Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tiptoeing into 2010

I feel so behind. I have three book reviews I have been meaning to write (especially since they belong in the books read in 2009 category - perhaps I shall have to post-date them, but that feels like cheating). Plus, there are plenty of tales to regale from our holiday adventures. Sadly, what I have lacked is the time and energy to get these things down.

At the moment, (11:52) I am typing this while the little boys watch TV, struggling to stay awake to see in the new year. This is the first time we have allowed them to attempt this. It doesn't look good for 2010. We have experienced lots of tears, noise and general mayhem as we attempt to stretch their daylight hours to the midnight chime. Not to mention the fact that I am very loathe to give up my own quiet time in front of the computer in the late evenings. Perhaps, next December, I will try the suggestion of rigging the clocks to look like they are at midnight.

Anyway, I feel bad for neglecting my blog. Thankfully, I can say that the days were full and fun. Wishing all my blog readers a happy new year and God's best blessings in 2010! Praying for more energy, a stricter schedule, and firmer focus in the coming year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Weekend Was a Bright Beautiful Blur

It seems, these days, that each and every one of my 24 hours is spoken for. My mind is preoccupied with a few gifts that still need purchasing, cookies I hope to bake, Christmas cards or letters I would like to send out (but every photo session is determined to undermine), household management while my (neater than I) husband has a few days off of work, and constant prayers for a peaceful family gathering at my house shortly after Christmas. Thus, I find myself a week late in updating on our whirlwind trip back to DeKalb.

Last weekend, a good friend from my former writer's group, Kyle White, hosted a book signing at the Borders in DeKalb. I decided to bring the two little boys with me, so that I could provide them with memories of the many traditions I used to share with ES at Christmas time, back when we lived in DeKalb.

We had a fabulous time. Such a good time, in fact, that MS claimed on Saturday evening that it had been the "best day of his life." This was especially endearing since the majority of our activities were geared towards appealing to my train-loving YS.

We started with a free carriage ride through downtown DeKalb. This was something we had always tried to fit in when we lived in DeKalb. The last year we were there (Christmas 2005), it was bitterly cold and ES and MS and I huddled together on our supposed "final DeKalb carriage ride." This year, the temperatures were more agreeable.

Next, we waited to enter Santa's little cottage. The boys were overly excited and running up and down the ramp and trying to grab handfuls of snow less than cooperative about standing still in line, as I tried to contact a few friends to arrange visits. I'm glad that we had already visited Santa in Indiana, because a mother and grandmother in line behind us began to pressure me to give up my spot in line because they were scheduled to attend the 2 p.m. showing of the Nutcracker and had decided to quickly squeeze this little visit to Santa in.

If I had been living in DeKalb, I would have happily granted their request, but I was feeling a bit put out since I only had a few mere hours to enjoy the town I still remember fondly as home. Thus, I told them we were under time constraints as well and merely rushed the boys through their visit with Santa. Thankfully, I'm sure the people behind us still made it to the Nutcracker on time.

After Santa, we enjoyed visits, first, with my friend Laura M., and then, with Andy & Renee and their kids. The little boys had a blast. They fed goats at Laura's house and played with her dogs and toys. They also thoroughly enjoying playing with the toys and kids at Andy & Renee's, but did mourn the fact that they couldn't play in their back yard, as we had the last time we visited.

We then headed off to Waterman, Illinois, where for years ES and I attended the annual Halloween and Christmas train rides. A small train runs around the local park, which is decked out in Christmas lights. They have a building where you can warm by the fire, drink hot chocolate, munch popcorn and visit Santa. All of this is offered free of charge (donations accepted inside) and they have always been so friendly and nice (offering blankets for the train ride). I think both boys want to return next October to experience the Halloween train (which also boasts a haunted house).

A tunnel provided shelter from the winds, as well as some indoor train sights:

YS wanted to stand in line again and ride a second time, but we returned to DeKalb, as freezing rain began to come down. We enjoyed our dinner at The Junction Restaurant where the boys were able to watch a small train running along a track above us. They are not practiced or skilled at sit-down restaurant deportment, so I filled their head with the theory that the train stopped when their behavior deteriorated and started up again when they were sitting or eating nicely.

By the time we arrived at Borders, both boys were like whirling dervishes and completely out of control. I tried to talk with Kyle, but the boys were busily wrestling each other on the floor. I then attempted to calm them by shifting them into high backed bar stools near Kyle's daughter, M., who is my ES's age. I was explaining that she knew their older brother.

Soon a boy with long blondish hair came over to stand near M. MS piped up, "Hey Mommy, he looks just like B-----! (ES)" Then, he cracked us all up when he continued, saying, "He smells just like him, too!" Ah, teenage boy odor! Apparently, you can place it anywhere.

What better way to end a night, than an exciting motel experience. Every time I entered the bathroom, they commenced with jumping from bed to bed. When I finally emerged, weary and ready for sleep, they fought over whose bed I would share (ah, if I had been smart, I'd have stuck them in bed together and had a bed to myself, but I was somewhat worried YS might fall off the bed ... instead he kicked me most of the night). "The best day of their lives," indeed.

The next morning we were able to attend our old church. This was such a balm to my soul. The boys thoroughly enjoyed their classes. During the service, we ended up sitting behind a family we used to know from cub scouts and AYSO (soccer). MS managed to sit quietly until he was released for children's church. I was able to greet people without the frazzled look of a woman reigning in wild horses. Moreover, the service was such a blessing. The only part I could have done without?? That would be the time when I was in the foyer saying my farewells and realized that I had lost MS. I found him outside the front door, standing in the front driveway, throwing snowballs at cars. Yikes. Good thing we only get back every once in a while, huh?

Before we left DeKalb, we stopped to visit one more friend, Sandy. She had two dogs as well. I think my MS remembered this because he ran ahead of us to her door. When we left, she said it felt like a tornado had just blown through her house! I replied, "Welcome to my world!"

During our visit at church, I had managed to talk with Kori (who heads up the plans for the annual women's retreat). She encouraged me to come again this February, since it would be the last year that they will hold the retreat at the church (they plan to return to the outings held in retreat settings after this). As much as I enjoyed this opportunity to make memories with my boys, I'm really hoping I can attend their women's retreat in February. Perhaps it will be a beautiful weekend, without so much of the blur. Perhaps, I will return feeling rested, nourished and with memories of therapeutic laughter (like last year).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Snippets from the program

A few weeks ago, MS gave us a sneak peek at his program when he began reciting a little ditty about five little cookies on a plate. My brief video of him individually will probably provide the clearest performance (despite the dog continually lumbering into the way), but I will include the group performance as well, so you can see their cute get-up.

During the performance, MS got to stand next to Andrea, his "girlfriend." It is so cute. He draws her pictures of the two of them holding hands. He gets upset if someone else plays with her on the playground.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cell Phone Faux Pas

I will admit that I don't use my cell phone very often. Primarily, it is there in case of emergency. I can't think of a single person who calls me regularly on my cell phone. In fact, most of the time, I barely turn it on. I take it with me when I drive out and about with the boys.

I don't really like to have it ring out loud either, so I have taken to putting the phone on vibrate. Of course, when it is on vibrate, you have to carry it in a way that assures you will feel the phone pulsing when someone is calling. I used to try to carry it in my coat pocket, but didn't really feel it going off. Since I have recently gained weight, I don't enjoy carrying it in my pants pockets either.

I thought I had stumbled upon the perfect solution for this dilemma. I began shoving it down into my bra (again, it is rare for me to receive a phone call so I can only remember one time that I had to dig it out while in public).

On Friday, I attended MS's pre-school Christmas program. I had spent most of the day shopping and had really forgotten that the phone was tucked away in my clever safe spot. I chatted away to other mothers during the refreshments time after the performance. We tossed our trash, picked up YS and headed home.

At home, I stood in the bathroom preparing to assist YS as he washed his hands. Suddenly, I noticed something strange. From beneath my black turtleneck sweater, I could see a round blinking red light in the middle of my chest. It dawned on me that my cell phone had been blinking (it blinks every few seconds continuously when it is on) the entire time I talked to others after the program. Oh my! I'm wondering what they were thinking. Perhaps, they wondered if I had a pacemaker!

Note to self: When wearing cell phone in your bra, you must be careful to insert it so that the blinking light is facing the flesh of your chest and not flashing through your clothing like a ... blinkin' beacon!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Activities Abound

I was sure that once December rolled around, I would resume blogging at my normal pace (whatever that is). Alas, it seems I am just as busy now as when I was up late every night working on a novel. But, it is a good kind of busy, and at least I know that the hubbub will die down in a few weeks.

Yesterday, I took the little boys to see Santa. They were very excited. They had a chance to mail him a letter in the special North Pole mail box at the library. In a few weeks, they will receive a handwritten reply (last year, the return letters were so much fun). Then, they each had a chance to sit on Santa's lap and tell him their requests.

YS repeated the same thing over and over - "a wooden Gordon train" (from the Thomas the Tank engine set). I hope Santa has really good connections because I've tried, in vain, to find the wooden one. However, he shouldn't be too disappointed since he already earned a Take-Along Gordon for his potty training strides (still in pull-ups at night, but does wake and go to the bathroom occasionally).

MS asked for a Batman Bat Cave (not happening, either), a wooden snake (he already has one), a remote control snake (like he wouldn't have that broken in two seconds?), and a REAL VIPERFISH. MS is thoroughly "into" viperfish. So much so, that at a recent Bible study meeting, he slipped away from the sitter and drew a fabulous viperfish, with pen, on the floor of the church gym. Yikes!

Santa first asked what a viperfish was (I can just hear MS's brain clicking with questions like why Santa wouldn't know about viperfish if he can do such magical things as delivering presents to all the good boys and girls of the world, making his reindeer fly, and seeing when you are awake or asleep!) and we explained. Then, poor Santa, tried to tell MS that he couldn't really bring a live viperfish to Indiana because it would die without water. MS suggested he also bring a really large aquarium. How large an aquarium do you think a viperfish would need, I wonder?

At this point, even though I can see questions flitting through MS's mind, he still attempts to justify it all. He observed that it can't be the real Santa, because he is up at the North Pole getting ready for the big day. Then, he wondered aloud how they get the mail up to the North Pole since that is very far away. Finally, at night-time he has been telling me that "Santa is magical."

As for me, seeing my boys with Santa, is magical:

I will have to provide further updates after the weekend because, as I said, Christmas activities abound. Exhausting, but great fun!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

First Snow

Yesterday morning we woke up to see the first snow of the season. Of course, the little boys clamored and clamored to go outside. I figured I would bribe them. If I spent a half hour outside supervising their snow play, then they would have to agree to spend a half hour in their room reading so that I could exercise. Somehow, we lingered and stayed outside for well over an hour. By the time we came in and warmed up, there was only enough time to throw together a quick lunch and get MS off to preschool. Still, I'm glad I took the time (and energy) to go out with them. They had a wonderful time. Here are some photos of their rosy cheeks:

Amazingly, we managed to scrape together enough snow to build a snowman. Sadly, when I looked out the window after returning inside, it had already toppled over. This morning it was merely an abandoned pile of accessories and it made me think of the novel I have been listening to (for ages): The Time Traveller's Wife.

I spent most of my time trying, unsuccessfully, to convince MS that it isn't really a good idea to eat snow when you have a dog (yuck). They did have a lot of fun jumping on the snowy trampoline:

And, before I go, a few updates. Nothing like a face shot attempting to reveal missing teeth, eh? He's quite proud.

And what was this strange sight I quizzed you on?

It was another of our favorite toys, a magnetic stick from a set of magnetic sticks and balls (wonderful toy, called Roger's Connection Magnetic Building Set, for making geometric shapes, but the little boys tend to disperse them widely). This particular one must have been thrown up in the air and somehow it managed to land and connect to the metal on the top of the lamp in the little boys' room. Of course, the acrid smell dissipated once we allowed MS to leave his room because we reached under the lamp shade and turned out the light. It was only when the smell resurfaced again that my husband found the stick melted onto the light bulb.

Tonight, I took the boys to the dollar store during ES's drum lesson (because they had completed a behavior chart). MS picked out a paddle ball and YS picked a miniature Tech-Deck style bicycle. MS spent most of the evening jealous of YS's toy choice and before the day was done, both the bicycle and the paddle ball were broken. Obviously the behavior chart they filled in was not one for handling their toys with care! It was for brushing teeth faithfully. Methinks it is time to shift our focus from brushing twice daily to better bedtime habits and greater care for toys. No?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Santa's Packin' Coal for This Address

The last few days have been full of the typical antics that go on around here. Only this time, I've attempted to provide some documentation.

Let's start with the dog: Harley came from a home where there was a one year old baby who dropped food from her high chair often. Even though he is still officially a "puppy" (his birthday is in February) he is large enough to easily reach the table when he smells something he wants. Thus, we have taken to putting him on the porch while we eat. He can see us through the sliding glass doors and once we are done he is allowed back in.

The other day, I was on the computer when the little boys finished eating their breakfasts. They went to play with Harley and immediately came running to tell me that I wasn't going to be happy. I came onto the porch and found strange pink stains all over the couch and the dog's mouth and paws.

After a moment or two, we realized what the dog had been chewing on:

No more complete set of those apple ornaments! I keep meaning to try my spot bot on the old couch, but at least it was an old couch (perfect for young boys to romp on and use for making forts).

Then, the next day, he began chewing one of the hand-made ornaments. Urgh! Thank goodness these decorations won't be up more than a month!

The boys haven't been very gentle with the decorations either. They keep messing with this Santa countdown decoration. Every day I find it in pieces around the house. You can see the white ball from his hat, to the left of his foot.

MS threw a lighthouse decoration (from the bathroom) across the room and it shattered. I pulled out the glue and fixed it before I remembered to snap a picture. But here are some recent toys that have been decapitated or drawn and quartered by the boys:

Poor Buzz, went the way of Woody!

MS tried to hide this one at the bottom of the trash can without telling us of the Green Arrow's demise!

Ten points for the reader who can figure out what this might be. Here's a hint. MS was sent to his room for some infraction. When we went to retreive him we detected a faint burning smell. He claimed he never got up off the bed. A few hours later, hubby was still hunting to figure out the source of the odor. Not much to go on, I know, but think like a destructive boy and you might figure it out.

Now, I must go. I have to make sure the tooth fairy has a smooth mission, because this afternoon the dog jumped up on MS and knocked out one of his front teeth. MS is now missing one on the top and one on the bottom. I guess he can sing, "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth." Who knows, maybe Santa will bring a lump of coal AND two front teeth?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Are They Nuts???

So you've got $15 burning a hole in your pocket, right? What should you buy as a gift for some child in your life? How about this suggestion I noticed on-line today?

Are they nuts? Down from $22, for four dollar store items: a slinky, a yo-yo, a small container of silly putty and a box of crayons?? Don't forget the shipping costs! You've got to be kidding!