Parenting: Proof That Boys Are Weird

IMG_2525If I walked into a bathroom in my house after one of my sons used it and the toilet was flushed, I’d probably faint from the shock.  “Flush the toilet!” is my daily refrain.

Being a mother often involves me shouting out instructions I would never have expected to have to give.  For example, “please don’t lick your shoes”.  (Yes, I’ve said that.)

And “if you’re leaving the house you must wear pants”. I just sort of assumed those things were obvious, but evidently I was wrong.

Each time I hear one of these random instructions fly from me, I have to smile.  Each such utterance is another tick mark on the wall, marking my days of parenting.

Lately, these instructions are mostly directed at the boys.  Granted, B is older and past the shoe-licking-phase of life (hopefully), but I can’t recall ever having to remind her of that, even when she was very little.  The boys, though.  I love them, but seriously, they make me question my sanity.

Lately, Q will say “fire in the hole” out of the blue, then immediately fart.  All boys in this house think that is hysterical.  Matt tries to be a mature adult and not laugh, but we can all tell he thinks it’s kind of funny.  B and I are less amused.

In related news, O and G have decided they are going to make a movie about Q and call it “Fart-nado”.  This decision, made at the dinner table, resulted in one of the boys laughing so hard he choked and sprayed water out his nose.

Which just caused them all to laugh harder.

And this is my life; weird and wonderful.

A Rude Awakening

I am thick in the throes of a complicated dream when the air raid sirens start.  They don’t make sense, even in the nonsensical realm of dreaming.

They are loud enough, though, that they break through the barrier between sleeping and waking, and I realize that they are real.  And they are coming from my house.  And they are accompanied by bright, intermittently flashing lights.

I am instantly in motion, and Matt is right next to me, and we’re dashing from our warm bed to the children–the noise and the light is coming from one of their rooms.  I am in a silent panic.

We burst into B’s room.  That’s where the sirens are coming from.

And she is lying in her bed, struggling to turn off the alarm on her iTouch.  It’s an alarm and she set it, but she didn’t realize how loud it was and she doesn’t really know how to turn it off so she’s swiping and hitting buttons and finally it stops.  Sorry, she says, I didn’t mean to set it like that.

And I laugh, despite the acid taste of fear in my mouth and my elevated heart rate, and say it’s the most effective alarm clock we’ve ever had, as 5/6 of the people in our family are now awake and standing in her room.

Go back to sleep, I say, and walk back to my own room, where I glance at the alarm clock on Matt’s bureau to see how many hours of sleep I have left.

It’s 6:30 AM.  Not 3 AM, which is what time it feels like.

We’re up for the day, I realize.  I am instantly and irrationally irate.  In denial, I lay back down for 10 minutes, mostly out of spite, because I certainly can’t fall right back to sleep after that episode.

So that’s how my day started–in a dead panic, followed by utter disappointment and rage that I didn’t get to go back to sleep.

How about yours?

Eight is Great

G chin in hand

I grew up with two sisters.  Then I had a daughter.  And then, when I was pregnant with you, I realized I better keep having daughters because I had no idea about anything having to do with little boys.

Then I found out you were a boy.  I can’t lie–I was nervous.  But you, my sweet child, have proven to me that I had nothing to worry about.  You have given me a glimpse into a world I knew nothing about–this world of little boys–and you’ve showed me how lucky I am to get to be a part of it.  Boys are weird, yes, I cannot deny that.  I can’t pretend I completely understand WHY you do some of the things you do.  I can live with that, though.  Because in return for your weirdness, I get to see the world through a completely and totally different lens, and for that I am grateful.

G Bundle baby

My first boy, you are the most physically driven and active person in my life.  You interpret the world around you with your whole body, and you always have.  You throw yourself fully into whatever you’re doing, often with very little regard to your own safety.  When you were little, you ran everywhere and climbed everything.  Now that you’re older, you are capable of exercising a bit of self-control in my house, but outside you still pretty much run everywhere and climb everything.  Your Dad says that probably won’t change for a long, long time.  I believe him.

G in tree

Because of you, I am a much more laid-back and less anxious parent than I would have been without your influence.  You’ve taught me that it’s okay to let a child test their physical limits and push boundaries.  That you WILL fall and you WILL get hurt, but that’s okay because it’s how you learn.  I don’t know why I still do it, but I constantly, constantly remind you to Be Careful.  If I counted the number of times I’ve said that to you in your eight years of life, I am certain it would be upwards of a million.  And you always reply that you’ll be careful.  Then you do exactly what you were planning to do anyway and I watch and sometimes I have to hold my breath and bite my tongue to keep myself from shouting at you to stop because you’re going to get hurt.  And then you do whatever it was–you climb the tree, you scale a fence, you snowboard down a huge hill without ever having done it before, you balance on a skateboard with only two wheels and careen down the driveway at top speed.  And I take a breath and move on, impressed with your ability to master your physicality yet again and shaking my head ay myself for ever doubting you.

G sledding

At eight years old, you can throw a baseball harder, farther, and more accurately than I ever could.  You can throw a football in a spiral and hit a moving target.  You can swim three different strokes well enough to place in the top three in your 8-and-Under division.  You can do a full flip off the diving board at the pool and you’re working on your one-and-a-half.  You are basically good at every sport you’ve ever played.  Your body just always seems to know how to do whatever it is you want it to do.  It never ceases to amaze me.

Gabe 1G flip

You are just a touchy-feely kid.  You hug and kiss me all the time (I hope you never stop doing that).  You barely ever walk past anyone in this house without touching them–sometimes that gets you in trouble, but sometimes it’s nice.  When you’re tired, you run your hands up my arms and if I have on long-sleeves, you stick your hands inside my sleeves and do it anyway.  You’ve done it since you were a tiny baby.  I know I’ll be sad when that one stops (but admittedly it would be weird if you kept doing it forever).

IMGP8276snuggly boys

Because you tend to rely so much on your physical side, I was worried when it was time for you to start school a few years ago. Would you be able to sit still for that long?  Would you be able to control yourself for 7 hours in a classroom and not touch everyone and everything?  But you’ve blossomed in school and I’ve loved watching you.  You are social and friendly; you know the names of every kid in your class within a day or two.  And probably their favorite football and baseball teams, too.  You are fun and smart and non-judgmental–anyone can be your friend, and if they’re nice to you, you’re nice to them.  And I was silly to ever think you would be anything but amazing.

G first day of K

You don’t mind attention, either.  In fact, unlike your middle brother, you are perfectly happy to have all eyes on you.  You are confident and outgoing and silly.

G like a boss

G in boa

Like your Dad, you can rock a suit.

G in suit

You are the child in this house who I can always, ALWAYS rely on when I need help.  I need someone to empty the trash?  You’re on it.  I can’t kill a giant spider because I’m terrified?  You’ve got it.  I’m exhausted and complaining about the amount of crap all over the place?  You clean it without being asked.  I know I can count on you and that you’ll help me with anything, anytime, without complaining.  It’s so nice to have someone like that.  In fact, you’re the only kid in this house who has ever put on a load of laundry and flipped the wet clothes into the dryer without being asked.  I think you’re the only kid who even knows how to turn the washing machine on.  I’m so lucky to have you (and I have to make sure to show the other kids how to do laundry).  You even mow the lawn.

G mowing lawn

You are sweet and emotional, helpful and funny, goofy and smart, and you make me proud to be your Mom every. single. day.

4 kids and smores

I love you, sweet child of mine.  Happy Eighth Birthday.

On Aging

I wish I could claim that I’m aging gracefully, but that would be a lie.  I’m fighting it with all I’ve got.

I hate the greys in my hair.  So I color them.

I hate the wrinkles on my forehead.  So I cut bangs.

I use anti-aging face wash and moisturizer, I work out several times a week to try to stay in shape, I do what I can to maintain at least a semi-youthful appearance at the age of 35.

If it’s vain of me, I can live with that.

The other night I ran to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few necessities, one of which was a bottle of wine.  The cashier asked me for my ID, which I totally didn’t expect.  I sort of half laughed, thinking he was just doing it because he had to, but he didn’t smile back–he actually wanted to see my ID because he thought maybe I wasn’t old enough to buy alcohol.  I gladly handed over my license.

My elation over looking super young was short-lived though, because then he looked at my birth date on my license and visibly winced.  And then saw my reaction to the wince and said, “You look much younger than you are.”

Too late, buddy.  My age just made you grimace.

Good thing I got the wine.

A Room Somewhere

All I want is a room somewhere, far away from the cold night air, with one enormous chair, oh, wouldn’t it be lovely…        –My Fair Lady

Do you have a dedicated office or a space in your house that’s all yours?  I don’t.  I totally want one though.

The kids have a playroom.  Matt has an office/man room (although, to be fair, it currently has our guest bed in it).  But I really don’t have a space that’s mine.  When I write, I sit at the kitchen table with the laptop.  When I sew, I have to set my sewing machine up every time and put it all away at the end, which makes long-term projects kind of a pain.

I’m basically home all day.  The freelance projects I do here and there are done from home.  I write at home.

A dedicated space where I can set up my stuff and leave it out and not have to clear my projects off the kitchen table so we can eat dinner would make my life so much easier.

Matt agrees, so we’re trying to figure out a plan for where my room will be and what I need in it.

Fortunately, thanks to Pinterest I have many ideas and inspiration photos.  Unfortunately this is not an unlimited-budget project, so we’re going slowly and not buying anything until I’ve got a clear picture in my mind of what I need and what I want.

I want to make sure I have it right.  I’m being very deliberate in creating this space in my head and on paper first.  Taking my time is not always in my nature, so this is a good exercise in patience.

Finding the Groove

While I still maintain that I love back-to-school time, I do have to admit that it’s a major transition and takes some patience and planning to get things running smoothly.

We’ve had a pretty good first two weeks, but there are a few things that have popped up that I know we need to address.

For instance, if I spend one. more. morning. watching O wander around the kitchen complaining loudly that he can’t find socks (HINT: they’re not in the kitchen), I will most likely go insane.  So we’ve got to take a look at his sock situation and fix that so I don’t freak out.  Side note: O can’t find things when they are literally sitting right in front of him, so I think part of the problem is that he is just not good at finding things.  But really, I can’t take one more morning of the no-socks-routine from him, so we’re working on a solution this week.

Next, I MUST get back into the regular habit of making the kids’ lunches at night.  I’m just not a morning person, and I’m fine with that.  But since I know that to be true, I need to make sure I do as much as I can in the evenings to streamline the morning routine so I can sit at the kitchen table clutching my coffee cup for the first twenty minutes after I get out of bed.  I do not want to be making four school lunches right then. Like, at all.  On the days these last two weeks when lunches were made at night, mornings were MUCH nicer.  I need to remember that at 8PM when I just want to sit on the couch and chat with Matt instead of making the lunches then.

Finally, we’ve got to re-think our chore situation.  I’ve posted before about how we deal with morning responsibilities and chores here and here, but I think we need to review the plan–the kids have 90 minutes from the time I get up until they need to leave for school, and their chores take about 5 minutes total.  I told B and G that I’d like them to work together each morning to unload the dishwasher for me–that makes a huge difference in how clean the kitchen is before they all head out the door–and it only takes them a few minutes.  Plus I like to make them do cooperative chores; they can use the practice being nice to each other.  So in addition to a morning chore from the list, I’m thinking each kid might need a regular, unchanging morning assignment too.  I feel like 10-15 minutes of their mornings can be spent helping out, since pretty much every minute of my mornings revolves around helping them.  So we’re looking at the chore situation this week and trying some new things.  (Oh, how thrilled my children are.)

We’re slowly but surely adjusting to the new routine, and out of ten school days, we’ve had only one morning when we ran late and I had to drive them instead of letting them walk to school.  Not too bad.  Hopefully with a few tweaks, it will get better.

What do you do to make your mornings easier?

Homemade Applesauce

homemade applesauce

Matt didn’t want a cake for his birthday this week (we’re trying to be super healthy!), so instead Q and I made him homemade applesauce, which is one of his favorites.

It’s a fitting dish for this time of year; tis the season for apples!  This is a super easy recipe and one of my favorites to make and can.  And as always, it helps to have the cutest 4-yr old sous chef ever…he makes sure it comes out just right.

photo 1

Homemade Applesauce

3-4 lbs of peeled, cubed apples

4 tbsp lemon juice

1 cinnamon stick

1/4c. dark brown sugar

1/4 c. white sugar

1 c. water

1/2 tsp salt

nutmeg to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot; cover and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat, discard cinnamon stick, mash with a potato masher to desired consistency.

Can freeze for up to 1 year.

As always, I use organic ingredients wherever possible. 

This is one of those recipes that makes your whole house smell good as you cook it, which is such a bonus.  I was hoping that I’d be able to can the leftovers and use it for school snacks this month, but there were no leftovers!  That’s a good sign of a well-loved recipe, but now I need to get more apples and make a big double- or triple batch so we have some to put up.