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August 2010
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October 2010

Riddle me this

So I mentioned that Tre is in the honors program at school, right? We had parent/teacher conferences last week, and all his teachers said he is "smart" and "polite" and "does as little as he needs to," which, okay. So he hasn't been entirely replaced by some high functioning school pod person. None of them realized he had been homeschooled, and said he fit in with his classmates just fine.

Yesterday Tre came home, telling us about how he and his friends had been shooting B.B.s at each other through empty pen barrels. Tre put a whole handful of B.B.s in his mouth so he could should them rapid-fire - a great idea until one of his friends surprised him with a stealth shot to the arm and he gasped. And inhaled a few B.B.s. He coughed them up eventually, but agreed that the B.B.s in the mouth was A Bad Idea.

Today he came home, full of pride and delight. "We found something to replace the B.B.s! Hornets!"

Hornets are little, tightly folded pieces of paper. They make dense wee triangles that you can then shoot at people with rubber bands, and when they hit you, they sting. Get it? The hornets sting?

Tre tugged up his sleeve and showed me the constellation of red welts on his arm. "See?" He was beaming. "HORNETS!"

"But...why?" I had to ask.

"Because it's FUN!", okay. But should I worry that this gang of projectile-flinging-rabble-rousers represents the so-called smart kids?

Dangit, Moxie!

Did you know babies tend to have a sleep regression around 18 months? See, I hadn't even heard of the concept of a sleep regression until Sophia, but apparently it's a developmental stage that causes a perfectly nice baby to turn into a crazy person with a phobia of closed eyes. I think Moxie of Ask Moxie made up sleep regressions and has somehow caused our babies to have them, because when I googled "18 month old sleep regression dear God have mercy why, why, I try to be a good person" I got the following returns: Moxie's take on the issue, and lots of other people quoting her. Specifically, the following quote: "Your kid may have a serious, mind-blowingly awful sleep regression at around 18 months. It's not your fault, and it will pass."

See how Moxie has made that happen? She really shouldn't do that, because it is mean.

Well, Sophia is not quite 18 months old, so by rights we should be sleeping peacefully (like a BABY even! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! *wheeeze* HAHAHAHAHA! Maniacal HA!) for the next week and a few days, but you can imagine how happy I am to announce that in this particular arena, we have a precocious little girl. Sophia and sleep have always had a tumultuous relationship, but they have recently decided to stop seeing each other entirely. They ask that you respect their privacy during this difficult time.

Last night she went to bed with nary a peep, and Clay and I shuffled off to sleep shortly after. We were tired, and wanted to catch up on our sleep a little (LIFE, man. It just gets you DOWN sometimes). Hmm. We may have actually said that out loud, which suggests this is actually all our fault.

Nah, I'm sticking with the "Moxie did it" theory.

Anyhow, all was well until about two in the morning, when Sophia woke with an ungodly sort of shriek. It was the sort of noise I would expect her to make if angry weasels were eating her. I went and scooped her up and brought her to bed with us. She nursed for one hundred thousand years, then recited the names of all the important people in her life, sang a little song, informed me that she has a nose and I also have a nose, and it is a handy place for sticking pointy little fingers, and just generally labored to repel the forces of sleep with every ounce of cute at her disposal. When I tried to put back in her crib, she screamed in such a terrified tone that I picked her right up again. I'm not heartless, after all. Brainless by now, but not heartless.

This went on for three hours. Three. Hours. At one point, as I was staggering back to bed, I met Tre, who informed me that Carmi had thrown up right outside his bedroom. Clay went to clean that up while I took care of Princess Talks-a-Lot. By this point I was getting so sick of nursing her that I was sort of jealous of Clay, off in the basement, scrubbing dog puke out of the carpet.

As you can imagine, we're all a little tired today. There has been one very cranky female in the house, pitching world-class tantrums whenever she can't have what she wants to eat RIGHT NOW, or her shoes won't go on just right, or someone looks at her wrong or WHATEVER. Yeah. That baby has been sort of a pill, too.

But now she's asleep, and with in about seventeen seconds, Clay and I will be too. My hope is that since Sophia is clearly so advanced, she will have just worked her way RIGHT THROUGH this silly sleep regression, and it will all be a distant memory by now.

And if not? That Moxie is getting SUCH a strongly worded letter.

Jennie these days

When I started this whole series about the kids (I guess that would be the "Kids These Days" series), I wondered what I would have to say about Jennie. Clay and I have talked and talked and talked about her so much lately, turning things over in our minds, trying to understand.

May10 008

We went to her graduation in May, and everything seemed wonderful. She was so beautiful. She glowed with youth and nervous excitement about her future. She was planning to come to college at a town only two hours away, and we were thrilled she was going to be so close. She looked like someone just cresting the top of the first climb of the roller coaster, frozen in that moment right before the wild ride begins, all anticipation and hope.

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And then we came home and Jennie dropped off the face of the earth.

She didn't answer calls, she didn't return messages, and when Clay did manage to talk to her, she informed him that she'd changed her mind and would be attending the community college in her hometown. She seemed just so very...gone from us. I kept remembering her first summer visit with us after Clay and I married. I felt the same way I had when she went home...wait, I thought there would be more time. Wait, what happened? Wait.

And then, a few weeks ago, Clay got an email that clarified a few things.

Jennie is having a baby.

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Sometime around the time that 2010 melts into 2011, Jennie is having a baby. On her own. If you think Clay and I obsessed over her before, you should hear our conversations now. There doesn't seem to be anything else in the world, some days. Or some nights, as we lie next to each other in the dark and repeat what we already know.

"I'm not disappointed in her," Clay says, "I'm just sorry that her road got so much harder."

"I know."

"She's strong, you know. She can still have the life she's just going to be different."

"I know."

"I wish she would come live down here."

"I know."

But what we're still trying to understand is the biggest truth here. And that's not the fact that Jennie is pregnant, and is not the details about where she is going to live or go to school. It's not even about the changing face of hope for her future.

The biggest truth is that Jennie is having a baby.

And it's a little boy.

No, thank you. I did NOT know what I was thinking.

Remember how I mentioned the other day that Sophia is an enormous pain in day? When we're trying to do school, she's irritated and seems to take it as a personal affront/challenge. It can be trying, is what I'm saying.

So I had this BRILLIANT idea! I got a big mat that sticks to the wall. You draw on it and wipe it clean, and I got some markers that were just the right size for her little hands, and I proceeded to be very pleased with myself, because DRAWING! She will SO LOVE THAT! I have just bought myself MINUTES of peace! Some of them consecutive, I'm almost sure!

So the next day, when we started school, I set her up with her drawing site and her markers, and let her go. And I was right, she was thrilled.

I was also INSANE, because what I had done was hand my 17-month-old a buncha markers and let her go hog wild.

And oh, she did.

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She immediately set to work, bringing her vision to pass.

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I mean, she really LEANED into it...wait a minute. ARE YOU LICKING THE MARKERS? STOP THAT!

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And she was sorry.

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It's just the markers. Mama...they are so awesome...and...yummy...

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And they feeeeeeel good, Mama!

So instead of moments of peace, what I bought myself was a flurry of me redirecting her to draw on her mat, no, sweetie, ON THE MAT, and maniacally wiping down the wall, the floor, her self, myself, and in one shrieky instance, her brother's right knee. She was in heaven, simply ALIVE with the colors and all the places to put them. I was racing around like a one-armed paper hanger, trying to stay ahead of the tidal wave of her markering.

And how well did I do, in the end?


Yeah. Dropping everything for a mid-day bath doesn't help the school day go any smoother either.

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But I was right about one thing. She DID have fun.

Tre these days

 How can I explain this firstborn boy of mine? He seems to have found his footing in his new school. As of today, his GPA is 4.02. I don't understand school anymore.

Aug10 004

But that's okay, because Tre seems to understand it just fine. He's joined the Robotics club, which is apparently an excellent thing. It must be something special, because he's excited to get up and be at school by 7:30 in the morning on a Saturday. On. A. Saturday.


I worried when he started school that he might be overwhelmed by all the work and all the time it requires. If anything, it seems as though he is energized by it all. He fairly buzzes with enthusiasm. It seems some days as though we barely see him anymore. 

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Except, of course, that when he is home, he is very much here. 

The other day he was stomping around, getting ready for a dance at school. He was going with a girl, whom he was pretty thrilled with. My mom was here, and she watched him and whispered to me, "Is he okay?"

"Okay?" I said, "look at him. He's pretty sure he's bullet-proof."

Well, that night the thrilling girl bruised his heart up a little bit. He took it rather manfully, and now insists that it was all for the best.

And so he pushes on out into the world, bright-eyed and excited and ready for anything...


...and almost, but not entirely, bullet-proof.

Max these days

Did you know Max recently turned 12? He did. All the boys have had their birthdays for this year, so Tre is now 15, Max is 12, and Raphael is 9. Sorry to keep y'all out of the loop, but I've been busy baking cakes.

Except not for Max, because he wanted root beer floats. Max is...essentially Max.

Aug10 041 

Did I mention he's twelve? It's a tough age, full of lots of figuring stuff out. He questions me a lot these days. I'm getting used to hearing his voice with that special tone that conveys doubt in my mental abilities.

"Really, Mom, if there's ALWAYS a sale at Kohl's, is there EVER a sale at Kohl's?"

"Did you KNOW that Sophia has your keys?"

"Shouldn't you use your turn signal when you turn?"

It gets old, sometimes, but I know that Max is twelve. And twelve has a lot of figuring out to do.


And he is figuring it out, becoming more of himself. For all the questioning of me he does, I cannot find any way to convince him that this shirt and these shorts are a bad combo. He just doesn't believe me.

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I guess he does make it work.

And I guess that's my hope for him, too. That through all the chaos and upheaval of twelve, Max will stay, unafraid, on his very own path, and make it work.

Aug10 012

Those are Sophia's jammies on his head. When I took that picture, I warned him I was going to put it on the blog. He shrugged and said "go ahead," and posed for another shot.

He's just so Max.

T.G.I...oh, F!

Okay, so last weekend - actually, on the way to the airport to pick up Mir - the engine light came on in my van. ALERT ALERT ALERT! I called Clay, who said, "hmm. Is it running okay?" It was, so he said to just keep going, and he'd take it in to be checked out later.

Well, we had guests and everything was crazy so the plan was to take it in this weekend. It was running FINE, after all.

Yesterday I picked up Tre from school. He sat in the back, so he could properly adore Sophia, and he was telling me about his day as I pulled out of the parking lot onto a street so busy that it's known around town as "the widow maker." I just TOTALLY made that last part up. But it SHOULD be known as "the widow maker."

Anyhow, I got about halfway out into the closest lane, stepped on the gas, and something in the gears went SLIP. And then...I don't know, I had a functioning engine, and I had perfectly good wheels, but nothing seemed to be connecting them anymore. I pressed down on the gas, and the engine went WHEEEEEE, but nothing happened. Cars whizzed around me, horns blaring. One particularly energetic gentleman got stuck in the lane right by me, and used his time to roll down his window and call me several names in a screamy, vein-bulging sort of way. Because, you know, I WAS SITTING THERE JUST FOR FUN.

I put it in reverse and tried again, and it said WHEEEEE, but again - nothing. Which is probably a good thing, because the people in line to pull out behind me had helpfully pulled up right on my bumper, so it wasn't like I could back up anyhow.

"Tre," I said, TOTALLY NOT PANICKING, "you're going to have to push the van." He scrambled out and took his place behind the van and PUSHED. Which - God bless him - I don't know what I was thinking. It's a massive minivan, and it was pointed slightly uphill, and it was absolutely ridiculous. Later he said, "Yeah, that was GREAT. I moved the van INCHES."

But then people came to our rescue. A mom screamed the cars back and out of our way behind us, big men appeared out of nowhere and shoved on the front of us, and we got the van maneuvered safely into the parking lot. May their lives be long and car trouble free.

And now the van is at the shop, and I am several years older. But it's not like this story is without its share of hope and joy, because what the van needs is a new transmission. So. At least it's a cheap and easy repair. *weep*

Don't mind me. I'm whining again.

*sigh* all know that Mir was here, right? I mean, everyone who reads here MUST read Mir's blog, since...well, since everyone reads Mir's blog. She blogged Sophia's pinchy hand. I also mentioned her visit over here, if you are so inclined.

Mir is awesome. Please make her move here.

And we also had my mother-in-law Connie here, before and after Mir's visit. I'm sorry if this is salt in anyone's particular m-i-l wound, but Connie is wonderful, and I love her.

But now everyone's gone home, and not even I can pretend that it's still summer. Today we started school again, and I'm pretty sure this year is going to kill me dead. Raphael has had three - count them, ONE, TWO, THREE - meltdowns already this morning, and Sophia is infuriated by the fact that her life has gone from a house full of adoring fans to merely three of us, trying to focus on "not the baby." Sophia does not care for "not the baby" all that much. She would like to get her hands on "not the baby" and crumple it or throw it or scribble on it maniacally with a pencil she stole from her brother.

I'm looking around me, realizing how wildly out of control my house got while the guests were here, and facing down another school year, this time with a toddler. Now I remember this, from when Raphael was a tiny tyrant. School plus a toddler sort of sucks.

First day into the new school year, and I already want a vacation. That has GOT to be some sort of record, doncha think?