Monday, October 6, 2014

The Disbanding of the Dynamic Duo? The end of an era.

Jamie and Micah are not exactly Irish twins. You know, babies born a year apart. They are nearly nineteen months apart in age, which is not that unusual. In fact, I know several people who have had babies that close, or even closer together. But Jamie was less than eighteen and a half months old when I hit my due date with Micah, meaning he had no clue what was going on. He has no memory of life before Micah. And Micah certainly has no memories that don’t include Jamie.

Cody and Jamie are close in age too, exactly twenty-one months apart. Cody likely does have memories that don’t include Jamie, because he’s got a ridiculously sharp mind and memory. Cody is close to both of his brothers too, but somehow he wasn’t as much a part of the team of troublemaking. Maybe it’s because he is older, or more responsible, or because he started school and left the others behind when they were only two and three.

Whatever the reason, Jamie and Micah formed what I named The Dynamic Duo. Together, they were unstoppable. Two boys that young: one with extremely creative ideas and one with no inhibitions…well, theirs was a dangerous liaison. When I was pregnant with Lauren, Micah moved into Jamie and Cody’s bedroom. He was a few months shy of three years old when we made that move. Since then, they have been sharing a room, and are still sharing a room, even though Cody moved out over a month ago. They were in the same class at school last year, and the same class at Sunday school too.

This year, there has been a shift. Both of them had school every other day last year, so on their non-kindergarten days, they were home together, with Lauren and I. This year, Jamie is in grade one, and he now attends school full days, every day. This is their first significant separation in a long time. Micah goes every second day, all day, but he is in a different class from his brother. Further, on his days off, Jamie is not here with him. This change has been bittersweet for me. I miss my Jamie, and I confess I worry about him being at school all day, because the adjustment has been hard on him.

But I have also spent the last month reflecting on the difference between three years ago, and now, and I feel like I have breathed out one big sigh of relief. Not because I don’t want Jamie around, but because I have been reflecting on how hard parenting has been ever since number two arrived. Having three boys in the span of three years was crazy difficult. I used to look at other parents and think there was something wrong with me for finding it so hard. But now I realize, it was hard. Very hard. People used to tell me, “This stage won’t last. I know it feels like forever when you’re in it, but it will pass. So enjoy it while you can, because believe it or not, one day you will miss this.” I suppose I knew they were right, but it really didn’t feel like things would ever get easier. But they have! I still can hardly believe it, but it’s true. My days are quiet now, in a way I couldn’t have imagined two years ago. Today, it’s just me and Lauren. Tomorrow, it will be just me and Micah. And it’s not just easier because the boys are at school. They have matured. They are now eight, six and a half, and five, and now they can do stuff, like clearing their dishes, making their beds, putting their laundry away, cleaning up their toys. Okay, that last one needs a lot of work. But they help. They dress Lauren in her jacket and shoes when she needs help. They buckle her in the truck when I can’t reach. None of them run into oncoming traffic if we have to take them to the city. It’s refreshing.

Of course, I still have a two year old, but she doesn’t have a three year old to lead her astray. I’m not saying motherhood is suddenly easy and perfect. It’s still difficult, but not gut-wrenchingly difficult. I don’t feel like begging every parent out there to form a support group for me. I’m not drowning. I miss my boys when they are at school, but do I miss that stage? Not yet. For now, I am finding myself grateful I survived that period of insanity. And they survived it too.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Days Like This

Remember that song, "Mama said there'd be days like this"? If my life were a TV show, that would be the name of today's episode. I got up this morning, after a rough night of sleep, and my first order of business was to wake the boys up to get ready for school. Jamie has been sick this week, and stayed home yesterday and the day before, but he seemed to be doing well so this morning I went ahead and woke him up. As I fed them breakfast, I tried to get their school bags ready and packed. That was problem number one.

Micah's backpack was missing completely. I had his clipboard, but no back pack and no lunch kit. I also had no library book, which he was supposed to return today. Jamie's day planner was missing from his backpack, and they use it every day at school. Fine. I decided I would deal with making their lunches first, and then deal with all the missing stuff. I got out the peanut butter, the jam and the honey. (Yes, all of my boys eat peanut butter sandwiches every single day at school. For now, it is still allowed because none of the kids there are allergic to peanuts.) Next, I looked for the bread. Oh. It was empty. Okay, I checked the fridge freezer. No bread. I knew there was still the deep freeze downstairs, but at that point I was worried. It seemed to me that there was no bread in the downstairs freezer, but we checked anyway. No bread. I should have gone back to bed at that point and sent all three boys to theirs. I decided to send them to school without lunches and I would somehow get food to them before lunch time.

I got everyone on the bus at 7:30 a.m., as usual, and hurried back to the house so I wouldn't lose my entire blood supply to mosquitos. (For the record, it is extremely abnormal for us to have mosquitos at this time of year, but they are flourishing, and ruining our best deck weather!) I decided I could make a loaf of bread just in time to make three sandwiches and drive them to the school. The school's lunch starts early, at 11:30 (or 11:20, I can never remember which), so I knew I was pressed for time. I started making the bread immediately, even though my bed was begging me to crawl back under the covers.

As I mixed the dough in my KitchenAid, I admit, I was feeling like a bit of a conquering hero. Yes, I allowed us to run completely out of bread. But look at me. I was baking a loaf of fresh bread for my children. I was like a wife from the fifties. (Wait, you mean there are other wives this century who bake fresh bread for their families? Whatever. Okay, I was feeling like one of those modern day wives who bakes bread for her family.)

The bread has eight ingredients. I put the first four in first, then I put the milk, oil and eggs in a measuring cup until I was ready to add them. After that, it was just the flour. Once all the ingredients were being tossed about by my stainless steel dough hook, I was feeling somewhat satisfied that I was going to get it done by my deadline. Until I noticed the texture of the dough starting to look a Something was wrong. It looked more like batter than dough. I wracked my brain for what I could have done wrong, and then it hit me. One egg. The recipe called for one egg, a fact that I repeated to myself multiple times while preparing the ingredients. And then I proceeded to add two eggs.

It's getting expensive burning my superhero capes on such a regular basis.

I added flour to try to salvage the dough, and I even entertained notions that my two-egg bread would turn into the best recipe anyone had ever tasted. People near and far would ask me the secret to my especially incredible homemade bread, but I would smile and say, "The secret's in the sauce." No I wouldn't. That's just a line from a movie. Points if you can tell me which one.

Bottom line: I knew at this point that even though my bread was going to be a smashing success, I couldn't risk it. I was going to have to go to the store with Lauren. The town is only about seven minutes from here, but I didn't want to drive to town, buy bread, drive home, make three sandwiches, drive back to town, drop off three lunches, and then come home again. Lauren gets grumpy if you keep sticking her in her car seat over and over again. So I had a better idea. I packed a cutting board, three pieces of wax paper, a tupperware container full of peanut butter, a smaller tupperware container of honey, and a smaller tupperware container yet of jam. Then I packed two spreading knives (one as backup in case I dropped the first one), and all three lunch kits, and Lauren and I went to the store.

Buying bread was uneventful. Well, Lauren did run me over multiple times with the tiny shopping cart she was pushing, and I did almost pass out when I saw the price of Wonder Bread. ($3.99 per loaf?? It's a Wonder I stayed conscious!) Then we went back to the truck and I pulled over somewhere I hoped no prying townspeople's eyes would see me, and I made sandwiches from the driver's seat. It was awkward with the steering wheel in my way, but I got it done.

Don't I just remind you of Martha Stewart? 
Me neither.

I even remembered the wax paper, which impressed me. 

We went to the school, and Lauren carried Cody's lunch kit while I carried the other two. We went to the kindergarten room first. Did I mention this was the second time in less than a week that I had to bring Micah's lunch to the school? The first time I forgot it on the counter and found it after he got on the bus. It's possible that was on Tuesday, his only other Kindergarten day this week. But I can't even remember. 

Jamie was next, and things went downhill at that point. Jamie saw me there and began begging me to take him home. He said he was okay, but then he said he wouldn't make it through the whole day. Then he said he was embarrassed every time he coughed. I felt his forehead. It felt warm to me, but I have a history of being completely unreliable for checking foreheads for fevers. In the end, he begged and nearly cried, but like a cruel and heartless person, I told him he had to stay there, and I left him. I did talk to his teacher and she said she'd check on him after lunch. I told her to call me if I needed to pick him up, and I told him the same thing. But I still felt like such a jerk all the way home. I remember grade one. I remember feeling scared and vulnerable, and wishing I could have my mom pick me up and take me home every day. I hate knowing he is feeling that way and forcing him to endure it anyway. But that's life. We can't rescue our kids from every hardship or they will never grow. But I felt terrible anyway. In fact, I still do. But nobody has called me, so I have to assume he is okay. 

Incidentally, my bread was not ready on time to have gotten sandwiches to the school. Also, it is huge. And the texture is still off. I have affectionately named it Spongebread Square-pan, though technically the pan was a rectangle. It would have been perfect for me during my last pregnancy. You can read about that here.

And now I have to try to salvage my day and get at least one productive thing done.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Unsolicited Pets

Unsolicited pets

In this family, we love animals. We have a few pets: two cats, a dog and a horse. We had a rabbit for ten years, and he died back in the spring of 2011. Mike and I have had a few fish in our time too.

Once in a while, the boys try to bring home new pets. Jamie has been known to catch salamanders on occasion, and sometimes snakes too. He is also prone to bringing bugs in the house to show me, and then declare his intention to keep them as pets. Fortunately, I have veto power when it comes to the critters entering this house. Last year, we had a vole for a while, but that was accidental. It was never invited, and it was swiftly uninvited after I saw it run across my bedroom floor.

Uninvited pets are the worst. Usually they are the creepy-crawly variety, or the scurrying type. I’m not one who fears rodents, but I certainly don’t welcome them to run freely in my house. (Incidentally, I’d take a mouse over a large spider any day, and we do currently have a spider infestation.)

Earlier today, I saw a tall glass of water sitting on one of the end tables in the living room. I thought it was strange, because Mike is the only one in the house who drinks out of that type of glass. (Yes, I know that’s weird, but we are all rather particular about our beverage vessels, except for Mike. I drink everything out of a freezie cup, and the boys use Tupperware, and Lauren is still using sippy cups. But this post is not about O.C.D., so I digress.)

I picked up the glass because my first thought was, “Somebody’s going to dump this.” But when I picked it up, I noticed there was a whitish, slimy film on the water surface. I said something brilliant, like “Ew, gross! What did you guys do to this water?” because it had particles at the bottom that led me to believe they had filled it with sand. (Hey, it has been done before. Many times, as a matter of fact.) Jamie, who sounded somewhat offended, informed me that those were his snails.

My eyes probably bugged out a bit at that, but I accepted that as a pretty normal answer. I did a double take, and sure enough, there were snails in the glass. Small, but easily identifiable. I moved the glass to the half-wall by the staircase, not wanting Lauren to get her hands on it. My initial fear of the glass getting dumped was immediately trumped by a fear that she might drink out of it. Blech!

Fast-forward several hours. Just now, Jamie was examining the glass and made a comment about Slimy. (Great name, right?) Slimy, as it turned out, was a Houdini wannabe. He was almost at the top of the glass, and seemed to be moving along, albeit at a snail’s pace. I commented that he was trying to escape and Jamie said the other snails were dead. I frowned and examined the glass more carefully. There were several very tiny dark specks at the bottom of the glass, but they were not snails. I told him there were no other snails in there, and it looked more like snail poop or something. (Hm. Remind me to throw out that glass later…)
Then Jamie had an epiphany of sorts. It was something like, “Hey, where are all the other snails?” Then I had an epiphany. It was sort of like, “Hey! Where are all the other snails???” I asked him how many there were. He said six. Now there was one. It turned out Slimy was actually in the bottom of his class, or glass, and was way below average on the Houdini rating. Jamie went into the living room and checked the floor near where the glass had been on the half wall. He found one and declared it dead, because it had lost its slime. Being a non-expert on all things slug, I told him to put it back in the water and see what happens. Then we went over to the end table. Sure enough, two more snails were recovered, also clinically dead.

Wait, that’s Slimy, plus the first dead one…plus two more dead ones…Uh oh. That only makes four. Didn’t he say there were six snails? So now, there are two rogue snails somewhere in my house. Maybe dead. Maybe alive. Possibly still slimy. Definitely unwelcome.

So I just went and checked on them, and one was almost on the rim of the glass, and another one was out of the water, catching up. At first glance, the other two were dead. But as I watched them, they began to stretch out their necks (do slugs have necks? Or are they 100% neck?) and crane their heads around, no doubt feeling a little inferior to their buddies. I took some pictures. 

This first one is one of the ones that Jamie found on the carpet. Judging by where he was, he was out of the water for a much shorter period than his unfortunate buddies. You can see here he has made it to the top of the water. 

Here's the show-off, that was actually left behind in the first place. 

The second snail is catching up. I think I'll name him Turbo.

He's closing in. They are neck in neck. Wait, that's complicated when all they have are necks. 

Here are the unfortunate other two. I wish I could have posted video, but they are definitely alive down there. I just don't know how much longer that will be the case. Poor things.

I have to admit, it was kind of cool watching their tiny antennae moving back and forth in slow motion, checking things out around them. I brought the boys in to observe them. This is how a non-homeschooling mom home schools her kids. (Because we all homeschool our kids, even those who send them to school.) But oh, it turns out, snails stink. That's what I learned today.

UPDATE: This just in. All four snails have scaled the glass. I have placed a loose fitting lid over the top so we will have no more escapees, but all of them are either on the "ceiling" or near it. Also, I have just been informed that their names are as follows: Slimy, Sticky, Slimy-Bottom, and Wormy. Nice.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Please tell me he did not just do that...

Sometimes I seriously wonder how my children are still alive. The things they do completely blow my mind. Today, it is rainy and dreary outside, for the second consecutive day. Rainy weather does not stop the Dynamic Duo. After lunch, I put Lauren to bed for her nap and Jamie and Micah donned their rubber boots (that's progress), and their jackets. I told them not to shout on the deck, seeing it's right outside Lauren's window. They assured me they wouldn't be on the deck.

At that moment, a tiny voice in my head was trying to tell me something. Sure, I wondered what they might be doing down in the very wet yard, but I wanted to do my workout, and having them out of the house was the perfect opportunity to do it without being interrupted and annoyed by them. So I silenced the voice and I enjoyed a 25 minute workout in the comfort (and for once, silence) of my own living room.

Being a mom, I knew I couldn't just ignore them completely for 25 minutes, so as I exercised, I frequently moved to the bay window and scanned the yard for them. Ah! There they were. They have invented a new game. It's similar to tobogganing, but of course, with the snow gone, they needed new equipment. It turns out, the jogging stroller makes a great ride-on toy. They were taking turns riding it down the ridge, which isn't that steep anymore, but it's a big enough slope to make for a fun ride. I shook my head and continued with my workout.

A few minutes later I checked again. They were down the old driveway, which is now beginning to flood again. Now I was concerned. But they were still just pushing each other in the stroller, and they weren't in the water, so it was still okay. At the end of my workout, I looked again. I didn't see the stroller. The boys were making some kind of path IN the deep water (I'm talking deeper than their boots, but not deep enough to swim in) out of metal duct work pieces. Yikes! I ran onto the deck and shouted for them to get out of there. They didn't listen. Micah walked the "path", which sank, of course, and I watched as the water went over top of his boots. Lovely.

They came back to the house after that to change out of their wet clothes, and then came the really disturbing part. No, not Micah's naked dance, though that was up there too. Micah told me Jamie made him drink water out of that puddle, but he spit it out. Maybe some day I will laugh at this, but seriously, he could get really, really sick from that water! I am horrified. Even our well water, which is down underground where it is well filtered by the sand, tested unsafe to drink. I really hope he didn't swallow any, and I hope he will be okay. These are the moments when I feel like I'm losing my mind. I don't even have anything more to say about it. I am just praying that God will protect and preserve these kids, because I can't seem to keep them out of trouble.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Two Ways My Life Changed Last Week

Last time I posted in here, it was supposed to be my very first day with all three boys in school for the whole day, and just Lauren at home with me. That was thwarted thanks to a stomach bug that Micah got in the middle of the night. (He was over it very quickly, by the way.) But on Thursday, we tried again and all three boys got on the bus at 7:30 a.m., leaving me with just Lauren for the whole day. I have to tell you, I had mixed emotions. Micah is my last boy, so he is kind of my baby, still, even though he is four and a half. It was hard to send him off to school for the whole day, even though I knew he would be fine. But at the same time, having only Lauren here made me want to shout long and loud off the deck, "FREEEEEEE-DOMMMMMMMM!"

Okay, that's a little exaggerated, but I honestly felt so liberated. It wasn't necessarily just the absence of Micah that changed things for me, because having just Micah and Lauren is not that difficult. But when Micah was doing half days at school, I had to drive him there at lunch time, which meant an early, rushed lunch, and dragging Lauren in and out of the van. It wasn't horrible, just a little bit of a hassle. And because we live out of town, it meant that any trips to the city were impossible because I didn't have enough time in the morning or in the afternoon on Micah's school days. As for the other days, well, no way was I taking Jamie and Micah together to town with Lauren.

Normally, I don't have a burning desire to drive to the city, but around here our snow is finally starting to melt, and I think some of us Manitobans lose it a little, after being stir-crazy for so long. So, I took Lauren to town. We went shopping in Walmart for rubber boots for the boys and runners for Lauren, and then we went and got a few groceries at Safeway. (Yes, Mom, I said Safeway. But just a few groceries, not the bulk of them.) The sun was shining, the air was fresh, Lauren was perfectly behaved...It was glorious. I realized that my life just got a lot easier, at least every second day. I miss my little Micah when he's gone, but the quiet really does my soul good.

My life changed in another way last week. I finished my book on Saturday. No, not a book I was reading. A book I was writing. I can't tell you how elated that made me. And then I didn't know what to do with myself. In truth, I have been ignoring my family, my chores, this blog, pretty much everything and living in an alternate world. Now that it is finished, I feel a little lost. It's not really finished, because I have to start editing now, but the first draft is done, and that is a first for me. So I am ignoring it completely for a few weeks before I start working on it again, just so I can approach it with a fresh perspective. That means I might just have time to blog again. Haha.

Having said that, I'm off to brainstorm for ideas for my next book!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

History repeats itself.

Today is the first day of school after spring break. Last year at this time, Jamie had just gotten on the bus for his very first full day of Junior Kindergarten and I was worried about how he would handle it. Sure enough, he came home with a migraine and nearly threw up three times. I didn't put him back in full days for a while, though I don't remember how long. 

Last night I was worrying about my little Micah starting full days today. After all, Micah is only four. Jamie and Cody were both five when they started full days. I was nervous, but I prepared to send him. Only just before 2 a.m., Micah threw up in his bed. It seems school holidays are nearly always a disaster for us health-wise. Cody was sick from Wednesday until now, though he was not throwing up. Today was supposed to be my very first ever full day alone with Lauren. I was somewhat sad about it, and also looking forward to it. It was going to be quiet and easy. Now...well, now I have anxiety about stomach issues. Micah slept all night and is still sleeping, since the one incident. I am hoping it will be mild today as well, or that he is even over it after the one time. I am worried that Lauren will get it. 

Anyway, I have decided that spring break is overrated. This actually happens to us every year, or so it seems. Maybe this is premature, but I can't wait for summer break. 

Lauren is crying, so it's time for me to sign off. I hope I will find her healthy in there. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Single Mom for 48 hours

I'm on my own again with the kids, as Mike is off on a ski trip with his students. The kids are all sleeping, and I was supposed to have a fabulous evening of working on my book, but I have been completely thwarted, and I'm feeling a little down. I am so close to being done my book, but there are so many tiny details that are preventing me from writing the ending. So instead of having a therapeutic evening of writing, all by myself, I have found myself researching those details and coming up empty, and therefore writing basically nothing. I hope it's not going to take me another year just to finish the first draft.

On a different note, tomorrow is Cody's last day of school before spring break. The other two had theirs today. I know a lot of moms dread spring break, because they get no break from their kids, but I am looking forward to it. A week of not having to drag myself out of bed before 7 a.m. to make lunches, pack school bags and whisper yell at my kid(s) to eat, get dressed, get their ski pants on, get out the door to the bus...etc. A week of no watching anxiously out my window to see whether Mike gets them down the driveway to the bus on time. Best of all, it means I have Mike home for a week with me, so I have back-up. I'm hoping for a nice family time, but we'll see.

Let me make a quick confession in here. I have always loved birthdays, but I am really bad at them. I am bad at getting cards in the mail on time to friends and family. And I am bad at planning birthday parties for my own kids. Cody's birthday is in five days, and I have nothing planned. He wants a huge party, but I just don't want every kid in his class and on his hockey team here. He wanted a skating party at the rink, but I think it is shut down now, so that's out. We tried to convince him to have a small party, with only three or four friends, but he can't decide who he would invite. So we are left with either just our little (big?) family, or all his cousins. He doesn't really seem pumped about either option. He wants his school friends, but again, he doesn't even know who to invite. I find the whole thing stressful, and I am heaped with guilt. Jamie has never had a party, and he told all his classmates (all five of them) that he would invite them all to his party. We are always barfing on his birthday, so he doesn't get parties. Poor kid. He thinks next year he will. We'll see. Micah doesn't care yet, and of course, Lauren doesn't either, but I really feel bad about Cody. I don't know what we will do yet, but I guess we'll see. I have tried to get Mike to help me figure out a plan, but I am not getting much assistance there.

Anyway, I'm getting stressed out now, and it's getting late. Just thought I'd check in, seeing I'm on my own here. (With a sick cat on antibiotics. Did I mention that?) I'm off to bed.