Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Elephant Walk

We have elephants living in our house.

It's true. We hear them stomping around all over the place. They go up the stairs, down the stairs, and tramp across the kitchen floor. Occasionally, we hear a big boom as if one of them had fallen off the bed that they had climbed onto.

These elephants are just like any other elephant. If they are not stomping around with their big feet, they are stinking up the place. So, just like any other elephant, they need to take a bath. We get them all soaped up and then rinse them off. We can even do this in our bathroom because these elephants are just a little bit smaller than the regular-sized elephant.

Like other elephants, they are also family-oriented. They have to be with us wherever we go. If they weren't such loving creatures, I would have a serious problem with all the feces and urine. The training takes years!

Their stomping isn't the only thing we hear all the time. It's the trumpeting as well. Sometimes, it can be ear-splitting within the confines of the house.

It's a zoo in our house, that's for sure.

The Shoemaker

One of the things that I love to do is read to my kids. We love to climb into my favorite chair with a soft, warm blanket and snuggle together as I read. One of the stories that I read to Sleepy lately is The Elves and the Shoemaker.

Sometimes, I wonder if the boy listens to me, but yesterday I was pleasantly surprised.

In the morning, we visited the library and I noticed my oldest son, Bashful, walking around with his shoes only half on. When I noticed his heels sticking out, I said, "Bashful! Put your shoes on the right way, please." He glumly said, "They don't fit."

Now, I'm sure the child has told me this before, but since he is not the whiner and complainer that his younger brothers can be, I was totally clueless. Of course, I felt bad and told him we will go and get him new tennishoes immediately.

He was happy and relieved to hear this news, I'm sure.

So, off we went to the shoe store and once we went inside, a nice lady behind the counter asked if we needed a shoe sizing. I thought that was a good idea and we took Bashful to the back of the store.

His old shoes were a size 3 and I ended up having to get him men's size 5 1/2. I said contritely, "Bashful, you've been suffering in these shoes for a while, haven't you?" He matter-of-factly said, "Yes," and yet I didn't feel like he was indicating that I was a bad mother.

I felt crummy all the same.

When we came home, Sleepy was talking to his father about our day. I asked, "Sleepy? Where did we go today?"

He took some time to think about it and I asked, "Do you remember the nice lady we talked to?"

"Oh!" he exclaimed. "The shoemaker!"

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Grumpy & Cleo

In this house, dog is certainly not a boy's best friend. It's a cat.

When we first got Cleopatra (can you tell that I'm the one who named her?), she hadn't decided who was going to be her best friend.

Grumpy, at that time, was being ousted from his bed by Happy. He had been bunking with Sleepy in the same room, but Happy wanted to be in the room with his "best brother", so Grumpy needed to switch rooms with Happy.

He didn't like this arrangement calling Happy's bed "stinky". I assured him the sheets and bedspread were clean, but he still didn't feel comfortable with this arrangement. Instead, he took his blanket and pillow and ended up on the couch in the living room.

He slept on the couch for two weeks. During this time, he made a new bed mate. Cleo started sleeping with him every night. I think it comforted her to have him down there and vice versa. When Grumpy had no choice but to move back upstairs in Happy's old bed (due to his mother's edict), Cleo followed him and has slept with him ever since.

Thus began a beautiful friendship.....until a strange thump was heard one morning coming from Grumpy's room followed by an affronted meow from Cleo.

Later that morning, Grumpy announced that Cleo "figured out how to bite". I stopped in the middle of making breakfast to look at him with concern. "Did Cleo bite you, Grumpy?!" I exclaimed worriedly. He didn't really want Cleo to get into trouble, so he said it was just a little bite that didn't hurt that much.

I narrowed my eyes and asked, "Why did she bite you, honey?" I was suspicious. Nothing is ever what it seems in this house.

"I was rubbing her belly and she bit me," he said quietly. "Oh, honey! I thought you knew that Cleo hates it when we rub her belly," I said. We had discovered this early on when her mouth would open and we saw her teeth descending onto our hands as we rubbed her stomach. We would snatch our hands away before teeth met skin, but poor Grumpy hasn't yet developed lightning quick reflexes.

I immediately put two and two together when I remembered the loud thump I heard earlier. "You shoved her off the bed when she bit you, huh?" I asked. I started to smile. Grumpy's answering smile was the answer to my question before he gave me a recap of what it was like even using sound effects and sweeping motions.

I chuckled softly to myself and finished breakfast. Cleo better watch herself from now on.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

For Keeps

Today, I took my son, Bashful, to his old school in order to take a standardized test in accordance with state law. A few of his friends were there as well and I left him there knowing he was happy and content in his environment.

As I was leaving, I noticed a woman that I was aquainted with standing in the doorway of one of the classrooms. Her little girl had gone to this school with Bashful and when her daughter greeted me, I moved closer to say hello.

Before I reached her, she scooped down to pick up a little bundle. As she stood up, I looked into the blanket in her arms and saw a beautiful, little baby boy. His tiny face was scrunched up in annoyance and I chuckled at the frown on his forehead.

I reached out and ran my finger over his hair and smooth cheek and exclaimed softly, "He's beautiful!" "He's a new one," I added. She expressed her thanks and by the gentle smile and loving look on her face, I could tell she was proud of this sweet baby and that he had wiggled his way into her heart.

I looked up at her and with hopeful gentleness I asked, "Is this one for keeps?" She looked at me with one part apprehension and one part hope. "I think so," she said. "She has already lost two of her other children."

I looked down at this precious little life and she added, "I got him when he was two days old." I felt my heart twist for this good woman. I barely know her and yet I keenly feel her longing.

I gave the baby one last touch to the head and said goodbye. I drove home thinking about this woman and thought of her all day.

My own baby is five months old now. He is much changed since he was a newborn. He is bright-eyed and smiley. He coos and plays with his toes. Everything goes in his mouth and he laughs at his brothers' antics.

From the minute he was conceived, he was mine and I loved him. When he was born, I reveled in the features of his face and was immediately consumed with love for him. When he looks at me, he recognizes me. He knows who I am and he smiles because he knows he is loved.

As I look at my own precious baby, I wonder what it is like for those women who love their foster babies only to have them taken from them. What is it like for them when their babies see their foster mother's face and want to be forever held by them only to be taken into a stranger's arms?

It grieves me.

I know how much this precious woman already fiercly loves this little one whom she has taken care of. She has been his mother since he was two days old and even though he is still very young, she loves him as if he came from her own body. I know it because I would feel the same way.

As I came by this afternoon to pick up Bashful and take him home, I saw her holding her foster baby closely and saw myself a few months ago with my own new baby. I constantly had him in my arms as if I couldn't bear to be apart from him.

Today, as I look into my sweet, little love's face, he brightens up and smiles at me. He begins to coo and his whole body comes alive with wiggles and squirms. I pick him up and hold him close. I pray that this woman will someday know the same joy that I have.

I pray he is for keeps.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Just Call Me Dorothy

Someday soon our family is going to move away from Critter Heaven of the Semi-Desert and move into the glorious mountains full of evergreen trees and rippling brooks.

This past Saturday, we had the opportunity to explore our future home and we were delighted with how beautiful the scenery is. The curving roads brought forth views of the surrounding mountains and the sunlight glittered on the lakes and river.

It was heaven.

Yet, that night I realized that even though the mountains are indeed beautiful, they can also be deadly.

We were staying in a beautiful home surrounded by trees. I was enjoying the scenery when the daughter of the lady of the house regaled me with a story about the neighbors just down the road.

One night, they were sitting on their deck enjoying the night air when in the dark they heard a mountain lion take down an elk right in their backyard. They knew this because they heard the death screams and then found body parts laying in various places the next day.

Alrighty then.

It was twilight when I was passing by the bedroom window and I got a glimpse of something hairy running on all fours across the yard. Blinking in astonishment, I stopped in my tracks and turned back to get a better look.

I saw a bear.

From snakes and black widow spiders, to mountain lions and bears, oh my.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Mystery

Yesterday, I thought I was going mad.

The crazy kind of mad. Insane. Coo-coo. The kind of madness with drool oozing down my chin.

Not really.

I was beginning to wonder about myself, though.

In the morning, I was looking around for the loaf of bread that I thought Doc had just bought the night before. I had used almost an entire loaf for making grilled cheese sandwiches and later that night I saw Grumpy stuffing his face with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that he had made with the rest of the bread.

So, when I couldn't find the second loaf of bread that Doc never bought, I accused my children of being little piggies.

"Where's the bread?!" I exclaimed. "I can't find it anywhere! Did you boys eat the ENTIRE loaf of bread last night after dinner?!" I was amazed at this gluttonous feat of theirs that never happened.

They looked at me as if they weren't quite sure how to proceed. Their mother was acting a little crazy. They said they didn't eat the other loaf last night, but they had unsure looks on their faces as if they weren't quite sure what their mother's reaction was going to be to this knowledge.

I didn't believe them. So, I slammed the fridge door shut and began making something else for breakfast.

It was just a little while later when it dawned on me that Doc had indeed never bought a second loaf of bread the night before.


There was also quite the mystery going on with my water bottle.

I had a nice, large water bottle with ice water in it and was leisurely drinking it during my homeschool duties. I had to stop one time to go upstairs and deal with something and when I came back just five minutes later, there was a small wet spot on the floor, my cup was lying on its side on the floor, and there was no water to be seen.

"Happy! Did you drink all of my water?!" Now, the kid would have to be the best human guzzler you have ever seen to accomplish this feat since my bottle was indeed large.

Grumpy had no idea who drank the water, but he pointed the finger at his little brother anyway. So, I sent Happy to his room.

Totally not fair, I know.

Grumpy filled my water bottle and again, I was happily drinking my water when again, I had to go upstairs to deal with something else.

I come downstairs just a few minutes later and was greeted with a bigger splash on the floor, the tipped over bottle, and no water left inside.

This time, I was outraged and knew Happy had not been the culprit. My eyes narrowed and I clenched my teeth as I thought of THE DOG.

That dang dog.

Thinking of her putting her paws onto my desk and tipping over MY water bottle to drink MY water, made me see red and the boys almost saw smoke come out of my ears.

She was relegated to the garage since that is her abode when I am angry with her and I proceeded with my day as usual.

Doc came home and when I told him the story, he asked, "What if it had been the cat?"


Now, that hadn't occured to me and that very well could have been the case, but I still think it was the dog guzzling down all that water.

Narrowing my eyes at the thought, I realized I needed an aspirin and some apologies to make.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Canny in the Mail

A few days after Easter, the boys received a box in the mail. It was no small box and it was from my brother and parents.

I wasn't expecting to find what was inside. The boys huddled around me as usual when something has been delivered and we all peeked inside when it was finally opened.

At the top, we saw nine, little stuffed animals. There was a monkey, a pig, two cats, a horse, a tiger, and three dogs. (Grumpy is at this moment helping me to remember all of the animals. He is, after all, the one with the stuffed animal fetish.)

Underneath the animals, we found bag after bag of candy. There was such a variety of candy that I can't begin to remember all the different kinds. Let's just say that they will have candy until Halloween.

Since I don't want my children to develop diabetes, I have set down a certain rule. No junk food whatsoever until the weekends. Even then, I still hear, "Can I have some canny, Mom?" on a daily basis.

That is Happy and Grumpy's most ardent question throughout the days. Even my three-year-old has some tricks up his sleeve.....like those big, blue eyes and curly, long lashes.

A few weeks after we received the candy in the mail, I was in the living room with Sneezy. Happy comes up to me just to make conversation. He leans against my leg and looks up at me with those beautiful eyes and inquisitive look on his face.

Eventually, he comes to the point. "Mom, can I have some canny?" he asks sweetly. "You want some candy, huh?" I ask knowing he is trying to reel me in. "Um,hm. It's my favorite food," he says matter-of-factly.

Well, of course, it is.

Monday, April 7, 2008

I'm A Man Now

Every night, Sleepy will ask, "If I eat my dinner, will I be a man just like Daddy?"

I reply, "Yep. Just like Daddy."

Last night, he finished his dinner and said, "I ate all of my macaroni, Mom!" I said, "It's rigotoni, dear." "Oh," he said.

He ponders this for a while and then asked, "Am I a man now?" His question was quite garbled, but being his mother, it took me only a second to realize that was what he was asking.

I said, "You sure are, sweetie!" So, he gets up from his chair and stands in front of his father.

"I'm a man!" he announced to Doc.

Doc said, "Hmmm. Well, wipe your face because you have spaghetti sauce all over it."

Faulty Memory

Last night, during family devotions, Doc decided to ask the boys a question.

"Do you boys listen to me when I preach?" he asked.

"Sometimes," Bashful said.

Grumpy said, "Well, I listen to the words you say when we are in church, but by the time we get home, I forget them all."

Well, at least they are honest.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Like Father, Like Son

Doc was a scrapper from the minute he was born. He loves to tell stories of his childhood and one of them is when he was in kindergarten.

A little girl had been teasing him and finally he had enough of that. He climbed the ladder to the slide and came to the top. He noticed the little girl at the bottom of the slide, so as he slid down, he saw an opening.

He hauled off and punched her right in the face.

Doc has since learned that you don't hit girls and he has passed on this lesson to his sons. Apparently, though, they see nothing wrong with punching each other.

Our little kindergartner, Sleepy, is the one most like his father in looks and temperament. He looks like a little clone and they get a lot of comments from gushing waitresses about how much they look alike when they go out to breakfast together.

Sleepy is slight in stature, but I am assured by his doctor that he will be the size of his father when he is grown. Since that's good enough for me, I am not worried.

Right now, though, his brothers are taller and bigger and Happy happens to be around the same size and weight. Sleepy has realized that he must hold his own in this family or be obliterated.

He has taken on a toughness and continually speaks of becoming a man. No way is he going to let his brothers get the best of him, too.

Last night, I was in the basement with Doc. A ruckus had been going on upstairs for quite a while, but we were both too tired to really care what was going on.

Eventually, Grumpy comes down the stairs holding his nose and crying.

"Mom! Dad! Sleepy punched me in the nose!" he cries indignantly. I barely look at him and Doc asks, "Are you bleeding?" "No," he replies. So, Doc just says to get back upstairs and leave each other alone.

We've basically decided without really discussing it that sometimes the boys have to deal with things on their own. We call that "socializing" them.

With humor, I look at Doc and said, "Sleepy is just like you." In more ways than one.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The /b/ Sound

My kindergartner, Sleepy, gets the case of the itchies whenever we have school together. We will be learning subtraction and all of a sudden he starts scratching every part of his body.

The kid can't sit still to save his life.

Despite this, he is learning and even though I hear, "I hate phonics," or "I hate..." whatever, he does manage to cram some things into his brain.

Yesterday, we were doing phonics in the living room. We were playing "I Spy". I said, "I spy something that starts with the /b/ sound." Now, the room has about four bookshelves crammed with Doc's books. So, the obvious answer was book.....to me...but not to my little stinker.

He looks around for a couple seconds and then turns around, sticks out his behind, pats it and says, "Butt starts with the /b/ sound!" and he was very proud of himself.

He's a cheeky fellow, that one. Pun intended, of course.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Little Woman

I was hoping I would be able to spare everyone yet another story from "There's a Mouse in the House" saga, alas, no can do. I must share another one.

You would think by now that I am very used to seeing mice running around my house. I've lost count how many mice I've seen and how many the cat has caught. Yet, I still scream when I see one.

A woman with stronger constitution would be able to grab a fleeing mouse by the tail without losing her sense by now, but not me.

I'm not the strong, fearless type. Granted, I may look a little fearsome in my ratty pajamas, ponytail, and no makeup, but I still consider myself the little woman in the house and I don't really care if I run screaming from a little mouse who is more scared of me than I am of it. I keep telling myself that they are just mice, but it's hard to convince myself while still shivering and standing on top of the furniture.

Case in point. The day before, I was holding the baby on my lap watching the cat. She seemed very interested in the birds and was prowling around the bird cage. Noticing the blanket was still covering the cage, I took pity on the birds and decided to take the blanket off.

I put the baby in his bouncer seat and went over to the cage. Part of the blanket was already folded over a little bit, so I had to unfold it in order to completely throw it off the cage. I flipped over the folded part of the blanket and was immediately transfixed with horror.

The mouse's fur gleamed in the light of the basement. It sat still probably not noticing at first that its hiding place had been discovered.....until the bloodcurdling scream moved it into action. Even the cat ran away in fright.

I ended up standing on the stairs with my chest heaving. Happy was the only one who came running to see what was going on since all of the others are in their own world. I noticed the mouse was still hiding undearneath the blanket on the table with the birds. So, I went over to the cat and picked her up.

I gently layed her on the table with the bird cage and shook the blanket. The mouse was startled and jumped down running for its life. The cat was fast but not fast enough. It got away.

There is something that I know, though, that the mouse does not. The all-powerful exterminator is coming tomorrow and it's death to all mice.