Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Where's Owen?

It was a lovely afternoon today. A little cooler out than what it has been, but nice enough that I'd kicked the kids outside with their father and started putting dinner together. I heard muffled complaining and some banging, but that's not unusual around here.

About five minutes later, I plopped down on a patio chair next to my neighbor and husband to watch the kids play.

"Where's Owen?" Jim asked.

"I don't know," I replied. Yep, we just lost track of our youngest child.

"Last I knew, he was in the house," he said.

Utto. It just dawned on me. Before kicking them out, I gave Fiona a package of toilet paper and told her to put it in the hall closet. 

"Um, check the closet. Fiona just put away the toilet paper."

"Owen, where you at boy?" Jim said as he strolled into the house.

I turned my attention to Fiona.

"Fiona, did you lock your brother in the closet?"

And I get those wide eyes from her as she ponders this question for a few seconds.

"No, I didn't," she said, nodding her head innocently.

Right. She had to think about it. She totally locked him in the closet.

Meanwhile, Jim released Owen from the hall closet (which has a motion-detecting light and lots of snacks, so don't be too concerned, people. he was just fine).   

"In there," Owen blithely said to Jim as he was released. "Outside," he pointed as he trotted to freedom.

This poor kid. Good thing he has a sunny disposition.

Friday, March 16, 2012


It's Friday night and we just put the kids to bed. They were outside until dusk, digging in the parts of the garden I haven't yet seeded. It seems we skipped right over spring and went straight to summer. I'm putting seeds in ground and even pulled up my very first asparagus spear this evening. I'm thinking about putting some tomato plants out now. Maybe we can have two tomato seasons. The herbs are coming back: sage, lavender, dill and chives. Some herbs stayed all winter: rosemary, oregano and parsley. In fact, the kids constantly eat the parsley. Bits of dried up parsley tumble out of their pockets while I'm folding laundry.

Ah, laundry. That reminds me -- I've taught the older two how to fold their own clothes and they were fighting me over pieces of clothes. God forbid I should fold one of their articles of clothing. (Those of you with teenagers will tell me not to get used to this. I know, I know.) Danny followed my folding instructions exactly. Fiona did her own thing, but got the job done. Lately, they've all been doing a fantastic job with chores. After breakfast, Fiona and Owen help me unload the dishwasher. Danny has decided he doesn't like doing that job because he gets wet. So I send him out to take the compost to the bin and feed the dog. It gets him out of the way so Fiona and Owen can work together. I'm finding that Owen and Fiona make a better team than Danny and Fiona. Danny needs his own space and activities now. He's playing soccer now and I've taken him out of PMO. He just was getting bored there and causing trouble.

Fiona is obsessed with the word poop and the fact that she used to poop on the floor.

I was a baby and I pooped on the floor, she laughs. I am still not laughing about this.

I poop bumblebees, Fiona says. Poop is her favorite word right now.
What? Jim says.
I poop bumblebees, she repeats.
Oh yeah? Well, I put bumblebees for breakfast.
I poop bumblebees for breakfast like you. Not to be outdone.

Owen now echoes the most prominent word in every sentence I utter. One day, I gave the older two the standard pre-nap instructions.

Stay in your rooms and be quiet while I put your brother down for a nap. Do you understand me? 
Understand, Owen repeats with a nod of his head. He's like my assistant now.

Cookie monster doesn't have a mom, Danny concludes.
Why do you say that?
Because he can make crumbs on the floor when he eats.

I'm going to climb that, Fiona says pointing to a picture of Mt. Everest. And I don't need any help. I don't need a ladder.

Where are your back eyes? Danny asks as he sifts through my hair. I'd been telling him for years that I had eyes in the back of my head. I finally had to come clean about this one.

Mommy, nana doesn't have a penis but Danny does have a penis. I don't have a penis, Fiona says. She does a daily inventory of body parts. 
Hey, Fiona where does your pee come out then?
On the inside, she replies.

No, no, no, don't put dog food in the water bowl, I tell Fiona. 
I'm making cereal for her. Of course you are.

Mom, I need you to flat out my sheet, Danny calls down just after I parked my bum on the sofa.
(Sigh.) There's another adult who is already upstairs and is still awake.
Who? (REALLY??)
Your father.

Hold on, hon. I just need to send this email and then I'll help you. 
Is [the email] going into the clouds now? 

Danny did it. This is Owen's favorite thing to say.

Gum, Owen says when he sees the kidney beans for dinner. I gave him a few and he still called it gum. Cool.

Mom, let's sit down and talk, Danny says. So I sit. I know that one day he won't want to sit and talk to me.

Mom said no. She was being naughty, Danny tells his father.
Actually, I was being a good parent by limiting the amount of sugar you eat. [Silence] You can thank me anytime. (Like when you're 10 and don't have any cavities? Yeah, that would be a good time.)

Mom, what happened to my umbilical cord? This was the most random question of the day. 
Well, when you came out of mommy's belly, daddy cut the cord and you started to get food from boobyjuice. 
What did I eat before that?
The nutrients from the food mommy ate went through the umbilical cord into you. 
What did you eat? 
Meat, veggies and cheese and chocolate and ice cream and cottage cheese. (Everything but the kitchen sink, actually!)
Fiona then chimed in and wanted to know about when she was in mommy's belly. Then the two of them wanted to know how they got out of my belly. I truly didn't think the conversation would get there so quickly.

Can I play PBS Kids? Danny asks.
What did your dad say? My husband had the media room turned inside out due to a painting and reorganizing project, so I had no idea whether it was even possible to play on the computer.
I don't know. My brain told me to come ask you. 

I want the pepper, Fiona wails at Owen.
NOOOOOOO, he roared. She actually leaned back. It was like watching a cartoon.

Stop making noise, Owen. 

Booby. Two of them, Fiona says as she lays her head on my chest. Then she moved her hands down and grabbed my belly fat. More boobies, she declares. Good thing I've been going to the gym.

Enjoy your weekend.  

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Free U: Next stop is Vietnam

Armed with a calendar from church, a library card and an Internet connection, I've made a start on crafting unit studies for Danny and Fiona. Really, those are the only inputs. It amazes me that at this stage the resources available are more than enough to spark their interest.

Last week, we did Madagascar, which was a fairly easy start. The recipe on the calendar was easy to make (though not easy to get at least two of my kids to eat) and there was no shortage of entertaining videos about lemurs. There may even be a trip to the lemur center in Durham sometime in the future.

This week's country? Vietnam. The recipe on our calendar was quite complicated. I can't exactly make spring rolls from scratch anymore. Owen practically pins me against the counter waving a plate at me anytime I go near the stove. 

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind about Vietnam is the war. And now I have a war protest song running through my head. You remember it right?

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.
I can't necessarily teach that one to the children, now can I? 
So I decided to do what I do best. The minimum. I checked out two books from the library, read them to the kids and waited for something to spark their interest. It fascinated Danny that the people in our book didn't own a refrigerator and that they ate with chopsticks. We also found a recipe for soda chan in one of the books. We actually have all the ingredients for it. It's a lime soda made from sugar, sparkling water and lime juice poured over crushed ice. Sounds like a winner. For  dinner tonight, I made a nice tofu dish with rice that was dubbed a Vietnamese recipe on allrecipes.com and let the kids use chopsticks. 
Danny was the only one who was amenable to instruction on chop stick technique. Fiona is just impossible to direct these days and Owen was intent on stabbing something or someone. There was a lot of whining, which was unfortunate since I had reached my whine limit by noon today.
Next week's country is El Salvador. The recipe is easy, the country is in this hemisphere and the back story on the calendar revolves around clean drinking water. I think I can make something out of that.

Thursday, March 01, 2012


Let's see. What's new here?

A rare truce
We're undergoing a little diet experiment. I've cut out gluten for myself and Danny and the rest of the family by extension. I'm only being strict about it with Danny and I. I'm hoping behavior improves (and I've already seen some changes). As for me, I've already lost some weight, gained some energy and reduced the heartburn.

I've also joined a gym. As it turns out, I'm coming to the party a little late. Every time I go, I run into one more friend who works out there, too. There's a kick-ass child care room, a sauna and steam room (which I'm afraid to go in because I'm claustrophobic), all sorts of classes and personal trainers. 

We've taken our crew to Mass for an entire month of Sundays. Jim even took all three kids to church alone on Ash Wednesday. It was actually a success, as have been the Sunday masses. The older two go to the children's liturgy. Owen sticks with us and drives cars up and down our legs.

On Ash Wednesday, Jim explained to Danny that our body is a gift from God and when we're done with this life, we return our bodies to the dirt. The whole ashes to ashes, dust to dust thing. He got it. A little too well, actually.

I don't want you to give up your body, Danny wailed to Jim at the Ash Wednesday service. After about 30 panicky seconds of this, Jim tells him: Do you know what they give kids who get their ashes? 
Free ice cream. Instant smiles.
Where's the ice cream? he asks.
We have to buy it at Kroger.
That's not free.
Of course, it's free. You're not paying for it. We've inadvertently started a new tradition. Ashes and ice cream.

And speaking of dirt ...

Eww. Are you eating dirt? I ask Danny, whose mouth was surrounded by dirt.
Yeah. He opens his mouth.
How does it taste?
Good, he says, grinning. (What is wrong with little boys? Seriously, are they all like this?)

Fiona, on the other hand, has her own world view.

It's soap, Fiona squeals about the sparkling cranberry juice I just made. There was a layer of bubbles on top of the juice.

Chocolate, Fiona squeals as she and her neighborhood girlfriends are stomping in the mud. Only a girl would see chocolate in the mud.

Dad, let's get out the telescope tonight.
Oh, it's too dark for that, Danny, Jim says, thinking this will work.
No, no, telescopes are for seeing in the dark.

Is there something wrong with your ears, Danny? He had just said to me for the 50th time that day, "What did you say?"
My ears might be loose, he says.

FiFi do, Owen cries after Fiona accidentally knocked him over. He can tattle now. That's a game changer right there.

I did that, Fiona tells me proudly as I help her put clothes back on her dolls.
Why do you take their clothes off?
So they can be naked and poop on the floor, she cackles.

Look at me. I'm bouncing, Danny says.
Stop bouncing off the walls, Jim replies. After all, it's breakfast time.

The paper ripped. What are we going to do? Fiona wails forlornly. 

These pants have holes in them. You can't wear them to church.
No, there's a holy book there.

Owen is making noise, mommy, Fiona wails. (Really, she doesn't say anything anymore. It all comes out in a nerve-jangling wail.)
NOISE, Owen replied. BLAH. WAH. DAH. AH. AHHHH. AHHH. (shrieking laughter) 

Would you look at Owen's face, I say to Fiona. He had barbecue sauce up to his eyeballs. Literally. His nose is running, she says. No mention of the barbecue sauce. Actually, I couldn't even see the snot running out of his nose through all the sauce.

Did you have fun at Josh's house? I ask Danny.
Yeah. I didn't say poopy. That hurts people's feelings.

Don't go to fast, mommy. The police will catch you, Fiona says.

Molly licked my butt, Fiona says. Luckily, she was wearing pants. 

Molly knocked over the blocks when I was trying to ride her, Danny says.

Oh, really?
I can't ride dogs. I try and try, but I just can't do it. 

Enjoy your weekend.