Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Using their noodles

I love it when my kids play nicely together. I especially love it when they play nicely together and use their imaginations to direct their games. My heart just swells when I hear creative banter and glance around the corner or over the counter and see what sort of world they have created and are inhabiting. I don't know why it seems like such a big deal. That sort of play is the only way I used to play when I was growing up. My sister and I had elaborate tales we spun about our dolls and their personalities and our lives with them. That was all we ever wanted to do. They didn't have much on TV for kids back in my day which I think is a big difference between my generation and my kids. We didn't really have the option of TV where as my kids can always find something on if that is what they want. Welcome to the world of "on demand".

I am not blaming my kids lack of interest in creativity on TV. It is my own fault. We could certainly limit their TV or cut it off entirely. In all honesty, the only one that would miss watching would be Spencer. The other kids have never been into TV and still show no interest no matter how hard I try to push Elmo or Dora their way. Believe me, that 22 minutes of free time is like gold. Sadly my pan is coming up empty.

I have to blame laziness on my part as well. It is not hard to get kids interested in something - at least not my kids. If I start a dialogue and get ideas going in their heads they immediately pick up and run with it. Evan especially - that kid has the best imagination. The only drawback is that it is fine to play "camp out" or "fire in the cottage" for a half hour or so, but then Mommy has to do her "real Mommy" work and the pouting lips comes out and the tears start flowing and I start to hear what a bad mom I am because " I am never going to get to play in the Rose Petal cottage with you for a hundred years!" (Everything bad in Evan's life revolves around him not getting to do whatever it may be for a hundred years.) Dramatic huh? And here I am thinking they lack creativity.

The froggy puppet show at Mirabel's house.

Yesterday Evan was pretending that he was a fighter-fighter and wanted to wear his Halloween costume. He told me that Hailey needed a costume as well. He didn't want her to be a cheerleader or a dinosaur (because dinosaurs don't live in houses). I found her princess costume in the back of her closet. She wore it for Halloween when she was nine months old. It still fits -except now it is tea length. They both looked so cute and played together so well you would have felt sticky from the sweetness in here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Coasting in on fumes...

This post was intended to be a story about my adventure in trying to fill the car with gas, but I am realizing now that the title is an excellent metaphor for the way I feel at the end of this week.

On Monday we left Wisconsin early in the morning and started the drive back home. The trip was very smooth and completely uneventful -which is just the way we like it with us and a car full of kids. We arrived home to a house still very disheveled from the prior week and the events of that week. We left the house the Friday before in a fairly hurried fashion - we didn't really have a choice. Normally, I like the house to be clean and picked up so that when we get home we don't have a mess upon a mess upon a new mess to deal with. But, when life throws a curve ball at you like the one it threw at us, you just do what you can do and keep on moving - the clutter will keep.

So this week has been all about trying to dig out of the clutter and figure out the new "normal" of our lives. On top of that, Trent has had play practice every evening and feels the added stress of missing a whole week of rehearsal time. On top of THAT, we have had some thing going on every night this week. Tuesday I had photography class. Wednesday was Kindergarten round up. Thursday, the Blue and Gold banquet for Cub Scouts. The week has been filled with shuffling schedules, arranging sitters and all the regular, every day madness that ensues with a household and three young children to manage. Speaking of the kids, they have been amazing. They were such troopers on both of the long drives to and from Wisconsin. They have been in good spirits and the fighting has been minimal. There have been many days lately when they have had to take the back burner and they have risen to the occasion better than I ever would have expected. Their smiling faces and their hearty laughter keep me on task and keep me sane.

I am looking forward to tonight. We have nothing going on. We can hang out as a family - play games, work on our new puzzle and just RELAX. The house is still a mess, but if the past few weeks have taught us anything, it is how precious and fleeting life is. The clutter will keep.

Now for the gas story....

The last couple of days, every time I got in the car I looked at the gas gauge and could see that the car was running low. I made a mental note and would be on my way. The places that I drive to in a normal day are nowhere near a gas station. I don't go very far - the bus stop, Evan's school and the grocery store are about the extent of it in a normal week. The grocery store is near the gas station but I had already gone earlier in the week. So last night as I was heading to the Cub Scout banquet I noticed the gauge - it wouldn't even tell me how many miles I had left, it just read LOW GAS MILEAGE. I was a little panicked and decided to get gas before the banquet - we would still make it on time. As I started driving I had second thoughts because the roads were a little slicker than I thought they would be and I didn't want to get to the school too late to get a decent parking spot. I didn't want to have to make a long trek with three kids through the cold and ice. I decided I would get the gas after the banquet. The banquet lasted longer than I thought and by the time I could sneak out with Hailey (the banquet was still not over) it was quarter to eight. She was exhausted and I was really wanting to get in my jammies and watch Survivor, so I forgot all about the gas. This morning as we were all packed in the car to run Spencer to the bus stop I looked at the gauge and panicked a little more. The gauge had changed to read LOW GAS and I think if I were to get really close it would have said in small letters "get thee to the gas station before you are pushing this van down the road with three freezing kids inside -you idiot". So I told Spencer that we were not going to the bus stop, we were going to the gas station and then I would drive him to school. He was thrilled with the treat of the chauffeur and I was happy to finally get the task over with. I got half way to the gas station before a sinking feeling came over me as I realized that since I thought that I was only going to the bus stop, I did not have my purse with me. I just wanted to cry. I still couldn't fill up the car and I had wasted more of my precious LOW GAS by driving part of the way there. I turned around and headed to Spencer's school. There was nothing I could do unless they would let me pay them in wet diapers (that two of my poor kids were still in) or I wanted to put in forty six cents worth of gas, which happened to be the amount of the coins that Spencer had in his backpack and was counting all the way there. After dropping Spencer off at school, I drove home and got Evan and Hailey dressed and fed and we headed out for Evan's school hoping for the best, and the gas, to get there. We got Evan to school with backpack and snack helper supplies and our next stop was the gas station. I was keeping my fingers crossed the whole way. I have never in my life run out of gas and I sure didn't want to at this point. Luckily, the LOW GAS and fumes held out and we made it to the station. Thirty nine dollars and eight cents later -our tank is full! FINALLY!

Thursday, February 5, 2009


When I think of my kids "playing" together, one image usually comes to my mind. That image is them climbing all over each other - jam piling - as we call it around here. This is not my preferred game, but it seems to be the only thing that keeps them entertained. That is until one of them gets hurt (which happens a lot) or I lose it and start to yell at them to stop (which also happens a lot).

The images in this post are not ones of jam piling (though jam piling and the desire to simply be near each other sometimes encompass the same techniques and look very similar). These pictures are just a few of Hailey wanting to be by her brother one day after he got home from school. And him not wanting any part of her affection for him. She has started to call him "Doov" - which is her way of saying "Voov" - which is our nickname for him. "Voov" and its predecessors - Voovee, VooveeQ, Ehvoov, Evyvoovee,Qvee - they are never ending and make no sense whatsoever.

It just makes my heart melt the way she says "Hi Doov!" with such excitement or "Where Doov?" with a look of such genuine concern. Unfortunately, Evan does not feel the same way. When she first started calling him "Doov" he would get so mad for seemingly no reason. After a few more times he finally told me "Mom! Hailey keeps calling me a Doof!".

How in the world does he know the word "doof"?

After I explained to him that she was not calling him a doof, she was just trying to say his name, peace was restored for a short while. Back to jam piling they went.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sometimes you just have to "force" your fears...

It only took a major obsession with playing the Star Wars Wii game to help Evan get over his fear of being in the basement by himself. Our basement is completely finished, and if I do say so myself, very nicely so. It is probably the nicest part of our house because we had built the whole house prior to finishing the basement and knew what we were doing and what we wanted when we decided to start down there. I guess it is a rite of passage in our house that you have to go through a "basement of terror" phase, because Spencer was the same way.

It was funny to me, in a completely annoying kind of way, that when Evan and Hailey were playing in the basement, if she would start heading upstairs he would begin to cry and beg her to stay with him. Then he would follow her upstairs and would be totally grumpy because "Hailey is not staying downstairs with me!" As if his little sister is going to be able to protect him from whatever he thinks is down there. Spencer did the same thing with big bad Evers as his protector.

All hail the Star Wars game because it has completely changed things. During Hailey's nap he will usually go and play for his "quiet time". I hear him down there talking to himself and he will run up from time to time and tell me about the new character he bought or how close he came to achieving "true Jedi" status. With him so entertained it means that I have a bit of down time without kids following me around the house.

The force is with us!

He is really good at the game. He will try to convince me to play with him sometimes and if I do, he pretty much yells at me the whole time or tells me that I am doing something wrong. It is a tricky game to master. He has watched Spencer and Daddy play so much that he knows exactly what he is doing. He is very confident about his skills in the game now. When Spencer used to play all the time I would tell Evan to join him and he was always bummed that he couldn't really play very well. It is nice to see him master something that he has always wanted to do.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Happy February

I don't like to wish time away any faster than it already goes by, but I am not too sad to see the month of January behind us.

January has always been a hard month for me. It follows the months of big holidays and all of the parties and festivities that go along with them. Then the fun ends and we begin January - a pretty snowy, cold and generally gray month - all 31 days of it. I remember when I worked (out of this house) I had a giant calendar that hung on the wall in front of my desk that I entered all of my important pay codes and corresponding weekly number hieroglyphics on. (One of our accountants once compared my filing techniques to the ones of the girl that worked in the office in the movie Tommy Boy - he was not that off. I do tend to have my own systems.) Anyway, everyday at five o' clock I would cross off the day with a big X. (My boss used to come in and laugh at me and tell me it looked like I was in prison - he was also not that off! Ha!) ANYWAY, the month of January always seemed to last forever. Those X'ed off days appeared at a snail's pace. When I finally got to rip that page off the wall, it felt like spring was right around the corner.

I don't loathe the month of January anymore. Most importantly because it is the month of Hailey's birth. Now after the holidays have come and gone I get to focus my attention on her birthday and party and all the fun planning stuff that goes with that. By the time we have celebrated her birthday, the month is close to half over! Today the kids and I went outside and made a "welcome February" snowman. It was very nice out. Above freezing so the snow was in great packing condition. The sun was shining and I was even comfortable without a hat or gloves. See, spring is just around the corner!

Hailey wasn't very happy to be outside. She liked carrying her bucket around but then didn't want to do anything but stand and cry. Maybe she is sad to see January go...