Sunday, October 30, 2011

A whole weekend of bouncy goodness

I swear this is not going to turn into Becca's Craft and Homemaking Blog, but you have got to look at this cake my friend and I made for Charlie and Wes's birthday.


My friend Katie is a cake-decorating GENIUS and lots of fun too, so when Ryan found a picture of a periodic table made of cupcakes online I immediately bribed her with a bottle of Cabernet and an evening of snarky fun in exchange for helping me make my own periodic table for Charlie and Wes's mad science-themed birthday party. As it turned out, she needed a girls' night and Ryan needed some privacy to watch the last game of the World Series, so we had a date. I can claim no credit for the spectacular result, but we sure had fun.

Right before Katie arrived, this monstrosity was delivered to our backyard.


We were so thrilled to find a space-themed one! They said they could deliver it as early as Tuesday for no extra charge, which tells us that there's not a ton of demand for the NASA bounce house. More for us, I say!

And the piece de resistance:



Yes, it WAS almost as tall as our house. Yes, we invited the neighbors.

We made the kids wait until nine the next morning to try it out. Needless to say they spent the hours of 6:30-8:59 with their noses pressed to the back window, wondering aloud what time it was.

Finally, it was nine o'clock and we ushered them out the backyard to jump the rest of the morning away while I enjoyed the seasonal weather and made my favorite chili for our guests.

Charlie and Wes and I decorated the playroom door.


Some closeups of my favorites:

Charlie the scientist (top) with experiment, graduated cylinder (left), flask (right)

Test tubes with reaction occuring

Wes's contribution, self explanatory

After everyone was here and had bounced for a little while we all came inside and made slime. I was so worried about this part, because I'm not much a wave-maker when it comes to parties. I would have been happy to let everyone bounce themselves silly all evening, but it was a mad science party, dang it, there was going to be some science. And also, I passed the dirty work of rounding up the kids on to Ryan and he did a really wonderful job. I was a little surprised when ten children obediently filed into the kitchen and took their places around the kitchen table. We know some pretty great kids, is all I'm saying.


The experiment worked (hooray! phew!) and we released everyone back into the wild with plates of pizza, grapes, and popcorn. No one saw them again until it was time to eat the periodic table.

We were so thrilled that Ryan's parents and sister and brother-in-law could come from out of town as well as Charlie and Wes's cousins who are older (seven and eight!) and SO COOL to our two. They and our friends were so thoughtful and generous and love our kids and the whole evening was fun and relaxed and left me feeling so happy and content here with our wonderful community of friends and family.

The after-party, which is when Ryan and I put the kids to bed and eat the leftover cake in front of the TV, was also very special, since we've been like two ships in the night this past week with all of our various activities.

We thought they were coming for the bounce house in the morning, so before church, we all ran out there (some of us in jammies, me and Ryan, cough cough) for to get the last bounces in before we had to leave. It turned out that they didn't come until five, so it was a bouncy bouncy day.

We did not hear one single peep out of anyone after lights out. Not a peep! I wish I could say that was normal, but Wes showing up downstairs in the middle of a movie with lots of swearing asking to be taken to the potty is much more normal.

I'm looking forward to hyping them up even more tomorrow evening and then it's right back to the very ordinary status quo.

Friday, October 28, 2011

To Infinity and Beyond!

I spent most of yesterday managing Charlie's expectations for a homemade Buzz Lightyear costume that was to include (his list, not mine) a working laser, wings that fly, and a button that you could push to make it say "To Infinity and Beyond."  Naturally he thought Ryan would be able to figure it out, both because Ryan really does make magic happen sometimes and also because my standard method of stalling on hard things during the day is to tell them that maybe Papa can do it when he gets home.  I am singlehandedly setting the women's movement back three decades.

Well, sweetie, I don't know if I can make retractable wings by tomorrow morning.  We might just have to pretend.  That's what makes Halloween so much fun!

No, baby, you won't be able to actually fly when you are wearing your costume. Please promise me you won't try.  Do you understand?  I need you to promise.  Because people can only fly in airplanes.  I know you're disappointed but you have to promise me you're not going to jump off the swing set and try to fly.


And then, about ten seconds later, he had found a pattern online which would enable him to make RETRACTABLE BUZZ LIGHTYEAR WINGS.


So last night we spent three hours watching the Texas Rangers play in the World Series Game Six and making Charlie's Halloween costume.

In between bouts of swearing at the TV we colored and cut and glued and pinned and hot glued and Googled.  We hid the whole thing under the bed so Ryan could bring Charlie in to watch the Moon Landing the last inning of the game with him then got it back out again after it became clear the game was far from over and Charlie wasn't going to wake up enough to enjoy it anyway.

Finally, around 12:30, the game was over, Ryan was sitting on the floor with his head in his hands, and the costume was done.

The wings open and close.  Ryan is magical.


Charlie was beside himself.  When he walked in with his class for the Halloween parade he was flapping his wings with each step.  Everyone who made eye contact got a "Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!" as he pushed the blue button.  Wes told everyone "I Woody and he Buzz!"

It doesn't matter than he can't actually fly, he IS Buzz, he DOES have a laser, and he CAN talk just like the real toy.

Now to keep him away from the swingset...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


The kids told me their plans to be Woody and Buzz for Halloween sometime in March, so naturally I am just now getting around to doing their costumes two days before dorm trick or treating and three days before the school Halloween parade.

I started on Woody's vest first. Wes is Woody. I will probably not get to Buzz until tomorrow night after my Girls' Game Night, which is actually quite appropriate.

First I gathered my supplies. I needed cow-print fabric, scissors, thread, and a sewing machine.

And if you are an emotional eater and tend to get frustrated while crafting, you will also need some homemade sugar cookies.

The first thing you do, and this goes against everything I've ever believed about last-minute high-pressure crafting, is to make a pattern of one half of the vest front from a piece of paper.  I know what you are saying, "But it takes ten extra seconds to make a pattern!  I could use that time staring out the window, or Tweeting!"  Believe me.  It will save you time later.


You will need two front halves for the vest and one back piece.  I used the same pattern for all three pieces but made the back piece slightly narrower than the front pieces.  Also, I had a ton of fabric so I doubled the front pieces so if he opens up the vest there will be cow print on the inside too, know what I mean?  Fancy.

Be sure to leave extra fabric to account for seams.  Or, you know, forget and then spend the rest of the project wondering if you're going to have to make your baby be Woody instead of your three year old because it's looking way too small.

Quell your panic by going upstairs to measure the pattern against your sleeping child after you've already cut out the fabric.

Next you will turn the vest halves inside out and sew around the outside.  If you are me you wil come *thisclose* to forgetting to leave an opening so that you can turn it back out the right way after you sew the seam.  Don't do this.  You will never find your seam ripper at this time of night.  Here's what a vest front half looks like after it has been sewed.  The bottom was left open on purpose.


 Then you turn it right-side-out and top-stitch it.  I'm a fool for top-stitching!  It always looks so neat and finished and it used to not be possible because (and I did not know this) my sewing machine was broken and made really ugly seams.  Two days at the repair shop and it is now good as new and I no-longer need a Xanax to approach a sewing project.  I sewed a 1/4" top-stitch all the way around.  This is also when you can close up that bottom edge.  Fold it inside with your fingers and then sew it.  You could pin it if you had that kind of time and energy.

Here's what I am talking about.  The bottom one is finished, the top one is waiting for its top-stitch.  Have I said top-stitch enough?  No?  OK, top-stitch, top-stitch, top-stitch!

For the back, fold each edge in about a half an inch and sew it so it stays flat.  From the outside it will appear to be TOP-STITCHED!  But you will know about your secret short-cutting ways!  This is how I save time so I can do important things like stare out the window and wish it would rain.

Once you have all three pieces prepared you can sew them together by flipping everything inside out and sewing along the sides.  Be sure to leave armholes.  Unless you are making a straight-jacket vest.  Stay tuned for a future post about our new discipline technique!

After it was all done I sneaked into Wes's room and tried it on him while he was asleep.  You may find this creepy, but I for one will sleep better tonight knowing that his vest fits him perfectly.

For my next trick, I will turn an ordinary diaper box into BUZZ LIGHTYEAR, SPACE RANGER!  TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Blathering

I've been increasingly overwhelmed these days as the pressures of work and home life start to ramp up mid-semester.  Every night Ryan asks me how he can help and every time he asks I say "I just need like two or three whole days away.  Not an hour at a coffee shop, an entire day with no obligations that I can use to do whatever I want." Well this weekend was The Blathering, and BOY did I get my free weekend!

 Friday afternoon as I left from work and passed the exit for my house, I wanted to turn so bad.  I was suddenly terrified to hang out with all these women I didn't know and not exactly sure of the directions I had scribbled on an envelope in my purse.  But I found it alright and was greeted with a huge hug and many happy smiles and about a hundred different kinds of cupcakes.  It was the right decision.

Everyone I met was wonderful, but I spent the most time with these ladies after I gave them a ride to the hotel in Ryan's (formerly my) Neon Saturday after brunch.  We bonded over the lack of air conditioning and my ever-present fear of mechanical failure as well as the copious amount of dog hair in the back seat. And then we bonded some more in the hotel room watching Goonies while one of them pumped before we went back to join the party. Pumping is way better then the human knot game as an ice breaker, as you know.

Ryan had the kids out on a picnic by a river and I couldn't reach them Saturday, so I just kept having fun.  The day began with brunch and then we went shopping. Every uninterrupted bite of eggs benedict and leisurely stroll through a cluttered antique store took me a little bit further away from the real world and, you guys, it was NICE.  I had five hours until dinner and I did not know what to do with myself.  I could take a yoga class!  I could go to Marshalls!  I could go to a real store and look for boots!

I took a break in the afternoon to go to a friend's Halloween party with Ryan and the boys (so much fun, forgot to put them in costumes, Spiderman came!) then headed back downtown for dinner.

I made two wrong turns (really, really wrong turns) and got there late and stole a place setting of a back table so I could squeeze into a table with my friends. Dinner? Was fun.  Did not notice everyone wearing pants when I said "Hey, let's all pull our skirts up!" in this picture.


It was really, really fun.  *I* was really, really fun.  It's hard to get out of stressball mode when the family is around, you know?


There was a valet!  And delicious passed appetizers!  And a wonderful meal!  With dessert!  And there was wine!  Lots of laughing! And many new friends.

I had planned to leave at 9:30.  They kicked us out at 11:00.  When I called Ryan to check in he answered on the first ring.  I am not a stayer-out-later.  This was very, very good for me.

There was much hilarity as we waited for the valet to bring the Neon around.  "It's the classy one!" I called out as he disappeared into the night with my ticket.  And then he brought it up and the light glinted off the paint-less roof and we laughed and laughed and laughed.

And then we got in, me and these new friends to whom I'd just offered a ride, and there was NO GAS.


I got home at midnight and it took another hour after that to calm down and go to sleep.  Despite the late night, I felt like a new person all day--calmer, more patient, more fun, more willing to do house chores cheerfully.  A break for Mama is good for EVERYONE and today was a great day.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin Bar Love

Last night I was all set to do my thirty minutes of professional work after the kids went to bed (like you guys suggested--a great idea), but then they didn't go to bed until well after eight, which is really late for us.  We came downstairs after the last one was tucked in and collapsed onto the couch for a little Hulu'ed Modern Family.  Ryan asked if I wanted to watch another show afterward, but I was very sleepy and still had to make pumpkin bars for my mom group in the morning.  I got all the ingredients out on the counter while Ryan flipped on the TV to find the Ranger's game.

Then I poked my head into the living room to ask Ryan something and found him watching Nova instead of the baseball game.  I sat down just for a minute to check it out.  It was about NASA's Cassini mission to search for life on other planets and it was SO COOL you guys!  We learned about the moons around Jupiter and Saturn and how the elliptical orbit can cause friction and heating within the core of the moon and create volcanoes IN SPACE.  AND how the environment on Europa isn't that different from the polar oceans on EARTH and there could be LIFE there, deep in those oceans.  It was amazing.  I heart Nova.

I did, however, fall asleep right around the time they started talking about Enceladus, one of Saturn's moons, and forgot all about my pumpkin bars.

When I woke up I was covered with a blanket and Ryan was in the kitchen making them for me.

It's going to be hard to save the last two for him, but I will.  Or maybe I'll just make a second batch.

They're pretty delicious.  And also very easy.  Make them for someone you love today!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Career angst, woo hoo!

I had a bit of a meltdown last night after a difficult weekend.  Ryan was out of town Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon; he went to the Texas Rangers game with his dad and had a wonderful time.  It looked like an exciting game even to me, and I don't "get" baseball, but the kids were out of sorts and grouchy with him gone.  Wes had trouble sleeping (which is, sadly, becoming routine).  James has discovered screaming as an attention-getting mechanism.  Charlie was alternately moody and stubborn and generously helpful and sweet, which made my hot and cold emotions toward him confusing and frustrating.  Wes has three potty accidents at church on Sunday.

In addition to all of my normal life-with-three-kids frustrations, I got some scary news from a friend that her husband and son were involved in a serious car accident (everyone is going to be fine).  It was overwhelming.

And as I normally do when I am overwhelmed, I spent my evenings in a vegetative state on the couch, TV on, Facebook open.  And when I do that, I inevitably feel guilty about all the things I should be doing instead--the kitchen, the laundry, the Halloween costumes, the birthday party preparations.  And then I feel even worse.

But the thing that's been on my mind all week is a paper I've been trying to prepare for submission FOREVER.  My co-author had the paper for a year (a busy year for both of us that involved James's birth and a new class, so I wasn't in a position to work on it anyway) and never looked at it, so I planned a trip to go up to his office and meet with him in person to finalize the paper.  He agreed and we set a date, October 25.  Then last week he sent me a list of concerns and a marked up version of the paper.

It was exactly what I needed to have to be able to move forward.  I don't have the experience to edit my own work well and I have always trusted him as an editor and reviewer.  On the other hand, he is very thorough and the list of things the paper needs (and it IS what the paper needs, I have no complaints about his necessary criticism) was LONG and included reading and including a handful of references that I missed.  In addition to the embarrassment of missing those references, the whole thing just makes me feel defeated.

Reason number one: I do not have enough time.  I have childcare for ten hours a week.  Six of those hours are spent in class.  Two of those hours are spent commuting.  In addition to the class-time responsibilities, those of you who teach know that there is grading, office hours, and responding to student emails.  Obviously, I do not have enough childcare for all of those things, but I can usually close the gap by occasionally grading in front of the TV at night.  I don't love doing that, but grading is a fairly mindless activity that doesn't take very long for this particular course.

However.  I most certainly do not have time for other academic activities, like publishing, that I feel are important to keep my "career" moving forward.  That is a problem.  I estimate that the current paper I am working on would require a week or more of focused, full-time work to get the next draft ready.  "Focused" work is not really my specialty right now.  I am not able to work full-time right now.

Obviously I could pick away at this paper in the evenings after the kids go to bed and we've cleaned up the kitchen and maybe spent a few minutes talking to one another.  I could probably sneak in a couple of hours a day that way at the expense of sleep (which leads to a whole host of other problems), hobbies, and fun things like TV shows and talking to friends online.  Obviously that is one solution.  But is it a long-term solution?

And that's not even considering the fact that I am EXHAUSTED by that part of the day--not ready to dive into a fifteen-page paper.  By nine o'clock I can barely get through a page of a Jennifer Weiner novel, let alone "the Tieleman reference" that I need to include here, here, and here.

I can't add much childcare without earning more money, and full-time academic work, if I even wanted to go that route, does not appear to be available anytime soon in our current location.  And we really, really like it here (except for our god-awful summer weather).

Ryan and I talked about all of this in detail last night and I'm going to try working an hour a night, however painful that might be.  I am not going to get anything accomlished by alternately lying around doing nothing and then complaining about how all I ever do is lie around doing nothing, after all.  He works most nights too, so it'll be no different from undergrad, where we got to know each other in the library over our textbooks.  And I will try to develop a career, one paper or one proposal at a time.  Fortunately I have about ten years until I'll be ready for a full-time job.  I just hope that my suspicions, that the only option for success in this field is total dedication, are wrong.

Friday, October 14, 2011


We heard the artist at work long after his bedtime, but I didn't know what he was working on until he came downstairs for breakfast.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

They are so much cuter in Ratatoullie

Today after I got home from dropping the boys off I put James down for a nap and was looking forward to a couple of hours of free time to mess around in a quiet house and do as I pleased.

As usual, I was planning to do some modest kitchen straightening so that I didn't feel completely guilty about the time "wasted" doing nothing, drinking coffee, and staring off into space.  I took the trash to the curb and patted myself on the back for taking care of it all by myself and then thought I'd take care of the bowl of compost on the kitchen counter too. Overloaded mixing bowl of scraps in hand, I lifted the lid to the compost bin only to see a GIANT FUZZY RAT crawling around inside.

Naturally I yelled "SHIT!" and threw the overloaded mixing bowl and its contents (banana peels, the guts of an acorn squash, coffee grounds) all over the ground.

Then I ran back inside and deadbolted the door. Just in case the rat was able to turn the handle and come find me, I wanted to be safe.

And then I got a snack and sat down at the computer. I wasn't sure what to do. Normally I would Facebook something like that, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to advertise to all of my friends (some of whom are local), that I had a rat habitat in my backyard.

Instead, I turned to Google, hoping for someplace I could lodge a complaint. After all, Google told me that if we didn't put meat or dairy in our compost bin, we shouldn't have an animal problem. Google was wrong. We only put vegetable and fruit scraps, teabags and coffee grounds in there. I can't be sure that there are no toys in there, or that no one has ever peed in there, but there are no meat scraps for sure.

I Googled "rat in compost bin" and clicked on the first disgusting link. "Even if you don't have meat or dairy in your compost bin, chances are you will one day have a rodent problem. Here's how to get them to leave."

Google failed. BIG TIME. The article suggested keeping the compost moist (have not done), turning it frequently (also have not done), and frequently adding yard waste on top of the food (also have not done because we have no yard waste because we now live in the Chihuahuan Desert).

What we have done, apparently, is known as setting up a rat Golden Corral in our backyard. The article went on to say that it was important to keep rats out of your compost bin because they can spread diseases and multiply very quickly, a fact that was not lost on me because Ryan and I watched this Nova several months ago.  Several rounds of shock therapy later I am once again able to sleep with the lights off.

I decided that I wasn't willing to leave the situation as it was for the babysitter to handle this afternoon, which meant I had to take care of it myself.  Google told me rats like it when the food is easy to find, so I got a huge bag of top soil out of the garage and lugged it out to the back yard.  I ripped it open and hoisted it up, ready to dump it in, then opened the lid wide with my foot.

I didn't see it at first but as I began dumping the dirt over the food scraps the little bastard JUMPED OUT OF THE COMPOST BIN.  He landed on the fence as I ran away screaming obscenities and shrieking like a little girl.  There may have been some hand flapping.

After it had safely run the length of our fence and disappeared into our neighbor's yard I finished dumping the dirt in.  And then I returned with a pitcher of boiling water for good measure.  And then I called Ryan so he could tell me how brave I am and maybe bring me a special treat when he comes home from work.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mama, the strawberry farm has PUMPKINS now!

That's what Charlie exclaimed when we rounded the corner into view of the cute little farm we visit to pick strawberries in the summer. We had a really wonderful and exhausting trip to the pumpkin farm today with our friends.  After six months of being a jerk, our weather was GLORIOUS.  I don't think it got over seventy-five degrees all day and it was overcast and just perfect for a day at the pumpkin patch.

And also, how could you not have fun with this van-load of adorable (James was there, you can just see his foot)?  It was loud and wonderful.  You know what happens when you put two four-year-old boys in a confined space for a couple of hours?  You hear a lot of raucous laughter and things like "I'M GOING TO HAVE ICE CREAM WITH POOP SAUCE AND UNDERPANTS!!"


The kids in the middle were much calmer, probably because we plied them with food brought by my thoughtful friend who also made us each a cup of coffee for the ride.

The first thing we did was climb all over this trailer of pumpkins and take a lot of pictures before realizing we were capturing the portapotties in the background.  Also there was a scuffle for the tractor.


This is what happened when I told them to get together for a picture (and reframed my shot to not include the portapotties).


And then I finally got them together and suggested Charlie put his hands on Wes's shoulders.  And now smile!  And look at me!  OK whatever!  I have no excuse for what they're wearing.  I thought there would be mud and I was in a hurry and Wes is still wearing his pajama top.  There are three of them, what can I say?


We had a blast in the corn maze.  I underestimated the heart palpitations supervising all those kids in A MAZE would induce, but it really was fun.  And then we found the bell!  And then we got lost again and ran past the bell a second time and Charlie yelled "IT'S THE SECOND BELL!"  I heart him.  Note my friend's appropriately dressed children.  She even had time to make me coffee.  Awe!


There was more drama trying to get a nice picture of everyone that didn't look like a Calvin Klein Eternity commercial.


And then I got this sweet, sweet picture of Baby James...


...and I couldn't help but think that I'd seen that picture somewhere before (hint: this one is Charlie).


Things kind of fell apart after that so we headed for the car and home. We watched TV snuggled up in blankets with the windows open for the rest of the afternoon.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bad Boys Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do?

I walked into my house after work today to the usual fanfare.  Charlie ran and hugged me around the legs.  Wes had fallen asleep watching TV and was curled up on a chair.  James smiled and grunted as he Spiderman-crawled across the living room to meet me.  I scooped him up and cuddled him as our babysitter filled me in on their day.

It was the usual, coloring, snack, Wild Kratts, and then she hesitated.

"I'm so sorry, but while I was inside making a bottle for James, they cut some holes in the..."

Not the Pack and Play, not the Pack and Play, not the Pack and Play...

"...Pack and Play.  I'm so sorry."

I gaped at Charlie then went to the window to peek out onto the porch where we keep the Pack and Play because we live in Texas and you can do that sort of thing here.

It looked like it had been attacked by wolves.  Devious, little wolves.

Holes of varying hugeness covered all four sides.  Shreds of ruined netting fluttered in the breeze.

I reassured the babysitter that no, it wasn't her fault, Charlie and Wes know how to behave in the backyard alone and how to use scissors appropriately.  She had put them in timeout and otherwise expressed appropriate horror at the behavior.

And then Charlie got the full "I'm so disappointed in you" treatment.  I started taking away privileges one after the other.  First the TV, then bedtime stories, then dessert, then the backyard camping trip he didn't even know we had planned for them tonight (that one hurt Ryan and me the most).  And then I found the scissors and told Charlie he wouldn't be using them again until I decided he was ready to follow the rules.  And I hid them.  And at the moment I don't remember exactly where, but it shouldn't be a problem because by the time I'm ready to give them back he will be able to drive to Target and buy another pair himself.

"WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!" I stupidly asked him more than once.  Clearly he was not thinking about rules, consequences, behaving like a human being, or the image of the veins in my neck doubling in size and turning purple.

Then I called Ryan at work to warn him that there would be no b-a-c-k-y-a-r-d c-a-m-p-o-u-t tonight because the little criminals have lost the privilege of having fun of any kind for the time being.  I knew that Charlie knew exactly what I was talking about and I planned to leverage the full power of "wait until your father gets home."

He looked uncertainly at a spot on the kitchen table and fidgeted with a spoon for a minute.  Then he dared to interrupt me to ask for some milk while I was talking and received the Look of Incredulity.  When I got off the phone I asked him again "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!"

"I'm sorry" he said quietly, examining his shoes.  He went right back to coloring and asking me for the scissors (!!) after I turned away.

I still don't know exactly how Wes was involved except that I know he was inside the Pack and Play when it all went down.  So now I have a mental picture of Charlie stabbing the scissors through the sides of the Pack and Play over and over and Wes laughing hysterically, not aware that someone was pretending to STAB HIM WITH SCISSORS.

"I don't even know what to say!" I said as I angrily chopped a carrot and dropped it into a sauce pan.

I turned to a bowl of chicken stock I had planned on using for the soup and found it gelled over and unusable.

"DAMMIT!" I slammed a slotted spoon into the sink and walked out of the kitchen.

I stalked back into the kitchen, unwrapped two frozen pizzas and preheated the oven then made him apologize to James and me again.

He told James he was sorry.  Then he apologized to me again.  And then he asked me again to let him back into the backyard.  I told him we were done having fun for the day.  He pouted.

Ryan came home and inspected the damage and made Charlie apologize some more.   We ate pizza then Charlie went straight to bed (Wes went to bed straight from his spot on the chair) after the whole "I love you even when you make huge mistakes" speech had been repeated a couple of times.  After James was down Ryan met met me in the kitchen where we shared cookies and wondered allowed "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THEM?"

Tomorrow we will be doing manual labor.  Lots and lots of manual labor.  Tired kids can't destroy things!

We'll start at the church workday pulling weeds and, I'm hoping, cleaning the huge double oven with a toothbrush.  It's never too early to teach children that working together to support our community is a punishment.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Charlie, my heart

This morning was really rushed and frantic but since I didn't get around to taking a shower yesterday and James and I had a date with Pediatrician Man for a well check, I thought it would be OK to pop into the shower just long enough to wash my hair and face while everyone was happily watching TV or confined to an Exersaucer. I mean, two minutes! What's the worst that could happen, right?

After spending honest-to-goodness less than two minutes in the shower, I heard the hysterical screaming as I was towel-drying my hair.

Apparently "the worst that could happen" is that Charlie, through no fault of his own of course, managed to fly off the couch and land chin-first on the edge of the coffee table.

It took me some time to get this explanation out of him. The first ten-ish minutes were nothing but non-sensical angry screaming about how EVERYTHING HURTS! I FELL AND I HURT EVERYTHING as I cradled him in my lap dripping wet and wrapped in a towel.

He got over it fairly quickly, it's SCIENCE DAY at school after all.

We were in the car to school when I saw a thin brown line forming above his eyebrows and thought it might be a long, skinny bruise? From the edge of the table? But surely if that was where he hit there would have been blood, right? Then he finally told me he'd landed on his chin and sure enough there was a small, but angry-looking bruise there too.  So I guess he really did hurt "everything".  Poor kid.  Also: heart palpitations because, YIKES!

I cheered him up by telling him that my dad, his grandpa, had flown off a couch in a very similar fashion when he was almost the same age and whacked his forehead on the very same table so hard he still has a scar to this day.  Thank goodness we were able to avoid that for now.

On another note, I had to fill in a sheet for Charlie naming his favorite song and favorite book.  His favorite song is "Mary had a Little Lamb", so I wrote that in then asked his favorite book.  He told me his favorite book was the Bible.  Which, great!  Yay!  He really does love reading his children's Bible before bed.  The story of young David being chosen as king is his favorite.

But, really?  "Mary had a Little Lamb" and "The Bible" kind of looks like I filled it out myself in an effort to look like totally awesome MOTY, you know?  He knows all the words to "Tonight's Gonna be a Good Night" by the Black Eyed Peas for goodness sake!  We are not The Duggars (although if I could have a tenth of that woman's patience and time-management skills I would happily call myself one)!  Or maybe we are more of an offbeat, simple living, hippie, throwback family than I am willing to admit (as I suspect is probably the case).

So I said to him "Well, Sweetie, I think most people love to read the Bible and your teacher is trying to get a feel for what other types of books you like."  I suggested a few that we read often and he chose Stuart Little.  I was uneasy about the whole exchange and discretely brought it up to his teacher after I dropped him off.

"Oh, he LOVES to read the Children's Bible here!  It's wonderful!"

His teacher = my teacher.  I love her.

And then I felt like a jerk instead of merely looking like a jerk who filled in their kid's homework assignment.

Another another note: Kindergarten is a year away and I am starting to feel sad about it, which is not what I expected.

Monday, October 3, 2011

So Big!

When sweet little baby toes meet pajamas that are on their fifth go-round...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

More! Educational! Fun!

Learned something new today, friends! If you suspect your baby might have an ear infection, there are places you should not take him. Topping that list is AN UNDERGROUND CAVE.

His mouth is smiling but his eyes say "I just screamed for forty-five minutes IN A CAVE!"

Ryan and I saw this cave on a PBS show we watched last Saturday night because we are too cool for words and decided we needed to go see it for ourselves. It was about an hour away and we managed to keep the kids excited by calling it a "science field trip" and stopping at Sonic for breakfast tacos along the way.

At the entrance to the park was the original visitor's center, built by the CCC in the thirties and it was SO COOL. It was the size of a small house and constructed of local stone with wooden beams and shingles. A large wrought iron chandelier hung in the main room, which had a grand domed ceiling decorated with rocks and crystals found inside the cave. It had a staircase outside that led up two winding stories to the roof, which served as an observation deck with a compass rose inlaid into the stone floor.


We all claimed the cozy room with the balcony on the second floor as "our room". My parents and niece came with us and people thought the four little blond children were all ours. One person said to Sibley "Oh, look at you! You're the only girl! I bet you can hold your own, though!"


We finally managed to get the kids away from the magical storybook castle house and moving towards the cave and were treated to more intricate stonework and a huge natural stone arch that led into the cave.


The kids were excited but nervous the whole time we were inside. Wes spent lots of time draped over my dad's shoulder. Charlie clung to my hand so fiercely I had to pry my fingers free if I needed to scratch my nose or get half undressed to feed the baby.

The cave had been used at various times as a meetinghouse for Indians, a hideout for outlaw Sam Bass, a Speakeasy, and a church. There are no pictures from inside the cave because of all the necessary kid juggling, hand holding, and passing James around, bouncing James, cave-nursing him in the cave-Ergo and ultimately deciding that there was nothing we could do but let him scream then give a huge tip to the ranger, who probably thought we were from some fringe religious sect with our four children aged four and under.

Despite the screaming, which didn't start until the farthest point away from the cave entrance, where I couldn't have found my way out myself, the tour was really cool. Lots of windy passageways and beautiful rock formations. Just enough climbing and tunnels to keep the kids interested. Some historical tidbits (LBJ kept an office down there in case of nuclear attack!).

Nonetheless, I was happy when we got back to the surface where James's choking sobs stopped immediately the moment he felt the sun on his face. As I handed the ranger all the singles I could find in my purse and apologized profusely, he said "Yeah, I've seen a lot worse (?!). Sometimes the pressure gets to their ears when we get near the bottom." How was I to know that? The pediatrician has never suggested we avoid spelunking before when the kids have had ear infections. SO WEIRD. I'll have to mention it to him. "You should really tell the other parents not to take their babies six stories underground when they have an ear infection." Right after "Avoid close contact with siblings," maybe.

We went out for lunch after the cave. It was uneventful except that Charlie ordered a man-size plate of fried catfish and ate almost the whole thing. Also, he carries stuffed animals inside his shirt (like an Ergo I think, not like a pregnancy).


Everyone conked out within minutes of leaving the restaurant and we went home to watch a movie for the rest of the afternoon.