Sunday, July 28, 2013

I Spy with my Little Eye

I Spy is one of the games G likes to play in the car.  I have no idea who taught him the game, but he'll declare, "I spy with my yittle eye something..." and we take turns. 

Now the trick to playing with my three-year-old is to spy something very obvious or in the car.  He can be a slow guesser, so if I pick something outside the car, we may pass it before he guesses it.  I don't want to coddle the boy and just tell him he's right at the first thing he guesses.  I keep encouraging him until he guesses what I'd truly spied.  Today, I was really smart and spied the gray truck ahead of us. 

"I spy with my little eye something gray," I announced proudly.  We were on a long road, so he'd have plenty of time to guess.

In a fraction of a second he guessed, "Yours hair?"

Leave it to a preschooler to be honest.  He was about 20% correct.  I am in my mid-thirties, but there is a lot of gray in my hair.  I was dying it, but the roots were always showing, and my hair was thinning, so I stopped.  My hair is happier for it, and honestly, I don't think it's all that noticeable. 

When my mom was graying in her thirties, we'd remind her, "Gray hair is a crown of splendor."  I'd meant it.  Well, that crown isn't always a fun hand-me-down.  It's a reminder that I'm not as young as I once was.  Then again, I'm also not as high-strung or heartbroken as I once was, either.  Being a grownup has its privileges: I don't worry as much about what people think.  I'm happy with the friends I have.  There are many I don't see often, but know they would support me and I them if needed.  I get to laugh at my children's antics, and pick out dinner.  I guess if I Spy what my life is now, the gray is pretty ok!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Walmart Weirdos

     We took a family trip to Walmart today, which was nuts for two reasons.  First, it's Walmart.  Second, it takes quite a bit of patience to get everything on the list, say no to a lot of "I wants", shop competitively with my coupons, and leave with the same number of kids we came with.  This is parenting level 73, not to be attempted by amateurs.
     One of my rules is that kids must be within arm's reach of a parent or the cart at all times.  Years ago, the boys got tired of the options of sitting in the cart or walking next to the cart, so they came up with a third option- riding under the cart.  This makes the cart a lot heavier to push, but also means that at least one kid is accounted for at all times (and as an added bonus, that child can only see what is on the bottom shelves, so there are fewer "I wants"). 
     Today, N chose to ride below the cart.  At one point, Tommy doubled back with a few kids to grab some dog treats, leaving me with the cart and N.  As I pushed the cart down the aisle, N asked "Did you get the Pop-Tarts?"  I looked down at the cart and said "Nope, we haven't gotten there yet."  "Will you tell me when we get there?"  "Yes, I will let you know.  I know you like to pick your favorite."  We continued to chat about what groceries we would buy as we walked down the dairy aisle.  I noticed one older gentleman glance at me, look around and then glance back at me.  Another lady looked at me a little funny as she pushed her cart past me. 
      By the time Tommy returned,  I started to giggle.  Now my husband was looking at me funny.  That's when I explained to him that most people couldn't see our child riding beneath the cart, especially once we started loading food in it.  While I was talking to N, it looked like I was actually talking to my cart and the food in it.  It probably didn't help that I was looking down at the cart as I was talking.  This was Walmart, and that kind of craziness is not completely out of the question.   

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Marry? Be Logical!

Last week, G asked for pepperonis.  Again.  The kid loves them, and eats them straight from a bowl.

"You love pepperonis so much, you should marry them!" I teased him.

"Marry them?"  G laughed.  "How you marry a pepperoni?"  He slapped his forehead with a palm.  "A pepperoni can't kiss you!"  Palm slap again.

"Well, I can't marry pepperonis.  I married Daddy, remember?"

"Marry a pepperoni.  Snort, snort.  What, you gonna dress it up like a lady?"

Today, when he mentioned that he loved Rory, I asked why he didn't marry her.

"Marry her?  She not wear make-up!"

I'm pretty lost by that response, but apparently when he does settle down, he'd prefer a kissing lady who wears make-up.  Good to know!

G and Rory in late April.  He'd just finished telling her, "I love you, Man!".

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Birthdays only come once a year

K has been planning her 5th birthday since... the day after her 4th birthday party.  First it was going to be a Justin Bieber party.  I'm pretty sure she thought that if she had a Justin party, he would actually come.  Afterall, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Belle made an appearance at her last party, so the bar has been set pretty high and she knows we've got connections.  Lucky for us, after about a week, she changed her mind and decided she would rather have a pony party.  For several months, K has planned the games, food, goodie bags, and decorations for her party.  She's told me names of all the friends (real and imaginary) that she plans to invite.  She's also told me that there will be a carousel at her party, like the one at the fair- except this one would be hers to keep in the backyard and ride whenever she wants.  I had to pump the brakes on that one.  Afterall, Princess K was born in a normal family, and unless Brangelina is sponsoring her 5th birthday, the only carousel at this party will be small enough to fit on her bookshelf.
Several themes later, K has moved on to planning a mermaid party.  Someone better invent sparkly mermaid nail polish before February, because K says it will be in the goody bags for her guests.  Also, if anyone knows what mermaid cupcakes are, let me know because she said her party is gonna have those too.  (And by "let me know," I mean "make them and bring them to the party pretty please.")
All the while, N has been pretty patient about planning his 7th birthday party which is in August.  He told me months ago that he wants an Angry Birds party, but he isn't particular about what games or food we will have.  I'm not feeling very inspired by his theme because honestly there is no way I'm going to make life-sized angry bird scenes for N and his friends to knock down.  My amazing husband suggested we take the Angry Bird theme to the bowling alley.  This way the kids can knock down pins which is kinda similar to the Angry Birds in the sense that you fling an object toward some other objects in an effort to knock them all down into a messy pile.  But bowling is better than Angry Birds because I don't have to construct anything over and over just to watch kids knock it back down and nothing blows up when you are bowling.  My boys are telling me blowing stuff up actually makes Angry Birds better, but they don't pay bills, so I'm ignoring their reasoning.
With the party drawing nearer, I asked N what kind of stuff he wants and who he wants to invite.  This is when I realized how very different N is from K. 
N: (shrug) Mom, whoever wants to come can just come.
ME: Well, yeah, but we have to invite them first.  Otherwise how will they know when to come to the party?
N: Blank stare
ME: So I need a list of who you want to invite.
N: Blank stare
ME: How about... (I started listing friends from school, the sitter, and soccer)
N: Yeah, just do whatever you normally do for parties.  Maybe on the computer?  You don't really have to tell me.
ME: Blank stare

UPDATE: After writing the first draft of this, we happened to be on a Target run when we found tons of Justice League and Superman stuff on sale.  The kind of sale where I could get plates, napkins, stickers, tattoos, treat bags, and some decorations - all for under $10.  N took one look, and decided he was more than happy to change his theme.  And this frugal mama was more than happy to allow it. I'm thankful that when it comes to birthdays, N has an easy going spirit, and that K's only comes once a year. 

Gots to Go

Yesterday, I took my boys to the library to catch up on their summer reading prizes and pick up a couple requested Tiny Titan books for B.  Then we grabbed some McDonald's (dollar menu sammich for B, 4 piece nuggets for G and for me, shared large fry and Sprite) and headed to Books-A-Million for their free "Safari Saturday" event. 

We arrived about a half and hour early, so we perused the books.  B asked if he could get one, but I told him no.  I'm not made of money.  I did tell him that if he found books he wanted, I'd check to see if they were available from our local library via the app on my smartphone and request them for him if they had them.  He relented, and revised my depiction of myself as "awesome sauce" to the phone being "awesome sauce."  Perhaps he was right.

We had a great time.  G tried on hats, recounted memories of baby books, and excitedly hugged, "Don't turn that page!" Monster.  B found a greatly-discounted pop up NASCAR book($4.97 from $30) that I was willing to purchase.  I found a neat "Fact or Fiction" book.

At 2:02, I asked an associate where the event was taking place.  He responded that it was being set up in the magazine aisle.  I took the opportunity to purchase the book for B and a bag of candy for G.  I also grabbed a discounted tall soy gingerbread latte with whipped cream for myself.  Then we headed to the magazine aisle where we waited until 2:45. 

During this time, B laid on the benches and floor.  G kicked his brother.  G sat on magazine stacks.  When I asked him to move, he refused until I threatened to leave.  The kid had been perched on an extensive stacks of wedding magazines I did not want to purchase.  Finally, a lady employee pulled together two benches and looked ready to begin reading Curious George Visits the Zoo.  I love that book.  I summoned my boys.  B remained sprawled out on the floor and G walked up to his brother and kicked him in the gut.

Unexpectedly, the last straw broke for me.  I quietly announced to my sons that we were leaving, gathered my items, and walked through the store.  G followed, screaming and crying that he did not want to leave.  B remained in the magazine aisle until I was halfway through the store.  I suppose he realized then that I had meant it.

I don't write this to ask for praise.  I write this as a reminder to myself.  I should have nipped this behavior in the bud days ago, when G colored on the Post Office floor with crayon, or when B wound the noisy busy box in the library over and over and over after I'd told him to stop.  Sometimes, I let things go too long.  I know the importance of "choosing my battles", but sometimes I take that too far!  What had really kept me in Books-A-Million too long was my desire to hear stories and to make a free animal puppet.  The "last straw" made me realize that all these enriching activities mean nothing if I'm raising my sons to be spoiled brats.

So we left.  I refused to yell.  I asked them, in the car, why they acted so poorly in public.  I brought up the coloring, running, laying on the floor, and the busy box incident.  Neither said a word.  Finally, B spoke up, "We just want to have fun."  I replied that being disrespected by my kids was not fun.  I explained that it was not "fun" for strangers to think that they were brats and that I was a bad mom.  He cried.  I cried.  Then I told him he owed me an apology when he felt remorse.  And I dropped it.

B did apologize.  There are several events this week, and I told them they'd have to prove themselves to me if they wanted to attend.  I am so blessed to have their godmother, who will willingly watch those who can't behave.  Now to stick to my plan.  That fine line of understanding and enabling is the toughest part of parenting. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Back to College

A couple weeks ago, I had the privilege to attend JMU's Content Academy for 6-12 English.  It was a week-long conference that met daily for six hours.  During the week, I stayed in a dorm and ate at the meal hall.  It was the closest I'd been to being back in college, and I loved it. 

The Sunday before, a colleague and I drove up and hauled all our stuff into our tiny dorm rooms.  We were the only divas with minifridges.  I'd also brought my Keurig.  I re-arranged the room into something bearable for the week--even though we each had our own rooms, there were 2 beds, closets, dressers, desks and chairs in each.  I'd forgotten exactly how tiny dorm rooms can be!

When my colleague came to visit, she was jealous when she discovered that I had a bathroom attached to my room.  She had to use the hallway bathroom.  "My" bathroom had a stall with the toilet, a sink and large mirror, and a shower.  On the other end of the bathroom was a door--apparently this was a Jack and Jill bathroom.  I wondered aloud who was on the other side of the door.  Tracy answered, "Me!"

We opened the door and I met my bathroom-mate.  She was from another county.  We decided to lock the doors if we took a shower.  A few minutes later, we realized in horror that we could lock from inside the bathroom, but not from inside our respective rooms.  We didn't know each other!  How alarming for a total stranger to have total access to my stuff when I wasn't there.  Tracy felt the same way.

I encouraged her to google "Catina Chapman"/run a background check.  She laughed about it.  I was glad to have her five minutes later when I locked my key in the room.  This Tracy seemed OK, and I was sure she'd have a difficult time lugging a minifridge across the campus of JMU unnoticed.  Also, she didn't appear to be my size, and she dressed better than I did.  My clothes were likely safe. 

The next day, she saw me leaving lunch and called me over, laughing.  Apparently the many wings of dorms on the East side of campus all look the same from the inside.  She'd gone to the wrong one, opened "her" unlocked door, and noticed all her stuff gone.  She'd gone through the bathroom, and noticed all my stuff gone as well!  She'd gone out to the hall where she encountered some passers-by who assured her she was NOT in Potomac B.

I laughed, too, then countered, "Admit it, Miss. Tracy.  For five seconds you'd wished you'd googled 'Catina Chapman', and wondered how I'd made off with all your stuff."

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Debit Card

Josh and I share one debit card.  This was a concsious decision we made to keep us from overspending.  The downfall is that sometimes the debit card is not in my wallet, and sometimes, it's disapperance isn't communicated with me. 

This morning, I woke up at 7:00.  Today is Saturday.  Cassie and I had decided three days ago to have a yard sale.  Since both of us live in the middle of nowhere, we'd asked our Mom if we could hold it at her house, which is located five minutes from a military base.  We posted the yardsale on some Facebook community boards last night. 

At 7:30, G and I were traveling down our country road when I noticed the Explorer had very little gas.  I checked my wallet, and saw an empty pocket where the debit card should have been.  I turned around immediately and retuned home. B was surprised I was back so soon, and he watched as I scoured the house for Josh's wallet.

It wasn't anywhere, so I raced outside to check my car. Josh had driven it to work yesterday since the Explorer was full of yard sale wares. The wallet was in the car, but the debit card wasn't in the wallet. 

I raced inside to interrogated my sleeping husband. I didn't want to wake him so early on a Saturday, but my anger was growing. He claimed it was in the "flippy downy thingy."

Back to the car. I checked the visor. I checked the passenger visor. Nothing. I called Josh in a panic, then noticed the sunglasses holder. A flippy downy thingy.  Sure enough, the debit card was there. I hung up. 

I will not recount my comments as I returned to the Explorer. As I seat belted in TWENTY MINUTES after leaving the first time, my wise soon-to-be-four-year-old remarked, "You know them not take debit cards at yard sales."