Monday, August 29, 2011

My kind of alien...

Jacob is really into Calvin and Hobbes lately. I turned around in the kitchen this morning and found...

Jacob: (computer voice) I am a X3-180 alien from Jupiter. Give me all the chocolate in your frigerator.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Toddler rage...

My sister-in-law told me a story about working in the toddler nursery at church.  There were a lot of kids that morning and she and the other worker tried to figure out what to do to keep them entertained.  They decided to bring out the little plastic toddler roller coaster.  It was a disaster.  The kid who was on it loved it - it was the greatest thing they'd ever experienced.  But then they had to get off and let someone else have a turn.  Standing in line and taking turns is mostly incomprehensible to toddlers (which is why I will not go to Disney World with my kids when they are between 1 and 3).  At any given time they had one child who was thrilled and 14 who were screaming with rage.

We had a similar phenomenon here a few nights ago.  David was giving the boys rides around the house on Rand's little push car.  During Rand's turn, he loved it.  He smiled.  He laughed.  He cooed and babbled.  Then it was someone else's turn.  

He screamed with unbridled rage.  David had to peel him off. 
He chased the car screeching and shaking his fist. 
Then it was his turn again, and he plopped himself on the car and started giggling again. 
Eventually they decided to move to two drivers because my six- and eight-year-olds have more compassion than their heartless mother who just grabs the camera.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Spit shield...

Lately, when we put the boys to bed, Bryan asks for a kiss with a caveat...
Bryan:  Will you give me a kiss - but not on the wips.
Me:  Why not?
Bryan:  (disgust)  Cause dat's wike Anakin and Padme.
Armed with this knowledge, Chris and I have been teasing Bryan.  We grab him and kiss him all over his face - like Anakin and Padme.  He laughs that crooked-mouth laugh I love.  

We were all in the living room the other day and I was threatening to kiss Bryan.  Jacob was agreeing with him about the grossness of his  situation.  I looked at David and could see the conflict on his face:  I could kiss my brothers - it would be gross, but it would torture them.  What to do, what to do...  Eventually he decided to kiss Jacob.  Jacob started freaking out.  I suggested he turn the situation around with something along the lines of, "Ha, ha, you kissed my sweaty face."  As Jacob and Bryan were planning a kissing counterattack against David, David started frantically licking his hands and wiping them all over himself, yelling, "Shield!  Shield!"

And, I picked up Rand, kissed him all over his face and wondered how many more years before he starts activating spit shields and complaining about Anakin/Padme kisses.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Bryan:  Mommy, after reading time, I'm going to teach you to count to infinity.

Me:  OK, sounds great.

Bryan:  But I need you to help me with one...ummm... 1, 2, 3,..., 14, 16, 17

Me:  Wait, 14, 15, 16

Bryan:  I need you to help me with 15.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

420 seconds...

I shaved about ten years off my life today.  I was working with David and Jacob on their schoolwork.  Bryan and Rand were playing upstairs.  I hadn't heard from them in a while, but deciding whether to go check is a real dilemma.  If they're playing constructively and well and then Rand sees me, it's all over.  He'll be back downstairs trying to scribble in a spelling book, open the dry erase markers, tear up math pages,...  So, I eventually went up to help Bryan in the bathroom and there was no toddler noise.  I walked through all the rooms upstairs calling for him - no Rand.  I ran downstairs and checked - no Rand.  I told David and Jacob to run look outside and make sure he hadn't gotten out - no Rand.  It took about a minute to confirm that he wasn't in any of the usual places. Now I'm really beginning to wonder if this is the new beginning of the rest of my life.  Rand is not in any usual place and my house is without toddler noise, ergo, Rand is gone or unconscious somewhere in the house or backyard.  I sent David out on his bike to look in the neighborhood.  I sent Jacob next door to get my neighbor to go drive and look.  Bryan decided on his own to make him a sippy cup of milk to try to lure him back home.  I called 911.  As soon as I started talking to adults, I freaked out.  The 911 dispatcher tried to calm me down, 
911:  I really need you to calm down.  This is our number one priority.  We have units on the way.  What is he wearing? 
Me:  (Holy shit, units.  This is serious.)  I can't remember.  I think a gray shirt and red shorts, but that could be wrong.  All I know for sure is that he's barefoot.  (I was wrong - blue shirt, no pants.  Epic fail as helpful eyewitness.  The gray shirt/red shorts outfit is what I had planned to put on him but never got around to it.) 
911:  (Probably trying to ask me a question I know the answer to as she's already gotten his age)  When is his birthday...
While they were transferring me to someone else, I found him.  He was asleep on Jacob's top bunk with blankets on top of him.  A policeman stopped by and talked me down.  He said they already had seven cars on the way.  I love that.  An adult has to be missing for what - 48 hours or so.  For a toddler, if you look for 60 seconds and can't find them, you can have seven policemen in route.

Chris and Rand are the only ones without emotional scars from this morning.  Chris didn't get my first text message until he got the second saying I found him.  It actually really worked out well for Rand.  We doted on him for the rest of the morning.  After we found him, David told me he was really scared while he was on his bike looking for Rand.  He said he was worried Rand got lost because he's not a good enough big brother and hadn't protected him.  (How's that for firstborn pressure?)  He saw a red car drive by and was afraid it had hit Rand and had his blood all over it.  Jacob was worried he got out where a car could bump into him.  Bryan was scared that a robber stole him or someone killed him.  After we found him, Bryan wanted to pretend we really lost him and he went to Virginia or China or Arctica (some cross between Antarctica and the Arctic, I think).  We scrapped school for the rest of the day, ordered pizza (an absolute requirement in times of stress) and watched the Pink Panther.  

When I meet new people who find out that we homeschool the boys, I very often hear:
What do you do with the younger kids while you're teaching the older ones?
Responding with
Well, sometimes I lose them and have to call 911.
probably won't do a lot for my laid back, experienced mother of four image.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bullet point book reviews...

I've read some good books lately and am probably not going to get around to writing real reviews, so here's a quick a list:

Velva Jean Learns to Drive - This is about a young girl in the Appalachian mountains in the 1930s.  I don't agree with some of the book's overall message, but it was a good read.

Parrot and Olivier - This is a great book.  It's not a light read.  It's beautifully written.  It's a fictionalized version of Alexis de Tocqueville's life.  It bounces back and forth from the perspective of the Tocqueville character, Olivier, and his servant Parrot.  I love the exploration of what is beautiful and right about America alongside what is crass and overdone.  It's also a subtle study of class difference.  It makes me want to read Democracy in America.

Skin Hunger - This is a freaky book - like a cross between The Hunger Games, The Road and Room.  I wouldn't say I enjoyed it as much as I was intrigued - enough to order the sequel.

Reason for God - If I could ever compare a book to Mere Christianity, this would be it.  I love Tim Keller's style.  I love that he almost never overstates his case and that he has great respect for the person who doesn't believe.

Imperfect Birds - Traveling Mercies and Operating Instructions, also by Anne Lamott,  are two of my favorite books, so I started this Anne Lamott novel with great hopes and wasn't disappointed.  As it follows the story of a teenage girl with a drug problem, this is a great book for a mother of all boys.  I can delude myself into thinking only girls cause their parents this kind of trauma.  On the other hand, the girl's manipulation of her parents sounded uncomfortably familiar - just make the topic why I didn't clean my room when you clearly told me to instead of why I failed a urine drug test.  Hmmmm...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Being four...

We sat out on the patio tonight with the boys after dark...
(Kids laughing at a backyard neighbor's house)  
Bryan:  I'm going to go see who's making all that noise. 
David:  I hope Big Foot doesn't get you. 
Bryan:  (90% confidence, 10% fear)  David, I know you're wrong.  Big Foot lives in Nathan's barn (their cousin who lives a few hours a way and recently spent a few days with us). 
David:  No, remember, Nathan said he saw Big Foot leaving his house and heading here.  He said Big Foot likes to eat kids who sleep in top bunks with a crib underneath.  (Bryan is the only kid among all the cousins who has those sleeping arrangements). 
(Chris and I finally stop snickering like junior high children and intervene.) 
Me:  Bryan, there's no Big Foot in the yard.  You can go. 
Bryan:  No, I'll stay here. 
Me:  Do you want me to go with you? 
Bryan:  (unsure) Okay.  (Grabs my hand.  We walk two feet into the grass.)  I'm all done.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mobile and unreasonable...

What do you do with a mobile and unreasonable toddler when your house in covered in wet paint and it's 120 degrees outside?
Baths.  Lots of baths.
This is Rand saying, "Please, for the love of all things holy, let me out of this bathtub."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Empathy gone awry...

Every strength has a dark side - even the ones that seem innocuous.  Take empathy for instance.  How can empathy bite back?  Well, I recently read Velva Jean Learns to Drive, a wonderful book by the way.  The heroine is a gifted singer and songwriter.  Her husband is not a bad man, but belittles her and tries to keep her from singing.  Reading this book, I started to wonder, was I born to sing and write songs?  Is Chris stifling me?  Then I remembered the one and only song I've ever written:
Summer is Right, Chris is Wrong 
Summer is right, Chris is wrong
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.
Sing these words repeatedly to any tune, as long as it's over a broad range and with some weird operatic action.

Also, I remembered that my main creative outlet right now is this blog, and he's the one who convinced me to start it.

Monday, August 1, 2011


When I left home for college at the tender age of 18, I had no idea that I would never again live with another person who cared as much about my birthday or pampered me so thoroughly when I was sick.  It took several years, but eventually I accepted this and moved on. 

Last week my friend Janet and I took our kids to the museum, and afterward she invited us over for lunch.  Imagine my surprise when I found this...


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