Sunday, January 29, 2012

Volume VIII, issue i. January 2012

 This is my 100th post! Whoop-a-dee-doo!

Confessions of a Teenage(r) Mamma Queen  

Although I’ve now only been the mother a teenager for two weeks, my limited experience tells me I’m going to love this stage of motherhood.  A lot. Holden is as sweet as he is sarcastic and that is saying a lot. 

Just to give you an example, about a month after Charlie was born, Holden came upstairs to find me doing dishes. He gasped when he saw me and said, “Why are you doing that?” and he muscled his way in front of me and finished the dishes. 

* * *

Teenage-hood is difficult enough on days that aren't your birthday, so I wanted to usher him in to this new phase with style.  One of his favorite parts of our Christmas Day festivities is the Christmas Breakfast Casserole we have on Christmas morning each year (When I raved about it to one of my friends , she mentioned that she has never heard me use the word “casserole” in a sentence.  That made me very happy.) You can find the recipe here if you’d like. (You'll have to scroll down until you get to it.  Stop being lazy and scroll!)

When he lamented that he only gets to eat the potato-ey miracle once a year, he gave me the idea of serving him breakfast in bed on his big day.  Luckily there was no school that day, so I let him sleep in until 8:00 and then, like a sun with kiddie-planets orbiting around me, I walked into his room and sang “Happy Birthday.”  He was in that adolescent form of slumber that borders on comatose, so it took him about five bites before he woke up.  I’ve never heard such a string of groggy, yet enthusiastic thank-you’s in my life.

We inherited my Grandpa Kartchner’s pool table when my brother moved into a new house that already had one.  I wanted the table so much that I stewed long and hard over where to put the beautiful, vintage gem.  We decide to take opon ourselves the Extreme-Home-Makeover-esque task of cleaning out one of our dance-studio-sized storage rooms in the basement to create a new home for the “Man Cave.”  Eve complained that she didn’t like the name and Eric suggested the “Man Cave with Lovlies.”  She didn’t like that one either.  I said, “How about ‘Man Cave with Benefits?’" 

(Obviously we are currently open to any suggestions.)

Our new Man Cave made both a perfect venue and alibi for a surprise birthday party for Holden.  I mean, you only turn thirteen once, right?  (Thank the stars above!!)

While Holden was sweating his way through basketball practice on Friday night, we surrepticiously snuck thirteen of his pubescently awkward friends into the Man Cave.  Eric picked him up from practice and then asked him if he’d like to play a friendly game of pool.  The gangly gang of friends were so hopped up on sugar from emptying the bowl of candy I’d thrown in the room to keep them happy that I had to turn the TV on extra loud to drown out their cracking voices.  

When Holden entered the room they yelled their “SU-PRISE!” with such gusto that Marie crumpled to the floor in terror.  To say Holden was genuinely surprised is an understatement. 

                                       This is the real deal.

We spent the next three hours eating grown-uppy-type food and playing nostalgic party games pulled from the files of my own memories of Rexburg parties as a teenager.  There was screaming, jumping up and down, squealing, and grotesque gorging at the birthday buffet, but that was just me.  

I suppose the boys had fun too. They were explosively boys-terous, but equally respectful.  I couldn’t ask for better friends for my boy. 

                         (Yes this is indeed SICK and WRONG.  I am so sorry, but it had to be done.)

                                                    Birthday Bunco

      Peter's Prowess

Peter was chattering on about Charlie being asleep in my belly and I was sort of half-listening as I typed.  

Finally he said, “What’s it called when you were stuck on your bed for like, forever?” 

I stopped typing and gave him my full attention. “You mean when I was pregnant?”  

Yup. That was the thing.  

* * * 
Ever since the days of his Elvis-like baby bouffant that wouldn't quit , Peter has been our little Chris Farley-on-a-drinking-binge comedian.  For his last haircut, I decided to let his hair do more of its thing and really set it free from the straight lines of the bowl cut.  I added layers and Peter-personility to the do.  

Caleb looked at Peter's hairstyle and commented, "I like Peter's new haircut.  He looks like he's from New York or something."

* * * 
I recently climbed the Mount Everest of cleaning projects and reorganized the toy closet. . . one toy at a time.  Once everything was peacefully categorized and shelved, the play-a-thon began.  It was like all of the toys were new again, especially since the kids had been shrewdly applying the "throw-up" organization method my entire pregnancy.  Peter and Marie played for hours.  I actually sat down on the floor and played with them, entranced by their imaginary dialogue with the plastic figures.  At one point, Peter created some sort of snack drive-through with different toys ordering peanuts and candy and popcorn.  

Then he marched a lion toy up to the take-out window and, in a deep throaty voice, growled, "PEOPLE!!!" 

The Gospel According to Peter

Peter gave me an impromptu Sunday School lesson the other day as he played.  

He said, "You know how we came to earth to get a body?"

Yes.  I know that.

"Well, you know that guy who was mad that he didn’t get to have a body?"

Sure, sure.  I know that guy.

"And he was mad that he didn’t get a body so he made a robot body?"

I’m a little hazy on that particular detail actually.

"And then he was so mad that he killed Jesus. . ."

Okay. . . ?

"And then Jesus got to have more lives!"

Just Because Everyone Should Get to Have a Marie in Their Life

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

13-years-ago tonight, my unexpected birthday-dinner detour to check in with the OB forced me into a hospital bed and frantically peaceful pre-term labor. 

Eight exhilaratingly exhausting hours later, the wailing out of healthy newborn cries singing a cadence of newness and earth-shock were the sweetest birthday tune I'd ever heard. 

That song accompanied me into my first moments of motherhood.

Happy Birthday, my incomparably sensitive, freshly teenaged Holden. 

Happy Birthday to US!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Volume VII, issue xii. December 2011

Hair today.  Faux-hawk Tomorrow

I dragged my feet as long as I could, but the time had come for the tween-age bowl-cuts to go. I had to close my eyes as I grabbed their long, thick locks and sawed away with my shears.  We were all pretty happy (and relieved) with the results.  

Luckily I've still got two more boys for years of bowl-cut enjoyment. I did try and trim Peter's hair before Christmas, but he protested, "If you cut my hair, then me and Charlie won't be twins!"  I don't know.  You figure it out.

To Thine Own Self Be True
 As a nine-year-old, I carefully etched out a list of names for my future offspring in my journal, each one sounding like a protagonist in a Danielle Steele novel, my pre-pubescent heart aching dreamily as I rounded out each perfect syllable.  Sensible names like “Violet Rose” and “Leticia Dawn” graced the nauseatingly lacey list.

Marie, on the other hand, is either less creative or just more self-assured.  Every time I ask her what her current doll-in-hand is named, she says, “Marie.”  When concocting her Christmas Wish List for 2011’s over-indulgence, she said, “I need another baby so I can name it Marie.”

When she’s not playing with her Marie-Babies, she’s doing things like transforming a container into a vehicle and taking it for a drive around the house.

If the Shoe Fits (or even if it doesn’t for that matter)

Herding all of the kids over to Marie and Peter’s Preschool Christmas Program wasn’t easy considering how it had been scheduled on the same week as finals, graduation and the grading of roughly a bazillion research papers (give or take one or two—it’s just a rough estimate).  I asked the older kids to help Marie get into her shoes and coat.  It wasn’t until we were already outside fighting our way through the blustery Rexburg gusts that I noticed that one shoe was hers and one was Eve’s.  Curse my need to have them match!  I did the sane thing (for once) and let it go, hoping she wouldn’t be singing that tune about missing front teeth because of a tragic, clog-caused mis-step. 

Let's Hear it for the Boy 

In the past year, Holden’s voice has undergone a two octave Peter Brady-esque metamorphosis, leading us to constantly tease him about working at Krusty Burger (“Welcome to Krusty Burger.  May I take your order?”).  He’s also grown several inches and adores inching close to my face, raising his eyebrows and looking me squarely in the eyes.  He’s also trying on a pre-teen, sarcastic rhetorical stance, but in an extremely good-natured way. 

Unfortunately, I treat my life the same way I do a good buffet—I pile on everything that looks good, then I suffer later.  During finals week in December I picked up Holden from his Cello lesson as one of about ten things I needed to accomplish and said to him, “When we get home, I’m going to need some help getting things ready for dinner.” 

He gave me his best big-eyed look of compassion and said, “Wow, Mom. . . Well, I hope you can find some help.” 

We both laughed appreciatively at his well-played wit and I said, “Where did you learn how to be such a smart-mouth?” 

Without missing a beat, he replied, “From your husband.”

* * *

A few weeks ago, Eric was doing a desperate two-step-at-a-time dash up the stairs, shouting, “Sarah!  I need a . . . ” and Holden yelled out, “adult-sized diaper?”

Holden’s increasing ability to be a true sarcastic smart-mouth is funny. . . most of the time.  We’ve tried to explain to him that, like the boy who lost his life from crying wolf one too many times, his smart remarks lose their power if those are the only kind of remarks he makes.  After listening to Holden make several quips one day of our vacation, Eric paused and said, “Oh crap.  That’s what it’s like being around me, isn’t it?”

The shield of sarcasm suddenly disappeared the other day when I asked Holden to hold Charlie and he blurted out, “Oh good!  I like Charlie!” 

The Little Prince

Our pint-sized Prince Charming causes us all to swoon on a regular basis.  I overheard Peter playing with Charlie.  He was looking into his eyes and whispering, “Charlie, you're so cute.  Your feet are cute!  And your hands are cute!  And your belly is cute!”

At our house, EVERYONE wants to play with a Charlie in the Box.  No misfit here!

            Pre-school Puppy Love
I’m surprised there isn’t a path worn into the road between our house and Mrs Doggett’s Building Blocks Preschool.  Peter and Marie attend on alternate days and, like the old married couple they imitate, they constantly bicker about whose turn it is.  Often I have to tell them that nobody gets to go to preschool if they don’t stop fighting over whose blessed day it is. 

   One day Peter begged for Marie to walk him to the door because, “I want her to see Annie. . . (insert long, wistful pause). . . She has golden hair.”  Uh-oh.  I asked Mrs Doggett about it and she grinned and whispered, “I think he likes her.”

   I am constantly either ten minutes tardy or locked into a workout of loading, unloading, buckling and unbuckling little bodies, and hadn’t had the chance to witness Annie’s glimmering locks for myself.  For days before the preschool Christmas Program, Annie constantly made her way into Peter’s dialogue. 

At lunch, Peter told Marie and me that “Annie has long legs. . . and long arms. . . and a long body.”  Because I knew that Santa was making a surprise visit to the party, I asked the kids, “Who do you think might be coming to the Christmas Program?”  Peter perked right up and said, “Annie!” By the day of the program, Marie had become Peter’s back-up admirer.  Peter would croon, “Annie has yellow hair like Rapunzel, Mom” and Marie would echo, “Yeah.  It’s golden hair, Mom” and they would both smile and look dreamily into the air even though Marie had never even seen Annie. 

   Even though Eric told me I was being “weird,” I had to capture Peter’s first crush on camera.  As they were posing for the shot, Eric commented, “I don’t think this is her first time.” Prepare yourself for the oozing of admiration on Peter’s face and the utter dismissive smugness on Annie’s (sigh).

 Fast-Foodie Free-for-All
During my pregnancy with Sir Charles, lots of things piled up—laundry, dirty dishes, medical bills.  But the pile that concerned the kids the most was the Everest-sized stack of award coupons they had earned at school for doing their reading and homework.  The week before Christmas we decided to cash them all in in one grotesque fell swoop.  The giggling in the car as the load of fast-food grew could only be outweighed (pun intended) by the groans permeating the kitchen after the feast (urp).  

Christmas Images

Peter was so excited for Christmas that every night for the two weeks preceding the holiday, he would say, "Christmas is tomorrow!"  He was disappointed for several nights in a row until finally he said, "Well. . . MY Christmas is tomorrow!"

Holden and Ethan have been begging for a DS for years, and when one of their friends was selling his old one, we negotiated a deal.  They could get the cursed object if it was all they would get for both of their birthdays and Christmas, plus they could only play with it for as many minutes as they had practiced each day.  I honestly didn’t think they would agree to such austere conditions, but they did and I was stuck.  I think they’re both going to be progressing quite nicely on the piano and cello this year.

Faux-Beard the Pirate

My favorite Christmas morning moment was hearing Eric erupt into spontaneous child-like laughter when he opened one of my gifts to him.  For a full two minutes, his pure laugh rang out in a way I rarely see and Holden said, “I’ve never heard that laugh before!”  He reserves it for only the most especially humorous occasions, which tend to come when he is particularly stressed-out and sleep-deprived.  He needed a good laugh after a rough year of juggling new administrative responsibilities at work. Since he can’t wear “skinny jeans,” he can wear this hat on his more rebellious days at BYU-Idaho.  

Yes, Anne of Green Gables.  I achieved my adolescent dream of marrying a man who "could be wicked but wouldn't."

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