Monday, March 4, 2013

Mommiest Moments: February, 2013

[For ease of future volumes of Burg Berry Books, I have decided to incorporate more facebook posts into my monthly blog. There will be much new material here, but my apologies to facebook followers who read some quotes twice. This space is primarily for the grandparents.]

Sippy cup of milk, dry cereal eaten out of a silicone cupcake holder (with a few cake crumbs mixed in), orange juice cap. All part of Jeff's wholesome, nutritious breakfast!”

Daniel: Bear, let's check your blood pressure!
Bear: Can't...breathe...[he faints as the cuff squeezes all air from his lungs]
Mom: Oh dear. His numbers look awfully low...
--Brook, Eric's fabulous math team coach, is an ER physician. She brought in some equipment for a special science lesson after the regular middle school math group disbanded. She also demonstrated how to check the airway in a realistic model with a nifty fiber-optic scope with a digital display. (She let the kids play with the scope and stick it down the poor mannequin's throat. Kewl.)

When I asked a hypothetical question about toddlers choking on legos the older kids had left carelessly out, I was hoping for a Lecture about the importance of protecting babies from choking hazards, but instead we got a dispassionate medical explanation about the the procedure for extracting artifacts from small windpipes.

It was still awesome!

“I have four boys. They are amusing, brilliant, cute, and so forth. Unfortunately, the alphabet also includes loud, messy, naughty, obsessive….”
--Gail, in an email, explaining why her house might not be the best forum for an event.

I spent twenty minutes over breakfast trying to convince the boys that I don’t actually love reading. Upon their close cross-examination, I claimed that I kept a library “to be seen of men.” That I read books in the bathroom because there were no better options. That I had heard parents needed to inculcate a culture of literacy, so I had read books ostentatiously as a supreme sacrifice, to set a good example. They promptly impaled me upon the horns of a dilemma: So I had spent ten years lying to them in an effort to set a good example? Isn’t it more important to be honest than to inculcate a love of literature? But if I backpedalled from that stance, it meant I had been lying for the last twenty minutes—and, worse, that I was losing the argument. Some days a mom just can’t win…

--Jeff. At long last! After three hyper-verbal children, I was getting worried. But in the last week he has acquired "Mama" and maybe "Uh oh." He's talking! And he's soooooo sweet. (Also adorable. I never worried about the comparisons there.)

“So, do we punish the kid who made the mess (Sam), or the kid who left the library door open (Daniel), or the kid who left the kitchen gate unlatched and the package of waffles sitting temptingly in reach (Eric), or the kid who is now eating thawed waffles off the disgusting floor and spreading the crumbs around, making the mess worse (Jeff)?

Daniel: I just can’t get to sleep!
Mom: [Brutally] Exert yourself. 
[Two nights later]
Daniel: No matter how hard I try, I just can’t get to sleep!
Dad: [Brutally] Practice.

Is it abusive to call my kids “evil mutant monster children”? Even if they malinger, delay, whine, squabble,  shove, disobey, sneer, disrupt, tantrum, throw pencils, and panic that I was singing ALTO during a hymn, all while disrupting the talks of two apostles? I feel singularly unspiritual right now…
--We had a regional “stake” conference feed from Salt Lake. What if I say it behind their backs but not to their faces?

Just survived hauling two toddlers across a major college campus—in the dark—with one hand—sans stroller. While dodging distracted teens flying by on bicycles. In the rain.

What productive and/or totally insane things have everyone else done today?

Jan Grambo You forgot uphill both ways.

--I was trying to get Eric to the AMC 10 math test, which was at the Chemical Engineering building at UT Austin. The plan had been that Jon would get to campus first and phone me. Then I would pull up to the curb, disgorge Eric, and drive away again. Instead, Jon got stuck in horrible traffic. I ended up driving all over campus, trying to navigate from a map on my smartphone (which indicated streets but not parking locations). I finally located the building, found a (slightly-less-likely-to-be-towed) parking spot, and then walked Eric to his building. We’d taken the stroller out of the van for the garden box wood and I hadn’t put it back because it wasn’t my plan to meander all over campus. I carried Jeff in my good arm (the bad one was in a brace from carpal tunnel). Eric held Sam’s hand. I hovered anxiously because trusting my wiggly toddler to a distractable older brother was not ideal in the circumstances, cited above.

“Well, would you rather be conquered by an empire that is brutally honest about how it’s going to exploit you, or by an empire that lies and says “We’re doing this for your own good,” even though it really doesn’t care, or by an empire that says “we’re going to conquer you, but if you cooperate, you can befit somewhat,” or by an empire that lies to itself and convinces its citizens that they are helping to “civilize” your backward, barbarian ways by eradicating your culture?”
--Gail, as part of a homeschool history lesson. The boys all said they’d rather be conquered by Rome than Great Britain. (Personally, I’d go for Great Britain, but mostly for the technological advantages. It would mean I was living in the 19th, not 1st, century.)

Sam: [peeps out from underneath his protective blanket on the couch] I am tired of hiding from scary monsters.
Mommy: I can see why that would get annoying. Just grab your sword and “ha” them. After all, it’s morning—
Sam: [Firmly] No. [He disappears again.]
--He’ll get bored with his fear eventually. Right? 

“It’s like spraying for cockroaches, only in reverse.”
--When I lived in Sarasota, my mom fed the LDS missionaries every week. They told stories about sneaking into their apartment, grabbing the can of RAID strategically sited near the door, tiptoeing to the kitchen…then flipping the lights and spraying like mad at all the roaches suddenly scurrying for cover behind the walls.

I have an inverted problem. I sneak up the stairs, tiptoe to the door of Eric and Daniel’s room…then throw open the door and turn off the lights in one smooth motion, while noting which boys go scurrying for cover in their beds. Maybe I should start squirting them with icy water from a spray bottle?

For Fun Friday, we created a kingdom. I laid out an uninhabited “island” in the living room, which was discovered by one storm-tossed fisherman. He noted the location, went back to the “mainland” (the couch), and recruited a few of his buddies (and their wives) to come settle the place.
Over the years, they built farms, survived Viking raids, erected earthen walls and palisades, reproduced, intermarried, formed a collective cattle grazing/herding system (towards the center of the island, away from the Viking raids), built a primitive castle, recruited a blacksmith from the mainland, assigned boys as lookouts (for Viking raids), elected a War King, moved from wooden clubs to swords (courtesy of the blacksmith and the War King), argued over fence boundaries, successfully fought off the Vikings, kept the king for his administrative and magisterial functions, agreed that his son was the logical heir (since the son had followed Daddy around for years and knew the entire island, not just one farm), grumbled when the king’s grandson took over and did a poor job of mediating property disputes (but concluded that the occasional bad decision was better than chaotic feuding), and established a tradition of primogeniture.

So, this week we went from discovery to farm to kingdom. Next week, we’ll go from kingdom to empire. Maybe the new Emperor will have the authority to throw toddler giants in the dungeons when they disturb the scenery.
A representative Viking raids the colony with his trusty mace.

“I think it’s hilarious that my elementary age boys were arguing with me about which stuffed animals they were allowed to bring to a high school level lecture on the campus of a major university.”

Daniel always wants to know, first thing in the morning, what his afternoon chores will be.
He gets frustrated when I say I don’t know yet.

Yesterday I asked him “Well, just what messes do you and your brothers intend to make? How about if you come up with a schedule every week. ‘On Monday, we will spread game tokens and cards all over the playroom. On Tuesday, we will take cardboard and textbooks and make a fort in the library. On Wednesday, we will “sled” down the stairs on our dirty laundry and leave it lying around the living room. Then, on Thursday, we will eat crackers in the living room, scattering crumbs all over the dirty laundry still littering the floor…’ Whatever you do, it will be your chore to undo.”

[Making dinner in the kitchen]
Gail: The cardboard castle is lumbering across the living room. Apparently on its own.
Jon: [peeks over, eyebrows raised as the castle lurches to a stop in front of the piano]
[A sippy cup is hurled over the rear wall]
Jon: And now it’s throwing up. [A mass of paper towel confetti, toys, and a shoe splat on the carpet] Blearghhh.
--You had to be there to here the disgusting sound Jon made. It was horrible, and I cracked up. Fortunately we hadn’t eaten dinner yet.
--Sam had been inside the castle, bent over as he moved it. He was further blocked from view by two pillars.
Burg Barf.
Just wish I'd gotten Sam in the picture, too.
Doesn't the castle look like it's
suffering the effects of a drunken spree?

It was a glorious moment when Daniel, after whining for thirty hours, finally gave in and did a load of dishes. (This is after it finally sank in that the chores and consequences would only accumulate with his non-compliance.) He pulled apart a sippy cup lid and valve and got splattered with old, stinky milk. On the next sippy cup, he opened to find really disgusting curdled milk. (It didn’t splatter him, alas.) As he held the offensive object at arm’s length, I remarked helpfully that if he’d done his task the day before, it wouldn’t have had as much time to solidify. Or stinkify. It’s kind of pathetic to say “My big accomplishment for the day was getting a load of dishes done (by Daniel)!” but it was true.

He spent the entire time whining and arguing about how this was unfair. I retaliated by scrounging up dirty dishes from all over the house and then dumping them in the sink he had just managed to clear.

For the next two days, he was suddenly very good about clearing his place promptly after dinner. He verbalized “Huh. I guess you have to do this every day,” the next time he saw me doing a load of dishes. Of course, he still can’t see why HE had to do them—but, oh, boy, do I “get” the  benefit...

As a short-term pay-off, it wasn't worth the investment. Long-term...this whole "mean mom"/"chore chatelaine" thing had BETTER prove to have been worthwhile...

Sam: [Waving around a foam straight sword] This is my singing sword!
Jon: What does it sing?
Sam: “I am a Child of God.”

“There was a dragon at the bottom of the stairs. I wasn’t allowed to go down there by myself; Sam had to escort me. He killed the dragon and let me proceed to the laundry room. I grabbed some clothes, but then, just as we were re-entering the kitchen, we were attacked by a nest of baby dragons. It took Sam a long time to take those out one by one, but I was impressed with his form. His stances were so smooth…but now I’m late.”

Other pictures:

 Valentine's Day, 2013. I had the boys create homemade valentines for Jon. Left: "Heart attacking" his car at work. Right: "Head" attacking.

Above: Jeff toddles around in Eric's shoe. His shirt reads "Mom's Knight in Shining Armor." I love his blue-grey eyes. Blue eyes never last in my family, but his have lasted longer than any of my other boys. Here's hoping he holds on a little longer...

Right: Daniel's cake for the Blue and Gold Banquet. The theme was "Wild West." Daniel, always creative, wanted a bull reading a book. He selected Tory, the arch conservative, instead of Jeff's unnamed bull. The text on the page reads "Sustainable Human Ranching" and "Toreador: The Bull Fights Back!" Okay, yes, I helped a little with the words. But Daniel frosted the cake himself!


Carolyn said...

Maybe Sam should teach the sword to sing "you, all the people I attack, you are a child of God."

Anonymous said...

In a couple of weeks, let's see if Jeff can expand his vocabulary to include "Grandma." We can always hope.

About castles, I can hardly wait to show Sam the 3-D puzzle of Schloss Neuschwanstein at my house. Good thing it's ten feet above floor level, though!

Grandma Homer