Not a Proud Mommy

I am normally a very proud parent. Not only do I think my kids are adorable but they are generally fairly well behaved, incredibly smart, and funny little boogers.

A couple of different people have approached me in the last week to tell me how proud I should be of Sam. His 1st and 2nd grade teacher stopped me to tell me how much she misses his humor and hard work in her classroom this year. In fact, he has been stopping in to say hello whenever he gets a chance and even left a book for her to review that he thought she needed in her classroom. How adorable is that?!

Two of his football coaches have mentioned to Blair and I that Sam is a scrappy little football player who is currently the best tackler on the team. Please keep in mind that he is the shortest and lightest player on the field by a distinct margin. Apparently he has no fear and truly believes that he can tackle any player on the team, regardless of size. I love this aspect of his personality; he loves a challenge and has a strong sense of what he is capable of.

After his first soccer practice last night, another coach was delighted to recount to Blair the highlights of the scrimmage a la Sam. He loved that Sam was able to keep the ball close to him as he drove down the field and hustled at every position. I love that he is aggressive, not afraid of hard work, and motivated to succeed.

He was also just hired to bunny sit for 2 weeks for a friend. He paid close attention as he received his instructions and informed me that he was perfectly capable of doing the job on his own, he would just ride his bike over after school and I didn’t need to worry about it. Of course I will supervise for the first few days but I will turn over the responsibility to him if he is ready and be happy that he wants to do it on his own.

HOWEVER….he is not a perfect child and I have two ready examples that truly embarrassed me as a mother.

On Sunday, there was one incident that marred our almost perfect day. Blair was cutting down some overgrown weeds and trees in the backyard while the kids jumped on the trampoline and I cleaned off the deck.  Suddenly Bridget shouted, “There’s a frog on the jumpleemps! (trampoline)” All of the kids immediately exited the trampoline and the poor little toad started madly hopping for safety. Blair, in all his wisdom, picked up the toad, placed it in the middle of the trampoline, and advised the kids to “jump the toad.”

Sam then began to bounce as hard as possible while this poor, defenseless toad flopped and flipped like a rag frog. There are few things more pathetic than a frog as his legs splay out and his white belly is exposed. My yelling and screaming to stop fell on ears filled with his own giggles and Sam continued to bounce the frog to the delight of his sister and brother until I finally yelled loud enough to get his attention and make him stop. The bewildered frog sat in the middle of the tramp like a statue, ignoring the kids entreaties to hop to safety, until we all walked away and I glanced back to see it quickly scampering into the weeds. I wanted to turn us all in to the Humane Society, my stomach hurt, it was awful and I was embarrassed that Sam didn’t recognize that he was torturing a helpless animal on his own.

I got another example of his imperfection last night; we decided to move our new dining room table in but first had to remove the old table. We had to tip it on its side to get it out the back door and as we did so, we heard a clatter and crunch as an embarrassing amount of crumbs tumbled to the floor. Ashamed, I began to tell Blair how I had thoroughly cleaned every side of the table just a couple of weeks ago and I don’t know where that stuff came from and…..he then pointed out that there was still quite a bit of gook crammed into some little crevices between the legs and the table itself. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that every single piece was a small bite of chicken…..Sam’s least favorite meal.

The little booger has been stuffing chicken bites into table crevices! When asked about it this morning, he pretty readily admitted to the deception and even had a little smile on his face as if he were proud of his ingenious solution to the chicken problem. I informed him that I have investigated every possible hiding spot on the new table and will be inspecting them after each meal. Little turd.

It would be a boring life if they were perfect, wouldn’t it?

Labor Schmabor

This was an interesting Labor Day weekend for a number of reasons but here are my highlights:

Green Out in honor of Bodee at the varsity football game. I loved that everyone from elementary age kids to grandparents were rocking the green and sending love to the Peterson’s. We saw lots of green mo-hawks, Bodee style, and some high school girls who took the opportunity to paint themselves green and wear very little clothing. Another incredible show of support for a grieving but strong family.

Trying to sleep during the loudest storm I’ve ever heard while being systematically pushed off of my bed by a 3-year-old and six-year-old who were terrified of the thunder.  One grinds his teeth, the other likes to be suction cupped to Mommy and they both have restless legs. Awesome!

I planned to make monkey bread Saturday morning so we could munch on it all weekend but the power had gone out during the storm. Instead, we went and got 4 additional kids and tried to play board games with the little bit of sunshine peeking through the windows. Lunch was Casey’s pizza and Gatorade so I didn’t have to open the fridge. You’ve never seen kids happier to turn on a bathroom light!

Saturday Night Fights! The boys were supposed to be helping Bridget clean up her room but all they really accomplished was a pissed off sister and a lost tooth as they rough housed and ordered her around.  Sam bucked Drew off his back, his face hit Bridget’s bed, and blood came pouring out of his mouth. I’ll admit it, I panicked a little and told Sam to call Dad and tell him to come home right now while I tried to find the source of the bleeding. By the time he got home, after questioning Sam relentlessly on the phone, I had the bleeding stopped and Drew almost calmed down. Sam found the errant tooth, a very long vampire-esque fang, which calmed everyone down a bit. A trip to Moo Roo for a banana shake made it feel much better. He did, however, cry on Sunday morning because, “I just kind of want my tooth back in.” Oh, Drew, you sweet little thing.

Sunday was a virtually perfect day: finally made monkey bread, watched some more of the Star Wars marathon, and Daddy was home most of the day. I had asked him to bring the farm truck home to haul the branches out of the yard but he decided to go a step further and climb the trees with a saw. He literally filled our yard with additional branches, front and back. Those of you who know him, please strap yourselves in before reading the next sentence….he cleaned up his entire mess on the day he made it. The ladder and saw were put away, every branch hauled out to the farm, and he didn’t break any bones.

Fantastic grill out with friends; only a few minor grill fires and no children injured on Fort Danger equals a win. In the past, I have burned up kabob skewers, had children fall on the way down the fire pole, and been unable to stop Blair from spraying some ineffective and stinky mosquito fog. Sunday night was fairly uneventful, in a good way, plus I’m still eating Sue’s corn dip/salsa and it is amazing!

Monday was another perfect weather day, just enough of a chill in the air to make it gorgeous and autumnal and beautiful and yay. I suggested a bike ride on the trail and, after a lot of whining, was convinced to put Bridget on the seat behind me and ride to the trail rather than drive to the trail with the kids bikes shoved in the van. This was a mistake. I pumped up the tires on my $30 Walmart special bike, got Bridget safely in her seat, and we took off down the hill. By the time we got to the bottom, my quads were burning. Yep, a half block downhill….turns out that my back tire was already flat and my gears were frozen in the most difficult position. I even had some firefighters try to save the day, to no avail. I then tried to find a shortcut to the trail and instead encountered a water-filled ditch and marshy grass. I threw in the towel, convinced the boys that we needed to just head home before Mom’s legs fell off, struggled all the way back and took a nap.

Monday afternoon was saved by another bike ride, although I let Bridget ride her own bike this time, and an hour spent watching Sam’s football practice. There is something so joyous in sitting in the sun, with a slight chill in the air, listening to the sounds of football pads smacking together. Well, in the case of 3rd and 4th graders, it is more like listening to the sounds of their football pads hitting the ground as they trip while running after the ball they failed to catch. Sam is having the best time at football practice and grins throughout. He came home last night and said, “Mom, now I know I can tackle most of the 4th graders!”

And today my husband proved that he still loves me and sometimes listens! He asked if I had time to go look at trim for our house. I checked my schedule (ha!) and told him that Bridget and I had an opening around lunch. He bought enough trim to go at least around the front door, the area I told him last week almost made me cry more than once a day. God love him. We then also bought a dining room table and some greenery for the front of the house. If we’re not careful, I will have very little to complain about….

The younger boys getting ready for football in a couple of years!Bridget will be ready as well!

Bike Trail Riddle

Would you choose to go for a walk/bike ride with 4 moms and 9 kids or 2 moms and 6 kids? Think it’s a trick question? You would be correct!

A typical adventure with 4 moms, 9 kids, and one bike trail:

We can never seem to coordinate the apparatus correctly so there is always at least one kid angry because he or she doesn’t have a bike, scooter, or stroller like her friend. This leads to inconsistent stops along the way to trade bikes, move from one stroller to another, and in one memorable occasion, squeeze a tired child underneath her sleeping baby brother into the carryall portion of the stroller.

Throughout these proceedings, you will hear the following comments yelled by various children in various stages of distress:

He can’t go ahead of me!

He’s yelling at me!

He cut me off!

She isn’t sharing!

My feet hurt!

I’m tired!

You will also hear various moms yelling at various children as they get further and further ahead of us on their wheeled transportation and the moms have stopped to rearrange the younger kids on their bikes and strollers:

Get over, there is a biker coming. Get over! To your right! To your other right, the other side! There is someone coming, get over! For Pete’s sake, get over! Now stand still! Don’t move! Don’t move means don’t move at all! Stop moving! Stay over! Oh good grief, you’re gonna cause a bike accident, stand still!

This might sound like the worst and least productive walk ever but that is not true….the least productive and most hilariously out-of-control trip concerned 2 moms, 6 kids, and 3 dead mice.

Our first conundrum was to get each kid moving along the trail in some way, shape, or form. We had a baby in a stroller, an additional umbrella stroller, 2 scooters, and 1 small bike. If you have done the math, that leaves us with one kid walking.  Poor parental planning is our only excuse.  We started with a 3-year-old on the bike, older boys on the scooters, a 3-year-old and a baby in strollers, and a 6-year-old walking. Everything was going well until the first dead mouse was found.  It appeared to have just dropped dead in the middle of the trail, no sign of distress or predator, maybe just a little mousy heart attack. We examined it and continued on our way…to another dead mouse…and then another. Seriously.

In order to more closely examine the trail, my sons decided to sit on their scooters and try to push themselves forward with both feet. They were quite a ways ahead of us so all we could see was them sitting down, then falling on their butts on the ground. They continued this way, while laughing maniacally, for far too long.  They continued to try various scooting methods, always staying just far enough ahead that they wouldn’t have to share their scooter.

At this point, we decided to change the modes of transportation for the 3 girls and put the 6-year-old on the bike. Her knees were almost hitting her chin as she pedaled away on the tiny bike, giant smile beaming down the trail. The 3-year-olds were encouraged to walk together, get some exercise; they quickly asked to sit in the strollers.

We tried to organize a system for walking, riding, and stroller-sitting but the system kept breaking down.  At one point, I tried to shove my 3-year-old underneath the baby stroller by holding her feet and sliding her head first into the bottom of the stroller. She writhed and fought and eventually convinced me that she had a better way before contortioning herself right in. Peace? Not yet.  She wanted back on her bike. The 6-year-old gracefully gave up the bike and turned to sit in the stroller, knocking the bike and my 3-year-old down. Both girls cried and as we turned to comfort them, the baby stroller began to gently roll off of the trail, into the grass, and start the descent into the swampy ditch. Thankfully we were able to save him but the drama was just beginning.

We had a little girl comforted and pedaling on her merry way, a 3-year-old in the umbrella stroller, a 6-year-old walking, and a safe baby sleeping when we heard screaming up ahead.  The oldest had fallen, was crying, and was holding his arm up at a strange angle.  I took off running, pushing the umbrella stroller, which is no easy task, with a little girl who had previously had trouble keeping her feet off the ground. As I ran, I silently prayed that she would keep her feet up while planning who I would take with me to the emergency room. Thankfully, the strangely held arm was not broken just bleeding and he was only attempting to keep the blood from running on to his shirt. God bless him.

Nearing the end of the trail, the tired moms realized they had not really gotten a work out but everyone had survived so it was counted as a win. After one more admonition to “Get over, there is a biker coming! Get over! Stop moving! Stand still! The other side! Stay still!” We piled into the cars for the short drive home.

To the other trail-users relief, we have not been back.