Monday, March 26, 2007

Dum-Dum Confusion

To keep my two-year-old quiet during the church service, I have succumbed to bribery.

The kid has about three to four dum-dums each service, but hey, he's quiet and happy. He was on his fourth dum-dum when it was time for our family to go to the front of the sanctuary to partake of communion.

I set his feet on the kneeler beside me and then relaxed which I shouldn't have done. As we all got up and were about to go back to our seats, Grumpy whispered to me, "Mom, Happy dropped his sucker!" I said, "Oh! Okay. Well, go get it."

I had failed to inform myself of where said sucker was. I turned to go, but I looked over my shoulder to make sure he wasn't making a scene. Our son pushed his way past the people who were about to kneel, balanced his stomach on the altar with his feet up in the air, trying to reach the sucker that I now realized was on the other side of the altar.

Our curious expressions immediately turned dumbfounded. Our eyes grew big and our mouths dropped open. There were a few friendly snickers from the waiting people as Dad called in a stage whisper to Grumpy asking what in the world he was doing. Grumpy used his "indoor voice" to state his intention.

Since his efforts were in vain due to his lack of height, we finally shook ourselves out of our daze and told him to forget it for now. As we found our seats again, my sense of humor kicked in and I started giggling like a kid.

The responding smile and shaking of my husband's head only made me giggle harder. I realized I could respond two ways. I could either be embarrassed and give my son a lecture or chalk it up as another Grumpy experience and write about it. I chose the latter.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pet Cemetery

Hamsters and guinea pigs are the most murderous creatures on the face of the Earth. That's probably not true, but after what I have witnessed in real life, I will never feel the same about the furry, little balls of fluff ever again. When our oldest was in 1st grade and we lived in New Jersey, my husband had the idea of getting our sons a couple hamsters. I thought, "Why not? How much work could they be?" We knew nothing about hamsters. So, hubby took two of our boys to a pet store and found two hamsters, one for Nat and one for Cabe, and put them both in one cage. Soon after that, the boys came to me to say that Joe was dead. I was horrified and ran upstairs to see. There was Joe staring into space dead as a doornail. I thought of all sorts of reasons for the hamster's death and even looked at the other hamster with narrowed eyes, but I couldn't bring myself to believe the cute little thing was capable of murder. So, we threw Joe away and got another hamster. This new hamster was bigger and we were told it was a boy. So, in honor of the dead hamster, they named this new one Joe. I decided to put the cage in the kitchen to keep an eye on them. I will forever be traumatized after what happened next. Nathanael and Caleb were watching their hamsters when all of a sudden they casually mentioned that the hamsters were fighting again. I looked over and there was Joe going after Bob. Bob kept trying to get away, but Joe was relentless. As Joe was clawing at Bob, I started shaking the cage and screaming over and over, "No, no! Leave him alone, you murderous creature!" I was finally able to get Bob out of the cage, but it was too late. He was at least able to die in peace. A few weeks later, the boys wake me up in the morning to tell me that Joe had babies. I was immediately confused. Joe is a boy, right? Maybe they were just seeing things. I ran into their room where the cage was and there were these white slug-looking things crawling around. I was horrified, but tried to act nonchalant for my children's sakes. I even acted a little excited so that they wouldn't be creeped out by the whole thing like I was. Leaving them closely watching the hamster babies, I marched downstairs, got out the phonebook, and called that particular pet store. Of course, they had an airhead answer the phone who had no idea how that could happen. She said when the babies open their eyes I can bring them into the pet store. Otherwise, their mother will kill them. Wonderful. After we got rid of the slug-like babies, there was just Joe. When Joe died, this time my husband wanted to get them guinea pigs. He bought two male guinea pigs and put them in the same cage. I think he was in denial. Soon after that, my boys informed me that Joe and Bob were fighting. I guess they really like those names. I ran downstairs and did my usual screaming and shaking of the cage. Before we could get another cage, Joe killed Bob. So, we just had Joe for the next couple years, but then Joe died because this particular banana brain didn't educate herself on guinea pigs and the poor thing died of scurvy due to lack of vitamin C. Later that day, their dad asks the boys if the guinea pig died. Justin said very nonchalantly, "Yeah. Guinea pig in the trash." So, to lessen the pain of the dead guinea pig, my husband proudly comes home with another one. This time, I hope, we will have learned a few things.

Pregnant vs. Just Plain Fat

Saturday, I had the opportunity to go to a Pampered Chef party at a friend's house. I was feeling particularly bubbly that day and it must have showed. As everyone tells me to say hi to my boys for them, the consultant asks, "How many boys do you have?" I said, "Four," and she asked, "And one on the way?" I gave her a blank stare. How in the world did she guess? I am only about a month along. As everyone congratulates me, I am still in shock. I hadn't planned on anyone knowing for at least two more months. As I'm driving home, I realize that it could have gone badly. What if I hadn't been pregnant? That led to more thinking and here's how it went:
Those of you who don't even start showing until your fourth month- I hate you.
Those of you who don't get the kind of morning sickness that lasts all day every day for four months- I hate you.
Those of you who don't go through a nightmare of pain without medication during labor- I hate you.
Those of you who get their body back two months after the birth of their baby- I hate you.
Those of you who only gain 10 pounds during their pregnancy- I hate you.
I am still wondering if I had "prego" stamped on my forehead or if she saw that I had a mama pouch and thought it was alright to say something. This has made me realize something. I need to do my Pilates more often.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Spring Fever


Spring is here and our family is soaking up the very unusual, beautiful weather we are having. The boys have been waiting for it to get warmer for so long that they are basking in it now. Nathanael would say, "I hate winter!" and, of course, we would agree. The boys have been outside every day since it got warm and it has been a joy to see them so happy. It seems like boys and the outdoors just go hand-in-hand. My youngest, Aidan, will get into the wagon or a lawn chair and just sit there reveling in the warmth and sunshine. I even got out my spring decorations and put them around the house. The fresh breezes coming from the open windows have aired out the winter staleness and the smell of poopy diapers nicely. I look out the back door and see Scout busily digging so hard that all I see is dirt flying in the air. Dang puppy. Leigh has been happily catching the balls that the boys have hit with their bats. Hubby has even sprayed bug spray all around the house, sweet man. I am looking forward to trips to the park and the zoo. I am happily anticipating swim days, yard sales, and berry picking. I was married in the spring, and two years later, my first baby was born also in the spring. It's no wonder I feel joy during this time of year.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Transformer Mom

In the 1970s and 80s, it was perfectly normal to walk home from school. The elementary school that I attended was only a few minutes away from home and my parents didn't have to think twice about letting me walk. When we were kids, we frequently walked or biked to get anywhere. These days, things have changed. On a particularly windy day in Ohio where I grew up, I was walking home from school and right before the house where I lived was a big road that I had to cross. My parents had taught me to look both ways before crossing and I took their suggestion to heart. Of course, I didn't want to be road kill, so that day I made sure that the cars went by before walking across the street. I started across just as a van went past me and as I ran across the road with my hands outstretched, the first two fingers on my right hand hit the back of the van. I looked down to make sure they were still there and immediately started laughing in relief and felt invincible. I ran into the house and found my mom cleaning out the cabinet underneath the sink. I showed her my fingers and told her what happened thinking she would be astounded and laugh along with me. She was astounded alright....and then her eyes started to cross. Her face got red and she looked like she was about to hyperventilate. I watched this transformation in my mother wondering if she was having a heart attack. Then she let me have it. I got a tongue-lashing I certainly wasn't expecting. I thought, "Take a chill, Mom!" I knew better than to actually say that, so I said instead, "Look, Mom! My fingers are fine! I'm okay!" She grabbed my fingers and started screaming at me incoherently all the while I'm looking at her like she has lost her mind. I left her to her ranting and raving totally confused by her behavior. I didn't understand her reaction for years after that. Not until I had my own kids. As my eyes cross, my face gets red, and I start screaming incoherently at my own sons for something they did that was extremely dangerous, I realize that finally I understand my mother a lot better now.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Our Dream House

Most of my childhood memories revolve around a single house. The house my mother grew up in and where we spent our family vacations. Our family of six would pile into the car with our suitcases and pillows and take the four-hour drive to our favorite place in the whole world- the hills of West Virginia. I remember arriving at night most of the time. I would love to watch the tall trees go by and feel the car swerve around every curve. There were not a lot of traffic lights in the hills where the house was located and it seemed surreal. If you didn't know where you were going, you'd be lost in no time. Finally, we would reach the driveway at the bottom of the hill. We couldn't see the house from the road because of the cluster of trees hiding it, so we always waited with bated breath for that first glimpse of the house. First, we would see the welcoming lights shining through the branches and then there it was. As soon as the car was parked, we would run down the brick walkway past Grandpa's flowerbed and see our grandparents' happy faces through the sliding glass door. We were always greeted enthusiastically no matter what time of night it was. The sights and smells of the house immediately comforted me and I would go straight to my designated bedroom to unpack and make myself at home. In the morning, we would be greeted by the bright sunlight and birds chirping in the trees outside the windows. The house was surrounded by trees and we had a feeling as if we were closed off from the world. I can still feel the wind in my hair and hear the rustling of the trees as I pinned the sheets and towels out on the line up the hill behind the house. My Grandpa had a vegetable garden to be envied and always had the most beautiful and delicious tomatoes I had ever eaten. I loved it when Grandma would take the rhubarb from the garden and make rhubarb pie. The favorite place to sit and visit was the back porch. We were out there rain or shine just chatting and I would love to hear the West Virginia twang floating around. We had bunny rabbits to hold and pet and even had a funeral for a bunny that had been born but was too weak to live. My cousins lived right next door to our grandparents and I was pea-green with envy. Our favorite game was hide and seek and the house was a great place for it. We explored every nook and cranny of that house and the surrounding yard. They even had a pool that we loved to play in when we got too hot from exploring. My favorite place was the front porch where I would lay on the swing, feeling the wind in my hair, and dream about the man I was going to marry someday. So many memories. Then, finally, they couldn't care for that big house and yard anymore. They were getting on in years and needed something smaller. I couldn't believe it. Sell our home? How could they even suggest such a thing? I knew, of course, that there was nothing anyone could do. No one in our family had the means to buy it from them, so it was sold to a stranger. Some years later, our house was bulldozed to the ground. It just wasn't safe anymore I gathered, but my mind and heart still cried in agony. Years have gone by since that tragedy and I feel the loss of it every time I think of it. Never to be able to bring my own sons there has been hard to think about. I know they would have loved it as much as myself. I told my brother the other day that if I could, I would have that house built on that land exactly the way we remember it. He felt exactly the same way. I hold on to those memories we made at "our" house. They are memories I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Like Mother, Like Son

As I am taking my two-year-old out of the nursery with his arms around my neck almost choking me to death, I can't help myself but squeeze him back even though I am frustrated with him. It always starts off well. He sits quietly in church with his brothers, but then starts talking in his happy manner and even though mommy and daddy try to shush him, he still has not mastered the art of whispering. Then begins the ritual of nursery visiting. On days that my husband is needed to help in the service, I plop my son in the room with the responsible lady and hear his screams all the way down the hall feeling extremely guilty all the while. Other days, I can't bear to hear the quiet room full of little ones working busily be shattered by the piercing screams of my son being left behind by his mother. So, we go visit together or sit in a deserted playroom so that I can spare everyone from the peaceful scene being destroyed. As I'm sitting in a chair watching my son playing happily since his mommy is with him, my mind goes back to a memory I have of my first day of kindergarten. I was excited that day as my mother walked me to school. I'm sure I held tightly to her hand and chattered the whole way there. When we got to the kindergarten room, I was greeted with something that I hadn't expected. Being a shy girl, I was immediately intimidated by the many children in the room. No way was I going to let my mother leave me there with these strange kids! When I realized that my mother had every intention of leaving me, the peaceful scene was completely shattered by my piercing screams and cries. Things became a blur after that, but my mother told me later that I had grabbed a hold of her leg and refused to let go while the kids were staring at me with their mouths open wondering what in the world was wrong with me. I'm sure she was completely stunned by my behavior and I can imagine she felt horrible on her walk home. As I look at my son playing with some toy cars, I smile because I realize how alike we really are.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Not Yet, Mom

Our four-year-old, Justin, is so cute he could talk himself out of a hanging. He uses this fact to his advantage. When we are in church, he will go up to our pastor's wife and all he has to do is look up at her with those big, blue eyes framed by long lashes and he will immediately get a seat on her lap. He's a charmer and I'm no exception. A few nights ago, he asked if he could call Grandma, so I punched in my mom's number. He took the phone away from me and started pacing all around the house talking about anything and everything. After a while, she gave the phone to dad so he could to talk to him. The first time I tried to take the phone from Justin he said, "Not yet, Mom" and walked away. I thought, "Ok, maybe a few minutes more." I felt bad because he only gets to see them once a year. More time went by and finally I felt I had to put my foot down. As I'm taking the phone away, he starts panicking and big crocodile tears form in his eyes and he says over and over, "Not yet, Mom!" Of course, my parents felt bad about that and I felt like I had been kicked in the gut, so I gave the phone back. I'm a sucker for that little face all crumpled up. When he had been on the phone for 45 minutes total, my mom was wondering if I knew Justin was still on the phone with them. That's when I knew phone time had to stop. It was still hard to put my foot down about it when he kept walking away saying, "Not yet, Mom" over and over, but I knew it had to be done. As my son is milking it for all it's worth by bawling his head off, I apologized to my parents. Of course, they understood completely. After all, who could resist that sweet little voice?

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Dingbat Dee Rises Again

I should have been a blond. No offense to my blond friends, but those dumb blond jokes would definitely apply to me. Embarrassing moments happen to me all the time, but this was so crazy I had to share. I was driving on the highway on the way to a friend's house to go to a party. It was a beautiful Saturday morning and I was on a high from the drug "getting out of the house". After I stopped to get gas, I decided to call my husband and remind him about something. I punch in a familiar number on my cell phone and the man on the other end says, "------'s Pizza Place!" in one of those funny Iraqi accents. I said, "Ha, ha. Very funny," in a sarcastic voice and continue talking. My husband was known for pulling a stunt like that, so I didn't give it another thought. I ramble on about cell phones and stick shifts and the man on the other end humors me and keeps saying, "Uh huh" in a kindly, but confused manner. Finally, he stops me and says, "Do you know who this is?" That's when my stomach dropped to the floor. I immediately realized that instead of calling my own home number, I called one of my friends and got her husband instead. I apologized profusely for my utter stupidity all the while beating my head against the steering wheel. I called my husband right after that and told him what happened. He couldn't believe it either. This is definitely not my finest moment.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Unca Gug

Whenever my brother comes to visit, it's always a riot. He spoils the boys rotten and then gives them back. They have now come to expect Little Debbie cakes, candy, toys, or books every time he's here. Their favorite thing to do with Unca Gug is play monster. Whenever they hear that monster laugh from my brother, they will let out their high-pitched screams and run for their lives. They keep a close eye on his whereabouts as well. The poor man can barely go to the bathroom without a worried voice saying, "Where's Unca Gug?" Aidan, particularly, is enthralled with Unca Gug's things. Before I had the genius idea of putting up a gate in front of my brother's bedroom door, Aidan took it upon himself to explore the forbidden territory many times. I could always tell Aidan had been up to mischief when my brother comes to me with a question about where something of his has gone. One time, I found my brother's toothpaste smeared over every surface of the bathroom and followed the trail into the family room to find the source sitting in front of the TV with toothpaste in his hair. I've also had to pick up spilled banana chips or nuts that belonged to my brother. I got that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when Justin came into the kitchen and said, "Unca Gug! Aidan is playing with your phone!" Just a few days ago, I asked my brother to keep an eye on the boys while I go pick up their oldest brother from school. Of course, he's fine with this and thought it was no big deal. I come home to find Aidan in the tub and my brother not in the best of moods. I cringed because I had an idea of what he was going to tell me. My brother informed me that Aidan was sitting on the couch painting himself with his own feces from his diaper. Gagging, he very carefully picked him up with as few fingers as he could and plopped him into the tub. A few days later, I got out the potty chair for training. My brother said it was about time.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Niagra Falls

When Aidan wasn't even a glint in his father's eye and our third son, Justin, was just a baby, we lived in a cute townhouse in New Jersey. The people who had lived there before us had turned half of the garage into a storage room. I was more than happy to make it into a playroom for my boys. The playroom was right off the laundry room and I was a little concerned about the exposed water line coming from the laundry room, but I wasn't about to give up the chance to have a place for all of their toys. The water line was right at their level and they loved to hang on it like little monkeys. The hose looked sturdy enough to me, so even though I told them not to hang on it anymore, I wasn't consistent with my orders. I came to regret that. As I'm doing chores around the house one day, all of a sudden I hear a sound of rushing water and yelling from the playroom. I run to the doorway and stare in shock at what I am seeing. The playroom floor was quickly being flooded by the gushing amount of Niagra Falls while Nathanael bravely grabbed Caleb around the waist and ran for the door. I grabbed the phone because my household knowledge only went so far during that time in my life and I had to ask my husband for the location of the valve to shut off the water. So much for girl power. Somehow he was able to discern what happened even though I was practically stuttering in my panicked state. It was something like, "Oh, my gosh! The boys....water line....gushing...." The poor guy is in the middle of his office surrounded by co-workers and his little wifie is yelling into the phone about a broken water line. He calmly acts as if nothing crazy is happening on the other end and tells me where to look. As soon as I find it, I turn the water off and immediately felt relief from having stopped Lake Erie from forming in our playroom. In the silence of the room, I sheepishly smile into the phone and say, "Hee, um, thanks, honey." He answers in his typical, "Mmm-hmmm", and as we hung up I realized that it made me feel better to call the previous owners idiots for putting in an exposed water line instead of myself for actually letting the boys hang on it.