Legos and Eating Baby Cows

My sister Michelle and I took our collective 3 sons to Minneapolis on Saturday to visit the Lego Store at the Mall of America. The two oldest boys were very excited about shopping for Legos but Drew informed me that he had plenty of money to buy a Wii game and did NOT want to go to the Lego store. And so our journey began….

We conned our niece and our surrogate niece into going with us, bless their hearts. We thought they would be very helpful as we drove up and back in one day. Uummmm……they certainly had helpful moments between naps and ditching us for their own shopping pleasure. Honestly, I’m glad they went because we got to hang out with them but they could at least have taken one kid with them when they ran off to shop! As punishment on the way home, we tried to freeze them solid. At one point, Cortney was leaning forward, warming her face in the front seat sauna and her hands in Aunt Michelle’s armpit. One of my favorite things about Cortney is that she has no qualms about telling the kids exactly what is going to happen next and what will happen if they don’t listen. “We’re all going to the bathroom before we get in the car, stop talking and just go.” Love it. Maddie carried kids on her back and put up with everyone’s incessant chatter admirably, love her.

More favorite quotes of the day:

Drew, after making his first purchase of the day at the candy store- “I’m done shopping now, can we go back to Grandma’s?”

Gavin, after the most confusing Burger King drive through order on the way home -“I got a hamburger and that’s not what I ordered.”

Adult- “Is there cheese on it?”

G- “Yes but it’s a hamburger and that’s not what I wanted.”

A – “You wanted a cheeseburger and that’s what you have, is there other stuff on there you don’t want?

G – “No, just cheese but I wanted a cheeseburger and this is a hamburger!”

A – “A cheeseburger is a hamburger with cheese and that is what you have, a cheeseburger.”

G – “No, the top has seeds on it so it is a hamburger.”

I could go on but it is almost too painful to recount. I used “adult” because it was all 4 of us repeating the same thing to him ad nauseum.

Sam, all day long – “Can we go back to the Lego store now?”

Suzi- “I need a Diet Coke.”

Michelle – “Seriously, there’s a Just Noodles here!” and later – “Let’s just sit on the floor and eat our noodles.”
All three boys had a great time, in fact Drew told me on the way home that “This was the best day of my life.” Upon their first sight of the Lego sign, Gavin and Sam started hopping and skipping with giant grins on their faces, it made the quick trip totally worth it.

Sam spent every dime he had on 1 Lego fire station set and (this is my favorite part) a Lego mug with his name on it to put his pencils in on his desk. Drew finally decided to purchase a Wii game (which we left in Aunt Michelle’s car, oops) and Gavin bought a Star Wars Lego set and a few Spongebob accessories because every little boy needs to be properly accessorized. Cortney and Maddie made some adorable clothing purchase and Michelle and I got…..salt water taffy. Not that I’m complaining because I LOVE salt water taffy but I was hoping that I would accidentally purchase some super cute shoes or jeans.

On their way back down...

Sam and Gavin attempted a very cool and very tall climbing activity that would have made their grandfather sweat, get queasy, and need to sit down. They were very attentive while getting strapped into their harnesses and Sam quietly plotted his route while we waited for their turn. They made it up the first set of stairs and got stuck….they weren’t tall enough to get leverage to move their safety ropes through the tracks and had to wait for another parent to arrive and help them. After climbing one more set of stairs and getting stuck again, they decided to head back to down. And Sam refused to talk about it later with Dad, told me to tell him about it after he fell asleep.

Just before we left the mall, we thought we’d go on one more quick ride. Somehow I got voted to accompany them on the Log Ride…..yea. The line didn’t look very long but the Nickelodeon Universe people are geniuses of trickery because the line curved down into a dark cave so you had no idea how long it was until you were already immersed and the kids were excited. Jerks. 20-25 minutes later, we emerged from the cave and prepared to enter the logs. The kids had decided that Sam would be in front, then Gavin, Drew and Mom and it seemed like a good plan until Gavin remembered that he really hates getting wet. As we traveled, he kept asking if he should put his head down yet or if the water was coming yet. Sam told him that water was coming as we ascended the first big hill so Gavin tried to squeeze both legs and most of his body into the bottom of the log on one side of the seating bench and draped his upper body and head over the seat, almost touching the bottom on the other side. I’m trying to yell at him to sit up but he can’t hear me and it’s difficult to reach him around Drew and the seat back. I’m starting to panic because I’m afraid he’s going to go flying out if he’s not holding on to the bar when we crest the hill and start the downward fall. I eventually get my hands on his shirt and use the loud Mommy yell and get him hauled up, thankfully with just enough time to get him seated and his head buried in Sam’s back before we hurtle down the hill. And the ride isn’t over….are you kidding? More twists and turns with Gavin asking if he should hide his head again and Drew repeating, “See Mom, I’m not scared.” and Sam saying, “Gavin, I think we’re gonna get wet here…no, but maybe here….or here…” Finally we get to what I pray is the last ascent without anyone getting wet, crying, or attempting another turtle impression in the bottom of the log. As we go up, Gavin braces himself with his head almost by Sam’s butt, Sam ducks his head almost below the front of the log and Drew has the whitest knuckles ever. The official picture, which we did not purchase, shows that the front of the log is completely empty, Drew has a wide open, terrified mouth, and I am hiding my head behind his. Nice.

Each of the boys thought they were terribly brave and wanted to go again, despite the fact that Sam declared that he earned a bloody lip on the front of the log (not true) and Gavin got a bit wet (his shoulder did have a few drops) and Drew wasn’t scared at all. We did not go again.

Trying on Patrick and SpongeBob hats

We were all grateful that Bridget was not with us but a little nervous that she would be very pissed about being left out. Unfounded fears because she had the best time with Daddy. She and Daddy picked us up and she talked nonstop for the first 45 minutes. She went shopping at HIIII-VVVEEEEE with Daddy (this is accompanied by chopping hand movement on each syllable and repeated very often), went on a date with Daddy to A&W and Farm & Fleet where she bought herself and Mommy a present. “I not tell you what it is but I bought me and you chocolates and you can have one.” Three babies were born while she was at the farm and she “took off mines mittens and petted them and they soft and I’m going eat them and then theys come out my legs and mine pants and then I have twins and theys gonna sleep wis me in my bed.” After this declaration, I gave Blair a death stare, assuming he had let her witness the actual births but apparently she just made all of this up on her own. He promised that she did not see the delivery and that he did not give her a lesson on the birds and the bees. They had the best time and she was furious at him on Sunday morning for not taking her back out to the farm to feed the cows, “But Dad, I get my umbrella and then I not get wet in the rain and we drive Drew’s favrite tractor and feed the cows theys breakfast. And then if they eats all theys breakfast, they can pick zert (dessert) cuz I can too if I eat all my supper.”

All in all, it was a successful weekend although I have to admit that I’m not super eager to do it again any time soon!

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Sometimes I Need That

As I’ve mentioned many times in this blog, I have 3 vastly different children. I don’t just mean that they are each unique individuals but also that on any given day they each display widely disparate temperaments and behaviors.

I was reminded this week that my volatile little man is growing up and that is core nature is so very sweet. The fact that he masks this sweetness with an ornery, obstinate, emotional and sometimes angry exterior is befuddling and taxing and irritating.

Contrarian the Librarian typically prefers to do or say the opposite of what you asked. He is smart enough to choose times in which this is funny more often than not. For instance, if Daddy says, “Don’t go snuggle with Mommy!” he will scoot right into my arms and has honestly been this way since he was about 6 months old. He just really enjoys teasing and getting a big reaction from people. He refuses to kiss Grandma because he knows she will pout, then tackle him and plant a thousand kisses all over his head. When I ask him to clean his room, he will invariably say No and then walk to his room and start cleaning.

Of course, he chooses some inopportune times to assert his independence but that is happening less and less as he gets older, thank goodness. Plus, if we play it right, we can get him to do just about anything by admonishing him not to do it. Now if we could just get Sam to be quiet and quit telling him that we are playing him….little turd.

But today I choose to focus on the caring, loving part of Drew’s personality, the part I believe is his true nature if he can just get past his own emotional craziness, rightfully inherited. Some examples:

Drew, Bridget and I went for a scooter ride one afternoon and he was unbelievably patient with his slow poke little sister. He would get about half a block ahead of us, then stand and wait patiently until we got closer, then scoot ahead again. He never complained or urged her to hurry, just kicked at the remaining snow and did a few little BTR dance moves while he waited. I could hear him singing every once in a while but he would quit when we got close. Oh to have had a video camera. But it wasn’t his patience that almost brought me to tears, no, he upped his game when we were about a block from home. He was half a block ahead and yelled “Mom” as I was picking up Bridget’s scooter to carry it for the fifth time. I looked up and he blew me a kiss. Aaaawwwww.

Last night, I let the kids take turns playing games on my computer. Bridget was highly irritating to the boys during their turns, trying to share the chair with them, hitting buttons, generally being a devilish little sister. When it was finally her turn, Drew asked if he could help her. She said “sure” and offered to let him sit on the chair with her. I reminded Drew that it was Bridget’s turn to play and how irritated he had been when she helped him. Without missing a beat, he turned to her and said, “Bridget, do you want me to scratch your back while you play?” You need to understand that back scratching is the height of love for Drew, coming in as a token of love just behind allowing him to play Wii. He prefers to have his cousin Cortney scratch his back because she does it the best and will just go sit near her and casually pull his shirt up until she gets the hint, although he is not afraid to ask for a back scratching either. So there they sat, Bridget playing memory while Drew scratched her back. Aaaawwww.

Drew had one more sweetie-pie moment this week that saved him from getting into trouble. We were on a bike ride yesterday and the boys were having a blast riding through the rivulets of water streaming down a large, open parking lot. Their backs and pants were soaking wet but they were so happy to be outside that I let it go. Bridget was having some trouble pedaling her bike up the hill and was very concerned about getting her pants and shoes wet. Once the boys noticed that she didn’t want to get wet, they started riding as close to her as possible so that their tires splashed her. Not so sweet. During one such pass, Drew accidentally knocked her bike over. Before I could even form a word, he had hopped off, picked her up, and deposited her back on her bike. I was too far away to hear exactly what he was saying but you could tell from his gestures and the look on his face that he was very concerned and was being very reassuring and caring. Bridget started to cry but he got her all settled in and laughing before he took off again. No, it wasn’t a perfect scenario but aaawwwwww for the ending!

Someone remind me to read this post the next time he throws a fit when he has to turn off the Wii at Grandpa’s house or forgets his manners entirely around Aunt Nicole.

Hey Mom?

An impromptu trip to Old Navy and Target today led me to a disconcerting observation as well as a math lesson.

After a quick walk through Old Navy, where Bridget behaved admirably and convinced me to buy more than I planned – shocker! We picked out Easter shirts for Sam and Drew, which made Bridget very sad because she isn’t getting a new Easter outfit but wearing a beautiful hand-me-down dress.  I know how depressing it is to pick things out for others and not get anything yourself so we found a shirt on clearance and she was happy. Then she asked, “Hey Mom, what Daddy gone wear for Easter?” So we picked out a shirt for Daddy and made our merry way to Target.

I planned a quick trip and only took 2 reusable bags in with me to discourage impulse buys (a trick which actually works, strangely), but this is where the math lesson occurred. You are probably thinking that I was helping Bridget count items in the cart or add prices before checkout but you would be wrong.  About 30 seconds after entering Target, I started counting how many times Bridget said, ‘”Hey Mom?” Bless her heart, she was never whining or crying just simply asking me a question….and then another question….and then another…. I must have been answering promptly because I never got a “Hey Suzi,” which she typically throws out after two failed attempts to get Mom’s attention. We were at Target for no more than 20 minutes and I heard “Hey Mom” at least 25 times. That’s right, she had enough questions and comments to need my full attention that many times.

I should mention that 2 “itty bitty” pink cats accompanied us to Target. She eventually got tired of holding a cat in each hand and gave me one to hold. It took some time, but I convinced her that my kitty wanted to sit in my front pocket and peek at her while we shopped.  It was adorable how she continued to cup her little hand to hold her kitty throughout the entire store, then gave it bites of her burger on the drive home. She even blew on the burger and warned the cat that it was hot. Aaahhh how cute is that?

While in line to pay at Target, my disconcerting observation occurred. The shopper ahead of me was a mom, juggling a 3 year old little girl and a little guy who was probably just under a year old. This is not the disconcerting part of the story, I just want to give you a good mental picture. I noticed that her jeans were puckered in the back and caught on her shirt. Then I noticed that she had on a teal fleece sweatshirt and jeans that could have fit better on her butt. And then I noticed that I had on a teal fleece pullover and jeans that I’m assuming could fit better on my butt.  Oh dear God, I’m wearing sort of a Mommy uniform! The only saving grace was that my shoes were way cuter than hers and I’m pretty sure my butt was smaller….

Ode to my Old Navy Sweatpants

I am not a person that spends her days in sweatpants. I might put them on in the evening if I take a late shower or perhaps in the morning while I get the kids ready for school and wait for a good time to workout.  But I don’t generally stay in sweatpants on a lazy Saturday and even though I work from home, I usually get semi-dressed so I don’t feel like a slug all day.

But all of that changed when I purchased a new pair of Old Navy sweatpants. I honestly can’t wait to put them on in the morning and may shed an inner tear or two when I have to take them off. I schedule laundering them around a day when I know I won’t be able to wear them anyway.  They are soft and snuggly and fit me perfectly.

I finally figured out that I need to buy “long” sweatpants at Old Navy after my previous pair shrunk to that awkward length: certainly not long enough but not short enough to be cropped or capri pant. It is a problem I have with many of my pants but somehow with sweatpants it is doubly annoying.  After multiple washings, my new sweatpants still fit perfectly and can cover my feet while I snuggle on the couch. Blair is especially happy that I’m not digging my feet up under his shirt to warm them up every night.

I used to change into athletic socks whenever I put sweatpants on because I hate the way thick sweater/wool socks look with sweatpants. It reminds me of middle age ladies who have given up on being cute and makes me cringe. With these pants, however, I don’t give a hoot how they look, I just put them on, do a little dance of joy, and go about my business.

Now, I don’t want you to get the impression that I am lounging around in my sweatpants all day….I take them off sometime in the morning in favor of jeans so that I look a little bit put together. Well, most mornings.  Then I put my sweatpants back on as soon as everyone is settled in for the night ,unless I looked especially cute that day, then I will wait for Blair to get home before I change.

It is very strange because I find jeans very comfortable and have never been someone to strip off work clothes as soon as I get home to put on something more comfortable. Then again, I have never worked in an office that required professional dress so I’ve never really worn anything uncomfortable to work. Regardless, until these Old Navy sweatpants changed my life, I had no interest in wearing more than one outfit in a day. Now, I’m thinking about buying multiple pairs just in case I have to wash them unexpectedly or, more likely, my sister or niece steals them.

I highly recommend Old Navy in general, nice prices for nice clothes, but these sweatpants are AMAZING!

Toughest Little Princess Ever

I am raising the toughest little princess ever. She went running into her room yesterday, chasing 3 older boys, yelling, “Stop, let me punch you in the face!” Tough. When they wouldn’t let her, she came running out of her room crying, “Mommy, they not letting me hit them in face!” Princess.

She announced to the boys last night, “I getting my jammies on in yous room and you not hit me in the nuts!” Drew politely informed her that she didn’t have nuts, to which she replied, “I mean my peanut butter nuts, Dreeeew.” Not sure what that means, but I’m sure it is princessy.

 

Blair came home while Bridget and I were eating lunch one afternoon and he was telling me that he had a broken tractor. The rest of the conversation went like this:

Bridget – I help you fix tractor, Daddy.

Blair – You want to help me fix the tractor?

Bridget – Yep, but first I finish mine lunch, then I rest a couple while, and then I come to farm and help you fix tractor, ok Daddy?

Blair – But Bridget, it’s really cold out.

Bridget – But you goin to farm and I wear my sleddin hat and you snuggle me and then I be warm and help you fix tractor, ok Daddy?

It could have gone on for hours because she was so sure that she needed to help him fix the tractor. Empathetic and helpful plus wanting to fix stuff? Tough princess.

 

Very often I hear a demanding “Mom!” from her room. When I ask her what she needs, her reply is typically, “I want you come kiss me,” while all snuggled up in her bed without anyone telling her to go there. The first yell is pretty rough but a little girl who goes to bed and tucks herself in simply because she is tired? You just can’t beat that.

 

My little princess likes to go sledding but she has certain conditions that must be met. First, she prefers that Sue (our wonderful neighbor and friend) help her situate herself on the sled and give her a starting push. If she can talk Sue into actually going down the hill with her, she is even happier. She requests that one of her brothers be waiting at the bottom of the hill just in case she should tip over and not want to put any energy into righting herself. Such a little spoiled princess. But then, she will grab the string on the sled and march herself back up the hill, hauling her sled behind her. Tough for a 2-year-old on a slippery surface. I should mention that she only pulls her own sled up the hill if Sue, for some inexplicable reason, is busy with another child and hasn’t answered her bellows to help her.

 

I’m sure there will be more examples of tough yet princessy behavior to come, so stay tuned!

 

It’s Hard to Let Go

Sometimes I have a difficult time letting go of things: control, mozzarella cheese, books, my kids soft cheeks, warm snuggly husbands, grudges….I could go on but I’ve been thinking a lot this week about how hard it can be to let go of the “old you.”

I always categorized myself as an athlete, from about 2nd grade on. Elementary school was filled with trying to fit in with the boys at recess and playing with Kari every other minute. In 3rd grade, I decided that only girly girls cried and vowed to never do so and I really didn’t very often until I had kids and now I cry every time I hear the National Anthem or a celebrity surprises someone with concert tickets. All through high school, I considered myself an athlete first and foremost and prided myself on lifting weights before it was a requirement for girls’ teams and playing “like a boy.”

When I got to college, I tried to continue that tradition but I forgot to actually play the sports or really even work out. I just wore a lot of Nike gear and assumed people could tell I was athletic. Ha! Eventually I got into intramurals and went through serious workout phases but I’ve never really recaptured the cocky or confident feeling I had as an “athlete.”

I get seriously pissed when people I have met as an adult ask if I was a cheerleader or assume I was just a book nerd (which I also was). I have friends that are surprised the first time they see me throw a ball or realize how ridiculously competitive I am. It’s strange to know that the only image they have of me is the one I’m presenting, they have no knowledge of my family or my past. Apparently I’m not presenting the image I would prefer. Which brings me to last weekend.

Contemplating attending my nieces’ ball games always brings back tons of memories for me, even though they have a brand new gym and beautiful new track (spoiled brats) so nothing smells or feels the same. I am wistful and nostalgic and feel fat and out-of-shape while at the same convincing myself that I could definitely kick all of their butts.

The girls played near me last weekend so we planned to combine Drew’s birthday celebration with attending the game. My sister Michelle and I may have gotten a little carried away with a Facebook conversation with the assistant coach, trying to convince him to let us play or sit on the bench as coaches. The more we talked about it, the crazier our ideas got and we eventually took a spur of the moment trip to Target to purchase matching warmup outfits and sweatbands to wear to the game. Now, before you think we are two of those crazy people that can’t let go of imagined high school glory, you should know that our main motivation was to embarrass our nieces. We succeeded, I think, although I suspect that Blair was the most embarrassed.

The thing is, we still sort of want people to know that we know about sports and coaching and taping ankles. I’m not just a mom who yells like an idiot at soccer games but a former athlete who might know what she is talking about, at least some of the time. This is how I know I’m failing at being the me I want to be – a combo of the “old” and current.

I had one the worst dreams I have ever had the other night, fueled no doubt by the events of the weekend. Like most dreams, it was crazy and non-linear but I think someone was sending me a message. I was both a high schooler and a mother with my 3 kids and husband (contrary to popular belief, Cortney is not secretly the child I gave birth to at 15) attending some sort of camp. Blair was there but so was my high school boyfriend and I was both my current and high school self….stay with me here. The basketball team was warming up but I was not a part of it, the large group speech kids were practicing but I was not a part of it, my kids were off playing and had no interest in me at all. I got very sad and was telling my mom that I didn’t feel good and didn’t want to get on the bus to continue the camp journey. She was very sympathetic (which explains why I rarely made a Physics class my senior year) and told me I could go home. I went to tell Blair that I needed to run home because I had forgotten to pack my toiletries and both scenarios were true. I asked him and many of my high school friends to drive a solar powered toy car back to my house with me to grab some stuff and everyone said no. It was horrible.

I woke up and it honestly took me a few minutes to get my bearings and talk myself out of the funk, I was seriously depressed and didn’t want to get out of bed. Awful and strange.

The message that I am trying to take from my subconscious self is that if I want to be seen as an athlete, I need to be an athlete. If I want to be seen as a studious person who is interested in current events, I need to educate myself and speak intelligently. I can’t just tell people what I used to be, I need to be the person I want to be.

So, if anyone wants to join or start a rec team, I’m interested. Once Blair gets the godforsaken racquetball court done at the farm, I plan to work out by shooting baskets and serving volleyballs as hard as I can against the wall. I will read the newspaper (I can’t let my kids watch the news, Sam gets very upset) as often as I can and will think before I speak…most of the time.

I better recapture the “old” me before I am an old me. (Profound, huh?)