Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Separation Anxiety

Yesterday was the day we've been looking forward to and dreading all summer. Really since Charlie was born, actually, though what started out as "Man, will it be great when he's in all-day school!" when he was a mischievous toddler turned, this summer, into "How on earth is he going to go to ALL DAY SCHOOL?!" I got most of my angst out of the way last week, fortunately. It just occurred to me that all the get-to-know you activities they have the week before school might not be entirely for the children, if you know what I mean.

We were all up early to see Charlie off to school. I am not pleased that he has to be at school at the same time we're usually wandering downstairs for bananas in our pajamas, by the way. Charlie seemed to sense that Ryan and I are unreliable in the waking up on time department and requested an alarm clock, which we bought at Target the other day. He woke up to the alarm, hit snooze, and then got out of bed and put on his chosen first day of school outfit. I was amazed! What have all of you been complaining about? Actually, I now know what you have been complaining about because this morning did not go as smoothly. This morning I dressed a lifeless fifty pound child still in bed then he ate breakfast in the car we were so late. So much for the soothing morning routine they suggested at the "Let Go and Let Grow" seminar we attended yesterday.

It was so exciting when we got to school and saw all the other kids. The other kids are huge, by the way. At Charlie's old school, all the other kids were two feet tall. These kids were big! And fast! And approaching puberty! Are you sure we're in the right place?

We took a picture near the entrance.

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And then showed him to his classroom and paparazzied him while he hung up his backpack.

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And then all four of us followed him to his table and watched him open his pencil box.

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And then it seemed like he was settled in enough and we walked out, not making eye contact with each other, lest the dam break. We joined some of the other kindergarten parents in a reception at the library where James wiggled out of the stroller, helped himself to a mini muffin, then climbed back up into the stroller to eat it, which was WAY TOO GROWN UP for my taste. STOP IT, ALL OF YOU.

I took Wes and James to the Y for a workout and then we went home so James could nap and Wes could vent his every negative emotion about Charlie's absence on me! For example, his Thomas track did not work exactly as he'd envisioned and he sobbed miserably for an hour, refusing any kind of comfort or distraction. I tried holding him, turning on the TV, offering him lunch, offering him Sonic for lunch. Finally I just let him lie on the floor whimpering while I made James some lunch and after about fifteen minutes he came into the kitchen and asked me for a bowl of yogurt between hiccups.

Also, I learned yesterday that Wes cannot operate the TV or open the van door. I told him he could watch a show but when he turned on the TV it was in DVD mode. Usually Charlie fixes that, so Wes just walked away sadly and played with his (still not up to his specifications) train tracks. Poor baby.

We were a little bit early when we went to pick Charlie up as I had allowed enough time to run to the post office on the way but Wes refused to put his clothes on and we ended up leaving too late to go to the post office but too early to get to school at a normal time. We spent about ten minutes sitting in the shade watching the doors and wondering how his day was. Wes told me "Waiting is SO HARD."

Finally Charlie's teacher emerged from the building and she held the door as the kids marched out behind her. I said "Look Wes, there's his class!" and he was off like a rocket. He ran as fast as he could and joined Charlie in line well before the class was dismissed to the pickup area. When he got there he didn't really know what to do so he just stood right next to Charlie and soaked up his presence.

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Charlie had a great day, making friends, eating in the cafeteria, going to art class, reading with his teacher, and playing on the playground. His teacher sent home a little bag with a book for him to practice reading at his own pace then turn in for a new book. He gave us the who-got-in-trouble report. When I asked him about the beeping noise I kept hearing over the PA system he told me "That annoying bell tells you what time it is."

And then we walked back to the car together. I turned around to check on them as we approached the road and they were hand in hand.

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This is a huge adjustment for our whole family. I was up from two to three last night fixating on the sound the back door makes when the kids run in and out. In and out, in and out. It drives me crazy when they open and close that stupid door over and over, usually because I'm doing something inside, like cooking or laundry, and they're playing outside and I want them to stay outside and stop interrupting me, but I loved our mornings together when they played outside and I got things done inside. And then maybe lunch out and some quiet reading time on the couch while James sleeps. They loved to read on the couch, Charlie on my right and Wes on my left, both squeezed in tight. We'd finish two books and then they'd run and each pick out two more. We had a nice routine. A slow, not very productive routine, but a comfortable and pleasant (most of the time) routine.

I am really going to miss him, but I think Wes is hurting more than any of us.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Papa fixed the shower!!

The kids broke their shower several months ago by ripping the knob off that turns it from a tub into a shower. It wasn't too big of a problem because they just used our shower but houseguests for some reason felt uncomfortable when we said "You can TOTALLY use our shower! I cleaned it up reeeealll nice for you." Since we're going to have someone staying with us for the next two weeks (Hi Miss N!), we thought it would be better if she had access to the shower in the hall and didn't have to tiptoe through the master bedroom while we were asleep. Or, alternatively, take a bath. Let me know if the Mr. Bubble is running low! Fortunately, it wasn't hard to replace the faucet. The kids are not allowed to touch the knob. They were quite excited to be back in shower business. I'm quite excited that I won't have to hide my Aveda products from Charlie anymore.



Forgive the unmade bed and pajama-ed children. It was only noon on a Saturday!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Honk Honk goes the kid

Wes has been coughing like a seal since we got back from our Tour of the Midwest and has had a few fevers added in for fun here and there since Monday, but yesterday was the day we were at school supply dropoff when I looked at him in the stroller after I noticed he wasn't up and running around the classroom like I would have expected and saw his sad eyes and just KNEW something was really wrong. Sure enough after we walked home (so glad I forced him to ride in the stroller and not ride his bike because of his cough) he had a temperature of 102.4. And last night was the night he woke up four or five times, confused and miserable to the point of tears. Waking your parents up multiple times a night is how a middle child gets himself taken to the doctor.

They got me in at nine and we all loaded up and drove down there by eight fifty. Wes experienced a miraculous healing in the minivan during our drive. He popped out of the car and bounced across the parking lot and sprinted up the ramp to the door. His voice was still very hoarse, but he was not acting sick. I do love the healing power of scheduling a pediatrician visit.

I was paying our copay when both boys ran out of the sick waiting room whining at full volume about how the TV wasn't on. When I suggested they look out the window instead Charlie died a dramatic death on the disgusting floor and wailed "But that's so boooooorrrrriiiinnnnggg." I suggested that he get up and behave appropriately or we would not be stopping for donuts on the way home. That did the trick for the next forty five seconds or so before the complaining resumed.

Wes was still not acting sick and was jumping around the waiting room like it was a bounce house. Charlie was lying across a row of chairs by this point in great turmoil over the loss of his ten-minute segment of Finding Nemo. James was thrashing around trying to free himself from the stroller. It was a special time.

I was happy, if only for the change in scenery, when they called us back to the Second Level of Hell, i.e. the eight by eight examination room. Thus began a twenty minute period of getting James on the exam table, getting James off the exam table, getting James on the exam table, making Wes sit down on the chair the right way, reading a story, getting James off the table, telling James to close that cabinet right now, telling Charlie to stop touching the tongue depressors, and asking Wes if he really was sick, as if there was a way at this point to walk out of here like nothing had happened. No dice.

The doctor asked about his week and listened to him breathe and cough and diagnosed him with croup. Since Wes was branded with a scarlet B, for bronchiolitis, when he was ten months old, this means he gets the pulse ox and a bonus dose of steroids and some antibiotics because of a weird strain of pneumonia that's been going around. Oh. OK. So he really is sick. Good to know. The doctor said to call if anyone else in the family gets sick and I wanted to tell her that yes, if Charlie coughs even ONCE in the next seventy-two hours I will be bringing him up here for the full oxygen tent, steroid injection, acupuncture workup. This child cannot be sick on Monday.

And if he wasn't acting sick before, he sure is grouchy following the steroid dose. Halfway home he started loudly accusing Charlie of taking all the rainbow sprinkles off his donut. He was insistent. I'm inclined to believe Charlie who A)Had his own donut to eat and B)Is terrified of bad germs and would not touch a piece of food that had been near Wes's mouth if it was the last morsel of nutrition on earth. At any rate, we're home, he's back to not acting sick but can't go anywhere or do anything, and I am incredibly glad it's almost the weekend.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Baking Season has come early this year

Usually I reserve most of my baking until the fall, which I declare to begin on the first day of September even though that is not astronomically or climatologically accurate. This year, however, is the year my oldest child is starting kindergarten so EFF YOU AUTUMNAL EQUINOX. Fall starts now.

Yesterday, I made French toast for lunch and cinnamon bread and chili for dinner. The day before that it was meatballs and noodles and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. They days of blissing out over a dinner of grilled sausage, sliced cucumbers and watermelon are long gone.

The chili happened because yesterday was the day of the Welcome Walk, in which the elementary school teachers drive all over the neighborhood greeting each child in his or her (always her, who are we kidding) class at his or her own house.

According to the postcard, Charlie's teacher would be at our house sometime between four and seven. This presented a problem as I knew the kids would be hungry, but it would be hard to get Charlie to eat what with him refusing to come back inside and stop staring longingly up the street beginning around three thirty. Three thirty. He is nothing if not punctual.

So in a moment of foresight and planning uncharacteristic for me, I threw together some chili and stuck it in the crockpot to simmer while James took his afternoon nap. And that's how the first batch of chili came to be made on August 21 this year.

And as it turns out, it is good that I made some comfort food! Because KINDERGARTEN, OMG.

Charlie's teacher was the last teacher to come on our little street. First the teacher for the little girl across the street came. Then the girl down at the end of the culdesac, then the girl two houses down (lots of girls on our street). Then the boy next door, then his brother, then the girl on the other side of our house. When that happened I thought they were coming to our house so I called Charlie back from the culdesac and he sprinted up the hill Lance Armstrong style only to watch the big purple SUV turn around and drive away. He was a sad little kindergartener when that happened.

Finally a gold Honda Accord with tinted windows appeared at the corner then slowed to a stop in front of our house.

Charlie began jumping around and screaming like Tye Pennington had just rolled up in the big bus. Our driveway was full of kids waiting to see who Charlie's teacher would be. They all gathered around him with rapt attention as he stood awkwardly close to the door of her car.

The teacher got out of the car and said "Are you Charles?" He nodded slowly. She asked if he liked to be called Charlie. He nodded slowly. She introduced herself and he ran to the porch get the card he'd made and the Burt's Bees lip balm he'd chosen as a gift at the grocery store (I talked him down from lipstick). He worked so hard on his card, even looking up the spelling of the word "teacher" in his copy of Brown Bear Brown Bear (reference materials, he kills me) and was so proud to give it to her. In the thirty seconds Charlie was gone I looked at his teacher awkwardly thinking "So you're the one who's going to spend more hours a day with my kid than me" and willed her to understand how special I think he is. After Charlie gave her the card she tried to get in her car to leave but he ran over to his bike and retrieved a flower he'd picked for her. He handed it to her through the window.

I'm not going to brag, but she did say to the other teacher in the car as she put on her seatbelt "What a sweetheart, I'm so glad he's in my class!"

When Ryan came home five minutes later he got to hear the whole story screeched out in a breathless little voice punctuated only by his relentless jumping up and down.

And then we all went inside for chili and cinnamon bread. And I opened a Sam Adams.

Next week! How can it possibly be NEXT WEEK? I am not handling this well. It seems like he's going to walk out that door on Monday and I'm never going to see him again. Before I know it he'll be calling to tell me his fiance would really like to spend Thanksgiving with her parents but could I please mail him that sweater he left here last time because he doesn't know when he can make it back to get it and it's starting to get cold in Boston (where he's doing his postdoc at MIT).

Tonight I think I'll make chicken and dumplings. And maybe a pie. Or four.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Road Trippin' 3: My Kind of Town, and Home!

When we were planning our trip, Ryan and I thought it would be fun to visit Chicago while we were in the area. It would add about three hours of driving time to the trip home, but when you're already driving for nineteen hours WHAT'S THREE MORE? When Amy suggested we stay at her place, it was a done deal.

We will get in on Friday night and see what we can of the city in the morning BEFORE LUNCH, we said. We will not leave one second after twelve PM, we swore to each other, lest we get stuck somewhere in Oklahoma Sunday night with a vanful of screaming children and no hope of getting Ryan back to work in Texas on Monday.

Ultimately, I was glad we'd made the decision because we'd had such a great time in Madison and I was really not ready to head back home.

My phone died somewhere west of the city and then we got stuck in traffic, so when we arrived at Amy's house it was completely unannounced and with hungry children in tow. She quickly made some PB&Js and set them up in the dining room then went over the evening's plans with us.

A babysitter will get here at nine, she told me, and then we can go out.

Since nine is usually about the time I find myself comatose on the couch, I was a little confused, but Ryan and I had been managing the kids for seven full days by this point and going out without them sounded like heaven.

They took us to a martini lounge in the city and despite not being dressed from head to toe in black like everyone else there (Ryan said "I felt very bright in there". I felt acutely suburban), they immediately put us at ease. Amy and Josh are FUN. They ordered us a feast of dinner options and we all had a drink. The music was perfect, it was almost completely dark, and it was completely kid-unfriendly. It was a great night.

The next morning they took us on a tour of the city, including their local Starbucks, the "El", the Crown Fountain, the Bean, and Chicago style pizza.

Some pictures...

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Unsurprisingly, twelve o'clock came and went and we were nowhere near getting on the road. We got back to their house at one, put James down for a nap at one thirty, and at two left with Charlie and Wes to go watch the Blue Angels fly in the Chicago Air Show from a parking garage near their house. There is no way to describe how amazing the Blue Angels are so if you ever get the opportunity to go see them TAKE IT. Even if it means a sixteen hour travel day the next day. SO WORTH IT.

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We finally left a little after four o'clock and made it to the other side of St. Louis before the kids started melting down and we stopped for the night at a Best WEStern. It was not as far as I was hoping to get, but we were all exhausted and the kids wouldn't stop screaming until we let them out of the car, so it had to be done.

The next morning we left around nine and drove and drove and drove through Missouri and Oklahoma and finally, FINALLY, we were back in the Lone Star State. We stopped at various times for donuts and lunch and potty and Redbox and playground, then had dinner with Ryan's parents and our nephews in Dallas around eight o'clock before getting back on the road and AT LAST pulling into our garage around twelve thirty Monday morning.

It was a much longer last day than we had planned--more than fifteen hours! But it was no problem. We pulled out all the stops for the last day. As many movies and lollypops and Goldfish as you want! Every time we stopped everyone got out to stretch and jump and run. The kids were AWESOME and it could not have gone better. I was so worried about the drive being awful with the kids, but they had fun AND we had fun. There were lots of new things to see outside the windows, they listened to books on CD, they watched some movies, and don't forget the morale-boosting power of a good livestock joke (Why did the cow wear his seatbelt? Because the car was MOOOOVING). When things got really dicey potty humor was a winner every time.

It was the perfect way to cap off the summer. Our hosts in Kansas City, Madison, and Chicago took great care of us and made us feel so welcome--planning special dinners, thinking of activities for us all to do together, staying up late with us talking and watching movies and catching up. That was my favorite part of all.

And now we still have a week to regroup and prepare for, you know, the thing that happens a week from today. Let's just say that if not for a single minded determination to get James home for naptime, there might have been an embarrassing ugly cry moment in the lunchbox aisle of the grocery store. Excuse me, there's something in my eye, I better go.

Road Trippin' Part 2

When I left you I was in Madison, Wisconsin with internet besties Sarah and Amy, our husbands, and a huge pack o'kids. We had a great time hanging out with Sarah's family at home, walking to the parks in her neighborhood and playing in the basement, but Wednesday night Sarah planned a great dinner out at a pizza restaurant which had a playroom for the kids and local beers on tap. Afterward we went out for cupcakes at a cute little bakery down the street. Here's the whole group post-cupcake.

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That night we moved to a hotel because Sarah's house was having some work done. After a morning enjoying the breakfast buffet (Wes's favorite item on the buffet? Half and half. And sugar packets) and the pool and a long nap for James, Sarah took us for a walk through downtown, across the campus of the University of Wisconsin, and to a huge lake. The kids loved getting to stretch their legs and the weather was cool and windy. It was perfect.

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Madison was really beautiful.

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The next day we attempted Chipotle with the whole group. I love Chipotle but James was a total disaster, running up and down the bench, engaging the people in line behind our booth, and screaming. It was mortifying. I bailed on Orange Leaf afterward for ice cream and instead drove around until James fell asleep then headed to Sonic to get the big kids the ice cream I'd originally promised. Then, when James had been sleeping for about an hour and a half, we went to the children's museum.

I totally need one of these for my house.

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And one of these.

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Seriously, a museum with a habit trail and a hamster wheel for kids? Yes, please. I wish we had a few more hours to spend there before we had to get in the car to our next destination. Where did we go next? Here's a hint.

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James rode the whole way there like this.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Road Trippin'

Several weeks ago Ryan told me he had to go to a workshop in Wisconsin in August. The thought of spending a week at home alone with the children in the late summer void of nonstop fighting and limited social contact with other adults was terrifying, so I suggested we make a family trip out of it. I've always wanted to visit the HarryTimes family and they live in the area. I was so excited!

Then Ryan informed me that we would not be purchasing five plane tickets just so I wouldn't have to do bedtime by myself for six days. And so that is how we decided to load up the kidlets and drive to Wisconsin in the Big Gold Minivan.

A few days before the trip, we laid all the maps out on the table and tried to have a little family enrichment moment. James was overcome with excitement and had to be put to bed. Charlie pointed to every continent on the globe EXCEPT North America and asked me if *this* was Wisconsin? This? This? THIS ONE, MAMA, WHAT ABOUT THIS ONE? Wes claimed the Iowa map as his by eating part of it. Family enrichment time was quickly abandoned in favor of putting the kids to bed and then using Google like the rest of the universe.

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I loaded the essentials into the car Friday afternoon before we picked Charlie up from camp. That definition changes considerably when you aren't limited to what you can carry into the airport. We needed our scooters and pillows. And a cooler loaded with lollypops and Goldfish, for example. And every Croc I could find in our house. We're really good at losing shoes.

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Planning time was no indication of how well the trip would go, fortunately, because the kids have been AWESOME in the car. We started out in Dallas on Saturday morning and made it all the way to Kansas City that night.

There we stayed with dear friends from grad school. Some other friends who live nearby came over for dinner. I've missed these girls so much. It was like nothing had changed.

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Except we now have eight children between us.

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First injury of the trip: James fell off the porch.

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He managed to rally quickly and eat a huge piece of cake with ice cream.

It was so hard to say goodbye to our Kansas City friends (come visit us soon!), but we had to get to Wisconsin by Tuesday morning for Ryan's class, so we were off.

After three stops in the first hour of the nine hour trip (coffee, gas, potty, none of those could be combined into one stop apparently), we made pretty good time the rest of the day, finally arriving in Madison just before dinnertime on Monday.

The drive was really beautiful. Dubuque, Iowa, who knew?

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Our wonderful host had dinner waiting and we sent the kids outside to eat and play. We have been having a great time since then riding scooters, playing at the playground across the street (awesome!), going to the zoo, and soaking up the eighty degree weather. We have felt so welcome and at home and the kids have loved having friends to play with all the time.

Yesterday SnarkyMommy came up from Chicago and we took nine kids to Panera. It was exactly as loud as you would imagine.

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James is up and we need to find some food. More later!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Kids in the Car

The rain would not come,
it was too hot to play,
so they sat in the house,
all that hot, hot, hot day.

Too hot to go out,
too warm to ride bikes,
so they sat in the house,
and had lots of big fights.

And then, BUMP!
Oh!  How that bump made me jump!

A child was climbing,
I said as I ran,
You get down from that table,
and GET IN THE VAN!!

Doughnuts or lattes or library books?
Oh where can we go and not get dirty looks?

Too loud for the library, too fighty for Grandma's
Now where do you think that other red Croc was?

Stop hitting your brother!
stop picking your nose!
stop licking the window!
Put back on your clothes!

Seatbelts! Seatbelts! I called through the din,
as I upended my purse where my keys should have been.

They're not in my handbag, my pocket, the door,
the counter, the table, the laundry room floor!
I find them at last in the seat where I sit,
then hear from the back "Mama, what's 'shit'?"

Nevermind, Baby, I say with a smile,
then back out of the drive to get out for a while.
Where we are going, I have not a clue,
the playground, the splash park, the YMCA pool?
I have to go potty, I did not eat my toast,
Turn up the A/C I am starting to roast!
I wanted my black shoes, this shirt makes me scratch
make me more cookies, you ate the whole batch!

THREE SPRINKLE DONUTS, PLEASE, DO YOU HAVE PINK?
A BAGEL WITH CREAM CHEESE, SOME COFFEE TO DRINK.
Four ninety-seven, please pull up to the window,
MAMA! THE POTTY! I STILL HAVE TO GO!

Go potty, I said, then get in the car-y,
if you have to go later then you will be sorry!
We're not going in to the donut shop john,
your brother and I don't have any shoes on.
We'll be home soon, you can go when we get there.
But if you go in your pants then what will you wear?

I cleaned out the car, there are no shorts here,
not toddler sized, Mama sized, kid-sized, oh dear!
A swimsuit, I find, in size toddler two,
Well I guess if he whizzes himself these will do.

Thank you very much, and have a nice day,
I plaster a smile then go on my way,
I WANT MY DONUT, they scream all at once,
JUST GIVE ME A MINUTE! I shout at the runts.

And I think to myself as they chew on their donuts,
they're really quite cute, when they don't make a fuss.
Seven more hours 'til Ryan's return,
what shall we do today, what should we learn?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Update: Happy Camper

OMG you guys. I left half an hour early to pick Charlie up because I was DYING of curiosity. When I pulled up, the kids were all on the playground. The counselor called Charlie's name and he came staggering out of the fray dirty, tan, with hair disheveled, one sock missing, wearing his swimsuit. He showed me the bag of Cheetos he'd gotten somewhere then led me to his backpack, which contained his uneaten lunch and the muddiest towel I have ever seen.

In other words, he had a GREAT time.

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Could not get him to stop talking long enough to smile.

He talked all the way home. They went swimming and played soccer and had snack and played with Legos outside and he drew Wes a picture and went to music and danced and MOM WE ATE CHEETOS. He didn't stop talking until he went to bed.

He wants me to pick him up later tomorrow. OMG I am so excited that he had such a great time.

When I got home and walked in the door first Wes greeted me with furrowed brow and said "YOU SAID YOU WERE GOING TO GET CHARLIE."

The little boys had a different opinion of Charlie's absence. They were not pleased. Not pleased at all. Bad reports for everyone. Hoping for a better day for them tomorrow.

And so it begins

I knew we were in trouble when Wes ran into our bedroom just after dawn this morning and announced "I'm FIVE AND A HALF!"

I was half asleep and mumbled "No sweetheart, you are three and a half."

He collapsed into a puddle on the floor and wailed "BUT I WANT TO GO TO CAMP WITH CHAAAAAR-WEEEEE!"

The rest of the forty minutes before we had to leave for camp went as follows:

"Wes, you can be the big boy! You're my big helper! We're going to have so much fun!"

"BUT I WANT TO GO TO CAMP WITH CHAAAAAR-WEEEEE!"

"Wes, do you want to go to the pool after we drop Charlie off? What would you like to do today? Anything you want!"

"I WANT TO GO TO CAMP WITH CHAAAAAR-WEEEEE!"

"How about we go to Starbucks and get a chocolate milk after we drop him off?"

"BUT I WANT TO GO TO CAMP WITH CHAAAAAR-WEEEEE!"

ETC.

As a special bonus, I had to sunscreen and bugspray all of the children even though two of them were planning on spending some quality time indoors in the Y Childwatch, a.k.a. "The Treehouse", which was the only thing I could get Wes excited about, while I went to yoga. All for one and one for all.

Here they are as we got ready to back out of the garage and into the end of Charlie's childhood.

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Charlie very solemnly asked Wes to care for his lovies in his absence. Wes took the responsibility very seriously. Charlie told Wes that he needed to be a good boy for me and take good care of James. He told him that Papa was going to text him later with a secret message. Charlie had, of course, orchestrated the whole thing with Ryan before we left.

I thought Charlie was nervous, but as soon as we rolled up to the lodge where I was to drop him off he leapt over the middle row seat like Lola Jones and was out of the car before I knew what was happening.

This is the best picture I got of the occasion.

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And Wes was heartbroken. Ultimately, we couldn't even go to The Treehouse because when we got there I found Ryan's keys in the pool bag, which meant Ryan was stranded at home thirty minutes after he usually leaves for work. As we raced home I negotiated a deal for the OTHER Y, the one with the ballpit, plus a trip to Starbucks with Wes.

Wes did not know what to do in the playground when we got there. I watched him from afar for several minutes as he stood silently sucking his thumb and looking around. Later when I picked him up he told me "I like the ballpit, but it is not the same without Charlie. I had to be really really tough. The kid with the green shirt hit me, so I hit him back. I was so proud when he ran away!"

Alrighty.

As for me, I am at loose ends without my usual coping mechanism of inventing an errand up to the church then spying on the kids on the playground before lunch. On rainy days, they will cheerfully check on your child for you if you call the front desk, AS MANY TIMES AS YOU WANT! That's not the case at camp. Will he reapply sunscreen? Can he open his juicebox? Will he make friends? Will he have fun? I have to wait until 4:30 to find out and it is KILLING ME.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Potty Talk

Ryan and I were downstairs eating a whole box of macaroni and cheese when we heard the familiar THWUMP of a tiny body falling off of something high.

I sighed and set down my fork. Wes met me at the top of the stairs. He was already whimpering but when he saw me the real hysterics began.

I put him back in bed and bit my tongue, though my brain was screaming "YOU WOULDN'T HAVE GOTTEN HURT IF YOU HAD STAYED IN YOUR BED." Finally he calmed down enough to tell me that he had hurt his side. Sure enough, when I turned on the light and took off his shirt, I saw the huge bruise on the ribs under his right arm. Because Ryan sent me off to the salon for a haircut and pedicure today, I had compassion and tucked him in and laid next to him until he calmed down.

After a few minutes when the hiccuping sobs subsided we had a conversation about what had happened to him. It was terribly productive, as these things are.

"Did you hit your head, Wes?" I asked, trying to assess if I would need to keep him awake or if I would get to eat my ice cream and turn in early as planned.

"Yes" he replied, "I did and I didn't hit my head."

I tried a different tack, "Can you show me where on your body it hurts?"

He pointed to his side again.

"Did you hit your head when you fell?" I pressed.

"I did NOT fall. I did and I didn't hit my head."

I asked him to show me what happened. As he led me to the bathroom he explained "I did not fall and I did not land on the sharp thing."

The potty training seat, which we have never used and is supposed to be put away under the bathroom sink, was wedged into the toilet sideways, holding the lid open at a crazy angle. Wes pointed at the back of the potty, where the seat connects to the bowl.

"I put one foot there" he pointed. "And I put the other food there." He was pointing at the open lid of the toilet. "And I did not fall." He said that last part quite emphatically while looking me right in the eye.

I heard the THWUMP. He totally fell.

And then he said something unintelligible about the events that occurred between when he was surfing on the back of toilet and when he was crying at the top of the stairs. There was a cup of water? He wanted a cup of water? I'm not really sure. Then he pointed at the toiletpaper dispenser, "The sharp thing."

"So, how did you hurt your side on the sharp thing, buddy?" I needed to know the speed of impact. More importantly, do I need to scoop myself another bowl of mint chocolate chip or are we on the way to the emergency room?

He took several deep breaths. "I did NOT FALL."

By this time Charlie was out of his room asking for his humidifier and I was strongly considering moving to Cabo. Alone.

Finally, Charlie had his humidifier, Wes, who did NOT FALL, was tucked back in bed and did not appear to be in immediate danger from his injuries, and I was headed back downstairs.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Crying Uncle

Dude, you guys, this summer is KILLING me. Or perhaps it isn't the entire summer that is killing me. It might just be August. August is my least favorite month, BAR NONE, even worse than February, and always has been. It's hot, it never rains, and the everyone is bored. The novelty of not having a schedule has long worn off and I find myself sitting in the back yard wondering if the kids would EVER GO TO SLEEP. But we still have a month to go until SCHOOOOOOOL starts.

I realized this morning as I chopped up a watermelon to take to a friend's house that even watermelon is no longer bringing me joy.

So when I got home from our friend's, after we all took naps (a rare treat) and the children were settling into hour five of nonstop TV, I baked a loaf of cinnamon bread. The warm place I used to make it rise was my back porch, but at least my house smells like September, which is one of the best months as it is the month I allow myself to resume using nutmeg, allspice, and pumpkin puree.

While the cinnamon bread was rising, I managed to make dinner out of things I found around the house, so I wouldn't have to take the kids back out in public (shiver): Mac and cheese made with the ends of four different blocks of cheese and some red and green Christmas pasta I don't remember ever buying and may have even come with the house and a turkey breast I found in the freezer. It was delicious, and not at all summery.

Adding to the stupidness of August this year is the way James has been in a terrible mood all week. Several things are making him miserable. He has a rash all over his legs that looks terribly uncomfortable though it doesn't seem to bother him. He's on medication now and it seems to be getting better. But he also has a diaper rash and eczema on his cheeks. The poor kid. Every diaper change requires screaming and thrashing and three different types of creams (leg rash, butt rash, face rash). It's heartbreaking. Since he is uncomfortable he screams all the time. Need more milk? Scream. Tired? Scream. Bored? Scream. Also, he bit Charlie, completely unprovoked, at least four times today. Poor, poor Charlie. Between the screaming and the biting and let's not forget the food-throwing, we are all very frustrated. I am positive that James is the most frustrated of all. But I can't seem to figure out how to help him.

Tomorrow is Friday and that means I go to work after lunch. I feel guilty about how much I am looking forward to it.

Especially since next week Charlie goes to day camp every day from eight until three. I am curious about how this will go because it is a very similar timeline to his kindergarten schedule. I am really going to miss him. I wish we hadn't scheduled camp three months ago when the summer seemed to stretch out endlessly into the future. I'm not ready for him to be gone all the time. I'm not ready for Wes to lose his buddy all day, though I have seen some encouraging signs that he and James are learning ways to interact that don't involve beating the shit out of each other all the time. In many ways it will be very, very good to rip off the bandaid. For one thing, I'm hoping to put a stop to the nightly tears about not being able to read chapter books without assistance. He is very, very nervous about not "knowing enough things" and there is nothing we can do to help him feel better. That anxiety is spilling over into almost everything (he headbutted Wes today because Wes wasn't playing "Bug Bingo" right). We've been giving everyone lots of extra hugs this summer.

And since James and Charlie are so high need right now (especially James, omg), I never feel like I am paying enough attention to any of them. Every minute spent holding James and changing him and comforting him is a minute I'm not paying enough attention to Wes. Time spent talking Charlie through a tantrum over not being able to spell "sincerely" on a letter to a cousin means James is doing something dangerous. Wes is very, very good at playing by himself, but he needs cuddles and quality time almost more than the others, though he doesn't usually ask for it. I am running non-stop and it's still not enough. Not to mention the mountain of housework that is not getting done.

To recap: James is rashy and miserable, Charlie is a pile of nerves, Wes is getting pummeled from both sides, and I am beyond exhausted by the nonstop tears and the fighting and the clinginess. Add in kindergarten and I'm not sure whether I want this month to end right now or last longer.

To recap the recap: August can suck it. Bring back June.