Monday, March 12, 2012

The untapped potential of the hunter...

This morning I was jolted out of sleep by the sound of a loud emergency beep sound.  Stumbling into the living room I find the TV on and the required weekly test of the emergency broadcast blaring into the initially quiet house.  Yes, I was sleeping in - leave me alone.  Realizing my husband must not have turned it off before he left for work for whatever reason, I walk over to the unit and push the round button, slightly larger than the rest, to discontinue usage.  The remote control dependent may not realize this, but most electronics have this back-up fail safe somewhere on them called "POWER BUTTONS."

My DH forgets sometimes to turn off the TV in the morning.  We've talked about it, and he's asked me to mention to him when he forgets because he wants to make sure he turns it off.  I figure I can tell him when he gets home.  No biggie. 

He calls me today around lunch time to check in, and after exchanging pleasantries, he says, "Do me a favor and find the remote control, please?"  Not having had time to turn on the TV, I say, "OK..." doing a quick scan of the room.  I look on top of the coffee table, then I look AROUND the floor of the tabl-oh hey!  Look at that!  Remote on the floor! 
"Found it!" I say happily. 
"Where?" he demands. 
"On the floor in front of the coffee table near the TV..." 
"NO WAY!" he retorts, irritated.  "That's not possible!"  Ummm...and yet here it is in my hand..."I looked EVERYWHERE." 
Refraining from responding, "Well, not EVERYWHERE," I say, "It probably just fell off.  That's probably why you forgot to turn the TV off this morning.  Was it a crazy morning with the time change and all?" 
(Huffing from the other end of the line) "No, but I am telling you I looked.  I know you think I never look, but I really did.  It had to be under the table and the babies pulled it out or something..."

It's the age old issue: How do you get a man to look for something like the remote control?  His solution is to look to this left, look to the right, check the coffee table...and then yell, "Honey?  Where's the remote?"  I mean, evolutionarily speaking isn't he supposed to be the hunter?  Doesn't he kill the game and then provide for his family?  But he can't find the remote?  And then it dawned on me: he doesn't see it as wild game.  If he did, he'd always know where it was.  So that got me thinking...

What if I tied a piece of meat to the remote?  I'm not sure if jerky would work, because it's not fresh enough.  Lunch meat might have a similar issue.  So tie a piece of meat to the remote.  Can't you just picture it now?  He walks in from work, then freezes...he smells something...some animal...the vestigial parts of his brain kick into gear.  It's either prey, or a predator with a fresh he has to either kill it to feed it to his family, or protect his family from the predator...then steal the kill and use it to feed his family.  Warily, he enters the family room, looking slowly from left to right.  Instinctively crouched (and therefore slightly closer to the floor), he cautiously steps further and further into the smells like it's coming from under the couch.  Moving with great care he approaches the couch...slowly...slowly...WHAM!  He throws the couch onto it's back while simultaneously snatching his prey!  He's caught it!  Look at him!  He's providing for his family!!  He's a mighty hunter!

Trotting into the kitchen, remote dangling from his hand, he tosses it before me on the island where I'm cooking dinner.  "'Sup?" he says, casually.  "Found the remote."  Oh yes, proud of his accomplishment, he turns on his heel and heads to the bedroom to change clothes.  And a Dos Equis.  Because he may not always drink beer, but when he does...

OK, admittedly this has some flaws...some really GROSS flaws, but you have to admit, nature has already programmed him to hunt.  All I'm doing is taking what nature gave me and making it pay off!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Round and round we go!

So the day of C's birthday party with her friends dawned.  If you read my post about her actual birth-day (March 9), you can imagine my apprehension.  I felt the need to dig in and hunker down in preparation of making it through the day.  In fact, it wasn't an easy night.

I spent most of Saturday baking cupcakes.  C decided she wanted cupcakes, but she wanted them arranged in a design.  After discussing it with her, I realized she wanted the cupcakes to be arranged into a shape and have a design and message that incorporated all the cupcakes.  I was a little concerned, because unlike some of my friends, I'm no cake artist.  So I thought, what works better for a skating seventh birthday party than...a skate?  I mean, surely this wouldn't be that hard, right?  Anyone can make a boot, wheels, etc.  So I whip up a cupcake batter that comes out quite light and fluffy (if I do say so myself) and proceed to figure out how the heck I'm going to do this.  Having never used fondant, I opt for more pedestrian materials, and finally arrive at chocolate covered mini donuts for wheels and red peel-apart licorice to make the string.

We come home from Mass, and I figure I can just frost it, pop on two wheels, cut up and slap on some licorice for laces, and then write a message across it....And four hours later I'm STILL struggling with frosting.  That Cake Doctor knows cake...but she sure as shootin' ain't got NO idea about frosting quantities!  I had to remake a batch, the licorice won't cooperate.  But I wrestle it all on there, guess that's a skate?  Oh crap...I don't know.  It's vaguely skate like all sitting there together, but what the heck is that red string stuff?  Ok, turn that one, move that, put it here...Seriously?  It's 2 am?, it's 3AM...Damn you DST...I pop the cupcakes carefully into their carrier, put on the lid - What the?!?!??  After all that hard work the lid is squishing the cupcakes!  But I have no other carrier...Uncle!  Uncle!!  I'm going to bed!

It's not really 7AM already, is it?  Ugh...So I take C off to Sunday school, which goes pretty well - the kids really got into the lesson about being quiet, and they were so disappointed when we tried to get them to play a game.  "Can we just go back to being quiet," one of the more active, wilder kids asks.  I guess the Holy Spirit was at work!  Then we get home.  Now, I need to back up a bit here.  You see, while I was wrestling with frosting, DH went to bed about Midnight (no, really, midnight even by DST).  He got up at 7AM to help me with C (read to drag my sorry butt out of bed).  "Don't worry," he says, "I'll get the spaghetti sauce in the crock pot and do the dishes."  I asked him to also sweep the kitchen.  "And please don't go back to sleep," I ask.  He responds with a dismissive snort...and I walk in at 11AM to find that the sauce is made, and less than a third of the dishes are done..."You went back to sleep," j'accuse.  "Yeah...sorry."  Oh, no biggie.  We just have to make the goodie bags, clean the kitchen and family room, sweep and mop, get the balloons, pack up the supplies, keep the girls from destroying the house, find out if my family has directions...and we have a luxurious 2 hours in which to do it.  Sure, honey, why don't you put up your feet and have a coke, too.  PLENTY of time.

It took 2 1/2 hours, and a lot of bullying and browbeating, but we did it.  Ladies - a tip: be sure to whack him where the bruises don't show.  NOT THERE!  Geez!  What is it with you people?!?  Now it's off to the skating rink!  Oh goodie, us and eight hyper children between the ages of 6 - 8.  I'm oh so excited.  What the heck did I sign on for?  C has skated twice in her life, and it wasn't a happy experience either time.  The babies have NEVER skated - we're still working on the whole running without tripping thing.  Skating?  Thank goodness my parents will be there to watch the twins.  Twin A is already mutinously stomping her feet and yelling, "NO!" at every turn while Twin B just shrieks and causes pandemonium.  Did you read about my week?  I'm pretty tense and worried.

As we are pulling in the lot, it dawns on me that I never asked the parents if they were staying or going.  So either I don't have enough plates and pizza ordered, or I have far too many and no where near enough sleep for this venture...I admit it, I might have been turning the foothills into the Andes Mountains.  It could have been a possibility.  But hey, I was tired and my week was very stressful up to that point!

We get there at 2pm to pay and get in a bit of skating before C's friends arrive at 2:30.  I haven't been on skates in years.  I used to be pretty good - in elementary school we went almost weekly, and through middle school I learned how to crossover when skating around the corner, flip around and skate backwards, jump the little kids who splatted right in front of you, etc.  These days...I was just going for upright without busting hard onto my a$$ in front of a roomful of small children.  Not that I don't have enough padding, mind you, just that I was more worried about bruising my ego.  Nothing fancy, but I was able to make left hand turns...OOH!  I could drive for Nascar!  Sorry, I digress.  I got 15 minutes or so of skating in...I have the aching soreness of unused muscles to prove it!  C was skating by means of hauling herself around on the wall.  "Look, mommy, I'm skating!" she shouted joyfully as hand over hand she inched her way around the rink.  "Yes, honey," I reply weakly, praying her friends don't leave her in the dust.

One by one her friends arrive.  Two little girls from her class at school, some children from Sunday School, two little boys from her bus stop, and one surprise blast from the past from her PreK class.  She was THRILLED!  Let me just say, I was a fool to worry.  First of all, almost all of the parents stayed, excited to see their kids on skates for the first or almost first time.  C turned out to be one of the better skaters, and she got so much better each revolution.  She was actually moving her feet in a near-fluid movement around the rink!  Until one foot went forward, one went right, and down she goes!  We also got very good at the "flip onto your KNEES and get up" trick.  Two little girls were down-right speed demons.  One little girl was desperately attempting to master the hand over hand wall inch, but let me tell you, these kids had a BLAST.  These have to be some of the nicest, sweetest kids I've EVER met!  I love every one of the kids individually, but as a group, they were just as wonderful.  They worked together, they took turns, they said please and thank you...apparently having Venus and Jupiter showing so brightly in the night sky means the planets are really aligned in their houses!

And the parents!  Almost all stayed, and they were WONDERFUL.  Every single one pitched in, offered to help, gushed over my squished but semi-obvious skate cupcake rendering...You should have seen C.  "Mommy, what is it?" she asks, puzzled.  I take a deep breath, disappointed in my efforts.  "Well, see the red stuff?  See it's tied in a bow at the top...and look at the bottom, there's two brown wheel-shaped donuts," I reply, hoping to lead her to the answer.  "Yeah, why only two?  I wanted more donuts," she says, still baffled by the aquamarine mass before her.  "Uh...check out the shape.  Do you notice anything about the shape?"  She and the little girl next to her crinkle their noses in serious concentration.  "Well," her friend says, "it's kind of boot shaped."  YAY!  Come on...come on...don't crush me totally here..."Yes," I say hopefully, "and there's a bow tied at the top, and laces coming down, and two brown-" "OH MY GOD IT'S A SKATE!!!!!" the two girls scream joyfully at each other.  C turns to the other kids.  "My mom made the coolest skate!" she gushes.  WHOOHOOO!!  Thank goodness her imagination is better than my artistic abilities!

Well, it all turned out alright.  The kids had a great time.  Speaking of great time - Twin B put on this pair of Barbie skates that go over the shoe for little kids at about 2:15.  She went EVERYWHERE!  She skated all over the carpet, and then demanded to be taken out on the roller rink.  You had to hold both hands and sort of drag her along, but she LOVED it!  Apparently we have a skater in our midst.  At 4:45 I was alerted to her leaving the skating rink when I heard angry screeching of a bird of prey losing its squirrel...oh boy, she was M-A-A-A-A-D about having to take off her skates.  I think she thought she could wear them forever...Twin A?  Oh, that poor little one was thoroughly overwhelmed by the noise, the kids, skating, you name it.  But she perked right up after that cupcake and zoomed all over the place...until the inevitable sugar crash and melodramatic temper tantrum that came with it.  Surprisingly they lasted until 9:00 tonight.  I'm praying for them to sleep in tomorrow!  We all agreed that skating is so much fun, and something we all need to do more often!

I had SO MUCH FUN with the moms and the kids.  I even entered a skating race.  I wasn't going to, but all the kids at her party stood there begging me.  "Come on - you'll be so cool!" one girl said.  Seriously?  Like I could pass up that opportunity.  In an effort to teach good sportsmanship I chose to allow my other competitors to totally kick my a$$...but I'm STILL COOL! 

Stay tuned - we're letting C get her ears pierced for her gift.  I'm sure that will produce serious drama!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Beware the 9th of March...

My first child was born on March 9.  She was expected on March 19, and we were secretly hoping for March 17, but my body just wouldn't take being pregnant a moment longer.  Which is odd, considering how much I enjoyed being pregnant the first time.  It was just the two of us, and she was like a special secret that only I got to share and nurture.  Not that Daddy wasn't around or very excited, too, it's just...with the first child and the first pregnancy, it often is hard for the baby to become real for the husband until AFTER the child arrives.  However, when someone is using your bladder as a trampoline, it's a lot easier for you to find it real.  Pregnancy is a time of potential and hopefulness, and I did enjoy it.  I was very upset to be induced 10 days early due to pre-eclampsia, but pretty excited, too.  I would finally meet the newest love of my life, my first child. 

Fast forward to her seventh birthday.  Seven years.  SEVEN.  It's so hard to believe that the tiny baby I adored and snuggled is now over two-thirds my height!  She's tall, slender, with dark blonde hair and such beautiful hazel eyes.  She's funny, sassy, obnoxious, smart as a whip, sweet, infuriating, and wonderful.  She loves her little sisters deeply and takes good care of them.  She's a constant challenge, asking questions about the nature of life, love, God, sex, and everything in between!  So as much as she drives me insane, she also brings such joy and richness to my life.  It's natural, then, that I'd want to really celebrate her birthday! 

I show up at her school today at 11:40 for lunch.  I brought frosted sugar cookies and two-bite cupcakes.  Why?  Because someone in there has a peanut allergy, but can eat frosted cookies, and someone else has a gelatin allergy, but can eat cupcakes, and another has an egg-white allergy...I'm not knocking allergies - my kids are fairly dairy free.  But it just doesn't seem like it was so complicated when I was a kid!  However, the operative there being that I was the kid, so how would I know?  I get there to find out they are eating in their rooms because of class pictures taking over the cafeteria.  21 hyper, excited kids anticipating a glorious treat and sugar high crammed into their classroom.  Now C's teacher and student teacher are WONDERFUL women, but they are no match for the awesome power of twin toddlers!  I don't think there was a kid in there who didn't get a hug and kiss from Twin B.  Twin A was slightly more selective...not snobby, just selective...OK, so she didn't want to kiss or hug some of the boys.  That's not such a bad thing.  In fact, now that I think about it I'm a little worried about Twin B...They put on a Magic School Bus video - it was hard for me to watch the girls, because I wanted to watch the video!  They kept wanting to sit with my mom in the rocking chair, which meant they kept blocking some of the screen.  And the kids (especially the little girls) kept sneaking up to the front to steal hugs from the twins...and the girls kept pitching fits over who got to sit in C's lap..."Whisper sweetie.  Yes, I know it's hard to shriek in a whisper, but just try it for mommy, anyways, pllleeeaaase?!?!?!?" 

Finally the video is over, and a hush and rush of anticipation falls over the classroom.  "Boys and girls, we have a special treat brought in by C's mommy today."  WHOOOSH!  That was the sound of the children shooting up to the front table to claim their treat.  AAAAWWWWW!!  That was the sound of the teacher denying said children and sending them back to their desks until they complete the ritual of singing BEFORE cramming.  In all seriousness, they behaved very well, said please and thank you, waited patiently until everyone had a treat, and ate with pretty good manners.  One little boy, who had asked me repeatedly if there would be cookies, came up and said, "Thank you.  I got a cookie, but it's in here now (pointing to stomach).  It will be here later (pointing to bottom)."  Er,'re...welcome?  I do like the kids in C's class.  They are very sweet, and a number of them came up specially to thank me very sincerely both for bringing in the cookies and the twins.  It was a very stressful time trying to manage everything, but a lot of fun, too. 

We dash out, mom heads home for a break, and I take the girls to the Dollar Barn for needed birthday supplies.  Yes, I bought things at the Dollar Barn.  Deal with it.  Good prices, nice selection...and the TINIEST aisles and shopping carts ever!  I can't get a side-by-side or tandem stroller in, the leashes are useless because they practically stretch from the front door to the I put one in the front seat of the tiny shopping cart and one in the back, and grab a hand basket for my purchases.  Talk about an excruciating hour of my life!

So where to go for dinner?  After much debate, she settles on Mellow the Avenues...on a Friday night.  Oh my...ok, are you sure honey?  Yes, yes it must be Mellow Mushroom.  So my husband had to come home early Thursday (he was asked to be home at 5:30 - he shows up at 4:30 "just to be sure"), and he feels he cannot take off early two days in a row.  Please?  Pretty please?  It's Mellow Mushroom...on a Friday...The agreed upon time becomes 5:45.  Oh have mercy...We'll make this work!

So we get there and find a HUGE line awaiting us.  My DH, who got there a few minutes before us, informs us that there is a 40 minute wait.  So Gapa, DH, and I take the girls to B&N to poke around while Gama hangs out and waits for the table.  Whereupon we start discussing how we could have made our lives MUCH easier (ordering take-out pizza, going earlier to get a table and letting DH catch up, etc.), but of course, hindsight is always 20-20, so it's not helpful now.  Twin B found the rack of stuffed puppets (squirrels, frogs, etc.)  It was amazing!  She couldn't stay away, but they totally freaked her out!  She'd run over, ask to hug one, and then scream in fear as it came towards her.  Wes Craven fan, anyone?  Mimi pulled every book she could find off the shelf.  I couldn't even begin to keep up with her.  C informs us, "I REALLY want the Guinness Book of World Records."  (Quick, honey, I'll watch the kids, you go buy the, I did not say go buy it AND poke around in the computer section, which is on the OTHER side of the store, meaning you didn't just "happen to go by it.")  We poke around and then go back after 35 minutes to wait for our the world's smallest waiting area with two young children who absolutely REFUSE to sit in the seats that would keep them out from underfoot...

...35 minutes later, we realize it's just not going to happen, and decide to order take out.  "Do you want to stay and wait for the pizza?" DH asks, "I'll take the kids home."  "No, you hang out..." I say...oh why, why, WHY did I say that?  I could have sat in the crowded craziness of Mellow Mushroom with my Dad for company.  No, I choose to go with my Mom and THREE cranky, hungry, frustrated little girls.  Well, to be fair - two cranky, hungry, whiny toddlers and a crazy, birthday-hyped, hungry, insane seven year old.  We decide to run by Publix to pick up a veggie tray (C LOVES those), and Gama, in the true fashion of mothers everywhere, throws herself on the grenade, shouting, "Do you want me to stay in the car with the girls while you run in to get the food?" over the wailing and whining coming from the back...Oh yes, how I love my mother. 

One veggie tray, bogo graham crackers (car snacks), and a pink birthday balloon later we dash back out and get the kids back to the house.  By now the children are slightly mollified by the graham crackers and C is literally bouncing off every piece of furniture in the house.  She gets pizza, a balloon, and a CARPET PICNIC, meaning we eat on the floor of the family room while watching a movie.  She chose Tangled, which is easily my new favorite film.  It truly it has it all!  "Frying pans!  I know - who knew?"  I give each girl a tray with some veggies and some "white dip" (ranch).  By the time my Dad and DH get home, I discover that once again, tonight is about learning lessons...namely, if you don't want white dip all over your clothes, your children's clothes, the carpet, the blankets covering the carpet, your mother, and various other pieces of furniture, do not give it to hyper, cranky, fussy toddlers who simply cannot sit still because they never took a nap.  There.  You can now say you've received your life lesson for the day.  What's that you say?  I should know better by now?  Honestly, not really - the more I'm around the twins, the more I realize what an exceptionally well-behaved child C was as a toddler, and how lucky we were.  The doctor swears the twins act more like what normal toddlers act like...

So three outfits, almost all of the tomatoes, and most of my nerves later, the pizza arrives.  I will say that Mellow Mushroom makes some seriously good pizza.  At first all is well, eating pizza in the family room while watching Tangled...until the twins take the volume of the TV as a personal challenge and begin talking OVER it.  They wanted to sit in my lap...then Gama's lap...then Gapa's lap...then one goes to Daddy and one to Mommy...apparently we'd eaten enough and it was time for some sort of wild toddler-rule driven game of musical laps!  So quick, let's do cupcakes and gifts!  Did you know that you could REALLY stretch out opening your gifts?  You can take nearly 7 minutes to unwrap a lightly wrapped book.  I know, because I personally witnessed it!  JUST RIP THE DA*& PAPER KID!!!  I remember my parents saying that to me when I was younger...oh hush, I know, turn about is fair play and all that. 

The twins go down about 10:30, with C dragging her feet and reluctantly following at 11pm.  At 11:31 I started drafting this blog entry, and I see it's 11:58.  There were a lot of rewrites.  It is impossible to truly capture this day.  We asked C anxiously if she enjoyed her birthday.  She said, "I sure did!  I got lunch with my family, everyone loves my sisters, I got to read in B&N, I got to have pizza on the carpet and cupcakes right afterwards without having to drive home, I got Tangled..."  The list just continued.  Thank goodness she sees nothing but the positive.  I was so angry, stressed, frustrated, and tense trying to make the perfect birthday.  I see screw-ups everywhere, and she sees nothing but fun and adventure.  Yes, I know there's a lesson there.  It's 12AM.  I'd rather sleep than pontificate ;-)