Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

My kids love the song "Tonight Tonight" by Hot Chelle Ray. This summer when we were in Utah visiting my friend Jen, she cranked it up one day and everyone danced around the house wildly. Except me. Mama don't dance. Anyway. Bo, who started piano lessons a couple of months ago, has been trying to figure out the tune to this song on the piano. He's got the "tonight, tonight" part and Avee had almost nailed the "Whoa, oh-oh, whoa-oh-oh" part. J was helping them and asked me to put the song on so he could prove he was right and they were wrong. Bo heard the line, "it kinda looks just like you, mixed with Zach Galifianakis" and wanted to know what a Zachgalifianakis was. So, I googled his name to show his picture and it took me to his website. Where there was a nice nude sketching of "him".

J laughed out loud at my fumble and I quickly closed the page. Thank you Zach G. Now my 8 year old knows what you and your sketched junk look like.

Today is Thanksgiving morning. This is my favorite holiday of all. I love that it is simply about having gratitude. I love spending it with family and friends. I love how the weather is cold, but not unbearable yet. I love the bare trees and the ground covered in dead, crunchy, leaves, but some still colorful. I like turkey okay, but I love the tradition of having turkey. J learned to brine turkey a few years ago and we'll never go back. It's amazing.

This morning Avee asked where the turkeys were and I pointed out to a Rubbermaid on the back deck, where they were brining, peacefully. She exclaimed, "What!? They are out there in the cold!? Naked...and...dead? Oh never mind, they're dead."

I can remember when Bo was like 3-4 I just really didn't want him to know that the fish we ate at dinner was a close relative of the fish he loved seeing in the aquarium. Or that the nuggets he ate at McDonald's came from some part of the chicken he loved to sing about at O' Macdonohd's Fahm. Now, Avee's connection of the two things, a real turkey and the plucked, dead thing on our counter cracks me up. I've advanced quite a bit in this motherhood gig.

I am thankful for so many things every day. Here are some of them for today:
*My own good health and a healthy, active, baby growing inside me.
*The chance to watch my children learn and grow and experience life with them.
*Family that I can take or leave most days, but always have, so I take--and I love.
*A sister who can say one word or one phrase that can send us both into laughing hysterics. Or a raging vent. Someone who I don't have to explain any background to.
*A husband who does so much to make my life easier and better. Every day.
*The opportunity to be in Graduate School and the difference it is already making in me.
*Our home.
*Good friends who support me, make me feel loved, laugh with me, set me straight, and sing on my answering machine.
*My bed. I love my bed so much.
*Clean, folded, and put away laundry.
My mom. She's awesome.

Yesterday Bo said to me out of nowhere, "Mom, you always laugh. I always see you laughing, I've never seen you cry. Well, except that one time. But you always laugh." I told him he was my favorite kid for the next 20 minutes so to go make the most of it. It did my heart good to hear him say that. It's okay to cry. I do. I definitely hide it from my kids because they don't need to be burdened with some of that stuff. But I'm glad they are growing up with a mom that laughs a lot. It helps that they give me a lot of reasons to laugh. I hope they grow up and laugh a lot too.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Because I Don't Have Class This Week

Yesterday at church Danyo kept trying to maul crawl all over me almost the entire hour and I just kept repeatedly pushing him away. I've just gotten to the point in pregnancy where I can't take it, even for a minute. After about the 23rd time, he just kind of whined pathetically in protest. I whispered, "I'm sorry, I just don't have enough room on my lap to hold you, it hurts for you to climb on me like this." J reached over and swept Danyo into his arms warmly, "I know buddy, I know exactly how you feel right now, I feel your pain." I elbowed J in the ribs. Hard. But it certainly made Danyo feel better.

I've been reviewing old posts working to compile my blog into a hard copy. Or rather, hard copies. Holy moly I was prolific, back in the day. Reading some of the stories has really done me some good. I'm realizing that Danyo isn't quite as crazy as I thought he was---Bo and Avee both had some similar behaviors that they obviously grew out of. Also, the kids LOVE hearing stories of things they did when they were younger. They particularly like the stories of Avee being a bossy know-it-all when she was two or three. I'm so glad I recorded this stuff!

One of the things I recorded a lot was how Bo said things, when he couldn't say his R's. I still miss that little speech impediment. It was particularly funny with him because, content-wise, he didn't talk like a normal 5 year old. But he couldn't say his R's and sometimes L's, so it was particularly funny to hear him talk that way about grown-up things. He said to me just the other day, "I think I might need to have my ears checked." (By the way, my overly-active hypochondria has not escaped my children---it's awesome---they are regularly reporting some major ailment---Avee is practically blind and probably anemic...)

I asked Bo why he thought his ears were bad. He answered, "Because all those years I thought I was saying my R's just like everyone else, but I wasn't. I really think my ears should have noticed that!" It is my duty as a loving mother, I told him it wasn't his ears that did things wrong, it was his brain, and perhaps we should have his brain checked. Just kidding. I didn't tell him that. He would have laughed though---that kid has a wicked sense of humor. It amazes me actually--how different he and Avee are on the teasing/sense of humor front. In fact, now that I think about it, I think Avee was meant to belong to my parents.

She has my dad's sense of humor. Which is to say, it's terrible. It's okay to not have a very good sense of humor. But it's terrible to not have a good sense of humor, and to think you do. My brothers can have everyone in stitches, recreating how terribly my dad tells jokes. That's how Avee's jokes go. She told a joke the other day that was actually more like a short story and the "punchline" was "Ha! I don't have a heart!" but it didn't make any sense. And if it did make sense, it certainly wasn't funny. J encouraged her to tell me, just so he could watch me not know when the punchline came. She delivered the punchline with gusto and I was sure there had to be more. J, behind Avee, nodded and mouthed, "That's the joke."

She also has my mom's love for makeup, pink and purple, and accessorizing. All of those things completely skipped me. I am frumpy, wear a lot of blue and black, and I'm really funny. That's why I'm certain Avee was meant to be my parent's child.

But oh how I'm glad she's mine. :)

Saturday I ran a few errands by myself in the afternoon. One of them was to get a simple trim and my hair thinned out. I have a massive head of hair, and with it long right now, it's kind of ridiculous if I don't keep it thinned. I went to Great Clips because I really think a trim and thin are pretty hard to mess up. I've been telling myself that lie for about 15 years now. My mom has said to me at least 5 times on the matter, "You get what you pay for, find someone good!" Every time I get a fouled up haircut, I resolve to never do it again. But the lack of planning and the $12.95 lure me back time and again. I watched as she butchered it and even I, who knows nothing of haircutting, knew she was doing a horrible job as she did it. Not even the worst of it, she cut my bangs like a half an inch above my eyebrows, when they were wet. I looked ridiculous when I left. Whatever though, I'm confident, I can pull it off.

I stepped outside the Great Clips and rushed to my car. I didn't have the remote access keychain, so I was in the drizzling rain with my Dumb and Dumber haircut, trying to manually unlock the car. It didn't really work so I just pulled on the handle in hopes that I had forgotten to lock it. I had! I jumped inside and reached to put my key in the ignition. I looked down and something seemed awry. I suddenly realized someone had broken into my car and stolen all the trash, McDonald's toys, empty water bottles, broken car chargers, expired insurance cards, and my cheap makeup bag that were piled into the console area. I was shocked! Then I noticed that they had taken all that, cleaned out the crumbs and spilled coke stickies and replaced it all with a pair of men's glasses.

Then I thought there was a chance I was in the wrong car. I looked out the window, over to my left and saw my green makeup bag perched on top of a loaf of Jimmy John's day old bread, next to 2 and a half Puss-in-Boots figurines, in the console of the car next to me.

I burst out laughing and quickly scrambled out of not-my-car. I stumbled onto the sidewalk to take a look to see if they were even the same KIND of car or if I had just blindly walked toward the first red thing I'd seen. They were the exact same car. Probably even the same year. I turned to a couple hovering under an awning and laughing loudly, exclaimed, "I just got into the wrong car! Look, they are exactly the same. On the outside." Then I took my awesome haircutted self and got into my own car.

I also scored three baskets from Michael's for 1 penny each. Not even lying. I spent 35 minutes in the basket aisle which was totally disorganized and over-run with baskets. I had dreams of having good taste and picking something that would magically transform the baby's room into a darling nursery. Um, except that it's painted a putrid tan color AND houses the washer and dryer. I am not painting the room and the washer and dryer have nowhere else to go. So, why am I trying to find the perfect cute basket? I don't know. I finally settled for three that I liked and have absolutely no way of matching anything I already have in there. So, in the end, I stayed true to myself.

When the girl rang me up it was a good $30 less than I anticipated and I said, "Um, that's too low..." and she said, "Oops, I forgot to ring up this big basket!" So, I waited for her to ring it up and we both stared incredulously as it rang up for 1 cent. She said, "Oh, I guess I did ring it up, it's only one penny though." So I made sure she took off the 4th penny so I wasn't overpaying for those baskets.

Paying 3 pennies for those baskets felt like winning the lottery.

Now all I have left to get for my baby is clothes to bring her home from the hospital. Well, and clothes to wear when she gets here. But other than that, I'm TOTALLY prepared. Oh, minus a name. Don't have that either. We'll manage.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

For Kim

I am the leaver, not the left behind. This is not fun.

You were one of the first people I met at church. You and Becky were sitting on the couch and started asking me about our move here. I remember telling you the route we took to church and one of you joked "Well that was real direct". I thought you both were big jerks and I knew for certain I would never like either of you, ever. Little did I know...

I remember one really cold winter morning (our first one here, after moving from Texas was one of the worst Iowa had had in a long time---J and I were in shock) I hauled the kids to story time at the elementary school. I didn't know you very well. You came in a little late, you looked so cute with all your winter accessories, but you were snarling. You stepped over people and growled, "I hate winter!" You weren't even remotely trying to be funny. You were angry. I remember laughing out loud at how totally serious you were.

A few months after we moved here I had to go to your house for a meeting. You had recently found out I had a blog and whipped out a pen, asking me for the blog address. I didn't want to give it to you. I didn't want you to know that I sometimes said damn and hell. Or that I made fun of people. Or that I confessed to sometimes not liking my children, or being a slob. I needed those secrets to stay safe on the world wide web. You got it out of me though, as persistent as I may have been, you were more so.

That was the real beginning. You've always made me feel so good about my blogging "efforts", my biggest fan. :)

Girl's night out, sushi, late Tuesday night movies, The Good Wife, play dates, church callings....

I've always been impressed with how well you do everything that you do. You aren't perfect and you can't do everything---but what you do, you do well.

I've loved watching your children grow up and enjoying their very "energetic" personalities. The first time I interacted with Ella she asked me where I lived, how I got here, and if that baby I was holding was mine. Then she asked me if he came out of my stomach, how he got there in the first place, and if there was another one in there right now. She was barely 3. Little Ella, how I've loved conversations with her. I will miss being asked how big my baby is "today". Even if she just asked 4 hours before...

You introduced us to Wicked. Man I love that music. I remember confidently telling you I had figured the story out and you shouldn't have made me listen to it before I saw the show, because now it was ruined for me. You smiled and said, "Things aren't always as they seem Nobody..." I can still listen to that soundtrack for hours on end and I have so many great memories of riding around with your kids in the back of my car, belting out "Popular". We only stopped because my CD wore out---not us!

You've made me mad. You know when you have, too. But you are like a drug and I just cain't quit you. It's how I know I love you---even when I've gotten mad at you, I know I'll forgive you and that your friendship is one I cherish. I've made you mad. Only, I just had to be smart to figure it out. I've never seen anyone do more gymnastics to avoid conflict or saying no. I've watched you get better about saying no---but it's a good thing I'm a nice girl or I could ride that push-over train of yours all the way to Hawaii!! You have a kind and compassionate heart, and the word "no" is impossible for you to say.

Your love for Starbucks is contagious. I remember almost being angry at you when you introduced me to the salted caramel hot chocolate. I couldn't afford that kind of an addiction, and that's all I could see it becoming!

I feel like I could write for days and days---we've had so many great memories, so many great conversations, so many good laughs in the last 4 years. I am so grateful that you have been a part of our Iowa experience. I bet you're glad I was a part of yours. :)

I know you are leaving a trail of broken hearts, here in Iowa. You have so many friends and have the unique ability of making each of us feel like the most important one in your life.

Texas is awesome and you will be just as in love with your life there, as you have been here. You are good at blooming where you are planted. Personally, I think blooming in a warmer climate just has to be more fun.

Thanks for making me laugh out loud, calling me out on my bullcrap ("Of course we'll come visit you soon in Texas, Sydney!" "Don't listen to that Sydney, they left Texas 4 years ago and haven't been back since!"), having such great kids that are so fun for my kids to play with, being a good example of hard work and always trying to improve yourself, sushi dates, pinch-hitting with childcare, and all in all being someone who has made our lives here in Iowa so much better.

We will miss you desperately. I will. J might.

Love you bigger'n Texas.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

We Shouldn't Say Stoopid Anyway

It's 7:18 am. Bo is playing on the computer using the new cheats for Rise of Nations that J taught him. Avee is sprawled on the floor cutting out the last of 21 paper ghosts that she's made for each of her classmates. Danyo is next to her asking for a goldfish or a superhero ghost for himself. I'm awake and not bitter about it. Aside from having left my car window down and it raining through the night, it's going to be a good day.

Yesterday Bo stayed home from school. He complained the night before that his stomach hurt and that he had diarrhea. He didn't, but--whatever. He came to my room at 6 am and said he still didn't feel good. I told him he could stay home, to go back to bed. I pretty much knew that he could have gone to school and would have been fine, but I guess I just didn't care enough. J got it in his head that if Bo was going to stay home "sick" then he needed to act sick, and not get to run around outside or watch tv all day, etc. I watched J feel like that's how it should be done, but not be really convinced it was necessary. Welcome to my world, man.

As a result, instead of playing games on the computer or watching tv, he "studied science". I stayed in bed until even my very scant pride wouldn't allow me to stay. He'd come up periodically and spout facts about the moon or how much smarter he is than his "nemesis" (another post in and of itself, the other smart boy in the class...). During one of those visits I asked him why he had stayed home from school. He said, "I have that croupy cough and diarrhea." I've kept Avee home with a croupy cough, even though she isn't sick, she sounds terrible. He knew that with that diagnosis he could get away with not really being sick. I hid my smile from his pathetic attempt to be wily like his sister.

Later we were in the car driving and I asked him again why he'd chosen to stay home from school and noted that I could tell he wasn't really sick. He claimed diarrhea again and stated that he just "felt bad". When I asked him how many times he'd gone to the bathroom he smiled sheepishly for a moment, recovered, then said, "Well, it comes and goes..." I'm a little concerned about what the real issue is, I don't think it's major, but I do think 3rd grade is a little early to be trying to skip school already.

Around 2 o'clock he noted the time and said, "If I was in school right now, I'd be so miserable." I jumped on it and asked why. He caught himself and said, "Mostly because I just feel so bad." He was whaling on a sandwich when he said this so I told him to tell me more about what that meant. He explained in all seriousness that he meant he felt like he'd just gotten back from a 6 month trip to the moon and his bone density had decreased and his muscle tone was only at about 65%, so he just felt floppy and bad.

I figure his powers of manipulation are lacking, but his internal drive for knowledge is enough and he could miss a day of school.

The other day I bought Avee a little toy snake that I had promised her over the Halloween weekend. I made the mistake of giving it to her in front Danyo who then spent the next 20 minutes crying and complaining and trying to steal it from her. I was annoyed with my own stupidity in doing this, but his crying also was more than I could tolerate that afternoon. Finally I said, "If you cry again about that stupid snake, you are going to your room. I'm tired of hearing it." Of course Danyo was offended by the threat, but Avee was REALLY offended that I called her snake stupid. She objected and instead of being the mature adult in the situation, I was like a bratty 5 year old. I told her it didn't matter if I thought it was stupid and I did think it was a stupid thing for Danyo to keep crying about. Apparently it really bothered Avee and she spent the next 30-40 minutes laying on the floor, writing on a piece of paper, intermittent with hiding it and glaring at me every time I walked by.

As I was making dinner, she brought me the note. I love it for a dozen different reasons.

I'm bummed though. There was a post-it note p.s. that I can't find anywhere. It read: "p.s. I love you and my snake." The word snake wasn't written, just a drawing of the snake. It is very classic "sweet" Avee, firmly putting me in my place. I love, love, LOVE that she took the time to handle my bad behavior so maturely.

She just successfully made herself french toast with minimal assistance. When I praised her for doing so well she exclaimed, "Have you ever seen a kid my age cook this good?! Well, at least a kid my size!?" I guess three years of being the smallest kid in her class she's finally figured out she's small for her age.

And just so Danyo gets some airtime....
He just asked me if I thought the blood on his owie looked like rootbeer. Nasty.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Little Black Bo

Sometimes I miss the days when I used to sit down and write meaningful blog posts about my thoughts and musings and deeper issues. Sometimes I read those posts and that person feels so far away. J was traveling all the time, I had two babies at home and a couple of close friends where I lived. I was probably lonely and feeling so isolated a lot of the time. I don't remember feeling that way a lot, but looking back--I HAD to be. :) Now I have 3 kids going in 3 different directions, a house, a husband, a grad program, a great social group, etc, etc, etc.... My brain cells are depleted and I have nothing to offer the internets. I miss the pontificating me--sometimes.

I went on a date with Bo last week. He is a busy little fellow and he's been working hard at all of it. I believe pretty strongly in not over-scheduling kids, so I really only signed him up for one extra-curricular activity---piano lessons. In my opinion, that's a necessary. But then a science club opportunity came up after school once a week, and he looooooooves science--so I let him join. Then a chorus opportunity came up and he's got a good little voice, so I thought it would be good to get him involved, once a week. Then there's scout's twice a month. Somehow, he became mildly over-scheduled. He really enjoys all of it and seems to be managing it all just fine.

About 4 or 5 weeks ago something just clicked in him. He went from completely oblivious every day that he had to put shoes on, actually eat the food in front of him, take his backpack with stuff in it to school---every single day. Avee walked out of the womb dressing herself and straightening every body else's hair for school--so the contrast was especially frustrating to me on school mornings. "Bo, shoes. Shoes, Bo...SHOES!!!" Every. Single. Day.

One morning he got up, got dressed, entirely, made himself breakfast, put on his backpack, and sat at the computer to play while he waited for it to be time to leave. I remember praising his self-sufficiency, but it really wasn't over the top praise or more than a comment. I don't know if that did it or what, but the next night he laid everything out for himself to be ready to go quickly. Of course I took pictures.

J had to convince him to put the bagel in a bag for overnight. I put his Spark in a sippy cup the first time I made it because we were running late and I could shake it easily and he could drink it in the car without spilling. It is now referred to as his "Spark cup".

Anyway--our date. I had a great time with him. He talks a lot at home, but he has a lot of competition with everyone else and my love of silence. He loved having no one to compete with while he spoke. He was super polite to the waitress and had a confidence about him that I hadn't been able to observe before. I loved seeing it. We went to the thrift store to get some stuff for his Halloween costume and then to dinner.

Conversation with Bo is like a roller coaster. You really never know what you are going to get most of the time. There are several constants, but actual subject matter is so unpredictable at times. He always wants to know what "the most" is of something. To the point that it's annoying for me. What was the worst recession. What was worse, the Great Depression, or the recession we're in now. Who is the world's fastest reader and how many wpm can he read. What is the tv show with the most episodes and when did it air, etc, etc, etc. We rarely know the answer and we've even gotten over helping him find out. It's nonstop.

On the way home he was sort of musing and said, "Wouldn't it be crazy if every little thing that ever happened on the earth was documented?" I asked what he meant. He said, "You know, like if a leaf fell, it would be like, 'On April 30th 1237 AD a leaf fell on the northwest corner of...' you know---wouldn't that be crazy?!"

Yes, yes it would. I said, "Well, God knows all that stuff. That's why the scriptures say He knows the sparrows in the trees and every hair on our head. Can you imagine knowing everything like that?" Bo responded, "Well then I guess He knows how to manage an economic crisis then, huh!?" I told J he needs to ease up on the political talk because kids like Bo don't just let it go in one ear and out the other--like adults like me. It does make for funny conversations though.

Then he told me that Abraham Lincoln dreamt he was going to die before he died, so he knew. He overheard someone saying that. Then he kind of sighed and said with conviction and appreciation, "I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for Abraham Lincoln."

I asked him how he figured that. That was of course, after I took a good 45 seconds to get my bearings after hearing my very white 8 year old boy tell me this in the year 2011. He told me about how Abraham Lincoln opposed slaver, so he worked to free the slaves. I said, "You do know you are white, right?" Well yeah, of course he did---but what did that have to do with slaves being freed? Somehow, he hadn't ever realized that it was only black people that were slaves. He never considered that it was a race thing, and he figured if there were people oppressed and a hero that saved them, he was somehow in on that. I loved that. I love that boy.

Okay, it's bedtime. For me. I s'pose the kids will go sooner or later...