Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Past and Christmas Presents

In a big family it's hard to cram everyone's festivities within the allotted days on a standard calendar.  I was only issued 31 days for December this year, not sure about you.  As we inch closer to the big day within a brood that puts an importance on both old and new traditions, this year I have had a few moments to take pause to soak in some things that transcend time.

Christmas Past

There exists a series of home movies that my husband converted for his mom and contains what I would call....priceless footage of he and his sisters and cousins doing what all children of the 80's did: using a giant video camera without parental supervision to entertain themselves for hours and in doing so preserving, like a time capsule: trendy outfits, questionable haircuts, and evidence of days gone by when they may not have gotten along as well as they do today.  They also display their tremendous performing arts abilities, choreography and lip-syncing skills across all genres, including music from artists such as:

Vanilla Ice
The Judds
Dolly Parton
Joan Jett....lots and lots of Joan Jett.

With a groan and an eyeroll, the two youngest sisters who are the stars of the "Best Christmas Performance Ever" object but are overruled when the crowd requests that the DVD be crammed in the player for us all to laugh at to get us in the holiday mood.

So we see a younger version of the youngest sister, hair wild from over-teasing and following the instructions being given by the oldest sister running the camera, we watch as she headbangs on the bigscreen and aren't really at all surprised when her son, not yet in school, starts to shake his bonbon to the music he hears and it becomes apparent that he definitely gets his moves from his mother.

Yessssssss.  But later, in addition to Dolly "Walkin' In A Winter Wonderland" and after I wipe my tears of laughter away from the preteen girls screaming at their brother to "GET OUUUUUT!!!!" after walking through and ruining ANOTHER take, I notice something different in one of the clips.  One of the cousins is huddled in the corner with a smirk, just like a couple boys in the room with us today.  Our "boys" (18+), we know are giggling over something on one of their phone screens and we know it's probably not appropriate.  I ask what the cousin on the video is doing.  Jason laughs. 

"Drawing dirty pictures with an Etch-a-Sketch."

New video footage was made this year, including some sledding action that was pretty awesome.  I look forward to the day that our kids will groan with embarrassment when we force them to let us watch them over and over again too.  I hope they're the good sports that my sister in laws are (really, you guys are good sports, and you're awesome, and I love you).  Sorry, rest of the world that's not our family, the old video series is not available on YouTube....yet.

Christmas Presents

My kids love getting gifts from Grandma more than Santa because they actually get what they want from Grandma.  Maybe because they don't ask Grandma for things like an iPhone5 or a laptop.  At any rate, it's a win-win situation and they love it.  Plus, there's nowhere else you can get an endless supply of sugar, exactly the present that you wanted, and each family walks away with a tetherball pole to say "Hey Chuck....I'm the only one in my neighborhood with my own personal tetherball pole, so suck it".

The grownups get very personalized gifts as well.  As the hubs and I sat next to each other and unwrapped our respective boxes and held up our treasures, he examined my purple sweater with the oversized jeweled button and proclaimed in his outside voice [which he insists is his inside voice and that I should just calm down], "That looks like a grandma sweater."  Then he promptly pulled teenager clothes out of his box.  Two hoodies and a puffy vest.  They each were exactly our clothing personalities, hilariously.  I think we need a stylist who can get us each a bit closer to the midline.  I dress like an old lady who sometimes wears yoga pants and he dresses like a teenager who sometimes has a job requiring a uniform.  We have to get our act together (but I'm keeping the sweater).

Overall such a fun time crammed into too short of a day, our family busting at the seams, and Grandma Bucky making doing it all look so easy.  We are so fortunate to have her willing to wrangle our herd and put up with the shenanigans that take place there....they won't admit it now but I know for a fact my children treasure the time and memories even more than they treasure the presents, and if you know my shorties, they treasure presents a lot.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Elf OFF the Shelf

My Facebook friends are annoyed with me this month the way that my husband gets annoyed with his friends in November.

Not the ones posting the pictures of the progress of their facial hair projects.  Those, I believe he's pretty jealous of.  He tried to put his big man-foot down over a long weekend trip we took for his buddy's surprise 40th, probably to honor that friend who makes it a practice to not shave whenever he's off the job...a "stick it to the man" gesture while we're on vacation together.  My guy didn't make it very long...but he made his point.  A couple days without a razor was good enough.  Also I told him either he could shave himself or I would do it for him in his sleep but that I could not guarantee that I wouldn't cut him...or take off an eyebrow.

The posts that annoy him (hilariously) are the 30 Days of Thankfulness.  All that positivity really puts him in a lather.  You'd think that my ball-and-chain bubble of negativity would counteract it and soothe him, but

So I spare him the stroke and I keep what I'm thankful for to myself in November.  But really every day it's the same thing, and every year the people at dinner get sick of hearing about it.  I'm thankful that none of our lives worked out the way we thought they should.  If they did, almost NOBODY at our Thanksgiving table would be sitting there.

Cheers to screwed up plans!!

So this month my friends have been unwillingly subjected to a daily picture of the incredibly nerve wracking phenomenon that is: THE ELF ON THE SHELF.  Or, as ours is usually: The Elf OFF the Shelf.  His second appearance in as many years, he joins the ranks of other creepy minis out there terrorizing children and forcing them to behave.  Apparently the appropriate behavior for this guy is to just move each night from one location to another to be found by children in the morning.  Ours is a bit more....interactive.

Fred wanted to be part of Movember too. Too late!!

Actually hiding. Daddy is the worst finder in the house.

Telling Nutcracker not to peek at the presents.
Casualties: Nutcracker's right eye and eyebrow. Oops.

Super glad the MOM stocking wasn't up yet.

It should say: "From Fred, with irony".
We have no stairs. What a joker.

The map lead to the Toys 4 Tots barrel.

Elves on Strike
"What Do We Want?
When Do We Want It?

Fred doesn't care about what's appropriate...
or the environment.

A stranger called me a bad mother over this.
She obviously doesn't realize that other
people's opinions of me don't matter....
whether I know and care about you or not.
Just kidding. The people I care about thought
this was hilarious, and that matters to me.
There are consequences.


On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
three anatomically correct sock monkeys.
Fred is a lousy "Toy Maker" Elf.

So that's it for now, I'll update when the month is over if he sticks around but things are about to get busy and if you didn't notice, it was May when I posted about Fred's 2012 antics.  Anyone with an Elf should feel free to rip off any ideas they see anywhere on the interwebz or from their friends because, after all, lack of sleep that comes with being a parent of any shape or size sometimes zaps our creativity.  But I have found that the best reactions from my kids are to those things that are personalized to them, that make them feel that Fred dances closer each night to that blurry twilight line between their life and his, where dreams come true and where anything is most certainly possible.  The fact that there have been some adults along the way who have been pulled kicking and screaming into our Christmas Spirit-sprinkled fantasy land?  That's a plus.  Or they've blocked me.  My friends who have their own Elf?  Know that I love them, I love that you share, and I love knowing that your shorties *whom I also love* are going to remember this for a long, long time.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

My Crappy Parenting < Your Crappy Parenting

If you're reading this, chances are you've been reading other things of mine, and I hope for your sake that you know me.  Chances are also that through one or both of those things you should know how often I admit my shortcomings as a parent.  I will preface this tale by saying this is not my reaction to a news story, which I realize the media often skews to fit an agenda or leaves out important facts.

That is why I am fully disclosing the events as they occurred.  You see, it's not my intention to simply highlight one person's shitty behavior if I can't put it in context with my own shitty behavior.  It wouldn't be fair to anyone, and you, my friends, are smarter than that.

So.  I had just left PetCo.

Wait, you say?  The Lees don't have any animals?  Yes.  True.  I was at PetCo to inquire about a 28 by 39 inch foam dog bed that they advertised on their website but I'm too impatient to wait for the FedEx guy to deliver.  I tend to want things NOW.  Also, our cute little hamlet has twelve hundred options locally to purchase flat foam dog beds with durable, removable, washable covers, and has ZERO options for any equivalent BABY products for use in the bottom of Chunka Monka's pack-n-play, which we use as his full-time bed, and which he doesn't get very good sleep in, so therefore mommy doesn't get very good sleep either.  I'm trying to make him more comfy, which parenting safety "experts" say I should not do.

I'm not a complete monster. I had also, in this same shopping trip, picked up a new carseat for him for our 2nd car because he's....growing.

PetCo did not have the particular size I required but suggested I check Ross, which was just across the parking lot, as they regularly carry dog beds in miscellaneous sizes.

So I buckled my fat baby into all 5 points of his harness to go across the parking lot.  When I got out and began into the store, I could hear crying.  I stopped several times, looked around, and finally saw a lady talking to someone next to a car.  In the store I went, straight back to the dog beds, immediately saw that they only had things suitable for Yorkies to snuggle, and headed back out, but heard over the speakers, "will the owner of the red Explorer please come to Customer Service."

No. They. Didn't.

See, I've long warned the hubs of this: I will be an unapologetic cop calling window breaker outer, so...FYI.

I'm not the person who's gonna fiddle fart around running from store to store in a strip mall trying to have a kid's parents paged.  No sir.

So I marched out to that car.  There were a couple people standing there in a panic.  They literally did not know what to do.  I told them I'd break the window out if it needed to be.  One guy told the lady she should call the cops, but not to call 911, to call their business line because it wasn't an emergency.  He rattled off their business line to them and indicated he'd had "previous dealings" with them.

Great.  THIS should give you an indication of the group of folks we have here.

Then the guy started trying to engage the girl, a little too aggressively, and she wouldn't look at him at all.  He was concerned.  The windows were cracked but was she ignoring him or non responsive because there was a problem?  He pounded on the window like it was a fish tank.

"Is she Chinese or Native? I can't tell."  He smashed his face against the window, his stocking hat made him look like a bank robber.

"She's Native.  And you should knock it off.  That's why she's not looking at you or responding to you.  It's a little bit cultural.  She's never GOING to start interacting with you."  I stood there with my own baby on my hip, who was happy and giggling at the little girl who looked at nobody, then intermittently at his own reflection.

StockingHat tried to set off the car alarm by reaching down through the cracked open window and unlocking the front passenger door.  No alarm.

"Great, no alarm.  Now what?" he said.

I reached out and opened the door.  "NOW she can get some good air circulating, thanks."

"Jesus, I wouldn't do that.  That's trespassing."

"I think I'll take my chances, I'm really just not worried about it.  I have pants on with no pockets, a tiny purse, a baby, and ten witnesses.  I'd invite anyone who just left their baby in the car to make that accusation that I trespassed into their vehicle and/or stole ANYTHING from them.  I AM happy to see, however, the Coach purse she left on the driver's seat.  Substandard individuals usually take their valuables when they leave their offspring, so at least she's consistent."

So we waited, and waited, and waited.  All the while the lady was still on the phone with PD dispatch.  Describing the girl, describing the situation, explaining what we did, waiting for the officer to arrive so that we could pass along our info and safely deposit this being with someone who cared about her.

This little who, on October 19 was in a spaghetti strap tank top.  This little who looked like she had awaken from a nap with her blanket and her Hairdresser Barbie head in the back seat and was disoriented as to where she was and where her bigs had gone and was scared and crying.  This little who was in a car that was devoid of a carseat or booster of any kind.

Finally a man emerged from the store.  He casually approached his car, this vehicle swarming with strangers like flies on a pile of manure, like it was NO. BIG. DEAL.  He said NOTHING to ANYONE.  Especially me, the lady standing with the door open.  He opened the back driver's side door, and that sweet girl leaped out at him like a spider monkey.  She clung to his neck like he was a life preserver and she was drowning, like he was saving her from all these scary strangers.

And all of them held their tongues because they were dumbstruck that someone would have the balls to do something like that.

And I held my tongue because I'm not in the business of calling someone a lowlife piece of shit in front of children, especially their own.

And I didn't want to assume that he was the dad.  In my heart I didn't want to believe that anyone could live life with a piece of themselves walking around outside their body and leave her LOCKED in a car in a parking lot regardless of the temperature because shopping is just THAT much more important.  That doesn't even earn you the title of Shitty Parent, that earns you the title of Shitty PERSON.  It was obvious that HE was important to HER.  It was obvious that HE made HER feel safe.  Which is the real kick in the balls irony to this.

After he sauntered BACK into the store (I was still standing there with his door open, HI!!) the cop showed up.  We each gave our information, I disclosed that I had opened the door, etc. and StockingHat showed the officer a picture he had snapped of the guy on his cell phone so none of us had to give a run down of the description.  As our little crowd dispersed there were grumbles that they all generally felt that nothing would happen to this guy, that by the tone of his reaction that there just would be no consequence to what had gone on, and I got the feeling it would have some impact on whether they'd stick around to do the right thing next time.

"You know they can't let that guy leave here with her in that car now because there's no carseat or booster, right?  They'll either make her stay here until they get one and install it properly, or they'll get CPS up here to remedy this."

I was PRETTY sure that was true, and I was going to have to validate it when I got home, but it needed to be said so I made the command decision at the time.  I have a pretty strict facts-only policy, but at the time....facts-probably in THAT crowd was necessary.  They all immediately felt better thinking they knew how that officer was going to handle things and were off to finish out their respective days with a little less worry on their minds.

I had to go home and confess to the hubs preemptively about getting "tangled up" with the cops that day (but not having to break a window) and I never did find that dog bed.

I think I'm gonna be stuck waiting for FedEx after all.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hairy Situation

For historical purposes, I do have to document here that
Clayton asked Esten
"Dude, why are you tucking your shirt in like a nerd?"
And I intervened,
 "Your brother can tuck his shirt in any way he wants and nerds are awesome."
Sigh. It's going to be a long year.

This is the part where most moms who have that uber-maternal mommy-mom gene get all sappy and a little sad (as does my husband), but this is the part where I go:


Or something like that.  I'm paraphrasing.

So I'm glad they're back in school, and really, so are they.  And for reasons more bizarre than I can explain, like Esten's excited that he's in third grade and will get to take a special State standardized test this year that he didn't get to take last year.

For real.  When I asked what he was looking forward to, THAT is the first thing that popped into his head.  Proud moment for me, but not at ALL what I was expecting.

Because of the school's looping model, Clayton will have the same teacher he had last year, but Esten will have a new teacher.  He and I both had a bit of anxiety about it, but for different reasons.  As the summer drew to an end we each held our breath to find out, and I asked him whether he had a preference.

"What does 'preference' mean?"

"It means if you had a choice, would you choose one over the other?"

"Well, I certainly wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings [he's my sensitive kid for sure] but I know Mrs. X and she knows me, but I'm sure that Mrs. Y is just as good of a teacher."

"So you don't really care which one's class you're in?"

"Well YEAH I care.  I want to be in whichever class ALEX is in, DUH."

Yeah, obviously, I should have known.  These kids really could care less who their teacher is, they just want to make sure that their besties are going to have a desk in that classroom with them.

So when the robocall came in that said the class lists were posted we schlepped to the school's front window and slowly scanned down the list....Mrs. X's class....Esten....and...Alex!  That was good enough for him.  A couple extra kids were icing on the cake.  He was elated.

At the ice cream social last night, our opportunity to meet the teachers and drop off supplies (and get a treat courtesy of the PTA) we got to meet Mrs. X face to face.  She had a BEAMING smile and off the bat said, "I was SO THRILLED to get to have Esten in my class this year.  Every time I see your boys in the halls, they are so cute, and he is such a good kid!  I LOVE when their hair gets a little long and out of control, it just shows so much of their personality, I LOVE LOVE LOVE that!"

OK.  This lady.  Looks kind of like the Tooth Fairy.  And I say that in the nicest way, because I actually KNOW the Tooth Fairy, and people who know me know what that means.  Except that she has the same face as the Tooth Fairy that I already know, but she also has this very LONG (down to her butt long) CURLY hair.  So she's someone who would notice other people's hair, and who probably would tie that into their personality.  And immediately I'm thinking, my kids almost never comb their hair before school, look like welfare ragamuffins on the MAJORITY of days that are not picture day.  I think this may be an indicator that this chick may have a sense of humor about life and that we may get along just fine.

I'm thinking this might apply to a couple of my friend's kiddos who are sporting mohawks this morning too. Best to get your personality out there for the world to see. I am a kid who rocks the hawk. Deal with it. Or, I am a kid whose mom is too tired to cut my hair (also meet my brother who is in a similar situation). Please give us money.

Now I can breathe....because THIS is what I need.  I need my kids to have teachers who are at least not uptight.  That's all.  Because shit happens.  Not OFTEN.  I just need them to be their 2nd mom.  I have a sense of structure when I need to and a sense of humor when I need to, and I just want the same thing from them.  We say goodbye and on my way out the classroom door I remind her over my shoulder that any and all disciplinary problems should be directed to their FATHER, whose cell phone number is listed on Esten's information sheet she just asked me to update.  Then we both giggle.

So today everything and everyone is back in place and we can all get on with our lives again.

Now, how long before that little one can start Kindergarten???

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Fat Girls Wear Sweatpants Too

I don't know if anyone else has paid much attention to this, but seems like lately some media chatter has surfaced about clothiers getting picky about who wears their clothes.

Abercrombie & Fitch was in hot water earlier this year and I don't even have the energy to link to the articles or interviews.  They make me throw up in my mouth.  Essentially the head honcho stands behind their brand's desire to only have skinny, attractive, "certain looking", people wearing their clothes.  They've been under fire for years over hiring practices, and to be honest, I've NEVER SHOPPED their brand.  I accidentally bought a pair of stirrup pants (!) of theirs about 18 years ago at Goodwill.

I think the only good PR move they've made was offering to pay that Jersey Shore hooligan to STOP wearing their clothes.

I don't want to seem like I'm singling them out.  I have never been much of a label junkie, refusing to advertise for free, which is in stark contrast with my other half, who prefers to dress like a 17 year old boy.  The two of us in a store together rarely happens, is painful when it does, and contains conversations typically heard between mothers and their teenage sons, i.e. "you're NOT getting that, isn't that a GANG thing??  It smells like marijuana in here.  Let's GO."

More recently a high end workout/yoga/athletic line that I can't pronounce got blasted too, for not carrying "plus size" clothing (size 12 is rare in stores and gets pushed in piles to the back).  Their defense: bigger clothes take more fabric to make and thus cut into their profit margin.

Uh. No.  This is a company who is charging an ABSURD amount of money for YOGA PANTS.  Although, to be fair, they may be very good quality yoga pants, and I may be jealous and I'd like a pair but I think that $90 is a lot for a pair of sweatpants.  I kvetched for MONTHS before spending $80 on a pair of jeans which did turn out to be the best pants investment ever.

But here's the real reason I think companies, and not just THIS company aren't offering extended sizes: their designers don't possess the talent.  MOST designers have been trained to dress a mannequin and models that do not represent the average sizing of women.  When they attempt to translate their designs to the bigger sizes, something gets lost.  The original designs are not suited for bigger sizes and they end up looking bad and fitting horribly.  These designers don't know how to dress anything with a curve.  So they just DON'T.  It's easier.

I think instead of demanding that these companies produce or cater to large sizes, women should seek out and support those designers and companies who bother to make quality designs that flatter and support them.

And before anyone gets sassy with me and says I'm not fat enough to have a dog in this fight (because I've heard that before), I've struggled plenty just not having things fit right.  I have a weird shape.  I know that I'm not the only person who doesn't really find shopping to be fun, but rather daunting and depressing, a hunting trip that turns out to be a waste of time almost every time.  And yet my poor closet yearns for some new additions.

What I really need is some Stacey London and that $5,000 Visa where you KNOW they're having someone do all the alterations on those clothes before their reveal.  But what I don't need is that creepy two weeks worth of spy-footage that comes before it.  Nothankyou.

I just think that gals of all shapes and sizes ought to have options available that don't make them feel bad about themselves, that don't tell them "you have to be at least THIS skinny to wear our yoga pants" or "you have to be at least THIS pretty to wear our shirt from the catalog where our models wear no shirts at all".

I'm just sorry that the people we're buying our clothes from are treating us like a shitty boyfriend who tells us we're fat and ugly and nobody's going to love us, and we keep going back for more because we just want so badly for them to like us and to fit in with the popular kids.....

Friday, May 3, 2013

It's Still Snowing, so it's Still Relevant

This holiday entry isn't early, it's LATE.  From like December late.  But I thought I'd get it in here now so I can start planning for THIS Christmas season.

Plus, it's still dumping snow occasionally in places some of my friends and family live, so it's still relevant maybe.

Elf on the Shelf.  Do you know about this phenomenon?  So this elf shows up on your doorstep addressed to the youngsters in the house.  The return address on our box was The North Pole.  Inside the box was the elf (of course) and a book.  The book explained that we had to name our elf, and that every day he would observe the happenings in the house and report back to Santa every night about what he heard and saw.  He'd return early in the morning in a new spot in the house.  Kids have three jobs here:

  1. Do not touch the elf.  Ever.
  2. Find the elf each morning before leaving the house.
  3. Make sure you behave yourself because the elf is ALWAYS WATCHING.

Our elf's name is Fred.  Upon the kids choosing that name, Daddy immediately pointed out that his name can't be Fred, as that is Santa's name.  Only it's not.  But he insisted for quite a while that Santa's first name is Fred, and it took some convincing to remind him that Santa Claus's first name is....SANTA.  Or maybe he was thinking Kris [Kringle] or Nick.  Or whatever.  But not FRED.  The closest Fred comes into this is Vince Vaughn playing his brother Fred in Fred Claus, the movie.

So.  It's Fred.  And he's kind of a tricky trickster.  Here's a sampling of his shenanigans:

Get a candy cane down without touching him. Dare you.

There was less syrup after school. They measured.
"All that syrup made my teeth so sticky! Be sure to brush good!"

The note says their mommy makes the best cookies ever.

Clayton was really playing with fire here...getting close.

Even elves need a little grown up beverage at their poker parties.

I think Esten really was annoyed at the waste of buttwipe.

Spa day!

Clayton refused to take responsibility for any scissor damage.

Sick day.

It was REAL sugar. They checked.

Clayton wanted that marshmallow BAD.
I don't know what kind of mischief that hooligan will be into if he returns this year, I'm just glad that for 11 months out of the year he's Santa's problem, not mine.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Append a WHAT?

Halfway through a meeting yesterday I got a call from the school.

I really need to change the primary contact for them to the FATHER of these hooligans.  My heart drops whenever I see that number.  I don't know why.  I think I was ruined the morning they called to say Esten busted his arm on the playground before school even started.  Maybe it's because I'm afraid of their first trip to the principal's office...that I'll become THAT mom with the problem kids.

Yet, so far all the grownups seem to think these two are angels.

It was the second call from the school this week, the first one on Tuesday morning stopped my heart.  After answering I realized it was the librarian.

MOTHER-OF-PEARL.  Am I going to have to spend the next 4 days tearing up the house looking for a lost library book again?

No.  Turns out Esten was selected as Character Kid from his class for this month - Cooperation is the trait they're focusing on for now.

C.O.O.P.E.R.A.T.I.O.N.  From the kid who can't take his eyeballs off his Kindle Fire long enough for me to tell him to put his dirty socks in the laundry.

Anyway, they ask that the parents (or SOMEONE who gives a hoot about the kid) show up at the assembly on Friday when the selected kids are revealed.  We've gone through this a couple of times, and my kids have YET to figure out when they see me while skip-walking into the gym and settling down all criss-cross-applesauce that I'm there for a reason other than I must be so bored with my life that I hang out at school assemblies.

But I digress....THIS call yesterday was not about that.  THIS call was scratchy and rattly, and I could hear my kidlet on the other end asking the secretary whether he should listen for someone to answer or when he should start talking.  My kids don't talk on the phone they're telephonically paralyzed when they have to.  I said HELLO louder and louder until he responded.

"Hi my name is Esten and I need someone to come pick me up my stomach hurts."

"Hi Esten, this is your MOTHER and I will tell DAD to come get you."

...he hangs up on me.

I feverishly dial and text and silently cuss his dad, who's not responding.  When I finally got him on the line he headed down to handle the crisis.  He said when he got there that he watched Esten go into the bathroom but not come out...he went in after him and found him sprawled on the floor.  He felt like throwing up all day (but didn't until much later last night).

After a lot of moaning and groaning and me questioning and poking and prodding him, I realized his complaints of right sided belly pain MIGHT be his appendix, and I caved to the reality that he probably shouldn't wait until today to be checked out.  So I schlepped him to the hospital thinking Minor Care could handle it, but they elected to put him in the ER instead.  Behind about 12 other people.  In the hallway.  After a room opened up we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  And this is not the part where I'm complaining about THAT because I realize a lot of people were a LOT sicker than him, and at one point I'm sure I heard a helicopter.  I began to wish they had him on a bed for larger people so I could crawl in there and snuggle him.  Not so much for his ease of mind as for my exhaustion.

As the minutes (and then hours) ticked by, I learned quite a bit in that tiny room from that tiny being:

  1. Not all Vikings had horns.
  2. Christopher Columbus was arrested by a gang of Vikings.
  3. It is undetermined whether Christopher Columbus was arrested by horny Vikings.
  4. You shouldn't eat too much junk food because if you get too hyper you can pass out and when you wake up you can have amnesia.
  5. If the only game you have on your phone is Angry Birds, that is lame.
  6. An 8 year old boy can pee in a urine sample cup being held by his mother with an alarming degree of accuracy compared to the war-zone spray around the toilet at home, but only until that boy gets the giggles about the fact that he's peeing in a cup being held by his mother.  Then all Hell breaks loose.
  7. No matter how much soap you use to wash your hands after being peed on by an 8 year old kid, it NEVER seems like enough.
  8. A hospital-issued barf bag is the same length as the distance between the tips of an 8 year old boy's fingers and his "elbow crotch".  It is speculated that they may be useful to people in an eating competition because they seem designed to hold a LOT.
  9. Something just outside the room makes the exact same noises as something on Dad's belt when he comes home for dinner on his work days.  Like "freaky-same".  Like people talking on a walkie-talkie.
  10. Having a curtain in the room seems unnecessary to someone who questions why on earth anyone would ever be naked in the ER.
  11. The proposed solution to possible appendicitis is a Big Mac.
  12. A plan was hatched to construct a vending machine out of Legos that only accepts fifty or hundred dollar bills, and then says "sorry, out of change".
Alas, I'm THAT mom that sent his fanny to school this morning and emailed his teacher the scoop.  So today I will try to muck through and hopefully not get another call.  I'd love to spend some additional quality time with the kid, just not in that setting again.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hoops, Headbanz, and Hubs on the Move

I had big intentions tonight of publishing a how-to guide to playing Headbanz with my children, should you ever find yourself in that position.

I may still....standby.

In the meantime, when I arrived home from work, Hubs already had the kidlets fed and they were playing out in the yard while he assembled a newly purchased basketball hoop, which for context, the clerk at the sporting goods store had named "The Beast", a lone leftover they didn't even put on display because it was a giant expensive pain in the ass - so he offered it up at a hefty discount just to be rid of it.

If you know hubs' experience in the tool chest department, you know the state he was in mid-assembly of this thing.  He's the guy who will pay extra for the floor model so he doesn't have to put stuff together.  But he's getting better.  He asked for my extra arms to get some bolts in, and only had to tear apart ONE mechanism that he'd assembled incorrectly.

Super proud of him.  Really.

After a mish-mosh of baby waking up from nap and bribing big brother to hold him while I helped Dad, it was finally finished.  I told the boys that one of them needed to follow me in the house to get a garbage bag to pick up the miscellaneous packaging material, and whomever didn't come in with me could pick up all the toys and put them back in their homes.  This is my technique for getting things done with little argument.  Give two options for equally unpleasant jobs and they seem to silently figure out who will do what.

Dishes, feeding, diaper change.  Soon I returned to the driveway to see what the hold up was since it was getting dark.

Jason was on the phone.  The boys were testing out the new hoop.

"Fatality?  Ok, call [other officer #1 and other officer #2], and I'll be on my way."

Vehicle crash.  He's on a specialty team and with someone was no longer among the living it was his job to go figure out why.  He jetted inside, slipped on his uniform and was gone.

Just like that.

I herded the kids in for homework and jammies and settled in to get baby to sleep for the night.  I checked our local news update to see where the crash was so I'd know how far away from home he was, where his job had taken him tonight, how bad it was, whether I thought he might slip in bed before midnight.

He had plans to go to the gym after the basketball hoop fiasco.  He never takes his phone to the gym.  If he'd gotten it together quicker he'd have never gotten that call.  He'd be home and we'd be kicked back on the couch spending time together for the first time this week because of our crazy schedules that take us opposite directions all but 2 days a week.

But instead he did take that call, and he went, because it's his duty.  Even on his day off.  There was no questioning, no arguing, no planning for his absence.  We've gotten past that point as a team.  When he has to go he just goes....and he knows that I'm keeping the proverbial home fires burning for his return.

That's not to say there's not hiccups.  One morning not too long ago he failed to come home at his scheduled 2am end of shift.  No nothing.  I finally sent him a text at 3:30, another at 4 something threatening that if he didn't respond I would start making phone calls.  He eventually responded with only, "I'm fine. Go to bed."  To date I've prided myself in not being "that wife" that bothers dispatch about his location when he doesn't call me, though the ladies are like family and insist that it would never be a bother.  One time only have I made that call when he was long overdue from a recovery dive for a drowning victim in the river, far outside our area and outside cell range.

So.  Here I sit waiting patiently, for who knows how long, while he is out dealing with the worst kind of bad there is....along with his brothers in brown who will notify families and measure and calculate and console and write reports and hopefully make whatever stretch of road safer one day.  I sit and wish that it was 24 hours ago and we were still playing Headbanz with the kids, and Clayton was still playing in true Clayton style:

If you ever find yourself playing with Clayton, listen to what he asks HE is.  For example he will look right at me and say "Am I a ladder?"

This almost guarantees that I am a ladder.

The remainder of the game is spent with them offering up wholly conflicting or inaccurate answers to your yes/no questions.

"Am I an animal?"


"Would you eat me for dinner?"

"Do I live in America?"
"Well, they never really lived, but they used to live EVERYWHERE. [Dramatic hand gestures]"

[Daddy interjects] "No, if I had to guess I'd say they live in England."

Anyhoo...turns out I was a DRAGON....and it dawned on me (again) why we don't have family game night very often.

But when we do it's super fun.  And I'm glad that we can wedge one in occasionally between the chaos and the call-outs and that we can [at least I think] make it appear to our kids like we're relatively normal.  That it's not a big deal.  No freakouts, no drama about it.  It just IS.  We adjust.  We make do.  We make changes so that families who need help get it.

We'll have game night again.  That family won't.  Does it make me miss my husband any less?  No.  But this is the life we signed up for.  It's why we're here.  I don't think either of us could imagine it any other way.  Wait, no....Hubs imagines being a stay-at-home-dad all the time.  It makes me appreciate ALL the folks who put their own lives on hold, working stupid shifts around the clock, all to ensure that the rest of us are safe and following the rules.  The sacrifice goes beyond the person working, and I thank their families for giving up time with them for our sake as well.

As for our kids?  They're for the most part clueless as to the degree of ugliness that either of us encounters professionally.  But they do know that life is one part work, one part fun, and 100% family and love.  That's the best lesson I can think of to drill into their little brains at this point.  One day they'll know differently, but for now it's enough.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Meet My Wife...Her Name Is BlueBear

"Meet my wife....her name is BlueBear"

This is what I envision Esten's future to be sometimes.  Which of course, I know, is ridiculous. BlueBear is a boy.  I do think he'll be lucky one day to find a special gal who knows BlueBear, knows BlueBear isn't going anywhere, and is okay that BlueBear will probably sleep between them.

Esten's definition of LOVE. I see his point a little.

Esten was given BlueBear at birth really, or at least as soon as Auntie Mandy dragged her crew in to meet him.  He came in weighing down a football balloon.  Esten was my firstborn and BlueBear was his first bestie.

We didn't realize how important BlueBear was...he never even really had a "name" per se....just BlueBear.  Uncreatively obvious.  Like it wasn't any more special than anything else.  True, Esten loved him and cuddled him, but Esten was an enormously loving baby who didn't discriminate.  He would snuggle and hug ANYONE.  We used to make a routine of passing out hugs before leaving a place.  "Go give hugs so we can go!"  It became standard for him and carried over to daycare and other places.  He was never stingy when it came to spreading out his love.  Prime kidnapper bait.  Plus, he wasn't a little ay-hole.  He'd have been a well-behaved hostage.

A while after Clayton came along we began sorting through old pictures and noticed something peculiar...BlueBear appeared at random in so many pictures - even hanging out on the arm of the couch in my hospital room when Clayton was born.  He was always just THERE.  We laughed and BlueBear continued his reign as the #1 loved stuffed animal in Esten's heart.

Clayton has never had an overwhelming attachment to an animal, or a blanket, or any other security object.  But as he's gotten older he's observed and admired Esten's loyal friend, the one he seeks out before bed usually but not exclusively.  The one that Esten has proclaimed as the only "person" who's been his bestest buddy longer than Alex, his bestie from day 1 of Kindergarten.  And Clayton began to ask if I would get HIM a BlueBear too.  The boys both collectively even selected a bigger version of PinkBear to send my dear friend as a hospital get-well gift...without regard to her Grandma-ish age or whether she'd enjoy a nice houseplant instead.  Blue/PinkBear love is knows no limits.  They INSISTED.

I did have to explain to Clayton that despite his request for his own, they don't make BlueBear anymore (he was from the 2002-2003 beanie baby era and is retired now) but that maybe I could find one that someone already loved, like Esten's.  We put the discussion on the back burner until I ordered not one, but two BlueBears for Christmas.  One for Clayton and one for Harrison.  A surprise for him.  He LOVED it.  Not nearly to the degree that Esten's got invested with his, but still.  I hope that Harrison grows to love his BlueBear (whose real name is Tinker) as much as Clayton loves his (he named Chippy) and Esten loves, well, BlueBear.

And so this morning the house was all-apanic because Esten couldn't FIND BlueBear.  Show and tell was today, and he's been preparing all week to take BlueBear and HoneyDog since the teacher designated this week's category: "Do you have a stuffed animal?"  HoneyDog was in his backpack, but BB was nowhere to be found.  He was devastated when I made him leave empty handed.  I even offered an alternative, to take one of his brothers' bears in its place.  He just hung his head.  "No Mom, Alex won't even RECOGNIZE those other bears.  He KNOWS BlueBear."

This was a no brainer.  BlueBear is MUCH flatter and worn, and more of a blue-dirt color hue than the others despite my constant washing/bleaching him.  He'd rather go without than sully his name by trying to pass off an impostor.

Eventually after they left I found BlueBear and dropped him off at the school.  I knew even though it would add a few minutes to my trip to the office, it was worth it for the improvement it would make to his attitude, to his day.  He would have dwelled and fussed and worried all day.  Today WAS trash day after all....what IF BlueBear accidentally got thrown out??  Why ELSE couldn't we find him????  Panic.  Panic.  Fuss.  Repeat.

Now I can't wait to see him when I get home, ask him how today went...and get a big squeeze from him for saving the day.  There is nothing better than a love between an 8 year old and his bear except the love you get for reuniting them.