Tuesday, November 29, 2011

You win some you lose some

Because Tuesdays are long and formless in our house, I decided it was time to make a little holiday cheer. Time for some dough ornaments!

With a snarky "making holiday memories" in my head, I Googled "dough ornaments" and was directed to this website, aptly named "Making Memories". We already had all the ingredients on hand, so I whipped up the dough during the kids' first hour (of approximately fifteen-thousand) of screentime in the morning. After their show was over, we rolled it out and cut the shapes out together then stuck them in the oven for an hour.

For whatever reason, everybody was completely insane today, so it was a special hour of reminding the children to PUT YOUR SHOES BACK ON OUT THERE IT'S FORTY-FIVE DEGREES and asking Wes if he needed to go potty eleven times a minute.

When the ornaments were out of the oven and James was awake we headed to Target for some groceries, paint, and glitter. You would think that getting everyone into the car for as fun a reason as buying paint for your awesome homemade Christmas ornaments would be a snap, but YOU WOULD BE WRONG. There was whining and stubbornness and endless requests to put your seatbelt/shoes/coat on. I considered scrapping the whole thing right then, but it was only ten o'clock in the morning and I had another eight hours to kill before Ryan would be home, so we pressed on.

Fortunately, the bananas they ate in the car on the way home perked them right up because we had a really lovely time painting ornaments together. It was like they were under a spell. A spell called "This is like school. School makes me feel calm and secure." (James was napping, by the way. This was not a James-approved activity. In fact, I made one ornament with his handprint on it, then while I ran to the pantry to get a rag to wipe the paint off of his hand he covered his entire head with red Crayola washable paint. Adorable).

Charlie's were very meticulous and detailed...


Wes's were bright and cheerful with lots of glitter...


The kitchen looked like a winter wonderland between all the flour, glitter, and multicolored paint droplets sprayed onto every surface within six feet of the table. And every time I passed the cookie sheet with the extra ornaments on it I thought they were sugar cookies and almost tried to eat one. I finally just made some actual cookies so I wouldn't keep getting disappointed. But ornament-making was a HIT. We all had so much fun.

And they came out so pretty!

IMG_1578 IMG_1577
I made the Rossby one.

We made about twenty-five in all and I'm considering making another batch and using them exclusively on our tree this year since I anticipate we will have some James-related tree drama.

The kids went nuts later in the afternoon and so now I am sitting here on my computer while Ryan unpacks our suitcase from this weekend to atone for not being here for Screamfest-2011 in which there were multiple injuries, much back-talking, ceaseless fighting, and a scorpion stuck to James's pants. But that is a story for another day.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Face kick

Someday when Charlie is all grown up, and hopefully sitting awkwardly on the couch in our retirement cottage on the New England coast with a girl he really, really likes I'm going to break the ice by saying "Remember when you were five and you kicked Wes in the face during Hanging of the Greens at church?"

I mean, right there in the middle of all that winter stillness and anticipation of light in the darkness, WHAM! Size 1 sneaker RIGHT to the forehead.

There was screaming, as you might imagine, and then I told Charlie he couldn't have dessert, which Ryan said was the BEST punishment EVER. And it really was because after they light up the Chrismon trees and we sing Joy to the World we adjourn to the Fellowship Hall for dessert fellowship in the form of eight large tables covered from end to end in cookies and pie and brownies and candy (we made gingerbread men).  (And also I told Charlie that he would lose cookies if he didn't stop picking on Wes, long before the face kicking incident.  There were lots of foreshocks on both sides in the form of pinching, poking, sneering, and golf-pencil stealing)

He managed to join us up front when we hung ornaments on the tree together, but pouted with great vigor for the rest of the evening.  He sat, slumped in a folding chair while the rest of us ate cookies.

It was pitiful.  But not as pitiful as the giant red bruise on Wes's left temple.

Want another brownie, Wes?  Here, have two!

Also behaved poorly during Hanging of the Greens. We took turns holding him in the back.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Boys in sweaters...


Toy trains...


The Santa Train...


Loveys on the Santa Train...


Delightfully awful family pictures...


And one delicious baby who for a just a little bit longer isn't too cool to look at the camera.


Family, laughter, late-night cuddly Star Wars watching, hours of cousin-play, seasonal weather (finally), hot cocoa for breakfast, car naps, good food (so much good food!), good wine, good friends.

So thankful!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Well that was a real pain in the butt, HAR HAR HAR

I had big plans for this, the first preschool free day of Thanksgiving "Break".  Friends were coming over to play!  I was going to make breakfast tacos!  But then James woke up howling and screeching from his crib with the diaper rash to end all diaper rashes.  I dosed him up with all of his various creams for the high-maintenance  baby that we've accumulated in the last several months, then stuck him in his high chair for some breakfast.

He was really losing his mind when I came down from taking a shower.  Ryan had him on the floor to change his diaper, which he hates, so he was screaming and writhing around and I was flustered and snappy with the other kids who were hopping around me, half dressed, and yelling over the screaming "I WANT SOME HOT CHOCOLATE, MAMA!" on repeat as I picked my way around the kitchen stepping over toys and pajama pieces and tiny pairs of underpants, trying to straighten up a little bit for the friends who would be coming over.

Then, over the screaming and the whining I heard Ryan say "Oh my gosh, you poor, poor thing.  BEC COME LOOK AT THIS."

There was blood.  The rash was bleeding.  It was bleeding so bad that when Ryan wiped some away more took its place almost immediately.  James wrested himself from Ryan's grasp and rolled away.  Blood got all over the carpet.

I calmly reported that I would be taking him to the emergency room and WOULD EVERYONE PLEASE FIND THEIR DAMN SHOES AND PUT THEM ON RIGHTNOW.

Ryan got him cleaned up and put a nice soft cloth diaper on him (the best one we have, he said, even though we don't use cloth anymore) while I dialed the pediatrician.  Of course because it's the Monday morning before a holiday I was on hold for what felt like seven hours, listening to advertisements for the Med Spa and their new website where you can make appointments online, which, HOW CONVENIENT.  Maybe there is a box you can check for "My baby's ass is bleeding, must come in ASAP."

Ryan took the phone from me when he noticed my eyes threatening to pop out of my skull.  I get the other kids dressed while he waited on hold.

He made the earliest possible appointment and then we got everyone in the car and I headed out.

The doctor diagnosed him with a strep infection and prescribed an antibiotic, some more fancy creams, and some formula that costs more than the down payment on a new car.  He checked his ears and gums and throat and we were on our way.

Or so I thought.

After I schlepped everyone back down the elevator, through the lobby, and out to the car I found the doors to the van locked.

"Who locked the doors?"  I wondered aloud.

"I DID!"  Charlie was so proud of himself.  Which is why he was so confused when I sighed loudly and said "WHY?!"

I rifled through my purse with one hand, holding James in the other arm, and reminded Wes to get out of the street approximately every five seconds.  There were no keys.

I squatted down in the empty parking space beside my car, put James on the ground, and started taking things out of my bag.  The huge formula samples, the prescription, the books I took to entertain the kids, the extra diaper, the headphones, and my wallet.  There were no keys.  I retrieved James, who had crawled halfway under the car, reminded Wes to stay close, then said out loud to no one in particular,


I gathered everything back together, James, the diaper bag, my purse, the other two kids, and we moved out of the parking lot and onto the entrance of the office building where I could complete a more thorough search.  Still no keys.

I hoisted James onto my hip, let Charlie carry the diaper bag, and put Wes in charge of James's lovey and paci.  We went back through the lobby, up the elevator, down the hall, into the pediatrician's office, down the hall, around the corner, and back into the exam room.

Where I found not only my keys, which were on top of the doctor's stool underneath the table, but also James's pants.

The four of us trooped back down the hall, out of the office, down the other hall, down the elevator, through the lobby, down the stairs, across the parking lot, and into the (now unlocked!) car.

And then we headed straight for Dunkin Donuts.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Drippity, Droppity, Doo


To my dear, sweet, middle child,

I love your spirit, your sense of fun, and your curiosity.  Some day those qualities will serve you well.  Like if you live in a frat house, for example.  Some ancient, ramshackle frat house with ancient ramshackle plumbing at some mid-level state university somewhere would be the perfect place to get drunk and fall asleep on a shower drain experiment with water.

A less appropriate place to play with water is in the upstairs bathroom of our house while you are supposed to be asleep.  Because when I am downstairs with my game night friends, what I want to hear is stories about children, husbands, family size plans, wild things we did in college, and things you can do with a crockpot.  Not dripping water.  And then DRIPPING WATER.  And then the sound of a small waterfall coming out of an HVAC duct, soaking through the kitchen rug, and pooling on the floor.

Ironically, my love, we had just discussed white noise machines and then all of the sudden there was a real live Amazon Waterfall right there in my very own kitchen.  Your timing is impeccable.

But when, after I summon Papa to the kitchen with a tone of voice so alarming that he comes flying down the stairs two at a time, and after surveying the scene he immediately runs back up the stairs, three at a time, to find the source of the water, he finds you sitting in your bed with wet socks?  He's going to know who it was who plugged the sink, shoved a crayon in the drain, cranked the faucet up to full blast, then calmly closed the door and went back to bed like nothing had ever happened.

So, dear, sweet child-of-mine, I hope "new carpet pad" and "mold abatement" were on your Christmas list.  Because I have a feeling that that is just what Santa had in mind for you.

Ho, ho, ho,


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Free Association in Downward Dog

You guys, it is RAINING.  I can't tell you how happy I am about this.  It was supposed to come overnight and when I woke up at 5:00 and it was not raining I was disappointed.  Like a child-like, totally out of proportion kind of disappointed.  But then I sneaked downstairs (hard to do with my poppy-creaky knees) and checked the radar and sure enough, it was still on its way.  Which was great because I go to yoga on Tuesday mornings and I'm hoping one day we have a massive thunderstorm during class because I think that would be really cool.

So during yoga this morning (and the rain didn't start until after class, but that's ok because I didn't get to finish class anyway because someone had a blowout in the nursery.  Without naming names, it was the only one of the children who continues to wear a diaper during the day who also cannot speak or walk), when I was supposed to be emptying my mind and focusing on my breath and the way my feet felt "pushing the earth out of its orbit" (eye roll), all I could think about was my career.  LUCKY YOU.

So last night at yoga (am an overachiever this week) the teacher was talking about how women are so hard on themselves and I was thinking about how I'm kind of afraid to do things that I don't think I will succeed at.

For example.  My stupid publication THAT WILL NEVER BE FINISHED.  Why am I having so much trouble finding time to work on it?  I miss doing research.  I miss knowing things.  I miss reading and writing.  I miss being part of the community I was once in.  That Tuesday a few weeks ago when Ryan took the day off and gave me the whole day to write?  WAS ABSOLUTE HEAVEN.  I don't know how I can remedy those things long term, but I do have this paper right now that I need to write already.  I do have time; I need to force myself to do it.  It doesn't matter if it gets accepted or not, the point is that I am doing SOMETHING.  I need to finish that something before I can see the next something. It's time to stop looking for the perfect job and start doing the job I have in front of me well.  Eventually if I finish enough little jobs, I will probably be able to figure out the rest (maybe?). 

Things are not going to get any easier, time-wise.  My lecture course starts again in January and I decided not to use the lab book this time so I have to write my own lab material.  I've taught the course before but it's on M-W-F this time instead of T-Th, so I'll have to rework things a little bit and add in some more class participation so I don't have to talk so much.  The best time for the publication (kind of an optimistic thing to call it, isn't it?) is right now until the end of December.  I can have a draft done in that time, but I'll have to focus (not my strong suit, as evidenced by having all these thoughts DURING YOGA CLASS).

The other thing I was doing this morning was fantasizing about what it would be like to live in our college town again.  I feel like doing this would be fairly simple, since Ryan left on such good terms.  I'm not sure *I* would be able to find work, since I have been such a slacker in the intervening years, but it's the last place I remember feeling smart and competent and I think that's what I want more than a relocation.  Because it really would be just like our life here but with a smaller house, fewer friends, worse weather (HARD TO IMAGINE), and no family around (and possibly, closer proximity to the kind of job I want but without the actual ability to HAVE that job, which I think would be doubly frustrating).

For now I will enjoy the rain.  And as soon as James is in bed tonight I am going to "rework the discussion section to better reflect our goals" (based on Dr. Coauthor's advice).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

They'll thank me one day

The headache was probably the result of all the caffeine I had this morning, but that wasn't really my fault. They just kept bringing it to me. First the man at the drive-through donut place I bribed the kids with on the way to church mom group, then the delightful helpers at Chick-fil-A who won't let you get up out of your seat even though it's a fast food restaurant.

Or it could have been the fact that I ate both donuts and Chick-fil-A in the same four-hour period. Whatever the cause, the throbbing of the right side of my head combined with all the hysterical whining (daylight freaking savings stupid time) to make our afternoon plans to write letters and draw pictures for our sponsored child not go exactly according to plan.

I sat them down at the table with stickers, paper, markers and crayons and held up our globe.

This is where we live, in Texas, you see?  It's pink.  Right here.  No that's Belize, we're up here.  OK, everyone see Texas?  Good.  We're in Texas.

Matthew (not his real name) lives in Kenya.  Kenya is over here on the continent of Africa.  To get to Kenya, we would have to fly in an airplane alllllll the way over here, over the whole ocean, across the whole...Wes, do you need to go potty?  No?  OK, well it's not polite to touch that unless you're in the bathroom... OK, so Kenya is very far away.  It would take us several days to get there from here.

And we're going to write some letters and draw some pictures to send to Matthew, so we can get to know him and learn more about his family and what Kenya is like.

Charlie asks if there are more Buzz Lightyear stickers.  I tell him no.  He pouts.

OK, so who would like a piece of paper?  OK, here you go...

No, buddy, these are all the Buzz stickers we have.  I know you're sad about that.  Sometimes it makes it an extra special gift when you give someone something you really love.

More pouting.  This time with heavy nose breathing for added emphasis.

I suggest they draw a picture of our family or something.  Wes makes three wild circles on a piece of construction paper, says he's done, hops down off the bench, and asks me for more juice.

I told you no more juice.  You may have water if you are thirsty.

I resist the urge to point out that Matthew would be thrilled to walk five feet to the refrigerator door, push a button, and have clean, fluoridated water dispensed instantly into his glass and instead settle for Wes slithering to the ground facedown and screaming.  Ironic.

I had decided earlier Wes didn't need to nap today.  It went not very well.  As you might expect (time change!).

Meanwhile, dear, sweet, thoughtful Charlie was creating a three-dimensional space ship out of construction paper and tape.  I tried to tell him gently that whatever we send has to fit in a small envelope and suggested he color a picture instead.  He ignored me and got a diaper box out of the garage, put everything inside, and taped it up securely.

I couldn't break his heart, so I tried to get him to let me "mail it on my way to school tomorrow".  He would rather we all go to the post office on Saturday to mail it together.  If one of you gets a strange diaper box with a paper spaceship inside in the mail, consider this is your explanation.

He included a note he wrote himself as I told him one painstaking letter at a time: "Dear Matthew, We want to help you go to school."  He kills me with the sweetness.  Absolutely kills me.

And by this time Wes was having a full-blown manic-depressive episode on the kitchen floor (yes, we were still upset about the juice).  Charlie was done with his letter and box, so it was quite obviously time to turn the TV back on and stop trying so hard to broaden everyone's horizons.

Epilogue: I made them soup for dinner (from a can), no one ate, everyone screamed about something, Wes got a time-out for spitting soup down his shirt, I yelled a lot, Ryan came home, tantrum, tantrum, tantrum, minor head injury, tantrum, and everyone was in bed by 6:45.  Ryan and I made some tortilla soup together and ate it in front of the TV.  Family time = precious.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wesley No-Nap

I'm not sure, but I think Wes might be ready to drop his nap.  You can imagine how I feel about this development, coinciding with the time change so nicely as it has.  It's been harder and harder to get him to sleep at night.  Bedtime ends around 7:30 and then Ryan and I come downstairs to relax and push back the carnage that's overtaking our house for another day.  And then around 8:00 Wes appears at the top of the stairs.

"I have to go potty."

Ryan and I look at each other until someone blinks then that person goes upstairs to help him.  Sometimes he goes potty.  Sometimes he stands naked by the toilet asking you fifteen thousand nonsensical questions then declares himself "all done, no tinkles!" before pulling up his pants and toddling off to bed.

So that happens like fourteen or fifteen times before the angry-back-in-beds begin.  That's when you go upstairs and use every ounce of will in your body to place him gently in his bed instead of dumping him on the floor and slamming his door.

Finally, around 9:45, we are reasonably certain he has fallen asleep.  Sure enough, he is usually conked out on the floor with his back against his door around 10:30 when I go to bed.  It is special and relaxing.

So yesterday when he didn't fall asleep on the way home from school and the playground I thought we'd go for it.  No nap.  They watched a movie instead then ran out the back door to play.

He was pleasant all afternoon and went to bed at 7:00 without any encores.

Then today he woke up at 5:30.  Ryan left for a meeting at 6:00.  It was a long morning.

They are upstairs for quiet time right now, but instead I hear what sounds like a cooking show on the TV in my room and a bunch of spitting noises and hysterical laughter.  Bad boys.  Bad, bad boys.

But hey!  We all got haircuts today after yoga!  And by that, I mean they got haircuts and I got to spend an hour wearing grungy workout clothes in a room full of mirrors.

But LOOK! THERE WAS TODDLER HIDING UNDER ALL THE BABY HAIR! I don't even know what to say about this. Except WATCH OUT LADIES!


Saturday, November 5, 2011

It's been a busy morning

Things I did before 6:00 this morning:

-Laid in my warm, cozy bed willfully ignoring the crying.  Go back to sleep go back to sleep go back to sleep go back to sleep.

-Stumbled (freezing and half asleep) into James's room, crawled under the crib, found a paci, jammed it in his mouth, stumbled back to bed, kicking the thermostat up a couple of degrees on the way because maybe he was just cold?  And also, white noise so he doesn't wake up the others.

-Laid in my warm, cozy bed willfully ignoring the crying.

-Found pajama pants in the dark, found glasses, scooped baby out of crib, picked my way downstairs to find a diaper, changed a poop diaper in my bed, returned baby to crib, closed door to the sound of re-invigorated screaming.

-Laid in my warm, cozy bed willfully ignoring the crying.

-Heard the crying settle down, then a loud POP!  Then more screaming.

-Ran down the hall in the dark with no pants on, burst into the room to confirm my fears.  Yep, James broke the #@$@$ crib.  Again.

-Try to settle James in my bed.  Realize he finds the alarm clock way too fascinating to go back to sleep.  Curse stomach bug for drying up the "sleep cannons".  No cuddling up with a bottle at 5:00 AM.  BOO.

-Return to James's room, fix crib, put him back in with paci and blanket.  Nighty night!

-Visit bathroom on the way back to bed.  Am just finishing up when I hear "POP!" followed by screaming.  Fantastic, crib is now officially $#%#ed.  Mentally add "beg friends to transition their toddlers to beds" to to-do list.

-Scoop James out of $#@$ #@$ %#@$@ crib.  Take him back to bed.  Give up after nonstop wiggling and fussing.

-Make coffee.  OK one more scoop.  And a little more water.  And maybe one more scoop.

-Rip up a piece of bread, arrange on high chair tray.

-Go to the 42 degree porch to disassemble the Pack and Play.  Barefoot.  In my jammies.

-Carry Pack and Play back inside and up to James's room, reassemble.  Side-eye the $%#^ crib on the way back downstairs.

-Feed James oatmeal.


-Return to coffeemaker, find the big mug.  Almost overflow it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Half a decade

Look who's five!

Hi Charlie!

Guess what he wanted for his present this year. A new Thomas train maybe? A dump truck? Some sidewalk chalk? Nope. He's FIVE now.  Time to start exploring the old Y chromosome.  No better way to do that than to pull a live fish out of a lake and hold it in your hands (and then let it go FTLOG, they have fish at HEB).


I must admit it is a little shocking to learn that he has interests so different than mine.  A glimpse into the future of Boy Scout campouts where the only thing I can do to protect him is to pack extra dry socks and insect repellent into his backpack as he runs out the door.

Will we always share a love of baking, of chapter books, of learning how the world works?  I don't know. 

But he's still my sweet, smart, snuggly boy for now.  I am so proud of him!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Toys Go Out

I organize my pictures with a folder for each month. Within each month, I put all the picture from special events in their own folder. So what you get is a couple of folders labeled "Birthday Party" or "Pumpkins" surrounded by a bunch of random pictures of the kids at home doing things with no pants on. As I made the folder for "Halloween" last night I noticed that October has FIVE FOLDERS. Suddenly it makes sense that the house is a disaster and the laundry has reached epic proportions (EPIC. Also, I am currently drying my first load for the THIRD TIME. It is possible our dryer is out to lunch which makes me want to cry because that would leave us with the options of: Little House on the Prairie hanging clothes all over the yard or finding magical fairy money hidden under a mushroom in our yard to buy a new one, who am I kidding, Ryan can probably fix it, and if not he can probably make it work again if I promise to never, ever touch *that* button again (like the washer)).

So October has been lots of fun, but also quite overwhelming. I am looking forward to a couple of weeks of nothing special. After Charlie's birthday, of course, which is tomorrow (HOLY COW).

But last night was lots of fun!

My dad joined us for a fun dinner of "monster mac" (mac and cheese with brocoli puree stirred into the cheese sauce to make it green, Wes ate a ton which made me laugh because he refuses to eat broccoli under normal conditions) and mummy hot dogs.  Then Ryan came home and joined us and after some spider cupcakes it was time to put on our costumes!  How about Wes, could you not eat him with a spoon? (Charlie wore a stormtroopers costume from a thrift store as the base for his Buzz costume)


They trick or treated at the neighbor's house for so long it got dark as we stood there.


James wanted to know why he was outside in an itchy costume instead of home in his cozy bed.


Then he got cute again. He was kind of manic.


We hit all the usual houses then James went home to bed and the big kids and I ventured out to the really spooky house with the skeletons crawling out of their graves. Then we went home to argue about how much candy they could have before bed (two pieces).

They're kind of a disaster today, but we had a great time last night. I'm looking forward to a calm month of November, but first I must go find all the M&Ms and hide them in my underwear drawer.