Columbus and My Children

I have two children in school now. My oldest is in 2nd Grade, and my second oldest is in Kindergarten. With Columbus Day coming, my oldest is learning about him in his history book and marking him on the timeline we’re creating about the discovery and settling of the Americas.

There is a huge controversy over Columbus. I never gave much thought to it before, but I have become very aware of it as a homeschooling mother these last couple of years as I look up and purchase school books and create crafts and teach my sons.

There is argument over the day celebrating Columbus. There is argument over what we should teach out kids, and even talk of striking him from the history books. I’ve thought about it long and hard, since what we tell our kids shapes them. In 2014 I wrote about my oldest’s first learning about Columbus, and our run in with a critical family member who ruined the experience for him. So this year, when the explorer appeared once more in my son’s history book (in greater detail), I wanted to think about how to present him. As a hero? As a murderer? As an explorer?

What is Columbus Day about?

I think it would be wrong to strike him from the history books, or to remove his day from our year. Here’s why. Because what we are celebrating is not the man himself, but the first time the continent of America made its appearance on the maps of the world. Before then no one knew of America, no one knew that the world they knew was actually only half of the world God created.

Was Columbus a hero? No. Was he a murderer? Yes, and a slaver. Many ship captains were back then. For some reason there was this prevailing thought that if a being was not white and did not speak one of the white languages, they were meant to be enslaved. It was their purpose, and it was okay. Sin makes people do awful things. His greed took him to dark places, and he did wicked things for his love for gold and power.

Was he an explorer? Yes. He went where others were too afraid to go, and explored and explored, originally for a greater cause. He encouraged those who were frightened. He mapped where he went so that others could follow safely. He was brave; one would have to be to take on the journey he originally took… setting off into an unknown vastness of ocean that he might never return from, in an effort to find a safe route to Asia so that merchants could retrieve and deliver their goods more safely than they could across the vast continents where they were besieged constantly by robbers and thieves. That is a noble cause.

And in the end, we learn about him because he’s the one who put the continent of America on the map. So in the end, that is what I am teaching my 2nd Grader. How the Americas were found.

He can learn about the murdering and enslavement later. When he’s older and learning about slavery.

Signs You May Have Kids

Signs You May Have Kids:

• Your toothbrush tastes like hand soap.

• Your spouse’s voice: “Why is there a stuffed dog in the toilet?”

• A child streaking through the hall into the living room from the direction of their room/the bathroom, stark naked. They see you and freeze, and immediately say: “I didn’t do anything.”

 

 

Presenting… The Unpluggable Beast! \(˚o˚)/

The toilet…

… is plugged.

NOOOOOO! \(˚o˚)/

The beast glared at me, daring me to try the plunger that has, for two years, proved useless against the beast’s might. Formed in an oval, curved shape that could only have been designed by a maniacal madman, the bowl is resistant to any attempt to get a seal with the rubber plunger. What happens, instead of the plug dislodging, is the water burps and sloshes on either side of the rubber ring where the rubber and porcelain fail to meet. No effort of mine, however vigorous and determined, is ever successful. Only Sackett Man, my plumbing hero, has ever beaten the beast.

It chose its timing to strike well.

The disassembled remains of our basement bathroom mocks me with its silent, ghostly voice. To fix the water leak that happens every spring in the only finished room in the entire basement, Sackett Man has torn the bathroom down (walls and all), and jack-hammered up the raised concrete pad that housed the floor drain (which meant if a water flood happened, the water would have to be at least three inches deep before it could even reach the floor drain). Bags of cement wait in the garage for him to mix and pour a new, even floor, with a drain low enough to actually drain. A carpenter is on standby, ready to rebuild the walls. Other tools and materials for fixing the water leak are ready. Waiting.

But for now… there is nothing. Nothing but a room-sized, gaping hole in our basement floor. Bare dirt. A silent testament to what was and what will be.

There is only one toilet in the house now. One, for the use of a woman in her ninth month of pregnancy and her desperate, hourly trips. One, for the use of two potty-trained children, who often need to use it at the same time.

One.

And it plugged.

It was only 10:30 this morning when it happened. My mind raced. What could I do? I was facing an entire day, with little kids, with no working toilet!

It is in the 50’s today, bright and sunny, but did I dare send my two sons outside every time nature called, into the mud and melting snow? Did I dare go outside, every hour, hiking entirely too far to get to our woods so that I could answer ‘the call’ in privacy, beyond the curious eyes of three little kids and the many windows of our house? I couldn’t hike that far. I’ve had three false labors already; I didn’t need to have the real one out in the woods!

No. While my oldest could stand on the edge of the deck, my second was too young yet… I didn’t want to think what the state of his pants would be!

What else? I could throw aside all shower rules and have them go in the shower. It had a drain, and could be easily cleaned. I was pleased with this solution. No muss, no fuss. But then my eldest posed a very dark and disturbing question: What about… number two?

Oh no. There was no plan for this. No good way to fix it. What about Two? That was NOT happening in my shower!!! I couldn’t see any good way of having the two little ones going outside for it, either. Not in the mud and barely-melting snow, and we certainly didn’t want a surprise of that sort in our yard when spring really, truly came!

I could line a pail or a bucket with plastic bags, but then I would have to help them perch by holding them up above the bucket so they didn’t fall in. Kids are heavy. Not pregnant, I could do this. Nine months pregnant? This was not a good plan. I scratched it immediately.

And then it came to me. The potty chair! The one we had put away months and months ago! The boys could easily use that! And if I lined the bowl with a bag, that would make any cleanup the easiest thing ever!

With more delight than a scientist discovering renewable, unending world energy, I set about my task. I made my single trek downstairs to the basement (my doctor has limited me to stairs once a day). I found the potty chair, brought it up, and cleaned the dust from it. I lined it lovingly with a plastic shopping bag. I set it gently against the wall in the bathroom, and put the free-standing toilet paper holder beside it with great care. I took blue painter’s tape and taped the toilet-beast shut. And then I called in my two-member troop of boys, and explained to them what to do when they needed to go. I was met with approval, but not the applause I was hoping for.

Oh well. I thought. Someday, when they are grown and have children of their own, they will understand.

Silently, I cheered.

The toilet, unpluggable beast that it is, thought it had finally beaten me. But I have risen victorious and found a way.

The day may be long. The hours will not be the easiest. But we will survive.

And when evening comes, so too shall Sackett Man, riding up the driveway in his noble green pickup.

With his toilet auger.

The Excited School Child vs. The Opinionated Adult

There is such a thing as a child’s age-appropriate lesson being derailed and confused by an unthinking, loud-mouth adult.

Christopher Columbus discovered America. My son Roman was thrilled, soaking in a ton of new knowledge like a sponge. He was fascinated with how they sailed back then, with no electronics whatsoever. No gps, no phones, no internet or google maps or anything. Using hand-drawn maps, of only that part of the world that had been explored so far, and hoping the maps were accurate? Using only a compass (and a few other tools) and your knowledge of the stars to tell where you were on the big, open ocean and hoping you didn’t make a mistake? Setting out to cross an ocean there is no map for and hoping to find land? Roman was fascinated, in awe, and excited to learn all of this. Studying the map that Columbus had and comparing it to one of today’s maps blew his mind. His understanding of continents and where they were and how people traveled was like discovering a new world. His confusion as to how Columbus could mistake the Americas for India morphed into wonder and then glee as his mind suddenly connected the dots and he got it.

We visited some extended family the week after; a somewhat large gathering. Roman couldn’t wait to share what he’d learned with them; surely they’d find it as amazing as he! Who wouldn’t? So he began to tell them, his big eyes shining and a grin on his face. He barely got beyond saying “I learned how Columbus found America…” before one of these extended family members, one whom Roman looks up to and loves a great deal, interrupted.

The man exploded out with a scoff and declared loudly: “Yeah, and then he murdered more than half of the Indians.”

Roman froze. The joy fled from his face to be replaced with confusion, doubt, and mortification. He was wrong? This man who he’d thought was brave to cross the ocean was really a murderer? He’d been about to share his excitement over a guy who was actually horrible? Roman clammed up and refused to share anymore.

I took a step closer to my son, and said, politely but clearly: “He’s in kindergarten. We were just learning about how the continents were discovered, and how people explored back then. Columbus put the Americas on the map. That’s all.”

There was this long, uncomfortable pause.

Conversation soon flowed again onto other topics, but Roman stayed back, hardly smiled, and barely talked (he’s usually a talker). I, for my part, was furious. Yes. Furious.

I don’t know much about Columbus as a human being; his character, his morals, etc. There are too many figures in history to study every single one of them in such great detail, and for my part he didn’t make the list. There were other men whose character intrigued me more, so I’m not going to talk about whether or not Christopher Columbus was a stand up guy or a butcher.

Roman is six. Six. When he’s fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, he will be old enough and mature enough to learn about some of these issues, how some people we credit with great things in history also did morally questionable things. He will be mature enough to struggle with it, ponder it, think about it. Even debate it.

But right now he’s six. At age six: “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” That’s it.

This man, who I’m learning has a very, very low opinion of America and American History (much of which I take issue with, because a lot of it seems to be his perspective and opinion rather than research or fact), was more concerned with making a loud statement for everyone to hear than he was in listening to this little boy’s excitement for learning. He didn’t actually care about what Roman was saying. He just nabbed an opening to spout his own opinion and squashed my son under his soap box.

I wish adults wouldn’t do that. We’re at a point, obviously, where we know so, so, so much more, and understand or at least recognize the different complexities and contradictions and grey areas that make up history and life, but we have to remember that for a young child there is: right, wrong. Yes, no. Up, down. Day, night. They are still learning the basics. Sometimes, too often, an adult forgets that and says something that turns, for the child, everything they’ve just learned upside down because they’re not ready for it. They will be, in time. But not yet.

We need to remember that. When a kid is sharing with you something they learned— unless it’s glaringly wrong (misinformation), just be quiet and listen. This is how the love of learning is nurtured, not just by teaching them things, but letting them share what they’ve learned. Listen to them. Bask in their wonder with them. Be excited with them as they talk.

So I will teach my kindergartener that Columbus was brave enough to sail into the unknown, and that he found the Americas, and because of him this great land is now known and on the map.

We’ll discuss his status as a butcher and murderer a different time.

Enter Wonder Woman: The Homeschooling Mom

My oldest started kindergarten this year, and we’re homeschooling. This Summer, with great excitement and much trepidation on my part I mentally began to prepare for schooling him. I was giddy and nervous. Was I going to do a good job? I love teaching kids, but I’ve never taught one to read before. What if I didn’t know how? What if I couldn’t do it? What if I couldn’t find the resources I wanted/needed? What if there were too many resources to choose from, what do I do then? How would I know what to get? What if I got something terrible that didn’t work at all and just made him miserable? What if I was so unprepared that we got to Spring and he didn’t know ANYTHING?

I took a deep breath and made myself a cup of Earl Grey tea. Then I huddled away on pinterest for a while till I had calmed down enough to be rational.

I was going to be fine. I would plan, research, and organize the way I always do. I had all Summer to do so, and my mom — who homeschooled me and my six siblings from kindergarten through highschool — was happily hauling out everything she’d saved and sorting through it for me. I was going to reach September with a folder of weekly school lists ready and every book/craft/project/resource I could possibly need all filed neatly in my bookshelf. That’s what I would do; I was going to plan the whole year and have stress-free schooling. I was going to be the On It Mom.

Turns out I’m more of the Almost On It Mom Who Plans The Day Before. Actually it was two weeks before, sort of, and mostly the week before, when I showed up at Mom and Dad’s for the weekly visit and frantically, with Mom’s help, figured out my first week’s schedule and went home with boxes of stuff from her. I have accepted that I am the Almost On It Mom, because even though I have an overall grasp of what the year will consist of the actual schedule only gets made on a week-by-week basis.

And that’s okay. To Roman I’ve got it together and he’s happily learning away, and that’s what is important.

Then, going into the year with renewed confidence, I decided I would be the Make It Yourself Crafty Mom. Flashcards? I’m an artist, I can make flashcards! Pictures for coloring? Who needs to spend all that time researching printables on the computer! I can draw those! Crafts? I am crafty enough, I can figure it out and spend the time to make shapes, draw and design, and cut everything out. Such as this week: we’re learning about leaves for science; what chlorophyll is and why the leaves change color in the fall. For the craft we’re making leaves to either turn into garland or tape on the windows.

I can do that. I’m the Crafty Homeschool Mom who is so amazing I make everything at home!

Turns out I’m more of the Find Printables Online Mom. Because really… when you have three children, all under the age of six, plus laundry, dishes, house care, and schooling… who has TIME to completely do it yourself?! I glared at the inner crafty me who was wailing with guilt, and gagged her. It is plenty crafty to print templates off the computer for school crafts. Think of all the time it saves so that you have the time to actually DO the craft with your child! Think of the time saved to plan other parts of school and take care of your house and other children, instead of being hunched at the table trying to get his next coloring picture done!

Flashcards? That I only, in two months, had time to create four of? I found an awesome printable for that! In color! He now has the entire alphabet in flashcards. Easy peasy.

Fall leaves to decorate the house in? I found an awesome printable for that! I took colored paper (I chose red, orange, and yellow) and printed out a whole bunch of sheets of gorgeous leaves for Roman to cut out and tape all over the house. Shazam.

I utilize many things I never thought I would. I use youtube all the time. Learning about Columbus, I found a wonderful 15 minute video done in dramatized storybook format for him to watch and learn about Columbus. Today, being our weekly Library Day, we’re going to look for some Columbus books. And maybe some other fun exploration books. And a Dr. Seuss or two.

So I’ve made my peace with not being the ‘Perfect’ On Top of It, Awesome, Make-It-Yourself Wonder Woman Homeschool Mom. He’s learning to read. He’s learning a bit of history. He’s learning some science. He’s becoming a whiz at math! (I wish math had been that easy for me to pick up!)

As far as my son is concerned, I am the Wonder Woman Homeschooling Mom.

He’s learning, and he loves it. And that’s what matters.

He was having trouble understanding how Columbus could have made the mistake of thinking he'd reached the Indies. So I found a map and printed it twice: a full one, and then just half of it (the Eastern half, which is the world as Columbus knew it). I taped them together so he could see the 'roundness' of the world, and then pointed out the similar distance between his starting point and intended/real destination, and voila! With the visual aid, he got it!

He was having trouble understanding how Columbus could have made the mistake of thinking he’d reached the Indies. So I found a map and printed it twice: a full one, and then just half of it (the Eastern half, which is the world as Columbus knew it). I taped them together so he could see the ’roundness’ of the world, and then pointed out the similar distance between Columbus’s starting point and intended/real destination, and voila! With the visual aid, Roman got it! He even got a good giggle out of it. That night he nearly ran Sackett Man over holding the two ‘globes’ and explaining about Columbus. 🙂

“I’ve Got It!”

Every good day must and always shall be tempered with a little excitement.

We are in the middle of an aggressive potty training routine for our second son. With a fourth child on the way and him reaching three and a half years of age, we decided his relaxed comfort with where he was diaper-wise needed to be shaken up. So Sackett Man and I planned. We drew complicated diagrams and battle plans. We rendezvoused  in the dark of the night and whispered together secretly. Supplies were gathered, the preparations carefully made.

On Sunday we took the kids shopping. We wooed them with pasta and meatballs and breadsticks  at their favorite restaurant, then we went to the store, and marched our oldest to the boy section to pick two packages of awesome underthings in just his size, and then… gasp!… our second boy was taken to the aisle where, wonder upon wonders, there were undies in HIS size! And… he got to pick his very own package! Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 12.21.12 PM

Monday morning dawned. The nighttime diaper was changed, and he was slipped into a pair of undies. He thought it was cool. His potty chair was put in the little back room off of the kitchen, within fast and easy access as he played (restricted as he was to the dining room/kitchen area, the only place in the house without carpet). A Potty Chart was taped on the wall. Whenever he tried, he got a smiley face drawn with a red crayon. When he was successful he got a sticker on his chart and a treat (consisting of one jelly pumpkin, one of his favorite treats). It got to the point that even our youngest 16 monther would throw her hands in the air and cheer “YAY!” whenever he announced a success. We only had one accident, early on, and not again after.

It was my turn: “YAY!”

Must to our son’s chagrin he learned, as the day wore on and the novelty of undie-wearing wore off, that this was a permanent deal. The only diaper allowed to him from now on was his nighttime one. We had a few tears; he wanted the comfort of routine back, but I was gentle and firm that this was the new routine. I wiped his eyes and kissed his forehead, and gave him another candy pumpkin.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 12.21.42 PMThe boys played with duplos all day, sitting together on the kitchen floor. In the afternoon I made popcorn and set up a movie on my computer for them.

All three happily sat at the table and watched Frozen, munching away on buttery, yummy popcorn.

Around 3:30 I started on supper. I pulled the thawed beef soup bones from the fridge; they still had a good amount of meat on them, so I browned them first in my dutch oven and then I added water and slowly began to cook them through, watching as a delicious broth began to form and rejoicing as the fantastic scent of rich meat filled the room. I was going to make a rustic beef stew for the night. Satisfied that all was well on the stove, I hurried off to pick some things up and put things away and organize and… well, you know, mother stuff.

“What did you do today?”

“I… well, there was… You know, stuff!”

Sometime after four I heard James announce he’d had another success. I, with my arms full of something (I know longer remember what) quickly checked the location of my three children. All three, oldest to youngest, were back at the table watching Frozen. Good. I had time to quickly dispose of whatever I have in my arms so that I could go take care of the potty chair (this is a very important thing to take care of with all possible speed when you have a curious 16 month old). I emptied my arms and hurried to the little back room barely a minute later.

Rose had beaten me to it, and was now industriously cleaning.

Enter the excitement.

A box of baby wipes was sitting, open, next to her, and she was crouched before the chair, scrubbing the inside of the bowl vigorously with a thoroughly-used/soaked wipe. The seat was covered with many splashes, liquid dripping and running down the sides. Rose herself was also soaked, and crouched in a puddly mess that spread out across the floor from the base of the potty chair. The soggy remains of two wipes were left in the bottom of the now-semi-dried bowl.

I stood for a second in amazed horror and mind-numbing shock. My first thought was: How am I going to clean this? My second thought was: How am I going to carry her through the house to the shower?

Rose noticed my presence and looked up at me. She paused in her scrubbing and the biggest, cheesiest grin split her little face, as if to say:

“Don’t worry about this, Mom. I’ve got it!”

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Raising Good Kids

I have been struggling as a parent.

I mean, I like to think that I’m a good Mom. Maybe even a great one. I know how to parent. I know how to raise children, even entering into the dreaded new stage with my sons and daughter. My oldest will be entering school— which now makes him cleverer than his siblings, bigger, better, and special. Not that he thinks of it that way; kids never do. He’s also an Informer, a literalist, and a rule boy. Things should be a certain way, and if there is a ‘rule’ about something and one of his siblings doesn’t do it that way… goodbye peaceful existence and hello Mr. Boss. My second son has passed out of the toddler and ‘little’ boy stage and is now Mr. Independent. Which means he is pushing boundaries and doing what he wants regardless. All of which, between the two of them, ends in turf wars, macho matches, and outright disobedience.

Now I’m normally pretty good at handling the kids. I have a chart of misbehaviors on the wall with the corresponding discipline(s) next to it. They know what to expect and I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time they misbehave. Which is good, because, ashamed as I am to admit this, I have a flash temper and can get into a ‘righteous fury.’ Not that it’s actually very righteous, but you know what I mean. So the chart is good for me. I take a moment, breathe, go to the chart, calm down and remain in control, the misdeed is disciplined, and we move on.

The fly in this ointment lately has been me. You see, our daughter is teething. TEETHING. TEETHING.

Did I mention she’s teething?

I cannot recall the last time I’ve had a full night’s sleep. I was so sleep deprived a week or two ago that I was shaking, numb, stomach-achy, and had a massive headache. With little sleep at night and a sad child during many a day, my patience and ability to tolerate went way, way down. My temper became quicker. My tongue sharper. My words harsher. My volume louder. Many days I felt that all I did was scold, rebuke, and yell all day long. I was at my wits end; why on earth wouldn’t the boys just BEHAVE? The fighting over toys, the bullying of each other, the mean-teasing, and the incredible lack of obedience was wearing on me. “Why?” I would ask my Sackett Man and my mother. “Why, why, why don’t they get it?! Why won’t they just stop?!”

We went to Church this last Sunday. The sermon was part of a 3-part series we’re going through on “Doing Life Together”. And boy, there are times I am positive that God specially tailors a message or a passage just for me (or us, or you, or whoever). It was about what true forgiveness means, and how to handle it when someone does wrong. That’s the long and short of it; every point in it would take up more room than I have here! I felt like God was gently touching my shoulder and saying “Mary, maybe you need a little help. Take a look at how you’re talking to your kids, and evaluate how you’re handling them.” After Church I browsed their library shelf on parenting and found a book that has turned out to be fantastic. It was like a breath of fresh air reading it, as if all of my exhaustion and frazzled, scattered brain cells were settling and refocusing.

See, the methods we have in our home for handling our kid’s misbehavior were not bad, but I was not using them the way I should. In my exhaustion, which was legit, I began to think more about myself and the inconveniences to me than I was about teaching them what was right and wrong.

So today marked a new tactic. I began the morning with a large cup of coffee, and immediately brushed my hair and my teeth and put on clean clothes. It’s amazing the life-altering difference clean teeth and clothes make. Thus refreshed I deliberately put on a smile. The boys responded by offering to set the table for breakfast (they’re doing chores to earn the movie “Frozen”, which is waiting deep in my closet :-)). The chatter was happy, the giggles infectious. I read several Bible stories to them as they ate, plus a little Aesop’s Fable. They love being read to, so when breakfast was done they were quite cheerful. They went off and found their army guys, with some paper/foam forms (from our newly unpacked Keurig Coffee Maker) to use for landscapes and ships, and played for an hour. I made sure I looked in on them from time to time, smiling brightly whenever they noticed. I consciously made sure to compliment them from time to time, on their playing together so nicely, when one of them went out of their way to help the other, when they picked up their toys and put them away WITHOUT BEING ASKED. (I did a private jig in the kitchen over that one!) When they did misbehave, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that it’s all part of kids testing boundaries and wanting their own way. I would refer to the chart and then take the boy to their room and tell them in plain English what they were in trouble for and then deal the discipline quietly. For some things it was a time out, for others a spanking. I have a wooden spoon designated the Spanking Spoon, and when it’s needed (like when a child hits another child), I take them aside, spank my own arm (which is a great method, especially if you’re angry, to be sure you’re making the needed impression without doing it too hard), and then give them the spanking. I would then tell them I forgave them, and that I love them, and that I want them to learn God’s love, and that part of that is obeying their Mom and Dad.

Do you know what happened?

No more death glares after being disciplined. No more growls, or hiding, or weeping and wailing. They cried a little, sniffed, and crawled into my lap and put their arms around me and repeat that they loved me too. The testing and general “I’m bigger, I’m more independent” behavior hasn’t evaporated. But they are smiling, and getting along better, and learning. Their sister is thrilled. (Being the littlest isn’t always a piece of cake!) I’m no longer stressing, reassured that God has my back, will give me strength when I’ve been up ALL NIGHT and am severely lacking in my own, and that all in all… my kids are pretty great.

And I LOVE being their Mom. 🙂

 

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Pajama Meltdown

Sometimes children need super firm discipline. Sometimes they need a good dousing of love. And sometimes they need both.

Case in point: last night our oldest son lost his temper about something; I don’t even remember what. In the process he lost the after-dinner treat, and tried his absolute hardest to argue his way back to it. In this we had to be firm. Even in the face of his subsequent meltdown. Not that long after, once play-time with Daddy was done, it was time to get ready for bed.

Cue the second meltdown.

Tears poured down his little face, and his sobs echoed through the living room. He was collapsed in the middle of the living rug, a tragic huddled figure, and every time we told him to go to his room to put on his pajamas he just bawled out “NO!” .

Roman is a dramatic, but not to this extent. Certainly not about bedtimes.

Our patience was thin right now. But instead of getting angry we just watched him for a minute, and then Sackett Man took Rose for me, and I picked Roman up. His arms went around my neck, and his legs around my waist, like a little monkey. I carried him slowly out of the room and down the hall, holding him close and stroking his hair as he cried. Very quietly, I sang “You’ll be in My Heart” (the lullaby from Tarzan; it’s his favorite). As I did, rubbing his hair and rocking as I walked, he grew quieter and quieter, till he was silent and just holding me tight, his head relaxed on my shoulder. I kissed his ear, and told him how much I loved him, and how proud I was of him. I said he was obviously very, very tired, and the early bedtime was not a punishment… it was for his own good. And we were going to get ready for bed now.

He protested a little, but not much. He shyly asked if I would hold him again before bed, and I said yes. So he hurried in the bathroom, changed into pajamas, and then came out, and I held him and sang his lullaby again.

He snuggled down into his bed with his stuffed monkey, and went to sleep with a big smile on his face.

No fuss.

His misbehavior at supper? That was just plain naughtiness. His sudden meltdown at the nightly announcement “Time to get ready for bed!”? A five-year old’s exhaustion hitting like a ton of bricks. He was being naughty, and I gently chastised him for that (“You get ready for bed every night. This is nothing new. You shouldn’t lose your temper like that just because you want to stay up.”) but I mostly just took care of him, and that took care of the problem.

Today he was a perky, energetic boy who played with his brother, his sister, his new $8 chess set, and happily watched “Go, Diego, Go!” and “Sleeping Beauty”.

He also talked my ears off. But that’s par for the course. I’ve learned to keep them on strings so that when one falls off I don’t lose it; I just reattach it.

It’s easier than trying to slow the the chatter.

Chaotic Kablooey

Sensationally Uncontrollable Chaotic Kablooey.

Seriously. I couldn’t think of a better description for the last two weeks.

It started as a mad scramble to get ready something we’ve been trying to find out the date(s) for for a long time. Emails, phone calls, calendar plannings, more emails. The whole family came down with a wicked “spring” cold (please note the sarcasm between those quote marks). Which resulted in more emails and a rearranging of schedules and more back and forth because it meant we couldn’t make a required pre-meeting.

And then my husband’s grandmother, a woman we all loved dearly, had a major stroke, and passed away almost four days later. That was a miserable time.

But now it is a new week, and while there are still, naturally, the wisps of melancholy floating through the air, it is still a new week, and I am trying to focus on the good.

Which brings me to today. A stay-at-home mother, with three kids ages five-and-under. The youngest learned how to crawl last week.

Nothing is safe anymore.

I just got off of facebook, where my sister-in-law posted the FUNNIEST blog another mother wrote about being a parent; the ideas and promises we make ourselves before we have kids, and then the reality afterwards. It was hilarious.

I’m sitting here, laughing and empathizing with this woman about the day-to-day craziness of it all, laughing as she described her own disheveled state (sometimes forgetting to brush her hair before going out, and the antics of getting young kids READY to go out). I sympathized with some of it, and thought “I’m glad I’m not that crazy” with other parts of it. And then I realized something: my life is that crazy.

Last night I took the last leftover piece of dense, fudgy chocolate cake (a new recipe) to my mom’s, to share with her in decadence and complete happiness. It was frosted with dark chocolate ganache. I delightedly removed the lid to the tuppeware, geared up for the big reveal, and my nostrils were immediately teased by a heavy, deep aroma…

… of garlic.

Yup. The last piece of chocolaty heaven had been put away in a piece of tuppeware that had (previously) housed some leftover garlic.

Chocolate-Ala-Garlic-Ganache somehow just isn’t the same.

I woke up this morning and came into the living room to find my husband’s HUGE recliner set three feet from the entertainment center (which houses an electric fireplace). It was so cold this morning that he had huddled there to eat his breakfast, with the fireplace heating away, wrapped in a blanket and cradling his coffee.

I have yet to move it back. Not only is it huge and heavy, but I’m thinking it might be a cozy place to snuggle up the kids for their mid-afternoon movie. (I can’t wait for the heat wave coming later on this week! 33˚F! WHOOT!)

Now I’m sitting here in yoga pants that are too short because somehow they shrank in the wash two years ago and I have yet to move on to new and better things. My hair is unbrushed (but pulled back in a ponytail), a blue stuffed lamb is on the table beside me, and a cold cup of coffee is still waiting at my elbow— mostly finished except for the half-cup of grounds in the bottom (because the filter decided to collapse in on itself as the coffee brewed).

Roman and James, 5 and 2, put away their own clean clothes this morning. The piles were dragged through the house and stuffed into the drawers, the neatly sorted and folded shirts, pants, and pajamas no longer neatly sorted OR folded, instead looking like the result of a natural disaster that was stuffed and hidden away in an attempt to hide the evidence.

But my boys put their own clothes away. Score!

My daughter took her morning nap on the floor, laying on a couch pillow, and covered with an afghan. When she woke up she laid there and bawled because there was no WAY she could possibly roll over and crawl over a flat pillow!

Now she’s happily playing and crawling after her brothers, traversing stuffed animals and pillows and toy helmets like they were nothing.

I just came back from telling my sons that no, they could not use the kitchen stool they were currently balancing on as a jumping off point to leap and flip over the back of the couch and onto the cushions, and to “put the stool back in the kitchen. Now.”

They were quite disappointed. After all, how are they ever going to join Cirque Du Soleil if I never let they DO anything?

I am, oddly enough, unsympathetic.

And now I’m going to finish my drinking my coffee and chewing my grounds. 🙂