Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Thick as Theives

Last night when we went upstairs to take the kids to bed Charlie was in Wes's room.  He had made Wes's bed extra special for him, smoothing out the covers and arranging the pillows in a nice stack by the headboard.  Wes was in a terrible snit about something unrelated and when he saw the nice thing Charlie had done he said "I don't want all those pillows!" and knocked them to the floor.

Charlie was crushed.  He started crying and ran to his room.  I took Wes by the shoulders and said sternly "You hurt his feelings.  He did something nice for you and you HURT him."  And then he was sobbing too.

This morning I was still in bed when I heard Wes open Charlie's door.  The very first thing he said to Charlie this morning was "I am sorry.  Thanks."

Charlie came out of his room and said "Want to go have breakfast?"  So they went downstairs together.

Since it was ten after six, I was very excited that they had managed to figure out breakfast all by themselves and I let them mess around down there alone for almost forty-five minutes before stumbling down the stairs.

The smell was the first thing that hit me.  It wasn't bad, exactly, but it wasn't good either.  And I couldn't identify it.

The next thing I noticed is that Wes was sitting in the sink, completely naked.  And Charlie was spraying him with water.  He was spraying him with water to get the mayonnaise off HIS BACK.

Then I turned to the table and found The Crime Scene.  Mystery smell identified!  It was mayo.  SO MUCH MAYO all over the table in a giant snowdrift on top off a single piece of bread.  Nearby was a second sandwich made from items Charlie upcycled from the compost bowl.

He explained.  "We made ourselves breakfast!"

"Wow, guys, that's really great" I managed, while I got them towels and made them start cleaning up.

Wes told me he hadn't liked his sandwich after he had made it, but he did explain that he couldn't find a knife and had used his hands instead, which still doesn't explain the nudity but sort of explains the mayonnaise body art.  We made a point to go to the pool this morning so he doesn't smell like a Subway anymore.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

That crazy woman in the bathroom

Our church has a cry room in the back of the sanctuary where you can take your unruly children and still hear and see the service.  It has a sweet row of rocking chairs facing a wall of windows opening onto the sanctuary.  It has toys and crayons and puzzles.  It is really lovely, but we rarely use it for the big boys anymore because I have a fantasy about all of us sitting in church together that is rarely as fidgety and annoying as the reality turns out to be.  The cry room also has the closest bathroom to the sanctuary, so when Wes told me just after the Confession of Sins this morning that he had to go potty, I spirited him back there faster than you could say "Lord Hear Our Prayer".

We dashed through the cry room, past all the calm, serene looking parents holding cute little nicely-dressed infants (girls, all of them, I might add).  I left Charlie sitting on a glider and joined Wes in the bathroom to make sure there wasn't any funny business.  They have been known to request a trip to the bathroom mid-service only to lock the door and fool around in the bathroom for extended periods of time just to get out of church.  As I have told them many times, we are not here to fool around, we are here to draw pictures of your stuffed animals on the back of the bulletin, complain about how looooong this is taking, and be reminded forty-seven thousand times to sit up and stop talking FOR THE LAST TIME SO HELP ME.

Once you are in the little bathroom and the loud exhaust fan is going it's like you've passed through a portal into another dimension.  The rest of the world ceases to exist!  There is no quiet room full of people on the other side of the door!  In other words, I was not using my church voice when I was having the following conversation:

"Go potty, please.  Wes, it's time to go potty.  Stop doing that.  Go potty.  Take your pants off first.  Undies too.  Go potty.  Go potty.  FACE THE TOILET OMG WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!  Go get a paper towel and wipe that up.  Now.  Go right now.  So help me God if you don't get a paper towel and wipe that up right now you are going straight to bed when we get home do you understand me?  Pick it up.  Stand up.  Put your undies back on.  Put your pants back on.  Stand up please.  Stand up.  DON'T TOUCH THAT!  DON'T PUT YOUR HANDS IN YOUR MOUTH!  OK, now put your shoes back on.  Let's wash our hands (and now we're singing "Wash, wash, wash your hands, after work and play!  Scrub 'em, rinse 'em, shake 'em, dry 'em!  Wash the germs away!" to the tune of Row Row Row Your Boat).  It's time to go back to church.  Quickly please.  Finish up.  Let's finish up, please.  Come on Wes.  Time to go back to church.  DON'T TOUCH THAT WITH YOUR HANDS.  Time to go.  Time to go.  Time to go."

Wes was just as vocal, but not as verbal.  There was lots of whining and shrieking and sighs of exasperation.

When I opened the door I was sweating a little and four mothers of sweet little infant girls were staring at me in thinly veiled horror as I stood blinking in the sudden glare of the fluorescent lights.

Oh right.  It's a bathroom not a soundproof booth.

I smoothed my skirt, straightened my posture and smiled at Charlie and Wes.

"Time to go back to our seats, cutie patooties!" I trilled, with great maternal warmth, then affectionately mussed Charlie's hair.

They obediently fell in line behind me like ducklings and bounced back to our pew.

Later, Charlie would wait until we were all buckled into the car before telling me he had to go to the bathroom.  We'll call that Part II.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I came downstairs this afternoon and found Wes sobbing in a heap on the floor.  Naturally, I assumed that Charlie had done something to hurt him, so I asked him what happened.  Charlie explained "He wants to go to kindergarten with me."

I scooped Wes up and tried to reassure him.  "You'll go to preschool and be the big boy!  And then you will go to kindergarten in two years!"

He sobbed into my chest "But I'll be LONELY here!"

It took a long time to cheer him up, but when he did I said "You will be my big helper when Charlie is at school. You'll be the man of the house!"

He smiled and said "It's good to be a MAN!"

When they'd known each other a week...


And three and a half years...


It's going to be a hard day for the whole family. I'm glad they didn't open that Swiss Boarding Elementary School I dreamed of several years ago when I had a two year old and an infant.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Meal planning has now cost me $200

We are all doing Vacation Bible School this week (and last week!), so I am trying to plan and prep all the dinners early enough that when the kids inevitably reach Defcon 5 at four thirty in the afternoon, I can slap a nutritious homemade meal down on the table in fifteen minutes or less. Then we can do baths, teeth, and jammies and plunk 'em in front of a video until Ryan gets home and the afternoon is done done done. So last night I went and bought all of the groceries we would need for the week, including two pounds of strawberries, and a whole watermelon and pineapple, and a crap ton of strawberries, three loaves of bread, five pounds of bananas, a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jelly, and some ice cream. There might have been some veggies in there, hidden behind the giant box of crackers.

So today, the plan is to make oven BBQ shredded chicken and coleslaw sandwiches for dinner (to use up the extra cabbage from when I made coleslaw this weekend, LOOK AT ME SO SOUTHERN!), along with some beans from the CSA and some watermelon (I WIN SUMMER MEAL PLANNING). The kids were occupied this afternoon and James was napping, so I thought I'd be all proactive-like and make the coleslaw.

The recipe called for grated carrots, so I got out a carrot and the cheese grater and went to work. After half a carrot I had had enough of carrot grating and got out the food processor. The stem that holds the grating blade up was missing, so I had to use the chopping blade to hold up the grating blade, effectively pureeing the perfectly grated carrots that were going to be falling into the bowl. But! No matter! The goal here is to use up the carrots! It doesn't matter if they are grated or mush! Onward!

I pushed one carrot down the chute and pushed it with the pusher. It fell into the bowl.

I pushed another carrot down the chute and pushed it with the pusher.

And then I looked at the huge pile of carrots on the counter and had an idea about how to make the entire process more efficient.

I crammed the whole stack down the hole and fired up the machine.


Uh oh.

I opened the bowl and retrieved the three pieces of the grating blade.


No more grating things for me. I looked on Craigslist and found a beautiful food processor with a sixteen cup bowl for $200. Not how I had planned to use my birthday money, but not having to grate veggies by hand is the gift that keeps on giving. Or, given how much the kids have been eating recently, I may need something freestanding with a bowl the size of our washing machine.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

24601 x 2

Lest you think it's all cute babies playing in the sand around here, I provide you with these pictures of my prison laborers washing the muddy footprints off the walls and the kitchen floor. With rags. Down on their hands and knees. I think I heard them singing Look down! Look down! at one point, but I couldn't be sure because I was cleaning up the aftereffects of letting James eat lunch in his swim diaper.

Yesterday afternoon was so bad that I made three SOS calls to Ryan between 2:30 and 5:00 when he finally packed it in and came home. Once he came home I took a magazine and sat on the porch until my neighbor came and picked me up. She took me to a wine bar and we met some friends. It was delightful.

As if Wes kicking me and calling me "Stupid Mama" numerous times and knocking over the bench and the high chair wasn't enough, when I got back from being out with my friends there were muddy footprints on the walls by the stairs and soggy clothes in the bathtub and Ryan looked like I did before I went and had an entire wine flight and a couple of hours of talk therapy with my friends.

Wes's first job this morning was getting all the wet clothes out of the bathtub and taking them to the washing machine. After camp today, they got a bucket of PineSol and some rags and went to work on the footprints. I got better reports from Ryan about tonight's bedtime, which I missed because I was at work.




I think they look like they're having a little too much fun, don't you?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Inconvenient Tr*uth

I have to write an essay about teaching environmental sustainability for a workshop I am attending in July. The essay is due on the 20th and only has to be one page so naturally I am here on Blogger rather than just doing the dang thing and turning it in so I don't have to think about it anymore.

But really, if someone is going to write an essay on sustainability in this houseful of hippies, it should really be Charlie, not me. He is Mr. Sustainability. Just today we were driving home from church camp and when we passed a car dealership with a truck out front unloading a new batch of giant SUVs when Charlie sighed deeply. I asked him what was wrong. He told me "They're getting even more cars to pollute the earth." He begged me to fill the car up with "hot boiling water" instead of gas last week because burning gas "pollutes the earth". I did not point out that water vapor is also a greenhouse gas, because I like his enthusiasm, but his other suggestion of building brick walls behind all the neighbor's driveways to prevent them from driving their cars was slightly more distressing.

Yesterday Ryan led him through a series of calculations in hopes that the knowledge that installing "four football fields of solar panels" adjacent to our house would cost $320,000 would put an end to the nagging, but it has not, unsurprisingly. Now he just follows me around with his piggy bank asking if maybe he has $320,000 that we can use for solar panels. I should tell him that if we had $320,000 in disposable income we could send him to MIT and he could learn to create alternative energy to his heart's content.

I swear to you that this is not my influence. I have on occasion remarked that it would be better to walk to the store than drive because it would save gas (when it is cold enough that I am not concerned about snakes since we have to walk through a big patch of tall grass), but my real reasoning is that I need to kill three hours and walking to the store for six items is cheap and popular way to do that.

Of course, given the opportunity, I would be the first person to move to a more walkable neighborhood and leave the van behind. You think I like coaxing three shapeshifters into their various plastic thrones so I can enclose myself in a fifty cubic foot space with them and The Crazy for the twenty minutes it takes to get to the church (a.k.a. the only place we ever go why don't we live in one of those perfectly nice houses I can see from the front steps??).

I cringe every time I fill up the car and hate that we are always driving to the store instead of walking (snakes, heavy items). I love his passion and awareness and *I* wish things were different too, so I guess that's why it's so grating to be constantly harassed for driving (ten miles to church, why don't we just walk? Maybe we could ride our bikes? Maybe we could get some solar panels and a sail for the top of the van?) by my five year old Al Gore.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mini vacation

This week Ryan had to go to a workshop in Houston for two nights, so we took the opportunity and free hotel room and went on a little mini family vacation while he was there. It didn't hurt that the workshop was being held at the Omni hotel, which is very fancy by our standards. No free breakfast, but they did give us champagne at check-in so all was forgiven. The morning after we arrived we sent Ryan off to sit in a conference room all day and headed to the beach. As I left, he called to me "You win this week!" We have an informal tally going of whose job is more fun. Some weeks Ryan's is more fun (wind tunnel, fancy catered lunches, etc), sometimes mine is more fun (we get to laze around all morning in our jammies eating crackers until someone feels like going to the pool). Sometimes Ryan's job is frustrating and stressful, sometimes the kids all start vomiting at the same time. You win some you lose some. And I definitely got the better deal this week.


I mean, keeping three kids' heads above water in the Gulf of Mexico is challenging, but it's SO MUCH FUN to watch them play. It didn't take thirty seconds for James to get knocked flat by a wave, but he was laughing hysterically as I plucked him out of the water by the shoulders of his lifejacket. Wes preferred to stand on dry land then run full speed at the water until he fell in. Charlie liked to body surf. I don't have any pictures of this part of our day because I had my hands very, very full, as you might imagine.

We also dug some holes.


And ate lots of junk food. My commitment to healthy, natural eating came to a spectacular end when one of the kids put a package of Little Debbie Snack Cakes and some Bugles in my cart at Target (where we stopped for bananas, peanut butter, and bread containing no HFCS) and I didn't notice until we were checking out. MAN, it was glorious. I am officially off the wagon.

We spent about three hours at the beach and then it was time for another treat at the coolest Sonic EVER. The view from my car:


Ryan was just finishing up when we got back all rosy cheeked and sticky and covered with sand. We had a nice dinner with old friends and then passed out cold back at the hotel. Wes wouldn't calm down enough to sleep near James so we made him his own little cozy nook under the counter that held the coffeemaker. He loved it


And the next day we hit the zoo with my very gracious friend Peter who agreed to help me for the day.


We saw lots of neat things, but what the kids keep telling people is that we saw this monkey go potty right in front of us.


The kids were starting to fade near the end, but I still attempted a happy family picture. When Wes sees this picture he says "I said I didn't want to look at the giraffes." I think it's too soon to make jokes about it.


They got really feisty by the time we got to the car and I was starting to panic since I didn't know the area very well but then a Wendy's drive through sign appeared out of nowhere and the day was saved!

Back at the hotel we checked out and loaded the car then headed to the pool for a quick dip that ended up lasting three hours. In exchange for all that fun I had with the kids, Ryan insisted that I sit under an umbrella, read my book, and order whatever I wanted. I have a new standard for vacation relaxation, by the way. This was fabulous.


Ryan had a slightly less relaxing, but also enjoyable time, from what I could see over the end of my cushy chaise lounge.


We stayed until I looked down from my book and noticed that Wes had fallen asleep mid-trail-mix-bender. And then we stayed probably an hour more. He just looked so comfy!


And then it was time to go. The kids didn't even make it to the city limits.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Welcome to my SD card

Summer is upon us. That means only two things: (A) Lots of junk food and (B) flagrant abuse of the YMCA Child Watch program. Because nothing of note has happened (except the realization that I can now drop one kid off at Child Watch and take the other two (my favorite two that day) to the pool with me has been kind of life changing), I will catch you up on our happenings by unloading my SD card directly onto Blogger.


The big boys slept super late the day we were supposed to leave College Station. James, you will notice, was bright eyed and bushy tailed at ten till six. I was so happy we sprang for the suite because C and W slept until 8:30. This is how you travel with three kids, BTW, you have one sleeping room and one par-tay-all-night room. And then you spend the twelve hours between eight PM and eight AM moving tiny bodies back and forth according to the situation. Super restful.

This (not actually that restful) arrangement had some consequences. For example, Wes was very disappointed that I couldn't find his favorite CD as we drove out of town.


He was making such a spectacle of himself I had to take a picture before retrieving the CD from under the passenger seat.

Later, he and James slept through an entire shopping trip. James is only sitting up because of the safety belt.


This is what Wes does when you ask to see his "big eyeballs".


And this is what he did the other day when I tried to get him to stop running around the Home Depot checkout area by saying "Go get your bottom on that wall!"


We were really very inappropriate at Home Depot. They should not leave the house after 6:00 PM. But when you need tile samples, you need tile samples.


Friday was my birthday so I decided to head out of work early, but on the way home I thought I would stop for a slice of coconut cream pie, since I pretty much want coconut cream pie all the time anyway and it was my birthday. When I explained that it was my birthday, they gave me my piece of pie and iced tea on the house! I got a ton of writing done as I ate my pie.


The pie was almost as much fun as going home to a Chinese food feast with my sister and brother in law and these cutiepies.