Growing Up

So THIS happened yesterday:

image11 image12I know that it doesn’t look like much to the untrained eye, except for the fact that HEY!  IS THAT YOUR KID BROTHER, THE PHOTO BOMBER, WHO INSISTED ON JUMPING INTO THE GOLF CART FOR A PICTURE, TOO?

The thing about these two pictures is this:  the boy and Kellen decided to hit the golf course together last night, and a conversation at the check-in desk came up about how they’ll be old enough next year to take the carts out alone, without a parent riding shotgun to monitor all driving shenanigans, since they’ll have REAL DRIVER’S LICENSES, and how this was going to be a glorious time in the future of their lives.

And then, because the golf course owner kind of likes the boy and Kellen, and because their manners are kind of stellar at the times when having stellar manners really counts for something, he let them have the cart…

… alone…

… even though neither of them owns a legitimate driver’s license…

… without a chaperoning parent…

… for nine entire holes.

Their enthusiasm was such, that they acted like seven-year-olds on Christmas morning, when Santa has just come through with the best Lego set of ever.  These two young teenagers were nothing short of Thelma and Louise, as they had a set of wheels all to themselves and no one to tell them to slow down.

Which is why, of course, I couldn’t leave until I had lectured both of them severely, as I said, “If you jump this cart off slopes or drive it too fast down hills and roll it, neither one of you will be allowed to celebrate your birthday again until you turn fifty.  Also, any money that you earn in summer jobs will go directly to paying off the damages and making sure that your mothers are comfortable in the asylum.  I feel like I might go crazy if I have to worry about broken arms because someone thought it would be a good idea to gather enough speed on the down slope to hop the little creek like Bo Duke might’ve done in the General Lee.”

As it turned out, the boys did their families proud by demonstrating that they could, in fact, achieve nine entire holes of golf in a cart, with only minimal arguing over whose turn it was to actually drive the thing, AND… it stayed upright, on all four wheels, at all times.

Or so they said.

All I know is that the cart was checked in at the clubhouse last night, without anyone filing complaints to our insurance companies.

Clearly, this just goes to show that boys really do mature and grow up and learn to do “big boy stuff,” no matter how much a mother wishes it otherwise.

Which is why I still harbor hope deep inside my heart that THING 2 WILL LEARN TO USE THE TOILET CONSISTENTLY BEFORE HE’S TWELVE YEARS OLD.

Day Four of WE’RE GOING TO CONQUER THIS LIFE MILESTONE, EVEN IF IT KILLS US, has almost killed us.

Y’all have a great weekend.

— reporting from the trenches of Potty Training,

Mama

The World Record Holder For Shirt Stuffing

We are on day two of our Hard Core, Underwear-All-Day, No-Messing-Around-This-Time Potty Training Camp.

Do you want to know how it’s going?  I’d be happy to tell you.

At 7:30 this morning, I threw a pair of teeny undies in the garbage can, because what else can you do when the poop paste is six inches thick in them?  Nothing on Pinterest prepared me on how to clean up that mess.  It’s also the reason I did an online search today for military preschools that specialize in potty training with drill sergeants and boast the slogan, “They Don’t Come Back Home Until The Thomas The Train Underwear Stays Clean.”

Bless.

I’d type more about our days of bawling on the toilet, while Mama insists that YOU WILL NOT ACTUALLY DIE IF YOU DROP A GROWLER IN THERE, but the trenches are too fresh.  I can’t talk about it right now without needing to sit down and fan myself, as I chant, “Nobody goes to kindergarten in his Pampers; nobody goes to kindergarten in his Pampers,” in some effort to calm myself.

But what I can share with you tonight are these videos of a little activity at our house that we like to call SHIRT STUFFING.  Don’t ask me WHY this has been happening for the past two days; boys are just weird, and Thing 2 proves it by attempting to reach the world record for the most diapers shoved into a single T-shirt.

Hubs and I may sign him up for sumo wrestling.

Y’all have a great Tuesday evening.  I’m hoping to dream tonight of a place where everyone poops exactly where they should poop, which is spelled TOILET.

Quick Road Trip

On Saturday, Hubs and I tried to recreate the family car trip for our boys.  We were hoping to instill in the kids a feel for 1978, in a wood-paneled station wagon, sitting next to your brother in a hot car, while he poked at you, but then I caved and let them use the A/C.

And who am I kidding?  I had the air conditioning running on HIGH for my own enjoyment from the very second that I sat down in the car.

Hubs and I didn’t wake up with any real plans on Saturday; we simply put the boys in the car, got coffees at a little, non-Starbucks coffee shack, and decided to go for a spontaneous drive, that took us over the mountains and through the woods, and yes… even to Grandmother’s house, but she wasn’t home.

Our first stop was the big waterfall.  I realize that these pictures don’t really create a feeling of WOW, because all I took with me was my iPhone, as far as cameras go.  (It was exactly like leaving a child behind, when I didn’t bring the big Canon.)  Granted, this isn’t Niagara Falls, but this little river kicks out a pretty decent waterfall for our neck of the woods.

IMG_4402 IMG_4401 IMG_4404 IMG_4407 IMG_4409 IMG_4416 IMG_4417We climbed the rocks, even though Hubs was the joy-killer who pointed at the sign that said, “Please Remain On the Designated Trails At All Times.”

I think that sign was there for families who don’t have energetic three-year-olds who have been trapped in a car for ninety minutes.  Surely it didn’t apply to us.

IMG_4422 IMG_4426 IMG_4428 IMG_4431 IMG_4436 IMG_4440After we’d seen the waterfall and visited the information center and disobeyed the posted rules and hiked around the area for a while, we loaded ourselves back into the car and kept on driving.

IMG_4446 IMG_4451And that is when we found the mother load of all lunches, because A&W, Y’ALL!!

We had no idea that this little treasure was waiting for us in a dinky little town on the other side of the mountain, but there she was.  We showed the boys exactly how lunch treats panned out in 1978, minus the wood-paneled station wagon with no A/C.  My only real disappointment is that the girl who brought our meal to us didn’t wear rollerskates; she just hopped on out in her Reeboks, but at least the boys got to see the tray clamped onto the window…

… and have root beer in real, glass, frosted mugs!  I don’t think Thing 2 had ever tasted root beer before Saturday, but he let us know that it was now his favorite food.  He drank all of his and half of mine and stole some slurps out of his brother’s mug, to boot.

IMG_4456The nice folks behind the scenes at the A&W even put a Tootsie Pop sucker in Thing 2’s kiddie meal, which… you know… OTHER FAVORITE FOOD.

IMG_4458So then, with no real plan in mind, Hubs and I decided that YES!  LET’S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME, and that is precisely what we did.  We drove through one miniscule town after another, and we got to see FOUR (!!!!!) combines working in the fields as we drove by.

Thing 2’s day could not have gone any better, because COMBINES, Y’ALL!!  JOHN-STINKING-DEERE COMBINES!!

We hopped out here and there and found little parks to run in at different towns.  We even found an outdoor splash pad and discovered that Thing 2 would rather lose his arm to a shark bite than run beneath the giant sprinklers.

It may be the only thing he fears in this world:  cold sprinklers at the water park.

We stopped at a lake on top of the mountain, too, and bought a $4 package of Skittles.  Clearly, this resort wasn’t thinking that the rendezvous for new supplies was going to be anytime soon, so they charged your birth certificate for candy.

And don’t judge… our food intake on Saturday consisted of thick burgers, laced with grease, onion rings fried in vats of fat, sugary root beer and Skittles filled with all sorts of frowned-upon food dyes.  It was all Road Trip Sanctioned food.

At one point, I had to snap a quick series of pictures, because… LEST YOU BELIEVE THAT OUR LIVES ARE ALL GLAMOROUS AND FULL OF OBEDIENCE, WITHOUT THE OCCASIONAL HISSY FIT HERE AND THERE, behold…

For most of the trip, the boys were very content in the backseat together, even though our teenager kept dozing off.  (I must’ve caught Thing 2 mid-blink, because he WAS NOT asleep here.)

IMG_4459And then… every so often… our three-year-old would take it upon himself to just STRETCH OUT HIS ARMS… and smack his teenage brother in the head.

IMG_4460Which… you know… always resulted in Teenage Irritation.

IMG_4461And then BOOM!  They were back to being good friends again, just so long as the teenager got to sleep for twenty miles.

IMG_4462We made one giant circle, leaving our house in one direction and coming back from the other direction.  Since Grammy and Papa’s house was on our way home, we popped in to see if our carseat-weary kid could splash around in their irrigation ditch and bum a ride with his grandpa on the riding lawn mower.

Sadly, they weren’t home, so the boys were stuck in their seatbelts for another twenty miles.

We had left Small Town, USA at 10:00 on Saturday morning, and we rolled back into our driveway at 5:45 that evening.  It had been one great day of Family Togetherness.

And since the Papa Burgers were still lingering in everyone’s bellies, I whipped up a bag of microwave popcorn for dinner, and I call that a total WIN-WIN.

Our Foreman

Why is it that when they WANT to work… when they WANT to wear the hardhat and push the heavy machinery… OSHA frowns upon it, citing sections of their enormous, hardbound book entitled, “Too Short For Power Tool Usage,” but when they finally grow tall enough…

IMG_5769… all they want to do is sleep, eat everything in your pantry, and avoid all forms of manual labor like it was the plague about to be set upon them?

One Long Day

Hubs’ phone rang this morning at 4:02.

I’m not sure that there’s anything in this world that gets your blood flowing through your veins faster than a middle-of-the-night phone call.  I could have lifted a bus off a porcupine on the highway at 4:02 this morning, my adrenaline was flowing so heartily.  Hubs scrambled out of bed in a flurry of blankets and pillows flying everywhere, to dash for his phone in the kitchen, because phone calls at 4:02 AM are usually not filled with goodness and invitations to coffee dates.

And yes.  Some people charge their phones overnight next to the bed, which you know… LOGICAL.  And some folks charge their phones in the kitchen, because their phones make noise ALL THE LIVELONG NIGHT, by alerting their owners to YOUR SECURITY CAMERAS AT WORK HAVE DETECTED SOMETHING IN YOUR PARKING LOT and HERE’S A NEW EMAIL ON DISCOUNTED COMPUTER SOFTWARE, until I want nothing more than to strangle Hubs’ Samsung with my bare hands.  So, because he never remembers to turn his volume back on in the mornings, if he silences the phone overnight, it goes in the kitchen, where all the text alerts and email alerts and weather alerts and the alerts for the alerts go relatively unnoticed while we sleep.

Because?  Every single time the motion sensors on Hubs’ security cameras at work pick up movement in their parking lot, Hubs is notified.  Last week, a mother raccoon and her seven babies took up aerobic walking through the parking lot.  Back and forth, back and forth they went, all night long, and Hubs received no fewer than four thousand texts letting him know that there were masked bandits frolicking between the yellow parking space lines.

11224152_1062625623762714_5127058794303584348_nI’m sure the poor girl was out shopping for groceries, and she had to take the seven young ‘uns with her, because they would’ve been into everything at home, had she left them unattended.  I feel for her, as she probably repeated herself three dozen times by saying, “Stick together!  Hold hands when we cross the road!  Get that out of your mouth, Randall!  We don’t eat rocks, Robert!  Hold Rocky’s hand, Rebecca!  Rosa, stop lagging so far behind; that’s how foxes catch you.  Rico, you’re going to make me take up drinking if you don’t stop pulling your brother’s tail!  Stop complaining, Reggie.  We’re almost there.  See?  The garbage cans are just in front of us!”

The poor darling.  I feel her pain.

But seriously, the phone rang at 4:02.

It was a call for tech support.

“Yeah, I just flashed offline all of the sudden, and I’m smack in the middle of a heated bidding war against PimpMyCar3829 for a transmission for my 1984 Firebird, and I’m gonna need you to talk me through getting things back together, because I’m about to lose this auction!”

Except, it wasn’t quite like that.  Apparently, the police station in Nearby Smaller Town, USA was offline, so their officers were going to have to resort to playing Solitaire on Windows, instead of Candy Crush.

By lunchtime today, I was ready to get everyone in their pajamas and brush their teeth, we’d been up so long, but then I realized NOON!

And that, y’all, pretty much set the tone for the day.

I had fully-caffeinated coffee this morning, BECAUSE 4:02, and I very rarely drink the leaded stuff.

Anyway.

Thing 2 was full of energy and grins this morning, so I had him smile for my camera.

IMG_5692 IMG_5696 IMG_5699 IMG_5701 IMG_5702I popped these snapshots off right before he helped himself to my coffee cup and slopped it down the front of that cute T-shirt.  It’s why I buy stain removers in bulk.

Later this morning, Thing 2 came out of the boy’s bathroom, holding a coffee mug of his own.  When we crossed paths in the hallway, he looked at me and said, “Don’t worry.  I got my own drink.”

And that’s when I realized that I had never heard water running out of the faucet, which is a sound that I am TOTALLY IN TUNE with.  Missing the initial strains of that sound can cause a flood that summons insurance companies.

So, you know… if a three-year-old announces that he’s just filled a cup of water TO DRINK out of a bathroom, and you never heard the water running…

… where did he actually get the water?

Which is why we did brush our teeth right before lunchtime, as I slowly counted to ten in my head, thirty times in a row.

That mother raccoon has nothing on me with her brood of seven.  Her mothering days (nights??) are a walk in the park compared to what I face in the light of Thing 2’s budding independence.

Y’all have a merry Tuesday evening.  May your coffee always be prepared with fresh SINK water.

Dance And Dirt Party Monday

Back in ye olden days of the late ’80s, I spent an uncountable amount of hours listening to the radio in my bedroom, with one of these bad boys…

h5ucye20vbpusj7mf2ok … loaded in the tape deck, ready to go, in case my favorite song came on, causing me to scramble for the stereo and hit PLAY and RECORD at the same time.

There was usually some praying, too, about PLEASE DON’T LET THE DJ TALK THROUGH THE ENTIRE BEGINNING OF MADONNA’S NEW SONG.  PLEASE, PLEASE, PUH-LEEZ!

Because really?  Did anything define the late ’80s better than a mixed Memorex tape, with the weather report loudly announced during the first few notes of “Open Your Heart?”  I think not.

A few weeks ago, I found an iTunes gift card at our house that apparently belonged to no one, so I simply instated the Finders / Keepers rule.  Thing 2 and I used that card, and I taught him all about the modern day version of making mixed tapes, that involves instant gratification, as opposed to waiting around for six hours, hoping your song comes on the air waves.

Also?

No conversations by the DJs to get on your nerves and make you want to pull your Rave home permanent out by the roots.

My boys will have no idea what it means to LABORIOUSLY collect your favorite songs, by illegally pirating them off the radio over the course of DAYS.

Days, people.  Because a mixed tape couldn’t be made in three and a half minutes in 1987.

Bless technology.

We made a mixed CD for Thing 2, full of his favorite songs, and let me just say that we enjoyed it thoroughly today, as we jammed out to “Shut Up and Dance,” “Play It Again” and “Flawless.”

And…  yes.  That short list of songs covers pop music and country music and Christian music, because WHY NOT?  It served its purpose though, of getting my forty-something self bopping around the kitchen with my toddler today, until he had to lie down and laugh until his side ached, and I had to lie down and mentally review the signs of a heart attack that I’d read on WebMD in the past.

I introduced him to Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” too, thinking THE BEAT!  The beat will prolong our Dancing With Mom aerobic hour.  After the first verse of the song, Thing 2 announced, “I not like this one.  I not like it.  I not want it.  No, Mommy.  None of this one.”

I don’t feel any jealousy at all, considering that Hubs introduced Thing 2 to “Back in Black,” and all that toddler could do was clap out his appreciation, before he choreographed a new break dance routine to it.

We did some dancing today, and then we discovered that laying a wrapped granola bar on top of two double-A batteries kind of… sort of… makes a Flintstones-style car that can be rolled all over the desk top, and THAT kept us busy for all the hours that kitchen-dancing didn’t.

These are the dark days of summer, y’all, when we are desperate for entertainment to see us through until dinnertime.

After that, we spent some quality time digging in the dirt pile that IS our backyard, because we are THAT HOUSE in the cul de sac… the one that needs the Neighborhood Committee to all come over and lay hands on our backyard, and to ask the Dear Lord to let there be grass where there is dirt, and geraniums where there are weeds, and young birch trees where there are broken bits of fence posts.

Amen.

IMG_5658 IMG_5659 IMG_5669 IMG_5675 IMG_5677 IMG_5679 IMG_5680 IMG_5686And then, just like that, it was dinnertime.

In other news, Hubs and I sent the boy camping over the weekend with our friends, Scott and Christy.  They were brave enough to take five children into the forest for a couple of days of hiking and hot-dog-roasting.

Thankfully, Christy sent me snapshots from the weekend, because she knows how I love a good picture or twenty-four.

Gage and the boy have literally known one another since the very day that Gage was born, three weeks earlier than anyone expected him, and now look at them!  They’re teenagers now, who have lost their chubby cheeks and their potbellies and their love of racing one another on their tricycles.

IMG_4307 IMG_4308 IMG_4312 IMG_4313 IMG_4314

That’s a picture of our older son, after three days of not showering.  I have no words to describe how proud I am over that small fact.

And that, y’all, was our Monday.  I’m sorry it wasn’t any more interesting than it was, but this is the end of July, when everyone is still excited to be off of school, but when mamas are beginning to wonder if maybe it’ll be okay if the young ‘uns just go on back to their classrooms pretty soon.

 

There’s A New Praise Team Leader In Town

Last week, the boy and I helped with Vacation Bible School at our church every evening.

My job was one of those cushy jobs, where I sat at a table in our church foyer and welcomed kids in every night when they showed up.  I checked them off the attendance sheet and told them where to find their name tags.  I chatted with parents, laughed with friends, and discovered that I could be on any welcoming committee ever made, because I can WELCOME WITH FLAIR.

The boy was a crew leader.  That incoming freshman of ours got to have his own group of little kiddos this week.  He herded his group back and forth between singing and Bible stories, games and snacks.  He prayed with them, laughed with them, and came home at the end of the week exclaiming, “Mom!  I LOVED having a group of kids like that!”

Thing 2 wasn’t old enough to be a full-fledged VBS participant this year, because the age requirement is FOUR.  Although he’s only three, Thing 2 CONSTANTLY tells people that he’s four… all of the stinking time.  It was a little hard to convince him this week that he’s actually NOT four… and that three-year-olds had to stay in the nursery and play with toys while their mamas socialized in the foyer.

Hubs’ job was to collect Thing 2 from the church each night and take him home for his bedtime, because he’s too short to stay up past 8:00.

Every night when VBS was drawing to a close, all one-hundred-plus-several-more kids would meet in the sanctuary for singing from 8:00 to 8:15, before they went home.  The praise team would take the stage and lead the kids in song.  On Thursday night, Thing 2 stayed up LATE.  Hubs and I took him to the sanctuary to sing with all of the kiddos, and he showed us that he may be too young to be a VBS participant…

… but he’s NOT too young to lead that praise team like a boss.

Our toddler started at the back of the church, behind most of the kids, where he sang along with the songs he’d never heard before, and where he very quickly learned a lot of the hand motions that went along with the songs.  It didn’t take him very long to spot his buddy, Leah, at the front of the sanctuary, so he made a beeline right up to her.  In the video, she’s wearing the pink shirt, up front.  Thing 2 hung out with her for a bit, and then he turned around and faced the crowd.

The only real problem is that he didn’t STAY PUT with Leah.  While I was using my iPhone to record his oh-so-very-cute dancing, he zipped for the steps that lead to the stage, and I knew that THAT could only mean trouble.

I tried to catch him, y’all.  I dashed through the crowd as quickly as a mama can fly forward, but I missed him.

And that is why Thing 2 ended up on the stage, front and center, with our good friend, Abbey… the kindergarten teacher.  We’re hoping that in two years’ time, Abbey recovers enough from sharing the stage with such a born leader that she’ll be willing to take him on in her classroom and teach him to read chapter books.

(Don’t worry.  I’ll keep Abbey fully caffeinated with Starbucks drinks in the fall of 2017.  It’s the least I can do for her.)

At the end of this video, our boy dances his way to the right side of the stage, where I was fairly certain I could get my hands on him, before he disrupted the praise team any more than he already had.

I was sadly mistaken.

I never managed to catch my kid.  Instead, he managed to get his hands on a microphone that was on the floor on the right hand side of the stage, and boom!

Just like that, he was back, front and center, dancing with Abbey and Cousin L, and showing everyone that he’s destined to be a music pastor some day.

Of course, I probably should have just marched up on stage and hauled my three-year-old off, but listen:  I was too busy being overwhelmed by ALL!  THAT!  CUTENESS!

So I recorded him in all his praise team leading glory.

God kind of broke the mold after he created Thing 2; he’s remarkable.

And our family gives thanks constantly that we get to call him ours.

The Lake Day

Last Saturday, we piled all the kids into Papa’s boat, because it was hot enough that people were spontaneously combusting outside.  It was a day to either hug your air conditioning units tightly or head for the water.

I missed my calling as a waitress, because Grammy had me take everyone’s sandwich order before we left, and I had that food ticket down to a science.

Turkey.  No mayo.  Mustard.

BLT.  No tomato.

The Everything Sandwich.  Extra mustard.  Extra jalapenos.

I presented her with a list that I’d typed up on my iPhone, because technology has given us the opportunity to write notes to ourselves on handheld phones.  My 1988 self just clapped a little, because LIVING LIKE THE JETSONS, people!  Grammy looked at that list and said, “Let’s order about twice that many sandwiches.”

Because do you know what I wasn’t taking into consideration?

Teenage boys and pre-teen children on a boat, after playing in the water all day.  Our pack of kids pounced on those deli sandwiches like Great White sharks, who are capable of biting off forty pounds of meat in a single swoop.  Had the sandwich ordering been completely left to me, I would have had mutiny on the ship, as the starving children cornered me, with every intention of having me walk the plank, because WHY DIDN’T YOU ORDER MORE SANDWICHES FOR US TO EAT?

We did a little cruising around the lake.  We ate the sandwiches and the chips and the cookies on the boat, and let me tell you this:  For some reason, food tastes BETTER at lakes and in the mountains.  I don’t know the science behind that as to WHY… but it just does.

Thing 2, true to the way he’s always done it, ate the filling out of six Oreo cookies and left the actual cookie parts behind.  He’s a JUST THE FILLING, PLEASE kind of kid.

Thankfully, with teenage boys on deck, the cookie parts found homes in hungry stomachs.

The boys all fished, while I snapped pictures and tried to keep my camera dry.

IMG_4773 IMG_4769 IMG_4767 IMG_4768 IMG_4775 IMG_4772 IMG_4774 IMG_4776 IMG_4778 IMG_4781 IMG_4783 IMG_4786 IMG_4779 IMG_4784 IMG_4785 IMG_4789 IMG_4790 IMG_4792 IMG_4794Eventually, part of the sailors decided that they’d like to be put ashore to frolic on the beach, while some of the kids wanted to keep fishing off of the boat with Hubs and Papa. Papa docked the boat and a handful of the cousins disembarked.

Of course, they all asked if there were any more sandwiches left before they got off the boat.

There weren’t.

Even after Grammy was smart enough to double the sandwich order, those ravenous children, who had been out on the water and in the water for half of the day were still making inquiries into forgotten BLTs tucked somewhere into a corner of the boat.

Grammy and I headed to the beach, too, where we played the part of the Baywatch Babes / lifeguards.  We reapplied sunscreen, made sure everyone was hydrated, gave instructions to the shortest ones to PLEASE THROW THE ROCKS AWAY FROM PEOPLE, AND NOT IN THE DIRECTION OF PEOPLE, clapped like lunatics for successful rock skipping contest winners, judged sand castle entries in Construction With Sand contests, gave warnings when the shortest ones were TOO FAR OUT, while we encouraged them TO COME RIGHT BACK TO SHORE NOW, discussed the importance of knowing the dangers of tsunamis and gave everyone instructions to watch out for sharks because it was Shark Week.

You can never be too careful, even when it’s a freshwater lake in a landlocked state.

The kids played the part of Happy Children at the Lake on a Really Hot Day to perfection.

IMG_4797 IMG_4798 IMG_4799 IMG_4804 IMG_4805 IMG_4806 IMG_4811 IMG_4813 IMG_4815 IMG_4817 IMG_4820 IMG_4823 IMG_4824 IMG_4828 IMG_4829 IMG_4831 IMG_4834 IMG_4836 IMG_4838 IMG_4839 IMG_4843 IMG_4844 IMG_4845 IMG_4848 IMG_4853 IMG_4857 IMG_4858 IMG_4862 IMG_4863 IMG_4868 IMG_4873 IMG_4874 IMG_4875 IMG_4879 IMG_4883 IMG_4877 IMG_4896 IMG_4899 IMG_4903 IMG_4905 IMG_4908 IMG_4910 IMG_4888 IMG_4912 IMG_4922 IMG_4923 IMG_4924 IMG_4926 IMG_4928 IMG_4929 IMG_4930 IMG_4931 IMG_4934 IMG_4935 IMG_4936 IMG_4941 IMG_4918 IMG_4920Sometime before sunset, we met up with the rest of our gang, who’d continued to fish the rest of the day away on the boat.

IMG_4953 IMG_4956They all asked again if there were any extra sandwiches hiding anywhere.  The poor, starving things!

The boys all helped Papa and Hubs get the boat loaded onto the trailer and out of the water.  Everyone dried off and found cold water bottles from the cooler, and we headed for home.

And dinner.

And then THIS happened on the way back into town:

image1That would be the dreaded 7:30 PM nap.

The one that happens accidentally, when a parent isn’t looking.

The one that can ruin a bedtime completely.

Thankfully, we woke that toddler back up in the car.  He was a bit groggy and physically exhausted, but he talked to us until we got home…

… where he ate a homemade sandwich and passed out cold in his bed until 7:00 the next morning, which had NEVER, EVER happened at our house before.  Hubs and I felt like we’d slept until noon, when we realized that the clock said 7 AM!

Y’all have a merry weekend.

Carnival Monkeys

I sometimes feel like my life is a three-ring circus.

You know, what with having kids and cats and laundry and all.

Basically, I’m pretty sure that I’m the monkey trainer, and I forgot to read the manual entitled, So, You Have Monkeys?  Now What?  Instead, I just go about my day, herding my monkeys along, while I enthusiastically applaud their tricks and roll my eyeballs back into my skull over their messes, without ever consulting books written by professional monkey handlers who always have their laundry under control, neatly folded, and even put away.

I think this is what we commonly refer to as I JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP.

So, when the rodeo and the carnival and the parade all came to town this past weekend, I just corralled my monkeys and hauled them off to see everything, without missing a beat.

(Unless you count the beat where my house fell into disrepair, and we basically looked like a crime scene, what with all the dirty dishes and the unswept floor and the unmade beds and the toothpaste splatters all over the bathroom sinks.  OTHER THAN THOSE THINGS, we didn’t miss a beat.)

Every July, the parade comes to Small Town, USA, which is kind of a big deal.  It’s such a big deal, in fact, that every business except Walmart closes down, so that all 15,000 of our residents can go sit on the street curbs, while we eat cotton candy, cheer for folks we know who are in the parade, and watch our small children fight one another to the death over miniature packets of M&Ms that are thrown from the floats.

We got our parade crowd downtown on Friday morning…

IMG_4232Thing 2 was very happy to dig dirt out of the cracks in the sidewalk.

To each his own.

IMG_4235But… our toddler did manage to absolutely STEAL someone else’s stool at the parade, so that he could sit down and enjoy all the action.  However, don’t let the phrase SIT DOWN fool you, because Thing 2 never sits for more than seven consecutive seconds.

(Say that five times fast.)

IMG_4237Our pack of children proved on Friday morning that they are somewhat of PROFESSIONAL CANDY SNAGGERS, when sugary treats are thrown from passing floats.  Thing 2 actually SHOVED a couple of children aside so that he could scramble off the curb and beat them to the Lemon Heads.  I’d say that this sort of behavior calls for some discipline, but it was all in the name of HE WHO IS TOO SLOW, GETS TRAMPLED, BECAUSE CANDY, CANDY, CANDY!

And then… Thing 2 got beat out by a handful of second graders on the street when a new batch of candy was thrown.  Their older, longer-legged, eight-year-old bodies managed to grab up the few pieces of candy that a stingy float threw.  Because he’s three years old, our toddler took action.  He balled up his fists at his side, threw his head backwards, and screamed out his frustration at not getting the miniature Twix bars that time.

Do you know what happened after that?  Let me tell you.  A dad sitting very near to him gave him the candy bars that his teenager managed to get his hands on.  I attempted to do the right thing by saying, “No, no, no… we don’t need Twix bars for spontaneous fits in the street,” but this nice man replied by saying, “And my high school junior doesn’t need to grab candy at the parade, when the little kids are right in front of him.”

So what Thing 2 learned is that if you don’t manage to grab some sugar, throw a fit in the street that’s worthy of an Academy Award, and then look around for a sympathetic parade watcher, who will help fill your stash.

I’d also like to go on record and say that Thing 2 managed to get nineteen pieces of candy off the street on Friday morning, and he ate nineteen pieces of candy before the parade was over.

I call this WINNING AT PARENTING.

And also MOM’S MY FAVORITE PARENT.

Thing 2 was incredibly animated at the parade, and he danced every single time a musical float or a band went by.  He entertained the crowd better than the parade participants did.

Because parades are exhausting, even if you’re an energetic little monkey who’s hopped up on nineteen pieces of candy, THIS can happen on the way home:

IMG_4243Later on Friday afternoon, Cousin K came over to hang out with us, and the kids played in the driveway.

Never underestimate the power of a big stick and a free spray bottle to keep the smaller crowd entertained for a sweet forever.

IMG_4628 IMG_4629 IMG_4630 IMG_4632 IMG_4635 IMG_4638 IMG_4639 IMG_4641 IMG_4644 IMG_4646 IMG_4647 IMG_4652And lest you confuse us with real royalty, let me just assure you that we really DO perform our own chores, as we holler out things like, “Hey, Boy!  Go fetch our garbage dumpster from the curb and bring it back up to the house!”

IMG_4634Clearly, we’re terribly fancy.

We also hit the park on Friday afternoon with the cousins, where everyone stood in line for ice cream, since it was approximately 600 degrees outside.

IMG_4682Cousin M got black licorice ice cream.

I have no words.

Wait a second… Maybe I do have a word, and it’s DISGUSTING.  I have no idea who thought black ice cream was a good idea, but M and Hubs are head over heels in love with the stuff.

It dyes their faces gray, which just seems wrong from a bowl of ice cream.

IMG_4657 IMG_4658 IMG_4660 IMG_4661 IMG_4663 IMG_4664 IMG_4665 IMG_4674 IMG_4675 IMG_4680 IMG_4681 FireEngineCollageAfter much waiting and waiting and even more waiting, 5:00 finally rolled around, and THAT, people, was when the carnival opened for the night.

We were there at 5:01, hoping to beat the crowds.

IMG_4683 HelicopterCollage IMG_4695 IMG_4696 IMG_4698 IMG_4699 IMG_4700 IMG_4701 IMG_4703 IMG_4704 IMG_4705 IMG_4707 IMG_4709 IMG_4710 IMG_4714 IMG_4719 IMG_4720 IMG_4721 IMG_4722 IMG_4728 IMG_4730 IMG_4731 IMG_4729 IMG_4733 IMG_4734 IMG_4736 IMG_4738 IMG_4742 IMG_4743 IMG_4749 IMG_4751 IMG_4753 IMG_4754 IMG_4759 IMG_4760 IMG_4762 IMG_4764Thing 2 and Cousin K would have ridden that little dragon roller coaster for three weeks straight, if we’d been able to keep them in tickets.

As it was, it cost $8 each time the two of them boarded that ride.

We’re eating water and air for dinners this week because I let them ride it a few times, just to see them laugh like they did.  It was precious.

By 6:00, the dark clouds were rolling in…

IMG_4746… and the downpour hit the carnival.  We dashed for our car, even though Thing 2 and K complained that IT’S JUST A LITTLE RAIN.  IT’S JUST A MINOR FLOOD!  WE CAN STILL DO THE RIDES!  WE DON’T MIND GETTING SOAKED!  WE!! WANT!! THE!! DRAGON ROLLER COASTER!!!!!

They were both incredibly sad to leave the carnival.

IMG_4248But… we hear tale that the dragon roller coaster will be back again next July, as it always is.

We’re already saving our dollars, so that the boys can ride it FOUR times!

And we’re lifting weights, too, because AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME TO MISS OUT ON PARADE CANDY, BECAUSE A PACK OF SECOND GRADERS GOT TO IT FIRST.