Friday, August 29, 2008

Tales of a three-year-old playboy

Evan's first week of preschool seems to have been a success.

This morning he informed me, "One of my girlfriends at preschool has been to the ocean and rode a leatherback turtle." (This is very cute when he says it. In his world, girl rhymes with squirrel: "gwirl.") (Also, this puts her in very high esteem in his mind. Ocean creatures are second only to dinosaurs. She is very, very cool. Although he can't seem to remember her name. Pesky details....) Seems he's hanging out with some fast women....

I asked him how many girlfriends he has at preschool. He had to consider. "Maybe four," he decided. Excellent life, no?

My, they grow up so fast.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

And now, Mommy needs a drink.

We really need to work on our stamina. Or else, if the past three days are any indication, we'll be dead by the time Caleb goes to college. Here's a thumbnail of 52 hours earlier in the week:

Sunday afternoon: Evan gets lost at a strip mall on the interstate, two hours away from home. Lost as in we call 911 and the police are out looking for him. He is found by a kind stranger, scared and disoriented, but safe.

Monday morning: Jeff leaves before 6am, to be gone until Tuesday morning. Jensen misses the bus. At the exact same moment the bus drives by, Evan (not the most graceful kid I've ever met) falls and gashes his top lip open and there is a lot of blood and screaming. I get a headache. By some minor miracle I get Jensen to school on time.

Monday noon: Evan goes to his first day of preschool. Surprisingly drama-free, but still a bit stressful.

Monday afternoon: Pick the kids up from school. This is NOT as easy as it sounds: turns out picking kids up from school is a contact sport in this town. Jensen is done at 3:40, Evan at 4:00. In order to stand a chance of getting Evan on time, I have to be one of the first parents in line at Jensen's school. Which means I have to be there at 3:10, at the latest. (Oh, and it seems parents who are supposed to be responsible adults have no compunctions about cutting in line, by the way.) So I wait outside Jensen's school, Caleb in tow, for 30 minutes, scoop Jensen up as quickly as possible, hope to make it out of the parking lot by 3:50, and then try to make the 15-minute drive to Evan's preschool in ten minutes. So I do this whole schtick Monday afternoon. And I still have a headache. From here we go to buy diapers, because I only have two more left at home.

Monday evening: From Target (diapers, remember?) we go directly to Jensen's football pictures. He changes his clothes in the van. Two hours of absolute chaos. We make it home by 7:45. I throw leftovers at the kids and toss them in bed. Then I curl up with my dinner of microwave popcorn and a juice box and watch the Democratic National Convention.

Monday night: Caleb gets up three (1-2-3) times. What?!?!

Tuesday morning: Jeff comes home. Jensen makes the bus. We're off to a good start. I have an early doctor's appointment, during which time I find out that my thyroid function is drastically low. (I could have told you that without having blood drawn, but it's nice to at least have a reason for being so immensely tired.) We're looking forward to a pleasant and relaxing afternoon.

Tuesday afternoon: Seems our hot water heater has sprung a leak. (Reminder: this is a brand-new house.) Jeff figures it out when he notices our downstairs carpet is squishy. He pulls back the carpet and calls our builder and a plumber. In the midst of this joy, I repeat the pick-up-the-kids exercise. Fun!

Tuesday evening: As soon as I retrieve the kids, we tear out the door to drop Jensen at football practice. Then we take Evan and Caleb to an early-childhood education program (check out Parents as Teachers-- very nifty program). After which Jeff whisks Jensen away from football to go to Cub Scouts. At 7:45, Evan and I (Caleb's still tagging along) eat a nutrient-devoid dinner at McDonald's. Yum-my. At home, Evan won't go to bed until Jensen's home, which doesn't happen until 9:00. (Evan's a bit skittish after getting lost Sunday.) I'm assuming Jensen and Jeff ate something somewhere, but am really beyond caring. Oh, and we forget to put out the trash. And we find out sometime in this craziness that our credit card number has been stolen.

So, by 10:00 last night, I couldn't decide which I wanted worse: a cigarette, a stiff drink, or my bed. But I don't smoke, and sleep trumps booze every time. (God, I'm old.)

I can hear all of you who have survived multiple years of this kind of activity snickering at me. It's okay; you've earned the right to laugh at my expense. But please, do NOT tell me it only gets worse from here. I know, I know.

That's what scares me.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The First Day

How do I begin this without sounding like a cliche?

I'll just jump in: Evan is at preschool.

For the very first time. I'm just trying to process that right now.

When I took him, I asked him if he wanted me to stay for a few minutes or if he was ready for me to leave. He pulled me close and whispered in my ear, "I'm ready for you to leave now."

My heart swelled into my throat. It's still there.

I don't know what it is that I'm feeling right now. Pride. Love. And some sadness. My eyes sting a little.

The house sure is quiet right now.

I love you, little Evan.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A very happy day indeed

It's gone! The bane of my existence is gone!!!

Until about 4:30 this afternoon, my husband drove the crappiest car in the free world. 1997 Taurus with like 160,000 miles on it. Dents the size of small children that he never bothered to fix. Missing a few parts, like a rearview mirror. Approximately the size of the Titanic. Turn signals worked... sometimes. Oh, but it had a really cool tape deck. That came in handy. We named it The Tortoise. God I hated that vehicle.

The minute we found out it was terminally ill, I danced and yelled like a madwoman. Perhaps I should have been more sensitive.


You ever heard Adam Sandler's song about the crappy car? I'm not posting the link because it's very much NOT family-friendly. I think it's about Jeff's car, though.

Anyway, we went and bought a new car, so I couldn't post earlier today.

I'd better like it, because we'll be driving it for the next 18 years. It'll take poor Jeff that long to recover from losing the Taurus.

The Tortoise. 1997-2008. RIP, you POS.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pencils, books, & dirty looks

Holy cow, not a moment too soon....

School started today. My little Jensen is a second-grader! (gasp. gulp.)

About three weeks ago, it struck me like a bolt of lightning that school needed to start. Now. The kids were snarking at each other, and at me. Jensen was spending increasing amounts of time whining, "I'm bored..." and asking to watch tv. And I was losing my patience.

Let's be clear: I am not one of those parents who wishes that summer could go on forever and that they could always have all of their kids home together. Nope. It's nice for a while, but school serves a very important purpose: it prevents me from throttling my children. Oh, and the education part is kind of important, too.

So Jensen's at school right now. He was pumped this morning. We met his teacher yesterday (after my open-house-screw-up, everything was fine) and he packed his own lunch last night. His pink-eye is even almost gone, so he doesn't look like he got beat up anymore. He was ready to roll.

I walked him to the bus stop, a block up the street. It was pouring rain, and pretty chilly. (The first day of school without 100-degree heat? Unheard-of.) I kind of expected the bus to be late, first day and all, so we took our time getting out the door.

And we waited. For 25 minutes.

Finally I just scratched it and we went home and got in the car, both of us soaking wet. As we were driving away, the bus arrived... 28 minutes late. I was expecting 10 or 15 minutes... but half an hour?! I got Jensen to school two minutes after the bell-- not bad time at all. (Jeff called the school to let them know what was going on.) When I left school, his bus still hadn't arrived.

We had chronic bus problems for the few weeks we were here last year. Jensen was frequently 40 minutes late getting home. The district contracts out the busing, and the company that does it seems to be less-than-stellar. But... it's a new year. I'm just going to chalk this up to first-day glitches. I also am pretty skeptical it'll improve.

Anyway, school's on. Yea!!!

Oh, and does anyone have any suggestions for how to take a decent photo of a seven year old? You know, one where he's not blinking and not pretending to be wayyyy cool? Thanks.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

How Jensen saved the Olympics

I have a sarcastic streak. Matter of fact, sometimes I'm downright cynical. Which is why, maybe two weeks ago, I declared the Olympics to be Dead to Me. (I love you, Stephen Colbert.)

Dead to me, despite the fact that I'm a complete sports freak.

Dead to me, despite Nadia Comaneci's 1976 gymnastics performance (I still remember the lovely polka-dotted leisure suit I wore while watching her).

Dead to me, despite my love for the city of Beijing (I lived there in 1993).

But dead, for lots of reason. The shallow media reports. The blind nationalism (American, Chinese, or otherwise). The competitors who have the nerve to be bitter about winning a silver medal. The imposition of politics.... Performance-enhancing drugs....

So, Olympics? Ciao. {sigh}

Enter Jensen. He'll watch anything Olympics-related and love it. He's equally enthusiastic about shot put, rowing, gymnastics... to name a few. His unabashed affection for Michael Phelps is understandable, but he's just as excited about, say, volleyball.

His enthusiasm is contagious, too. Every night, I watch a little more. The other night, he actually had me cheering for the Romanian woman who absolutely creamed her competition in the marathon. And we cheered for the woman who came in seventh, too. He said, "I don't care which country wins-- it's so much fun to watch!"

Point taken, kiddo.

So the attached photo is when he won a gold medal in our small-town gymnastics tournament, about a year and a half ago. He was happy as a five-year-old can be-- which is pretty damn happy.

This is what it's all about. This is what he's taught me this week. It's okay to get caught up in the moment. It's okay to get goosebumps watching the winners cry on the medal stand. It's okay to be naive, just for a minute or two.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must go watch Usain Bolt set a world record in the 200.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Confessions of a Suburban Mom

I was going to post something light-hearted and fun today. I had it all ready to go. But instead I'm going to whine a bit and you all can be my confidantes or therapists or whatever you want. Just be kind; I'm feeling a bit schmucky right now.

I screwed up today. Again. Actually, I screwed up yesterday but didn't realize it until today. I missed my kid's "Back to School" open house. Nice, huh?

For some reason, I had it in my little (miniscule) brain that it was tonight. I was all ready to head out the door at 4:15. For some reason I checked the calendar right before heading out the door... and it was last night.

I took it pretty hard. What will his teacher think? This is, after all, a new school for us. (He only went here for a few weeks of first grade. Hardly counts.) What will the PTA think? What does this say about how much value we place on his education? What kind of example are we setting? Does this foreshadow the kind of school year he's going to have? Seriously, the ways in which I beat myself up about this are nearly endless.

Since we moved, I've had quite a string of stupidities. When we went to our new bank to open our accounts here, they noticed my driver's license was expired. Then, soon after that, I had my little automobile mishap in the parking garage, which will cause our car insurance rates to go up for the next few years and made me feel like a complete dork. I made multiple mistakes in helping plan my parents' anniversary party. I ended up in the urgent care clinic this weekend because I hurt my back really bad (and have since been zoned out on muscle relaxants). Lots of other oversights, too. I'll stop now.

I'm tired of screwing things up. Period.

Those of you who know me probably know that I tend to be a bit of an overachiever. Maybe a bit of a perfectionist from time to time. I like to be organized, I like to be on time, I feel better when things go smoothly. You get the picture. (But still! I'm a fun person!!! Honest I am.)

Here's the other thing: Jensen's had a rough streak lately. He has the worst case of pinkeye I've ever seen (today is Day 11 of the Goopy Eyes; he got new antibiotics yesterday). He's missed his first few football practices because of that, and because he was out of town. And he's stressed about school starting-- going to a new school at the age of seven must be at least a little intimidating. And now he's disappointed about missing the Back to School function. Way to go, me!

My sister (a teacher) reassures me that Jensen's teacher won't think twice about us missing last night. My husband reassures me that this doesn't reflect badly on me as a parent. My son reassures me that it's not that big a deal. I e-mailed his teacher, and will call the school office tomorrow to take care of enrollment stuff. That's all I can do. So I'm writing this post, and will then officially Let. It. Go.

But I guess I just needed to write about it. Sometimes, much of the time even, motherhood is light-hearted and fun. And sometimes it just overwhelms me.

Monday, August 18, 2008


They're baaaack! My little muses are home, so I can post a photo and entertain the masses with stories from home. (Caleb's adorable, but it's next-to-impossible to blog interestingly about an infant....) Please note Jensen's swollen eyes-- do they show up in the photo? Anyway, here's their take on their vacation, as told to their intrepid reporter, me. Quick background: they stayed with Grandma and Grandpa for a week, during which time they did more fun stuff than we do in an entire year.

What was your favorite thing you did at Grandma and Grandpa's?
E: Saw farm animals on our adventure at the barnyard (aka the State Fair).
J: Watched tv.

What did you think of the State Fair?
E: We ate cotton candy. It was good.
J: I found out that the bigger bite you take of cotton candy, the shorter it lasts. I don't know what it's make of.
E: Sugar!!!

What else did you do on your visit?
J: Went to a prairie site to learn about prairies in Iowa a long time ago, maybe during the Lewis and Clark time.
E: We rode a sky ride at the Fair. And a guy was yelling. (??? I don't know what this means.)

Did you watch the Olympics?
J: Yeah, gymnastics, swimming, rafting (is this an Olympic sport?!), and others.
E: Swimming and gymnastics and the guys who jumped into the water from so high on that thing and did tricks like somersaults. (I believe this translates to "diving.")
J: I think they got the silver.

What's your favorite thing you ate?
J: Well, I don't know. Chicken strips. Or fried chicken, whatever those things are.
E: Chicken strips. Fried chicken. (Please note: they did not eat chicken strips on their trip. Nor do I have any memory of my mother ever once making fried chicken.)
J: Pop.
E: Cookies and doughnuts.
J: Those were bagels, Evan. Oh, and cake.

What were your sleeping arrangements?
J: Great. Loved it. In the attic.
E: Not very good, because I was scared.
J: We got our own beds, which was good because I got away from Evan's snoring.
E: That was good being at Grandma and Grandpa's.
J: It was good buying sunglasses.
E: Getting a puzzle was good, too. I loved watching the Engine Turtles.
J: You mean Ninja Turtles. And Biker Mice from Mars was good, too.

Where else did you go?
J: Wall-E! Children's Museum! NASA! Awesome!!! (They went to some sort of traveling NASA exhibit and got their pictures taken in spacesuits. The kind of thing my parents would never have consented to when I was a kid, BTW.)
E: I loved going to the Children's Museum!

Do you plan to go back?
J: In about another 10 minutes.
E: Mmmm-hmmmm.
J: In another six weeks.
E: In another six weeks.

What's good about being back home?
J: That I get to see Caleb again 'cause I really love him. And you guys. Don't want to make you jealous.
E: It is the funnest thing to be at home.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Rose-colored eyeballs

Jensen has pink eye. Which is actually a misnomer, because his eyes are apparently more of a fire-engine red hue.

He's miserable.

And he's still at my mom and dad's house.

Mom called last night. Jensen was sobbing inconsolably. She was desperate for something (anything!) that would help him feel better. And she was worried about his eyes, which look kind of scary. The problem is, it's a viral infection, so antibiotics won't help. He's already been to the doctor twice. There's really not a lot to be done.

But man, was he unhappy. Jeff and I talked to him, and he broke our hearts. So when he said he wanted to come home, we decided it was probably for the best, even though that was going to require major schedule adjustments. (Rule #1 of parenting: be flexible.)

Mom and Dad were ready to ship him home, too. Let's face it: they're taking care of their grandson who has some hideous, painful eye infection. What if it's not pink eye? What if it's something much worse?! They hardly want to be responsible for him losing his vision. Not in their job description.

Then this morning, I talked to young Jensen again. No way did he want to come home today. Nuh-unh. (Rule #2 of parenting: be flexible again.) As I talked to him, I think I figured out what was going on.

He got in trouble at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

I got in trouble from my Grandma K exactly once when I was a kid. And I was devastated. Crushed. Betrayed. Ashamed. I cried as if someone had died.

So when Jensen 'fessed up this morning, it all came clear to me.

Yep, he has pink eye. It hurts. He doesn't feel good. And he got in trouble. I'd probably want to come home too. At least for an hour or two.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

On cotton candy and animal husbandry

Sorry for the lack of pictures this week. The Big Kids are gone, and I haven't seen them either.

But I have talked to them on the phone, which is always entertaining. Yesterday we talked all about the Iowa State Fair, where they went on Monday.

I love the Iowa State Fair. It is, in my opinion, the only state fair worth attending in the entire nation. In recent years it's become something of a national media phenomenon. I'm not sure why, because it's exactly the same now as when I was a kid. Lots of animals, lots of cowpies to step around, hot as all get-out, fried anything (macaroni and cheese, twinkies, snickers, cheese curds, anything), a highly questionable Midway, monster trucks, concerts, the Bill Riley Talent Show (where my dear sister performed as a child).... It's all still there, same as I remember in 1976.

Jensen was most excited about the cotton candy he got. Evidently Grandpa was a little unhappy about this choice, since it results in head-to-toe stickiness. But Jensen was thrilled. (I would have gone for the funnel cake myself, but it's his life.) He also really liked the sky ride thing, where you sit (unrestrained!) in a ski lift apparatus and ride above the entire fair. (This scares me. And if you look down from the ride, you can see the occasional flip-flop that has fallen to its untimely demise....)

Evan. That kid is a sucker for any kind of animal, so he was in (cheap joke) hog heaven. I heard about the farm animals in quite a bit of detail. There's a hog farrowing display where they have a bunch of terminally-pregnant momma piggies who actually give birth at the fair in front of everyone, and then you get to ogle the cute new pink babies. (At that point in my pregnancies, I probably would have let anyone watch who wanted to, too... porcine or human, we're all beyond caring by then.) They also had a display where lots of different poultry-type animals were hatching out of their eggs. Very exciting for little Evan. Evidently at this same display they showed a video of a calf being born with the assistance of chains (being "pulled" is the technical name for it, I believe), but I don't think he caught that. Very informative, the State Fair.

I don't know whether they saw the Big Pig. This is the highlight of my fair visits. For you city folk, every year they select the biggest boar and put him on display. These boars are taller than I am, when they actually stand up. Which they don't do very often, because they're too damn big to bear their own weight. And here's the thing about the Big Boars (this gets a little indelicate, so skip the next sentence or two if you're easily-offended): they have testicles the size of basketballs. (Or, as Jensen refers to them, "nachos." Remember, I'm the only girl in a house of four boys, so "nachos" are discussed with some regularity around here.) That's what everyone is secretly looking at, even if they're pretending not to. Every once in a while you'll actually hear a gasp of amazement....

Anyway, they went to the Fair and had an awesome time and Evan fell asleep on the way back to the car and has animal stories galore now and they ate cotton candy and didn't get stuck to each other. I kinda wish I'd been there....

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


To begin: I need help!!! If you were at Mom and Dad's party, and if you have digital pictures of said celebration, please e-mail them to me. When I get some, I'll write a post about it. If I get enough, maybe I'll do a Flickr slideshow. (If I'm smart enough to figure it out.) I have a special interest in a photo of Evan and Georgia boogyin' the night away, as that's going to get its own dedicated post. Thanks! And, with the Big Boys being gone, I'm not sure what to write today. (Believe me, you do not care about the boring crap I did today.) So I'm posting something I wrote a couple of weeks ago. Enjoy!

We are not vegetarians.

If you want proof, come on over and take a look in our deep freeze. It is full-to-the-top with the cow we recently purchased.

We named him Bo.

To be precise, we purchased a portion of a recently-butchered cow.

Here's how it went down (and it struck me as being kind of like a drug deal): a couple of months ago, my BIL hooked us up with a co-worker who deals in beef (and wholesale autos, if you're interested). She was going to have a black angus ready for slaughter in late July. Did we want in? Yeah, we wanted in.

Last week she called. Bo was ready. So I met her in an empty school parking lot (and this is the point in CSI: Miami where an expensive car with tinted windows would come careening through the parking lot and spray us with bullets, but that fortunately did not happen). We transferred 160-plus pounds of freshly frozen beef from the trunk of her car to my minivan. I gave her a check. That was it.

For the sake of perspective, we eat a lot of vegetarian meals. More than most other meat-eaters I know. Tofu is a staple around here. Babies love mashed tofu. The big kids love it so much that I have to buy two pounds for a meal now. They love it almost as much as Kraft Mac & Cheese.

I was vegetarian for a while (never vegan, though). It was fine. Meat's just never been indispensable to me. Nor has it been the crux of any great moral conundrum. I've read "My Year of Meat." I've considered many of the arguments, from health and ethical standpoints. And I've decided my concerns belong elsewhere. I absolutely respect those who have decided otherwise.

Anyhoo, we're hardly meat-dependent. But Jeff loves steak. And lamb. Jensen is not so fond of any meat with texture. His preferred animal proteins come in the form of hot dogs, hamburger, or fish sticks (his opinion is that the more processed the meat, the better). Evan will (or won't) eat whatever's on his plate.

But you wouldn't know that we're not strict carnivores based on the 35 pounds of ground beef in our freezer. Not to mention the steaks, roasts, and ribs. It's going to take a concerted effort to eat all of this meat.

So, if you're in the neighborhood, come on over for a barbeque.

Oh, and, Bo? Thanks for giving your all.

Monday, August 11, 2008

What's in your driveway?

The big boys are spending the week at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Woo-hoo!!! I have anticipated this week with some happiness. You know how it is. I love my kids to death, of course. I will miss them. But, man, there are some things I want to get done around the house. A couple of closets, straighten out the storage room... not to mention that after I clean the windows it will be a whole week before they're a schmeared up with fingerprints again.

Except. I seem to have strained a muscle in my lower back. (Remember that I had to carry Caleb everywhere for a week? It took its toll.) I'm having back spasms now, and it hurts. Jeff left me with strict instructions not to make the bed, not to unload or load the dishwasher, and to not do anything that will hurt. I've followed his orders, even though I gave serious consideration to doing it all. I'm being good.

The one thing that I had to do today was take our minivan to the body shop, where it will have some corrective surgery done.

Maybe you are wondering, "Why did you need to take your van to the shop, Teresa?"

Glad you asked. It's because I'm an idiot.

I hit a parked car.

Okay, here's how it happened. I was going to the gym. It was one of the first times I'd been in their parking garage, and it's a disaster. Very tight lanes, very small parking places. There was an enormous (huge!) SUV parked at the end of a row, and I was trying to negotiate around it, and managed to drag the right side of my van along its front bumper (is that the fender? I can never remember). The kids were all in the car with me. I didn't swear or yell or cry or anything. I'm such a good mommy (she says with at least some degree of sarcasm).

I left my information on its windshield. The owner called later. She was very nice. And told me she had just gotten her car out of the shop that morning. It had been in for two weeks after an accident that also wasn't her fault. She was moving in a week and was clearly distraught. I almost sent her flowers.

Anyway, my van's in the shop to repair the thousands of dollars of damage that I caused in a parking garage while driving less than three miles an hour. I. Am. Brilliant.

I'm driving this monster around right now. The big boys are going to be sorry they missed it. I just hope I don't hit any parked cars while I'm renting it.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


We're back from the anniversary party. That trip gave me enough material to keep blogging for months.... I'll update you later. The short version: it was fun. But for tonight, another story:

My parents have very good friends named John and Joyce. They have been friends since the beginning of time, by my approximation. I love them. And they have kids who are just about our ages. We spent a lot of time together when we were young.

John and Joyce put together a beautiful photo tribute for my parents' party. A lot of the photos dated back to the early 70's (lots of plaid and shaggy hair and sideburns and my god did my dad look young), and there were a lot of photos of us kids. And judging from the number of naked-kids-in-the-bathtub pics, we took a lot of baths together.

At one point Saturday night, John wondered aloud why it is that adults are so inclined to taking pictures of kids together in the tub. He laughed at this phenomenon, and kind of questioned how healthy it is.

Which was funny. Because I was guilty of doing the very same thing earlier that very same day. At about noon, my sister and I grabbed Baby Caleb and our adorable niece Baby Emma, stripped 'em down, and threw them in the tub. (They really did need baths.) And while Ali made sure neither of them was endangered, I snapped a whole bunch of pictures. The whole time we "oohed" and "aahed" about how adorable they were.

I guess this bathtub-photo thing has been passed on to the next generation.... But, seriously... aren't they too cute?! And these pictures will be great to embarrass them with when they're teenagers.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Forty years

So sorry my posting hasn't been more consistent this week.... It's been one of those weeks. My house is only borderline clean, meals have been last-minute improv kind of affairs, and I've been lucky to shower. Needless to say, compared to food and sanitation, my poor blog is rather low on the priority list. But I'll try to do better in the future.

Why so chaotic, you ask? I'll try to explain, but it won't seem nearly as overwhelming in writing.

Anyway, my first obstacle to productivity: Caleb continues to be very unhappy. He started antibiotics for an ear infection on Monday. By yesterday morning, he was still yowling and not eating and not sleeping and very uncomfortable. So I took him back to the doctor, wondering if his ear was still a problem. No, she said, his ear was improving. She looked him over to see what else could be the problem. And it seems he's getting MORE TEETH. (He got four last week; isn't that enough?!) So basically, I took my kid to the doctor because he's teething. I'm sure they promptly slapped a big red sticker on the front of his chart that says, "Crazy Mom." The point here is that if he's awake, I have to carry him.

Second problem: we're traveling this weekend. (With a very unhappy baby. Great.) Traveling with three kids is ridiculous. Correction: preparing to travel with three kids is ridiculous. I have been packing for three days now, and am still not ready to go. It requires about six loads of laundry, because for each kid, you need approximately one outfit for every two hours you'll be gone. Since we're going for 48 hours, that's 72 outfits. Sounds about right. It takes forever to round up the half-ton of baby equipment you need: diapers, toys, medicine, feeding paraphernalia, monitoring devices, sleeping equipment.... Then I have to pack for myself, which becomes a mere afterthough. (I will forget important things. I routinely forget my own underwear and toothbrush.) Throw in some duct tape and we're good to go. Just hope that Caleb doesn't scream the whole way and that Evan doesn't puke in the van.

Okay, but here's what I really wanted to write about.... The reason for all this packing is that we're going to my mom & dad's 40th wedding anniversary party. I want to just take a quick minute to acknowledge that. I like to give them a hard time about how very long 40 years is... then I remember that I'm 38, and realize I should probably shut up.

But: Mom & Dad are a shining example of a wonderful relationship. They are stable, they are honest, they are patient, they are committed. This is how they conduct their marriage. I'm coming to appreciate all that they have taught me through their example, about marriage, about parenting, about being a family, and about love. They are rock-solid, and their marriage is exactly how it should be. Their party this weekend will pay tribute to that.

Honoring that is well-worth the chaos of packing.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Oedipus who? and, Happy Anniversary

Today's our wedding anniversary. I have not, nor will I, see my adoring and adorable husband today, as he's at work until tomorrow morning. (It's okay; after eight years and three kids, I can postpone the romance for one day. Or more.)

But, guess what I got today? A hickey.

From my son. (The one in the photo.)

As I said a couple of days ago, Caleb has an ear infection and is wanting to be carried all the time. So I hitch him up on my hip and get as much housework done as I can with 21 pounds of baby on my side. (Back problems... yeah, I got 'em.) That's exactly what I way doing this morning while cleaning up breakfast dishes. And after a while my shoulder started to burn a little. I looked down, and that little punk was sucking on my left deltoid like there was no tomorrow. You should have heard the "pop" when I pulled him off. He left an enormous purple hickey.

I was wearing a tank top. And, because I get just a little distracted sometimes, I forgot to put on a shirt that would cover the love bite. (I hate that term.) So I ran all over town today looking like a proud 16-year old girl. It is not subtle, and there was no way to hide it. I noticed more than one person looking at it.

To add insult to injury, I wasn't wearing my wedding rings. This is not the image I like to portray.

Seriously, life with kids is kind of entertaining if you pay attention.

And, Jeff-- Happy Anniversary. Thank you for everything. And, I swear, the hickey is from Caleb.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hot. Ugh.

I didn't quite get around to posting yesterday. Seems that I had an infant attached to my body all day long. Caleb has been "fussy." I put that in quotation marks, because Caleb's fussy seems very serene. But he did want to be held all weekend long. And didn't want to sleep. Or eat. Turns out the poor baby has an ear infection. Hopefully the antibiotics will take over soon. Mostly so he feels better, but also so I can get something accomplished.

Anyway, about the photo....

It is fryin'-eggs-on-the-sidewalk hot here. Yesterday the heat index was somewhere between 105 and 110. Yeah, that's hot enough for me, thanks for asking.

And humid. After sunset, the windows get so steamed up on the outside that you literally cannot see out of them. I did not know that we moved to the tropics, but evidently that is the case.

The boys have been having great fun in all this heat with their water guns. They don't really have water "fights," because the apparent goal is to get as wet as possible. So they don't even bother running away from each other. And, when worse comes to worse, they just get the hose and spray themselves.

It is, however, great fun to lie in ambush and wait for an unsuspecting grown-up to happen by.

I don't love this, because it's so humid that once you get wet, you just stay wet. There is no possibility of evaporation. Have I mentioned that I don't really like hot weather?
At least the kids are having fun.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Week in Review, 8.2.08, Not Even Worth It

There's not even enough going on here to pretend there's news. I'm gonna try. Please be forgiving... it's the end of summer. The kids are bored. I'm bored. But I'll do my best:
  • Hard work: Caleb had two teeth when he woke up Tuesday morning. When I got him up Wednesday morning he was the proud owner of six pearly-whites. That's a big day.
  • Let the games begin: and I'm not talking about the Olympics. It's almost football season, people! Life is worth living again!!! Dad, you are totally mine this year. (And I'll fill the rest of you in on that as the time draws closer.)
  • More exotic fauna: The kids just found an enormous spider on the back patio. I was a little nervous. Jeff checked it out and assured me it was not deadly. I didn't trust him and googled it. It's a wolf spider. He was right.

Okay, that's really all I can think of. Here's an extreme close-up of Caleb, just 'cause. Now I will return to home improvement, as it were.

Friday, August 1, 2008

House Rules

Betcha this didn't happen to you yesterday.

Since Caleb is on the prowl now, I'm kind of always scanning the floor for potential choking hazards. Yesterday morning, as I rushed through my bedroom, I happened to see a small piece of what looked like hard brown plastic, about three-quarters of an inch long. I was in a hurry, and just put it on my bedside table to pitch later.

Later in the afternoon I remembered to throw it away. I picked it up and looked at it, and recognized it as a big bug carcass. Ugh-- I instinctively threw it on the ground. Jeff laughed at me and picked it up. And chuckled in a rather sinister manner.

"This isn't a bug," said he. It was a flippin' FROG.

I made a bee-line for the big boys. In my sternest, most disgusted, trying-not-to-laugh voice I yelled, "Who the hell put a DEAD FROG in my bedroom?!?!?!"

Jensen's head immediately snapped up, eyes like saucers. "I don't know anything about that," he said. I could tell he was intrigued, and could also tell he was probably telling the truth. He figured he'd better placate me in a hurry. "Honest, Mom, I didn't do it."

Evan was sitting next to him. He looked up, calmly and perhaps a bit put out with all the drama, and said, "Well I did." Then continued with his reading.

Of course you did, Evan.

Jensen was hugely impressed. He wishes he could come up with these kinds of things. Evan doesn't even have to try.

We have a new rule now: No dead animals in my bedroom.
Reasonable enough, everyone?