Wednesday, April 9, 2014

You may call me The Master Carpenter.

Today was a nice day, so I had to get outside and do a project. I love projects. I like fixing things and NOTHING is better than building things.

I was going to have a giant community garden plot this summer, but when I found out I was pregnant I decided I couldn't keep up with that much work and I gave it up. Instead, I planned a much more reasonably-sized garden bed for our yard. It's large enough to give me something to do.  And it's Small enough that I can shout weeding commands to  Jared while I sit on the deck with ice water. You know, should I become incapacitated or something.

I put the kids to bed and then I set to work playing with the cedar lumber. By the time the kids got up, my raised bed was finished. WHOO HOO.

Mya, the best carpenter dog ever who is afraid of power tools.

Completed 4'x8' raised bed.

I was sitting on the patio feeling pretty great about myself and my amazing prowess with a power drill when Oliver came outside.

"What's that?" he asked.
"A raised garden bed!"
"What does it do?"
"I'm going to fill it with dirt and then plant things in it."
"You built a box for dirt?"

Yes. I built a box for dirt. It sounds so impressive when you put it that way. Thanks for building up my confidence, Oliver.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Park time.

Today was a nice 50 degree day so we stopped by the park. All winter long Colin would point to the snow-covered parks outside the window and shout, "Play! Play!" Today he finally got to play.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Big Brothers.

Every day, without fail, Colin wakes up from his nap with an enormous bulging diaper full of pee. And every day, Colin pats his bulging diaper and tells me, "Baby is in here!"

I have had this conversation with him many, many times. No matter how many times I tell him that the urine-soaked gel in his diaper isn't a baby, he gives me this look that says, "OH YOU. What do you know? Ha. Great joke. Is definitely a baby."

I've tried explaining to him that he's going to be a big brother, but the second those two words escape my lips Colin shouts, "Oliver! Oliver! Oliver!"

In Colin's mind, Oliver = Big Brother. There is only one. There can only be one. And that one is Oliver. End of discussion. Anything else would be considered blasphemy.

Colin is going through a stage right now where he is completely enamored with Oliver. Colin has taken it upon himself to be Oliver's constant laugh-track. If Oliver says or does anything that Colin thinks could in some way  be construed as a joke, Colin announces, "Ha! Is funny!" and then heartily fake laughs.

If Oliver laughs, Colin laughs.
If Oliver cries, Colin cries.
If Oliver eats yogurt, Colin will eat yogurt, whether he actually wants it or not.

Within the last month or so, Oliver started allowing Colin into his bedroom. Colin is now permitted to look at and sometimes even touch items that belong to Oliver's "treasure" collection. The first time I saw Colin carrying one of Oliver's beloved rocks I practically tackled Colin to rip it out of his fingers. I was 100% shocked when Oliver told me that he had given that rock to Colin. It was one of his "very specialest" rocks in his collection.

Later that day, I had a discussion with Oliver about sharing things. I told him that sometimes it's okay to really really like something and just keep it for yourself.  I told him he didn't have to give his specialest sparkly rock to Colin if he didn't want to.  I offered the rock back to Oliver, but he wouldn't take it. He said,

"Well, Colin really likes it too. Colin doesn't have any rocks, and I have a lot of rocks. And I want him to feel happy."

And then suddenly somebody in the room started chopping onions and my eyes started to water. Oh man, that got me. For all of the times I worried that I would have to keep the boys segregated throughout their whole childhoods, it was nice to see a sign of that brotherhood. No matter how many times in the day I have to break up their fights, they're still buds. It's the best thing in the world.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Chocolate chip cookies.

I asked Oliver if he'd like to make chocolate chip cookies with me tonight. He had two questions: 1. Can I measure the ingredients myself? and 2. Can I have a cookie when they're done?

I agreed to both demands and so we made cookies. When we were done with the mixer, Oliver asked to lick the dough off of the beater. I thought about all of the times I got to lick the beaters when I was young. Hell, I still lick the inside of the bowl if I am feeling particularly indulgent.

So, I told him to go for it.

"Don't tell me what to do! I can measure it by myself."

Colin is Oliver's constant shadow. Especially during such exciting times as these.

Licking the batter.

On Wednesdays I take an ECFE class with Colin. He really enjoys it, but sometimes the parent portion of the class drives me crazy. It's mostly filled with fretful mothers of just one child, so some of the questions they ask can border on obsessive worrying.

"If I don't give my son what he wants, he will go for 12 hours without eating!" (Big deal.)
"My daughter doesn't show interest in the finger plays! What do I do?" (Who cares.)
"Can I let my son sleep in a wet diaper or should I wake him up?" (Who would ever wake up a happily sleeping kid?!)

They clucked at me when I told them all that I took down the baby gate, but do you know what? Colin has fallen down the steps the least of all of us.  In fact, the one time (it was while we still had the gate up, even) Colin fell down the stairs, he laughed about it. But the other parents don't see it that way. They just see a big red "DANGER DANGER DANGER" sign and assume we should still have the gate up and the bumper pads on the furniture and video monitor capturing his every move. I just don't see it that way.

A couple of weeks ago, somebody gave their definition of parenthood as being the "protector of our children from all danger."

That might sound nice and all, but sometimes I think a little danger is good for a kid. Colin is the best climber in his class because I let him climb.  Not just on the rounded plastic preschool toys but on the playground and in trees and on rocks and other things that he finds. Colin can sometimes open his own packages because I carefully taught him how to use a pair of safety scissors. Oliver knows the basic concepts of cooking and measuring and using the mixer because I let him try those things out on his own. I let him taste the dough because who doesn't love raw cookie dough, even if it means gambling on the 1 in 30,000 odds of getting salmonella. I put plates of steaming food down in front of the kids and warn them, "It's hot! Don't touch." and so now they know not to touch. I let the kids play in their bedrooms together where I can hear but not see them, and now they can sometimes solve their own problems. It's made them co-conspirators.

All of those other parents wouldn't dream of letting their kids do these things, but so far it's worked really well for us. When I say something is dangerous, they know it's dangerous and not maybe-possibly-you-could-be-a-little-hurt. Both of my boys are independent and competent and happy. I'm happy that I don't have to worry so much. With this situation, everybody is winning.

(Except for those other poor mothers who must take up my share of worrying for me.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The only time I'll ever admit to watching Maury.

Today was the day for the big ultrasound. I showed up to the clinic and checked in like I normally do. Then they called me up to the counter and said, "Haha, we were just kidding, you can't have your ultrasound today! Even though we told you to schedule it for right now, we still can't do it for you for another 10 days. You're not pregnant enough! Come back next time!"

Then I showed them my fist and said, "Would you like a knuckle sandwich?" and they all started quaking in their boots and changed their minds and said I could have the ultrasound after all.

(Or maybe I just whined and pointed out that they told me to schedule my appointment for today and that it is really hard to get a babysitter for two small boys and then drive out to the middle of nowhere for an appointment over a long bumpy road with a full bladder. Also, Can't you just try so I don't have to go through this whole thing again?)

They took pity on me and let me have the scan done today, and guess what! It worked out just fine. Just like Google said it would.  Just like all of the baby books said. Just like I thought it would. They got all of their measurements and whatever else they needed more easily than they did with either of my other kids. For all of the stink they made, they really had no reason to complain in the end.

Now I'm the only one left with anything to complain about, because I have to save and organize 4,000 more boxes of boy clothes for the rest of my life.

Yeah. We're having another boy.

Although, if I had to guess from this picture I would have gone with a squirrel or something with claws.
 Ugh. I was so looking forward to getting rid of that stuff. I hate the sorting. I hate the boxing and unboxing. I hate playing the game of looking at stains and wondering, "Will this come out? Should I try to scrub this clean? Do I give up and throw this away?"

This morning while we were all getting ready, Jared quoted his favorite line from an old Maury episode we watched back in the days when we had no Netflix and only two broadcast channels.

"Those babies ain't mine; I can't make girls!"

The strung out guy on the TV show was right in the end: the baby girls weren't his. And I guess it turns out that Jared is in the same boat as that guy. Now he will forever joke that he "can't have girls."

Who can argue with the science and knowledge showcased on Maury Povich? Certainly not I.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Here comes the sun.

This morning when I picked up Oliver from school, he walked outside and said, "The whole world is melting!"

It is. People are outside shoveling waves of slush-water out of their driveways. Colin stepped in lake-sized puddles, soaking his shoes and jeans. A robin bathed in the middle of the road.  On the drive home, I sped through the water on the sides of the road for the fun of it, giant tsunamis soaring up past the kids' windows.

By the time we got to our driveway, Colin was having such a good time shouting "Splash! Splash! Oh no!" that I drove around the block once more. Just for fun.

I am finally starting to get things done around here. People aren't sick anymore.  There are no more medications to administer. No more piles of disgusting sick linens to wash. I still occasionally throw up and I still get dizzy when standing up and bending over, but I'm feeling pretty good. I've started making a few dinners here and there. We bought new furniture and got it set up in the living room. I designated some boxes of junk for Goodwill. I set up a list of things we have to buy for the new baby and/or transition to the boys sharing a bedroom. I ordered new plants to replace the dead/ugly specimens in the yard.

After two long years, we took down the baby gate at the top of the steps. It feels like our whole house suddenly opened up. I can carry a laundry basket up the stairs without fussing with the gate. I can walk in the front door with arms full of groceries and just walk right into the house. It seems so much more welcoming. I didn't even notice how oppressive that stupid baby gate felt, but by its absence I have been freed. Silly, isn't it? How liberating it can be to take down a baby gate?

But anyway. I guess my point is that if you want to come over now and enjoy our new couches, you can. Colin and Oliver sure are.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cutting corners.

After a particularly stupid incident that ended with me crying in a Target store over buying the wrong size jeans, I sent an email to a dear friend. She sent back the kindest reply, telling me to take it easy and cut corners today.

The problem is, cutting corners is already my status quo. I'm already running a bare bones operation here and I already feel like I am failing so hard.

I've had a few days where things weren't so bad and I felt alright, but waking up in my house and thinking of all that needs to get done is overwhelming. And so, I waste those opportune days scattered and flittering about, picking at my chores but achieving nothing tangible. Lately I've been managing to make dinner for the family more often, but that makes even more dishes and takes up time that maybe I should have spent cleaning or picking up. On the days that I am really feeling good, I feel especially guilty for all that the kids have had to endure and so I take them out to do fun things, leaving the chores and the mess to multiply in our absence.

Lately, nobody has been in a good mood. Oliver has been having a very hard time lately, maybe because he's been ignored and stuck living in this big mess. He's stopped taking naps. I'm still fighting him to take the last day of eye drops for his pink eye. Colin has been up all night and skipping his naps, too. He wanders around the house crying for Jared, and when Jared walks through the door Colin will have nothing to do with anything that isn't Jared. Colin, too, is getting over his pink eye but also has an ear infection on both sides. After catching the stomach flu this weekend, Jared is fine, but of course he has to work. By the time he gets home I am so done with everything that I just want to sit with him and ignore everything, so he gets nothing done either. Aside from a sinus infection and cough that refuses to leave, I'm really feeling okay. I'm still having problems with the dizziness that sent me to the ER last week, so I'm trying hard to walk the line between working hard to get things done and relaxing so I don't fall down and hit my head again.

If my children ever grow up to be hoarders, their therapists will trace the origin of their affliction to these months. And let me say, I'm sorry, kids.

My inspiration for getting through all of this is a strange fantasy scenario that I keep building up in my head. Some day it will be warm again, and I will throw open all of the windows and let the breeze suck out all of this sickly, toxic air we've been stewing in. I'm going to wash the windows and let the sunshine spill into this dark house. I'm going to send the kids outside to play. I'm going to sweep all of the sand and salt off the driveway and garage floor. I'm going to go outside and figure out how best to arrange three car seats in our car with the doors open and the radio on.  Here is the best part: I will go through all of our clothes and cupboards and drawers and get rid of stuff.

In my ultimate fantasy scenario, I go to my ultrasound in three weeks and see that the baby is a girl. Which will complete my fantasy not because I really want a girl but because I am so tired of sorting and boxing and saving those stupid boy clothes.  My biggest biggest fantasy is getting rid of those dumb baby clothes I've been saving for forever. Think how great it would feel to have that ultimate decluttering, including those boxes upon boxes of boy stuff.

Oh, the great joy I find in getting rid of things.

Just writing about all of that nice stuff I am going to do has given me my second wind this morning. I'm ready to get up and do all of those things. But since the forecast says that it's going to be freezing for the next foreseeable future, today I am going to pick a room and clean it. I am going to focus and work hard, but I am also going to take small breaks with the timer so I don't burn myself out. And then maybe tomorrow I can do the next room and then the day after that the next room, and I will dig myself out of this hole. I have to start sometime, so hopefully today will be my day.