Monday, September 27, 2010

More Sounds of Thunder...

Saturday morning, Thunder and Lightning were already dressed in their favorite team jerseys and playing in the backyard. 
Our bug man had stopped by to spray the exterior of our house, because I hate roaches like I hate the "debil."  He stopped spraying momentarily, to say hello to Thunder and Lightning.  After giving them both high fives and answering 84 questions concerning bug species, Mr. Bug Man-- as The Storm affectionately refers to him, asked, "Who's gonna WIN today?" 

Thunder looked up at the sky, deep in thought, then answered, "Well, they don't know that yet."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fall Festival Conspiracy Theory

The days are getting shorter, leaves swirl about the ground, and scare crows are popping up on porches.  It all means one thing.... It's time for parents everywhere to be tormented by at least three different FALL FESTIVIALS.  

Last night, Bert and I tag-teamed our first of many for this fall season.  As I battled my way from one end of the football field to the other, and back again, I witnessed many other parents in misery, and felt certain I was not alone in wishing there was an adult beverage booth.  I would have gladly forked over 10 tickets for a stiff drink.  At first glance, the field full of game booths and sugary snacks looked like a happy place, filled with frolicking children and doting parents.  However, closer observation would reveal the festival was like a war scene from Saving Private Ryan, only instead of fighting Nazi Germany, it was a war against an angry mob of school-aged zombie like children.  Filthy, sweaty, red-faced, hot, sticky children, covered in cotton candy, with Sunkist stains down the fronts of their shirts, all whining so loud it sounded like whales communicating, making even Caillou seem like a trooper... "Buuutttt MOOOOMMMMYYYY!!! I didn't get to do the fiiiissshhhiiinnnggg booth YET!  Waaahhaaaaa!!!" 

After two hours of pure madness, one parent wises up, conjuring a fool-proof strategy, he drops the last twelve of his purchased tickets into the pocket of a kindergartner passing by.  Whispering into her ear, "Here!  You won all these extra tickets!  Congratulations!"  With his plan executed perfectly, he celebrates, announcing to his own children, "Oh, NO!  We're all out of tickets.  Time to go!"  As he high-fives his wife behind the backs of his crying children, the kindergartner, who had just hit the jackpot, runs excitedly up to her own Mother squealing, "That man over there just gave me all these tickets!  Now we can play even more games!  YAY!!!"  Her mother, exhausted from standing in line to play 84 different games, and then forced to carry a million tiny trinkets and pieces of cheap candy, with no bag to hold all the plastic prizes, cramps in her biceps from juggling all the crapola, making sure not to ever mix up her daughter's winnings with her son's, because then there would be even more whining, and her ears simply could NOT handle that, as her ears were already growing numb to the sound, she slowly turns her head to find the enemy she had just encountered.  Eyes glowing red, she zooms in on the guilty but desperate Father, who was trying to leave as quickly as possible. The Mother of the thrilled kindergartner, who was now forced to stay another hour to fight in the land of the little zombie kids screams into the night in the direction of the victorious couple, "WHY?? WHY DO YOU HATE ME??  WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOUUUUU???"  Her voice trails off, as her five year old drags her down the hill to the bounce house, with a line 200 kids deep. 

Kids everywhere, hyped up on Sunkist and cotton candy, which is basically crack cocaine to children, run rampant, screaming at each other, like a bunch of Veruca Salt's, "HEY KEISHA!  What all did you win??"  Forcing Keisha's Mom to drag over all the loot, so the children can compare, then whine some more, "Buuuutttt, why didn't I win a tiny little parachute maaaannnnn???  Well, she said she won it over at the riiinnnggg toss boooottthhh!!  I waannaa goooo there!!!!"  The two moms exchange apologetic glances, then Keisha's mom tries to pull a fast one, "It's okay, darling!  You can just have Keisha's little parachute man."  She whispers, since Keisha is now in a world of her own, watching her tutu fly in the air as she twirls so fast it's dizzying just to watch.  Keisha's mom laughs to the other mom, "I'm sick of toting this stuff around!"  and gets a lack-luster, "Umm, thanks?" in response.

A father passes by, two small children each hanging from his legs, their limp limbs dragging the ground, refusing to walk to the car, they both hold tight to his pants screaming in unison the entire way, "PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE!  TAKE US BAAAACCCKKK!  WE WANNA JUMP IN THE BOUNCY HOUSE AGAIN!  WE WANT ANOTHER SNOW CONE!!!  PUH-LEEEAAASSSEEEE!!!  WAAAAHHHH!!!!"  Another, smaller child is riding on his shoulders, also screaming and crying, "But, Daddy!!!  I didn't get to play the balloon dart game!!!!  And I want ONE MORE BAG of cotton candy!!  But, but, but I've only had THREEEE!!!!  Waahaaahaaa!!!"  The father walked, without breaking his stance, keeping his focus on the parking lot ahead, he was heard chanting to himself, "Keep your eyes on the prize.  Keeps your eyes on the prize.  I can now see our van.  Keep your eyes on the prize..."

It's a maddening place to be.  And as I walked through the war zone, I started to ponder, just who, what, where, why and how does all of this pure punishment for parents come about??  I had a little day dream and saw a quick glimpse into my future...

I was sitting on a clean couch, in the crisp white living room, at the home of the PTA President, who is dressed to the nines. Calling order to the meeting, she stands up and introduces me to the room filled with perky, organized looking moms, "Everyone!  I would like you all to meet our newest PTA volunteer, Mrs. Hudson.  (And she pronounces Mrs. like mis-res, because she's old school like that.) Everyone claps a soft golf-clap and mouths words of welcome to me from across the room.  I stammer back to them, "Umm, thanks.  Umm, well to be honest, I'm not really all that sure why I'm even here.  I guess after years of playing the ' Sorry, I've-got-a-ton-of-children' card, I finally felt guilty and decided to join the..."  But, I'm interrupted by Madame President who seems displeased I have spoken out of turn. 

Clearing her voice, she looks down at her leather bound planner and reads, "Mrs. Hudson will be chairwoman of the Fall Festival Planning Committee!"  Everyone claps again, and I slump down in my seat, choking back tears as I remember how much I despised attending the festivals in years past.  I  nervously raise my hand and ask, "Umm, well, do we HAVE to have a Fall Festival?  I mean, can't we just ask all the parents in the school system to donate $20 per child and get it over with already?  I know the children have fun and all... and I hate to sound as if I don't care about the children experiencing fall traditions but..." 

Interrupting again, Madame President laughs so hard she embarrasses herself with a slight snort as she tries to stifle her giggles and says, "Oh, isn't that just adorable?!  She thinks the Fall Festival is about the children!"  Everyone erupts into laughter once more.  "Oh, sweet Mrs. Hudson.  You've got a thing or two to learn about the PTA... First of all, we're not as perfect as you think.  Our organizational skills only returned recently as our children are all old enough to tie their own shoes and wipe themselves. And you see, all of us are best friends with a teacher in the school system, have a family member who is a teacher, or is a retired school teacher, hence the name, PARENT-TEACHER-ASSOCIATION."

Trying to give them a chance, I resist the urge to bolt out the door and never look back.  Madame President continues, "So you see, our close relationship with these wonderful teachers, who are molding the minds of our future leaders, is why we work so hard."  Still not fully understanding, I suggest, "Okay, so you want to have a humdinger of a fund-raiser on their behalf.  That's great.  But, why can't we at least have it during the cooler months?  The high was 97 during last year's festival.  The firemen who were there on exhibition had to revive several of the parents who were chasing after their hyper children, and nearly had a heat stroke!  And, if we're going to pass out pure sugar snacks and soda, couldn't we at least have an adults beverage stand?  I think it's only fair if we allow the adults some refreshing hydration that will also serve as a coping mechanism." 

Feeling proud of my well-thought out new booths for the festival, Madame President intercedes,
"Mrs. Hudson, you didn't let me finish.  You see, it's really not even about raising funds.  It's more about getting revenge... on the teacher's behalf.  Picture if you will, a room filled with the same children you witness at the festival... but there's only one parent to 18 of the little monsters.  Now, after a day of battling those kids, imagine calling the parents for back-up in the classroom, only to hear, 'So, you're saying lil' John-Parker misbehaves sometimes??  No, way.  Not MY child?  Are you sure you're actively engaging him?  Well, he's good at home, so it must be YOUR problem!'.... As you can just imagine, the teachers love to watch the parents of these little monsters they teach daily, get a dose of their own medicine. 

Feeling slighted, I question the conspirator, "But, what about those of us who DO support the teacher, and do our best to discipline our children when she calls and requests help??"

Without remorse, she looks off into the distance and quietly states, "So, we have a few innocent casualties.  The innocent are grossly outnumbered by the guilty.  It's all worth it in the end.  The good war must continue to be fought..."

Snapping out of my daydream, I take a long-hard look at the Fall Festival Battle Field once more, and hope that I'm one of the innocent casualties of the night.  Bert and I exchange glances that agree, it's past time to go.  We lose our last few tickets in a near-by trash can, and start the long, hard walk back to our van, five screaming, children in tow.  We congratulate ourselves on our survival skills, and whisper plans for missing the other 14 festivals that are always held in our town during the fall.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ni Hao, Dora ??

Setting:  Our filthy van
Cast:  Me, Lightning and a slew of happy meal toys

Lightning:  Momma, what does dis say? (pointing to the tiny words inscribed on the bottom of an old happy meal toy he found in the floor.)

Me:  Made in China.

Lightning:  Oh.  Well, what does dis one say??
(pointing to another happy meal toy, which apparently procreated in the sticky floor of my van, because I can't remember the last time we actually purchased a happy meal, yet my floorboard is always FULL of plastic trinkets and junk hailed from Burger King and McDonalds)

Me:  That one also says Made in China.

Lightning, (deep in thought for a moment):  Momma, are we Chi-a-neese??

Me:  No, baby.  We're Americans.

Lightning:  Den, why every-fang made fwom China??

Me:  Well, they have cheaper factories and labor there. So they make it in China, and ship it to America.

Lightning, relieved, "Okay, good.  'Cause I don't speak Spanish." 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sounds of Thunder... and the rest of The Hudson Storm.

The following conversation took place in our front yard, while The Hudson Storm played Star Wars with a neighbor-kid....

Thunder (swinging his light saber violently towards the neighbor-kid):  TAKE THAT! 

Neighbor-kid:  Now, cut off my hand!  Yeah, like that!

Hail (interrupting):  Can I pway??  I wanna pway Staw Waws wif you, pweeeaassee!

Neighbor-kid:  SURE!  (Immediately starts swinging his light saber at Hail, while making the appropriate "zzziinngg-zzziinngg noises)

Thunder:  Wait, wait!  You have to be careful with Hail, okay??  Don't hit him too hard.  He's only two....

Me (beaming with pride from my lawn chair, daydreaming):  Sweet, sweet Thunder!  He's just the best big brother ever.  Such a doll.  What would we do without...

Thunder (interrupting the boastful conversation I'm having with myself in my head):  But he'll be three in a couple of weeks and then we can hit him as hard as we want!!!

Neighbor-kid:  Oh, that's AWESOME.

Hail (nodding, holding up two fingers):  Yep, I'm two. But, I'm gonna be five wast night.  You can come to my birf-day pardee! 

*All instances of time, past/present/future is "wast night" to Hail.  And he's always "fixin' to be five, not fwee."

I'm telling you, these boys can't get right.  Not a one of 'em.

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Be still my beating heart..."

Flash Flood is at a dangerous age.  Dangerous for him because he's crawling all over the place, pulling up on everything in sight, which means unavoidable bumps and bruises.  Also dangerous because he's constantly putting any and every tiny little piece of plastic/trash/crayon/bug in his mouth he can get his sweet, chubby fingers on.  Dangerous for ME because it's absolutely, with out a doubt, one of my most favorite ages.  Sure, every age is fun.  But there's something about the sweet moments from 9-17 months, where I can't help but snatch a chubby baby up off the floor and kiss all over their precious rolls.  I've done this with every one of my babies at this age.  I  just can't help myself. 

The sweet, drooly mouth, that smells of motrin to help ease the pain of those pesky new budding teeth, the double chin, the sounds of "da-da-da-da-da" mixed with laughter.... Oh, I'm in  heaven during those months.  Quite possibly the reason my babies have been so close in age.  I think they hit this stage and I start to think, "Oh, I want a baby this age forever."  So, we have another.  And no, this isn't an announcement of any sort, just an ode to this age that is almost my most favorite.

Laughter comes so easily, for both my sweet baby, and all who are present to watch him soak up every moment life has to offer.  I love how he studies every object in the room, with such amazement:  The tv remote is remarkable; the couch is a mountain to try and climb; the rug with all it's swirly patterns to trace, and smooth carpet to feel... I watch my little explorer and wish I could find such wonderment in all aspects of my own life. 

I simply cannot resist his sweet arms, stretching to the sky, in hopes that I will come by and pick him up.  And usually, his wish is granted, because I  simply cannot walk past him without tossing him up onto my hip, to join me, unloading the dishwasher.  I love the feeling of his adorable legs clinging to my sides, like a baby monkey, hanging on tight to his monkey momma. 

I love how every day, his sounds are closer to forming words.  Real words the rest of the world can understand.  Squeals and giggles can be heard through out the house as he pats on the window to the big wide world, and spots his favorite doggie, "Doh! DOH!!"  and then more squeals as the kitty joins his doggie friend, "Ki-ee!  KI-EEEEE!!" 

And, oh. my. word. just after a bath in lavender soap, and dressed in those warm cuddly jammies, I can't hardly take it!  I love the heavy breathing felt on my neck, after he finishes a bottle and passes out being rocked and burped.  Sometimes I pretend that I'm afraid he'll wake up if I move him to his bed, so I sit and rock him for over an hour.  I love smelling his head and patting his back, as if I'm trying to inhale him into my very soul. 

All too soon will come the temper tantrums and words added to his vocabulary like MINE and NOOOOO.  So, until then, I will continue to eat him up with a spoon..... Oh, my beating heart, be still....

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"Show Mommy how a piggy eats... Show Mommy how a piggy eats!!!"

Our family dinners are a scene straight out of A Christmas Story, except there are twice as many sons, and an overly-dramatic daughter.  Oh, and I'm not in a freshly ironed dress, nor is Bert in a suit.  And he does actually get off his butt to help, unlike the portrayal of the Fathers from the 50's.

Each evening, around 6ish,  Bert and I form an assembly line to quickly dish out five dinners on brightly decorated plastic plates with separated compartments, so no foods EVER touch.  Typically, there's some type of vegetable that won't be eaten, and a main course that will inevitably make one of the five gag.  Questions start immediately, "Is this the meatloaf we had last time?  Remember, I HATED that kind of meatloaf?.... Momma, why did you put green beans on my plate?  Don't you remember that I'm allergic to green beans??.... Is this the chicken that makes me gag?.... Daddy, do you like this kind of chili?  Well, I don't, so why does Momma keep makin' it?.... Can I just have a roll and mac and cheese instead of all that yucky stuff??... Daddy, why do you only cook french toast and eggs?  Don't you know how to cook anything else? (Sometimes that question comes from Mommy too.)... I know there are starving kids who would love this dinner, so can I just send it to those kids instead??..." 

The little ingrates all have their own personal favorite dishes.  Unfortunately, with so many of them, and their ever-changing palettes, combined with the fact that they all look so much alike, I can't keep track of who will eat what.  Not to mention, Her Highness will absolutely LOVE a meal one night, and the next day swear it makes her sick to her stomach to even think about ingesting.  When it comes to dinner time, I can't win for losing.

Most days, picky eating is not a battle I'm willing to fight.  I refuse to become a short-order cook, so if after taste-testing, you truly hate what has been prepared, I'm happy to hand over the box of dry Cheerios and say have it at.  That is  your only alternative here.  Bert is more of a stickler than I am, and will try to force vegetables down the kids, and guilt trip them with stories of starving children and how hard their Momma worked to cook it, so they would indeed be eating it.  The battle of wills takes center stage, as all the pleasant partakers of dinner, still nibbling on their rolls and baked chicken, watch wide-eyed as Bert goes head to head with the most stubborn child of the evening... "You WILL try at least three BIG BITES of spinach before you get up from this table."  Mouth clinched shut, the stubborn child will boldly shake his/her head no, then bravely stare back at Bert to wait for his next move in this game of dinner-time chess.  The pleasant partakers wait eagerly, for these battles almost always result to their benefit.  "Fine, all the kids who ate their spinach get ice cream.... with chocolate syrup."  Bert will say, raising his eyebrows to the kids who are finishing their plates.  Sometimes the peer pressure works, and the stubborn child will cave.  Sometimes it doesn't and the show down continues.

Once in a blue moon, when the stars are aligned and the cards are all in my favor, I stumble upon a dinner recipe that all the children inhale, without any fuss.  And on those nights, Bert and I take turns hopping up from the table to serve seconds... and thirds.  Some nights, it's not until I'm dishing out a third helping of chicken and rice that I notice if all children are even present.  Occasionally, a poky little puppy will get left out in the backyard playing with the neighbor kids, and I'll have to holler, "Dinner time!!  And no, Matt can't eat with us tonight.  He needs to go home now."  And ever so often, it's not until round three of a dinner battle, or a third helping being served that I even notice if all children are fully clothed.....

Wanna join us for dinner soon??  The offer's always on the table.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Boys of Fall. And no, not Kenny Chesney's boys... my boys.

Fall is just around the corner.  We've gotten a fall teaser the past few mornings, with lows in the upper 60's during the night. The crisp air is a refreshing change from waking up to 200% humidity and temps already well into the 80's. 

Lightning's morning ritual includes going straight to the back patio and relieving himself in the grass.  Like a dog.  Gross, but true.  I say props to him for conserving water.  Yesterday, the cool air caught Lightning by surprise.  He squealed through the window, "Thunder!  Come pee out here!  It's COLD!!" 

I can't say it enough... The boy's not right in the head.  None of them are.  I blame Bert's genealogy.

The cooler temps (we're talking low 90's instead of 100's) have helped us all with our attitudes, as we've enjoyed playing outside much of the day. 

Bring on the cinnamon broom sticks and scarecrows!