Archive for July, 2009

Aunti Claus


This weekend my Dad brought my Aunt Mongie up to visit and watch some baseball.  They are both troopers.   They woke up before the crack of dawn, drove 5 hours, watched 2 baseball games that we lost miserably, spent the night, watched another game, ate lunch and drove home.

I love my Aunt Mongie.  I don’t have any idea how she became Mongie.  Her name is Rose.  In our family there’s lot of debate how you say her name.  My cousins call her Moe-jie.  My sister and I call her Moan-gie. I tend to think we’re right.

I have very vivid memories of her growing up.  She looked like this:

circa 1980sShe had long flowing hair, that she always wore in a loose half pony tail.  She’s the aunt who would paint my nails and french braid my hair.  She’d give me and my cousin a bath and lube us up with baby oil and then wrap us like a burrito in a towel.  Her house was the fun house.  I’m sure probably because my grandparents lived with her.  I remember putting Hot Wheel cars on their very long driveway and her little Dodger Blue VW beetle running over them, smashing them flat and her threatening to do some bodily harm.   I remember watching many Dodger games with her and attending Mass in Spanish.  I don’t speak Spanish.

I have vivid memories of endless Happy Meals, frozen White Castle Hamburgers, and Lean Cuisine Spaghetti.  I tried all of these foods as an adult, and let’s just say, in my memory they taste much better.  Hands down, she still makes the best beans and rice.  She’s tried to teach me.  I think she must do some kind of magic, because they never come out the same.

She taught me how to cross stitch and crotchet.

My Aunt Mongie buys the best presents ever.  She never disappoints.  As a little girl I got things like a complete Strawberry Shortcake village and an American Girl Doll.  As a sulky teen she always bought the coolest name brand clothes.  As an adult, she always buys me the gaudiest, most obnoxious, noisiest, fiber optic Christmas decorations.  I think if she ever stopped I might cry.

Even now, we could change her name to Aunti Claus.  She brought the kids a pitching net, a bucket of softballs and wiffle balls, 2 insulated coolers, and ice chest, a baseball T, an ipod,  a Tupperware cooler, Tupperware, Corning ware.  The list goes on and on and on.

When I was a teen, she lost the title of “Best Aunt Ever”.  She was opinionated.   She was strict.  She had no problem calling me out.  She was brutally honest.

These are all qualities that I love about her now.   She’s the kind of woman who will go up to a coach and demand her nephew get more play time.  She’s the kind of woman who is still the best gift giver. Ever.  She’s the kind of woman who has no problem sharing her opinion about anything.  She’s also probably the bravest, strongest person I’ve ever known.  She’s the kind of woman who nursed my dying grandma for what seemed like forever.  Then she turned around and nursed her own sick husband while he lost his battle with a terminal illness.  Admits it all, I don’t think I’ve ever heard her complain about it.   I have no idea where she finds her strength.

I love you.

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ARR Thar MateyThis morning I was slowly recuperating in my big office chair in front of the computer.  I ran (okay, mostly walked) and it kicked my butt.  I don’t know what it is about pushing a double jogger, but it makes running/walking ten times harder.  It doesn’t even have to do with the weight of the babies.  It’s more that I am so incredibly uncoordinated that it’s hard for me to push and run at the same time.  Then when I start thinking about pushing and running/walking I get all flustered and really throw the rhythm off.  Not that there was much rhythm to begin with.

I was vegging on the computer with Jacob on my lap.  His finger was constantly poked in my face and there was a constant babble of “what’s that?  Mommy what’s that?” When I tried ignoring him (yep, I’m a great mom like that), he’d turn my face with his little hands to make sure I had his full attention.

McKayla was sitting next to me twittering.  I don’t have any idea of what she has to say.  I think it’s a non stop stream of dumb information and things like:  I’m bored.  My mom’s making me do chores.   Check out this Youtube video of my friend lip singing to a Jonas Brothers Song.  I’m bored.  I took a what Harry Potter character quiz are you and I’m Hermione Granger.  Useless drivel.

The boys were upstairs sorting baseball cards.  That’s a whole other blog post in itself.

I sat there and tried hard to ignore my aching body and wondering when the heck I became so out of shape and old.  I thought about taking a shower and mustering enough energy to do something productive.  Then I realized that I hadn’t heard Nathaniel in a while.  Normally when Nathaniel is quiet, it means trouble.  It means climbing on counters and eating cake, or “washing” dishes, or playing with the diaper rash cream, or, my favorite, the endless scribbles on the walls and furniture.

I started calling and heard nothing.  I looked upstairs and in the bathrooms.  Then I went into the living room.  I found him quietly sitting by himself wearing my glasses and playing with his pirate ship.  He was making the little guys talk to each other.  He even drove the boat around a bit.  I called him,  he looked up with his head tilted back so that his glasses wouldn’t fall off his head and said.  “Hi Mommy!”

Hi mommyI love that you call me Mommy.  I love that you can entertain yourself.  I love that you play with your “guys” and have some elaborate scenario set up that only you know.  It may involve lots of frustration and screaming, but I love it nonetheless.  I love that you carry a baby doll around.  Sometimes it might be by the neck or a leg, but I still love it.  I love how you sit them at the table while you eat or next to you while you play.  I love that you’ve named a couple of them.  I love how you cuddle up with your bear every night, and when I come in to make sure you’re still breathing, you’re still cuddling with your bear.

So sometimes I love you best.

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Dichotomy of Two

HamHa!  I have two sippy cups!  Ha!  I’m wearing my pajamas at 2 in the afternoon!  Ha!  I’ve found a great new hat!  Ha!  Everything is interesting to me!  Isn’t it great to be two!

cryingWAAAA!  I’m not getting my way!  WAAA!  Mom won’t let me paint with milk all over the kitchen table!  WAAA!  I can’t have an otter pop for breakfast!  WAAA!  I fell off of my scooter while precarioulsy perching ontop of it trying to reach something that isn’t meant for me!  WAAA!  This is the fourth time I’ve fallen this morning!  WAAA! I’m so tired and cranky and it’s only 10 in the morning.   It’s hard to be two!  WAAA!

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We don’t do sleepovers.  It isn’t so much that I’m totally against sleepovers.  It’s more that I’m a tad bit cautious.

The kids have spent the night at “the coolest Mom ever”‘s house.  They’ve stayed the night at my best friends house.  They’ve slept at grandma’s house.  They are more than welcome to stay with any  close blood relation and who has passed our top secret security checks.  I’m more against spending the night at casual friend’s homes.

The rule at our house is: if we don’t know the parents really well you can’t spend the night.  You can go over and hang out.  But you can’t stay the night.  I’ll let anyone come spend the night at our house.  I’ve hosted slumber parties.  I’ve even let a friend’s sibling spend the night too.  I just don’t let my kids spend the night anywhere else.  It’s not that I’m a terrible hypocrite.  It’s that I only implicitly trust the safety of our home.

I know I’m an alarmist.  I’m sure my kids will grow up with their own complexes about my overprotectiveness. Maybe I should change my blog to overprotectivemommy.  Honestly, I’d rather them feel a little stifled than dead, abused, or exposed to things that are too mature for them to handle.

One in three homes has guns.  How can I be sure that they are locked up?  Our computers have parental controls.  I don’t want my kids surfing porn at Joey’s house.  We don’t have tv, so I don’t have to worry about things like Paris Hilton and “Sixteen and Pregnant”.   How do I know if Sally’s dad is into little boys?  We don’t let girls call boys at our house.  Maybe at Kim’s house they’ll be calling boys and next thing you know, orgy at Kim’s house.  Or maybe they’ll raid the liquor cabinet while the parents are out smoking dope in the backyard.  Alarmist, I know.

Recently, our rule has come under attack.  McKayla has two friends who are no longer allowed to spend the night at our house until she spends the night at their house.  I find this both disturbing and amusing.  I think it’s funny that all of the communication has gone through the girls, nobody has called me.  I think it’s funny that they’ve demanded that I allow my daughter to spend the night.  Until then, no more sleepovers.  Darn, I get to go to bed on time.  The ice cream stays in the freezer longer.  I don’t hear high pitched giggles all night or whines for late night dessert runs.  I just don’t know how I’ll ever survive without preteen sleepovers.

What really upsets me is that as parents we should be respecting each others parenting decisions.  We all parent different.  We all try to do what we think is best.  If I’m a bit overprotective, respect that.  If you want my kid to spend the night at your house, socialize with us.  Make the effort to put my fears at ease.  If I never feel comfortable, don’t be offended.  It might not even be anything that you’re doing.  It may be that you have a teenage son.  It might be that you live next to a sexual offender.  Or it might just be my kid comes home from your house with a bad attitude.

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classyWhen Marshall was little I remember he loved wearing his sister’s ruby red slippers.  Many things made these ruby red slippers appealing.  They were sparkly like Dorothy’s from the Wizard of Oz.  They had a little heel on them.  The best part was they made a really loud clomp, clomp, clomp sound on the hardwood floor.   Grandpa Wayne HATED when Marshall wore the ruby red slippers.  I’m pretty sure that he was the reason they disappeared.

I rarely wear heels.  They hurt my feet.  Yesterday I wore heels to church.  The minute we walked in the door I kicked them off.  While making lunch I kept hearing a clomp, clomp, clomp sound.  It wasn’t followed by screaming or silence, so I ignored it.  When I called everyone in for lunch, I heard the clomp, clomp, clomp.  It was Jacob.

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We are gluttons

Big hitter

We are gluttons for  punishment.  We signed Marshall up for travel ball.  It requires that I shuttle him to and from practice everyday, sometimes twice a day.  It costs so much that I’m debating selling all of the children’s extra kidneys.  They don’t need two.  Or do they?  Maybe I could just sell a portion of all of their livers.  I heard livers could regenerate like lizards tails.  Or maybe that’s not true.  I’m not sure.  How reliable is the TV show Grey’s Anatomy as a source?

Travel ball also means that we have to spend copious amounts of time at the baseball field during tournaments.  We sit in unshaded bleachers in the scorching hot July weather.  It feels like I’m slowly melting in the 105 degree weather.

We signed him up because he was the best on his little league team.  He was the kid that was yelling at the other kids to get their acts together.  He was the best hitter, the best in field, the best in the outfield.  He was the kid that everyone said “Wow, is that you’re kid?  He’s good!”   Now he’s the kid that spends his time divided between left field and here:

riding the benchA small fish in a vast ocean.

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Making a Break for It

When we brought the babies home from the hospital we were amazed at how tiny they were.  We awed at how tiny their heads and little toes were.  They could fit into the same swing, sling, and bouncer.  They had no idea about personal space.  After spending nine months squashed next to each other, they were perfectly happy being centimeters apart.

tiny babiesI think they actually needed to be close.  They drew comfort having their brother so close.  They slept together, they nursed together, they did every thing together.  As they grew, they no longer fit in the same baby gear together.  They had to take turns swinging and bouncing.  As they become more and more aware of their bodies and how to manipulate them, they’d accidentally roll over onto  each other or kick with a little more force.  We had put them into separate cribs.

They still do everything together.  Now it’s just a little separate.  They play cars together, each in their own car.  They play blocks.  One builds, the other knocks over.  They run away together.  One leads, the other follows.    They  reach milestones together.   Things like rolling over, walking, climbing out of the crib.  They nap together.  Each in his own crib.

They climb out together. Nap time takes twice as long now.  It requires lots of retucking.  I dream about barbed wire and greasing the rails.  I long for the days of immobility.  But, where I find them touches my heart.  It makes me wish that I was a twin.

I find them in the pop up playhouse.  I walk in and I they shout, “I hid”.  After a week or two of stern talking and plopping them back in their cribs, they no longer shout “I hid”.

They are sneaky together.  I walk in and I hear silence.  I look in their beds.   Silence.  For a moment, a have a mini heart attack and think I’ve lost them.  Then, I hear a giggle and find them  under the same bed with books and a flash light.

I open the door a crack and notice Nathaniel isn’t in his bed anymore.  I open the door and start to call out and then I notice him.  He’s crawled in bed with Jacob.   I don’t think they’ll ever be to big to need each other.

sleeping together.

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trading it all in

Sometimes I feel like we should sell everything and by this:house on wheelsI only get the urge when I’ve spent a whole day in the car.  A whole day shuttling kids back and forth, to and fro, here and there, hither and yonder.   Then I wouldn’t ever have to leave our house.  I’d just have to move the house around.

Yesterday,  Marshall had baseball practice at 10.  It was already 90 degrees. I dropped him off we came home and finished getting dressed and straightened up the house.  That sounds really benign and sweet but it was more like trying to direct two sloths and a couple of chimpanzees.  Finally we were ready to jump in the car.  At this point the babies are excited to get in the car.  In a constant loop the whole morning they kept saying “I go! I go”.  We venture on a futile search for white baseball pants with a black racing stripe.  I hit every store in our small town that might possibly carry any baseball equipment.  I finally find a store that will order them for me for a mere $25.  I think I’ll have to sell a kidney to pay for travel ball.  I picked up Marshall (It was 100 degrees).  We came home for lunch and a quick nap.

I dropped McKayla off to volunteer at the library at 2.  She complained the whole way there.  To be honest she didn’t complain the whole way, she paused to demand a few times for a cell phone.  I don’t know why a cell phone would make volunteering any easier.  All the complaining and demanding made the trip seem twice as long.  At home we gathered up library books and snacks and headed back to the library.  At this point the babies are beginning to be a little hesitant about getting in their car seats.  The mantra changed from “I go” to “ibary”.  My car claims it was 104 degrees.  I’m going to believe it.  We checked out enough books for a couple of families and watched a puppet show.

Leaving the library proved to be a little difficult.  The twins were less than willing to get back in their seats.  It was like wrestling greased pigs.  Sheer determination, will and brutal force got them into their seats.  We drove through fast food for dinner and quickly ate it at home.  Marshall changed back into his uniform.  I dropped him back off at baseball.  Picked McKayla’s friend up and dropped them both off at youth group. 106 degrees.

Mike and I came home for an hour and enjoyed the cool air conditioning, an otter pop or four, and then headed back out into the heat.  When the babies heard we were going back into the car they were less than happy. There was running and hiding, kicking and screaming.  It wasn’t pretty.  We picked Marshall up from practice.  We waited in the car for 45 minutes because it NEVER ends on time.  Thank goodness we didn’t bring those library books inside.  At this point, the babies are screaming “I want out! OOOUUUTTT!!!”  Then it was off to pick up the girls.  I dropped off the friend and then we were home.

Finally home!  We piled out of the car just as the sun started to set.

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When did this happen?

mckayla 5When did the happy little girl turn into the sulky preteen?

mckayla 12I frequently get this look.  Sometimes it feels like for no reason.  I’m sure there are reasons, good reasons.  Things like enforcing personal hygiene and correct grammar.  Things like merely existing, or just being the mom, aka the fun sucker.  Seriously?   How the heck did she get to be so big?

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buildersWe bought a foreclosed home.  From the outside, our house still looks foreclosed.  Except for all of the random kid paraphernalia strewn about.  Our front lawn is dead.  The weeds can sometimes get knee high.  Our bushes double as high rise spider apartments.  One neighbor parks a large motor home in front of our house a few times a week and another neighbor parks a large moving van.  I can’t say that I blame them.

We have a really nice garden on the side of the house.  It’s orderly and neat.  The rest of the yard is a wasteland.  It’s barren.  There’s only dirt.  We’d really like to plant grass but the previous homeowners had a strange obsession with rocks.  There are rocks everywhere.  They are six inches deep in some places.  We shovel and more crop up.  It’s a thankless job.

We have a huge pile of dirt.  I have no idea where it came from.  The rest of the back yard is flat.  I just chalk it up with the rocks.  I wonder when we move out if the new homeowners will be as confused with some of our decisions.  This hill of dirt is rather large.  The babies play king of the mountain on it.  Once Mikey dug a large whole and then buried Nathaniel.  It’s fun.  It’s better than a swingset.

king of the hill

This weekend the boys decided that they would try their hand at engineering.  They woke up early Sunday morning and went out to the dirt pile.  I mean really early.  When I got up at 7, they were already out there.  They dug with their hands.  They couldn’t find shovels and it was too early to ask where to find them.  It turns out I hide all of the hand shovels  because toddlers like to dig in the garden.  When they thought they had a good configuration they turned on the hose and flooded it.  They came in for breakfast, tracking mud and talking about evaporation and absorption.  They ran upstairs and found some stuff and smuggled it downstairs.  They continued digging with shovels and hands.  The hose was constantly on.  Shirts and pants started coming off as they become mud soaked.  There was serious talk about curves and depth and weight and sails. There was giggles and excited chatter.

Finally my curiosity got the better of me.   I walked over to see what they were up to.

a race track!They made a race track for their raingutter regatta boats.  This mud pit consumed the first half of their day with racing and modifications.  The second half was consumed with cleaning up all of the mud that had ran down the patio and driveway.  A boy couldn’t ask for a better day–a sunny day, a huge mud pit, a homemade boat and your best friend.

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