Friday, April 30, 2010

I Give Up

Normally, I am loathe to put a book down without finishing it. But this month, I am throwing in the towel on not one, but four books that I have been trying to finish. Although, I enjoy non-fiction books, these have just not been able to keep me going.

At the beginning of the year, I was browsing books related to puppy training, when I stumbled upon a book by Harold Hansen, entitled: The Dog Trainer's Guide to Parenting: Rewarding Good Behavior, Practicing Patience and Other Positive Techniques That Work. I thought, "Why not learn dog training techniques and parenting advice at the same time?"

Well, I tried several times to get through this book, but that is all that was going on - getting through.

You can tell from chapter titles and section headings that the author has several practical ideas to incorporate in your parenting. Things like "Get Results Without Getting Angry," "Plan Rather Than React," "Saying it Once," "Be Consistently Effective," "Talk Less and Act More," etc. Many of these ideas are things I could implement more adequately in our home and the reminders were helpful.

I suppose, for me, it seemed to be over-simplifying a very difficult challenge. It didn't help that the author has never had a child of his own. He has trained dogs and he is a step-parent. There's a whole different dimension of experience and investment that comes when you are dealing with the "seed of your loins," so to speak. I had a very difficult time believing that raising your child could be reduced down to simple steps equivalent to what is necessary to train a dog. In the end, I just gave up.

When I noticed Barbara Ehrenreich's book, Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America," it seemed like a chance to consider the opposite side of the spectrum from the positive thinking book I read and reviewed last year. I really did try to give it a go. I made it to page 75, but just couldn't take the author's perspective for another page.

It was just too far on the opposite side for me. I doubt the majority of people are sitting around in a boat with oars in the middle of a flood, refusing to use the oars because they are busy mentally conjuring up a magnificent rescue for themselves. I don't believe that positive thinking by itself will cure illness, but I do believe that patients who follow the doctors orders, but also attempt to keep their spirits up and address the problem to The Almighty, may actually experience better results than those who immediately give up and submit to defeat.

The author scorned individuals who are able to see the gift within the curse of cancer. She would say that she doesn't buy into the positive thinking movement, yet she readily admitted to putting her "faith" in science. She claims that all that cancer gave to her was "a very personal, agonizing encounter with an ideological force in American culture that I had not been aware of before - one that encourages us to deny reality, submit cheerfully to misfortune, and blame only ourselves for our fate." My question is why the author cannot see that reality is far bigger than what we can see and touch (it has a spiritual dimension she cannot seem to sense), attitude towards misfortune often determines whether misfortune profits us or not, and those who choose to place their faith in God during illness or trial are clearly not blaming themselves for their fate or taking the credit for their redemption.

I discovered Nick Hornby quite a few years back and absolutely loved About a Boy, and How to Be Good. I knew this autobiography, titled Fever Pitch, was about his obsession with football. However, I really hoped that there would be enough life story involved to keep me going. After all, an endorsement on the back of the book, from GQ promised, "Whether you are interested in football or not, this is tears-running-down-your-face funny, read-bits-out-loud-to-complete-strangers funny, but also highly perceptive and honest about Hornby's obsession and the state of the game."

Lofty recommendation, I must say. Alas, for me, I was hoping for a book with more "funny" and less "football" or "obsession." I only made it to page 67, but I did get an eye-opening glimpse into the inner workings of an obsessed mind. He recounts, from memory, every single game! Good Lord!

I love music and thoroughly enjoyed the many years of playing in brass bands, but I would be hard pressed to memorialize each and every piece of music we played. I adore books, but I can't even remember enough of these four attempts to give adequate descriptions of what I was reading. I can't think of anything I am obsessed with enough to provide a play-by-play.

Finally, I really, really wanted to read Randy Alcorn's book, If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil. It had been a reading suggestion I gleaned from Bob Hostetler's blog. The topic is one I struggle with.

I've had this book checked out probably since the beginning of the year. I'm guessing that my life is merely too chaotic, at the moment, for digesting such an intense and comprehensive subject (the book is almost 500 pages long - sheesh!). As much as I know I could benefit from reading his dissertation on God's redemptive power through suffering, I just can't stick with it.

So, I'm giving up on these non-fiction endeavors. I'm heading back into the soft, simple, humorous world of juvenile fiction. I'm about to embark on a new Kate Klise book (always a welcome opportunity). Plus, I have two non-fiction books, just received in the mail, which I am eager to read, as well as a couple of writing books.

Life is too short to settle for reading books just to get through them!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Book Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw

I wanted a light-hearted read for the moments I could snag during the little boys' swimming lessons. What can I say? You can never go wrong with a Jeff Kinney book! Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw, is the third book in the Wimpy Kid series and it delivered plenty of laughs, just like the previous books.

Bryce recently embarked on the task of ridding his room of all the childish and unwanted items that lingered. You would have thought it was Christmas for his little brothers. The book bar outside his door was piled high with games, toys, lamps, and books. They are thrilled with the lamps (Bryce had quite a collection - lava lamp, aqua lamp, disco ball) and with his trophies, but they are equally excited about all the books he granted them (we basically shifted his entire black bookshelf into Trevor and Sean's room).

As a result, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books were already strewn around. Believe me, they've certainly noticed the commercials for the Wimpy Kid movie. We have had several good chuckles as Trevor and Sean yell out their favorite line from the movie trailer: "Hey Bryce, cute butt!" Trevor has conned me into starting to read one to him, even though he hasn't even started elementary school and the books are full of middle school humor. He considers it preparation enough that he has a middle-school brother (for a few more weeks, anyway).

Thus, I ended up packing the third book in the swim bag and easily finished it before the lessons ended (today). There were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, but I wasn't too concerned (hopefully nobody mistook my laughter as an uncharitable reaction to Sean's protests).

In The Last Straw, Greg Heffley continues to amuse readers with his moronic antics. The book begins in January, when Greg is making resolutions for everyone else in his family and bumming over the lame Christmas gifts he received. As a result of his uncle's laundry hoop present, Greg ends up with the added chore of doing his own laundry. A responsible pre-teen would step up to the plate, but this is a "wimpy kid." Instead, he decides to try to make it to the end of the school year without doing laundry once. This decision alone elicits no end of humorous situations.

Whether Greg is trying to garner the attention of Holly Hills, the approval of his father (forever shown up by the boss with manly sons), or protection from his older brother, Rodrick, he is good for a hearty chuckle and possibly even a drink-snort or two. The illustrations alone will lure in any reader.

No matter what your age, this book is bound to bring plenty of laughs. You will find yourself thanking God that you are no longer fully exposed in those awkward pre-teen years. Even Trevor, at age 5, seems to understand the jokes and he loves the illustrations.

Even if you don't read the books, you might have fun visiting the movie website where you can view movie trailers and even wimp yourself. Here is the Wimpy Wendy that I created:

Now I think I might just head back and create a "Wimpy Cardiogirl," just for the fun of it. She'll be easy since she always sports a pony-tail.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Swimming Lessons

Both Trevor and Sean have been going for swimming lessons M-Th since last week. This is their last week and tomorrow is the last day. I think Sean will breathe an audible sigh of relief. He dreads those class sessions and still spends a portion of each lesson crying (mostly when they are pushing him through the water, forcing him to use his arms and put his face into the water). Trevor, on the other hand, considers it a total blast.

Trev was feeling bad that his dad wouldn't get a chance to see him dive into the water, so he begged me to bring along the camera on Tuesday. I caught this short example of his progress:

As for me, I have enjoyed the time sitting on the bleachers reading!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Introducing ...

I've been blogging for almost two and a half years now. In all that time, I have tried to protect my children's identity by avoiding use of their names. I hope that it hasn't been too much of a stumbling block for readers. I do know that it has been a nuisance on my end.

If my husband, John, had his 'druthers, well, he'd 'druther I didn't use the names. I have assured him that I will not divulge exact locations or last name. But, I am weary of the whole ES, MS, YS designations.

Allow me to introduce my boys.

BRYCE is our eldest son, ES, whose drumming consumes the household. He is the axis around which most of our family spins. The younger boys idolize and adore him. For the longest time (8 years), he was our only child and we doted on his every whim (perhaps too much so). He turns 14 next week and is on his way to becoming a man.

After periods of marital instability and reconnection, we decided that we really did want to provide Bryce with a sibling. Along came, TREVOR, or MS. He has brought us great happiness, even as we struggle with the intensity of his need to communicate, create and command attention.

Finally, recognizing the sizable gap between our other boys, we wanted to provide a close sibling for Trevor, so we sought one more child to fill our lives. This decision prompted us to make our move from IL to IN so that I could stay home with the littlest ones. SEAN, or YS, is probably the quietest and calmest of the bunch, yet with his birth 3 years ago, it seemed our lives were launched into chaos. He is a bundle of sweetness. He still cuddles and says adorably touching things like "Mommy, you know why I love you so much? Because you're beautiful."

They are like three distinct gems that you would hold into the light. Each has his own strengths and weaknesses. Each has a personality unlike the others. Without them, our lives would be incredibly empty and bland. I pray that God will protect and bless these boys even as I seek to share them with you, my readers.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

35/36 Pets Go!

Praise God! Last night, hubby took ALL the rest of the mice back to the pet store. I think my nose thanks him most of all. One thing about mice is that they generate quite a stench. Thankfully, he had moved them down to the basement, but still ...

The boys said a brief good-bye as the mice swarmed through the box hubby had put them in:

Of course, the swarm shows up better in a brief video:

It was fortuitous for the pet store, as well, since they were down to only 5 mice. Now, if only they had been paying us for our breeding services instead of merely taking the nuisances off our hands.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fighting Fatigue

This past week, I have been overcome with intense fatigue. At night, I am finding it difficult to stay awake for my usual late hours. Last night (after what was a very long, tiring day), I laid down with the little boys to help them fall asleep and we were all three out within minutes. When I woke at midnight, I moved to my own bed and continued to sleep until quarter to 8 this morning. Now again, tonight, despite last night's lengthy sleep, all I want to do is head to bed, but the length of time without blogging keeps niggling at my brain. So, I will do my best, even if it ends up a shabby run-down of what has me feeling run-down.

I wanted to share a few photos of the flowers we now have adorning the house. I do this partly because I fear that they will all die and I will have no evidence that a more knowledgeable hand planted them and yet, somehow, I killed them. Ha!

Here, also, is a photo of our blooming crab apple trees. They are already starting to lose those buds and become merely green trees.

Here are the annuals my mother-in-law planted where they had dug up a few small bushes (I have no idea what they are called):

More annuals (don't know if these will grow, since they are on the patio and it seems to be more mulch than dirt there):

They also purchased three lovely hanging baskets. Sadly, hubby informed me tonight that the yellow plant (again, I have no clue about names) is already looking like it is dying. I swear I haven't touched it once!

On Saturday morning, I went to get the mail and discovered a huge amount of litter right along the edge of our lawn (I have no patience for the rural litter problem). Apparently, someone was transporting some furniture late Friday night, and an entire vacuum cleaner fell off their vehicle. It was in about a million (o.k., maybe 15) pieces along the road. Later, hubby told me that there is a television on the side of the road around the corner, near our neighbor's farm. Crazy!

I actually took a video of the vacuum cleaner debris, but when I watched the footage, I realized how ridiculous I sounded giving a play-by-play of trash strewn at the edge of my lawn. It was kind of hilarious though, because as I was filming several bikers were riding by (they probably thought I was more of a lunatic than the lunatic who dropped their vacuum off their vehicle). Plus, MS came running out of the house asking me what I was doing. I tried to ignore him as I panned the debris, but then heard him shouting, "Is that YOUR VACUUM??" Give me a break, boy!

Actually, the boy did give me a break. Several weeks ago, his best friend, Evan, had invited him to a cool gymnastics birthday party. It was on Sunday from noon to two. I spent most of Sunday morning on the couch with a stomach ache and somehow completely forgot about the birthday party.

I sat MS down the next morning and primed the pump by explaining that I had made a mistake and it was something that was probably going to make him feel a bit angry with me. I apologized and said that I had forgotten to take him to Evan's birthday party. I braced myself for tears and angry retorts (like I normally hear - things like "You're the worst mom ever!").

Instead, he looked up at me and gently said, "It's o.k., Mommy, we have a trampoline we can jump on any time. Plus, we can invite Evan over to our house and then he can jump on the trampoline with us and we can show him the cool lamps big brother gave us." (ES cleaned out one of his closets and gave the boys his cool lamp collection including a disco ball, lava lamp and aqua lamp, plus a whole slew of car posters.)

On Monday, the two little boys began a two week stint of swimming lessons. Unlike ES and MS, who both went with me to the Hopkins Park Pool in DeKalb almost every summer day, YS really hasn't had much exposure to pools. ES taught himself to swim at age 4 and began doing flips off the diving boards at age 5. MS, at age 2, would toddle over to the edge of the pool, lower himself into the water and either cling to the edge (without floaties) or paddle the water to make himself spin (with floaties).

YS has cried and screamed the whole week (3 lessons, so far). MS thinks it is great fun and can't wait. YS spends all day agonizing about what is coming and begging me, "please don't make me do this again."

On Tuesday (after a long morning - they were told they couldn't do anything until their room was clean), the half hour prior to leaving for the pool was sheer torture. YS took 3 cups of water and poured them all over the floor of the bathroom. I had just cleaned that up and was preparing the swim bag. YS must have dug around in it while I went off to get my shoes. I returned to hear MS yelling, "Mom, look what YS did!"

The dog was covered in sunscreen, so much so that there was a puddle of sunscreen oozing off of him onto the floor. We were supposed to be leaving any minute. I grabbed up a towel and began sopping up the mess as best I could. Just then, the doorbell rang. As I opened it, the dog bolted out the door. I had to chase after him to get him back in the house and secured in the crate.

By the time we returned home from the little boys' swimming lessons and ES's drum lesson, the workmen (who had been laboring for most of the day) had finished the swing-set we recently purchased:

Thankfully, the boys have spent a lot of time playing on it since then. (I have always wondered about these wooden swing set structures, because so often we drive by others and barely ever see kids actually playing on them.) Selfishly, I would have rather spent the money on a trip to England to celebrate our 20th anniversary this year. Then again, the boys are really thrilled with it. Besides, I wouldn't even have the energy to pack my bags.

Then, this morning, for who knows what reason, YS decided that he would cover the dog in mulch. Now here's the irony: When someone's vacuum cleaner drops off their truck, I document the experience with photos and videos. Sadly, I failed to capture either the sunscreen slathered Harley or the mulch maculated Harley. I'm only glad that I delayed washing him until after the mulch experience.

And thus, (with my run-down complete) I will head to bed because I, myself, am a rather pooped pup!

Friday, April 16, 2010

More Beauty

We had another fabulous day today! My mother-in-law decided to stay an extra day, so she and my husband spent the morning sorting through old stuff in the attic. It was a good thing they tackled this instead of me, since I'm a keeper. Hard to see family photos and memorabilia go, but no real point in keeping it all.

They also worked hard digging up and removing several bushes on the side of the house. In the afternoon, they went out and purchased some flowers. I haven't had a chance to go out and take photos yet, but am already feeling quite pleased that there will be vibrant colors around the house.

I did file more information away in my brain from my mil's knowledge. Those pink and white flowering trees are not cottonwoods or dogwoods. She said they are "crab-apple" trees. And the purple flowers I have been admiring in so many yards ... are called "creeping phlox."

I also asked her about the bush with blooms that are already falling off. Yes, it is a TOTAL TEASE. The thing blooms briefly and then the wind usually kills off the blooms in short order. It is a Rhododendron. Of course, I've heard the term before, but still my brain sees things in simplistic explanations like "tree," "plant," "bush." I'm hoping my brain retains this new-found knowledge.

I also wanted to share a most exciting announcement. No, I'm not expecting. That would be frightening, not exciting!

My blue heron has returned!!!! On Tuesday morning, we were headed to the dentist when I noticed the heron standing in the creek as we drove over the bridge. We remembered to look when we got home. We tiptoed down to the creek and it was still there. It flew off down the creek and settled on a large fallen tree further down. I wanted to sing; I was so happy that the herons will not be gone for good because of our noisy dog. This place is just an oasis of beauty.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Beautiful Trees and Warthogs Dressed in Tutus

After months of gloom and dirty snow, earth is doing what it does best this time of year. It is presenting vibrant colors and showing off blossoms that we wouldn't have dreamed were hiding beneath the surface just a month or two ago. Every time I leave the house, I notice another plant or tree that I want to see and know more of.

My mother-in-law is here for a brief visit and I found myself asking her for identifications because I am so pathetic when it comes to identifying the bits of nature that I love. Sadly, within minutes of her explanations, my brain has already lost the words she produced so readily. I asked the name of the bright purple flowering trees. I believe she said they were Red-Buds and I did search that and found an Indiana tree listing and the photo for Eastern Red-Buds does look like what I am seeing. There are other flowering trees with pinkish and white buds. I believe she said those were dogwoods (or did she say cottonwoods?).

The really sad thing is that even if I stopped at a house and requested information on a beautiful flower or tree in the yard, I know that I would never be able to grow it myself. I have no talent for growing, it seems, only for killing things I try to grow.

I recently saw a cute little Strawberry plant in the dollar section at Target. It was only a buck, so I thought "what the heck, I'll try it." The cute little miniature flower pot still sits on my kitchen window sill, devoid of anything but the mock dirt it came with. I did plant the seeds (as it suggested). I did water it ... a few times. My problem is that I fail to water it regularly and really have no clue how much to water a plant.

Anyway, at least I live in an area where the landscape is now bursting with color and I can wander around taking my fill of the prowess other gardeners possess. I just hope these colors stick around for a bit. We have two bushes near our garage (I'll have to ask my mother-in-law for their identification tomorrow, and write down her response) that recently burst forth with beautiful purple flowers. Sadly, a few days ago, I noticed that the buds are already wilting and going away. I indignantly asked my husband if that is all we get, just a few days of beauty and then it goes back to looking like an average green bush???? What a tease!

This is not the only realm where I recognize my ignorance and longingly observe someone else's ability to pull off beauty that I can't seem to touch. Indeed, I am equally clueless, it seems, when it comes to fashion.

Most of the time, this stems from a staunch unwillingness to pay for what looks most appealing or within the current fashion trends. I typically want to find comfortable clothes on the cheap. Thus, I shop at thrift stores and clearance racks. I fully realize that the clothes in these locations are cast-offs, the no-longer desirables. But, if I can find a reasonably nice top that I like for a few bucks, well I feel a sense of justification, regardless of the fact that the style may be outdated.

Just as I have been noticing colors in nature around me (sometimes, as if for the first time), I have also been noticing colors and items in fashion. The other day, I begged some time away from the boys because K-mart advertised their winter clearance for $1.99 across the board. I went, hoping to find a few simple tops that I could wear next winter.

I took four clearanced tops and a clearanced skirt to the fitting room. With almost every item, I gasped and ripped the piece off, thinking, "hideous."

Before I left the fitting room, I decided to try on a cute Jaclyn Smith outfit that someone had left in the fitting room. It was a simple tee and a pair of jeans. The jeans were horrendous - way too long for my petite frame. But the top was really cute. Plus, I felt that it drew attention to my bust and away from my remaining baby paunch.

I decided to return to the Jaclyn Smith section and see if they had the top in other colors. Alas, I couldn't even find a similar top. However, I found a few other cute tops and decided to try them on, along with a pair of white crop pants. I ended up leaving the store with one $1.99 clearanced top, 3 Jaclyn Smith tops, the white crop pants and three pairs of shoes. I paid $72. Unheard of, for me, but I still snagged quite a bargain (since the Jaclyn Smith line was on sale for 40% off and two of the pairs of shoes were only $5 each).

Want to see what I bought? The cute tee that led me out of clearance and into the fresh lines: women's lace trim tee, A floral print ruched shell top , and a cap-sleeve ruffled bib printed top.

Of course, I still have to see if I can pull off wearing these items, since they are out of my normal range of wear (o.k., lately, given that fact that I am usually merely home with small children, that range is t-shirts and sweats or jeans). I did tell my husband that they made me feel very feminine. He didn't argue with that (or the prices). Besides, I do have a birthday coming up.

I will admit that part of me wants to push them to the back of the closet and save them for CBLI in July. After all, if I wear them now, I am liable to spill something and ruin what are for now the "newest and best clothes in my closet." But, I think I will push myself out of my comfort zone and try to find occasions to wear these clothes sooner than that.

I'll still have my clueless moments - these usually come when I am trying to decide what shoe to wear with the ensemble. Hopefully, my sons will not make derisive comments.

On Sunday, I attempted to clothe myself in beauty. My sister-in-law, Miriam, gave me the most beautiful scarf for Christmas. It is absolutely gorgeous. The colors are so vibrant and lovely - a mix of blues, greens, and light lavenders. I immediately fell in love with it.

Yet, whenever I would look at the scarf in my closet, I would hesitate pulling an outfit together to go with the scarf. My mind would envision a particular friend I have who carries off scarves with great aplomb and sports them often. She is a raving beauty and the scarves look perfectly natural on her petite, super-model-worthy frame. I thought to myself, "Now I don't want to be seen as a S---- Wannabe!"

But, the scarf is just gorgeous. What good is it doing sitting there in my closet? It wants to be worn. It wants to be appreciated. So, I pulled out a lavender t-shirt and a pale blue pair of slacks. I tied the scarf around my neck and headed to church.

When I returned home, I asked my ES to come outside and take my picture because the photo on my blog is from the dead of winter. He took one look at me and said, "What are you wearing that for?"

"Because it is pretty and the colors shout 'Spring'!"

"But, it looks gay." (I'm sure I don't need to tell you that he didn't mean "happy.")

"It is just a scarf. Lots of women wear scarves these days," I said.

"Not in Spring," he blurted.

I ignored him. He took three pictures. In this first one, I love the purple flowering bush in the background and I love that I am sort of smiling, with my eyes open (away from the sun). Still, I don't like that it shows the extra weight I have been putting on.

The next one is okay and I'm smiling.

The last one reveals too much of how I was feeling towards my son by the third picture. "Can you stop insulting your mother and just take the gosh-darn picture already??"

Is it any wonder that when I attempt to wear something beautiful, but outside of my normal choices, I end up feeling like a warthog dressed in a tutu??? Well, this warthog is going to continue trying on the tutus, while gazing at the beautiful foliage and fauna, and SMILING!

Monday, April 12, 2010

First Movie

On Saturday, I took MS to see "How to Train Your Dragon." Neither of the little boys have ever been to a movie theater before. It was a marvelous experience for both of us.

When my oldest was little, I didn't bat an eye at taking him to a movie because we had a dollar theater nearby. I may be wrong, but I think the very first movie I took ES to was "Elmo in Grouchland" and he was 3 years old. It was a safe bet, since everyone else was probably toting a tiny tot as well and thus, wouldn't mind the noise when the fidgeting set in. Plus, a $2 waste doesn't kill the pocket!

Here, however, we have no cheap theaters. Indeed, I paid $14.50 for MS and I to see the matinee Dragon movie and an additional $7.50 for MS's popcorn, drink and small candy. But, it was worth every cent for the experience.

It wasn't that the movie was incredibly outstanding - it was enjoyable and good, but not the ultimate kid's movie. It was the sheer joy that we experienced in doing this together. MS felt so special. He loved getting the popcorn and willingly shared some with me. He didn't mind when I suggested we get an ice water for him to drink, since he's never had pop before. I drank the root beer that came with the popcorn and he happily sucked down the water (even wanted to keep the cup - a plain paper one, nothing fancy).

At first, we found ourselves in the wrong movie. Hee-hee. This was fine, too, because it allowed us to see previews we might not have otherwise seen (like the "Oceans" movie, one I'm sure he will beg to see). We had gone to the bathroom, so MS could wash his hands before eating the popcorn. The bathroom we chose was a family one sandwiched between the doors of two different movies. We accidentally entered the Miley Cyrus movie. As soon as I saw her name on the screen for the main feature, I hustled MS out and into the right door.

Unbelievably, MS didn't talk through the whole movie (this was my initial fear). Moreover, he didn't once ask when the movie would end (I think ES was still asking that when he was 8).

It had been so long since I had been in a movie theater that I found myself really enjoying it as well. The big screen. The darkened room. The cozy feel of being with someone you love and experiencing a story for the first time, together. It was an event to remember.

MS has been talking about it ever since. He immediately decided that now that he has seen the movie with his mom, his dad needs to take him back to see it again. Today, in the hall after school he suggested that we go with Evan and his mom to see the movie again.

I'm hoping we can take him to see the "Oceans" movie at the I-Max theater connected to the Indianapolis Children's Museum (if it is showing in I-Max form). Those I-Max movies are especially memorable. (I have often thought back fondly to my last I-Max experience. I was able to see "The Human Body" movie during a school field trip to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. It was especially exciting because I was pregnant with MS at the time. My favorite part, besides watching the mother's pregnancy advance, was a scene where they immersed brand new babies in water and the babies swam unassisted.)

Perhaps all of our raving about the wonderful experience motivated my husband. That night, we put the boys to bed and had dinner and a movie ("Artificial Intelligence") at home together. This was the first time (in a long time) hubby managed to stay awake to watch an entire movie with me. It isn't every day I get to have two movie dates with my favorite men. That night, I turned to hubby and exclaimed, "Wow! This really was a most excellent day!"

Friday, April 9, 2010

Tree Trimmers

Today, the tree trimmers came to our property. As hubby and I watched them shimmy up trees and cut off branches, I knew for a fact that I wouldn't be asking them if my son could shadow them on the job. Whew - what a risky endeavor!

O.K., so the guy is up in a tree with a chain saw hanging from his side:

No biggie, until you realize just how high

up in that tree the guy really is!

Then he decided that just wasn't high enough. He headed for the next rung of branches:

For perspective, in that last photo you can see his partner, like an ant down below on the ground, holding the ropes he is somehow secured by.

Then, the men came up to the house to share a find with us. They thought our boys would enjoy seeing an oriole nest that had been built in one of the tree limbs they had cut down. It is absolutely fascinating - completely woven out of yarn (did the birds pilfer a sweater from some laundry line???). We plan to take it to the preschool on Monday to share with MS's class.

When I searched "oriole nests" on the computer, I discovered that some people actually put out yarn pieces for the birds to build their nests out of. The birds tend to arrive in early May and can be attracted by putting out fruit nectar or orange slices. It would be fascinating to watch the birds build an intricate nest like this. Maybe I'll have to put out some yarn scraps and a nectar feeder to see if I can attract some orioles this spring.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

They Could Work on a Demolition Crew

My middle school son brought home a form this week regarding an upcoming "Shadow a Job" event. I'm not sure it would be all that helpful for him to shadow my husband in his job, since I doubt, despite ES's strong math skills, it is something he is hoping to one day pursue. We don't know very many people here, but I'm hoping to talk with ES and come up with some other suggestions for him.

I imagine if I asked him what he would like to do, he would offer up something like "being a professional video game player." How is it that teenage boys really seem to believe these kinds of jobs are options? I suppose it is no different than the teenage boy who is convinced he will grow up and be a professional football player. It could happen, but it, generally, is highly unlikely.

I think I know one job that would be perfect for all three of my boys. Indeed, they already excel at it, but nobody's willing to pay them for it, yet. They could all work on a demolition crew. Seriously!

I don't know what the norm is for boys when it comes to destructiveness. I'm sure there are some mothers of boys out there who would say that their sons are always careful and respectful of things. I've met boys who look like they couldn't even hurt a flea, let alone break an item of great value. None of those boys look (or act) a thing like my boys.

My boys are hard-core and hard on our wallet. They play hard. They take risks. They invent unlikely purposes for ordinary everyday objects.

Thus, on a daily basis, in our home, we discover items that have been broken. The most recent list would run the gamut from ceramic teapot lamp above our computer (a wedding gift, no less), several small plastic Easter eggs (who knew the sound they make when crunched under shoes could be so exciting?), the pedal to the brand new Rock Band set for X-box 360 (purchased 2/13), the Rock Band game (purchased used at Game Stop on 2/13), a Spiderman plastic racket, and a pair of glasses (thankfully, old ones).

Today, I was sitting all smug and pleased with myself after making up a new chore chart for the two little guys. They had been buzzing around taking care of things so they could draw in a star or a skull (MS's favorite thing to draw - no surprises, there). They had both headed to their room to make their beds. Suddenly, I heard a crash.

MS came out of the room holding several pieces in his hands and saying, "Oh, boy! Look what S----- did!"

This is sort of what the adorable Winnie-the-Pooh train frame looked like before it met with their skills:

Apparently, YS decided that it would be fun to toss MS's coin purse (shhh - don't tell him that) wallet full of change across the room. It knocked the adorable pint-sized Pooh train riders right off the top of the chifferobe.

I had purchased this second hand because of YS's love of trains, but had secretly hoped that it would be still available to sell on E-bay once the boys were bigger (and once hubby figures out how to get that whole ball rolling). The back of the frame identifies it as a piece by Charpente for Disney.

I did find a similar frame on-line, listed for ... $25.00! Not to worry, though, I didn't pay nearly that much (although, it still would have been fun to turn a profit).

Tonight, I super-glued the pieces back together. It looks good as new and has certainly delighted YS for the full value of the money I paid. He would often request to hold it in his crib just before going to sleep. He loved that little frame. Still, he didn't weep any crocodile tears over its demise today.

By the time these boys leave our home, I'll be qualified for a new job, myself. I will be an expert at miscellaneous repairs.

In the meantime, if you know of anyone in the Indy area who makes loads of money playing video games for a living, let me know so we can set ES up for his Job Shadowing Day! Then again, maybe we could link up with the company that imploded the RCA Dome back in December of 2008. After all, ES is a big fan of explosives and fire!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My Boys Love the Ode to the Commode

DVR is such a wonderful thing. Don't you agree? Not only can you record something you wish to watch, when viewing is impossible (say when two little boys are clamoring to watch "Max's Chocolate Chicken" while you want to watch Amanda Bynes in "What a Girl Wants."), but you can also rewind and watch your favorite commercials over and over ad nauseum.

This is what my boys have been rewinding and replaying today:

Their favorite part is the pause and then the words ... "the toilet!" Boys will be boys!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Choose Your Own Adventure Gone Awry

Choose Your Own Adventure Gone Awry

My little brother loved those books -
those choose-your-own-adventure books -
the ones where at the end of each page
your choice determines the path your story will take.

I keep looking at my story
and wondering where it is headed now.
I'm just not fully content
with where my choices have led.

If it were just a book,
I'd flip to the beginning and start over.
A second chance at a better adventure.
No need to pack bags. It's just a few pages away.

But this is a life story -
NOT a choose-your-own-adventure gone awry.
Yes, my choices determined the path,
but, somehow, so did God, the author.

So that's it.
I'm not the reader, I'm the character.
Patiently, or NOT, waiting to see where the author is taking me.
My contentment with this story doesn't seem to be His goal.

I want to critique the pace, the antagonists, the blasted conflicts.
I want to take the pen. Write my own scenes.
I want more color, more location.
I want a happy ... no, not an ending ... not yet.

It's Good Friday.
"How can it be good when something so bad happened on this day?"
I ask this question to my sons.
And now I'm asking ...
Lord, how long 'til Easter morn'?