Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bewildered and Blogging

Most of the time I am sunny, cheerful, and looking to uplift everyone around me.  I am usually thinking, "How can I make this person smile" as I go through the day.  So why is it that I sometimes can't seem to keep the momentum going when it comes to my kids? 

I am a photographer, and after a string of illnesses, hospital visits, and general disasters that have befallen our family recently, I was sad that we had missed the opportunity to get Easter pics taken as a family this year.  So... my photography studio to the rescue!  I had been looking to build a studio in my basement literally for YEARS, and I finally did... and after spending big dough on lights and backdrops and props, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to break in my new equipment for some charming Easter photos! 

Well, the chaos began when we couldn't convince my son to put his Easter clothing on, then one of my lights malfunctioned, then my daughter sat in her adorable little white poofy dress in her adorable giant Easter basket and just cried...and cried.... and wailed... and screamed. 

My husband was generally ticked off because of all the chaos, so he was snapping at the kids, and having someone screaming "You SIT THERE and SMILE, DAMMIT" just doesn't lend itself to creating a "naturally charming photo."   

After tons of fighting with the kids, the lights, the set, the props, the clothing, and each other, we ended up with a bunch of pictures that were mediocre at best, and just downright terrible at worst.   And I confess I am just plain ANGRY about the whole damn situation.  And right now I hear both kids screaming hysterically downstairs, and I feel like a colossal failure because my husband is down there by himself with them trying to feed them dinner while I am lying in bed in the upstairs bedroom because my back hurts.  I should be helping more. I should be doing better.... I should be a better mommy...  I should be more patient... I should be a better wife... and I should probably stop beating myself up.

I am human... I'm a mother...and I'm sure we've all had these moments.  I think I need a good cry and maybe a Valium.  Given some time to reflect, I could probably find a great way to rewrite this so I could laugh about it... but let's face it... there are some moments when laughter just isn't going to happen, and you just have to give yourself credit for keeping your head above water.  So I'm treading water, trying not to sink, and looking forward to bedtime like the second coming of Christ!  I think for honesty's sake I will leave this blog just as it is... I will not rewrite it to be witty, or funny, or clever, or enticing.  It will just be me... bewildered and blogging. Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wouldn't it be COOL if we pooped out our NOSES?

Years ago there was some show on TV called "Kids Say the Darnedest Things."  It was hosted by Bill Cosby, and the premise was generally that Mr. Cosby would bait unsuspecting children into saying ridiculous things, which the audience would then good-naturedly guffaw at.  I often feel like my home could be the set of that show -- if there were a camera running... oh, the wonderful things we would capture for the amusement of society!

Well, as a blogging mom, today it is my job to share some of the "darnedest things" my darling son said today.  Before I begin, let me share a picture of him here -- I believe this image pretty much sums up his general attitude about life... which is to say -- "Hey, man, I got this."

This picture was taken at the dinner table a few months ago, while we were lecturing him on the benefits of eating his cucumber.  I should really share the subsequent picture that came less than five minutes later, where he is proudly displaying said cucumber stuck to his forehead.  Perhaps I'll post that pic at the bottom,  just because it's such a gem.

At any rate, this kid definitely "gets" that his comments garner specific reactions from people.  He will often tell me I'm pretty, just to watch me go "awwwww...." and melt into a puddle... and then he'll smile glibly and follow with, "That made you happy, didn't it, Mommy?"  When I say yes, he'll ask me if that means he can have a snack now.

Sometimes I wonder if he says stuff because he honestly means it or because he's studying us like rats in a cage, learning our reactions so that he may better "play" us later.  I often suspect the latter.  At any rate, today on the way home from school he had me melting because he wanted to stop and look at all the pretty dandelions in the fields.  He told me that he liked dandelions because they're pretty, like me -- his mommy.  I didn't tell him that dandelions are weeds that people generally pour poison on in order to eradicate; I thought that might spoil the moment.  But anyway, this genuinely was one of those spontaneous compliments he gives that just make me so proud to have him as a son.  I know he will make some lucky girl very happy someday, because he sure knows how to sweet-talk a lady.  (He did ask for a snack, too, by the way... but since at least three minutes had passed between the compliment and the snack request, I didn't associate the two). 

As my husband is out-of-town on business this evening, I decided to take the kids and a friend of mine out to dinner to take everyone's mind off the fact that Daddy's on a business trip, and to distract myself from the fact that things generally rapidly go to hell in a handbasket when Daddy's away.  (This, by the way, is not a result of a lack of household management skills on my part, but rather a side-effect of a chronic physical condition which means that my body just doesn't agree to do all the things it really needs to in order to keep life running smoothly for everybody.  But that's a discussion for another night).

As Evan had been so sweet in the car on the way home, and so very happy to see my friend, and so very willing to give up his outside play-time to go out to eat at a restaurant, I thought I might offer him a special treat and let him have the fountain soda that came as a default with the combo meal we were all sharing at the local Mediterranean restaurant.  My friend got a bottled water, I got an iced tea, Evan got a Sprite (at least it was caffeine-free) and we proceeded to dig into our delicious buffet of hummus, spinach pie, baba ghanoush, fattoush, rice, and chicken kabobs.  It was about thirty seconds before Evan pushed his coloring book across the table, thus knocking over my iced tea and spilling it all over my lap and bench.  One of the waiters (who is part of the family who owns the place I believe, and, might I mention, very easy on the eyes and extremely helpful) came running out with a rag and cleaned everything up, while reassuring me with a sparkling smile that everything was "fine, fine... it happens all the time." 

Evan then proceeded to climb under the table and poke about on the floor for a while as we ate.  Usually when he "squirms" like that at mealtime it means he needs to poop.  Of course he never wants to admit that he needs to poop, but I always ask him anyway.  So I asked him and got the default angry answer of "NO!"  About two minutes later he announced that he needed to go potty.  We went running for the bathroom, leaving my squirming 16-month old daughter in the care of my friend, hoping Evan's bowels would hold up until we made it to the bathroom.  Fortunately they did, and he pooped without incident, until we discovered there was no toilet paper. 

I issued the firm "Stay right THERE!" command to my son, who has a tendency to go streaking about with no bottoms on after pottying, thinking it funnier than anything to just leave his pants and Thomas the Tank underwear on the floor by the toilet, and daring anyone in his path to stop his half-naked romping. (We were once warned in jest by a medical professional that Evan would likely be in danger of getting into serious trouble in college; in fact we were told we should expect a call from the dean at some point explaining that our son had been spotted, heavily intoxicated, streaking across the quad as a frat prank). 

I was forced to run up to the quite handsome restaurant worker and announce that I needed a roll of toilet paper, STAT, and I was glad to return to the restaurant bathroom and find my son actually still sitting on the toilet, and not running about the restaurant with his parts flapping in the breeze for the viewing benefit of the other patrons.

The rest of the dinner proceeded to descend into disaster, as my daughter decided she no longer wanted to sit in her high chair and eat, but instead wanted to go "Bye-Bye" as quickly as possible.  She managed to wiggle out of her seat, run to the door, and stand there banging on it with both fists shouting "Ba-bye!  Ba-bye!"  The handsome waiter kept insisting this happens "all the time -- not to worry," but I was getting more embarrassed by the minute, especially when Evan got up from his seat and started running about the restaurant, dancing to the middle-eastern music in a manner that faintly resembled someone having a grand mal seizure while standing up and spinning in circles at the same time. 

I scooped up my daughter and went to pay for our dinner, which I almost couldn't do because Clara had managed to get the credit card into her mouth and had decided that it tasted WAY better than the original medley of foods she had been offered.  After quite a bit of screaming, our bill was paid, we had our carry-out bag, and we hauled our sorry butts out the door.  My poor friend was covered in food bits and spilled milk, which she kindly took to represent a token of love from my children... bless her heart. 

After arriving home, I painfully wrestled Clara into her pajamas while watching Evan jump up and down on the sofa to the theme song of "Speed Racer," which he had figured out how to turn on via Netflix.  At this point it was clear that the sugar in the soda was going to present more than a slight problem in the going-to-bed department. 

I put Clara to sleep while my friend sat with Evan and made sure he didn't significantly harm himself in any way while on his soda rush, and then she headed home while I began the unenviable task of getting a sugared-up four-year old to agree to brush his teeth, put on his pj's, and go to bed.  This now leads to the subject of this blog entry, as partway through the bedtime routine Evan announced that he once again needed to go potty.  As I walked away to let him do his business in private, he called out, "Mommy!  Come watch me poop, Mommy!  I want you to watch me poop!"  Seriously?  Okay, whatever makes him go to bed faster, I thought.   So I was treated to a display of red-faced grunting and the occasional announcement of "I'm pooping," and "I'm peeing now, and pooping too, at the same time!"  Holding my nose, I had one of those mommy moments when I faked as much enthusiasm as I could possibly muster and said "Great," while feeling nothing but genuine annoyance to the core of my being.

Evan then donned a thoughtful look, and announced "We pee out our parts and poop out our butts." "Yes, we do," I agreed, wondering what his point was.  ".... Because that's how God made us!" Evan finished.  I felt a swelling of pride.  We try to teach our children that God has created us all to be special, and our bodies do all sorts of strange and amazing things, because that's how God designed us.  So I thought it was particularly neat that he was crediting God with creating the whole peeing and pooping thing.  Then he got a little sparkle in his eye, giggled, and said, "But wouldn't it be COOL if we POOPED out our NOSES?!!!" 

I think I'll advise him to address God personally on that one. 

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Case of the Flaming Pants

I have a particular passion for bargain shopping -- particularly trolling the local Goodwill shops for exceptional finds that I might not otherwise be able to acquire.  Being a photographer, these stores can be especially handy places for finding props that I might otherwise pay insane amounts for from a photography prop store. Much like shopping for wedding supplies, if one attaches the title of "prop" to anything, it immediately quadruples in price. For example, a "Santa's Sleigh" will run about $200 or more from an official photography supply store.  I paid $4.95 for one that I found at the Salvation Army down the street.  But I digress....

The main purpose of this entry is to describe the lovely experiences I've had shopping of late with my darling 4-year-old at the Goodwill store down the street.  He loves coming along on my excursions; excited about what treasures he might find in the toy aisle, or just looking forward to playing hide-and-seek amongst the pants while I search for jeans that might be worth something on ebay.

About a week ago we went on one such outing, and he ran over to the children's department and immediately grabbed a pair of black pajama pants with red and orange flames all over them.  He ran over to me as fast as his little four-year-old legs would carry him, and shouted, "Look, Mom!!!  Fire pants!!!"   He actually DRAGGED me to the dressing room to try them on, and wouldn't you know... they fit.  They are now his favorite pajama pants, and he recently wore them to school on "PJ and Movie Day" (the name says it all), paired with an orange shirt emblazoned with a picture of a chicken wearing sunglasses while flying an airplane above the slogan "Hot Wings."  The entire effect was magical, I tell you.

So today we went on another such excursion, and as I was happily browsing through the women's jeans and writing down the names of brands that might be worth researching for their resale value on ebay, my darling son comes running over to me with.... wait for it.... ANOTHER pair of flaming pants.  IDENTICAL flaming pants... in teenage boy size.  He holds them up proudly for me and said, "Look, Mommy!  Fire pants for YOU TOO!!!"  I laugh and say, "That's great, but those won't fit me.  They're for kids."  Evan defiantly holds them up against me and proudly announces, "No, Mommy, they're perfect.  Look -- they're just the right size!"  And they were.  Apparently I am a teen boy size small in pajama pants.

So... we now have matching flaming pants.  And here is the picture of myself and my proud boy showing off our incredible finds... in all our hideous fashionable glory!  These are the moments I will look back on and say, "Those were the good old days!"   Note -- if I had known what an unfortunate view of my backside this picture would have provided, I never would have allowed it to be taken.  Nevertheless... this blog screams for a picture, and I just had to provide one... so I at least cropped it to allow for the most flattering "rear view" possible (believe me... the original was pretty obscene!) 

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