Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

My poor neglected blog.  I do want to write about my amazing vacation/10-year anniversary trip, but that will have to wait for a later date.  Tonight, it's all about Halloween.

My Benny, that child never ceases to amaze me.  We didn't get any decorations up this year because we were gone for the portion of October that usually happens. So this morning, the kids got those long faces and begged me to put up decorations, I drug out the box and we managed some spiderwebs, ghosts and a witch on the door.  They were happy, and it wasn't terribly time consuming or difficult.

The weather was picture perfect today, sunny and 65 degrees, so while the boys decorated, I tackled the neglected leaves in the front yard.  Having raked them into a big pile, I went to bag them when Benny stopped me.

"No, don't."

"Did you want to jump in them?"

"No, you have to leave them for the other kids."

"What other kids?"

"The ones that are coming trick-or-treating."

Apparently, Benny had a vision of miniature ghost and zombies launching themselves at this pile of leaves on their way to the door to ask for candy.  I think this is because if he had come across a giant pile of leaves in one of our neighbor's yards, he wouldn't have hesitated taking advantage of it.

So the leaves stayed.

I don't know if you've seen his costume this year, but if not here it is.
Trigger Happy from the Skylander video game.

So as the sun set, and the streets started filling with short silhouettes of dozens of kids, you could always tell where Benny was as he bounced from house to house with those crazy ears creating a very distinct shadow.

They roamed the neighborhood for over an hour, we had to pull out Olivia's stroller, he quest for candy was greater than her walking stamina.  Joe had to actually come and empty his bag it was so full so he could go out and collect more.

All in all, a very happy Halloween.  We made it home a little after 7pm and the kids were really excited to hand out candy to the later trick-or-treaters.  They begged me to sit in the front yard with them, which I agreed to do it they provided me with chocolate.  They would run up the sidewalk as far and I would allow and yell down the street to the distant kids.

"Come to our house for candy!"

"We're open!"

Then Benny would grab two handfuls of candy and chase these kids down the sidewalk, shoving candy in their bags before they can even ask for it.  If we could harness that energy and rechannel it, we could have an amazing salesman on our hands one day.

We were all about fangs on our
pumpkins this year.

The final trick-or-treaters came right as I was getting the kids ready for bed.  The doorbell rang, and all three of them bolted for the front door yelling like banshees.  Benny of course fell on the way to the door and Joe opened it anyway to some stunned kids watching Benny scream like he had been stabbed, all while trying to elbow his siblings out of the way and shove candy into the bags kids who were starting to edge away from the door.  They weren't even able to get out a "trick-or-treat."

My little 'angry bird' with matching pumpkin.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The plague

The plague has descended upon our house. Everyone, expect for Ryan has been sniffling and coughing for a week. And to top off this loveliness, Joe brought home pink eye and gave it to everyone. So with the coughing fits, I have to clamp Olivia between my legs and simultaniously keep her flailing arms from her face and pry open her eyes to squeeze in two drops. And then she's supposed to keep her eyes closed for two minutes. Yeah, right. Sadly, Joe is not much better, there is just more of him to flail around, and he has become the master of delaying the inevitable. "Wait, Mom, before you do that, can I tell you something?" Strangely, Benjamin is my ideal patient. He's always had a practical attitude toward pain. There is no use fretting about it before hand, and he gets over it pretty fast afterwards. Four times a day for 5 to 7 days. I dropped these problems off at my Mom's door yesterday and left. Aren't I a good daughter? A week in San Francisco and Napa is just what the doctor ordered. Ryan informs me copious amounts of wine will kill off those germs.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Gearing Up

I have been very lazy about posting.  Time to get back to it.

We leave for SAN FRANCISCO! on Friday, drop the kids off at my moms and fly out of SLC on Saturday.  About a week before all this happens, my mom starts what she calls, "gearing up," for my kids to stay a week.  Believe me, it takes some preparation.

She usually starts by Benny proofing the house as much as possible.  Moving breakable and/or fragile things to little used corners of the house, or up high.  Although there's not a high space in our house he can't reach, it may lengthen the life of the object.

Next, she stocks up on essentials, things the older folks don't keep around anymore.  Peanut butter, real milk, applesauce and wipes.  I think she likes it when she's forced to have milk that is not soy based in the house for awhile.

Finally, she puts her boss on alert (the grand kids are coming, won't be here a full 40 hours this week) and starts calling in favors.  Having lived in the same town for over 20 years, she knows people that give train rides, own little ponies, give private tours of the firehouse and roll out some amazing Halloween parties.

All of this is punctuated with calls to me.

"Don't forget their Halloween costumes, I think the library has trick-or-treating..."

"Remember to bring their swimsuits, we might go to the pool..."

"Do I need a medical release form?"

She's a good grandma.  It's no mean feat to take on all three for a week.  They'll have fun, but I have a feeling I'll have to scrape her off the floor by the time we get back.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Benny the Hulk

A few highlights of my week.

Joseph called 911 from Ryan's classroom phone at school.  I still am not sure why...

Our doorbell rang after I had left for work the other day.  This by itself is cause for great excitement for the kids.  It was a man going door to door asking about voter registration.  
Benny pokes his head out the front door and declares, "You're black!"
To which the poor, startled man calmly replied, "Yes I am."

I had to go relight the pilot light to the furnace at the rental condo, AGAIN, with Benny and Olivia in tow.  They hopped around this poor woman's house while she tried to keep them from tumbling down the crawl space I was in.  She finally bribed them with Butterfingers to get them to hold still.  Smart woman.  

And then Benny became The Hulk.  I'd just like to point out, Mom, he did not use blue.
I think this pretty much sums up my week.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

... and then they almost burned down the house

WARNING:  This is a pity-post.  I try to avoid them, mostly because I don't usually need to write them, but on Sunday/Monday my kids were at their worst.

Sundays are crazy busy.  Really I would like nothing more than to take a day of rest once a week, I suppose my hour and 15 minutes of peace and quiet at mass is my rest.  But it's a full day with 8 hours at work and mass, plus travel time I'm usually gone from the house for 10 hours or so.  All I want to do at the end of the day is get home, and Ryan is usually ready for a break from the kids.

So image my surprise when I find Ryan was at the same evening mass as I was, and he's waiting for me as I walk out the doors, all kids in tow and instead of hello he says, "the kids almost burned down the house last night."  I can see my quiet, relaxing evening taking wing and flying away.

Apparently, Benny and Joe had taken their small lamp that sits on their dresser as a nightlight and Benny had cut the shade to shreds.  Then they knocked it off the dresser and left the bare bulb, lit, on the carpet all night.  What Ryan had found after I had left for work that morning was a piece of carpet melted to the bulb and a three inch hole in the carpet.

This all happens after they've been put to bed and are supposed to be sleeping.

Really, I should be more grateful.  This was probably the best outcome of the incident, the worst being the entire family burnt to a crisp in their beds.

So that is what was waiting for me when I walked in the door. That and Joe's undone homework, which required pictures being printed.  Which required going back to Target at 7:30 on a Sunday evening (thank you Ryan for making the trip, I just didn't have it in me at that point).

Now, what happened on Monday wasn't really a huge deal.  But you know how little things seem so much worse when you pile them together on top of an already crummy day?  Yeah, that was Monday.

Joe has a dentist appointment at 8am.  This involves getting all three kids up and feed and dressed and in the car for 7:20, because believe it or not, I live 40 minutes from our pediatric dentist office.  Good grief.  The prep for this endeavor began at 9pm the night before when I started breakfast so it would be ready to go early.  (Now for those of you that do this daily, I apologize for whining.  I know some people do this everyday, with more than three kids.)

To mine and everyone else's amazement, I made it, on time, in the rain, with my sanity in tack.  And as the receptionist is checking Joe in, about the time I'm thinking, this is taking a long time, she announces that I have the wrong day.  His appointment is for Thursday.


Oh, and after that, I got to call our landlord and tell him there was a three inch burn hole in his carpet.  That was a fun conversation.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Talking Nemo

And now it is time to introduce you to the sixth  member of our family... Olivia calls him Talking Nemo.  I think she means Finding Nemo, but it always comes out Talking Nemo, just like the Angry Birds are always the Hungry Birds (maybe they're angry because they're hungry).  He is a two foot long lurid orange fish, and he goes with us everywhere.  Of all the adorable little stuffed animals and baby dolls she owns, this is what she drags around with her.

The story of how he came to be is actually pretty cute.  At Joe's school they have a holiday gift shop in December.  They take donations of new and gently used things, and the kids can 'buy' them for a small donation to wrap and give as gifts to their family.  Joseph was really excited about this last year, so we sent him to school with $6.00 and he came home with a small Star Wars toy for Benny and the now famous Talking Nemo for Olivia.

I know it's a little blurry, but Benny actually took this.
Like my mom says, you kind of never know what they're going to like.

I wasn't really sure how attached she was to this fish until we went to my mom's house without him a few weeks ago.  She was okay until she got sleepy on the car ride home.

"Talking Nemo?"  She'd whimper.

"He's at home.  How about Baby?"

"No, Talking Nemo."

He is a must for all naps, bedtimes, rides in the car and walks.  He can often be found playing the part of pillow or customer in her pretend restaurant.  For example, today we walked to the park, bright orange fish in tow.  And if that wasn't eye catching enough Benny insisted on bringing a small Santa hat with an Ironman toy stuffed inside.  I think he was trying to do magic tricks, but I can't be sure.

And now to leave you with a Benny quote for your amusement.

"I'm hungry, Mom."

"Benny I just fed you, not thirty minutes ago."

"I know but I just pooped all that food out!"

Can't really argue with that logic.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Just a day in the life

Benny's agenda for the day:

6:00am - pee, unroll the entire roll of toilet paper and tie in knots.

6:15am - climb the kitchen cabinets and have 2 lbs of animal crackers for breakfast, feed some to Olivia

9:00am - color on the kitchen floor

9:30am - decorate lamp with sharpie

10:00am - undress myself in the car on the way to the store.

10:45am - undress myself in the car from the store to home.

11:00am - go to the park with Olivia, scream at Mom to push me higher while she's on the phone

2:00pm - play quietly while Mom takes a short nap, Mom wakes up amazed

3:00pm - poke Olivia in the car on the way to get Joe from school, make her scream

3:40pm - make repetitive, nonsense noises in the car on the way home from picking Joe up from    
               school, make Joe scream

5:30pm - refuse to eat the dinner Mom made

7:00pm - love and hug on my great-grandmother

8:00pm - cry and scream while having my teeth brushed

8:15pm - hide Mom's crochet needle while she brushes Joe's teeth

Fall asleep.  Plans to do it all again tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Wisdom of Stripes

We took a road trip this weekend.  Just Benny, Olivia, me and about 50 kids' DVDs.  The trip did go well, and their were a few funny parts along the way, but we did not have a very auspicious start.

I usually spend the day before we leave washing, packing and cleaning, in the evening I pack snacks for the trip.  Since I had to be at work until 9pm, I did this about 4 in the afternoon and left the bag of snacks on the table.

When I came home from work, it was like a hurricane of empty plastic baggies had hit the living room.  They had eaten it all, every carrot stick, animal cracker, popcorn kernel and dried cranberry.  When questioned about it, the boys didn't deny their feeding frenzy, but Joe patiently explained they didn't know those were snacks for tomorrow.  Plus they were hungry.  Trying very hard not be angry, I agreed this was true.  I had not told them not specifically not to get in that particular bag of food.

With just Ben and Olivia in the backseat, Ben took over Joseph's usual job as DVD master.  Joseph relishes his job of switching out the DVDs when one is over and having veto authority over any movie.  Benjamin was so full of his new found power, all he did was switch out movies during the drive.  They did very little watching.  I would hear the first 10 minutes of Nemo, then Ratatoulli, VeggieTales, back to Nemo.  So when we finally stopped in Vernal, disks littered the backseat of the car.

The weekend was spent with my grandmother (who we've always called Gamby), who is 78 years old.  Benjamin is not used to being around people so advanced in years, so of course this made for some comments and questions, hilarious in their genuineness.

"Mom, that grandma can't move very fast because she is so old."

"Gamby, are you slower than a turtle?"

And my favorite, "Benny, who is older, me or Gamby?"  This is followed by a close scrutiny of our faces.
"Gamby, because she has stripes on her face."
"What about Raine?"
He stands up and peers at my mother through the window.  "She's still young, she doesn't have stripes."
Later as he sat next to my mom at dinner I caught him staring at her face."
"Raine you do have stripes, but not as much as Gamby.  You must be just a little old."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Digging out the Umbrella

It rained today.  Now all you northwest friends will roll your eyes, but think of my Colorado born babies.  Coloradans are crazy when it rains.  Give us 15 feet of snow and windchill in the negative numbers, no problem.  If it rains for 2 or more hours, we're lost.  It's like we don't know how to function.  How do I get my groceries to the car?  Do my children own rain jackets, boots, an umbrella?

So we braved the wet to go to storytime today.  It's always a little more work when we segue from summer to having to actually locate long pants, socks, shoes and coats.  Then I had to dig my only umbrella out from under several layers of stuff.  Benny was enthralled.

"What is that?"

Oh, my gosh this is bad.

"It's an umbrella."

"Oh, I remember crumbella.  Where did you get it?"

Not good at all.

Getting them in and out of the car was entertaining.  They didn't seem to want to walk in the rain.  They take baths every night, run willy-nilly in and out of every sprinkler they find.  But when water falls from the sky, it's like it turns to acid.  So the three of us scrunched under the umbrella, with an enormous bag of books and shuffled inside.

Storytime was more quiet than usual.  You see?  Rain acts as a powerful deterrent in Colorado.  It was good though, there were fewer people to see my children and their lack of manners.  It must be their up bringing.  Benny apparently had an itchy hiney and would not stop scratching.  Sitting in the back of the room you start to think.  Okay, that's the last scratch.  Okay, that's gotta be it.  Is he going to stop?  Should I get up and tell him something?  Or will that just draw attention to it?

Meanwhile, Olivia, who I'm trying to get to stop sucking her thumb, has started picking her nose instead.  I caught her eye and slowly shook my head at her from across the room.  She knew exactly what I was talking about.  She started shaking her head back and me.  I frowned at her and she finally yelled indignantly across the room, "I got booger!"

This is when Benny abandoned the one handed scratch and grabbed his rear with both hands.  I heard one of the moms next to me titter into her hand.  That's right lady, laugh it up.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Never assume anything

There are a few things I like about renting a house and a few things I could definitely do without.  Hot water heater goes out:  a good time to be renting.  Faulty smoke detector goes off in the middle of the night, landlord replaces it the next day.

However, I don't get to choose all of the furnishings, and my least favorite were the long curtains in the front windows.  These windows are high and wide, with a sill just two feet above the floor.  In other words, they were a great place for a small boy to climb while wearing only his underwear.  I would find Benny pressed full length against the glass, amusing the neighborhood with a little dance.  When you're already standing on a ledge in your underwear, it's only natural that you grab the handiest thing to swing yourself down.

Yesterday I could hear the kids playing in that room, Olivia would come around the corner occasionally to feed me plastic food from her play kitchen, so I assumed Benny was playing chef and Olivia waitress.  When I assume things about Benny, that is what usually gets me in trouble.  I came around the corner to find the Tarzan-want-to-be swinging in between the two curtain panels.  Feet off the floor, arching through the air to grab the other curtain and transferring his weight as the curtain rod sagged alarmingly.

It would have been an impressive display of athleticism in any other circumstance.

I screamed, Benny started and fell, and the curtain rod bounced back into place.

This is the face of a child who is constantly
up to no good.
I climbed up to check the screws holding the rod into the wall.  The very last groove in a very short screw was clinging stubbornly to the drywall. It's really only a matter of time before that thing comes crashing down on his head.  I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

I have the most amazing husband in the world

Okay everyone, bear with me.  I have to do a little husband bragging on this post.

So last week, Ryan looks and me as says,  "We need to celebrate next weekend."

"Celebrate what?"

"We've been married ten years, don't tell me you don't know?"

This was followed by 10 minutes of me, staring at the calendar, wondering what important event I had spaced on September 9th.  First kiss?  No.  First date?  No.  Not our anniversary.  What?  He had sent me into a tailspin.  Finally, he ended my agony.

"It's opening day for the NFL.  Football season, baby!"

This simply earned him a slap on the arm.  Fast forward to this morning.

"I'm going to make you a five course meal tonight.


"Yep, course one, spaghetti.  Course two, sauce.  Course three, meatballs..."

Shaking my head at his weird humor, I tripped out the door for work.

So imagine my surprise when I came home from work and there was a five course dinner.  Here is the menu:

Course 1:  Endive stuffed with smoke salmon, goat cheese, sweet red onion, nectarine and chives
Course 2:  Ginger carrot soup with creme fraiche
Course 3:  Butter lettuce salad with poached egg and raspberry vinaigrette (let me just note, he has never poached an egg before, and it was perfect)
Course 4:  Orange rosemary pan seared lamb chop with caramelized pearl onions.
Course 5: Tiramisu

Everything tasted phenomenal.  The lamb had this amazing crust on it and it was just pink in the center.  He had put goat cheese in the endive and it was this perfect creamy, crunch combination.  The entire thing was incredible.

Admit it, your a little jealous.

How am I ever going to cook dinner for him again?  It makes my chicken pot pie look very sad.  He's set the bar impossibly high.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Never trust the motion sensors

The Benny adventures continue.  Today we were at the Golden Spoon, a small local yogurt place.  We had just enough money left on a gift card (thank you Nathaniel Buyarski) for two tiny yogurts.  The place was deserted, being 60 degrees outside and 11am in the morning.  This did not dissuade my children.  All bets are off when it comes to ice cream.

All was going well until Benny had to go to the bathroom.  Now normally, I would never send him by himself, but the only other person in the building was making yogurt in the back, and it was one of those single bathrooms with no stalls, and I could see the door from where I was sitting.  So off he went, only to scream out the door moments later, "Mom! Come wipe me!"

Yeah for me.

So Olivia and I trooped into the bathroom to wipe a hiney.  It is important to note at this point that the bathroom had no windows and was equipped with one of those motion sensor lights.  So, Benny is pant less with his underwear around his ankles when Olivia does something to the light and it goes out.  They both start screaming and I'm trying to feel my way to the light with poop on my hands.  I turn it on, and it flicks back off.  I try it again, same thing.  So at this point I have to wedge my foot in the door so we can see, while simultaneously washing two sets of hands and helping Benny back on with his pants and trying to calm everyone down.

The only thing that would have made it better is if the place would have been packed.  As it was I'm sure I've convinced one more stranger that I am completely crazy.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Dawdler vs. the Runner

A few Bennyisms from the last few days.

While playing hide and seek at the park.  "Ready or not, here my come!"

Singing along with the See 'n Say.  "The farmer in the jail, the farmer in the jail, hi, ho the dairy oh, the farmer in the jail!"  Apparently, the farmer took a king's gold. (What?)


With only two kids in tow these days I have discovered I have a piddling child, and a runner.  Olivia is the worst dawdler I have ever seen.  She drags her feet, she gets distracted.  I know her legs are short, but so are Benny's.  She doesn't want to hold my hand and when we get too far ahead, she runs after us screaming at the top of her lungs.  "Wait!"  Anywhere we go, she. is. so. slow.

This might not be terrible if the other child walked at a normal pace.  But he doesn't.  He runs, everywhere.  So whether its the library or grocery store or dry cleaners, I'm trying to stay where I can see both of them and repeating constantly, "Hurry up!  Slow down!  Come on Olivia!  Wait Benjamin!"  All the while feeling like I'm watching a tennis match.

Benny made his own lunch today, PB&J, carrots
and goldfish.  Good boy!

In case you can't tell, Benny is a knight.
Notice the helmet, sheild and 'sword.'

My kids have never been allowed to eat anywhere in the house except the kitchen.  That being said, I usually find apple cores in the boys bedroom, goldfish under the couch and currently am working on two red Gatorade stains on my carpet.  They have gotten so terrible lately I've really started cracking down.  Anyone caught with food anywhere in the kitchen gets severely punished.

Joe and Olivia seem to be towing the line now, but Benny... instead of making him more thoughtful and obedient, my crack down seems to have made him more sneaky.  This morning, the only sign he was eating on the couch was his jaw working up and down.  He had found several hiding places to keep his food out of sight and still be able to reach it.  Not only that, he's learn to palm his food, so I can't see him holding it.  The grape he was eating came from a bag stashed inside his toy castle.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Take the quiz, win a prize

I thought we'd run this blog post a little differently this time.  Time for a little quiz.  Multiple choice, one question only.

Over the long weekend did Benjamin:

A) Dump and entire bottle of Hershey's syrup into an entire gallon of milk to make his own chocolate milk?
B) Eat approximately 12 oz of gummy bear vitamins in one sitting?
C) Eat the mojito cupcakes I had made for an adult party that contained trace amounts of rum in the icing?
D) All of the above, and then passed out on the couch for a nap?

If you read this blog regularly, it should be a no-brainer.

Notice Olivia's 'tiger stripes,' curtesy Benny.
The winner will receive and all expense paid trip to Denver, CO; where they can meet Benjamin in person and have his autograph.  Warning, he'll probably want to write on your stomach with a magic marker and give you tiger stripes to boot.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Benny, the Energizer Bunny

I have gotten hooked on Master Chef this summer.  Most Tuesday nights, I'm at work, so I watch the show the next day on Hulu.  My kids though, are always home on Tuesday nights and they've got hooked on Master Chef too.

This was my conversation with Joseph on Wednesday morning.

"Mom, Frank left Master Chef last night."


"He had to cook three soufflĂ©s last night, a chocolate one, a raspberry one, and and cheese one.  They just weren't as good as Josh's."

"You don't say."

"Yah, it's important that your food looks good, but it's more important that it taste good."

I'm not sure if its a good thing my son is taking life lessons from Gordon Ramsey.

"Mom they said you can order some of the Master Chef food, can we do that?"

"How about we make some?"


And now I have to learn how to make a soufflé


On an unrelated note.  Two nights ago Benny crawled into our bed in the wee hours of the morning saying he had a bad dream.  When I asked him at the time what he dreamed about, he said he didn't know yet.  Strange.

This  morning he told me he had a great dream, which reminded me of his nightmare.

"Wait, Benny what did you dream of the other night that scared you?"

"Oh, an alligator was trying to eat me."

Well, that's understandable.

"What did you dream of last night that was so good?"

"I dreamed I was cooking with you, we were making pancakes."


At Joseph's school, they have Running Club on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  So at 8:30, kids take to the field next to the playground and either run/walk until school starts at 9:00.  Each day they participate they get a small plastic sneaker charm.  I find this an awesome idea, especially with the problems our country seem to be having with childhood obesity.  Joseph has been going, he's usually there early with his dad anyway, but I dropped him off last Tuesday and Benny wanted to participate.

I wish you could see that tiny child, an entire head shorter than anyone else out there, tear around the field.  They mark their hand after each lap so they can keep track, and Joe spent most of the time getting distracted and then yelling, "Benny, wait up!"

Benny puts he head down and pumps his arms and is so serious about getting to the check point.  This morning that was all he could talk about, when were we going to Running Club and what color his sneaker was going to be.  Benny had nine laps.  He didn't seem tired at all, it was like watching the Energizer Bunny.  The laps are small ones, but I'm estimating about three-quarters of a mile.  Maybe if we keep this up, he'll start taking naps in the afternoon?

This was Benny's TV watching position yesterday.
I had to crop it because, as always, he was pantless.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Appliance Adventure part II: putting it all back together

I fixed it!  Haha!  It runs, it heats, nothing has caught on fire or blown up yet.  A successful repair day.

The UPS man was kind enough to drop off my parts early this morning, and I spent several hours stringing these spring like things (I think a real repair man would cry to hear the heating coils referred to as 'spring like things') through the back of the dryer.  Thanks to a very nice man with a foreign accent that was thoughtful enough to put explicit instructions on the Internet, I got it all back together.  I had a few left over screws, but I'm not overly concerned about them.

The kids, while all this was going on, ran amuck.  They watched way too much TV and feed themselves cold macaroni and cookies for lunch.  They looked at me strange when I expressed my enthusiasm over how the dryer turned and warmed clothes at the same time.

I am ridiculously proud of myself.  I feel like I've just preformed a successful heart surgery or something.  I was trying to remember if I was this excited when I got my Master's Degree... it's too close to call.

The only problem is now I have an unhealthy attachment to this appliance and will probably never be able to get rid of it when I finally kicks the bucket.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

What we can learn from a mustache

I learned early on that, with children, it is important to choose your battles.  When Joseph was about two, someone sent him a pair of blue rubber boots, the kind that you splash in the puddles with.  They came up to his knees and had frog faces on the toes.

Around this time, we went to a late evening mass for a holy day of obligation.  I bathed Joe and put him in some bright red penguin pajamas so he could go straight to bed when we got home.  Joe insisted on the boots as his footwear of choice.  On arriving at the church, Father greeted us, and commented on Joe's getup.  While he has always been very supportive of parents and children in all capacities at the church, I could see he didn't get it.  For me, him looking ridicules was not worth the fight he'd put up if I made him take those boots off.

The more children I have, the more choosy I become about what I'm willing to fight about.  You want to wear your stocking cap in August?  Go for it.  Eat peanut butter and jelly for breakfast?  Low sugar jelly, whole wheat bread and protein.  Knock yourself out.  Sleep on the floor in your sleeping bag instead of in your bed?  Fine by me.

Benny and I were at cooking class a few weeks ago and I met a mom who understood about choosing your battles.  She had a beautiful little girl about three.  Tiny and petite, graceful and dainty, dressed very cute in a pink dress--and sporting an enormous, black, handlebar mustache.  You could tell the mom was slightly embarrassed, but the little girl was so proud to be wearing this huge fake stick-on mustache.  She wore it throughout the entire class, and every time I looked at her I had to choke back a giggle.  It just wasn't worth the fight.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The point of surrender

Let me run through today's shopping trip for you.  It's a gives a good sense of a typical day.

I'm now down to two shopping buddies with Joseph at school all day.  I try to keep my stops under three, because after that, things get hairy.

Sprouts is first.  Benny has not sat in a shopping car for two and-a-half years, because that's when Olivia began sitting up, and the seat was hers.  Now, Olivia no longer wants to sit in the shopping cart.  So both of them get underfoot and insist on reaching for fruit too high for them, and slamming it into the thin plastic bags when they do get it.  My fruit is always bruised and I wander around the store repeating, "Gently.  Gently.  Gently!"  Today was a switch up, because they hopped.  And they chanted.  So picture my darling children, both holding toy hammers.  One was in an orange construction vest he insisted on wearing, hopping through the store and chanting, "Apples!  Apples!  Apples!"  In their loudest voices.

Most of the patrons were polite enough to ignore us.  One woman, who probably couldn't help herself, bent over her shopping cart she was laughing so hard.  For some reason I felt like I owed her some sort of explanation; verification I was a good mother.

"They haven't had any sugar.  I'm really careful how much I give them."  I stopped.  How was I going to finish that statement?  This is all natural?  Be glad I'm so diligent, because they could tear this place apart with their bare hands?  I just walked away and left her to her laughing.

Next stop:  Sam's Club.  On sample day no less.  There are times I'm really surprised by Benny's dexterity and hand eye coordination.  You should see him snatch the samples off of those ladies little carts.  It's like a cobra strike.  The hummus on pita chips threw him though.  He stared at the hummus smeared on his hand like it was poop.  And instead of wiping it on the napkin in his hand, he wiped it on her cart.  That'll teach her to put disgusting hummus on chips.

The cheese was my favorite.  Benny is very picky about the type of cheese he eats.  This doesn't stop him from trying new things though.  He wasn't familiar with cheese encased in red wax, and only after attempting to eat it, wax and all, did he ask for help.  He took one bite and while I was unwrapping Olivia's he wedged the remnants of it underneath my shopping cart wheel.  As I wheeled away leaving a streak of cheese in my wake he was polite enough to inform me.

"You ran over it, Mom."

This is usually the point when I surrender.  It doesn't matter what is left on my shopping list.  It's time to go home.  We'll have cereal for dinner if we have to.

At some point I'll stop asking this question, but I guess I'm not ready to give up yet.  Maybe I don't know when I'm beat.

"Why, Benny?"

"I didn't like it."

Is there someone out there who can explain this reasoning to me?  Anyone?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The appliance adventure

My dryer broke yesterday.  It was, of course, right in the middle of sheet-washing-Wednesday.  The only less convenient time would have been in the dead of winter.  Which I've done before, with a newborn.  The hormones, combined with an unhelpful repair man made for an interesting postpartum explosion in that instance.  But moving on.

So this time, I decided to fix it myself.  No experience in dryer fixing non-withstanding.  That's what YouTube is for, right?

The first instruction on each and every page was unplug the dryer.  Which I did, and ended up shocking myself so badly I was curled up in a ball behind the dryer for 5 minutes shaking.  Now the dryer was still partially plugged in, and I was too afraid to unplug it.  This was not a good start.

I did manage to get the dryer unplugged and shoved back into place.  Two helpful little kids ferrying me screwdrivers, and twenty screws later;  the top, and front were off, plus the drum.  Aha, that's what a heating coil looked like, and they probably weren't supposed to be charred and in pieces.  I believe I had found the problem.

One trip to Home Depot later I found out that you can't just go and buy these parts, they had to be ordered.  I wonder how many women in their gnarliest clothes tow two kids into a hardware store asking for heating coils?  I've gotta give people something to talk about.  So for now the dryer will stay in pieces until Tuesday, and people can simply stop wearing clothes until then, or the clothes line will get lots of use.

My apprentice.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Trouble telling time

This morning I awoke to Benny's voice asking his brother, "What number o'clock is it?"  That's funny, I was just wondering the same thing.  A normal person would roll over and squint through the gray light at their bedside clock and figure that out.  Maybe a normal, childless person.  I have found a few things that are impossible to keep around the house.  Fruit, flashlights, and bedside clocks.  No matter how boring I try to make them, my children find them fascinating and can't keep their hands off.  They aren't content to let them sit and tell the time.  All clocks demand to be picked up and used as bombs, torpedoes, or projectiles for a sibling's head.

    What is this fascination?  I have a stuffed bear sitting on the same table and it never gets touched.  So I never know what time it is in the morning, and I'm too lazy to actually get up and find a clock mounted high enough on the wall to have survived the onslaught.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The strange location of the turkey baster

Lately, Benjamin has been inventing things.  The things he creates usually are compromised of my kitchen equipment, and the purpose behind the invention is usually mysterious.  I have to watch what he does with it for awhile until I can figure it out.
This is his fishing pole.  Notice the slap
bracelet he's using as bait, and the constant
lack of pants.  
This is Benny's 'musical instrument.'  It makes sounds just like
a loud four-year-old boy.
I couldn't find my turkey baster for days.
Finally, I uncovered a piece of it in the sandbox
this morning.  Sigh.

Yesterday was the best invention of all.  He pulled my plastic margarita glasses down, filled them with water and started shooting ping pong balls into them.  Olivia helped.  If I didn't know any better, he had now invented a drinking game.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The man of steel: he glows

Today was Joe's first day back at school.  It was nice being down one child and getting back into our normal routine, but it was kind of empty too.  He didn't really need any new clothes for school, but Ryan found him a few superhero shirts that he loved.  He was so exited to wear the glow-in-the-dark Superman one, he asked it he could wear it to bed.

The man of steel.
"No, buddy.  You can put it on first thing in the morning."
"But I want to wear it when it's pinch dark, so I can see it glow."
You can't argue with that logic, just his word choice.
"The phrase is 'pitch dark.'"
"That's what I said."

Benny celebrated back-to-school eve by jumping out of a grocery cart and smashing his head so thoroughly, that his ear was a mass of dried blood by the time I got home from work.  Ryan is a wonderful husband, and does more than his share around the house. But there are a few things that are not his strong suit.  Putting away clean dishes, transferring wet laundry into the dryer, and wound cleansing (just to be fair, I'm terrible at making sure the dirty diapers get in the outside garbage can, and leaving him messes in the kitchen as I dash off to work).

So I got to spend my back-to-school eve, clamping a screaming four-year-old between my knees and cotton swabbing his ear until I could see what I was working with.  It was pretty gruesome.  There are reasons I'm not a nurse.  All mothers should magically manifest iron stomachs with the birth of their first child, because things inevitably get messy.  He had a lovely puncture wound just inside the curve of his ear.  It was so bad, I flipped it over, checking to make sure it didn't tear all the way to the other side.  It probably could have used a few stitches, but can you stitch the inside of an ear?  Plus, our window of time had passed.  So, I swabbed some anti-biotic on it, said a prayer it wouldn't scar too badly, and sent him on his way.  These incidents or going to have to get smaller and further apart as he grows up, or he'll be missing limbs by the time he's an adult.

Can you imagine God assigning guardian angels to him when he was born?  Being all knowing, he probably took one look at baby Benny, and knew what was in store for him.  I can see him hand picking a pair of angels instead of one.  The most dexterous and most burly guardian angels he had.  If it weren't for them, he'd probably be dead by now.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Socks in the Shower

Yesterday, on a short shopping trip that included all three kids; I lost my keys, my wallet and my mind. My keys were sitting in my pocket the entire time.  My wallet was discovered in the front seat of the car.  Once that was retrieved, I couldn't remember my pin for my debit card and forgot to pick up my prints from the photo lab.  Then last night, I tried to get into the shower with my socks on.  I'm still looking for my mind.

It might be time for everyone to go back to school.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hello, Kitty

Joseph said the most hilarious thing this morning.  But to understand, you need to know an older story. One that is slightly embarrassing for me, but I suppose it's a sacrifice I'll have to make.

When I was about 18 months old, my uncle sent me a stuffed cat with a music box in it for my birthday.  Mom said that I pulled it out of the box, promptly sat on it, and peed.  The cat was from then on known as 'pee-pee kitty.'  Fast forward thirty years.  I was at home and found a few old things in my room that Olivia might want, including the kitty.  I had no intentions of telling any of the kids its original name.  After thirty years, we could pick a completely new name, right?  But as soon as I pulled it out my mom said, "Oh, pee-pee kitty!"  That was the end of that.

So this morning, Joe, once again referred to it by the dreaded name.  "Can't we just call it Kitty?"  I pleaded with him.

"But Mom, everyone calls it that."
"Everyone.  They have hats and jackets and backpacks that all have Pee-Pee Kitty on it."
"Are you talking about Hello Kitty?"

Really, I'm glad we straightened that out.  How would it look if Joe walked up to some girl in his class next year and told her he liked her Pee-Pee Kitty backpack?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Knife Lessons

Believe it or not, they have cooking classes for four-year-olds.  This is, of course, right up Benny's alley.  We had class Saturday morning, and a very excited Benny and I donned our aprons, and got to work.  Our teacher is not only used to small children in the kitchen, she has several of her own.  She stressed letting the kids to the actually scooping, stirring and cracking of the eggs.  This was a little difficult for me.  I had to sit on my hands to keep from interfering when Benny squished a raw egg through all ten of his little fingers, shell and all.  He dumped cheddar cheese all over the counter and smeared chocolate on every conceivable surface.  I would catch myself trying to fix things for him and have to sit on my hands again.

Benny drew us cooking.  I'm the one with curly hair.  I'm
a bowl, Benny has garlic.

As messy as that child is, he couldn't stand having anything on his hands.  He must have washed his hands 10 times in an hour and a half.  He'd run from his table at full tilt toward the sink, dodging through legs.  Every time I'd admonish, "walk!" Every time he'd forget.  Benny is like a windup toy.  He's only got two speeds, full tilt, and dead stop.

I am always amazed at how my kids listen to others so much better than they listen to me.  Ryan says it's because I make them nervous.  We had knife safety lessons with our instructor.  Benny was repeating the information to me this morning.  "You have to put you hand on the handle, or on the back, not here."  Benny was demonstrating with a butter knife.  "And you never stab someone with it."  Glad we got that down.
Benny's knife skills.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Truffle Trail

 Today Ryan and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary of the day he proposed to me.  We had our entourage with us to help commemorate the day.  This is the visual story of our adventures.
We started the day at Cafe Pierre Michel,
and made our way to Tiny Town.
Benny waited patiently for the train.
The caboose was the favorite car for the ride.

There were lots of houses to peer in,

pose in front of,

lean against,

or take a rest on the porch.

We had lunch at the Coney Island hotdog stand.  Where we waited,

and waited,

and waited,

and played in the water,

and waited,

and finally placed our order.

We found new friends,

and danced in 


After a quick nap in the car, we went hiking.
I nicknamed the hike, "Truffle Trail," for obvious reasons.

We found raspberries,
more mushrooms,

and more mushrooms.

We hiked and found, 
more mushrooms,

and bridges to cross.
But nothing can compare to the excitement of


upon mushrooms.

We started a contest to see who could spot,

the most mushrooms.

There was no shortage of 

objects for the game.

Joe even found a snake!

Which certainly produced more screams

than the finding of...

the mushrooms!

It was pretty much, the perfect day.