Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Cherry Thief

I really wish I had was able to video this last night, but a description will have to do.

We can see the bottom of the stairs from the couch, and about 9:30 last night, long after he was supposed to be in bed, Benny came down.  He went straight for the cherries sitting on the counter and Ryan and I caught him and sent him back to bed.  He came down a few minutes later trying to be sneakier this time. He wrapped himself in his Buzz Lightyear blanket and started army crawling from the bottom of the stairs. Ryan and I were quietly watching him, trying not to laugh.  Over about a 10 minute time period he traveled about four yards.  He'd slither on his belly a few feet, then freeze.  Crawl a few feet more, then stop.  His patience was really pretty impressive.  He finally stood and slid behind the fridge.  He peeked out one last time, and made a grab for the cherries.  I made my move.


He looked like someone had stuck him with a pin, eyes wide, lips mashed together.  He scurried back upstairs and we didn't see him the rest of the night.
Benny's 'naughty look'.

Friday, July 27, 2012

A miserable yearly ritual

Is there anything more miserable than making your seven-year-old son try on a closet full of clothes to see what fits?  A yearly ritual before the start of school in most households, we've been exempt for years.  My sister has a son who is several years older than Joe, and she had been handing down clothes for almost 10 years now.  So each fall, I simply pulled out the properly labeled tote, hung everything up, and voile!  Instant wardrobe.  No dragging kids into stores, stuffing them into dressing rooms, trying things on... it was bliss, really.  Sadly, this is slowly coming to an end.  The boys are catching up in size, and fewer pair of jeans that are still in one piece make it to my house.

"I don't want to do this, Mom!"
Neither to do I, son.

So now I've barricaded Joe and I in his room as he fluctuates between whining and rolling on the floor, or yelling, "watch my skeleton move, Mom!"  And proceeds to gyrate all over the room in a flailing of limbs.  The moves change with each shirt theme, so I was treated to snowboarding moves, bear moves, shark moves, snow moves... and a 20 minute chore turned into 40.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lessons at the Petting Green

Joe attended golf camp this week.  An hour and a half of putting, chipping and driving; it's always a good idea to give dozens of small children long sticks to swing.  Benny and Olivia, as usual, were in tow.  They had as much trouble as I did finding Joe amid the other little boys.  Finally, I put a bright yellow Oregon Ducks hat on him, aah, there he is.  We trek from the putting green--or as Benny calls it the petting green--following the line of tiny people hauling their bags of clubs.  There are a few things that are adorable by virtue of being small.  Children's golf equipment fall in this category.  Tiny clubs, bags, and; of all things; the smallest golfing gloves I have ever seen.  It is almost comical to see these kids, with a bag of clubs strapped to their backs that is almost as tall as they are.  The girls all have ponytails pulled through their visors, polos, sporty looking skirts, it's like someone shrunk Michelle Wie.

Today was the last day of golf camp, for a bit of fun they all took turns trying to hit "Cowboy Mike," one of the instructors that has donned a cowboy hat and bandanna, in the closed in golf cart that picks up balls.  I don't think I've seen them hit so well all week.  On the chipping green, they all hit four balls and then are released to collect them.  Truthfully, this is their favorite part.  They scream and run like an out-of-season Easter egg hunt, racing toward the two coveted yellow golf balls.  When do we stop having fun doing this?  I have yet to see a bunch of middle aged men elbowing each other and tackling a pair of legs to keep them from grabbing their golf ball.  The game might be a little more fun if they did.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Seven Day's of Raine's

As a child, do you remember a greater joy than spending a week at grandma's house?  I remember dying Easter eggs on Gamby and Granddad's back porch, catching bees in glass jars as they flitted over the clover, and walking down to the bayou (yes, I said bayou) to feed the ducks the stale bread that had been denied my grandfather.  My siblings and I would climb the fig tree in the back yard, singing and eating until we emerged hours later, sticky and itchy from the milky sap.  We were allowed to eat fudgecicles before lunch, ride big wheels (remember those?) up and down the cracked and tilted sidewalk, and scored at least two or three snow cones during a stay.  One summer we kept an injured baby bird in a cage, another is memorable because of a knock-down, drag-out watermelon fight in which the adults were the fiercest competitors.  I remember hanging a hose in a tree and playing for hours in the makeshift waterfall.  My dad's parents lived around the corner and we spent all of our summer days in the swimming pool, putting around the tiny pond in our little sail boat.  Every year Grandad over indulged in firecrackers on the Fourth of July.
    Last week we were at my mom and dads.  The kids are stretched thin with excitement long before it was time to go "to Raine's house," as they call my mom.  I'm pretty sure my parents were too.  Our summertime visits seem more special than any of the others.  Maybe its because we have more time to spend, maybe it's because there is so much more to do during the warm months.  It makes me wonder, in twenty years, what will my kids remember of their visits?  The marshmallow roasts in the backyard?  Hiking to see dinosaur tracks by the reservoir?  Late evening wagon ridges with flashlights?  Checking out the neighbors apple and raspberry crops for goodies?  Fishing in Papa's boat?  Uncle Roosie hanging them upside down by the ankles?  Joseph referred to this particular trip as the seven days of Raine's, knowing we would be staying a week.  It had a holiday ring to it, like the 12 days of Christmas.

We took the kids fishing while in Vernal.  They talk about "Papa's boat" all year.  The screaming starts when they see the tip of the pole start to bend.
    "It's a fish!  It's a fish!"
    Uncle Ted calmly instructs from back of the boat and he stands, hands on the tiller, looking like Huck Finn on the river.  All he's missing is the hat.
    "Slowly, slowly.  Keep doing it just like that."
    Aunt Jessie has an extra hand on the pole, and is in charge of the net.  Sometime we net them, sometimes they get away.  But Benny's 'happy dance' when the fish finally flops into the boat is priceless.  The trolling motor mounted on the back of the boat made for some interesting discussion.  The rabbit and turtle symbols for the speed confused them a bit.
    "Can we go rabbit speed?"
    "Rabbit speed?"
    Benny points to the motor.  "That's what you have to do if your trying to catch rabbits instead of fish."
    I have an odd visual of small grey bunnies bouncing over the lake as the other adults grin into their palms.  If we follow that logic, we should be catching plenty of turtles at the speed we're going.
A compromise is made, we'll fish at 'turtle speed', and right before we go in, Papa will take them around the lake at what the kids refer to as 'top rabbit speed.'  The trolling motor comes up.  The kids are all silent grins as they are bounced around over wakes and their short hair tried to whip in the wind.

*Special thanks to Ryan for creating the video for his technology challenged wife.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


We found a new friend for the kids yesterday, Cecil.

Ryan and I actually got to go somewhere by ourselves.  There are definite perks to visiting Raine and Papa; usually they are very willing baby-sitters.  We ended up at the golf course.  Ryan to play the back nine, me to occasionally make the clubs connect with the ball, only to have it sail a few yards.  Somewhere on the 16th hole we met Cecil.  He was on the corner of the green, making a desperate bid for the woods.  I would have never noticed him if he hadn't hopped at just the right time.  Tiny and lumpy, only about as big as my thumbnail, he had a certain cuteness about him.  He bounced around in hollow of my clutched hand.

"I want to bring him home for the kids."
"What are you going to do with him?  It's going to be hard to swing a golf club like that."

I found a temporary home for him in a pocket of my golf bag where my water bottle was supposed to reside.  A dribble of water and he was ready to go.

"You're not going to forget about him in there, are you?"
"You have to help me remember."
"I'll remember if you name him."
"How about Cecil?"

This wasn't Cecil's best side, but you get the idea.
There was a dodgy moment when the bag dumped on its side, but he pulled through.  I got an odd look from the guy working the counter at the club house when I went to return my borrowed clubs and pulled out a small frog.  But he eventually made it home and the kids were delighted. They were surprisingly gentle.  He was played with throughly and Joe even read a book to him before he was released into his new home in Raine's garden.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Benny's Unicorn

Benny on his 'unicorn.'

Benny informed me today he would like to ride a unicorn when he went to visit his Raine and Papa (my mom and dad).  I'm pretty sure he meant the little pony my mom borrows from the neighbors when they come.  I'm not sure what caused him to think of it as a unicorn.  Never dull.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Girl in a Boy's World

Raising a daughter after having two boys has been a new kind of adventure.  More difficult in some ways (already picky about her clothes!), wonderful in others (she sits still, for minutes at a time).  As she gets older, particular things point to the fact that her mentors are "all boy."

Olivia and her tutors.

  1. I used to be able to call her beautiful, now she scolds me, "I not beautiful, I handsome."
  2. Her dolls often have dinosaurs visit their house.
  3. Her favorite shirt features an Angry Bird.
  4. She can hold her own in a wrestling match.
  5. She thinks shirts are optional.
  6. Her babies are often treated to a gourmet lunch, and then slid backwards down the banister.
  7. She insists on her own lightsaber, and knows how to use it.
  8. She makes more mud pies than apple pies.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It explains so much...

Benny located the laptop and figured out how to video himself early one morning, unknown to us.  I apologize for his lack of clothing.  For an explanation, see yesterday's post.  It simply explains so much.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Pantless Wonder

Benny has a thing with pants.  Let me rephrase that.  Benny has a thing with not wanting to wear pants.  The child is so anti-clothing, Ryan and I are starting to wonder if he doesn't have sensory issues.  So we started quizzing him.
    "Benny, why won't you keep your pants on?"
    "I don't know."
    "Are they uncomfortable?"
    "Do they itch?"
    "Why won't you wear them?"
    "I don't like to."
    That was helpful.  He is at an age where he understands the social convention of needing pants to go out of the house.  But when we hit the door, having returned from the library, or grocery shopping, off they come. Along with his shoes, socks, and usually his shirt.  Actually, I should probably be grateful he's consented to wear underwear. When he does put pants on, he insists on what he calls "sweaty pants."  Maybe all adults should take a page out of his book.  Why bind yourselves into button-up shirts, tight shoes and cinched ties when you can run around in sweaty pants all day?  Or even better, your underwear.  As a result, at the end of the day I'm trailing around the house picking up a closet full of small clothing items thinking, "is this dirty or clean?"  Unable to come up with a satisfying answer, it goes into the washer, which is why I do mountains of laundry every week.  There has got to be a better way.
See?  Shirt, shoes, no pants.  At least our backyard is fenced.

    On the upside, Benny usually keeps his clothes on when outside the house, although I did catch him peeing on the landscaping at a local park.  Ironically right next to the bathrooms. Fortunately, he's still at an age where you can excuse it and laugh it off quietly with the other parents also chuckling and shaking their heads.  At lease I hope that's what their doing.  They could be shaking in the heads in disapproval.  I hope he grows out of it before it turns the corner from cute to creepy.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Benny the Barber

Benny cut his sister's hair the other morning.  I am only mildly surprised.  Knowing Benny as I do, I assumed it was only a matter of time before he attempted to cut his own hair.  I was slightly surprised that he decided to be Olivia's  barber first.  Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, he's a lot of things, but stupid is not one of them.  Why not cut your little sister's hair--who was a willing participant--instead of your own?
I came downstairs from my shower and he greeted me with a pair of scissors and that naughty look I know so well.  Never a good combination.  The look clearly says I-know-I've-done-something-naughty-but-maybe-if-I-grin-at-you-winningly-you'll-forget-you-ever-saw-me.  The look didn't work, but surprisingly I wasn't as mad as I thought I'd be.
"Benny, why did you cut your sister's hair?"
"It was in her face.  She wanted it out of her face."
I trailed after him in a bit of a daze picking up clumps of hair as I went, like a bizarre Hansel and Gretel story in which Gretel ends up bald.
The damage wasn't really that bad, but I had been looking for an excuse for her first hair cut anyway.  We tripped off to the barber and emerged with a slightly shorter and even hair cut for Olivia.  Plus bangs, which I had no intention of having cut, but Benny's handiwork hadn't left us much of a choice.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Singing Roosters

 We went berry picking with the kids the other day.  It's our yearly pilgrimage to Berry Patch Farms in Brighton.  The kids have run of a real farm complete with pigs, chickens and turkeys that roam around.  Ryan and I both grew up far away from the grids and structure of a large city.  It is a little odd for us to be raising city children, and we try not to laugh as they run screaming from the chickens.  Part of the reason we like it as a family outing is it is so kid friendly.  We're out in the middle of acres of nothing but berry bushes.  Knee deep in raspberries, there is not much for Benny to break, climb on, or fall off of.  Olivia is my official "helper," emptying the berry container faster than I can pick them.  The three of them wander around the rows and their little voices drift back to us.
    "Shoo, shoo, shoo!"
    "What are you shooing Benny?"
    "Grasshoppers, they don't know these berries are just for kids."  This comment is accompanied by the rapid beating of the raspberry bushes and the sound of tall grass flicking as millions of grasshoppers flee before Benny.

Benny and Olivia's best rooster imitation.  Benny informed me, the rooster was "singing."  (Please excuse my sideways video.  There is no way to turn it as far as I know.)

Friday, July 6, 2012


Benny's silences fill the mind with unpleasant possibilities.  Is he using the baster as a water gun?  Plugged in the toaster and making his own breakfast?  Building a tower out of a highchair and inverted laundry basket to reach the chips on the top shelf?  Pasting coloring book pages to the table?  Attaching the plunger to the sliding glass door?  The possibilities are only limited to his imagination.  He has a very vivid imagination.
    Benny loves to share his imaginings with me.  We play what he calls, "the cloud game," as we swing at the park.  Some days the sky is an endless expanse of blue, but most days the weather provides plenty of fodder for the imagination.  It really doesn't matter what I see, as long as I dutifully take my turn.  After awhile all the clouds look like dinosaurs or fish and I start casting wildly around for more variety.  Benny never runs out of ideas. Maybe he really sees all of that in the clouds.
    Benjamin is--as my mom says--all boy. Everything he does is big, fast, hard.  Even his hugs and kisses, if you blink, you miss it.  If you don't brace yourself, you get knocked over and have only yourself to blame.  Benny is adamant, it's anyones fault but his own.  Always.  Because of Benny's crazy churning limbs, he gets hurt.  A lot.  He falls off of furniture, steps, chairs, tricycles, fences and toilets.  Runs into siblings, cars, walls, doors and cactus.  This is also never his fault.  As he wails his hurts to the entire neighborhood, the words, "you didn't catch me!" hiccup throughout.  Apparently I am supposed to be physic.  A common mother trait.
A run-in with a cactus.
    His entire body is in a constant flux of healing bruises and boo-boos.  Knees a permanent purple as tumble on top of tumble attempts to heal.  Elbows get hit hard, the head is constantly in need of a pain numbing kiss.  We finally got stitches a few months ago.  Four needed to close the gash on his scalp, courtesy of his brother's improving golf swing.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Revenge with Crayons

A few things you will need to know.  I am a stay-at-home mom of three kids.  Joseph is the oldest at 7, Olivia is 2.  Benny is my charming, incorrigible, precocious, middle child.  He is currently 4.  I have a wonderful husband of 10 years, Ryan, who is my encouragement and my rock.  I hope you will get to know them better as our story unfolds.

Half As Well: A family story

"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."
-J.R.R Tolkein "The Lord of the Rings"

(Left to right)  Ryan, Olivia, Joseph, Benjamin, and me (Janna).
For the half that would like to know us better by half, a story about Benjamin - and the rest of our family.