Thursday, September 15, 2011

Monsters of the Deep

Let me tell you, when G-man gets stuck on something, he really gets stuck on something. 

Yesterday after school, he came rushing through the front door, threw his backback down and gasped to my husband in one long breath, "There's a kid on the bus who says an eight year old girl was swimming in the ocean, and she got pulled down to the bottom by a huge, gigantic octopus, and she DIED.  Is that true?  Dad, hurry, look it up on the computer!"

His dear father instead redirected his focus to the backyard, where they played baseball for awhile, but G-man kept firing off questions off about this mysterious creature of the deep. 

I think my husband did a good job of deflecting his paranoia temporarily, but when I got home, I was instantly barraged with this story about a monster octopus and the demand that I get down to the bottom of it right away.

"Mom, are there really giant octopuses in the ocean?"

"Which ocean? The Pacific?"

"How many legs do they have?"

"If you're swimming in the ocean, how far out to you have to be to be near an octopus?"

"Is an octopus stronger than a person?"

"How long can you stay under before you die?"

"Do you want me to show you which boy told me?  Let me go get my yearbook, Mom, hold on.  I'll show you who he is."

Oh good grief.

I finally pulled out the laptop, and with G-man breathing heavily over my shoulder, searched "girl attacked by octopus."  Nothing came up news-wise except for a really old report.

"Well, it looks like there was a young girl attacked by an octopus in 1928."

My husband laughed out loud.

There was another link to some fictional movie clip that was on Youtube, but I won't let the kids browse Youtube due to its very uncensored nature, so I told him it was completely made up and NOT real.  Then we had a lengthy discussion about ocean creatures and their true nature versus how they are depicted in scary movies and fictional books, and how wild animals, while sometimes misunderstood, will always be unpredictable.  When he went to bed, he seemed fairly content with my animal kingdom knowledge.  Good thing I paid attention to the old Jacques Cousteau specials.

I thought the whole thing was behind us until I came home today, and he nearly knocked me over with excitement.

"MOM!  I found out that it was NOT an octopus that attacked the girl! It was a pilot whale!"

Now this I knew to be a true story, except it was a grown woman who had gotten too near a pod of pilot whales, and was pulled 45 feet under but then released.  It was shown on National Geographic not too long ago.

He harassed me until I googled the clip and let him watch it, and finally he was satisfied.

For now.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

You've Been (Donald) Trumped

We don’t watch too many routine television shows around my house – invariably the set is tuned to ESPN, Fox Sports, CNN or occasionally (gritting teeth) Spongebob Squarepants.  We definitely never got into Donald Trump’s The Apprentice, and my boys have never watched it (to the best of my knowledge).

So you can imagine my surprise the other evening when my oldest son, upon deciding that my middle son was not playing Yahtzee correctly, grabbed the cup of dice and authoritatively announced, “You’ve been Donald Trumped!”

B-man and I both looked at him, and then I laughed.

Where on Earth did you hear that?” I asked him.

“My teacher!” he said.

Well, that would have been about number ten on my list of top ten possible sources.  But then I remembered he landed a fun, quirky, cool teacher this year.

He went on to explain that she gives several of the kids an assigned duty, like passing out papers or cleaning up stations, and if you fall down on the job, well, you get “Donald Trumped.”  Or fired, to be more specific.

I told him he better stay on top of his assigned duty, which involves something at lunchtime in the cafeteria that didn’t make any sense to me, but he was too busy Donald Trumping his brother’s remote control abilities to explain it to me.

Oh modern television, what would we do without you?


Friday, August 26, 2011

Minor Leaguer

Even though it's still 100+ scorching degrees outside here, fall baseball has made its much-anticipated arrival.  Our oldest son (G-man) is absolutely ecstatic that his new team has started practicing and will have their first game soon.  However, the heat has most of the poor boys dragging their legs (and everything else) by the end of each session.  For their sake (and mine, let's not forget), I'll be ecstatic when the temperature hovers back down around 65-75 degrees.

Yesterday evening, my husband was collecting gear and getting G-man ready to leave for practice, and B-man made it perfectly clear that he planned on attending.  Lately we try to distract him with other opportunities so that he stays home, because my husband is an assistant coach and can't keep his eye on an industrious 4-year-old while giving drill instructions to a group of second graders.  It's just impossible.

However, he was not to be swayed.  So the 2-man outing became a 3-man with the promise that B-man would sit in the dug-out, follow all instructions and not cause any problems.  He swore to all of this with the most serious countenance.  So convincing. 

I had only been home from work for an hour when they were due to leave, so practice nights make me a little sad and disappointed that I get even less time to spend with them on those two evenings a week.

As they were heading out the door, I turned to Wee-man, smiled and said, "Well little buddy, I guess it's just you and me tonight!"

He grabbed his pack-pack, slung it over his shoulder, looked me in the eye and said, "Bye, Mommy."

I have officially been demoted to the minor leagues.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

2nd Grade Top Ten

Okay, so it's been about a gazillion days since I felt like writing.  Also, we've had a very fun, busy summer and my kids have been going to bed at 10 pm, which means I don't have "me" time at night to blog or do much of anything else.  So I took the summer off!

With school starting back on Monday, we'll fall back into our old routine (I hope.)  They all went to bed at 8 pm tonight, which is nothing short of a miracle.  In celebration of this seemingly small (yet monumental) occurrence, I give you my second grade top ten list.  My son is starting second grade in a few days, and I thought back to the most memorable things that happened when I was his age.  Some I haven't thought about in awhile, most I have never admitted to anyone.  This is pretty much my second grade diary, all rolled into one short summary:

10.  How weird it was to go to a private school.  This sounds totally insane, but the public school I attended in first grade did not have a second grade the year I was to start it.  I have no idea if there weren't enough teachers or enough funds or what, but it was just ludicrous at the time that we would all have to find a new school for one year.  The alternative public school options were not appealing (nor safe for that matter), so my mom opted to enroll me in a private Lutheran school for second grade.  I liked it, but it was weird having to change schools and friends for one short year.

9.  Learning cursive.  My handwriting now is a mix of cursive and regular print, and I often don't even keep the same letters identical in one paragraph.  Meaning I might write an "r" in print in one sentence and then write it in cursive in another.  Sometimes my y's have loops and sometimes they don't.  I have no idea what this means, but I'm afraid that it could be indicative that I can't make up my mind and am somewhat fickle, so I refuse to consult a handwriting analysis guide.  Most teachers strict on handwriting would probably run out of red ink grading my penmanship style.

8.  The metal dome climbing apparatus.  I have no idea what the real name for this structure is, but they used to be on playgrounds everywhere, and have for the most part gone extinct.  I cannot tell you how many hours I spent swinging, hanging upside down or jumping off of this thing.  Given that my sister fell off of one and busted out every last baby tooth she possessed, I'm sure they resulted in too many lawsuits and so therefore had to be sent into retro toy retirement.
7.  Re-enacting the most recent episode of "V" on the playground.  I honestly can't remember who was in this show or what the premise was, but I know there were aliens and space ships and that was cool.

6.  Karen's ridiculously dark, thick, long eyelashes, which framed the most ridiculously blue eyes.  I can't remember Karen's last name, but she had eyes that any girl would covet, especially girls like me who have nearly translucent lashes.  I used to think that her mother let her wear mascara in grade school, but after she cried her eyes out at lunch one day and nothing smeared, I realized that she was just born incredibly lucky.  One day she asked me why I kept staring at her, and I couldn't think of anything to say except, "I love your eyelashes."  Yep, even at a young age, I was gifted at creating awkward conversation moments.

5.  Being in love with Judd, the second grade "bad boy."  He shaved his head, wore a black leather jacket and was always getting in trouble.  He was totally not my type, yet completely attractive and adorable in a Colin Farrell sort of way.  I think he might have even had an earring, but maybe I'm just making that part up.  I realized I could never snag him after he took one look at Karen's eyelashes.  Oh well.  The bad boys aren't my type anyway.  I still like shaved heads though.

Colin Farrell and some beautiful girl, probably Karen.

4.  Being in love with Doug, the nice, polite, yet slightly nerdy boy in class.  He watched "V," too, and would play with me on the playground instead of the boys.  Looking back, I'm not really sure if Doug liked me in the romantic sense or if he was perhaps more in touch with his feminine side, but I'll go with the former for nostalgia's sake.  I did learn to appreciate smart, sensitive guys after hanging out with Doug.

3.  The class clown, who I was privileged to sit next to all through first, second and third grade, because our last names were alphabetically consecutive.  I cannot tell you how mentally jacked this guy was, and looking back, I should have laughed at his ridiculous antics, but seeing how they were often directed at me, I could not stand the kid at the time.  A quick run down on his weekly activities:  passing gas nonstop (again, I had to sit by him), holding his breath until he passed out (he was always expelled for the day for this, but that didn't phase him), flipping his eyelids inside out, looking up the teacher's skirt, writing my name on the board for talking (he knew this pissed me off), burping the alphabet, chugging down eight cartons of chocolate milk without pausing, throwing rocks at recess and wiping his boogers on anyone within arm's reach.  I have no idea what this guy does now, but I have a few guesses.  Oh, and his mom had three or four boys.  I would really like to see how her mental state is holding up these days.

2.  The day I threw up Rice Krispies cereal in front of the entire class.  Our room had to be evacuated, because due to the wide-slat wood floors, my vomit seeped through every last crevice of the floor and the odor stayed for days.  Thank God it was a Friday.  I think.

1.  My teacher sending out a nice year-end thank you note for all the wonderful end-of-school cards and gifts, along with a P.S. that we should all go get tested for mono, because she had just been diagnosed.  We all kissed her goodbye on the last day.

And that, my friends, was my second grade year in an A+ worthy synopsis.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

For Emily.

The words that I share today are lovingly dedicated to my youngest sister, Emily.

(She also answers to Emmie, Emmie-Pop, Emmawee, Mommy and Memmy.)

And here’s the story.

When I was eight years old, a lovable little bundle came into our lives that my mom brought home from the hospital in an oversized red stocking.  She was born right before Christmas and her name was Emily Ann.  She was pretty much the neatest thing I had ever set eyes on, and I decided right away that I would take this little person under my care. 

Yours truly (Dorothy Hamill haircut and all) and her cute-as-a-button little sister, Emily.
My mom may have been worried about having a fourth child, but I was perfectly happy to assume all maternal duties from the get-go.  I did many of the bottle feedings, changed the diapers, rocked her to sleep, carried her around like precious cargo and made sure she never cried a peep.  Or at least not much more than a peep.  In no time at all she became quite spoiled rotten.  I would hurry off the school bus each afternoon consumed with thoughts of playing baby, while lip synching to Madonna with my two best friends, Kim and Jessica, ran a distant second.  I was also very protective of the youngest and bossed my middle sisters around to the nth degree any time they were around Emily.

The years passed by, and she was the one sister I never fought with.  Never argued with over toys, books, jewelry or clothes.  We were too far apart to be interested in the same things at the same time.  For a few years we shared a room, and I assume all responsibility for transforming her into somewhat of a neat freak.  When I moved out of the house during my first year of college, she was only in the fifth grade. 

The next several years went by in a flash – college, studying, dating, Greek parties, work, graduating, getting engaged, planning a wedding, getting married, going to everyone else’s weddings, starting a career, buying a first home.  During all of this, while my life was spinning wildly to arrive at a destination, Emily went and grew up on me.  Somehow I missed a significant segment of her growth, right between middle school and adulthood.  Not because I was disinterested or indifferent, just simply because our lives were individually transforming us in very different circles that only semi-overlapped.  So you can see how it was hard for me to accept that at some point she became a grown-up. 

I was unaware until a few years later that after all of those years of me caring for her, the big sister protecting the smaller, that the tables would turn significantly.  The hourglass would take another turn, and the protected would become the protector – not of me, but of my children.

You see, Emily has been the weekly caretaker of my boys for several years now.  It started with G-man, and then B-man, and now she is down to just Wee-man.  The older two are in school and growing up quite quickly – too quickly, really, and Wee-man will be joining them later this summer when he starts at the same preschool B-man attends.  In just one week from now, Emily will take on two newborns – our niece Miss C and a friend’s baby boy – and a final paragraph will be written in a long chapter of the Three Small Men. 

We both knew this day would come, but that won’t make it any easier.  We are saying goodbye to a ritual, a slice of time, a piece of the boys’ childhood and even a stage of our own lives.  It is hard in some ways for me to accept that my boys are moving on, growing up and becoming more independent.  I know it will be just as difficult for Emily to accept that, besides some babysitting here and there, the days of one of my boys sleeping soundly in her bedroom, leaving small handprints on her glass door or snuggling with her on the couch at eight o’clock in the morning have almost come to a close.  What will make this transition easier is the presence of her own son, as well as other precious little ones who will fill the gap and offer their love, adoration and another half-decade worth of memories.

Looking back, I cannot imagine a better person to help raise my baby boys into the little men they are becoming.  I never worried for their safety.  Never lost sleep over what their day was like while I was at work.  Never feared that they would suffer any lack of love, compassion or attention.  They had all of those things and more.  They had an aunt who loved them as her own, and for that there is no price tag and no comparison.  My sister adored them, coached them, encouraged them and protected them in the hours I was separated from them.  I owe her more than I could ever express in these mere written paragraphs.

All of Emily's men.

Emily – you are a beautiful old soul, a born nurturer and a blessing to our family.  Thank you for loving my boys all these years with an open heart and open arms. You are an amazing person, and we love you.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Earth Day MVP & a Crossing Guard

I am lounging tonight in a fresh smelling room, the byproduct of today's professional carpet shampooing in an attempt to eradicate evidence of recent (and not-so-recent) household events.  I won't gross you out, but let's just say that three small boys and two dogs means that our carpet perpetually looks like a splatter mat underfoot.  Okay, it's really not that bad, but about every three to six months I decide I can't stand staring at the offensive spots anymore and I pay a small fortune to a very nice and super competent guy who can make the ole' shag look almost new again.  Just kidding - we don't really have shag carpet.  But sometimes I wish we did, because it would most certainly hide some of the atrocities so much better.  Anyway, my tactile senses love the results too, because you feel this crisp crushing underfoot as you walk across newly cleaned carpet that is beginning to dry.  I know, I know - totally absurd.  Yet still satisfying.

Apparently this carpet cleaning got me in a rather proactive and productive mood, because I really shocked myself earlier by encouraging G-man that we should start on his Earth Day lunchbox project that's due this Friday.  It's only Tuesday.  This is a big deal for me - Miss Procrastinator Extraordinaire that I am. 

The instructions said to create a lunchbox out of something recyclable at home that they can tote their lunch in on Friday and parade through the other classes for all of their friends to oooh and ahhh over.  Well, this for sure demanded that I break out the fancy scrapbook supplies.  Don't worry - I didn't "girl" it up.  We found a sports paper pack and he made a baseball-themed lunchbox out of an old shoebox I had in the closet.  We cut and glued various paper to the box to camouflage the fact that it once housed a coveted pair of Arturo Chiang pumps, and then adhered some cut-outs of favorite players as well as several baseball stickers.  My husband broke out his power tool (project coolness factor: +25 points) and drilled two holes in the top and we created a handle out of a string looped through and tied underneath.  To make sure the box stayed together without the top falling off when he picked it up, we put some Velcro stickers on the underside of the box top and then on each side of the box so that the lid can be secured.  I'm guessing that Velcro isn't exactly "green", but I can't have his lunch falling out all over the hallway or who knows where else, because I know my son, and I can guarantee this thing will be put to the G-man test.  Only the strong survive.

And so voila!  We have a "green" lunchbox that is pretty cool if I say so myself.

Who's the Earth Day MVP?  G-man!
After cleaning up our mess and patting myself on the back for not only starting but also finishing this project so early, I revisited a pile of teacher notes and classroom work that B-man had brought home yesterday (he goes to an intensive pre-school three days a week).  I read more about the songs and letters they worked on, studied a very interesting abstract finger painting masterpiece, and then came across the below paper that I somehow missed in my quick flip-through yesterday.  

It seems his teacher asked him what he wanted to be when he grows up, and she wrote down his response.

It made me smile.  Totally putting this one in my pocket for a rainy day.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Zoo Sunday

I know what you're thinking.

TWO posts, back-to-back??  What is going on here??  I don't know what's gotten into me either, but just go with it.

This morning's glorious arrival seemed to whisper the promise of a beautiful day, so we loaded up the three small men and the red Radio Flyer wagon and set off for the zoo.

If you've never been to the Fort Worth Zoo, you are missing out on one of the best in the country.  Don't quote me, but I think it is nationally ranked.  It really is quite amazing, and they are currently hosting a unique exhibit called Dinosaus Unleashed, which features life-size robotic replicas of the prehistoric beasts.  Some of them (the more imposing ones, of course) move their heads, tails and claws and even roar.  Wee-man did not care for them whatsoever, but the other two thought they were pretty neat.  The T-Rex and her baby garnered the most "whoa!" and "awesome!" accolades from G-man and B-man.

Mama T-Rex and baby
We are looking forward to an event later this month that we have attended for the past two years, which is Friday Night at the Zoo.  It benefits The Warm Place, a local non-profit grief counseling center that supports kids who have lost a loved one.  Our friends (and neighbors) are very involved with this group and asked my husband to reproduce the headboard he recently made for our bedroom as one of the auction items, so he's been busy in the garage again.  I hope it gets some good bids!

I am excited about the event because it's great people, good food, fun auction items, a scavenger hunt for the kiddos, carousel rides and a nighttime train ride.  I don't know why, but there's something kind of cool, primal and even somewhat eerie about being in the zoo at night.  Probably because you can hear the animals, but can't see them!

I'm signing off with a few photos from today.

You know how they say everything's bigger in Texas?
Check out the humongous suckers.
Not dentist-approved in the least bit, but totally kid-approved.

The Yellow Rose Express - we're not allowed to leave until we ride it.  Every time!

G-man and Wee-man on the train.  Choo choo!