Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Maybe it's time for a baby gate

Here's what Caleb is saying: "Hey, Mom, Evan and I are just going to run upstairs for a bit. Thought we might play with marbles and those itty-bitty little Legos my brothers like to leave laying around everywhere. Oh, and hey: would you mind bringing up a screwdriver so I could check the outlets? You're a doll."

Okay, so I made that up. He can't talk. But: he is absolutely hell-bent on self-destruction lately.

I think my 9-month old has thrill issues.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I should have HazMat on speed-dial

I am not a germophobe. I have pretty strong faith in the human immune system. And I have survived the potty-training of two boys. (With one more to go, at which time I will deserve a medal of honor.) I clean their biohazard bathroom with minimal hysteria. No passing out, and I only rarely yell, "This is disgusting!" I think I only vomited once, and that's when I was pregnant. I am not a bathroom wimp. Which is good, because the boys are pretty oblivious to the alarming stench and ick they produce on a daily basis.

I do, however, kind of have an aversion to port-a-potties. I don't think that's unreasonable.

So, given this information, imagine my horror. My seven-year-old son emerged from a port-a-potty this weekend gagging. And said, in a quiet and somewhat stunned voice, "I think I should probably wash my hands before I eat."

I do not want to know what happened in there.

Friday, September 26, 2008

What financial crisis?!

This could be the day that our financial system collapses for good, and nobody even understands what that could mean, and I'm scared.

That was my first thought this morning. Good morning, me!!!

It was closely followed by these thoughts: There may or may not be a presidential debate tonight, when we all need to consider our election choices very carefully. Great. (Let's hear it for strong, thoughtful leadership.) Oh, and PETA wants to use human breastmilk for Ben & Jerry's.

The world is falling apart. And I stubbornly refuse to write about it. (What could I possibly say, really?) Instead, I'm doing this meme I picked up from
Sunshine, who is simultaneously funny and thought-provoking. (And she was totally my inspiration to write my very own blog.) I like the way she does memes: take it if you want it. But no obligation.

Anyway, the world is falling apart, and I thought this was fun:

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME (first pet, current car): Chocolate Odyssey

2. YOUR GANGSTA NAME (fave ice cream flavor, favorite type of shoe): Vanilla Flip-flop

3. YOUR NATIVE AMERICAN NAME (favorite color, favorite animal): Orange Goldfish

4. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME (middle name, city where you were born): Kay Oskaloosa

5. YOUR STAR WARS NAME (the first three letters of your last name, first two of your first name): Meete

6. SUPERHERO NAME (2nd favorite color, favorite drink): Pink Gin

7. NASCAR NAME (the first names of your grandfathers): Harold Forest

8. STRIPPER NAME ( the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy): Love Twizzlers

9. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME (your fifth grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter): Davis Denver

10. SPY NAME (your favorite season/holiday, flower): Autumn Rose

11. CARTOON NAME (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now): Strawberry Pajamas

12. HIPPIE NAME (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree): Coffee Cypress

Now I'm going to read the news. Maybe I'll have something more than coffee for breakfast first....

Update: My gangsta name is the lamest ever. Ever. "Vanilla Flip-flop?" I cannot imagine anything more bland. Samantha kindly jolted my memory and reminded me how much I love Cherry Garcia ice cream (but only if it's not made with breastmilk). So I'm considering a gangsta name change: Cherry Garcia Stiletto. I really don't wear stilettos, but I'm pretending to be glamorous and/or sexy. It's my blog. I can do that. Oh, and since I've eaten, I could change my hippie name to Eggo Cypress. I could go either way on that one. (Maybe the whole vanilla-name-thing was accurate, after all.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

You were expecting "Wheels on the Bus," perhaps?

Here's what happened. A very kind woman from the public school system came for a home-visit the other day. It's this cool thing the school district does. Yea! She's come a couple of times now, and she's very nice, and gives me interesting tips about the kiddos' development. Great!

So she innocently (naively?) asked Evan if he likes to sing. He nodded and promptly broke into his totally-jammin'-best-rock-star version of "867-5309." If you grew up in the 80's, you know this song. The one about Jenny. If you did not grow up in the 80's, allow me to explain: the guy sings this passionate love song to a woman whose phone number he found on a bathroom wall.

Very Kind Woman looked at me quizzically. I didn't really know what to say.

"Well, that song was popular when I was in junior high..." I stammered. "I think he likes the numbers." At which point Evan very helpfully belted out the line, "For a good time... for a good time caaalllll...." (Here's where I started to feel that coveted Mother of the Year award slip from my grasp.)

Meekly, and rather ineffectively, I added, "He learned it from his big brother."

Which is true. Jensen really loves that song. He loves most songs, actually. Even if the lyrics are enough to set his grandmothers' eardrums on fire. (And then he teaches them to his little brother.) On a whim that night, I asked him his favorite songs. Here's the short list:

  • Mama Mia by ABBA (he's loved it since he was maybe three)

  • Lights by Journey (Ridiculously funny video. It's on youtube. We watch it a lot.)

  • Any number of college fight songs (including the Universities of Michigan, Missouri, and Connecticut)

  • Metallica (Nothing specific here. Just Metallica.)

  • Beat It and Thriller by Michael Jackson

  • I Hate Myself for Loving You by Joan Jett (and the Blackhearts!)

Two thoughts: 1) This is a pretty tame list. And 2) What have I done to my child?! And this is indeed all my influence. If Jeff had his way, the list would be largely Primus and Rush. (Less tame.) Although I was relieved he didn't include any Neil Diamond (too mortifying). And a little disappointed there isn't any Johnny Cash in there.

I'm guessing the Primus and Rush come later. I should probably warn his grandmas that they should protect their ears. I can't wait to hear what Caleb sings when he's four.

Quit copying me!

The little boys and I stand at the front door every morning to see Jensen off to the bus stop. He has made it very clear that we are not to walk to the bus stop with him. Nor are we to display any sort of affection outside the confines of our home. So we must be content with hollering un-embarrassing things at him.

Yesterday (and note how I artfully violate the no-public-display-of-affection mandate):
Me: "Good-bye Jensen! Have a wonderful day!!!"
Evan:" Good-bye Jensen! Have a wonderful day!!!"
Me: "Your shoelace is untied!"
Evan: "Your shoelace is untied!"
Me: "We love you sweetheart!"
Evan: "We love you sweetheart!"
Evan: [peevishly] "Mommy, will you quit copying everything I say?"
Me: "Good point, Evan."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

These are not the reasons; or, did you really just say that?

Before I even start, let me clarify: I'm not bitter. Truly. It's just that, for some reason, people feel very free to share their disrespect for the whole stay-at-home thing with me. And I can only wonder why, when they know full well that I stay at home, they find this acceptable. I almost always play nice. But, hey, now that I have a blog, I think I'll use it to refute some of the stupid things people have said to me.

The following are NOT reasons that I am a stay-at-home-parent:
  1. I am too stupid to maintain outside employment. Yes, somebody said it. And I guess I can only hope desperately that this is not the case.
  2. Or, alternately, I am too lazy to hold down a job. Actually, my brother is the chief proponent of this myth. I don't know if he says it just to watch my head explode or if he really believes it. Either way I should probably beat him up.
  3. Related to #2: I sit around all day and eat bon-bons. I'm not entirely sure what a bon-bon is. But I think I do occasionally eat something resembling a bon-bon. Usually when I'm starving and am running to try to save a child who is swinging from a chandelier while another one is doing something dastardly to the bathroom and the third needs to get to some school event 15 minutes ago and my husband has been gone for 18 hours and I didn't have a chance to eat lunch because the kids have been on an endless loop of "Mommy!" all day long and so I grab a handful of alleged "bon-bons" in order to not pass out from hypoglycemia. (And I usually don't even wash it down with a swig of vodka.)
  4. I find homemaking to be immensely satisfying. This is wrong on so many levels. Don't get me wrong, I love to vacuum, but "immensely satisfying" is overstating it. It's not really why I get up in the morning.
  5. I love to be the neighborhood babysitter. This was an assumption of a former neighbor. No amount of money would have been sufficient. Her kids were terrors.
  6. I stay home because my husband expects me to. I cannot even imagine a universe in which I would marry someone who would harbor any sort of June Cleaver expectations of me. And if this is something that Jeff covertly desires, he is one disappointed man.

Now my children seem to think they want breakfast. So I'll be done. But I feel much better for having gotten this off my chest.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Today I play the martyr card

Jensen and I have had a friendly little running argument. About what Caleb's first word will be. He's remained pretty convinced that Caleb's first word will be, "Jensen."

I explained that, no, his first word will probably be a variant of "Mama."

He was a little disappointed, I think. But he understood. After all, little Caleb has spent almost all of his life directly in my presence. He grew in me for nine months... okay, 37 weeks (however many months that is). He knew the sound of my voice and the rhythm of my heartbeat before he was even born. And then, immediately after he was born (after an absolutely excruciating delivery during which I thought I might actually die, I might add), he was placed on my tummy, where I cuddled him with joy. I've held him for hours on end, carried him until I had to see a doctor for back pain. I stay home with him, happy to sacrifice career ambitions or even time to take a quiet shower. I'm the one who rescues him when he needs it. When he's otherwise inconsolable, I'm the one he wants. I get up in the night with him when he's teething or has a cold or has stood up and can't figure out how to lay back down. And, yes, he's been attached to my boobs for about 75% of his baby life.

So, as much as everybody wants to hear him say their name, I told Jensen it's mostly likely that he'll say mine first. It's only logical.

And so. The sweet baby for whom I have sacrificed mind and body and sleep and rational thought since I became pregnant with him uttered his first precious word last week.

He said, "Dada."


Friday, September 19, 2008

At least he had a designated driver

Jensen flopped forward in his chair and giggled. I hauled him back up and wiped the drool off his chin. He flopped forward again. And he found this to be very funny. Lots of giggling. Followed by more flopping. While he was hanging limply forward, he noticed that the floor was actually moving. "Mom, the carpet's rolling." At least that's what I think he said. He was slurring. Badly.

My kid (age seven) was wasted. Loaded. Blotto. We were having a great time.

Not very often a parent says that, huh?

But before anybody calls child protective services, Jensen had some dental work (crowns) done yesterday. Under general anesthesia. Yuck. Oh, and before anybody else calls child protective services, I feel like I should point out that these crowns were NOT the result of us putting him to bed with a baby bottle full of Mountain Dew every night until he was five. Not that there's anything wrong with that... well, yes there is. Anyway, the dental problems had something to do with medication that he got at birth that interfered with tooth development. Not bad hygiene.

And, if you've read what I've written about my kids' teeth before, it might strike you that, on a symbolic level, this could send me into overdrive. I'm proud to report that I stayed sane, steadfastly refusing to overanalyze this.

But I digress.

In the waiting room, about 20 minutes before his procedure, they gave him a "kiddie cocktail" (as the perky nurse called it) consisting of benzodiazapines to "relax" him. It worked, emphatically. (And if this is a "kiddie cocktail," I do not want to know what's in the adult version.)

My first indication that he was in trouble was when I looked at the picture he was drawing. It was a borderline-psychedelic scribble of red lines. He told me it was something about a cannon and his name. Okay, then.

Then the giggling started. And would not stop. Except he had no muscle tone, so instead of sounding like laughter, it was just a fuzzy "eh eh eh eh eh...."

After he repeatedly slid out of his chair, I pulled him onto my lap (god, he's getting big) and restrained him with both of my arms. That's when he noticed the tv. Rachael Ray was on. He was transfixed. After several seconds of open-mouthed staring, he whispered/slurred conspiratorily, "Mom, don't tell anyone, but there are two Rachaels on tv." I became a little worried we were headed into bad-trip-land, because she is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. But he was okay with it. It made him giggle. Even more.

I had laughed until tears spilled down my cheeks, which made him giggle even more. Everyone in the waiting room was laughing. Office staff had come out to watch. He was sloppy. Then the anesthesiologist had to carry him back to the OR. Jensen certainly wasn't walking anywhere, and I wasn't up to carrying a 60-pound octopus. The doctor just laughed and said, "Buddy, you're trashed." He put Jensen in the dentist's chair, where the kid promptly passed out cold. Done.

He doesn't remember any of it. I daresay this is good. And I'll tell you that if he's ever in this condition of his own volition, I certainly don't want to know about it (maybe). And, because my parents will probably read this, I will also never ever admit to ever having been this way myself. Ever. Not even that one time at my cousin Chris's wedding.

I'm just grateful Jensen didn't puke in the van on the way home.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Did I mention he loves football?

I offer this as proof that I am not always sarcastic or cynical.

Actually, I woke up this morning intending not to post. I was just kind of empty. We've had sick kids, Jeff was gone almost forever yesterday, and it's just Thursday.... blah.

Then I got an e-mail from Jensen's football coach. Jensen's in a pediatric flag-football league, and I had e-mailed his coach about tonight's practice. (By the way, the thought of coaching that smelly writhing mass of six- and seven-year-old boyness is enough to make me want to consume large amounts of hard liquor.) And the nice man sent me a message back simply to tell me how much he loves having Jensen on his team. That my son works so hard and is so enthusiastic that he is "inspiring."

[My mommy heart melts.]

Yep, he loves football, my kid. So much so that during his First Official Game, he got so caught up in watching the plays that he forgot to actually participate. The rest of the kids started running around, doing whatever it is they call "football." And Jensen got so excited that he just jumped up and down in place, cheering them all on. So much so that he has become the neighborhood football mascot. He's always in the yard playing ball with somebody: us, other kids, other dads, whoever.... So much so that on Sunday, he played football alone outside in the rain for three hours. He unabashedly loves it. I guess his coach noticed.

This isn't much of a post. But that e-mail made my day. And that's not sarcastic at all.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

No more tomorrows

The following conversation was a test. I failed. Miserably. Honestly, I don't know why I bothered answering, because I had failed before I even started.

Anyway, there I was, innocently changing the baby's diaper. Minding my own business. Then Evan strolls into the room, and...

Evan: "Mommy, is it tomorrow?" [He has an agenda. I can already tell.]

Me: "No, it's today." [Followed by an immediate sinking feeling in my stomach.]

Evan: "But yesterday you said that tomorrow it would be today. You did. You said that. So is it tomorrow?"

Me: "Um. Yes?"

Evan: "Well, is it? 'Cause you just told me it's today. So is it today or tomorrow?!"

Me: dead silence

I learned two things from this exchange. A) I can't win. B) I will never again use the terms "today," "tomorrow," or "yesterday." From now on, all days will be referred to by their calendar names. So: today is Wednesday (I think...). Tomorrow is Thursday (if today is, indeed, Wednesday). Period. (This is impossible. I've already broken my promise. Three times. And I'm not even out of this paragraph. Please refer back to point A.)

And now I need another quart or so of coffee to help me figure out if today is, well... today.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Six unspectacular things, plus some bonus uninspired facts

Good morning. I'd like to extend a tepid welcome to my little corner of mediocrity.

I recently got tagged for this meme by Nut Nut over at Nutty Tales (among others). I was initially a bit nervous, this being my first time with this kind of fun.... But after a moment's thought (and after I figured out what the hell a meme is) I realized it was probably created with me in mind. Seriously. I should have a flashing neon sign above my head that says, "Unspectactacular." Except flashing neon is kind of, well... spectacular. Anyway, just read. And prepare to be underwhelmed.

  1. I drive a minivan. Three kids = lots of carseats (since they need to use booster seats now until they're approximately 15 years old). That's a lot of room; too much room for most cars. And I'm definitely not an SUV-type. So that leaves... a minivan. It's okay. (For a while it had a big dent in the side, which was embarrassing, but it did distinguish my silver minivan from all the other silver minivans in the school parking lot. Did that make it more or less spectacular?)

  2. I collect bachelor's degrees. Most people, when choosing to go into debt and continue their educations ad infinitum, would maybe choose to get a master's degree, or perhaps even a PhD. Not this girl. Nope. Two bachelor's degrees here. (Even better: they are in English and nursing. Yawn.)

  3. I love Sports Illustrated. My husband puts me to shame by reading The Economist from cover-to-cover each week. He can discuss in-depth the potential implications of Lehman Brothers filing for Chapter 11.... But I have a very firm grasp on the subtleties of Brett Favre's move to the Jets. So there.

  4. My hair is chin-length. Not long and glamorous. Not short and edgy. Certainly nothing sexy. (Banish. the. thought.) It goes well with my not-a-bit-of-makeup-has-touched-my-face-in-at-least-two-weeks look.

  5. My favorite activity is sleeping. And my preferred bedtime is 9pm. I rarely make that, because I'm too busy doing unspectacular things like emptying the dishwasher or sweeping. Or sitting on the sofa staring at the wall (yes, I do that). So let's say 9:30.

  6. I can't function unless all the beds are made. I guess this is an indicator of how small my world has become? Or maybe of how dependent my self-esteem is on menial tasks? I'll ask my therapist (when I get one).

But wait! I can't be done already!!! What about the fact that I love Will Farrell movies? Or that chicken pot pie warrants a blog post in my world? Or that I love cleaning my kids' ears? What about...?


I laugh at this post. Because it's a pretty good description of my life.... I used to dream of spectacular and glamorous things. I used to look down my nose at living in suburbia and being a football mom. I had big plans.

But I'll be honest. I like this better. Okay, now I have to figure out who to pass this along to....

Monday, September 15, 2008

Chicken Popeye: a taste sensation

You know how it is. We all work so hard to be the best parents we can be. And then one of our little darlings shoots it all in the ass, without batting so much as an adorable eyelash.

Food is kind of my mommy thing. Preparing it, that is. I work hard to make most of our meals from scratch, to make sure the kids get healthy, yummy food. For some reason I feel like it's important that the kids understand that food does not (necessarily) come out of a box from the freezer case. Just a thing I have. I don't know why.

However, I'm not above dishing up some deee-lish Kraft mac-n-cheese. Or a frozen pizza. Jensen is particularly fond of anything (anything!) made with cream of mushroom soup. Hamburger Helper was rejected across the board, though. In any case, there is definitely a time and a place for artificial flavor and preservatives.

Last night, for instance.

Jeff was on-call for 48 of the past 72 hours, meaning he had to stay at the hospital (he kindly provides anesthesia to people who are having surgery, or having babies, or having colonoscopies). The kids and I held down the fort. It was a fun weekend, but by dinnertime last night, I'd had it. It's just really hard to whip up a meal with two cabin-feverish big boys (it rained a lot this weekend) and a yelling baby. So, into the freezer I foraged.

Mmmmm. Chicken pot pies. The kids marveled at them-- it was their first experience with this delicacy. It's a pie... for dinner!

They raved. They gobbled. They wiped them out in about two minutes flat.

Jensen: "Mom, can we have these for dinner every night? Can I have another? This is the best meal ever!"

Evan: "Mommy, these are too good. I want them tomorrow day. I love Chicken Popeye!!!"

Hmmm. Kinda makes a two-hour lasagna seem superfluous, doesn't it?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Please Don't Forget the Flood of '08

Today is my very first public service announcement.

I'm an Iowa girl. Transplanted, but you know how it is: you can take the girl out of Iowa....

Iowa's kind of like the old farmers who live there. Doesn't brag when things go well, doesn't complain (too loudly) when things fall apart.

Things fell apart in eastern Iowa in the spring. Remember the floods? They got a few days of national airplay, and the devastation is difficult to overstate. I haven't heard much about them recently. But people are still homeless, workers are still displaced, and at least one town was just wiped off the map.

They're still struggling. Rebuilding, working hard to get their feet back under them, but struggling. And largely forgotten.

I put a link to a video in the sidebar: "Cedar Rapids Flood Recovery." My cousin produced it for Cedar Rapids. They are trying to distribute it as widely as possible, in hopes that the right people might see it and some lives might be touched. So check it out. Pass it along.


Friday, September 12, 2008

In which we ponder ursine elimination

Our drive to preschool takes us along a winding, wooded road. It's actually nice to be able to see it every day. Never mind the fact that it's a terrifying drive in a minivan. Still beautiful. Anyway. I guess it inspired this conversation on Wednesday.

Evan: Mommy, do bears live in the woods?
Me: Well, yes.
[Thoughtful pause.]
Evan: But do they poop in the woods?

And we all know the answer to that question, don't we?

Seemingly satisfied with the outcome of his questioning, Evan then turned his thoughts to other baffling issues. Such as the Pope's funny hat, perhaps?

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Seven years ago today, Jensen was six months and one day old.

Seven years ago today, I sat in the twilight in his bedroom, staring at him in wonder. Full of fear. Full of sadness. Full of love that squeezed my heart too tightly.

Seven years ago today, he wore a light blue onesie with a yellow star appliqued on the chest.

Seven years ago today, I asked my little baby what kind of world we had brought him into.

I didn't say these things yesterday when Jensen asked us about 9/11. We explained what happened. We talked about airplanes and skyscrapers and people wanting to hurt others. He had a hard time wrapping his head around these facts. So do I.

Today I am thinking about how enormously reassuring it was to hold my baby that day. I am thinking of all the families who weren't able to comfort each other. The families that were torn apart. The people who lost someone they loved as much as I love him.

Today I am thinking that I hate having to explain this to my baby. Who is not a baby anymore.

He's seven.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

If babies could talk (or write)

Dear Mommy,

We need to talk. My heart is breaking, and I don't know what to do.

I heard what you said the other day, when you were talking to Daddy. You really should be more careful when you're talking about me, you know. I can hear you. And I heard when you said that you "need some time" to yourself. About feeling like you're being "sucked dry." Whatever that means.

How could you? After all we've been through together, how could you? You're so selfish.

We're so good together, you and me. The way you carry me and feed me and sing to me. By the way, you sing like hell, but it's so sweet. So endearing. And the way you pinch my fat rolls and change my stinky diapers. The way you rock me. And play peek-a-boo. You're amazing. You've encouraged me to reach new heights, cheered me on as I've tried new things. You have taught me so much about life. Nine beautiful months, together night and day. It's been perfect.

And now. This.

What went wrong?

Is it me? Maybe it's me.

I'm too clingy, right? It's just that... I can't get enough of you. I want to be with you all the time. And now... now you won't even come see me during the night. It makes me crazy. Okay, maybe I went a little over the top last night, crying for an hour and a half... but don't you get it?! I need you. It hurts so bad when you leave. It's like you're never coming back. And this thing with the gym, with you leaving me with a total stranger for 30 whole minutes, then when you do come back you're all hot and sweaty. What gives? I don't even think I want to know.

Next thing I know, you'll be trying to wean me or something. God, it hurts. It hurts so bad.

But I just realized... I've been sending mixed signals, haven't I? Oh, man, I'm sorry. I know I crawl away from you sometimes. It's just that sometimes, I see an outlet I really want to stick my fingers in, and... oh, you know how it is... but it's only for a couple of minutes. And I know: I sit on my own, and I eat solid foods. You probably feel rejected. This is all my fault.

Let me clarify: I still need you. Every single minute.

Is it my weight? I know I've put on a few pounds, kind of let myself go. I lose some weight. That way you can carry me all day long and it won't even hurt. Think of how great it will be! It makes me so happy to think of it. You'll see.

I'm so sorry for everything. Can we try again? Just tell me what to do and I'll do it. Anything. You're so beautiful and perfect. I can't live without you. Please don't leave. Not for a single second.

Yours always, Caleb

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A slippery blog slope

I have something more significant brewing in my little noggin, but am on the run today and don't have time to get much of anything written. Maybe tomorrow (?). But for today I'm just going to come clean and acknowledge that maybe I'm starting to get addicted to this whole blogging thing. How do I know? Today, for instance, has been a tad hectic. (The low point was when Evan puked all over himself in Target because he had gotten carsick and Caleb was crying and we still had to go buy groceries.) But now Kid #1 is at school, Kid #2 is at preschool, and Kid #3 is napping. And I was itching to get that baby to sleep so I could sit down with the small amount of quiet time allotted to me today and catch up on the blogs I read now (while wolfing down lunch-- I still have to shower, after all), and tend to mine. Seems as though I may be getting sucked in....

Right. Shower. See you tomorrow....

Monday, September 8, 2008

Is this troubling?

This conversation really happened yesterday in my kitchen.

It's a little, um, sensitive. I'll handle it with as much tact as possible.

So. Let's just jump right in, then. Jensen rarely has questions about the proverbial facts of life-- he is 96% un-curious about such matters. But questions do surface now and then. Like yesterday.

The gist of the whole thing was that he was unclear about what "sex" meant. Okay. I can handle this. I think I answered pretty age-appropriately and he seemed okay with the information.

Then he said: "Wow, I wouldn't want to do that with a box of Wheat Thins."

Me: "..."

Me again: "Hmmmm. What made you think of that?" At least that's what I think I said. I'm a little unclear, actually, because something in my brain exploded thinking about my 7-year old and snack crackers and intimacy in one sentence.

Him: "Well. I really love Wheat Thins. But I wouldn't want to do that with them."

Me: "No.... No, I suppose not."

And then he was off chattering about the relative merits of different kinds of crackers and that was basically the end of the discussion.

I will never, ever be able to look a box of Wheat Thins in the eye again.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Heaven in a parking lot

Football? Check.
Chips and salsa? Check.
Brats? Check.
MGD (beer of record)? Check.
Kids? Check.
Tickets? Check.

We're tailgatin' today, folks! Does life get any better?...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Becoming a biped and other horrors

I'm working on a theory. Call it a family-systems theory. Not quite sure where it's going yet, but here's the premise: the kids are on a sort of "give me the most attention" rotation. I don't know if they've had clandestine meetings to plan their schedule, or if it's more organic than that. Maybe their individual needs for parental attention somehow internally adjust to the needs of the larger family group. I'm not sure about this yet. Something's definitely up.

But a couple of weeks ago, Jensen was the headline kid. Pinkeye, starting football, starting school. Then last week, it was all-Evan, all the time: getting lost, birthday, preschool. Now? Yep, it's Caleb. He's running me ragged.

At the beginning of the week, I kind of thought he was getting another ear infection. He wanted to be carried all the time, was up every three hours, was cranky.... He needed me constantly. We kind of watched. Turns out he was getting a nasty cold. I think he got it from sucking on the handles of shopping carts. (I'm not a germophobe, but that's just disgusting.) Anyway, he is a snotty yucky mess and can't breathe through his nose.
Oh. And teeth. He also chose this week to get two more teeth. I swear he must have 53 of them by now. Jeff and I have the bite marks to prove it. Add the drool to the snot and he's just lovely. Between the cold and the teeth, we're keeping the makers of infant pain relievers in business.

And. He's also decided to go vertical this week. He's pulling up on everything he sees. And has quickly moved into that stage where I can't turn my back on him for a single second, or he's trying to self-inflict a closed cranial trauma. He has three bruises on his little noggin right now. He pulls up, and is stable for quite a while... but pretty soon the weight of that enormous baby head gives in to gravity and he cracks his forehead on something and he cries for a few minutes. Then I put him down and he immediately starts the process again. Fortunately he's not trying to walk yet, but he's definitely intrigued by the process.

He's exhausting me. I would pay him cold, hard cash to take a long nap. But between the teeth and the cold and the excitement of standing up, he's not sleeping well. He drifts off for half an hour or so, and one of those three things wakes him up. I would love nothing more than an hour of not having a baby hollering at me.

Anyway, it's Caleb's week to be needy. The other two are having to get by on autopilot, to some degree. They're good, though.

So, back to my theory. I'm not sure what happens next week. Will the rotation start over? Personally, I'm hoping they'll make it a four-week rotation and give me a week off, but I doubt it. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ode to the Gridiron. And my dad.

It's a rainy, cold, gray day (courtesy Gustav). And it is not dampening my spirits at all. I woke up this morning with a vague sense that something was righter with the world.... It's Football Season, people!!!

I'm not joking.

Here's the deal: football is my family's love language. I repeat: not joking. We are not a lovey-dovey, kissy-huggy, emotive kind of family. But I'd be hard-pressed to find a closer family. We are tight. And somehow we transmit a lot of our feelings for each other through sports. I don't call my parents and get all mushy.... I call my parents and ask them how the Cubs did last night. (They lost, by the way, but they're still up five.) And football is the ultimate expression of affection. Maybe it's the time of year, the smell of autumn, the marching bands... I don't know. But we are nuts about football in my clan.

Don't believe me? Go to a football game with my dad. He might utter only a few sentences during the entire course of the game. Don't expect any small-talk. Don't expect him to do The Wave. Don't even expect him to necessarily respond to most of what you say. But go to a game with him. I guarantee you will come away feeling a bit safer, a bit more solid, and-- maybe-- a bit more loved. (Oh, man, he's gonna hate it that I'm going all psycho-babble on his football. But I can't help it.)

Oh, and because he's a former junior high football coach, you'll also come away knowing a whole lot more about the game of football. He's a football genius. Going to a game with him is like having your own personal John Madden, except he's not obnoxious.

I've spent a lifetime watching football games with Dad. Sitting next to him, listening to all the comments about The Fundamentals Of The Game, enduring the elements (he doesn't leave games just because it's 15 degrees or sleeting or pouring rain!), and absolutely loving it. Even when I was a teenager, even when I hated football, I still loved going to the games. I'd watch the crowd, the band, the cheerleaders... didn't much matter, because I was always just happy to be there with him.

Dad watches football pretty much the way he lives the rest of his life. Deeply observant, not a lot of fanfare, appreciative of feats great and small. I was thinking of writing a post called, "Everything I Needed to Know About Life I Learned from Watching Football with My Dad." There's definitely a lot of truth to that statement. Like:

  • Master the basics: You can't be good at the fancy stuff until you're good at the fundamentals.

  • It's not whether you win or lose.... You know the rest. But he really believes it. A win is great, but if you win cheaply you don't have much to be proud of.

  • Keep your eye on the ball. 'Nuff said.

  • Never, ever boo the other team or the officials: Respect and common decency are pretty important.

  • Do your job the best you can and keep your mouth shut: He doesn't really have a lot of time for Terrell Owens-like demonstrations of perceived personal greatness.

You get the idea.

If I had a nickel for every time one of his former players tells me how much Dad taught them about football and life and doing things right.... Somehow he took the game, and his love for it, and his love for teaching, and rolled it all together into this amazing life lesson for 13-year-old boys. He made quite an impression on lots of them.

Jensen's getting in on the action, now, too. He's in a flag football league. The happiest moment I've had recently is when Dad visited and played some ball with him, teaching him how to cut and post and catch. Jensen adores football. We're passing it on to the next generation....

Anyway, I think the rest of my family agrees with me on this. We're all equally enamored with the game. Jeff thought I was nuts at first (he doesn't come from quite the same football tradition), but we've won him over. And we're always willing to adopt more family, so let me know if you want in on this gridiron circle of love.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The devil made me do it

Oh my god. Jeff is gonna kill me for this. But it's too funny not to share. I hope you all realize how privileged you are-- almost nobody gets to see him without his glasses. Here he is in 1954:

This 60's weren't so good for him. The styles just didn't suit him. But here's a gem from 1960:

This guy totally rocked the 70's, though. Check it:

And here he is in the early 80's:
Wait a second... that really was Jeff.... Damn, must have opened the wrong picture file.

Anyway, here he is during my high school years. I would have dated him even then.... Mullets were hot. (ish)
I guess he cleaned up a bit in the 90's. I didn't know he could get his hair this straight:

Okay, I have to publish this before he figures out what I'm doing.He's such a sweetie for allowing me to do this to his photo (even if he doesn't know). And thanks a million to
So...There...Then Gal for sharing this jewel of a website-- you can go here to do your own.

The day Evan was born

Indulge me for just a few minutes. It's Evan's birthday (he's four!!!).... I'm feeling a little mommy-ish and am thinking a lot about the day he was born. Cliche alert: I cannot believe that four years ago I was holding a brand-new Evan in my arms.... On the other hand, it seems like about 75 years ago....

Anyway, at about 10:30 in the morning on September 1, my midwife called me and told me to get into the hospital. The labs they had drawn from me that morning were not good, and they needed to deliver me ASAP. Believe me, it didn't take me long to get there.... It doesn't take many days of being terminally pregnant in 90-degree heat to motivate me. I moved pretty fast for being the size of a whale.

So they induced me. Long induction, but not as long as Jensen's. I hemorrhaged twice (once during, once after). It lasted 34 hours (yes, you read that correctly). He had the cord wrapped around his neck not once, not twice, but three times-- he had a freakishly long umbilical cord. George Bush was delivering the State of the Union address, and my husband had the nerve to actually be watching it-- no way was my kid coming into the world to that. In summary, it was a really long labor.
Our beautiful little boy was quiet for a few hours after he was born. And then. He wouldn't stop screaming. It went on for hours. He was inconsolable. Jeff and I were inconsolable. Finally we had one of the nursery nurses come in and she tried everything she knew. And after about an hour of being unable to make him stop, she handed him back and said, "Yeah, good luck with this one." She actually said that, about our sweet little baby!

She was right.

He was colicky. He had terrible gastric reflux. He cried day and night for the first four months of his life. It was hell, and I don't feel guilty saying that. We had moments where we wondered how we would ever be able to live with him. And even today, when he's mad, we remember how his life started.

Oh, little Evan. He is all about raw emotion. He's downright crazy when he's angry. And he is also the happiest, most loving member of our family. He is absolutely effervescent. I think we learn something special from each of our kids. He is the kid who taught me that as a parent, love goes deeper than any amount of exasperation or sleeplessness. He's the one who reminded me how rewarding it is to overcome hurdles that seem unmanageable. And most of all, he's the one who showed the adult me how to experience pure, unbridled joy.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Pea. Thanks for everything, you little monster!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Pre-birthday fun!

This is how I spent my Sunday:

We've established Evan's dinosaur hang-up. So for his fourth birthday (which is actually tomorrow) we went to the T-Rex Cafe with all the grandparents. It's exactly like the Rainforest Cafe (how many of you have been lucky enough to eat there?), except with dinosaurs instead of jungle animals. It's a little embarrassing to eat there as an adult, and we didn't have quite enough children with us to look entirely legitimate. But he loved it! (In contrast, all the adults were entirely overstimulated by the experience. The place needs some kind of disclaimer for heart patients and pregnant women.) And, yeah, they brought him a birthday sundae. He ate the cherry and the whipped cream off the top. That was it.

Conveniently, they have a Build-A-Dino workshop located inside the restaurant. (Marketing is amazing.) So he got to build a (you guessed it) dino for his birthday. He chose a t-rex (what self-respecting boy wouldn't?). And named it T Cal, for reasons not understood to me. He's taken it everywhere with him since he acquired it.
Then we came home for presents from grandparents and cake and ice cream. How happy does he look?!

By the way, this cake is single-handedly responsible for me not posting one single time this weekend. It took a good part of three days to complete. Will somebody please tell me to just get a Better Crocker mix next time?!
Anyway, I hope everyone had a lovely Labor Day weekend. Evan certainly did.