Apr 30, 2006

Peculiarities

4/30/2006 — cori
Every family is blessed with unique characteristics (or characters). Sometimes these things endear us to others, often they incite others to steer clear of us for fear of what might happen. I find these peculiarities fascinating and wonderful. At the very least its something for us to talk about and at the very best they're the ties that bind. What outsiders would scoff at, we laugh about. It's kinda like 'the inside joke'.

Anyways, all that to say, that it just occurred to me today that we have peculiarities too. I think I'm having a blonde moment. Duh! I guess it didn't really occur to me as much as Gavin pointing that fact out to me.

Can you believe that today he told me that I am just like Chloe?!? This came as a rather large shock to me. So I responded appropriately, "You mean that I'm whiney and demanding my way all the time and that I insist on wearing flip flops even when it's 40 degrees out?" He laughed and said "No, not that. I mean you and Chloe are both very particular." That kind of stopped me in my tracks.

He was right. I had no come back. I just sat and mulled that one over for a bit. Once I processed that thought I later asked him to expound on the word 'particular'. He told me that Chloe & I both freak out if anything goes wrong, we are extremely particular about what we eat and how we want things to look (a nice way of saying opinionated, I guess). All VERY true statements. I was shocked by his insightfulness and thankful that he found it something that bonded us together instead of a vice that was a menace to the rest of the family. He just showed me that he appreciates who we are and how we are. I sure hope I send the same message back to him.

Then oddly enough, another peculiarity reared it's little head at dinner time tonight. Gavin blurted out, "You know, I'm not happy about something. I don't like being an odd number." I had to laugh, that is so him - and Chuck. I asked him, "What kind of odd number are you?" (not knowing he was referring to his age) and he looked at me and said, "Mom, I don't want to be seven any more, I want to be eight, then I'll be even." He is so his father's son.

Just last night Chuck was controlling the volume on the t.v and asked me if I ever noticed how he has to always have the volume on an even number. Honestly, that's not one of the things that's on my radar screen to catch. I could care less about even and odd numbers. But how funny is that, that both my sweet husband and son have the same ocd manifestation about the whole odd and even thing. It was such a MONK moment (a hilarious tv show about an ocd guy).

Now that it's in the open, I see how true this trait is in both of them. And that makes me love them all the more. It's the quirks that make us special and unique and teach us how to love each other better.

I need not go into Bennett's peculiarities - they are adequately spelled out in detail amongst the many pages of Mommy Stories.

Apr 25, 2006

Back to Normal

4/25/2006 — cori
My boys and I just had the most wonderful vacation. We had the opportunity to go out of state to visit their great-grandparents. What wonderful memories we were able to build. What beautiful views of history we learned of as they told us story after story. What peace and tranquility we lived in for the past week.

Notice, I said the boys and I. Chuck and Chloe had the chance to have more bonding time together at home. We all grew closer together while we were far apart. But obviously, that is not what this story is about. That sounds too 'Leave It To Beaverish' doesn't it? Not all the loving and missing each other stuff, that was extremely genuine, but the part where it all sounds so perfect with no mishaps, that's the part I'm talking about. What could possibly go wrong on our vacation?

Nothing actually. The craziness began the minute we saw Chuck and Chloe waiting for us through the windows at the baggage claim area in the airport. You know how all the new security rules mean that we can no longer drop loved ones off and pick them up at their gate anymore; we have to wait outside the 'secure area' now. It is because of this inconvenient little rule that we once again caused mass pandemonium on all that had the privilege of being in our presence.

Thankfully, the gate where we landed wasn't too far from the baggage claim area. The boys and I were loaded down with bags. Seriously, we were pack-mules. Each of us had two heavy items we were carrying on our persons. (And don't think I wasn't reminded of this fact infinite amounts of times throughout the trip). We had made it through three airports with all this baggage all by ourselves. All we had left now was to make it another 50 yards and we would finally be back with Daddy and Chloe. We were joyous!

Unfortunately, there was the rotating doors that kept the 'unsecure people' away from the 'secure people' that we still had to get through before hugs and kisses could be given. Not a problem, right? Oh no. This would be the biggest problem of our entire trip. Let's see how I can describe this with words inorder to give you the best visual description possible...hmmm...

Well, you know how these rotating doors just keep going, they never stop? And you know how they are divided into 3 equal parts? An you know how you're supposed to exit out onto the other side (the 'non-secure side') and meet your waiting family members? Well, that seems to be the confusing part for my children.

Gavin made it into the revolving door area with no problems. Bennett, on the other hand, wasn't sure if he should join his brother or wait for the next go around. One is not given an adequate amount of time to really think through this type of dilemma. It appeared as if he wanted to go it alone, but then remembered that he doesn't like to be alone, so at the last possible moment, he squeezes in with Gavin forgetting the fact that he is dragging his little suitcase on wheels behind him.

Remember, these doors just keep going. There is NO off button. Yet Bennett has successfully jammed the door with his little suitcase and they are stuck in the little revolving door area. Keep in mind, the entire flight is still behind me, also waiting to exit. So now, I have the security lady running over to help me cram Bennett's little suitcase through an opening too small. She now has to pull back on the door to keep it from moving. I'm still holding onto two huge suitcases of my own and shoving Bennett's suitcase with my foot. It's not helping that I'm also seeing a huge red light flashing above my head over the little turnstyle door. I'm positive that the FBI, TSA, and Homeland Security will be running through the halls in my direction at any moment.

But finally, disaster was averted with enough pushing, shoving and pulling. Bennett finally made it to the other side and it was my turn to go through. However, just as Gavin and Bennett reached Daddy who was in arms reach of the door, Chloe starts running into the turnstyle door and is now stuck inside it going the WRONG WAY. Remember, those people on the 'non-secure side' are forbidden to enter the 'secure side' and here is my daughter trying to reach me and is fully unaware of the security breech she is creating.

Thankfully before any alarms could go off, with lightning speed, Chuck jumped into the revovling door area and yanked Chloe out before she was totally trapped. I was finally able to cram myself and my two suitcases through this cursed revolving door without too much fanfare. My very first thought once I got to hug my husband and hold my little girl was, "Ahh, now we're back to normal!"

Apr 18, 2006

Over-Exaggerating?

4/18/2006 — cori
Today at lunch Gavin informed me, "Mom, my stomach hurts. It feels like it's giving birth to a whale inside there."

That's a new one. What desperate attempts my child is going through to earn my pity so he isn't made to eat one more bite.

Then it began to dawn on me, where in the world would he come up with such a metaphor? He's never heard me or his father cry out that we are in as much pain as a whale giving birth. To be honest, that mental image, nor thought, has ever crossed my mind.

I chalk it up to his extensive reading. Or his abundant imagination. Or both. Either way, the excuse didn't work. But he did win an award for the most creative reason not to eat his food anymore!

Apr 17, 2006

Church Lock-Down

4/17/2006 — cori
Leave it to my family to almost cause a church lock-down this past Sunday. Easter, of all days. We went to church having no clue the pandemonium our presence was about to induce. What would cause such a hooplah that the church would consider going into lock-down mode? - Bennett! Yep, leave it to Bennett. He's the only one who this could have happened to.

I would say the church we attend sporadically has maybe 1000 - 1500 attendees. Quite large. They just installed this new, state-of-the art computer check-in service that allows parents to check all their children into their appropriate Sunday Schools in no time flat. This was the first time we ever experienced such technology - especially at a church service. So, we go about the routine of checking in 3 children. A little printer pops out a name tag with all their appropriate information. Each child is now donning a smart little sticker on their backs.

We dropped Chloe off first and Gavin second, being that their classes were in close proximity. However, we had to go upstairs to drop off Bennett. But upon drawing nearer to his class he had a change of heart and decided he would rather sit with us in 'big church'. We had no qualms with that, so we all headed back down stairs, never thinking twice about the fact that he was already 'checked-in'. We warned nobody that our child was with us - why should we? Ahhh, but that was our fatal downfall.

Bennett was the perfect little gentleman in big church. He sat quietly, listened intently and never once complained. We were so proud of him. About 10 minutes before the service was a to let out, we saw our number pop up on a screen in the sanctuary. Chuck jumped up and responded to it immediately, fearing it was Chloe.

However, once he reached the lobby, he saw a Policeman and a church employee waiting for him. He immediately thought maybe something happened to Gavin. They then informed him that they had lost Bennett. Chuck explained that Bennett was in the sanctuary with us. After their initial relief, obvious frustration set in - on both parties.

Come to find out later, the church's director of security had his whole team, plus the cop searching the premises for Bennett. They even pulled Gavin out of his Sunday School and questioned him about his brother's whereabouts. Since the church is so huge and impersonal, nobody knew what we or Bennett looked like and so, nobody came to find us in service.

Once church let out, the director of security made a bee-line towards us and informed us of the graveness of the situation we just caused by signing our son in, but not bringing him to his class. He told us that if we had not answered the page in the service, that the next step would have been a total church lock-down. They would have had to interrupt service and inform everybody that we were morons...uh, I mean, that a child was lost and everyone was needed in pursuit of his search.

Thank God we answered our page!!!! We had already caused enough pandemonium. I'm still rather speechless about the whole event and left to ponder 'why did this happen to us?'

Apr 14, 2006

What Was I Thinking???

4/14/2006 — cori
I decided that tonight would be a perfect night for the boys and I to live it up and play a few games together before bedtime. We were about to have some major fun. I let each boy pick a game. That is where my plan started to unravel. I should have picked the games and thereby averted a whole evening filled with misery. Let me expound....

Gavin knows me too well. He knows my pressure points and he uses them to his advantage at various times throughout the day. He KNOWS I hate the game "Trouble", yet he 'innocently' made that his game of choice for tonight. My perils with Trouble began the day we got the game and have yet to cease. I've even tried to put the game in the Goodwill pile before and it somehow miraculously found it's way back to our game closet.

For those of you who have yet to experience the joy this game can add to your life, let me give you the simple version of the rules. There is a little dome covered popper thing in the center of the board. Residing under this dome is the lone die (I don't even know if that's the proper terminology/spelling for a singular dice). When one pushes hard enough on this transparent dome-like enclosure, you render enough force to pop the die and make it land on another number. It is the definition of the word random. In order to get your four little pieces out of the starting block, one must get the number 6 to miraculously appear under the dome. Then one may proceed the nausiating, circular journey around the board until you reach 'home'. However, in the process, if someone else lands on your space, they can send you back to start and you must once again produce a 6. It is utterly maddening! It took us a good 15 minutes tonight before anyone obtained this magic number.

What might my problems with the game be? I don't know that there is enough space here to properly address each issue. I think a list of bullet points might aide the reader in understanding why this game vexes me so. Whoever invented this game and decided to name it 'Trouble' might have also had these thoughts parrading through his/her head:

1. "You're going to be in big trouble if you ever pick this game again."
2. "If you don't quit popping/pulling each other's toes and move your guy this instant, you are going to be in trouble."
3. "Whoever sends me back to start one more time will have some trouble coming his way!"
4. "Trouble will come upon the player who doesn't know how to count out his spaces properly and/or go when it is his turn without somebody (me) having to prod him (Bennett) for the 100th time."
5. Beware future players, you will be in trouble if you attempt to play this with a child still
learning the key elements of counting who also might be unaware of the term 'strategy'.

Those were but a few of my misgivings during our lovely game night, and that was only the first game. Bennett chose Dominoes as the second game. I previously had no qualms with this game. That is, until the boys 'taught' me how to play. Once Trouble mercifully came to an end (thank God - I won, finally), Bennett immediately starts building something with his allotment of dominoes that were next to him. I asked him, "So, Bennett, how do we play Dominoes?" After receiving the look of 'what does it look like I'm doing, Mom' from him, he placates me with, "Just build whatever you want, Mom." To which I'm like, "Uh, no. These are not blocks. This is a game. Plus, I can't build anything with 7 dominioes."

Gavin, ever ready to lay down some rules, chimes in with, "The rules to this game are...." I abrubtly cut him off. After proving that I had indeed played a legitimate game of dominoes at least once in my life, I had gained a little clout and was thus 'allowed' to inform all other players of such rules involved. I'm sure they thought I was making up the rules, the way they looked at me - but they placated me none-the-less. Bennett really didn't understand the basic concept of matching like numbers together. He just picked up any ol' piece and placed it any ol' place.

Gavin thought there must be a deeper meaning to the game and there must be other rules I had not informed him about. He kept trying to come up with new ones. When none of the 'new rules' were given a thumbs up by the expert (myself) the other players then digressed into seeing what type of picture our pieces were making.

Come to find out, our game was really just a knight and each piece played only added to our knight's armor. Then out of the blue, our knight was riding a horse. Then they had a whole story-line going about our domino knight and had long ago disregarded the strategy to the game I tried to teach them.

Lesson's learned: when suggesting a game night, either get the games out myself or hide all unwanted games and let the kids pick from what's left. Who knew we were going to be making a domino knight and pulling each other's toes tonight? I just thought we were playing games...it's always so much deeper with kids.

Apr 12, 2006

The Rookie

4/12/2006 — cori
Bennett is soon to be discovered now, I’m sure. He’s made his way into the big leagues…he is now an official T-Ball player. All he has wanted to do for so long was be like his big brother and play something - anything - on a team. Alas, his dream has become reality and he is one of 15 little four year olds on the same team. And as if the coach had read Bennett’s mind, they chose purple uniforms (Bennett’s all time favorite color is purple, with brown a close second). Does life get any better than this?

Last night was opening night at the Town Lake Baseball Complex. Hundreds of 4 and 5 year olds donned their uniforms for the first time and had their turn up at bat. Being that this is also my first time to experience this lovely sport, I was unaware of the rules. Did you know that they let each of the 15 players on each team have two turns up at bat? Let’s just say we were there for a VERY LONG TIME!!

When our team was not up at bat they were ALL out in the field. Some stood on the bases, guarding it with their lives, others sat in the dirt making beautiful designs and then there were yet others, like my little rookie, who loved to kick the dirt and watch a mini dust storm explode into the air and blow out into the stands. That was fun for all.

What I especially loved to see was my son watch as the ball would roll past him 3 inches to his left. It appeared as if he were under strict orders to only bend down and catch the ball if it was hit directly to him. After all, there were plenty of other boys out there who could get it right?

Once our team was finally up to bat, it was a beautiful sight to behold indeed. How sweet and innocent all these little boys looked when they saw their ball drop off the tee and roll forward several inches. This was their very first hit on a real baseball field. Most of them were so awestruck that they forgot to run. Once they were finally given a little nudge, down they sprinted towards first base.

It was finally time for our dear Bennett to take his place at bat. I’m sure his nerves were going wild. So many people were looking at him (which he loves, by the way). Once the coach properly positioned him in the batter’s box (at first he was standing behind the tee) and whispered things such as “keep your eye on the ball” and “after you hit the ball, run”, he finally had his chance to make contact with the ball.

He hit a great shot and sprinted out of there….straight to the pitcher’s mound. My son is number 11, that means there were 10 other boys who batted and ran to first base before him. Don’t you think Bennett would have noticed that pattern? After his detour to the mound, he eventually made it to first base without getting tagged. I was laughing so hard, I had tears streaming down my face. I was so proud of him. That was such a typical Bennett thing to do. He is who God made him – and I love that!

This morning, after the rush of game night had passed, I asked him what his favorite thing about his game was. Without hesitation he answered, “The snacks!”

Apr 8, 2006

Too Many Rules

4/08/2006 — cori
Last night we let the boys stay up late and watch a movie and then sleep together on the top bunk. That is considered really living it up around here. We thought the kids were having the time of their lives. However, Bennett informed us this morning at breakfast that things weren’t all a bed of roses. The first words when we greeted us were:

“I don’t like sleeping with Gavin too much because he has too many rules”.

“Oh really” we answer, “Like what?”

He then begins to spout off the list as if they had been pounded into his head one too many times by an over zealous older brother. The ‘Sleeping With Gavin Rules’ are as follows (Bennett’s version, that is):

Don’t move your feet so much
Keep your blanket to yourself
Don’t wiggle around so much (but he can wiggle around)
Don’t read your books too much

An interesting list, indeed. Gavin definitely likes rules and likes to make sure that everyone around him appreciates them as whole-heartedly as he does. So, when Gavin came down to breakfast, we asked him if it was true; that he was following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a ‘Rule Nazi’. (Chuck is lovingly nicknamed the ‘Game Nazi’ for his zealous pursuit on ensuring each game player follows the game rules precisely). Chuck asked Gavin, “Bennett was telling us you had a lot of rules for him last night, is that right?” To which Gavin nonchalantly replies, “Only four.” Gavin was more than happy to share his version of the rules with us. They are as follows:

I get on the bunk bed first
He can’t touch me
He needs to act like he’s in his own bed
Keep your blanket to yourself

I’m seeing a slight gap in how Gavin issued the rules and how Bennett interpreted the rules. I’m not one to argue that there must be rules for engagement in most important areas of life (i.e., military, government, corporations, and of course, sharing a bed with your brother ranks right up there). I’m thinking maybe we need to keep the bed sharing to a minimum in the future. The last thing we need is for Gavin to find a need to come up with any more rules and to give Bennett a reason to find a rule to break.

Apr 3, 2006

A Day in the Life...

4/03/2006 — cori
Well, today has been good - pretty normal. I slept maybe 3 hours last night. Had one of those sleepless nights due to taking Excedrin too late at night. Once I finally went to sleep, it was time to wake up. Chloe informed me that she was immediately hungry and I put on my short order cook hat. After getting everyone situated, I was just fixin to put peanut butter on my beloved english muffin when I hear Bennett crying. For some reason, he can't speak, so as I walk around the corner to find out what happened, I see a bowl of cereal (including the milk) emptied all over him, his chair and all surrounding surfaces. Great! So much for a warm english muffin - I had a spill to clean up. Bennett wasn't thrilled with having to help me clean it up, but he did a good job once I was able to get all the cereal out of his belly button.

From there we went to the computer to find Grandma's address in order to mail her a letter. Gavin started writing it down on the envelope, only to be thrown into utter despair upon my glancing at the address and telling him it was the wrong one. A multitude of tears abounded. Once he came up for air and realized it wasn't the end of the world - that his pencil had an eraser, I was able to convince him to call Grandpa to locate their new address.

Thankfully, Grandpa was not too busy and was able to spell out the entire address for Gavin who transposed it onto his newly erased envelope. All the while, Bennett was standing a little too close to all of us and in a constant, steady refrain continued asking, "Can I put it in the mail box now", until someone acknowledged his pleading. I acknowledged a little too loudly and was told how pretty I was.

From there we had to run to the grocery store to pick up 1 thing. Since it was only 1 thing, I made an executive decision not to commandeer a cart. This upset Chloe's applecart and she decided to impersonate a donkey (I'm talking about the stubbornness of a donkey here)throughout the entire time we were at the store. So we walked thru with her kicking and screaming. I'm sure they were all glad to see me yet again.

We finally made it to the park for our picnic and I had a reprieve to 2 hours while the kids played and ate happily. Nap times were pretty normal as well. Bennett informed me that he slept, but that his eyes were very blinky the whole time. But he swears he slept. Chloe decided that she wanted to sing to her baby instead of sleep with her. She was heartbroken when I told her it was time to sleep.

After 'naptime' the boys asked if they could go outside and spray each other with the water hose. I kinda reminded them that we used to do that last summer and since it was so hot today, that maybe they might like to have a water fight. I was considered very cool for the rest of the afternoon.

And now, the garbage truck is making it's weekly rounds and Chloe is beside herself with panic. She has a love/hate relationship with the garbage truck. She hates the sound, but loves to see it. So, we are now fixin to go outside and witness our weekly garbage picking up ritual.

To quote my favorite book (Little House on the Prarie), "All's well that ends well."

Apr 2, 2006

The Closer

4/02/2006 — cori
Gavin has just been introduced to the world of cut throat sales. His Cub Scout pack is having its first fundraiser and Gavin has now joined the thousands of American children thrown into the world of sales at way too young an age. He even has a sheet itemizing the bonuses, incentives and prizes for those lucky kids who’ve been blessed with the ‘sales’ gene and are able to sell the most.

Gavin is clueless. He’s never had to sell anything in his entire existence. We thought we should let him know what he might be up against so we did a practice run at our house. We told him to go outside and knock on our door. Then Chuck & I proceeded to take turns showing him the many colorful personalities he might encounter. We coached him in what to say, straightened his Scout scarf and bid him good luck. After retrieving his Cub Scout shirt from the bottom of the hamper and tucking half of it in (to look more legitimate), he was off.

The poor kid is so innocent. He takes people at face value, believes everything he hears and has no desire to try to talk anyone into anything. I had to let him know that people might say no and that’s okay. I know he’s going to have a hard time dealing with such blatant rejection – but hey, it’s for a good cause, right?!

There was no way I was going to be the one going door to door with Gavin. I just can’t handle the rejection on behalf of myself and my poor son (wonder where he gets it?). So, off go Chuck and Gavin down the street. Then ‘little miss decides that she wants to tag along. Chuck doesn’t mind – he thinks it’s a great marketing ploy. After all, who can turn down a cute, adorable, little toddler? Nobody will say no to her.

Then Bennett, dressed in full Spiderman costume (mask included), announces that he’s going too. Forever his brother’s champion, he declares, “Gavin, if they say no, I’ll tie them up for ya.” At least now we know who the salesman in our family is.

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