Were Said To Me Yesterday

  • "Doesn't take after Mom, does he? *chortle chortle chortle*"  Said by the doctor after calculating the percentile rank for Atticus's height at his yearly well-child appointment.  My son is tall.  I am not.  I get it.  
I desperately wanted to respond with a hearty, fake "HAHAHAHAHAHA," but the key to the faux guffaw is cutting it off abruptly with a stony glare, and anytime I do a big fake laugh I get about three "Ha"s in before I start to laugh for real.  So instead of communicating sarcastic chastisement I'd end up looking completely psychotic, and I generally try to avoid that when in the vicinity of medical professionals evaluating our children.

Of course all this was running through my head immediately after his little joke (Should I try the "HAHAHA"?  Am I finally ready to pull it off?  Or do I really want to risk having my children taken away today?), so I totally missed everything the nurse was saying at that point.  Something about developmental milestones. Probably not important.  (If you're reading this, Derek, don't worry.  I'm sure our son is completely normal.  AS AM I.)

  • "Congratulations!  What are you going to do with it first?"  This was from the lady at the Des Moines Public Library Foundation when I was picking up the Kindle I won.  (Yay!)  My answer was something like, "Thank you so much!" and then I purposely avoided answering her question, because I figured it would just come to me when I had a chance to mess around with my prize.  
I got it home, opened up the box, stared at it for a few minutes... and then closed the box again.  I still don't know what to do with it.  I feel like all my books are looking at me all accusingly, like I'm some kind of traitor.  I've never really felt the need for an e-reader; don't get me wrong, I'm grateful to have won the drawing (which I entered by filling out a survey after attending a talk by the author Amy Tan, who, by the way, is immensely entertaining to listen to- if you ever get a chance to hear her speak or to go to one of her readings, definitely, definitely go), but I'm very much an ink-and-paper kind of person.  Books make me happy.  I redecorate my house by rearranging my books.  True, I've had Fahrenheit 451-esque nightmares before (literally), but still... I don't know.  So now I have this lovely prize sitting in my house, and I don't know what to do with it.  Help!  ( I can't help but think this is nothing like the time I won that one awesome prize- I absolutely knew what to do with that.  First I made cookies.  Then I made more cookies.  After that I went a little wild and made cookies again.)

  • "Woman, are you crazy?!"  This was from Adelaide when I informed her we were having popcorn for supper.  Our family eats enough that anymore it's actually somehow less work to just cook a regular meal every night, but we're scraping the bottom of the food barrel and my sister and I decided via text that popcorn is an excellent source of fiber and therefore healthy.  (Don't bother disabusing me of this notion.  It's called willful denial, friends, and it's oodles of fun.)  I'm sure it was especially healthy after I added melted butter and garlic salt.  Supper of Champions.  (And people with high cholesterol.)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lists, Glorious Lists

  • Atticus and I were baking together recently (boy loves to bake and cook and do anything remotely related to food prep, so I've been putting him to work and calling it education), and we were examining one of the measuring spoons.  I explained that "1 tsp" means "1 teaspoon," but he also wanted to know what all the other words on the spoon said.  "Well, 'Tailormade' must be the name of the company that makes this spoon, and 'China' is the country where it's made," I said.  He mulled that over for a few seconds, then rather firmly told me, "China is in hell."  I did my best to explain basic world geography and where China exists on the globe in relation to us, but I'm not sure he believed me.  Maybe because I was laughing the entire time.  

  • I'm thinking of converting our laundry room into a laundry/operating room- you know, with scalpels and super bright lights and flattering face masks?  This isn't just a random whim on my part (this time); Adelaide has gotten... I don't know, six?  Seven?  Call it seven splinters over the past several months, and I don't mean tiny little slivers of wood in her fingers, I mean small twigs that the school nurse has to call and tell me about because she tried to extricate it at school but was afraid to do too much, especially given the fact that that one was in her belly (I know, okay?  I don't know what that child is doing at school), where the skin is pretty sensitive.  I spent twenty minutes digging one out of her heel Saturday evening that was around a quarter inch long and way thicker than the needle I was having to use to peel all the skin away just to get to it.  After sterilizing a needle and tweezers and rigging a Black and Decker heavy duty flashlight to shine just right and laying her down rather awkwardly on a bench so I could get at her foot, I decided I just need an OR right on site.  Because Adelaide didn't find the whole thing traumatic enough.  (But I got that sucker out!)

  • I'm going to a cookie exchange in a few weeks.  I've used my two favorite cookie recipes at the last couple exchanges and am hunting for a new one to take- right now I have it narrowed down to Kitchen Sink Cookies (which I've made for a couple different crowds, all with excellent reviews) or Brown Butter Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles (which I've never made but sound divine).  Or should I do something completely different?  Do any of you have a cookie recipe that's the bomb diggity?  Care to share?

Friday, November 15, 2013

What Is Wrong With Me? And My Sister?

I have many memories, as a teenager, of coming home in the evenings to find my youngest sister camped out on the living room couch, channel surfing for the most depressing show she could find.

Now, maybe she wasn't actively searching for melancholy featurettes, but I think the fact that she so often landed on those bits from St. Jude's speaks for itself.  You know the ones I'm talking about:  they featured the cutest little girl you've even seen in your entire life as she bravely endured needles and charmed you and anyone else watching, swimming in her child-size hospital gown (how depressing is it that they even have to make those things?) and grinning shyly into the camera right before the screen faded to black, followed by a photo of her captioned by the words "Sally McCutie, 1992-1997."  Then you felt horribly betrayed because they made you fall in love with this tiny cancer patient in the space of six minutes only to reveal the devastating truth, followed by a plea for your help (at which point you're screaming, "TAKE MY MONEY!").

You know, those.

I don't know how many times I came across Stephanie watching those.  I don't know if she was just a glutton for punishment, or her body was harboring excessive amounts of salt that needed to be drained via a torrent of tears every few days, or what.  Sometimes I'd find myself sucked in by the darling children, and would seem to black out for several minutes before I'd come to and find Steph and I clutching each other and crying because the children.  (And come to think of it, Stephanie was all of 10 when I left home, so she was just a child when she was watching these.  What the heck, Steph?)

Since then, I've met all kinds of people that do this kind of thing; people that watch movies like Titanic and Beaches and The Green Mile even though they know it's going to end in a big old snot-fest.  (I think everyone has a go-to cry movie.  I think mine would be What Dreams May Come.  Or Dumbo- the Mama elephant rocking baby Dumbo on her trunk through the bars of her prison- I have to stop, I'm going to cry right now.  Or just that scene with Sean Penn screaming for his daughter in Mystic River.  All elicit the ugly cry.)

I've always wondered about that penchant Stephanie had, though, for purposely watching things she knew would make her cry.  I just could not understand it.


Until, gracious sakes, I found my own version of the St. Jude's commercials:  the thing that will always make me weep but I just cannot seem to keep myself from watching.

You wanna know what it is?  It's those dang videos of soldiers being reunited with their families.  Oh, my land.  Oh, my stars.  Little kids, minding their own business in their elementary school classrooms until they look up and see their uniformed father standing at the door, where their little faces crumple and they run to their daddyTeenage girls running across soccer fields and football fields because their dad came home early and surprised them?  I. can't. handle. it.  And I know I can't handle it, but if one of those videos pops up while I'm otherwise minding my own business on the internet, I swear to you I am powerless to resist the force that drives my pointer to the "play" button.  Oh, I can watch a video that will make tears and snot gush from my face and make me all puffy and scary looking?  DON'T MIND IF I DO.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Best List Ever

That was a lie.  This is going to be perfectly average list.  Perhaps even lower than average, as Atticus is sitting next to me in our rocking chair, peppering me with questions while I type ("How do your fingers know where the letters are without even looking?  How can you read so fast?  I know what S-T-O-P spells, do you?  When are you going to be done so I'm allowed to talk again?").

  • It is 28 degrees outside right now, and the "Real Feel" (factoring in windchill and what not) is 20 degrees.  This is as warm as it's going to get today.  I know that in a couple months I'll look back and berate my pansy-November self ("That's almost above freezing- how can you complain about that?"), but at this point it feels pretty freaking cold.  This happens every year; I'm somehow shocked that cold is just so cold, I insist on running from the house to the car and back again (which perhaps helps explain the inverse relationship that exists between the number of injuries I sustain on a regular basis and the temperature outside- I also don't actually run; it's more of a mincing kind of jog that I'm sure is a beauty to behold), and I do things like shove the kids out of the van when dropping them off so I can shut the door and sustain the tropical environment I have created inside.  

In it, a mother of a five-year-old explains that as she's been reading the first Harry Potter book aloud to her son, she's been childproofing it: making sure the characters are receiving proper punishment for wrong-doings, editing the scary parts, deciding that for her son, Voldemort wasn't going to try to kill Harry; he was just going to try and hurt him a little bit. 

I hear about this every day: parents trying to cushion and soften every tiny piece of their children's lives, making it as rosy and dishonest and just plain boring as a Christian romance novel.  It's a very short-sighted parenting strategy, because one day those little darlings- the ones who have had every twist and bump in the road straightened and smoothed over by their well-meaning parents- are going to be unleashed onto society, and you know what they're going to find?  The Real World.  The one where people die and senseless acts of cruelty abound and VOLDEMORT TRIES TO MURDER HARRY POTTER WHAT IS EVEN WRONG WITH YOU.

Believe it or not, this is my majorly scaled back reaction to this little article; when I first read it, I may or may not have dug my fingernails into my cheeks in abject frustration.  And lost it.  And died a little inside.  Keep in mind I was raised on classics like The Little Match Girl (still one of my favorites) and at no point did any of the adults in my life try to tell me that "No, see, she's just sleeping, there aren't really things like cruel fathers and dead mothers and little girls freezing to death in this world!"  To do so would have minimized that story's powerful message: one of compassion and charity and eternity and the significance of every human life.  

I also realize this woman has a five-year-old son.  I was a bit more protective when Adelaide was five, but then she got older and the children kept piling on and I learned to let things go, like making every meal perfectly balanced and bathing them every day and Doing Everything Just Right. 

And now I'm going to let this go.  (On the blog.  Don't kid yourself- I'm going to torture myself with this for weeks.  Milquetoast Children of America, BEGONE!)

  • This has been kind of a whiney, ranty post, hasn't it?  I'll finish on a positive note:  Almost daily Atticus has been cutting out little squares of paper and coloring them purple, then giving them to me so that "you'll always have your favorite color right in your pocket."

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Maybe Nessie's Just Stuck In That Loch

When my mom and Mark were visiting a few weeks ago, Mom and I decided to brave a new (to us) place called Sky Zone with the three kiddos.  It's basically a giant warehouse full of trampolines, so I figured at the very least our visit would exhaust the children, which is, sadly, the primary motivation behind half the stuff I do.  ("Hey, Kristy, wanna go do [insert random activity here]?"  The first and most important question I ask myself:  How likely is it that our children are going to fall asleep after said activity?  A) Not likely at all- "Yeah, sorry, but we're super busy that day,"  B) Somewhat likely- "Maybe... could we somehow involve more running and/or obstacle courses?" or C) Very likely- "WE'D LOVE TO.")

Most of the parent/guardian types I saw there were sitting at the provided tables, enjoying some time away from their little monsters while the children bounced around on the trampolines.  

This was not me.  Nor was it my mom.  We are bouncers, she and I.  This is not to say that we are chirpy, effervescent creatures in our everyday lives; we just seriously enjoy some trampoline time.  She has a big ol' trampoline in her backyard (the first major purchase of my sister Kelli after she got her first job, so I suppose we're a family of bouncers); I have pleaded with Derek to get a similar contraption-o'-fun in our own backyard, but he said the only way we could do that was if I made every single guest to our house sign a waiver before stepping foot on it (something about trampolines being death traps and insurance statistics- I'm not sure if you've gotten this by now, but Derek is the practical one in our marriage, doing things like ensuring we're not sued and making sure we have a house to live in.  I am the one that likes to bounce on trampolines.).  I'm guessing something about the way I said, "Well, of course I'd make everyone sign that piece of paper before going into our backyard, and I definitely wouldn't accidentally/on purpose lose it every time someone came over," didn't inspire a lot of confidence.  

Anyway.  Adelaide jumped.  Atticus jumped.  Caedmon jumped.  My mom jumped.  I jumped.  

Right about here is where I would put a whole bunch of photos of our kids having a blast bouncing around, but I have enough trouble getting decent shots when they're stationary; when they're constantly on the move in a poorly-lit-for-photography (for me that's anything dimmer than sunlight) warehouse, my pictures aren't so hot.

Still, I did get a few, mostly of Mom out-jumping her grandchildren.

"Yes, Grandma sees you've fallen, Children, but I am on a trampoline and thus do not care."  I love making my mom seem more callous than she actually is; for some reason it really tickles my funny bone.  Although she is a nurse.  I'm just saying.

Click to embiggen and see my "Hahaha I want to die" face.
This is the part where I jumped down the trampoline runway and into the foam pit.  Unlike our children, who went before me and intentionally misled me into thinking I'd jump in and just kind of land on top of the cubes of foam, I sank completely down into the pit over my head, perhaps because I weigh just a tiny bit more than our kiddos.  (Physics is hard.)  I thrashed about for around ten thousand years trying to get out before losing the will to live and giving up.  I had made peace with the fact that I would be a foam pit version of Nessie, occasionally grabbing unsuspecting children and making them scream, perhaps lifting my head above the foam for grainy photos and inspiring countless legends in my honor when I noticed the employee manning the foam pit looking at me like "Seriously?  I do not get paid enough to help heavy moms out of this thing.  GET OUT OF MY PIT."  (He had a very communicative if derisive gaze.)  I eventually managed to haul myself out, helped along by my mom's helpless laughter at my predicament.  She's always been a bit of a "Well, you got yourself into this mess, now get yourself out while I laugh at you" kind of parent.

See now, my mom also jumped into the Pit of Foam Despair, but she had little trouble extricating herself, perhaps because she is freakishly strong, which I chalk up to being bred from hardy German peasant stock.

There was also a trampoline-basketball area and a trampoline-dodgeball area.  The kids played basketball for a while but I wouldn't let them go into the dodgeball area because dodgeball is the devil.  I was the kid who got "out" as quickly as possible on those days in PE because some kids play dodgeball like they're in the Hunger Games and I'm not stupid.  

To wrap up:  If you have small children and a trampoline place near you, you should definitely go.  But maybe avoid the foam pit.  And the dodgeball area.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Caedmon Confessions

One day last week we were dropping a friend off at her baby sitter's house.  Across the street stood a lady on her front porch, smoking a cigarette.

Caedmon asked, "Why does that lady have a pencil in her mouth?" to which Atticus quickly corrected, "That's not a pencil, it's a stick.  Mom, what's that lady doing with that stick?"

I tried to explain cigarettes and why people smoke them while stressing how unhealthy they are and the physical repercussions that come from smoking, then tried to answer difficult questions like "But then why do people smoke cigarettes?  Why do they want to die?"  I found I'm pretty terrible at describing things like addiction and denial, at least to a three- and a five-year old.

A couple days later Cade and I were making a visit to the library when he announced to one of the employees there that "My Dad likes to smoke!"

I was a little baffled and said, "Caedmon, your daddy doesn't smoke!"

The employee gave an uncomfortable laugh while our son rounded on me and protested, "YES, HE DOES!  Daddy likes to smoke all the time!"

This kid does this to me constantly.  When we're in public he'll announce things like "My mom hit me this morning.  In the head.  Right here.  She did it yesterday, too," and what the listening strangers don't know is that yes, I accidentally him in the head with a loaf of bread because the child is constantly underfoot in the kitchen.  I'm left to stammer pathetic-sounding explanations and forcing a laugh while these would-be child saviors eye me suspiciously.

At least Caedmon chose to (eventually) clarify when we were at the library:  "Remember, Mommy?  Daddy smokes hot dogs and pork chops for us!"

He also likes to tell people things like, "My mommy is the nicest mommy in the whoooole world," which would make me swell with pride, but I know what's coming: "...except when I'm naughty, then I run away and hide because I'm scared."

I don't know why he wants to be taken from us.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Halloween Rundown

Last week was Halloween.  Thursday, I think.

Was it Thursday?  I don't even know.  Today has been one of those days where I'm constantly confused by even the most menial tasks and questions.  Earlier Caedmon asked me how to spell "DVD" and I had no idea.  Some very basic part of my brain immediately said to the rest of it, "It's 'D-V-D."  But then the bigger part my brain- the part that's not to be trusted- thought that didn't quite sound right.  "DeeVeeDee?  Is 'Vee' even a letter?  And surely it can't be that simple.  'D-V-D.'  No, that's can't be right.  This must be a trap."  Then the small part of my brain gave up.

Then I started to wonder if my brain was inhabited by tiny politicians, because this all seems like their modus operandi.

You know, this was just supposed to be a post containing photos of our children in their Halloween costumes.  Now my brain is sabotaging the blog.

Kind of like that day last week when it convinced me that "brown" isn't a real word.  It just sounded too strange to be actual English.  (Say "brown" 50 times in a row, really enunciating each letter, and you'll see what I mean.  Well, you'll hear what I mean.  Or maybe you won't.  This is the kind of thing I tell Derek and he does that thing where he purses his lips, closes his eyes, and shakes his head, probably because it's kinder to do that than say what he's actually thinking.)

PICTURES.  Before I can say anything else.

Let's see:  Adelaide was a cheetah, Atticus was a turtle, and Caedmon was a cowboy riding a horse.

Sadly, this isn't just a pose for a photo.  She did this most of the day, even at school, according to some friends of mine who happened to walk by her classroom; she's still heavily into her cheetah phase.  Bless her teachers.  And everyone else who interacts with her but doesn't judge her weirdness.

Oh, yeah, and the costume rundown:  My mom made Adelaide's costume for her birthday and we already had the face paint, so total cost of her costume (for us):  $0.

We got a surprising number of compliments on Atticus's costume.  I'm not sure if it's the repurposing, or the frugality, or the obviously homemade factor that appealed to everyone, or if we just have really nice friends.  Probably a combination of all of the above.

The roasting pan was $0.98, the light green spray paint was $1.98, we already had the darker green paint, and those ties are just scraps of brown corduroy fabric I had on hand.  I also painted Atticus's nose black, which we already owned, but that's just because he saw Adelaide getting face paint and wanted some, too.  Oh, and that's my green sweater he's wearing, because it turns out he doesn't have one of his own.  Total cost of Atticus's costume:  About $3.

Caedmon remembered his manners this year and went with the more conventional "Trick or Treat" greeting when people opened their doors, as opposed to last year's demands.

I got Caedmon's costume at a garage sale last spring for $5, and we borrowed the hat from a friend.  Total cost of Caedmon's costume:  $5.

I also felt guilty for not carving the pumpkin and did it about an hour before we went trick-or-treating.  We left this burning on our front porch for any late night Halloweeners.  

I just said, "Halloweiners" to myself and snickered.  Atticus overheard me and is now rolling around on the floor laughing.  This is our family.  We're not sorry.

Monday, November 4, 2013

I've Honestly Never Seen That One On A Spelling List

The other day Adelaide and I were going through her spelling words; specifically, the words she and her teacher come up with to pad her spelling list and make it a bit more challenging.

Normally the teacher gives her a sound: short A, long O, etc, and she and the teacher take turns coming up with words containing those sounds.  Last week their list was comprised of double consonant blends; words like blend and scarf that both begin with two consonants and end with two consonants.

We were just about finished when Adelaide informed me that "I came up with another word but Mrs. C didn't write it down."

"Why?  What was the word?"

"I can't quite remember..."

She hemmed and hawed for another minute while I continued to fold laundry, then began to perk up.

"I know it had something to do with how babies are formed..."

Horror bloomed.

"Oh, yeah!  SPERM!"

I was silent for maybe two seconds while my poor brain processed this, then I began to laugh and didn't stop for a very long time.  Adelaide got a bit upset and embarrassed, but I told her she wasn't in trouble and that she'd just caught me off guard and she settled right down.

Right about now is when I should probably explain that when Adelaide was very young I decided I'd always do my very best to be as honest as possible with her, even when it was tough or uncomfortable (especially when it was tough or uncomfortable).  I do try to adjust some of my answers for age appropriateness to the endless line of questions that have been issuing from her mouth for the past six years or so.

It was this rather inconvenient pact that somehow caused me to one day find myself not only baking cookies with a six-year-old Adelaide but also having a rather comprehensive discussion on sex.  SHE JUST WOULDN'T STOP ASKING QUESTIONS.  For every question she asked, I gave her an honest answer (not brutally honest, though, okay?  More of a soft honest.  I used the correct terminology but I did what I could to not scare her.).  Because of this conversation she's had a somewhat premature working knowledge of human reproduction, which can be a little jarring when certain words (OR MORE QUESTIONS) come out of her little mouth, but at least I know her information is accurate and not a crazy playground legend some kid with three older brothers has been spreading (<----- that's actually happened at Adelaide's school already).  I've also cautioned her with the instructions not to make it her quest to educate her classmates (unless Little Brother strikes again- I don't see anything wrong with correcting erroneous information), not that it seems to come up much in the endless Cheetah and Turtle Shells games Adelaide plays at recess.

I did ask Adelaide what her teacher did when she suggested the word "sperm" for her spelling list (it is a double consonant blend, after all).  She said she smiled like she was trying not to laugh but didn't write it down.

Parent Teacher Conferences are this week.  Should be fun.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Scariest Part of Halloween

Around our house, Halloween tends to be pretty tame.  Between me being kind of a pansy and having a kid plagued by night terrors, steering clear of all the gore and fright- however fun and good-intentioned- really just seems like the wise course.

This Halloween was a little different, at least for our sweet, gullible, three-year-old Caedmon.

Shortly after arriving home from picking Atticus up from preschool yesterday, I suddenly heard Cade start shrieking, and he quickly came running into the kitchen, crying and panicked and gasping.  I was actually a little concerned; this crying seemed pretty extreme, even for our house, where daily bouts of tears and crying are so normal they hardly register anymore.

It took him several tries to finally stutter out his cause for alarm:


Then, message delivered, he buried his head in my shirt and sobbed.

At that point Atticus the Armless came waltzing into the kitchen, swinging his shoulders to and fro, empty sweater sleeves whipping around his body.  He was chuckling.

I don't know how many times the old tuck-your-arms-into-the-torso-of-your-shirt gag is going to work on Caedmon, but I'm praying it's not many.  He laughed while I was recounting the story to Derek, so hopefully he now realizes it's more comedy than horror.

The problem with this story is that it seems to have opened Atticus's eyes to the joy of terrifying your younger siblings.  At preschool he received a Tootsie Pop that had black pipe cleaners wrapped around it to look like a fuzzy, not even slightly realistic spider.  He took that silly, googly-eyed spider off the sucker, very seriously told Cade that when it touches a kid it turns into a real spider, and threw it onto Caedmon's head.

I don't think I have to tell you the rest.  Screaming.  Running.  Tears.  Promises of Vicious Retribution.

There were a couple other more minor incidents.  Each time Caedmon's response is a little less severe/gratifying.  Hopefully this whole thing will play itself out relatively quickly.

I don't even know where Atticus gets it.  I mean, sure, I used to do this thing that absolutely terrified my sister Kelli, where I'd bend slightly forward at the waist, then stagger forward, letting my straight arms swing back and forth in a pendulum-like motion, head lolling to the side, eyes wide and a deranged smile on my face while I softly called, "Kellllliiii.  Kelli!"  It's somewhat difficult to describe, as my performance of this character was never anything short of inspired.  Kelli's screams always sounded authentically petrified.

On a completely unrelated note, another year has gone by and Kelli has yet to nominate me for Big Sister of the Year.

I'm sure it's a simple oversight on her part.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Golfing Ballerinas. Or Dancing Golfers.

A while back Derek and I did a kind of date exchange.  He got to pick the activities for one date, and a couple weeks later I got to choose.

We're a pretty religious dinner-and-a-movie couple, so this kind of thing constitutes us showing our daring and adventurous side.  Although in our defense, a meal away from the kids is just about the most awesome thing ever at this point.  Neither of us has to cut up anyone's food.  We get to sit down and stay seated throughout the entire meal.  We're not constantly interrupted by arguments like "I bet I could eat that whole pan of enchiladas."  "No, you couldn't."  "Yes, I could."  "No, you couldn't."  "YES I COULD."  "WELL YOU'RE ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS WRONG."  "I DON'T EVEN CARE BECAUSE I CAN'T HEAR YOU BECAUSE I PUT REALLY REALLY FLUFFY BIRDS IN MY EARS SO THAT I NEVER HAVE TO HEAR YOU SO THERE."

Just in case you're curious, that was our lunchtime conversation today.

So, yes.  A meal that's overlaid with intelligent adult conversation and that contains drinks only spilled by me is simply delightful right now.

For our date exchange, however, we went a little outside the norm for date night (don't kid yourself, though, we still went out to eat.  You did read that paragraph up there, right?).  Derek chose golf.  Derek loves to golf, and goes either by himself or with the boys whenever he can, but the last time he and I went together was in the sweltering humidity of Florida while I was in my first nauseous trimester of pregnancy with Adelaide.  It was miserable, although I did see an alligator on the course.  At least I think it was an alligator; I can never remember what the difference is between crocs and gators.  Anyone have a useful acronym or something that would help me out?  Wait... do we even have crocs in North America, or are those just kind of an Australia-thing?  And how painfully obvious is it that the sum total of my croc-knowledge comes from the movie Crocodile Dundee?


Our first golf outing there in Florida was so successful we didn't repeat it for eight years.

Raise your hand if you think you know how this is going to turn out.

Well, you're wrong!  (At least, I'm guessing you're wrong.  This whole blogging thing is great for some things, but it's kind of a one-way street.  I guess you could leave a comment and let me know how you thought it was going to turn out.  Or not.)

We actually ended up having a great time.  Derek quite literally played the best round of his life, and I enjoyed myself way more than I thought would be possible- and that's paying attention to the game; I only read three pages of the book I brought!  (I should probably explain that I didn't golf, I just rode along while Derek did, although if you know me at all this little aside is completely unnecessary.)

As for my half of the exchange, I chose to go see Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty at the Des Moines Civic Center.  One of my favorite parts actually happened a few days before the performance itself; I mentioned something in passing to Derek about the date, and it turned out Derek thought Sleeping Beauty was a musical; he had no idea we were going to the ballet.  The mixture of chagrin and resignation on his face was priceless.

The ballet itself was beautiful if a little unusual.  I'd read up on Bourne a bit before we went and knew that his interpretation of this ballet was a bit gothic, but I really started to worry when we got there and the playbill described it as "a mix between Twilight and Downton Abbey."  Um, what?  It ended up being much better than that terrible description, although I definitely felt for the parents who brought their little girls all dressed up in Disney's Sleeping Beauty costumes, because with its fairy/vampire corps and unorthodox ending, this was no Disney production.

That's right, I said fairy/vampires.  I don't even really know how to describe it, but the lead vampire... fairy... guy...well, he was fantastic (let's see, it looks like his character is Count Lilac, because of course I still have the playbill), as was the young lady playing Princess Aurora, and the choreography was fresh and really lovely.  I enjoyed myself immensely, and Derek didn't fall asleep.  I'm actually not giving him enough credit:  Derek is an excellent sport about attending the ballet every so often and listens attentively as I critique all the minutiae of the production afterward.

Golf and ballet- they go together like ham and chocolate, peanut butter and pesto, Richard Simmons and Colin Powell.  (I don't even know what I'm talking about anymore.  I was trying to think of opposites and things that just don't go together, and Richard Simmons popped into my head.  I would apologize, but I'm being overcome by the urge to do Sweatin, With the Oldies.  Don't hate, that stuff is fun.)

Clearly we belong together.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

He Does Sleep Sometimes

I keep trying to write this post about how recently a waitress at a restaurant thought Derek had four kids and I was one of them, but it keeps alternately sounding like I'm fishing for compliments (which I'm not) or turns into a rant where I sound really cranky about how women treat the aging process in our country (which I am).

Because I can't seem to write more than a paragraph without sounding like a curmudgeon, I'm just going to show you a few photos and video showing what a weird sleeper Atticus is (I can do that because we got a new laptop, yay!).

For about three months I sent photos to my sister Kelli on a weekly basis showing the strange ways I had found Atticus sleeping.  Fortunately for all of you, I took those photos on my old phone and can't put them on here.  Instead I just have a few I took more recently.

Atticus on a bed...

... well, a vertical mattress.  

It took me a good five minutes of scouring the house and yard before I finally thought to look in there.

This one doesn't look too strange until I tell you he slept like this for thirty minutes before his leg gave out and he fell flat on his face on the floor.  That was fun for everybody.  I actually did laugh, which for some odd reason didn't help matters.

I'll spare you the countless photos I have of him completely covered by blankets except for his toes poking out.  I don't know why he likes to have his head completely buried when he's sleeping.  I also don't know why I have to take a picture every time I find him like that.

And now the video:

That's some kind of food substance around his mouth, not premature facial hair, although if you've ever heard him speak, you'd think it was a valid guess.  His voice dropped right around the ripe old age of two because he takes after his dad; one time Derek found an old cassette of he and a friend (they were making a band, or something?), and when I heard his voice on there, I asked, "Exactly how old were you when this was recorded?" to which he replied, "About ten," which was alarming, because he sounded almost exactly like he does now.  And keep in mind that one time Derek called me at work and the co-worker who answered the phone said, "There's either a Viking or a lumberjack on the phone for you."  So, yeah: food, not facial hair.  He's saving that for when he turns six next October.