Monday, October 29, 2012

How I Spent My Sunday

“Mommy,” Red wailed. “Eldest called me a kitty cat.”

“Oh no,” I replied, hiding a smile. “Did that hurt your feelings?”

“Yeah,” Red sniffed into my shoulder.

“You’re a kitty cat!” Eldest taunted. Red erupted in a fresh set of wails.

“Eldest,” Husband said in his sternest voice. “It appears that being called a ‘kitty cat’ greatly distresses your brother. So, stop it.”

“Okay Daddy.”

“Who wants pancakes?!” I asked. Husband trailed me into the kitchen to wait for food. He and the dog get into some knock-down drag-outs whenever I drop anything. FYI, the dog usually loses.

Moments later we heard Eldest taunting his brother. Husband marched in the living room. “I told you to talk nice to your brother.”

Eldest went pale. He stammered, “I—I  didn’t think you c—could hear me.”

 “Eldest,” Husband said, “I hear everything.”  Eldest gulped.

 Husband returned to the kitchen and I asked, “Were you imagining yourself taking off a pair of sunglasses David Caruso-style while you were saying that?”

“Oh yeah,” Husband replied and puffed out his chest.

“Alrighty, everyone, pancakes!”

 I dished out a serving to everyone in our family and we all tucked in. Baby Girl decided that she would rather be held, so I freed her from her highchair and sat her on my lap. Despite having eaten all of her own breakfast, plus a snack bottle, she was plowing through my pancakes. Most of the time, I would do anything for my children. But sometimes Momma is hungry. Plus, Momma makes a darn good pancake.

“Sweetheart? Can you hold onto my pancakes?”

“Toss ‘em over,” Husband said. I pushed my plate towards Husband for safekeeping. I would wait until the rest of my family had finished and then eat my breakfast in peace.

“Hey! I asked you to HOLD my pancakes, not eat them!”

“I’m holding them in my belly. They will be safe there.”

“Knock. It. Off. I want my cakes!”


“You are STILL eating them!”

“Mmm…they’re good…nom nom nom…”


“Okay, kiddos,” I began. “Does everyone remember the rules for grocery shopping?”

“Yes!” they chorused.

“What are the rules for grocery shopping?”

“I dunno!”

“Can’t remember!”

*Sigh* “The rules for grocery shopping are: 1) Stay where you can see Mommy or Daddy; B) Respect your cart buddy by keeping all parts of yourself to yourself; and 3) Use your indoor voice. Got it? Good. Let’s go in”

“If I’m good can I have a treat?” Eldest asked.

“Me too?” Red chimed in.

“Yes. If you follow the rules of grocery shopping, and do not drive Mommy crazy, you can pick out a treat when I am finished shopping.”

“What is ‘drive Mommy crazy?” Eldest asked.

“Well, asking questions that you know the answers too…” I replied.

“Oh,” Eldest said. “Can I still get a treat?”

“If you are good, yes.”

“Can I get a treat too?” Red asked.

“If you follow the rules and let me shop, you can both get treats.”

“A TOY treat?” Red wanted clarified.


“How many things do you need to buy?” Eldest wanted to know.

“A lot.”

A lot?” Eldest whined. “How many is ‘a lot’?”

“One, two, three,four…fifteen,” I counted.

“Oh man,” both boys whined.

“How many things do we need now?” Eldest asked.

I replied, “Sixteen.”

“What?! You said fifteen!” Eldest was appalled.

“I forgot to write down eggs. Sorry. There is the powdered sugar. Now we are back down to fifteen.”

“Cookies!” Red exclaimed. “Can I have the blue ones?”

“This blue package?” I asked, holding up a box of cookies. Red nodded. “Sure.”

“But this is not my treat, right?”

“Nope. You can get a toy IF you are good.”

“Now many things do we need?” Eldest asked.

“Still fifteen,” I answered.

Eldest groaned.

 “Think of it this way,” Husband offered. “We have one section to do and then you get your treat. Once Mommy is done in the grocery section we can pick out your treat while she finishes up. How does that sound?”

“How many things do we need now?” Eldest asked.


Husband noticed the vein in my neck bulging and suggested, “Let’s play a game…”


Groceries purchased? Check. Five family members accounted for? Check. Time for the dash through the rain-soaked parking lot! And, “Go!”

“You should have worn a hood,” Husband taunted from beneath his raincoat. He was securing the children in their seats while I was getting soaked loading up the groceries.

“Fine, be like that, Mr. Hoody Pants. You can put the cart back,” I said as I sprinted to the passenger side and climbed in. “You had better hurry,” I said as I hit the automatic close button for the hatch. The warning beep began. “Or the cart isgoingtogetstuckinthedoor!”

Husband yelped and ninja-rolled out of the minivan. He reached the shopping cart in one stride (dude has looooooong legs) and pulled it out of the way just in time. Then he took off at a sprint to the cart corral. Ducking behind parked cars he made his way back to the driver’s side door and leaped in the car.

“You,” I said to my husband, “are a goof ball.”


Back at home, groceries put away and lunch eaten, it was time to carve pumpkins. Eldest happily drew a face on his pumpkin and waited patiently for his daddy to carve his masterpiece. Red, on the other hand, could not communicate his artistic vision to his father.

“No! An angry face. Like this!” Red insisted, screwing up his face to show Husband exactly what he wanted drawn on his pumpkin.

“Okaaaaaay,” Husband said, making some changes to his sketch.

“That’s not angry! Like THIS!”

“He looks pretty angry, Daddy,” I informed Husband.

“I see that, Mommy.”


“Hey, Red? Do you want to look on the internet for the kind of face you want?” I asked.

“Yes!” He squealed and climbed into my lap. “Oh yeah, like that one. Daddy! Like this,” He said and pointed emphatically at the computer screen.

“But that is exactly what I—okay, Red. I will draw that face,” Husband said, muttering to himself. He made a few minor changes to his sketch. “How is that?” he asked Red.

“Oh yeah, that is perfect for me,” Red said.

Husband shook his head at our offspring.

“Is it bedtime yet?” I asked.

Not even close.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Curious George? What Are You Doing In My Living Room?

I would like to thank Netflix for adding new Curious George episodes and thereby inspiring this post. As soon as the new episodes banner appeared, Eldest began systematically watching each and every episode…in order… starting with Season One, Episode One… and continuing all the way through Season Five, Episode 10. During the process, somewhere after the dull, throbbing headache appeared, but before my psychotic break, the similarities between members of my family and characters on the show became undeniable. For those of you who do not watch hours of PBS, perhaps because you engage your children in more enriching activities, or maybe you just have cable, let me explain. First, a little background on the show.

Once upon a time, there was a little monkey living in Africa, going about his little monkey business. We do not know what brought The Man with the Yellow Hat to Africa (gun running? blood diamonds?), but he found the time to use said hat to catch and kidnap a curious little monkey. The Man brought the monkey home with him and named him George. In a stunning, inter-species example of the Stockholm Syndrome, George and The Man with the Yellow Hat became best friends and now live together, splitting their time between a spacious pad in the city and a sprawling country home. The Man provides nowhere near the amount of supervision a wild-caught monkey requires and high jinx ensue.

Red is George obviously. George and Red both tend towards turning a tiny mess into a colossal mess, all in the name of being helpful. Whether they clean up a small puddle of water with a box of tissues and half a roll of toilet paper or sprinkle flour on the floor in order to track a lost chameleon, the result is the same—a bigger mess. Monkey and boy both like to climb to the highest point, sit on tables, and use their feet to peel bananas. Red and George are always losing stuff and then inventing really complex ways of finding the lost objects. “Oh no, I lost my robot! But that’s okay. I’ll just build a metal detector out of a calculator and an AM radio.” They even kind of look alike. See?
Photo courtesy of Ethos3
What's with the sheep? I dunno, it's Red.
Bill is one of George’s neighbors in the country. He is a big rule follower and often says, “There’s a proper way to…” In the Christmas movie, Bill mans a Christmas tree stand and refuses to let anyone purchase a tree until they have read a dictionary-thick manual on the proper way to select a Christmas tree. Now who does that sound like? *cough, cough* Eldest *cough* And much like at my house, interactions between Bill and George tend to end in mayhem. The whole business at the tree stand wraps up with George knocking the trees down like dominoes and violating a folding chair.  

Baby Girl is a lot like Charkie the dog. Charkie can escape from anywhere—you never find her where you left her. Charkie loves to roam the city and drink from puddles. That is totally Baby Girl…if by roam the city and drink from puddles you mean eat and eat some more.

There are some odd similarities between Husband and The Man with the Yellow Hat. Both can play the tuba, paint and draw, and enjoy running. The Man and Husband enjoy bright-colored clothing, though Husband is partial to orange. Since yellow and orange are both autumnal colors, I will call it close enough. Possibly the biggest similarity is that no one has any idea what either of them do for work. We know they hang out with smarty-pants types like Professor Wiseman and talk a lot about the scientific method, but other than those factoids things are hazy. Both men have unlimited patience and see every catastrophe as a teaching opportunity. However, both The Man with the Yellow Hat and my Husband leave me shaking my head and wondering why they don’t keep a better eye on that darn monkey.

I would like to say that I am most like the character of Mrs. Renkin. She knows how to weld, is a whiz at carpentry, and grows prize-winning produce. Unfortunately, I think a more apt comparison for me is Hundley, the Doorman’s dog. Hundley just wants his lobby to be neat and orderly so that he can take a nap. Whenever he is about to settle down onto his comfy dog bed, George comes tearing in with a ball, potted plant, or some other ridiculousness. Hundley then has to get up and follow George around, worrying about the mess. Oh Hundley, I feel your pain. I would still like to learn how to weld. I’m already pretty good with a crème brulee torch.



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Where Have All the Blog Posts Gone?

Holy schnikes! It has been approximately forever, give or take a couple of days, since my last blog post. What the heck have I been doing? I had no idea, so I thought I would keep track for a day. I got half way through the day and was too overwhelmed to continue. However, I now have a good answer to the question often posed to moms who stay at home by people without children: "What do you DO all day?!"

5:12am: Dog scratches at Red’s door. Leap out of bed. Pray that Red stays asleep while shuffling quietly across the floor at top speed. Whisper yell at the dog to go downstairs. See Eldest is awake and staring at his clock. “Mommy!” He asks if it is time to get up. “Not until six o'clock. That’s the rule.”

5:30am: Alarm goes off. Mommy’s time before the chaos begins.

5:43am: Coffee cup is on the way to my lips…

5:43:01am: <Thunder> Red yelps. Eldest leaps out of bed. “I’m coming Red!” Cross fingers that they are not going to come charging down the stairs. So much for “Mommy Time.” Boys arrive in noisy swirl of demands. Take Red to potty and then try to sit down. Nuke Eldest pancakes and then try to sit down. Red wants to snuggle on couch, but Eldest wants book found. Fight ensues.

6:14am: Hide in the kitchen.

6:15am: Baby Girl wakes up. Feed Baby Girl. Clean up Baby Girl. Clean splash zone five feet around Baby Girl. Change Baby Girl. Turn on dancing monkey mobile. Baby Girl giggles. Back away slowly. Baby Girl cries. Step closer to Baby Girl. Baby Girl smiles. Sigh. Pick Baby Girl up. Repeat.

7:00am: Accept that Baby Girl is going to cry. Take Eldest to bathroom to brush teeth, comb hair, wash face.

7:05am: Pick up Baby Girl and wrestle into coat. Walk out door. Remember own shoes and coat. Walk back inside. Put Baby Girl down. Baby Girl cries. Shoes and coat half on. Good enough. Pick Baby Girl up. Red notices everyone is going outside without him. Red cries. Red runs to find shoes. Red cries. Locate Red’s shoes. Red tries to put shoes on. Red cries. Help Red put on shoes. Red cries. No idea why. Usher everyone outside.
7:12am: Bus arrives. Have repeated, “No, the bus is not here yet” approximately 152 times. Have odd sensation of relief with “only” two children.

7:15am: Ignore crying to be held and request to play trains. Make oatmeal. Have weak moment and eat cookie while waiting for oatmeal to cook. Decide cookie was really good. Eat another cookie. Eat oatmeal. Feel disappointed it does not taste like cookies.

7:30am: Baby Girl looks tired. Put back down into crib and pray she will take a nap. Baby Girl cries. Pretend Baby Girl is singing herself to sleep.

7:35am: Baby Girl is quiet. Race upstairs to get dressed. Try on 27 pairs of pants. Curse postpartum body. Wonder where so many pants came from. Brush teeth. Tell Red to speak quietly. Wash face. Tell Red he is going to wake up sister. Dry face. Help Red find a train. Ask Red to go downstairs so that mommy can get ready. Cringe as Red pounds down the stairs.

7:50am: Red hollers up the stairs. Baby Girl wakes up. Make mental note to Google “remove voice box from preschooler.” Grab two sets of clothes for Red. Retrieve Baby Girl from crib. Offer Red clothing choice. Red cries that he does not want to get dressed. Drag Lead Red to bathroom. Realize still have baby in arms. Return to living room. Put baby down in jumparoo. Baby Girl cries. Put Red on toilet. Pick up Baby Girl. Put her in Bumbo seat with basket of toys to play with.

7:55am: Baby Girl cries. Offer Red shirt A or shirt B. Red picks shirt A. Remove pajama top and pick up shirt A. Red cries he wants shirt B. Sigh. Put down shirt A. Pick up shirt B. Red cries he wants shirt A. Decide offering choice is stupid parenting suggestion probably offered up by childless "expert." Put clothes on Red while he cries.

8:15am: Baby Girl cries. Red miraculously brushes teeth thoroughly and without tears. Brush Red’s hair. Try to wash Red’s face with a washcloth. Red squirms. Put Red in headlock and scrub face. Red cries. Apologize and tell Red to put shoes on.

8:25am: Baby Girl cries. Gather own hair into ponytail. Red cries he needs help with shoes. Drop hair and help Red. Pick up Baby Girl. Baby Girl smiles and grabs hair. Put Baby Girl into carseat.  Unwrap sticky baby fingers from hair. Ouch. Must not have gotten all of the hair out of Baby Girl’s fingers. Baby Girl cries. Tell Red to put on jacket. Red cries that he does not want to wear a jacket. Chase after Red while trying to explain why he needs to wear jacket. Get Red’s arm into sleeve. Grab other jacket sleeve and realize jacket is empty. Hear laughter from other room. Give Red choice to wear jacket or spend morning in his room. Red slumps shoulders, but stays still enough to put on jacket.

8:35am: Gather diaper bag, school bag, purse, and keys with one arm and grab baby carrier with other arm. Deny Red’s request to be carried while using baby carrier to "encourage" Red toward door. Perform juggling feat to open door. Ask Red to please move out of the way of the door. Red moves 5 micrometers. Ask Red, again, to please move out of the way. Red moves 3 nanometers. Yell at Red to move it. Red cries. Sigh, step over crying child, continue to car. Red cries. Load baby and gear into car. Red cries. Return, pick up Red, immobilize him with carseat belts, and get behind the wheel.

8:45am: Baby Girl cries about being in carseat. Red cries because jacket hood is “munchy.” Explain that the drive to school is very short. Red and Baby Girl cry anyway. Notice drive does not feel short with two screaming children along.

8:48am: Arrive at school. Ask Red to hold his school bag. Red cries that it is too heavy. Free Baby Girl from carseat. She smiles. Take two steps. Tell Red to “come on.” Take three steps. Turn around to look for Red. “Come on.” Take three steps. Turn around to look for Red. Trip over Red while looking in wrong direction for Red. “Come on.”

8:50am: Join line of parents, preschoolers, and siblings trickling through school doors. Step inside first door. Red drops school bag and begins to strip off jacket. Another preschooler steps around Red. Preschooler’s sibling trips over Red’s bag. Yell at Red. “Come on!” Red tosses coat in general direction of mom and runs down stairs. Bend down to pick up jacket. “Excuse me. Sorry. Wait for Mommy, Red! Ouch. Sorry. Red!” Trail Red through three more sets of doors. Red finds friend and immediately begins to wrestle. “Easy, Red. Gentle. Don’t stand on that. Sit down. You are going to fall. Too rough!”

9:00am: “Oh look, there’s your teacher!”

9:01am: Feel lighter with “only” one child. Struggle back outside through four sets of doors. Fantasize about switching to preschool with “drop off.” Buckle Baby Girl in carseat. Baby Girl cries. Drive to grocery store. Baby Girl cries.

9:15am: Arrive at store. Realize Baby Girl is hungry. Retrieve baby bottle with 6oz water. Notice formula container is filled with powder for 8oz bottle. Curse. Add “most” of formula powder to bottle. Hope ratio is close enough. Lug carseat to cart corral and heave into cart. Give bottle to Baby Girl. Silence. Shop pleasantly.

9:25am: Baby Girl finishes bottle. Cries. Remove baby from carseat. Continue shopping with approximately 20lbs of dead weight. Remove package from Baby Girl’s hands. Replace on shelf. Re-shelf items Baby Girl knocked off shelves. Repeat.

10:15am: Perform weighted squats, bends, and lifts in order to transfer groceries from cart to belt while holding Baby Girl. Finally give up and buckle Baby Girl into her carseat. Baby Girl cries. Pretend Baby Girl is teaching herself to yodel and wonder why cashier looks pained. Begin to bag scanned groceries. Marvel that items sorted carefully on belt prior to scanning are arriving in the bagging area out of order. Push screaming baby out of store.

10:20am: Sprint to car in pouring rain. Load Baby Girl and groceries into car. Close doors. Notice ears are ringing with the silence. Return cart, consider breaking into a sprint out of the parking lot, decide against it, climb into car.

10:23am: Baby Girl falls asleep.

10:30am: Hurry inside while lugging sleeping baby in carrier. Manage not to fall and break head. Unload groceries while fantasizing about attached garage. Put groceries away.

10:40am: Realize have five minutes before leaving to pick up Red. Page through magazine and use restroom alone. Bliss.

10:45am: Lug sleeping baby and carrier through rain and back into car. Baby Girl cries.

10:48am: Repeat process of lugging carrier through four sets of doors to wait for Red.

10:55am: Pop into classroom early in order to pick Red up with enough time to meet Eldest at bus. Herd Red through four sets of doors, through parking lot, and into car.

11:02am: Late! Worry that Eldest’s bus will be parked in front of house. Feel relief when it is not. Examine contents of Red’s school folder. Read note stating Red needs to learn to recognize name. Sigh. Are pretty sure Red knows how to recognize name, but chooses not to. Sigh again. Wonder where Eldest’s bus is.

11:20am: Call bus garage. No one was home when bus pulled up. Eldest stayed on bus and must be picked up at the school. Groan. Call my mom. Explain will be late to lunch date. Worry about how angry Eldest will be.

11:30am: Drag Red and Baby Girl into kindergarten office to wait for Eldest. Red starts game of “guess what animal I am” with students in office, but does not tell other children. “Why is your son hissing?” Explain to Red that he needs to let other children know he is playing a game. Spend next 13 minutes suggesting animals for game.

11:45am: Buses arrive. Shuffle everyone outside to find Eldest. Apologize profusely to Eldest and bus driver. Breathe sigh of relief that Eldest does not seem angry. Eldest and Red argue over who gets to tell me about their day first. Decide not to point out that Red already had 45 minutes to tell me about his day. Let them work it out. Drive to my mom's...

At this point in my note taking, I realized that it was not even noon yet. No wonder I have no energy left over for writing. Mommy clearly needs a break and I have a plan. While Red and Baby Girl nap I am going to go hide in the bathroom. Eldest may yell a few questions through the door, but he won't come in for fear that he will get sick and have to miss school. It is the perfect plan. I'll be writing again in no time!