Sunday, March 30, 2008

Growing pains

Katie has called ketchup "shupshup" forever. Okay, I know I shouldn't repeat their baby pronounciations back at them. I know this. I knew this as a preschool and kindergarten teacher who worked with special needs students. I knew this when we were under strict orders from Sam's speech therapist and sped teachers NOT to encourage anything less than proper pronounciation. But those little garbled words they can come up with just suck you in with all the cuteness. And so, I call ketchup "shupshup" too. I'm feeling a little humbled and sad right now though. The other night I asked her if she wanted some "shupshup" and she told me "No Mumma, not shupshup, KESHUP!" My heart skipped a beat and I had to stop myself from correcting her(No, it's shupshup! shup shup, do you hear me! really it is!!!). gasp! sob! no! My baby is growing up and I'm not quite ready for it.

Friday, March 28, 2008

tissue, anyone?

Joe picked up some tissues at BJ's for the house but he has this thing where he neglects to read the fine print. The tissues he bought are the puffs plus with vicks menthol in them. Oh. my. GOD!!!!! You can smell those tissues, plugged nose and all, from across the freaking room even when they're closed up and still wrapped in cellaphane! Teresa walks by them with her nose all wrinkled up, Sam refuses to touch them altogether and Katie tells it like it is "Daddy got dose gwoss tissues!" Can I just say, if you're crying and need to wipe your eyes, these are not the tissues to use. OUCH! My eyes teared up for over an hour from the stupid vicks. Needless to say I made him go get us some of the non scented puffs.

Abruptly switching gears here but it's kinda sorta related. The other day Joe told me he felt like a cold was creeping up on him. Sam turned to him and said "Dad, if you get a boogidy nose, just come to Mumma and she'll take care of it." I'm glad Sam thinks so highly of me, however, Joe is on his own with that.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Big Game

This past Saturday Sam's team played in their "big game." He was so excited to play in a real gym with a time clock and bleachers; it was the real deal as far as he was concerned. I am so proud of my guy. He started off not being able to dribble the ball while standing in place and finished up dribbling from one end of the gym to the other with his teammates cheering him on. The smile on his face lights up the place. He now has a better understanding of how the game is played and the teamwork needed to score a basket. And he just plain loved being out there on the court shooting hoops with his friends. It would be easier to just say this type of activity isn't a good fit for him and bypass it altogether. He's had to work hard and listen to some teasing which just about breaks my heart. But Sam is familiar with having to push a little harder and that alone is not enough to make him want to quit. I am so so so proud of him for the skills he gained during basketball and the lessons he's learned. Who knew he would end up falling in love with the game. I am so glad he's had this experience and cannot wait for next season. Here are just a couple pictures from the big game. Sam was serious about sticking close to his "man" when on defense. Are his sneakers on the wrong feet?
Classic Sam!
The smile on his face brings a smile to my heart. And yes, his shoes are on the wrong feet.My MVP

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

You can dress them up...

And they've had enough...let me at my candy!!!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

The cuteness is almost too much to handle

Katie has recently begun calling Sam and Teresa "my friends." As in "Mumma, where are my friends?" or "C'mon my friends!" and "It all right, my friends, I okay!" It has got to be just about the cutest thing ever. I swear to God everytime she says it I just want to take her and squish her she's so darn adorable!!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Poohsticks, geese poop and rocks

We haven't been for a walk around the bogs in months and it is finally dry enough and mild enough to head over. We tramped along the path, their favorite, the one next to the their favorite little waterway. This particular one moves pretty quickly and it goes under and through pipes as the path crosses over it. The kids played poohsticks and followed their sticks all the way to the end at the small pool. We saw deer tracks, geese poop and the tiny little prints of racoons that look just like a little hand. We heard a woodpecker and the four of us stood still as statues listening to the rat a tat tat and attempted to pinpoint where it could be. And the rock throwing. My kids have this all consuming passion for throwing rocks over and over into the water. When we finally headed for home Teresa was lagging behind. I stopped to let her catch up and when she did I noticed her arms were full of rocks, big, small and every size in between. She was so weighed down with rocks for her collection she couldn't move without one dropping and when she'd stoop down to retrieve it another would fall which resulted in a standstill. I told her to choose just a few and leave the others behind. This provoked no end of tears but I stood firm, just waiting out the fuss for her to make her decisions. Sam had wandered ahead but hearing all the commotion he turned back and went right over to Teresa. He began picking up her fallen specimens and a few threatening to spill from her arms and carried them all the way home. He did this just to make her happy. My actions nearly spoiled our little expedition. Sam's saved the day...both for his sister and for me.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Enjoying the little things

These photos have nothing much in common nor are they stunning examples of photography. They are little snippets of our life. The moments that happen a hundred times a day, every day. Often times the best moments of the day.

Can you guess what they are doing? They are "driving" somewhere in their "van." Don't you just love Katie's carseat?

An impromptu conga line!

Games galore...some we make up like this one...they called it "skunks in the barn...but don't ask me how it's played...very very complicated and everchanging...I couldn't keep up.

You gotta love playdough. I know I do. Well, I don't like to use it myself but I love the quiet and length of time my kids will play with it.
Books, books, books!!! And now that Sam and Teresa are reading sometimes I get to listen rather than read! Check out Sam's flying nun impersonation!!!

Cosmo, our beloved faithful funny friend. He is in love with my kids. I know it looks like he's trying to gnaw off Sam's hand but don't worry, he's not. They are playing a favorite game of all four where they hide the ball when Cosmo is in the other room waiting and then call him in to find it. The freaky thing is he always finds it no matter where it is hidden. But sometimes he forgets to stay in the other room and comes bursting in after the ball. This is endlessly amusing. And loud, very loud.
There are many nights I let my kids sleep in my bed. We are lucky enough to have a king size bed so you'd think a couple extra bodies, small ones at that wouldn't take up too much room. However that's not taking into account all their stuffed friends that must come to the slumber party as well. Don't you love how they've tucked them in at the foot of the bed?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Recently my friend Jess wrote a blog post regarding a friend Wilma who manages to cherish all the moments, good and bad, with her own little Katie.

I have been trying so hard to have a "Wilma Day." But no matter how good my day starts out there is always a moment, or two (okay maybe three) where I end up hollering at one or three of the kids. I. just. can't. do. it. It was starting to get me down but I decided I needed to start small. I was going to take it one moment at a time. So today was a typical day me hurrying Sam to finish breakfastandgetdressedandbrushteethandputonbackpackandHURRY! HURRY! the bus is here!!!!! And the cryfest that occurs daily when I brush Teresa's hair and fighting with Kate to get dressed. But in between these not so admirable moments there were a couple highlights. I had given the big kids breakfast (Sam, Teresa, Katie, and A.) and was setting up my baby for breakfast. I left the table to mix the rice cereal and warm the applesauce. When I returned, about three minutes later I found Katie looking at me her hair dripping, face shiny wet and wringing her hands which were also dripping wet. She had such an earnest puzzled kind of look on her face I just wanted to laugh. Apparently she had been dipping her hands into the milk of her cereal and giving herself a milk bath. I didn't shout or groan or even look mad. I just asked her what happened and she smilingly told me "I sticky Mumma...from my milk." Instead of feeling stressed about an extra chore thrown into the mix I just wanted to I did. And Katie giggled with me and the two of us sat there together enjoying the utter silliness of what she'd done. Much later that day Sam got off the bus and walked to the house. He is the world's SLLLLLOOOOOWWWWEST walker ever. It takes him two weeks to get from the bus to the house. Seriously. I hate standing there at the door getting old waiting for him to get from point A to point B. Today was no different, I felt myself getting more and more impatient but managed not to holler. When he finally came in he kept telling me over and over and over something about experiments! and colors! and food coloring! and water! and please can we please! please!! please!!! Mind you I am trying to talk to my daycare parents as they pick up their kids and clean up and get dinner going. He kept bringing up this experiment thing and all I kept thinking was how tired I was and how messy it would be and ugh!!! But after dinner while they were getting ready for their tub I took out a muffin tin and food coloring and a pitcher of water. Sam noticed it immediately and sat down making up signs advertising our imminent experiment and posted them up all over the house while I combed out the girls hair. Then we sat together and mixed food color and water and I let Sam be in charge. After all, it was his idea. To top off the activity we dipped some napkins in the colorful water and made rainbow napkins. They all had to accompany me to the sink to watch me dump the water and Sam exclaimed "A RAINBOW! A RAINBOW DOWN OUR DRAIN!" The joy in his face, in his voice was something I want to bottle up and save forever. So even though I haven't managed to have a whole Wilma day, I'm managing to have some moments and for that Wilma, I thank you.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Scare Tactics

The other night the kids and I got home late after a lovely dinner at Mimi's. I had forgotten to put the outside lights on so it was street lights, house in the woods kind of dark. I opened the van and unbuckled the kids and then started hefting the diaper bag, present from my mom, box of scrapping stuff from my sister, backpack and pocketbook onto my shoulders and in my arms when Cosmo hopped out and tore into the woods. Immediately I heard a crashing and snapping of branches and I completely lost it. I screamed at the kids to "run, run, run to the house!!! go! go! GOOOOOOO!!!" The kids had already started up to the house but were taking their time and looking at the stars, until my screams caused them to freeze. I started to run but my bags, packages and bundles were not making it very easy. I had no idea what was hiding in the woods but I wasn't planning on waiting around to find out. I made it to the house in record time given my burdens and the fact that I was herding all three kids who didn't know whether I was playing a game or if they should be scared themselves. We fell into the house and I turned and locked the door, Now let me be quite honest with you...I was scared. The adrenaline was pumping and my heart was racing and I was sure I something, someone, was only footsteps behind me. But once inside, with the door securely locked I realized how ridiculous I behaved. Now...some friends of mine have been ribbing me about this little incident. But they don't know the half of it. This is not the first and it will not be the last time I had the bejesus scared out of me. Let me reminise...

I remember when I was probably about four, my parents and my older brothers and sisters went out, I think to church. My brother and I were home alone (I parents were irresponsible nuts for leaving a 4 and 3 year olds home alone but that's beside the point). My parents house is like the size of a small hotel so we didn't even know they had left and when our cartoon was over we wandered downstairs. We went from room to room looking for Mummy and finally wound up in the kitchen. At this point we realized our Mummy was not at home and that mind numbing paralyzing all consuming fear washed over me. I remember just standing in the middle of my kitchen panic striken because I was sure the boogie man would find us and get us. So I did what any 4 year old would do. I climbed up onto the counter, grabbed the biggest knife I could find and dragged my brother upstairs to Mummy's room. We hunkered down under the covers with the knife within arms reach should the boogie man make an appearence.

And then there was the time I was babysitting for a family overnight. I had put the kids to bed upstairs and then went down to the basement family room to watch a movie...a typical teen fright flick...why, why why!!!! So after a while I paused the VCR and went upstairs to check on the kids and get some snacks. I also locked all the doors as I went through the house. When I came back down to the basement the movie was no longer paused but shut off. I walked over to the basement door that leads outside, the one I had locked on my way up to check on the kids and the knob turned easily in my was now unlocked. My heart froze in my chest and I bolted upstairs, grabbed a cordless phone and into the kids bedroom to call my Mom (yeah, the lady that left me to die at the hands of the boogie man but I'd forgiven her). She stayed on the phone with me and my older sister drove over. The two of us went through the house just like those idiots in the horror flicks. We looked in every closet, bathtub and crawlspace. one. I begged my sister to stay over anyways, she agreed and we both went to sleep. In the morning the kids asked why she was there so I told them what happened. They laughed themselves silly and then informed me that the VCR turns itself off when paused after a certain time span. And that the basement door doesn't lock...even if you turn the lock it still remains unlocked. I vowed not to watch another fright flick ever ever again.

Now lets fast forward to that night when I was taking a quilting class. Joe worked nights and we had just moved to our very rural little town. I hated being stuck in the house alone every night so I signed up for a quilting class that met one night a week at the high school. I loved my quilting class but the only drawback was going home. I got home after nine to an empty house and I had to go into the dark backyard to enter the house through our unlocked basement. I had to do this rather than just enter the front door because our front door was duct taped shut. (a story for another time) So this particular evening all us quilting ladies were gossiping and sewing when one woman piped up with the information that a member of a prison work crew working in the town center had escaped that afternoon and was still at large. I tried to ignore it. I tried to pretend I wasn't getting a wee bit worked up but by the time I pulled into my driveway I was convinced that the escaped convict had most certainly cut through the woods, waded through a swamp and swum across the pond to take refuge in my home. I plucked up enough courage to get myself into basement and started up the stairs into the house. And that's when I smelled a foul odor. It hit me as I came to the top of the basement stairs and I ran headlong into a wall of panic. I immediately realized not only had the convict invaded my home but he was hiding in my coat closet since that's where the maloderous smell seemed to be strongest. I slammed the door to the closet shut, pushed a bookcase in front of it and then a small rocking chair for good measure. Then I called Joe to tell him the bad news. Unfortunately he has received numerous calls from me over the years where I was sure we were being robbed by burglers who also stopped to rifle through the dish strainer because "I heard the dishes moving! I did!!!!" He was gallant enough not to laugh and hurried home as soon as he could. When he came home he also, at my insistence, moved aside the blockade in front of the closet and without a hint of humor told my convict to get out and go back to jail. No one came out, except the dog, who slunk out of the closet reeking of whatever nastiness he had rolled in that day.

So, you see, this overactive fright reaction is part of who I am. I am one of those people who screams when I'm startled and actually spends time rehearsing escape plans in my mind in case of who knows what. Many people would call me a coward but I have to disagree. I may be scared beyond reason but I always act. I never stand in one place and let the boogieman come get me. I run, I take up arms, I call in reinforcements and I take charge. Not too shabby for a big ole fraidy cat.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Silly songsmith

The other day I heard Kate singing to herself as she was playing with her Winnie the Pooh guys. Katie loves to sing. Her rendition of "Take me out to the Ballgame" is one of my favorites. Lately Katie has taken to making up songs of her own. She creates lyrics which she often puts to a familiar tune. The songs usually revolve around her family or what she is playing. So I assumed she was singing to or about Winnie the Pooh and friends. I snuck over to have a listen and this is what I was treated to:

(sung to the tune of Mary had a little Lamb)

Katie has a boogie nose,
boogie nose,
boogie nose!
Katie has a boogie nose,
And it is vewy gwoss!!!!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

An unlikely hero

My parents have a neighbor friend, R. He is in his late 80's and has to be the most miserable crochety old man ever. He is speaking to none of his family. And when he speaks of various family members I want to cover my ears because of the language. We met R over 25 years ago. He drove into my parents driveway and asked them if he could use it. You see, my parents driveway connects two streets in their town and it's a handy little shortcut. My parents don't like anyone driving through though because of all the kids running around but they told R he could but he had to be watchful. He took the yes you can use our driveway to be an invitation to call in several times a day beginning at 6 in the morning. My poor mother would sit in the kitchen in the dark sipping her coffee to avoid his predawn visits. R is one of two sons adopted by one of the founding fathers of my parent's little town. He lives in his parents home which is so rundown people actually believe it's abandoned. He drove around town and stoped in at the local cranberry growers and supermarkets and picked up what they've thrown out. My mom knew when he'd stopped by while she was out because there would be a random rotting vegetable left on their island. He also made mini banana bread muffins. HUNDREDS of them. I am not kidding. And he delivered them all over town. Everyone knows R, the firefighters, police, doctors and nurses in the ER and local small restaraunts. He visited them all and left them mini muffins. One of my sisters refused to eat them because he got the bananas from the trash. Despite his crassness and annoying habits, R became a beloved part of our lives. He came to all our family parties and celebrations. He is like an eldery uncle that's a total pain in the ass. He calls up and asks belligerently "who's this?" instead of saying hello. He demands you come over immmediately because he has something for you and when you get there it's a dented can of fruit salad. And every gift is given with a "don't tell anyone I'm giving you this." Don't worry R, no one will be banging down the door for this old spatula you gave me. But still we love him. We groan when he'd drive in the driveway or call for the 5,799th time that day but he is now much more than just a neighbor of my parents. He's family. Recently his car died and with it so did R's lifeline. He became homebound and he suddenly had little to live for. He stopped making banana bread muffins even. Why bother when he couldn't deliver them. He still calls multiple times daily but now I can hear the loneliness in his voice. The other day I stopped by to bring him some milk and sat and talked for a bit. well, he talked and I sat and listened. He began telling me about his experiences in Pearl Harbor and the Korean war. He described his tent and the wooden cot he slept on. He was so angry he couldn't remember the name of a fellow soldier, who died in his arms. The joy and surprise when he heard he was leaving Korea and going home. He broke down sobbing as he told me how when he got off the boat in California there was a young woman on the docks singing a song to the disembarking soldiers called "My hero" and how he wished he had got her name so he could thank her. I thought R was all about swearing, rotten food, offensive jokes and mini banana bread muffins. I realized I have known R for over 25 years but I don't really know him at all. As intolerable as he can be, I wholeheartedly plan to change this shameful truth. And you can bet he'll be cussing me out for bothering him!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sweets for my Sweets

I gave my kids a special treat this weekend and let them pick out a goody at a wonderful bakery. I treated myself as well and then sat back and watched the kids enjoy their goodies. Sam chose an eclair and held it gingerly with his fingers trying so hard not to get chocolate on his hand. He cautiously brought it to his mouth and took the most miniscule nibble. He then nibbled all the way around the eclair being careful to avoid the chocolate on top and not nibbling deep enough to reach the cream in the middle. Finally after all his careful work he offered it to his sister and licked his fingers clean of the last little remnants of chocolate and icing. Teresa's pick was a cannolli that had chocolate shavings and powdered sugar all over the top of it. She brought it right to her mouth and took a big bite. She continued attacking her treat pausing every now and again to lick her fingers. By the time she finished it there was cannolli cream all over her hands and her face. She wasn't quite done though. She used a sticky little finger to bring every last chocolate shaving and stray sugar to her mouth. Not a crumb or speck could be found on her dish when she finished. Katie picked some colorful sprinkled cookies in a variety of shapes. She bit her cookies into what she claimed were animal shapes and then proceeded to play with her new toys. The little cookie animals she created chatted with each other, played at an imaginary playground on the table and even got sent to timeout. When they were reduced to a pile of crumbs Kate announced she was done.
Something struck me as I watched everything they do their essential being shines through. Sam approaches life cautiously and with an eye always on the lookout for possible problems. He is careful and methodical in everything he does. And he is generous to a fault. For Teresa life is messy and she takes big bites. She rarely hesitates and revels in new experiences. Life is a game for Katie. No matter where we are or what we have at our disposal Katie will find a way to make it fun. How amazing that a simple treat can reveal bits of who these little people are?