Monday, October 31, 2011

"That's Not a Real Costume"

That is what my oldest said to me after he saw me dressed for our first Halloween party.  I thought I looked pretty good, especially considering the choices I was given for costumes.  A few weeks ago when we were discussing Halloween costumes, Jack asked me what my costume was.

"I'm not sure", I replied, "do you have any ideas?"
"Tinkerbell" Ok, not so bad.
"A Ferry Boat" Wait, what?!
"A Naked Mole Rat" Um, yeah, not going to happen.

I thought maybe he meant a fairy godmother or something, kind of along the Tinkerbell route, so I asked him to clarify what he meant by ferry boat.

"You, know, it's big, white, and fits lots of cars on it."

What a lovely Halloween costume. I would love to go around dressed as a ferry boat!  By the time Halloween came, and I had finished all the costumes for the boys, I was out of creativity for myself. A headband and my old Halloween shirt from last year and I was good to go.

Plus I had to help my spouse with his costume.  On Sunday I came downstairs to find this:

What?! Apparently, after I went to bed my husband decided to begin shortening his beard in preparation for his costume.  Ugh, is all I had to say.

Then at 8:15 on Monday morning, when I should be leaving at 8:30 for work, Brandon asks me to help him transform his sideburns into "star-burns".  That did not work so well. Unfortunately that destroyed his idea for Halloween and we had to improvise.

Well, hello, Ron Swanson.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Selective Sharer

This is the post where all of you will finally agree that I am a terrible mother. It's okay, because in this circumstance I am one.

Years ago I had a friend who told me I was a "selective sharer".  I thought for a minute before wholeheartedly agreeing with her.  I had just offered my friends some Starbursts and they were surprised to only find cherry ones in the package. Did I happen to find the only package of all cherry flavored Starbursts? No, I had just eaten all the other flavors. I hate cherry, but instead of throwing them away, I offered them to my friends. See, I was sharing them.  What does it matter if I was only sharing the candy I did not like.

Unfortunately this practice did not stop when I had kids.  Candy is stashed on the top shelf of our kitchen, the kids know that, but what they don't know is that the only candy there is the candy I hate. Kit-Kats, Hershey chocolate bars, suckers, if it is chocolate or a hard candy it is there.  But, what the kids do not know about is my secret stash of candy and cookies. The candy I love is hidden in a different place altogether.

Every now and then I will make a pot of coffee in the afternoon and with it goes a girl scout cookie or a piece of caramel. The boys always ask where those came from and I just say they are mommy's. They look at me longingly with big eyes while I drink my coffee and eat my yummy treat.

The worst offender by far is my grandma's caramel corn. I get a one gallon bag each year on Halloween. I am a little obsessed about this treat, and will not share, even with my husband. I put it way up high on the shelf, planning to eat it after the kids go to bed. But my oldest saw it and asked if he could have some in his lunch on Monday. Um, no. That seemed mean so I tried to say it was because he will be having enough sweets and treats at his party in his classroom. He didn't need to add caramel corn to the mix. But secretly, I was thinking, oh no, this is my bag of popcorn!

See, what I mean by being a terrible mom?  I know my sister, who is already completely upset that the boys wear used underwear, will be horrified to know I do not share with my kids. She, who gives up the last piece of cake to her kids, will not understand my unwillingness to share.

In my defense, there is a piece of apple pie on the counter. It has been there since Friday and I have not eaten it in secret, after the boys are in bed.  I am working on being an adult and sharing the treats with them.

Well, that, and I don't really like apple pie that is bought from a store.

See, what I mean? Selective Sharer.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's Complicated

I know families can be made up in all sorts of ways.  The traditional family is not what it used to be.  But even still, I think my family is kind of complicated.

Today I went to a funeral.  It's easiest to say it was the funeral for my sister's grandma.  At least it seems easier. I could also say she was at one time my grandma, but hasn't been for 19 years. Although, I still referred to her as grandma, even after she passed away.

Then there is my other sister. Who is not my sister at all. She was my step-sister, but again, isn't anymore. She still refers to me as her sister and depending on what company I am in, so do I.  In explaining my weekend plans I referred to her as my ex-step-sister, and the person I  was talking to said, "I have one of those, too." So it's not just me.

At the funeral my other sister (that would be a different sister all together) and I were given the option to sit in the family row. Even though we weren't family, our younger sister was, and we were at one time.  But where does our mom sit? She really isn't family anymore, but she is our mom so we want to sit with her.

See, what I mean by complicated?

In the end, my two sisters, along with their spouses, my mom and my step-dad, and myself all sat in the third row from the front. It wasn't labeled "Family Row" like the first two were, but it was close enough to be considered family. And it had room for all of us.

My younger sister, her spouse and her children were listed in the obituary. So was my older ex-step-sister.  But not my slightly older sister or myself.

That's okay. I knew we wouldn't be, and between the divorce and the wedding announcement fiasco, I didn't expect to be. It still felt weird.

What is the point of this post? I don't really have one. I wish I had some insightful conclusion about families being what you make it, or some such drivel, but I don't.  If you ask me what I did this weekend I'll say I was at a funeral. What I won't say is that it was the funeral for my grandma, who is no longer my grandma, but is my younger sister's grandma.

It's complicated.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Jokes Just Keep Coming

A while ago I wrote about the skill my boys have with joke telling.  Well, its been a few months and our joke telling skills have marginally improved.

They finally have mastered the first joke Brandon taught them.

Guess What?
Chicken Butt!

They are slowly getting the knack of telling a knock-knock joke.

Whose There?
Orange Who?
Whose There?
Orange Who?
(Just keep repeating that for infinity)

And then, of course, nothing is funnier then just yelling: UNDERWEAR!  Because 'underwear' is such a funny word to say.

The other day Jack says to me, "I've got a joke for you." Okay, let's see what it will be this time.

Why is 6 afraid of 7?
Because 7 8 9!
(Get it? 7 ate 9!)

Aahh! Yes! That is a funny joke, good one!

Then of course it turned into several variations of that same joke.

Why is 1 afraid of 7?
Because 7 8 9!

Why is 3 afraid of 5?
Because 5 7 9!


Last night we are driving our car and Jack starts telling this joke again. The first time he nails it, after that it starts going downhill again.  Then Jack tells a new joke.

Why is Sam afraid of Susannah?
Because Susannah ate Sam!

Jack pauses and then says, "I made that one up."

Thanks for clarifying, I never would have know.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Eyes Were Too Big

Today was my every other month visit to Costco.  It also coincided with my husband taking the van to a school field trip, leaving me with the Golf.  As we got there, I said to the boys, we can't buy too much because we have to fit it all in the trunk of the Golf.

The Golf
The trunk of the Golf

My list was small, I was not to be sucked into unnecessary purchase, I was on a mission.  And yet, by the time I pushed my way to the check out stand my cart was overflowing. Ever the optimist I was sure it would all fit. Then I looked down and realized there was more stuff under the car. Seriously? What happened.  I think my eyes were too big for my car!

All the groceries that needed to fit inside the car.


Who says we need a bigger car? A VW Golf seems to fit our family of 5 just fine.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Popcorn, Take Two
Smothered in extra butter and salt.
Need I say more?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Impulse Control Issues

My husband and I have serious impulse control issues. We try to hide them, ignore them, pretend they are not there, but every now and then they raise their ugly head.

For instance, we booked a trip to Italy because I read a fictional story about a couple traveling through France. I don't remember the story, but I do remember them driving from small town to small town eating these amazing meals. Along the way they fell in love.  How does this relate to Italy?  The description of the towns and the food they ate made me long to travel. So one night I said to my husband, I wanted to go to Italy and he booked the tickets. Swear to god.  Since I was terrified of flying, any opening my husband had that got me to even consider flying across the ocean, he would take. We went and it was one of the best experiences of our lives.

We also bought a house one day, simply because I had been at a playdate with a friend who had a recently remodeled kitchen and a full basement.  I loved her house, but that wasn't why we bought. On the way home both boys fell asleep so I was killing time as I drove. Once I parked the car, the boys would wake up and it was far too early to have a 2 1/2 year old and a 6 month old up. So I drove by a house I had seen for sale. Once there, I parked, peeked in windows, walked around the house, peeked in more windows, and called our realtor. We went to see it the next morning, and made an offer that day. Never mind the unlivable condition the house was currently in, without even a functioning bathroom.

Mostly, though, our impulse issues relate to cars. We have, on several occasions, bought cars in the spur of the moment. One day we were driving around our town, it was sunny, and for some reason we decided to look at Jeeps. Just cuz. But of course, we drove one home.  We once had a couple-friend who were deciding on buying a second car. This decision was literally taking months! We laughed at them thinking, what is wrong, just buy it already! (See, serious lack of impulse control!) After our last impulsive car purchase *ahem*toyota-highlander-hybrid*ahem*, we swore never again.

Unfortunately, that impulse to buy a new car is back. It has a pretty strong hold on my husband and is beginning to stretch it's tentacles to me.  The shiny new paint, the new car smell, the clean interior, sigh. I know prudent people would continue to drive the silver mini-van into the ground, but we are not prudent people.

I think the fact that we have owned 11 cars and have been together 15 years speaks for itself.

Hi, my name is Amy, and I am impulsive.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rescued Again

There are times when living near both sides of our family can be tough. Making sure each family gets equal time at the holidays, is always a tense discussion between my spouse and myself.  Trying to remember whose turn is it at Thanksgiving, can we even try to host it this year?  But for all of that, living near family has some pretty great rewards.

I have called my mom, more times then I can count, to help me out in a bit of a jam. Mostly, when I have been sick and I needed help with the kids. I remember calling a few years ago when my husband and I both woke up with a terrible stomach flu. I called my mom and asked how soon could someone come pick up the kids. Grandpa arrived within two hours and whisked the boys away.

My mom has always made me soup, starting from the time Jack was born.  Last year, coming home to soup after a long day at work was always so nice. I didn't have to worry about what to cook for dinner, or if I could justify ordering pizza.  Dinner was on the stove, and all I had to do was make biscuits.

But tonight my mom rescued me yet again. Right before she was supposed to leave, she asked me a question about the Halloween costumes I was planning to make. What was my plan? Um, I don't really have a plan. I got sucked in at Joann's and went way outside my comfort zone in my plan for the boys' costumes. After a busy weekend, I knew I had 5 nights to figure out how to sew these things.  But I was tired, so tired. Finn woke up this morning at 5:15 and never went back to sleep. Combine that with picture day with the 2 year olds, and one boy who is deathly afraid of cameras, and you have a mom with no motivation at all.

My mom offered to stay. It will be easy, she says, we will be done in an hour. Are you kidding me? I planned 5 nights of intensive sewing to get this done.  But, I know my mom had a house in disarray, and a friend coming over to watch DWTS. I wanted her to be on her way, back to the peace and quiet of her house. She starts to give me few pointers and then says:

"Oh, just turn on your machine, I want to do this!"  Don't have to twist my arm!

An hour later I have 3 fantastic capes: two batman-to-be capes, one vampire cape. The boys are running through the house with capes flowing behind them.  I was in awe. She was right, in one hour, I had three capes that only need slight modifications to be the costumes my boys dreamed of.

And then as she is leaving she says, "Thanks for letting me stay!" Letting you stay, are you kidding me?! No way would I have even attempted that basting thing you did!

Rescued, once again, and tonight, I am thankful we live so close to family.
Don't let the scowl fool you, he loves his cape!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Letting Go

This is the first time in 10 years that I am not in a classroom when fall began. I knew in June that I would probably not have a job this year, but I still held onto hope.  When school started and I had not heard anything, I felt my hope start to disappear. But I still clung on. I kept my computer and my school bag packed. I checked my work email daily, just in case, and was thrilled each time I could still log on.  But then October came, and with it, no job.

When the phone rang last week and it was the school district, I was giddy. In my mind, I quickly started re-arranging my week, thinking of childcare, ready to take whatever job they were offering.  Then I listened to the message.  They were not offering me a job, in fact they had finally put into affect my full time leave, but that message did not make it to payroll in time. They accidentally paid me for September and would like their money back, please.  Ugh.  The next week, the district called again.  Call me foolish, but once again my heart leaped, maybe this was a job! No, this time they wanted their computer back.  Oh yeah, I forgot, I still had the computer in my bag. Oops.

This week I drove across the bridge to return my computer. I had made that drive daily for 4 1/2 years, then part time for a year, and then just one day a week. As I drove, I thought of all the drives before; carpooling with Brandon, listening to John in the morning, driving and talking to 'the nubbin' who was to become Jack, driving with Jack to drop him off at childcare, crossing the bridge with a flat tire that I didn't know I had.  I have made this drive countless times and for 9 years to the exact same destination. My school.

I miss my job, I miss my seeing my friends, I miss the feeling when it all comes together and you know you did a good job, I miss the kids.  I miss having something that is just for me.  Somewhere I can step away from being a mom and a wife, just for a moment, and be a teacher.

I miss my job.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Don't Be Nervous

That was the pep talk I was giving myself as I took Jack to his first girl/boy birthday party. The party was for a fellow classmate, and most of the party guests were from Jack's school.  That was good, it's what we want. But as I was driving Jack there, my stomach was tense with knots.

Jack kept up a steady chatter; who was going to be there, what the movie was going to be, who he was going to invite to his birthday in March. As we were getting closer I gave him a few last minute tips on how to behave in society.

"Remember to cover your mouth when you cough"
"Wash your hands after you use the bathroom"
"Don't forget to CLOSE the bathroom door, remember we aren't at home!"

As we pulled up to the house and parked, I took one more deep breath before getting out of the car. As we walked to house, holding hands, I gave him one more bit of advice.

"Try not to suck your thumb. I know it's hard, but maybe not at the party."

We walked into utter chaos. The boys that were there were wrestling and yelling "George Washington!", the girls were just standing around staring. Jack looked in the room and then stepped back.

"I'm scared" he said. As the only parent there, I tried to figure out how to gently nudge him into the room, but not traumatize him.  He saw his friends from school but was still too overwhelmed to go into the room. I stood there with him in the hallway, frantically trying to think of what would help.  Luckily, the mom hosting the party announced it was piƱata time and everyone headed upstairs. I walked behind the group, still there if Jack needed me, but trying to stretch the umbilical cord, just a little.

Once upstairs, I got a quick "I love you", before he was running outside with the rest of them.  As I walked away, he was on the peripheral of the group. Still not quite sure how to join in, but ready to take a chance.

Don't be nervous, I thought as I left. He will be fine, he will have fun, and he will make friends.  I know that to be true, but I still feel the need for a stiff drink.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Finally Friday

Growing up I listened to KMPS faithfully and I can't even type the words "finally Friday" without hearing their 5:00 song playing in my head. That is how I feel right now. Finally Friday, the weekend is here.... (not really sure what comes next).

This has been a long week. I don't know why exactly, but I am so glad to know that I am in the final 15 minutes before the husband walks in the door and the weekend can officially begin.

Monday was my quote/unquote bosses birthday so I made her cupcakes to celebrate. And then ate at least 5 of them in secret.  But they were funfetti and so so good.

Tuesday started off great. I had 2 hours to myself at my favorite coffee shop at the beginning of the day. Groceries were delivered that day, and I had an impromptu lunch date at Red Robin with two of my boys. But sometime between lunch and my small group that night I fell apart. Not sure if it was the cold that was just beginning, but my friends who saw me that night can very clearly state: I am not a pretty crier.

Wednesday was the day I drank a whole pot of coffee and then ate the rest of the box of girl scout cookies, the ones I had hidden in the back of the pantry. Okay, not all of them. I was down to the last one with Micah came out and saw what I was doing. Needless to say I had to share.

Thursday, well, Thursday started off with the unfortunate incident I wrote about here. Then a trip to Joann's where I, for some crazy reason, believed I had some skill with a needle and thread. I proceeded to buy $50 worth of stuff to make Halloween costumes.  What started out as a simple cape with a glued on logo, now has a utility belt that I am going to construct with removable parts. Um, right.

Friday is finally here. I had a great time volunteering in the library at my son's school today. It was one of those moments where I was silently patting myself on the back for how well behaved my two-year old was. I was even thinking that the librarian herself must be impressed by me. Who else could shelve all the non-fiction books, in under an hour, with a two year old sitting quietly the whole time. I MUST be amazing.  Since I had that thought, I am sure the next time I go will be a complete disaster.

I have just finished my short NF double shot cappuccino and I am feeling fine! The boys are watching their dinner show, said dinner is on the stove cooking and smells okay so far, and I now have only 8 minutes until their Dad is home.

Friday, I am so happy to see you.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The One Where I Apologize to Everyone

First, I have to apologize to Nemo for assuming it was his poop on the living room floor. In my defense, it did not occur to me to even question who the 'pooper' was. Your tack record speaks for itself. I also apologize for sending you outside and leaving you there, when you were barking to be let back in. Lastly, I apologize for referring to you as "dumb dog" while I cleaned up the mess.

Second, I apologize to Brandon for yelling, "Whose else would it be??!!" when he asked the not-so-obvious question.

Third, I apologize to Micah who found the poop accidentally when he stepped on it. I also apologize for not checking your hands after you came to tell me about the poop.

But, I do not apologize to Finn. The actual culprit in this disgusting tale. The one who managed to unfasten his diaper, but leave it on, as to give the illusion of being clean and contained. You, I do not apologize to. Especially as you still firmly blame Nemo for the poop on the floor. Even after it very obviously came from you.  

Last, I apologize to you, dear readers for reading this post.  But that was my morning and I had to share.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

A glimpse into my life. This is where I spend every Monday and Wednesday morning.
Happy Hump Day!

And yes, I stole this idea from here!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why I Love AmazonFresh

Obviously I love waking up to groceries on my doorstep. No awful trip to the grocery store with two tired, sick, cranky, kids in tow.  Being able to order my groceries while watching a movie with said sick toddler, is also very nice.  But there is another reason I love AmazonFresh.

The hours of amusement the boxes provide my boys. Today they used the boxes to build a house.

Complete with a kitchen, living room, and bedroom.

Night-Night Finn.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Consequence

In our house 'consequence' is a common word.  Lately, we are beginning to hear: "I hate consequences". Kind of the point, I thought. We try to use natural consequences for most things, but as you know, that isn't always possible.  Tonight though, the tables were turned on our typical consequence discussion. Tonight, Jack was the one to decide the consequence for his dad.

Let me explain. It all started simply enough, with a question.

"Jack, how did you get to the bus stop today?" I asked.
"I rode the trail-a-bike," Jack replied.
"Oh, cool" See how bland the conversation was.
"Dad didn't wear his helmet."
"WHAT?!" I stopped what I was doing and focused all of my attention on Jack.
"It's okay, because he didn't get hurt"Jack explains.

I will not bore you with the exact wording of the rest of the conversation, basically it was Jack explaining to me that Brandon didn't wear a helmet when they rode their bikes to the bus stop. At this point, you could be thinking, what's the big deal? The bus stop is, what, like, 3 blocks away?  Let me pause a give you a brief history of my bike riding relationship with Brandon.

His first bike accident occurred probably 11 years ago. He called and asked me to pick him up because his bike wasn't working. When I got to the intersection he was at, I was waved through by a fireman, as I saw Brandon being loaded onto an ambulance.  At which point I started crying.

His next accident happened 7 years ago when I was at work. He called, told me he fell on his bike, but he was okay. I asked if I needed to come get him, as I was headed to a holiday party, and he said no he was fine.  Hours later he called and asked if I would pick him up at the doctor's office. Okay, this time I pull up and he comes hobbling out on crutches.

His last accident happened 2 years ago, on his way home from work. Once again, he called, indicated he had fallen while riding his bike but he was okay. I asked if I should come get him, and he said no. Could I meet him at the hospital instead? He was quick to reassure me that he was fine, it was just a precaution. This time I walked into the ER, with a 4 year old, 2 year old, a 3 month old in the car seat, and carrying 2 happy meals.  We all traipsed into his room to find doctors working on him, and blood pouring down his  face. The boys are still scarred.

As additional background information, there have been several fatal bicycle accidents in our area recently. Two of them are on roads he frequently travels. I have requested (um, demanded) that he always ride safely. Use safety lights, stay in the bike lane, watch oncoming cars, and ALWAYS wear your helmet.

Back to tonight.  As my tone took on a strident, intense, quality, while I lectured on the importance of always wearing a helmet. Case in point, Micah's recent bike accident. But, Micah was quick to point out, he didn't hit his head, just his face.  Thanks Micah.

During the lecture, Jack stopped me and suggested that Dad needed a consequence. He did not wear his helmet, even though that was a rule (not to mention poor modeling) and he should have a consequence. A natural consequence would have been that he fell and got a concussion. Okay, not really, but something bike related. Instead, I asked Jack what he thought would be a good consequence.

He looked around the post-dinner kitchen and said, "He should clean this messy kitchen." Excellent idea, my son, excellent idea.

When Brandon got home, Jack was very quick to inform him of his consequence. Brandon with a serious face told Jack that he was right, he didn't follow the rules and he should have a consequence. Then he smirked at me! As if to say, right, but I don't really have to clean the kitchen.

Oh yes you do.  I have begged, cried, yelled, threatened, and yet you still go out on your bike without a helmet. AND you do it when our kids can see. The same boys who have fallen out of the tree house, had a traumatic bike accident, bit their tongue in two, and have had more head bumps then I can count. Yes, let's show them that it's okay to not wear a helmet as long as you don't get hurt.

My heart lodges in my throat every time he is 5 minutes late. I've spent 11 years getting used to him riding his bike to and from work, in all weather and traffic. All I ask is that he does everything he can to keep himself safe.
Riding without a helmet is not okay. End of story.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Going to the Country

Today was our annual trek to the country to hunt down our pumpkins. We stumbled across this little family farm 5 years ago and we have returned to it ever since.  Part of our desire to make the journey to a pumpkin farm is to escape the city for a day. Breathe in the crisp, clean, air.  Walk away from crowds and chaos.  The first year it was magical. We had a 19 month old and I was pregnant with our second. It was a sunny day, Jack was just adorable, and we loved every minute of it. It was also a Friday, which may have contributed to the feeling of escaping it all.

Last year when we went, it was a sunny Saturday and the place was chaos. We saw the line for buying the pumpkins and we turned around and left. There was no way our kids would wait that long for a pumpkin. This year we decided to go late on an overcast Sunday.  We were so sure it would be less crowded and we would have the farm to ourselves.

Not so.  It was just as crowded.  We did stick it out this year, ate our doughnuts, took our pictures, and came home with our pumpkins.

 Next year I am going to Safeway.

Christmas picture, maybe? I'm sure I can photoshop the finger out.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Send Me Out For Sports"

That's what Micah has been saying to us for awhile now. Last year I briefly tried the local community center, but did not have a successful experience. Then we went to Little Gym, which while awesome, was still not what Micah had in mind. So this fall, I signed him up for soccer. As life tends to be chaotic around here, I did not actually make it to the first 3 games Micah had. I was feeling bad about this, so, on the third game I sent the camera with Papa and Jack.

Here is Micah's soccer experience through Jack's eyes:

Did you see Micah?

Friday, October 14, 2011

If My Grandma Was Alive Today

My Grandma D died in the fall of 1997.  She died 7 months before I graduated from college, and 7 months before I got married.  14 years later and I still miss her.

The other day I was playing Go Fish with Micah.  Instead of using the Go Fish cards, he found a deck of real cards and was determined to play with those. It worked okay, although he kept pointing out that the symbol on the card did not match. Just go with the number I told him, it's still a match. But as we were laying down cards, black on top of red,  it brought back memories of my grandma.

My grandma played solitaire every day, all day. I can't picture her without seeing her sitting at the round table, coffee cup next to her, lit cigarette in the ash tray, and a deck of cards in her hand.  It was always a large deck of cards, too. Two or more decks shuffled together. I never asked why she used so many decks of cards, maybe it extends the game longer, I don't know.

As I placed the black seven and the red seven on the table together, I realized how long it had been since I held a deck of cards.  I have solitaire on my phone and will play obsessively, usually when at the park watching the boys. But I haven't sat down and played the game with cards in years. It made me think, if my grandma was alive today would she play solitaire on the computer? I can't picture her sitting at a laptop clicking her way through the game.  She died before computers were so common and easy to use.  I would like to think she would still play the same way. TV turned onto daytime talk shows, cards laid out waiting for the next move, cooling cup of coffee sitting next to her, and cigarette in hand.

If my grandma was alive today I would be proud to show her my boys. Look, I would say, look at my sons.  See how smart, funny, sweet, and active they are?  Especially look at the middle one. Can you see it? My mom says he is a Carlson through and through. He looks like one and he acts like one.  Can you see my dad in him? 

If my grandma was alive today I would hug her stick thin little body tight, and tell her I love her, just one more time.

If my grandma was alive today.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Popcorn, Take Two

Tonight my husband was at a meeting. That left me alone to put the boys to bed.  Normally, by this time of night, I'm in my sweat pants laying on the couch - or at least wanting to be.  But tonight it fell on me to do the bedtime routine for all the boys.

So I decided to do a special treat for snack. Something out of the ordinary to give us all a boost. I made popcorn.  Microwave popcorn, because I was short on time, and I had just finished cleaning up the kitchen.  We also decided to read stories on my bed, where we could all snuggle up together.

I walked into the boys' room and said to Finn, "I made popcorn!"

Finn froze, his arms went at his side and his hands balled up into fists. He visibly started shaking. "Fire, mom, fire!".

Um, okay, I may have permanently scarred my son with my last popcorn making endeavor. Finn was the one who Brandon threw at me as he grabbed the pan of flames and ran outside.

I quickly explained to Finn that I made the popcorn in the microwave. No fire.

Once settled on our bed with the bag of popcorn, and a pile of books, Finn says: "Mom, make fire?"

Only once did I start a fire in the house.  My boys already know that I am not a good driver, now do they think that I can't even make popcorn without burning down the house?!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Today is Monday

There is a book Eric Carle illustrated called, Today is Monday. The book was part of the curriculum I used  to teach literacy to kindergartners. So, for the last 4 years I have read this book every fall.  It is a fun read aloud, or sing aloud, if you know how to sing.  The book is all about the different food you eat each day of the week.

Today is Monday --- string beans
Today is Tuesday --- spaghetti
Today is Wednesday --- soup
Today is Thursday --- roast beef
Today is Friday --- fresh fish
Today is Saturday --- chicken
Today is Sunday --- ice cream
All you hungry children, come and eat it up!

On Monday my mom came and brought with her, her traditional soup.  She started bringing me soup 2 years ago when she would come down every other week to watch the boys. Last year, she came on my work day and coming home to soup was the highlight at the end of a long day.  My boys LOVE my mom's soup, not so much my soup, but that's okay.

In my head I have been chanting, "Today is Monday --- soup!"

But my mom brought me a surprise. In addition to the soup for my family, she brought roast beef for me.  I love a good pot roast dinner and had been craving it as the weather changed to cooler temperatures.  So for me, Monday meant roast beef.

Then came Tuesday. My mom left me hoagie rolls and a can of beef consume. So, Tuesday became french dip.

Now it is Wednesday and I am contemplating reheating some of the roast, potatoes, and carrots. Because that would be a good mid-afternoon snack, right? 3:10 and time for roast beef. Yep, I think so.

Today is Monday --- roast beef
Today is Tuesday --- french dip
Today is Wednesday --- roast beef
Today is Thursday --- french dip (I think I still have some rolls!)

That sounds about right.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

An Uncomfortable Relationship

I seem to find myself in awkward and uncomfortable relationships frequently. Enough times that I am beginning to ask myself, "What's wrong with me?"

My first year of teaching, I was told to befriend the school receptionist and the school custodian. So I did. To me the custodian was like my grandpa. A friendly, older man, who spoke with a heavy Spanish accent. Ok, that part is not like my grandpa as he's Swedish.  But for 2 years I spoke to this man every day and laughed when I didn't quite understand his stories, and always had a clean classroom. It wasn't until later that I found out that he was not quite as old as my grandpa, in fact he was only in his mid-forties. I'm not sure what I was thinking. And, yes, it was inappropriate to go to coffee with him after he quit working at my school. Again, I thought he was like my grandpa.

Recently, I have become friendly with the bus driver for my son's route. It seemed like a good idea, to know his name (which I actually forgot), be polite even if he is late, and wave good-bye as he pulls away. Little did I know how close we were to become. At first, it was just what's your dog's name? As we discovered we both have corgis. Then it moved into, actually pulling over the bus and showing me pictures of his own corgis. Including the one he recently lost and is still mourning for. Next, it was advice on physical therapy for dogs and maybe even surgery after I shared that Nemo was not doing well.  Now, he is passing me notes regarding a miracle drug on the Internet I should research for Nemo.

All of this, with the exception of the day he pulled over, happens in 30 seconds. Enough time for Jack to walk down the stairs and to the sidewalk. Then with a quick wave, and a "I'll see you tomorrow", he closes the door and drives away.  

I wonder what he will bring me tomorrow?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Oh, It's My Kid

Today, I had one of those experiences as a mom that you hope does not happen to you.

I was at work, watching all the two year olds run around the gym bumping into each other, falling over, and getting back up again. The lead teacher, who is also the Preschool Director, asked me a question.

"As a former teacher, what would you do if ...." and proceeded to ask how I would deal with a certain situation.

I love teacher questions and after thinking about it for a minute, I started to describe what I would do. In my mind, I knew what student she was referring to, and tried to frame my answer in a way that was general to the question asked.

Nothing I said was rocket science, I just explained the book I used to discuss cultural differences and also general discussions I had with students about accepting others.   Then I lowered my voice and said, "Is this about so-and-so?".  She nods and says yes, that some of the kids in the pre-k class were struggling with how to deal with a certain student. Feeling confident in my deductive reasoning, and still a little full of myself in being asked a teacher question. I began to talk about how I had been dealing with this very situation with my son, who is in the class. We had discussions at home about this very student and appropriate ways to respond.

That is when I notice the look on the Director's face.  Uh-Oh. It's my kid, isn't it?  She nods again.

Oh man. My kid is the one that is pointing out the physical size and shape of this student. He is the one explaining that the reason they had to add chairs to the bench is because this student is so big. It's my son that is refusing to play with him.

He's not being mean, in the way kids can be. He is just very matter of fact. But in pointing out that this student can't run, can't fit on the bench, that he doesn't want to play with him, he is being so very mean.

I've been so focused on my older son and hoping that he will fit in and be accepted in his new school. I've been praying for a friend for him and for a teacher who understands his unique personality.  Now, I need to turn my attention to my middle son and pray that he, who finds it so easy to fit in and make friends, will learn to be compassionate to others who are different then him.

I really didn't want it to be my kid.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

7 Days

That is how long I made it before forgetting to blog.  7 Days.  That is not very many.  A week ago I stumbled upon this site on BlogHer.  I had been thinking I would like to set a goal to be more consistent in my writing. I had been thinking of this for a long time now, but had not actually done any goal setting, or consistent writing, for that matter.  The idea of writing everyday in October and having a feeling of accountability sounded good.  Plus, I really liked the theme: Between. It feels like where I am at, in a lot of different things.  So, I jumped in, with both feet.  And lasted 7 days.

Well, actually 3 days into it, I was thinking: "Hmm, this is a lot of writing. I'm not sure I have time to write!" Not a shortage of ideas, my head sometimes feels like it is going to explode with all the things I would like to write about. It is finding the time and actually sitting down and writing.  As I was already feeling a little discouraged and we weren't even done with the first week, I recruited my sister.  My sister has her own blog and seems to always be writing new posts. I figured a little friendly competition would be good. If she can write every day so can I!

And I did. Until Saturday. I still don't even know what happened. I thought, it being Saturday, meant I for sure had time to write. My husband was home, we had very few plans, I had a couple of ideas spinning around. Instead it was sunny and I decided to go on a walk in the morning. Then I played with the boys, took a very nice nap, worked outside in the yard, took over bedtime routine from my husband, and watched a movie.  When I was headed upstairs at 11:45, I remembered I had not posted to my blog that day.

Ugh.  Was it worth going back downstairs and quickly writing something up? Nope.  I was too close to my bed, already in my pajamas, and my brain was shutting down.  I was even happier with that decision when my 2 year old woke up crying at 4:00.  He kept yelling, "go downstairs!" Even when I calmly explained that it was not MORNING TIME!

I could throw in the towel and say, that's it, I obviously can not post daily. But that would mean I am a quitter. And I'm not, I'm not a wuss either.  I will keep on and hope that yesterday was my one day not writing this month. But with 3 kids, a house always under construction, a dog still not 100%, and a part-time job, it could happen again.

And probably will.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Week of Firsts

Jack has been in school for a month now. We've got the routine down, the bus is finally on time, and Jack is still more or less excited for school each day.

This week was filled with one new thing after the other.  All good things, but it made for one very, tired, exhausted boy.

On Tuesday, Jack bought lunch. Not for the first time, but the first time when it wasn't a pre-planned event.  We were late, so I took a chance and sent Jack to school with lunch money. He had chocolate pudding and thought it was the best thing ever.

On Wednesday, Jack had a field trip.  He went to a pumpkin patch, in the rain of course. He had new-to-him rain shoes, not boots because boots are yucky.  His group was called the "Jack-O-Lanterns". He went on a hay ride to a super secret pumpkin patch. And he was back at school in time for third recess.

On Thursday, Jack had a playdate. His first with a friend from school that I did not know.  He went home from school with this boy, and I didn't pick him up until 5:30.  He loved it, I promised we would have his friend over, and then he had a spectacular meltdown at dinner time.

On Friday, Jack participated in his school's Walkathon. He walked 13 laps, again, in the rain! Upon coming home, he told me how many laps he walked and then asked, "Mom, are you proud of me?"

Yes, Jack, I am proud of you.  More then you will ever know.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

On Wanting Another Baby

My desire for another baby comes and goes. I know we are not having any more kids, that shipped has sailed. But there are times when I still want another baby.

Recently, Jack has started asking for a baby brother. Why can't we have another baby? We should have 10 babies, and so one.  The other night he asked for an itty-bitty baby.

"Jack, we are not having more babies."
"No, not you, me. I want an itty-bitty baby"
"You want a baby of your own? But they are a lot of work."
"That's okay Mom, I can take care of it. I will make it a milk bottle"
"But babies cry a lot, and they need to be changed, and they don't sleep at night"
"I can take acre of it with your help."
"But, Jack, I've already taken care of three babies, I think I am done."
"But Mom, this baby will never get big. It will stay itty-bitty forever."

Oh, that does sound kind of nice. I do love the itty-bitty baby when it is all squished up like a peanut.


Now, I do want another baby.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Bad

It always happens. Once I poke fun at Brandon, or even say - complain, I do something slightly worse.

Tonight I promised the boys popcorn for our bedtime snack. It had been a good day, but an exhausting day, and popcorn in our PJs sounded like the perfect ending.  

Brandon took the boys upstairs to change into pajamas and I poured oil into the pan, dropped in my 3 kernels and waited.  Then I realized it takes a while for the oil to heat and I should go sit down.  This might have also been due to the awesome glass of wine I had at dinner.  Once I sat down I realized I should check my email, one thing lead to another, and soon I was sucked into the blog world.

When I figured it was probably time to add the rest of the kernels, I jumped up and ran into the kitchen. Uh-oh, smoke was billowing out of the pan. I quickly lifted the lid to see if the oil was salvageable and (I kid you not) it burst into flames.

"Brandon" I yelled "BRANDON!!"


"I started a fire!" I replied


I stood there in the kitchen with the flames growing higher, holding the pan, trying to recall what I knew about oil fires. I was pretty sure water would not help.

"Put the lid on!" Brandon yelled as he threw the baby at me. Aahh, good idea. I quickly grabbed Finn while Brandon threw the lid on and took the pan outside. 

"Mom, fire?" Finn asks me. 

Um, yeah. Micah walks in and is completely amazed by the thick fog of smoke. He begins jumping up and down trying to catch the smoke and yelling, "fire, fire!"  

Once the excitement died down and the kids were eating microwave popcorn while watching a show the only evidence left was the lingering smell.  

Yep, burnt popcorn.  

My bad.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Common Occurrence

This evening I come home from some much needed girl time to find that my husband has been busy in my absence.

All I have to do is open the car door and I know what he has been up to.  The smell of burnt popcorn hits me as soon as I leave the car. Walking up to the house, I am surprised by how much the smell carries to the outside. I had always assumed it was just the 5 of us inside who were subjected to the lingering smell, but I guess our neighbors are also so blessed.

What has my husband been doing? Roasting coffee, of course.  We are major coffee fiends. So much that we have a budget just for coffee.  Sad, you may say, but it somewhat cuts back on our latte purchases. 4 years ago we bought a very nice espresso machine which also helps.  Especially on the weekends when all we want is a triple tall latte in the morning, one in the afternoon, and a shot of espresso at night. We may have a slight addiction.

While having our own espresso machine has helped, beans are still really expensive, and we go through a lot of beans. So, a few months ago, my husband decided he would start roasting his own.  And so it began.  He now has it down to a science and with some suggestions on fan placement from my mom, no longer sets off the fire alarm.  But it still smells. Really bad.

The coffee is good, I do sometimes miss a good Stumptown roast, but it is good. And it is saving us money.  All that is good, but at 10:30 at night, this is not the sight I want to see:
The aftermath of the roast.  Chaff, as my husband says, because obviously I am fluent in all technical coffee terms.  For the lay person that is the outer skin of the bean.

The 'tools of the trade' so to speak. My one and only cookie sheet, my pancake pan, and a heat gun.

As much as I roll my eyes at this, I will be happy in the morning when my husband hands me a steaming hot latte to take with me as I begin my day.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Missing Mandy

Today felt like fall.  The day was colder, the sky was gray, the ground was still wet from the rain the night before. As I stood in my kitchen making our favorite fall dinner, I was remembering the last time I made this meal. And I remembered who we shared the meal with. And I missed her.

The last two years we have had a quote/unquote nanny who came over twice a week.  Nanny isn't quite the right word. She really only babysat 3 hours a week, but she was more then just a babysitter. She quickly became part of our family.

In the fall of 2009, when Finn was 3 months old, Mandy came for the first time.  Because of her schedule she could only come at 4:30 on Monday and Friday.  That first day she came, I remember thinking how silly I felt as I laced up my tennis shoes to go take the dog for a walk, while Mandy babysat.  On Friday, in my nervous don't-know-what-to-say mode, I invited her to dinner.  It felt weird that we would sit down to eat just as she was leaving.  So she stayed.  And stayed.  From that day on, twice a week, we would eat dinner with Mandy.  

I soon found a good rotation of budget meals that I could stretch to feed 6-7 people. My husband eats alot.  Pretty soon, Mandy took over finishing the meal, and then took over cooking the meal all together. Mondays and Fridays became my favorite days of the week.

But all things must come to an end, and for us it was with Mandy's graduation.  It was sad and I hated saying goodbye but I was prepared.  And it's been okay. This year is different, I do not see my oldest until 4:30, my middle son is in school until 1:00 and most days it is just the baby and me.  I haven't felt the absence of Mandy, until tonight.

Tonight I pulled the chicken out of the oven, added the package of rice, cooked the frozen corn, and I remembered last fall.  Sitting down with Mandy, the constant chatter that only a college-age girl can have, the boys fighting amongst themselves, my husband and I just nodding amidst the chaos.  

Tonight I missed Mandy.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bringing Order to the Chaos

It has been awhile since I made a confession. So here goes.

Pinned Image

I am not an organized person.  By organized, I mean, having a place for everything and putting that thing in its place. I can be very organized on paper, I love a good “To Do” list, or a monthly calendar neatly filled in,  but inside my house it is a different matter. I just can not seem to get a handle on all of the stuff that is brought into the house: mail, papers from school, art projects, bike gear, shoes, coats, backpacks, library books, the list could go on and on.

I have started many a different ‘organizational systems’ and each time I am convinced this will work. I’ve been to Ikea more times then I want to admit to buy just the right file box or bulletin board or basket, that will solve all my organizational issues. I’ve even been to Pottery Barn and bought the lovely white board and file wall hanging system. It is very pretty, but it still does not enable me to become organized. Instead I now have 4 or 5 places where I can put bills, papers to sign and send back, stash kids’ artwork until I decide what to do with it, and put important papers for my husband. This works until Brandon asks me where ‘such and such’ is. Um, did you look in the kitchen? Yes. How about the living room desk/hutch? Yes. The pile of papers on my desk? Yes. And on and on.


This year it seems to be especially out of hand as my oldest has started Kindergarten. Before I only had to look for the papers from preschool and I got pretty good at figuring out what I needed to save and how. Now there are the field trip forms, parent volunteer background checks, lunch menu, directions on how to access the lunch menu, picture forms, walk-a-thon pledge sheets, and then the random student work sample.  And that is from a school that does most of its communication via email.  My inbox is full of important notices and updates that I can’t seem to decide to keep or delete.

Before school started I decided to create a desk for myself. A place where I could centrally store and organize all this stuff, plus a place I could work at. I could envision myself sitting there in the evenings, filing, shredding, organizing, even writing. The soft glow of the lamp, the radio softly playing, maybe even a glass of wine sitting next to me.    This was going to be it, the perfect place for me! I moved the furniture, purged kids’ toys, and created my dream spot.  Then school started and I have not used it, not once. Except to stash all this stuff I don’t know what to do with. The piles of papers have multiplied, and instead of being a calming place to go, I avoid the area of the house like the plague. Unless I need something like a sticky note, a pen, a piece of tape, then I open drawers, throw papers on the ground and in general, make a huge mess until I locate that one item. Then I shove everything back inside, close the desk, and walk away.


Real Simple magazine, keeps sending me free preview offers. Maybe that is what I need, a magazine that will tell me how to be organized. Yes, that would be good, one more thing coming into my house that I will read, decide to save, and add it to the growing pile of papers on my desk. That and a trip to Ikea.