Life Lately

Yesterday, I was full of hope and promise, because I had coffee with a lot of creamer and some sugar.  It was exactly how the Lord intended for coffee to be had, when He planted the coffee beans in Columbia.

And then Hubs and I basically caved to the peer pressure put on us by two other couples we love to pieces to join them in a Whole30.  If you’ve been living beneath a rock for the last year and don’t know what the Whole30 is, let me explain.  For thirty entire days, you can’t have any sugar (think… NOT.  EVEN.  KETCHUP.  BECAUSE SUGAR, SUGAR, SUGAR IS IN KETCHUP!), dairy, grains, or fun.  Today was Day One for us, which meant there really wasn’t even a reason to get out of bed.  I drank a mug of pure naked coffee this morning.

It tasted exactly like crushed dreams, lost loves and death.

I can do all the grilled meats and veggies, and I love a good, green salad drizzled with balsamic vinegar, but the PLAIN COFFEE?!  I pretty much needed counseling this morning, when I reached the halfway point of my coffee and pitched the rest down the sink.

I will keep you posted on the  Whole30 progress, but just know that I am going to struggle with the coffee, and Hubs is going to struggle with no pre-dinner Coke over ice.  Basically, I expect us to both throw our hands up on Day Four and call it quits.

In other news, I’m going to give y’all a big dump of pictures tonight, because it’s all I can really handle now, as I’ve forced myself to remember that there will also be no cream or sugar again tomorrow morning.

Way back in 1912, we went to watch one of Cousin M’s soccer games.  I didn’t get the snapshots of him running all over the field and scoring a couple of goals off my camera until tonight, because… MAY HAPPENED.  (Have I mentioned that May has been a touch busy so far?!)  Just know that our cute Cousin M kicked the ball into the soccer net twice during this game a couple of weeks ago, and we clapped like wild people for him…

… until Thing 2 suffered a 6:50 PM meltdown on the soccer field’s sidelines that really needed to go home and be put into a pair of pajamas and bed.

Cousin M is a phenomenal hockey player, but he plays a mighty mean game of soccer, too.

The boy watched Cousin M’s game like this, because he answered his phone WHEN A GIRL CALLED:

Thing 2 watched the game like this, because it’s so hard to sit still when you’re five:

He also sat with Brother for a while…

… right before he managed to get his foot stuck in an extra goal net on the sidelines, which pretty much required six firemen and a prayer team to get him out of.

I didn’t take pictures of him being stuck in the net.  He was hanging upside down, and I needed both hands and all the cuss words I know to get his foot out of the netting.  There was no extra hand for the camera!

Thing 2 has gotten into drawing pictures lately.  He likes to draw trains, trains, and also trains.  When he’s not drawing trains, he draws helicopters and planes.

Last weekend, while the boy worked at the golf course, Hubs and I took Thing 2 to our little friend Hudson’s birthday party.  I have a little crush on Hudson, because ISN’T HE JUST THE CUTEST THING YOU’VE EVER LAID YOUR EYES UPON?!  I swoon a little every time he grins at me.

Hudson’s mama, who is a dear friend of mine, did a fabulous job of pulling off THE  MOST FUN birthday party, even though she kept asking, “Is this the lamest party y’all have ever been to?”

No way!

I think the Sticker Tag Game, where kids were given a sheet of Star Wars stickers, and they ran like roadrunners all over the place, sticking stickers to one another’s shirts, while they tried NOT to get stickers stuck on THEIR shirts was the icing on the cake!

There was also a pinata, which Hudson’s dad OVERFILLED with candy.  It was the equivalent to the Easter Bunny’s candy bag exploding on a lawn!

And you KNOW your five-year-old niece has a fantastic sense of humor when she turns to you while she’s eating a birthday cupcake and asks, “Do I have anything stuck in my teeth?”  Oh, my gosh!  I did the SNORT LAUGH, I thought she was so stinking funny with that one!

Later that night, Hubs and I joined two other couples (the ones who have bullied us into buying tickets for the Whole30 train and made our coffee-drinking lives perfectly miserable) at a posh little restaurant at the base of the mountain.

There are eighty-nine steps up to this restaurant.

I know, because I counted them.

We had THE BEST dinner, and I couldn’t help but whip out my phone to snap pictures of our meal, because it didn’t involve paper wrappers on a burger or a toy with the kid’s chicken nuggets!

I can’t even PRONOUNCE the official name of our dessert, but please know it WAS NOT Whole30 compliant.

The guys all had these hot chocolate drinks.  They were heavenly creations of gourmet hot cocoa with hazelnut whipped cream, whiskey and bacon (BACON, Y’ALL!!  BACON IN A MUG OF WILD TURKEY AND HOT CHOCOLATE!!), and I have been craving one every night since.

(Which is funny, given that I don’t even like whiskey.)

The view out the windows was… oh, I don’t know… OKAY, I guess…

On a different night, the neighbor boys RODE ON OVER to our house, to see if the boy was home, but sadly… he was working.  That big boy of ours LIKES to work at the golf course, which is why he missed out on joining his friends on the garage-sale wonder called the TANDEM BICYCLE WITHOUT WORKING PEDALS.

The neighbor boys “Fred Flintstoned” it around the cul de sac, seeing as how the pedals were useless.  I guess you’d call this a “fixer upper” bike.

Earlier this week, Mam brought a wooden treasure chest craft project over for Thing 2 to do.  It involved paint and glitter, so I basically needed an inhaler to breathe and a Valium to calm down with.

Paint and glitter have never been friends of mine.

Our preschooler graduated, and Hubs and I took him to McDonald’s for chicken nuggets and a root beer to celebrate with.  It was the exact opposite of our dinner with the bacon hot cocoa!

And then we went from preschool graduation at noon to our kindergarten open house at 5:30, where Thing 2 and his classmates all got a chance to meet their teacher.  We’re happy to report that Thing 2 already knows his teacher for next year, because she’s a darling friend of mine.  We are head-over-our-heels thankful that Jesus saw fit to give us this beloved girl for our boy’s first elementary school teacher!

Of course, I’ll give you three guesses on WHICH KID dumped the entire Lego tub out onto the kindergarten room’s floor.

He also drew a train at the drawing station during his open house…

… right before he decided to spontaneously use the Crayola marker to color his ENTIRE HAND BLACK.

Did I mention that it was his ENTIRE HAND?

Yes.

The ENTIRE HAND.

When he touched the table, he left palm prints that would have delighted a CSI team.

And there.  That should about catch you up on life around here lately.

Y’all have a blessed and safe Memorial Day Weekend.

Concerts And Graduations

Part of our May Frenzy around here involved the boy’s band concert last night.  What you need to know is that the temperature in Small Town, USA’s high school’s auditorium was exactly 393 degrees.

Fahrenheit.

We combined all that heat with a little thing known as STANDING ROOM ONLY, so there were a lot of bodies, giving off sweat and trying to lean forward in their seats, to get their shirts to peel off their backs.  Or… at least I was leaning forward, trying to do exactly that.  I believe the phrase you’re looking for is BRINGING SEXY BACK.

And then we threw Thing 2 into the mixture, so we were basically sitting in the perfect storm of LET’S GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD.  IT’S HOT, AND WE HAVE THIRTEEN ENTIRE MINUTES BEFORE I HAVE A PRESCHOOLER WHO STANDS UP AND ANNOUNCES HIS BOREDOM TO THE CONDUCTOR.

Even though I leaned over to Hubs no fewer than seven times to whisper, “I’m about to faint from heat exhaustion,” the concert went very well.  Thing 2 was on his best behavior, and he clapped at all the right times.  The only time we had to clamp our hand over his mouth is when the percussion band went to town and beat the living daylights out of some bongo drums, that made the crowd stand up and cheer like lunatics.  Thing 2, who was completely swept up into the rhythm, hollered, “Where are my bongo drums, Mom?  You took them away, and you put them on the top of the fridge, and now they are GONE!”

I had hoped he wouldn’t notice that his bongo drums had drifted out of his life.  I have them hidden, for my own sanity, and now I’m going to have to drag them back out so that Ringo Star can, once again, get down to business.

Of course, I’ll have to buy a bottle of wine first, before I reveal to Thing 2 that his drums have been sitting in my closet for the past couple of months.

The boy’s high school band is phenomenal.  They have scored the highest ratings possible at all their state band competitions, and they’ve come home with blue ribbons.

Or, you know, whatever it is that a winning band comes home with.  I was never a band member, because I flailed in orchestra.  Somehow I managed to play the violin for six entire years without understanding sharps and flats ONE BIT.  I think it’s the reason I never had first chair, like our son sits in.

The freshman and sophomore band finished things up about 8:00 last night, which is already a full half hour AFTER we like to steer Thing 2 toward bed.  Since the boy was done playing, Mam volunteered to sneak out of the auditorium as the juniors and seniors were taking the stage, so that she could run Thing 2 home and rock him to sleep.

Hubs and I stayed until the bitter end, sweating buckets with four million other clapping parents, until the grand finale song finished up at 9 PM.  I won’t lie.  The concert was fantastic.  Those kids have worked hard this year, and I’m proud of them, even if I still don’t understand sharps and flats, or even have a working knowledge on all the names of the different band instruments.

I know the clarinet section, and I cheer for that one handsome kid on the end.  He’s my favorite in that band!

We left the concert to a two hundred degree temperature drop, once we got out of the auditorium.  We drove home with the windows rolled down, and the wind on our faces, as Hubs and I realized that we would not have to do the whole preschool bedtime routine, which can involve tears and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

This is what we had when we walked in the door:

May the Lord forever bless grandmas who can charm a five-year-old into falling asleep quickly.  And… since that kid slept until almost 7:15 this morning, we are hiring Mam as our permanent Baby Whispering Nanny.

And then…

… that baby of ours graduated from preschool this afternoon!

Apparently his preschool teacher and the school district both feel like he’s learned enough ABCs to put preschool behind him and walk through the doors of a real, live elementary school this coming fall.

I may need to rip some sackcloth and smear some ashes all over myself, as I mourn the loss of these baby years.

It didn’t help that I was greeted with THIS giant banner, when we went to the preschool graduation ceremony today:

So long, preschool, it’s been fun!  Look out, Kindergarten, here we come!

It might as well have been a college brochure from Yale.  It hit me with the same ridiculous force.  I thought I had already grieved the end of babyhood with the boy and moved on in my life.  We never expected to be blessed with a second child, so my sadness at the end of the boy’s preschool years was something I never expected to endure again.

And yet… here I am.

It’s not AT ALL any easier than it was with the boy.  Seeing your baby grow up is stinking hard on your heart.  I cried when the boy finished preschool and pre-kindergarten, and I cried today with Thing 2.

Thing 2’s preschool teacher had the kids come out with inflatable guitars.  They sang a little ditty that ended with, “We will… we will… rock you… kindergarten!  We will… we will… rock you… kindergarten!”  Hubs and I felt it was a fitting end to our baby’s preschool career, considering that the first song he ever learned to sing was AC/DC’s Thunderstruck.

Pray for our family as the Spirit leads you.  While other families were learning educational songs about bus wheels that kept on going ’round and ’round, Hubs had our babies jamming out to Angus Young’s guitar beat.

Don’t judge.

Each graduate got to take the podium for a couple of minutes, as their teacher spoke words of love and kindness over them.  She talked about each child’s strengths and major accomplishments over the year, and got a little teary-eyed, as she realized her time with them was ending.

Or it might have just been tears of joy and relief in her eyes, since Thing 2 will be moving on.

In typical Thing 2 fashion, he was THE ONLY preschool graduate who felt the need to MAKE A SPEECH.

PEOPLE!!!  I wanted to die a little inside of embarrassment, but then I laughed my head off, as he let the crowd know of his own accomplishments.

I’d like to thank the plumbers, for remodeling our classroom bathroom, after I managed to flood the sink in a way that made Noah run for his ark.  I’d like to thank my teachers, for always using washable markers and paint, which my mom, the Laundry Jedi, has successfully gotten out of every shirt I’ve ever worn to school.  I’d like to thank all the staff for helping me learn that slugging a classmate is never an option, and that being the line ENDER is the reward for pushing and shoving to be the line LEADER.  I plan to continue my education career in kindergarten, where my future teachers are currently preparing by quietly stocking their wine cellars.

And then… again in typical Thing 2 fashion… our baby leapt off the highest point of the platform, like a total rock star, even though he was supposed to walk down the little steps on the other side.

Jesus, please be near us.

Of course we snapped pictures of our little graduate with his closest preschool buddies.

We even got some pictures of him with his teachers.

These teachers of his have loved our little man and been his mom away from home.  Our hearts are filled with joy and thankfulness for all they’ve done for our boy.  We couldn’t have gotten through preschool without these ladies, and we are thankful God pointed our boy right into their classroom.

And then… well… we ate chocolate truffles and toasted a successful preschool career with Dixie cups full of lemonade, before we took the little man to a lunch at his favorite restaurant.

McDonald’s.

Y’all!  Our baby is a preschool graduate!  And our big boy is about to wrap up his SOPHOMORE YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL.

My heart simply cannot handle any more of this.

Just… Hi…

Tap… tap… tap.

Is this thing on?

I know the dust is starting to collect on all the furniture over here at Jedi Mama, Inc., but listen:  I don’t always have something going on every single night of the week, but… when I do… it’s May.

Dear May,

You just need to wrap things up and be over now.  My refrigerator is bare, and I can’t even find a chunk of time to get a proper cartload of groceries.  My family is currently surviving on sandwiches between evening events.

Sincerely,

Mama

Anyway.

The boys are still cute, and they’re still growing.

They eat all the things in the pantry, except for a handful of granola bars, which are now hardened and ignored, because I was informed that NOBODY LIKES THOSE ONES, MA.

We are growing permanent teeth at a rapid rate, and looking more like a 3rd grader every day.

This week, we’ve been to birthday parties and to dinner with friends.  We’ve had band concerts and Bible studies, dental cleanings and high school meetings for next year’s advanced classes, T-ball practices and kindergarten open houses.

Yes.

I said the words, “KINDERGARTEN.  OPEN.  HOUSES.”

The thought that kindergarten is coming in three months pairs nicely with all the college brochures that arrive BY THE STINKING HANDFULS in our mailbox every single day.  I throw them away, because COLLEGE IS STILL TWO SOLID YEARS AWAY.  I’m fairly certain that the boy will change his mind and come to realize that being homeschooled for his college years by his mother is really the best option for everyone around.

Anyway.

We’re gripping the handles of this week tightly, as we try to stay on board and get ALL THE THINGS done, because… MAY.  Jedi Mama Headquarters plans to stop in once in a while, but the CEO may need evening coffee to pull that off this week.

And evening coffee will result in midnight tranquilizers to sleep, because I’m not in college any longer.  The caffeine treats my forty-something self a lot differently than it treated my twenty-something self.

Y’all have a good Tuesday.

T-Ball And Base Running

Do you know what we are working on in Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade PE right now?

Kickball.

More specifically, we are working on WHICH WAY DO WE RUN THE BASES, followed closely by HOW DO WE GET A PLAYER OUT, WHEN WE’RE IN THE FIELD?  If you think this is easy, then you should also know that I asked the art teacher today, “Where is your blender for making paper mache?  I need to make margaritas.”

Five-year-old children may be born with the instinct to yell, “He cut in front of me in line!  He cut!  He cut!” but they are NOT born with any instincts that tell them to run from home plate to first base.  Most of them think they can run like baby squirrels, being chased by a neighborhood cat, zig-zagging between home plate and second base, and over to third, and back to second, and loop around first, and back to home, and then run to third base twice.

It’s why America had a need for headache medicine and employed people in laboratories to create Tylenol.

But, it’s kickball season in my gym, because I like to save the very best activities for the end of May, when all any teacher wants to do is show movies, clean the coat closet of all lost and found, and buy the enormously huge coffee drinks from Starbucks.

May at school translates into ALL THE TEACHERS ARE HEAVILY CAFFEINATED.

Anyway.

My own five-year-old is learning to run the bases in the right direction, too, because he had his very first T-Ball practice last night.

It went every bit as well as my PE classes went this week.  At the end of practice yesterday, Thing 2’s coach sighed, “Oh.  My.  Lands.”  I patted her on the back and said, “You did just fine,” even though what I wanted to say was, “YOU HAD SIX KIDS AT PRACTICE TONIGHT, AND I HAD FIFTEEN KINDERGARTEN KIDS DOING THIS IN THE GYM TODAY, FOLLOWED BY FOURTEEN FIRST GRADERS DOING THIS, SO IF ANYONE GETS TO SIGH AND SIGN UP FOR A WINE OF THE WEEK CLUB, IT’S ME!”

Thing 2 has never played T-Ball before, and Hubs and I were a bit worried that baseball may not have enough FULL CONTACT in it for our second son’s liking.  Baseball involves a lot of waiting on other kids to bat… and waiting on other kids to field the ball when it doesn’t come to you… and waiting on other kids to throw the ball in to the pitcher.  Thing 2 prefers a sport that involves a lot of NOT WAITING AROUND, as well as a sport that involves a lot of HERE.  LET ME YANK YOUR LEGS OUT FROM UNDERNEATH OF YOU AND TACKLE YOU TO THE GROUND, AS I TRY TO GET A TURNOVER.  However, our boy filled the long waiting periods with some break dancing moves, straight out of the late 1980s, as well as some old-fashioned somersaults and karate kicks to the air.

In other words, he did fine.

When the kids first arrived at practice, their coach made the six of them introduce themselves and tell the team what their favorite food was.  Thing 2 barged in and went first.  He let everyone know his name, and that his favorite food was a sucker, and preferably a BLUE sucker, but he’ll take a GREEN ONE if that’s all that’s offered.

The second kid announced that he loved chili.  Thing 2 popped right up off the bleacher and yelled, “Chili?  THAT IS DISGUSTING!!!  How can you love chili for a favorite food?!”

Hubs and I have talked about getting him counseling for his shyness and his inability to speak in front of a crowd, due to his fear of public speaking.

The kids started with some running, which turned into races.

Five guesses on which of the six kids won all three of those running races across the field.

Also?

Five guesses on which of those six kids may have grabbed another boy’s arm to yank him backwards, so that he could shoot out in front of him.

Jesus loves him anyway, and so does his mama.

Thing 2 decided that batting was his favorite part of T-Ball, because why wouldn’t it be?

Doesn’t everyone like to bat better than they like to chase balls that other people have batted?

The coach worked on catching with the little peanuts on her team, too.

Hubs and I threw the ball around with Thing 2 for a bit, as parents were encouraged to come out and throw with their own kids, in a plea for help from the coach.  We couldn’t convince our preschooler AT ALL that it’s actually okay to move your arm around a little bit, and maybe move the glove to the ball, because the chances of a teammate throwing a ball into your mitt, while you stand there perfectly still with it held out, is basically ZERO AT THIS AGE.

In other words, Thing 2 held his mitt straight out and expected me or Hubs to make a basket into his glove with the ball.

Our little man got fairly good at running the bases.

By fairly good, I mean Thing 2 ran to the bases, stopped at each one, did a little jig of some kind on the actual base, threw himself to the ground in an effort to slide into each base, and then sat on each base for good measure, to declare to the world that he was INDEED, SAFE.

His base running could be featured on Dancing With the Stars: The Break Dancing Episode.

All in all, it was a successful practice.

Except for the kid who got his feelings hurt over liking chili.

On the drive home, I asked Thing 2 if he liked T-Ball.  He said, “Well, it’s not as great as hockey and soccer, but I liked it.  And next time, Mom, I’m just going to be the batter.  I’m going to just bat the whole time, while I make all the other kids chase my power hits.  My power hits were the best ones on the whole team.”

Shh!!  Don’t tell him, but they weren’t.  There’s a five-year-old little guy on our team who hits like Babe Ruth.  It probably has everything to do with the fact that his dad is one of our high school’s baseball coaches.  No matter.  When Thing 2 gets counseling for his shyness and fear of public speaking, we’re also going to ask the therapist to work with him on his low self-esteem.

Y’all have a lovely Wednesday evening.

Handling Monday Like It Was Easy

Well… it’s not Mother’s Day any longer.  I know this to be true, because I woke up this morning to a kitchen piled high with dirty dishes and leftover groceries for the pizzas Hubs made with all the kids, while I was lingering over a lunch with friends downtown yesterday.  There were a lot of shrugs this morning when I asked who planned to scrub gunk off of plates and get them loaded into the dishwasher, as everyone looked to everyone else, before they left for work and school.

So… you know… I was the only one left at home this morning.

Hello, counters full of dirty dishes.  You’re all mine, because Mother’s Day expired at midnight.

While everyone was attaining higher educations and solving the world’s issues with global computer viruses, I brought order back to our home, where only chaos had existed at 6:30 this morning.  Beds got made, dishes got done, laundry got itself folded and put away, cats got fed, a full cart of groceries got bought, and then I got to go to the ball.

Just kidding.

I can’t walk in high-heeled glass slippers without crushing some vertebrae in a dramatic fall, so I stayed home to cook dinner, too.

But yes.  It really was back to the real world today, after a weekend of pure fun.

Speaking of pure fun… aren’t these two cousins about as adorably cute as cute can get?!  They are the best of friends, and they bring the FUN to any party.

On Friday night, Hubs and I took Thing 2 out to practice rollerblading, while the boy went golfing with friends.  Our preschooler skated all over the place, as he showed us he’s nearly ready for a roller derby team.  We came home when the dark was settling in, and we ate dinner like we were fancy Europeans who think 8:30 in the evening is an acceptable time for a breakfast casserole that Mama made for dinner.  Thing 2 didn’t get to bed until 10:00 Friday night, which never happens at our house.  Hubs and I are also known as the Bedtime Police.  We patrol the 8:00 hour like officers trying to make captain, because Thing 2 is not famous for sleeping in.  Regardless of what time he goes to bed at night, he is still going to be up at the crack of YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME the next morning.  Going to bed LATE simply insures that we wake up grouchy and whiny.

Oh.  And Thing 2 wakes up grouchy and whiny, too, which totally matches his parents’ dispositions.

But, for some reason, the Lord saw our late bedtime on Friday night, and He decided to bless it.

Thing 2 slept until 7:45 on Saturday morning!

Y’all!  Thing 2 has NEVER slept in like that before!

Hubs and I slept until 7:45 as well, and I’m here to tell you that our entire lives were changed!  I felt exactly like a sinful college student, who had slept until 2:30 in the afternoon.  I told  Hubs that we needed to build an altar and thank the Lord for His blessings.

At 8:00 on Saturday morning, Mam called and announced that she was going grocery shopping and then to the greenhouse to buy a new tree.  She wanted to know if Thing 2 would like to join her.  And THAT, people, is why we were scrambling around at Sprint Speeds, to get our second son showered, dressed and fed.  Mam arrived at 8:15 to pick him up…

… and she kept him the entire day.  He helped her run errands and plant flowers, and she bought him new Legos to build at her house with Pa.

Meanwhile, the boy slept until 11:45 on Saturday morning, because he IS a sinful teenager, who can still get away with that in life.  I’m also pretty sure that the only reason the boy got up so early is because he had to be at work at 1:00.  The poor boy had the entire afternoon and evening shift at the golf course, which really cut into his SLEEPING IN time.

With a quiet house, Hubs and I decided to watch one episode of Timeless on Hulu, because we’d kind of become addicted to the show, with all of its time traveling back to see historical events.  Our JUST ONE EPISODE BEFORE WE GO CLEAN UP ANOTHER FLOWER BED OUTSIDE AND POWER WASH THE DECK, AS WE PROMISED WE WOULD DO became two episodes.

Our JUST TWO EPISODES, ACTUALLY, BEFORE WE GO OUTSIDE TO TACKLE YARD WORK became three episodes.

Our three episodes became WHO CARES?  LET’S BINGE WATCH HULU ALL DAY.  WE ARE GROWNUPS, AND NO ONE IS THE BOSS OF OUR TV-WATCHING ANY MORE!

People!  Never in the history of our adult lives have Hubs and I behaved like such slugs.  We had coffee, and then we had coffee again.  We made popcorn and M&Ms for lunch, when we realized that neither one of us had eaten breakfast, except for our coffees.  Teenagers have never behaved as awfully as we did on Saturday, lounging on our sofas and totally shaking our head to the chores that needed to be done outside.

By 3:00, we HAD to get up from the couch.  We HAD to power Hulu and Timeless down.  We ran to the grocery store, to grab some appetizers, because we were headed to a 4:00 barbecue with friends.

We snagged Thing 2 from my mom, who was at a coffee shop with him, and off we went to celebrate a lazy Saturday with a fantastic barbecue, while the boy worked at the clubhouse, booking tee times and selling golf balls.  I feel like we never see the boy any more, between golf practice, golf tournaments, homework and work, and it makes me sad.

Our friends’ three small boys played with Thing 2.  The four little men jumped on the trampoline, ran a half marathon across the backyard, back and forth, back and forth, engaged in a full-on squirt gun fight with one another, demolished a bedroom by dumping forty-point-nine million Legos all over the floor, and laughed until they couldn’t breathe.  We fed them hot dogs and sodas, and tried to balance out their nutrition with watermelon and guacamole.

Fruits and vegetables are important.

After the tribe had been fed, Hubs and I were treated to a grownup dinner of grilled steaks with caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms, and cheap wine mixed with Sprite.  We sat at the table with our friends and caught up on life.  We laughed over stories of how ornery our boys can be, and sighed over stories on how downright sweet and filled with Jesus our boys can be.  There was a salted caramel pie for dessert, refills on the wine and Sprite, whiskey for the guys’ Cokes, and we lingered longer and longer.

And somehow, Hubs and I became professionals at staying out with our preschooler exactly thirty minutes past his breaking point.

We came home late, and we ended up with an exhausted, sobbing wreck of a child on our kitchen floor, who was too tired to brush his teeth.  He was too tired to use the bathroom and put his pajamas on, and he let the entire universe know it with his dramatic wails.

So… Yay, us!  Hubs and I survived a meltdown that made the Cuban Missile Crisis look like a little disagreement between first graders on the playground.

We’re totally putting that on our resumes.

Because he had a couple of late nights and a couple of ridiculously busy days, THIS happened… quite by accident!!… this afternoon:

Something tells me that my future self is going to regret that accidental nap that I didn’t interfere with when our clock chimes 8:00 tonight.

And now… after binge-watching TV all day Saturday, as we skipped chores, and after a wonderful evening barbecuing with friends, and after a perfectly lovely Mother’s Day, the re-entry into the real world was a bit tough today.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have two loads of clothes left to fold.

Mother’s Day 2017

I started Mother’s Day, exactly two minutes after I’d gotten out of bed this morning, in a way that made other mothers sigh with jealously.  I knew my fellow mother friends would be staring at their own husbands, asking, “WHY?  Why couldn’t I have begun my day exactly like she did?  It just isn’t fair!”

Because there I was, the envy of everyone, on my hands and knees, scrubbing up not one… but two!!  Two!!!  All the hallelujahs!… piles of cat barf off my bedroom floor.  I used half of a roll of Bounty paper towels and a bottle of Clorox spray, along with a bobby pin, because some of it was dried and needed a chisel.  The bobby pin has become the most useful tool since Harry Houdini and MacGyver showed us that it wasn’t just for holding hair in place.  It can pick locks AND scrape chunks of yuck off your floors.

God bless cats everywhere, who throw up the contents of their guts on hardwood floors and continue living.

Hubs and the boys had nothing for me this morning, which… FINE.  Just fine.  I remembered to convince myself that their sweet smiles and the fact that we survived World War III over an incident known as THESE ARE NOT THE SHOES I WANT TO WEAR TO CHURCH, AND I CAN’T FIND THE SHOES I WANT TO WEAR TO CHURCH, SO I WILL BE THROWING MYSELF ON THE FLOOR AND SCREAMING LIKE A BANSHEE IN THE THROES OF CHILDBIRTH were all the Mother’s Day blessings I needed.

We went to church.

With the right shoes.

Our attitudes were probably not in line with the Holy Spirit this morning, as we stormed in the front doors, late, and dropped Thing 2 off at Sunday School.  Thankfully, the sermon was delicious and wonderful and aimed straight at my heart with the fiery darts of ARE YOU LISTENING TO THIS?  My thoughts calmed and I was transformed, and Mother’s Day was going to be wonderful, even if my trio of boys seemed to have forgotten.

And really?

Well, there have been forty-eleven thousand different commercials during the NHL playoffs this week proclaiming, “DON’T FORGET MOTHER’S DAY IS SUNDAY, AND THESE ARE THE CHOCOLATES YOU SHOULD BUY.”  Surely, ONE of those commercials had gotten through Hubs’ subconscious, but apparently… no.  Floating holidays that don’t have a specific set date have never been Hubs’ strong point.

After church was over… after my heart was transformed… after I realized that WHO CARES IF A PRESCHOOLER GOES TO CHURCH BAREFOOT?… Hubs gathered the troops and announced that he and four other husbands were keeping TWELVE ENTIRE CHILDREN at the church, where they would all be making pizzas and baking them in the church ovens, while their wives… THE MOMS… went to a posh restaurant in the city together, and then off to a movie.

Hubs and his friends pulled this same treat off last Mother’s Day, and not one of us five mothers considered the glory of a free afternoon to be something that was attainable two years in a row.  Our men surprised us, and they surprised us good.

So, I sat at a table covered in a linen tablecloth, with candles and real silverware and items like FRESH LIVE MAINE LOBSTER and MIMOSAS on the menu.  It was such a change from our typical restaurants, where everything comes wrapped in paper and cardboard boxes and served with a toy in a plastic bag, I almost didn’t know how to behave, but we quickly remembered how to do things at fancy restaurants.

The other four moms, who are all good friends of mine, and I sat there and talked and laughed for two solid hours, until it was time to drive over to the movie theater for another two hours of fun.

And all the while, our five husbands wrangled twelve (!!!) children at the church.  They fed them homemade pizzas.  They watched a Lego movie, played full-contact dodgeball, made up different tag games on they fly, beat the kids at foosball, and encouraged the children to RUN!  RUN IN THE CHURCH HALLWAYS WHILE THE PASTOR ISN’T HERE!!

Those husbands… those dads… gave us the gift of time for Mother’s Day.

Apparently all the commercials during the hockey playoffs penetrated Hubs’ brain after all, because he didn’t forget that this was a holiday weekend.  And instead of buying fancy chocolates, he homerunned the day with an entire afternoon of freedom for a small pack of mamas.

So… to all of my mother friends, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY.

To my own sweet and precious mama and mother-in-law, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY.

And to birthmoms everywhere, who chose to give the babies they carried inside their bodies life… who loved them enough to place them in the arms of a family who sobbed over their arrival…. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY.

It’s Tuesday

Hubs and I may have just turned a parenting corner.

I’m afraid to say anything out loud, for fear of jinxing the entire thing, only to see it all come crashing down around us like a house of cards, but when Thing 2 got up at his normal, unholy early hour today, he walked into the kitchen, pulled the Samsung tablet off the charger, walked back to his bedroom, fired up some Donald Duck cartoons, and laid on his bed to watch them.

This lasted thirty entire minutes.

I believe this is what you call the miracle that comes before the other miracle, which is when they can pour a bowl of cereal… WITH MILK… on their own and leave you to keep on sleeping when it’s still dark outside.

But this morning?  Well, no one came crashing like a thunderbolt of bull-riding energy into our bedroom, to proclaim, “I’M AWAKE!  I’M AWAKE!  SOUND THE ALARM AND FIRE THE CANNONS!”

Hubs and I are calling today our Day of Progress.

In other news, the boy had a golf tournament here in town today.

I may have mentioned it, but that’s all the boy actually does any more.  He practices the golf.  He plays the golf.  He works at the golf course.  He comes home and talks about golf.  He spends his money on golf shoes.  In other words, Hubs and I very rarely even SEE that big boy of ours any more, until he’s hungry.

This morning, I made him stop so I could take a quick picture of him, before his tournament.  He grumbled a bit and said, “Mom, seriously… enough with the pictures already.”

I didn’t listen to him.

I never listen to boys who protest about having their pictures taken.

Hubs and I would love to actually WATCH a high school golf tournament, but the rules state that spectators can’t be within fifty yards of the players.  We are, however, welcome to follow well behind a group of golfers in a cart, as long as we are quiet and don’t shout out things like, “TRY THE NINE IRON!”

Apparently, this is not only frowned upon, but will actually get you kicked straight off the golf course during a high school tournament.

So, Hubs and I keep our giant, foam fingers and cowbells and air horns at home.  I tell the boy, “Text us and keep us posted on how you’re doing.”  None of the other parents go to the tournaments, either… even when they’re here in town.  It’s too hard to even manage to SEE your kid on the golf course, without renting a hot air balloon to hover overhead, at the designated fifty yard distance.

We found out that this big boy of ours golfed the third best score on his team today.  He didn’t win any medals at this tournament, but he was powerfully happy with how he did, and so are his parents.

We kind of like him.

 

The Wheels On The Bike Are Still Going ‘Round And ‘Round

Can you even take more bicycling pictures?  Because we’re still going strong over here, riding without those training wheels.  This weekend, we rode with some cousins, while the boy was off, playing golf.

That’s the story of the boy’s life right now.

He practices golf.  He plays golf.  He works at the golf course.  He does some homework once in a while.  He empties my pantry.  He sleeps.  That’s how our sixteen year old is living life at the moment.

Thing 2 is living life right now on his bicycle.  He rides and he rides… and then he rides some more.  And then HE empties my pantry.

If I had any more sons, I’d have to take up hunting elephants, just to feed them.

Cousin K, who broke his leg plum in half back in January, just got his cast off last week.  His leg is weak and skinny.  His orthopedic doctor told him to start physical therapy at a clinic, and to start riding a bicycle to build some strength up in it.

What?  Start riding a bicycle again, now that the cast is off?  Well!  You’re in luck!  We know someone who will ride with you, Cousin K!

This was Cousin K’s first time on a bike in a whole lot of months.  He’s spent most of the winter on crutches, with a giant cast on his leg.  He was a little shaky at first, as he was nervous about using a leg that’s been useless to him for quite some time, but he did it!

We clapped like lunatics for him!

And then Thing 2 wanted to know which day he could ride again!

Y’all have a happy Monday night.

Biking With Babies

We are still getting quite a bit of exercise by riding the bike… minus those training wheels, which created so much drag, Thing 2’s race times were unacceptable.  It’s mainly because Thing 2 loves physical exercise, and his biceps are not quite big enough to handle a wheelbarrow full of pea gravel yet.

(For wheelbarrow loads of pea gravel, we have the boy.)

(He’s so excited about that.)

(We also raked tons of leaves this weekend and cleaned up flower beds.  We were productive, responsible homeowners, as we showed all the neighbors that YES!  WE REALLY CAN LOOK CLASSIER THAN WE USUALLY DO OVER HERE!  One of our boys worked like the proverbial ant, carrying loads twice his size and asking what else he could lift, rake, push, pull or carry.  The other boy of ours slumped on the patio steps and said things like, “Seriously?  We’re going to do ALL OF THIS today?”)

But on days when Hubs and I are not employing the boys as underpaid manual laborers, we take the Orange Crush out, and we ride.

Last Thursday evening, we met our good friends at the park.  They brought Vivian June to ride with Thing 2 again, because it’s a proven fact that preschoolers who cycle after dinner sleep better.

We are big supporters of every activity that encourages better sleeping at our house.

While Thing 2 pedaled the Orange Crush around the sidewalks, Vivian brought her sparkly pink bike, with the handlebar tassels and the baby carrier with the five-point safety harness.  She also brought her purse, which doubled as a diaper bag.  A real lady never knows when she’ll need to freshen up her lipstick, reach for a fresh piece of pink bubblegum, fish out a pen to endorse a check with, or grab a diaper to change the baby.

Vivian’s parents sat with us on park benches, so that we could talk and talk… and then talk some more.

We said very encouraging things to the children, like, “Watch where you’re going!  Don’t run your bikes into pedestrians!  For the love!”

Vivian said things like, “This is my baby, Thing 2.  His name is Baby Jesus T. T.  Let’s take him for a ride.”

No one really knows what the double T initials stand for, but I suspect it’s “Trust This.”  Vivian June is an amazing little girl, who loves Jesus.  She honored Him by naming her baby after Him.

Thing 2 said things like, “I don’t want to be the husband in all of this.  I just came here to ride bikes.”

Those kids, and Baby Jesus  T. T., logged so many miles on their bicycles that evening, they could have made it from Small Town, USA to a taco stand in Central America.

We also realized that, without even meaning to, kids have a lot of different facial expressions while they ride bikes.  May I submit the following snapshots as evidence?

Eventually, the unthinkable happened.

Thing 2 and Vivian June collided.

She rides like a soccer mom driving a mini van, who’s running late for Baby Jesus T. T.’s  practice, and who left a roast at 350 in the oven back home, completely unattended.

He rides like he’s been summoned with the Bat Signal in Gotham City, and the fate of the civilians depends on him.

A wreck was inevitable.

Thankfully, both of our preschoolers were absolutely fine.  We quickly DIDN’T MAKE EYE CONTACT, to keep a full-on melt down from happening, if one of them locked eyes with us.  Thus, we had no tears.

But what was hard to be a witness to is that Baby Jesus T. T. was ejected from his bike seat.  He fell to the sidewalk in a heap.

Um… Thing 2?  Is that a security camera on that building over there?  Do you think we’re going to be on the six o’clock news for not properly securing the baby in the bike seat?

I don’t know, Viv.  I’m a little more concerned with the handlebars on Orange Crush.  I’ve got a race coming up, and I can’t win it with crooked handlebars.

Thing 2?  Can you help buckle Baby Jesus T. T. back in?

(Also, Baby Jesus T. T. possesses a strong enough core to tighten up his muscles and stabilize himself, whenever he’s passed off to someone else, using the recommended Neck Alone Grip.)

I’ve got him.  Shh.  There, there.  Let’s get you buckled back in your seat, Little Guy.”

See,  Viv?  I think your problem with rebuckling him happened because you didn’t put the baby into the bike seat HEAD FIRST.”

Thing 2?  Do you think we can sue the manufacturers of this bike seat?  Because I think it didn’t hold up like their advertising suggested during the wreck.  I could use some money.  I saw some My Little Ponies I’d like to buy at Walmart.”

That would be great, Vivian June.  I need a hundred bucks to use as a registration fee, when I submit my application for membership in the Hell’s Angels.”

Um… wow!  These five-point harnesses are a little trickier than I thought.  You don’t happen to have a screwdriver in your purse, do you, Viv?

CLAP!!  CLAP!!  CLAP!!  “Oh, look!  It’s your dad, Thing 2!  I think he can help us!

I told you that I could get this!  I just needed a screwdriver!  And maybe a cheeseburger.  It’s taking so long, I could definitely use a cheeseburger.  Can you run and grab me one?  And make sure you tell them I like a toy with my burgers!  Don’t forget the toy, Viv!

Thankfully, Hubs saved Baby Jesus T. T. from being improperly restrained again.  The baby was successfully strapped back in.  Our preschoolers were happy to get back to ALL THE RIDING.

Later that evening, one of the local bands marched down the street beside the park.  They were beating their drums, tooting their bugles and clanging their symbols, as they practiced for their appearances in different summer parades.

Thing 2 can never resist a band.  He was overcome with the need to drop Orange Crush to the sidewalk and two-step his way through a little jig.

Vivian June tried to cover her mouth, so Thing 2 wouldn’t hear her, as she loudly whispered to her dad, “He’s so embarrassing after he’s had three juice boxes.”

The kids chased after the band for a while, shouting out their tremendous approval for the beat, although one of them did yell, “You need more cowbell!

And then they rode their bikes some more at the park, after the band turned down a different street.

We earned the star rewards for biking after dinner.

Thing 2 slept… and he slept.

The boy, who had set his alarm on Wednesday night for 5 AM, so that he could make it to the bus at the high school for a golf trip by 5:30 AM on Thursday…

… forgot to reset his alarm on Thursday night when he went to bed…

… which is why that alarm went off with all the grace and calmness of a screaming tornado siren on crack tablets at 5 AM on Friday morning.

All the blessings, people.

All.  The.  Blessings.

Hubs and I were yanked out of sleep for no reason at 5 AM on Friday morning, too…

… while Thing 2 slept in until 7:05.

He slept until 7:05 in the morning, while we were awake at 5:00.

The boy is going to get the extra-heavy pea gravel in the wheelbarrow next weekend!

Mourning The Closure Of The Ice Rink

The boy had a golf tournament today, which required him to be at the high school at 5:30 to catch the bus.

That would be the 5:30 that comes in the morning, and not the evening kind of 5:30.  So, we set our alarms for 5:00.  On any given school morning, the boy needs an hour to make it out of bed, through the shower, through the whole BRUSHING OF THE TEETH, DRESSING OF THE BODY, AND COLLECTING OF THE NIGHT BEFORE’S HOMEWORK.  I believe the phrase you’re looking for is BABY SLOTH.  Last night, as he scrolled through all the digital times on his alarm clock that started with the number FOUR, he decided that he’d set the alarm for 5:00 and JUST HURRY.

Never mind that I’ve talked to him about JUST HURRYING for the past ten years of school… Monday through Friday… please help me with patience, Jesus.  He had no desire to be yanked out of his sleep at four-o’clock-anything, and he was having a difficult time coming to grips with 5 AM, as well.

But… the five was a bigger number, which translated into minutes more to sleep, so that’s what he set the alarm for.

5:00.

And then he was totally ready by 5:15, which leaves me to believe that he’s been spoon-feeding me lies like they were sugar-coated cereal bites all these years, as he always insists he’s not physically capable of moving quickly in the morning.

I was pretty much tempted to just close my bedroom door at 5:00 today and hope for the best… that he made it out of our home with all of his golf clubs and extra cash for lunch and sunscreen and his sunglasses and his golf shoes, with his team polo shirt on and a jacket tucked into his bag, just in case… but then I remembered that this is not how stellar mothers handle things.

Stellar mothers get out of bed and have a plate of piping-hot French toast waiting for their bleary-eyed golfers at 5:15.

Stellar mothers bake cinnamon rolls and send the entire pan to the team on the bus.

In the end, I wasn’t a stellar mother, as I told him that he and the cute neighbor boy (who was also going on this golf trip) could stop at the gas station on their way to the school for a nutritious breakfast of egg-filled burritos that have been sitting beneath a warming light since yesterday morning.  I did make sure he had his sunglasses and money for lunch, though, so I wasn’t a complete parenting failure.

The boy and the cute neighbor boy were gone by 5:15, and there I was…

… wide awake and thinking that Coffee Time was going to happen a bit earlier than normal this morning.

And THEN…

… Thing 2 slept in until 7:00 this morning.

Because THAT, people, IS HOW MY LIFE ROLLS.

And the way Thing 2’s poor life rolls is this way:  Our local ice rink has closed for the season.  We knew it was coming, but we still suffered through some tears when I told our preschooler that the compressors had been disconnected, the ice was no longer freezing, and skating and hockey were over until next October.

Thing 2’s hockey-playing, high-school cousins taught him to ice skate over the Thanksgiving weekend.  They were gung-ho and full of optimism, with young, teenage boy bodies, which don’t suffer from sore backs the following day, after they’ve bent over and picked up a forty-six-pound child off the ice one million and twenty-four additional times.  When they called to ask if they could take Thing 2 skating, I shouted YES into the phone like a lightning bolt, before they could change their minds.

My over-forty back thanked my sudden streak of good fortune.  Let the YOUNG KIDS teach the YOUNGER KIDS how to skate.  My inner old lady clapped like a lunatic at how blessed I was to have these nephews in my life.

And then Thing 2 took to the ice like a penguin.  Cousin W had him up and skating within thirty short minutes.  I’ve told Cousin W a hundred times since Thanksgiving that he should moonlight as a skating instructor, because that boy has some mad skills, when it comes to teaching little kids.  Two hours after his first lesson with Cousin W, Thing 2 was whipping around the rink without falling.

And then he blossomed into a REAL ice skater.

Because his instructors were hockey players, Thing 2 mimicked them.  He imitated all their moves, following his teenage cousins around the rink.  He began skating like a Colorado Avalanche forward, because THAT was the example he was given.

And then the cousins gave him a left-handed hockey stick, and they taught him to swing it.

The rest is history.

Thing 2’s heart fell head over its heels in love with hockey.  He was too young to play hockey when the sign-ups started this fall.  Kids had to be five by September, and Thing 2 was only four.  Plus, we didn’t even know last fall, when kids were signing up, that our kid was going to take a powerfully-big liking to hockey.  I signed him up for preschool LEARN TO SKATE lessons in October.  Thing 2 went to one lesson, before Cousin W got his clutches on him.  By his second official skating lesson with a licensed and sanctioned skating instructor, Thing 2 was ready to teach the class.  After a weekend on the ice with W, Thing 2 was already more than proficient at everything his second (and third and fourth and seventh) skating lesson was set to cover.

So, without a little hockey team to play on, we started taking Thing 2 to Stick and Puck.

Stick and Puck is a time for kids to take their hockey sticks out onto the ice, with three hundred hockey pucks, and practice their shooting skills for an hour.  Thing 2 went to a few Stick and Puck sessions with Cousin M.  Cousin M taught him how to keep up with a puck, while he was skating, and then he introduced him to the slap shot.

And then Thing 2 started BEGGING to go to Stick and Puck every day.

He started bawling on the days that Stick and Puck wasn’t typed in on the rink’s daily schedule.

Our kid became a rink rat.  He was at the ice rink almost daily, all winter long.

So yes.  We knew that the rink would be closing for the season, as Small Town doesn’t run a summer hockey league.  Our rink is seasonal.

On the last Stick and Puck session, I grabbed my camera and tried to get some shots of our kid doing his thing.  What I ended up capturing were a fantastic collection of grainy, over-exposed, under-exposed and blurry snapshots.  You’re welcome for that.

This small boy of ours has begged Hubs and me, at least four thousand times, to please make sure he gets signed up for five-year-old hockey in September.

In the meantime, he intends to perfect his slapshot on the golf course.  Thing 2 already caused the boy to suffer from heart failure and a massive drop in blood pressure last week, when he approached a putt like he was about to slap a puck straight into a hockey net…

… and took a nice divot out of the green.

Oops.

Y’all have a blessed weekend.