Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Birthday Boy

Last week, Caedmon turned six.

Other things happened too, of course, but the big event was the celebration of six years of life for the youngest Crisler.
When he wasn't pretending to be a ninja (don't tell him I used the words "pretending" and "ninja" in the same sentence, he'll be deeply offended; in Caedmon's mind, when he dons this birthday suit- I mean birthday ninja suit, not, you know, the other kind- he becomes a ninja, he is a ninja, never mind the fact that he's neither Japanese nor an adult nor a resident of the 15th century.), anyway, when he wasn't doing that, he was asking to go to a certain ice cream-serving restaurant for his birthday.
This is the same restaurant we went to for Adelaide's fifth birthday, where a much younger Caedmon went from "friends" to "it's complicated" with a waitress there.  Thankfully he no longer does such things, or he wouldn't have had a very happy birthday at all.

Six doesn't seem that much older than five to me, possibly because our Caedmon still seems to believe "superhero" is a viable occupation for his future adult self, and has been a sweet curmudgeon for years, anyway.
Trying and failing to scowl.  That goes for both of us.

For now, he's content to create chalk renderings of his beloved heroes on the sidewalk.  Please note that our six year old now has more artistic ability than I do.

Happy, Happy Birthday, Caedmon!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Apples and Jumping and Jumping and Apples

The seasonal work I've recently undertaken is that of school tour guide at our local apple orchard/pumpkin patch/place you go to wear your kids out.  This is fairly ideal as they took my "I can only work two days a week for these very limited hours" availability and basically said, "Okey dokey."  So now I'm talking to kids about apples and pollination and pheromone traps and accepting that they really just want me to hurry up and stop talking so they can go jump in the corn pool.

I've also learned I roll my eyes a lot (note to self:  apologize to Adelaide for giving her so much grief about this habit, as she is apparently just mimicking her mother); I had to quash this urge when a four-year-old daintily informed me that she doesn't go to a preschool, it's a learning center (I also had to resist the desire to ask her, "You still can't read, right?  Then you're in preschool."), also when another little girl squealed and cried every time a bug flew, crawled, or otherwise invaded a ten-foot bubble around her.  Patient reminders that we are on a working farm did nothing to penetrate her haze of panic.

For every whimpering princess and unimpressed boy who declares he likes the farm game on his mom's phone better than the actual farm (making me want to weep for the youth of America), there were ten others excited to learn how to properly pick an apple, and taste the difference between tart and sour varieties, and look at deer fences.

Arguably the best part of the whole deal?  Our little family gets in free to the place.  So now I leave the orchard, pick the kids up from the bus stop, and drive back so they can play at least once a week.
Caedmon's running form is around a million times better than mine.  Face included.

Atticus did hardly any jumping in the corn; he mostly seemed to enjoy lying around watching other kids getting told off by their moms for throwing corn.

There are two jumping pillows to satisfy all your bouncing needs- a small one for our smaller people, and a big one for our bigger people.  To jump on the big one, you need to be bigger, yea high according the sign in front of the pillows.  This makes sense to mothers who like for their children to be safe while jumping.  It feels woefully unfair to five-year-old boys who are not tall enough to jump on the big pillow with their big siblings.
He did eventually get past his finely tuned sense of justice (or injustice, as the case was here in his mind) and had a ball with the smaller pillow all to himself, as seen in the first photo above.

My biggest challenge now is to not spend the entirety of my wages on apple cider doughnuts.  I get them at a discount!  And they're made with real apple cider!  And isn't it somehow a sin to not enjoy the more pleasurable parts of our existence- or... something...?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Enjoying Ourselves Whether We Want To or Not

It's that time of year again, where we all panic about the coming cold and pressure ourselves to have as much warm weather fun as humanly possible while we still can.

This is not something we ever have to force on the boys.  They will be wild and weird anytime, especially when it's raining on them.  They were supposedly dancing, but instead arrived at whatever intersection is home to a mosh pit plus interpretative art no one understands, especially those who pretend to.
Or maybe this is a rain dance?  I really couldn't say.

Adelaide and I have engaged in somewhat more civilized behavior.  Eating ice cream being what constitutes civilized behavior in this family.

Aaaaand then she saw I was taking her picture, and was thrilled.
When she gives me this look I yell things like, "Adelaide, what are you wearing?" just to complete the paparazzo feel of the situation.

Even though there are beautiful temperatures outside right now and I feel that autumn-pressure to enjoy every last outdoor activity until it is in fact robbed of all pleasantry, I sometimes need a little rest from such breakneck fun.  Currently I'm doing this by watching Stranger Things on Netflix.
If 80's nostalgia is your thing, this show will be like crack to you.  The 1980's were my years of early childhood, so each episode basically involves constant memory whiplash, uncovering all these memories I'd previously completely forgotten, from hairstyles to telephones to the entire feel of the show.  I can only think the Duffer Brothers invented a time machine and for some bizarre reason used it to go back to the 80's and film a television show.  Even that part of the show that you usually skip over, there at the beginning where it's basically reminding you, "Hey, in case you've forgotten that decision you made 90 seconds ago, here's the name of the show you're watching," with clips of the actors laughing or glaring disapprovingly or whatever along with the title of the show [here is where Derek should swoop in and supply me with the name of whatever that thing is called, but no, he's not here and instead I've had to write all these words to explain a practice I find ridiculous anyway], well that thing that I normally find outrageously annoying- with Stranger Things?  I like theirs.  I never skip it or feel suddenly compelled to get a snack, no:  I watch it every time, start to finish.

Here's the thing, though:  I am a scaredy cat.  Seriously a-feared of everyone and everything when it comes to tv and movies (and books and, you know, life), so I can't just watch this show; it is way too scary and jumpy for the yellow likes of me.  So instead I have to multi-task, something I'm normally terrible at doing, but seriously, more than 80% of my attention focused on the television at any one time is bad news.  I have a very sensitive sympathetic nervous system, okay?

So I'm trying to blog while watching the show, which is good, because then I'm not so scared, but also not good, because go back two paragraphs, just beneath the Stranger Things photo.  What a mess.  And I would go back and try to fix it, but they're trying to make a homemade sensory deprivation chamber for Eleven and Winona Ryder seems to be returning to her former glory, so...

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Found Things

...or, things I found.

When I first saw the above I immediately sent it to Derek, hoping/knowing he would think it was funny, because the truth is the funniest.  Then I had to pretend not to be offended at how funny he found it.  I am a joy to live with.

This gif is a scarily accurate representation of Adelaide and I when debating the pronunciation of words.  Yesterday's was "lenient," (Adelaide:  "lenn-ee-ent," Me: "lean-ee-ent") the day before that was the name "Seamus."  (Adelaide:  "See-muss," Me:  "Shay-muss.")

So, just to recap, Adelaide:  Almost always wrong;  Me:  Almost always right.  Admitting that the other person is right, Adelaide:  Never;  Me:  Never.  We are each of us a joy to live with.

I now have two part-time jobs, although one is just through the fall, and so far I love them both, but as is turns out I cannot work, be a reasonable person to live with, run, blog, cook, and keep a decent house all at the same time.  Today's free time was either going to go to blogging or cleaning, and guess which one won?  (Hint:  The one that did not involve getting off the couch, and another hint:  You should not need a hint to answer this question.)

I feel like this warning label could have been made for our children.  "But mom, why can't I go to the park by myself?  It's just around the corner!"  

"Because not everyone is looking out for your best interest, Daughter."

"Please, Mom, this is Brave New World, Iowa.  There aren't those kind of people here."

"OH, REALLY?"  *Proceeds to tell Daughter disturbing but true story that occurred in our little town a few short years ago.*

[Two days later]

Derek:  "Why is Adelaide afraid to leave the house?  And why has she been having nightmares?"

Me:  *shrugs*

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Like Grandmother, Like Granddaughter

Last week was a rough week for many in my hometown.  Two dearly, dearly loved people passed away, one of whom was an age (nearly my age, actually) that makes you say, "But he'd barely gotten started on the best part!" and the other was older, yes, but still far too young to say good-bye to, because as far as I'm concerned, no one should ever have to say farewell to the likes of Larry.

[Edited to add:  And now I just found out Anna Dewdney died, the author of the Llama, Llama children's books.  This must be how other people feel when their favorite movie stars overdose, except people who write and illustrate children's books die from things like brain cancer, which feels way more tragic to me.  Getting pretty sick of this whole "people dying" thing.]

One of those hometown-many is my mom.  Last week was hard, and this week will be, too, as she goes through all the rituals that accompany death, and helps those left behind, as she's close to both the grieving families.  So we're going to talk about one of the things that makes my mother happy, which could be quilting or traveling or hand-washing, but will today be her grandchildren.

I could go full-on vain and talk about how amazing the three grandchildren that just so happen to belong to Derek and I are, maybe play a little Carly Simon in the background as inspiration, but instead I simply must show you this picture my mom emailed me a while back, one of herself and her sister Kay.
The back of the photo has a note written by my grandma:  "Dresses are gold checked with organdy aprons.  Lorri [my mom] was mad because she had to wear her bonnet.  I think it's pretty but she doesn't.  Have given Kay's hair a feather cut.  Sure is easier to take care of."    

Now, let's just pass right over the fact that I now feel like a failure for never dressing Adelaide in an organdy apron when I had the chance.  I suppose I could still try, but I have a feeling it would end in a storm of tears and shredded fabric.  Let us also skip over the serious cuteness of Kay's beaming little face, framed by a new feather cut.  

Instead we're going to focus on the my mom, the one year old on the left, who is mad because she had to wear her bonnet, a revelation that I am dying over.  Dying because how many times have mothers of girls dressed them in the most darling of clothing- like bonnets- only to have them pout over it in front of the camera.  She's like a chubby Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I'm also dying because when I look at this and other old photos of my mother, I see the face of our niece, sweet Elliot Ann.
The picture is a little fuzzy because I zoomed in on Ellie's face- the one on my mom's lap, there- so you could get the full effect.  The resemblance is even more striking in person, when you watch Elliot as she goes about her business, her tall, strong build just like my mom's, who infamously stomped the floor out of the playpen my grandmother cruelly placed her in to get something done or maybe catch her breath fifty-something years ago.  It would seem that toddler Lorri had trouble understanding why she was in prison when her two older sisters were not.  Her solution?  Break it to pieces, of course.  

I put that scowling picture up there to mark the resemblance to mom, but I don't want you to think that's all she does, so here are other, smiley-er pictures of her.
Look at how happy she is.  Elliot, I mean.  And yes, my sister Steph is pregnant again, with girl #3, as is my other sister, Kelli. There's a special place in my heart for three-girl families, and now both my sisters will have an estrogen trio!

And now, because I am one of three girls and know better than to go on and on about one of them while leaving the others out, here are some pics of my mom's other granddaughters, our other nieces.
Kelli's family, minus Kelli.  Hang on, let me see if I can find a picture of her.
Well, that's Kelli, all right- around 25 years ago.  Here you see she and I dressing a baby Stephanie for the day.  Notice Steph is not crying, or reacting much at all.  She was used to such loving abuse.  I thought it so charming that my parents were thoughtful enough to get me a living, breathing doll when I was 8 1/2.  This model had overactive tear ducts as an infant, so I got to wipe her eyelids with a warm, wet washcloth until they were once again able to open many mornings because they were sealed shut from so much gunk.  Take that, Baby Alive!  

And, of course, we mustn't forget Vada, Elliot's big sister:
That's her at my grandma and grandpa's house over the weekend, following the Adelaide up a tree.  We were down south celebrating Grandma's 80th birthday.  I now can't wait to become an octogenarian, as when I said, "Grandma, you don't have to do that," she informed me, "I'll do what I want!  You get to do that when you're 80!"  

Only 47 years until that magical day.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Four Things

I haven't done a list post in a long time, have I?  And it's perfect for the discombobulated state of my brain today!

  • Despite the whole toe situation (broken?  dislocated?  Whatever, it still hurts, although not as badly, and continues to appear a bit misshapen), I managed to run in last weekend's 10k, and did it fast enough to get second in my age group, which netted me a medal and guilt-free eating of our kids' candy they got from the parade we watched later that morning.  One of the best parts of the morning was my friends not only showing up at the beginning of the race to cheer me on, but also veering over to Mindy's driveway- which is on the race route- to holler encouraging things, complete with inspiring and hilarious poster- when I had one last grueling mile left, then they darted to the end to be there as I crossed the finish line/mat/thing.  It was a day that turned out pretty great, which I did not expect given the fact that I couldn't fit my injured foot into two different pairs of shoes when getting ready for the race, and instead had to opt for my least favorite pair that makes me feel like my feet are slapping the ground but boasts a pretty wide toe box.  The day was capped off by Caedmon demonstrating he still likes to hold my hand when we're on the couch together.
Yikes- anyone else bothered by poor posture?  I just wanna crank his neck and shoulders into proper form.  Gently, of course; he is still the one kid who will run into my arms after school.  Atticus still wants a hug but he saunters toward me, no doubt ever aware of watching kids still on the bus (seriously, the stories Adelaide tells of the attention that kid gets... I'm always like, "I don't know what to do with this information,") or daughter, who lets me know she wants post-school affection by staggering and then falling onto me.  They're subtle, these children of ours.

  • Our elder two children have begun mowing.  It is awesome.
Now I can do just enough mowing to get my fix- because I really do enjoy it- then when I get tired tell our kids it's time to build character and contribute to the household and stuff.  

Fannie Flagg has this strange and wonderful ability to take a story that's full of pretty serious stuff but make it entertaining and lovely.  It's tough trying to recommend it to other people, because you inevitably end up saying something like, "Oh, it's so good, about this daughter and her elderly mother who's actually pretty awful and their not-so-great relationship and how all these women were pilots in World War II but got, like, no credit for it, and this filling station that, well, actually had to close... but no, I'm not saying it right!  Somehow it's not depressing or dark or anything, you won't want to put it down, and you'll love the characters, and- DON'T YOU WALK AWAY FROM ME!"

So, yeah.  You should read it.

  • Adelaide bought some face paint a couple weeks ago, and has painted her own and her brothers' faces multiple times since.
I like that this is something creative that they can all do together, and that they somehow don't fight during their fairly long painting sessions.  What I don't like is when Adelaide paints her face for the fifth or sixth time, washes it off a couple hours after application, before bedtime, and wakes up the next morning with a swollen, itchy, rash-covered face.  
Her eyes were the worst.  I checked with her before posting this photo, too, and she okayed it.

She insisted on going to school, as they were socializing guinea pigs in one of her classes, and no paltry allergic reaction (on her face) was going to come between her and holding small, furry animals.  She made it two and a half hours before the school nurse called, asking that I come get our daughter.  First full week of school and we already had a kid taking a sick day.  I have a feeling it's going to be a banner year.

Thursday, September 1, 2016


For the first time in a decade, I don't spend most of my day with the children I helped make.

It's a peculiar feeling.

I think if I hadn't had this new job at the library to go to after all three of our children had the audacity to leave me in pursuit of this strange thing called "an education," that first day of school would not have been pretty.  No sirree.  As it was, Derek and I escorted them to the bus stop, where those kids got on the bus and just... left.  They didn't even try to paste sad expressions on their faces for my benefit; no, they were all smiling and excited, especially the little one.  Yes, I'm aware that if any of them had struggled with leaving that morning it would have made things that much harder for me.  Please don't try to bring rational thought to this party, as it was not invited.
Two happy boys, one sassy girl who gave me this sarcastic smile because she declared herself too preoccupied by the heavy percussion kit on her back to be able to take first day of school pictures.  Hrmph.

As it was, the kids climbed on the bus most enthusiastically, Derek headed off to work, and I walked home, where I sniffled around the house while contemplating blowing off my friends at the coffee shop.  I mean, really, who would want this sad sack around?

Thankfully, I did not, and was incredibly cheered by those same friends who, for reasons that continue to elude me, include my sad sack-ness in their midst on a regular basis.  The mocha latte probably helped, too.

Then, thank the Lord, I got to go to a library run by compassionate women who have been there and done that and/or are being there and doing that, so I was in good company with my all-my-babies-have-left-me self.

That first day flew by despite my continuing feeling of emotional fragility, and it was soon time to meet them as they got off the school bus.

That first day and every one since, Caedmon has reassured me that he loves kindergarten, except for two things:  "I don't like it that all the kids disobey all the time and everyone is so loud."  This is classic Caedmon, as half the things he says would be equally likely to come out of the mouth of a cranky old man.  He is our five-year-old curmudgeon.

Atticus says second grade is "good.  What, it's good!  What else do you want me to say?"

Adelaide is the opposite of Atticus in that she has had lots of things to say about fifth grade.  So. many. words.  Most of them are of a sensitive nature, though, so I won't be repeating them here.  Our daughter likes to talk her feelings over with us, and I appreciate that she's still willing to share such things with her lame-o parents, so if she's willing to talk, I'm willing to listen.  I am thinking of insisting on regular snack breaks going forward, as it will both keep my blood sugar up and me awake (these conversations take place in the evening, and these days anytime you sit me down past 7 PM and expect me to stay awake is no bueno), plus chewing makes it so I'm not tempted to give advice.  We've found it's best if we're doing about 90% listening and 10% advice-giving.  This is tougher for Derek than it is for me, as he is a fixer.  Hmm.  Maybe he needs the snacks.  Something sticky- peanut butter, or maybe caramel?  It doesn't matter that his advice is sound; such things no longer seem to matter.  In all this talking, she gets to work things out for herself by talking it through, and we are getting concentrated lessons in patience.  It's so fun!