No Harm Done

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

It Was Darkest Just Before Dawn

Last night, I was excited about the possibilities of a whole day with nothing we *had* to do. No appointments. No calls to return. No errands. Just "Amazing Race" after the kids are in bed.


This morning Brogan wandered into our bedroom well before dawn saying something about "creepy nightmares. " I was only half-awake, but I think the gist of it was that he hadn't actually had any creepy nightmares. He was worried that he might have one. Brogan climbed into bed and we tried to go back to sleep.

I woke up while it was still dark, and heard Brogan saying, “My tummy hurts.” I only had time to roll over and look at him before he began vomiting. In my bed. All over me.

Great. The day could only get better from here. Right?

Poor sick Brogan spent much of the day doing quiet things accompanied by an empty ice cream bucket. Just. In. Case.

We set up the DVD player on a tray table next to his bed, propped him up with pillows, set the bucket nearby, and provided him with two DVDs. (Thank you again, Auntie G., for the gift of the DVD player!) Colson sat with Brogan to watch movies, but wisely kept out of vomiting range.
Tonight Brogie fell asleep less than 10 minutes after his head hit the pillow. Yes, I timed it.

The day did improve after its icky start, though. Today was Day 2 in my massive spring cleaning campaign. I started yesterday by making a master list of every drawer, cupboard, shelf, or closet on the main floor. Then I cleaned and decluttered them, one by one. It was a dusty chore, but I loved the feeling of crossing off each location after it was cleaned. At the end of the day today, I’d finished everything except Braden’s room.

Next will be just surface cleaning. I cleaned inside of everything, now I’ll clean the house and get rid of all the dust this kicked up.

After work,
M. surprised me by bringing home a couple of 2 liters of soda.

This day did get better. I love a clean house. I love Coca-Cola. Even though I’m trying to stop drinking the stuff.

Coca-cola…. I just can’t quit you.

Friday, March 24, 2006

"Pretend School"

(Scholars pose for a class portrait at the end of the day)

Backstory: A couple of weeks ago I attended an open house for a local classical school. I went mostly for reconnaissance: I wanted to see how Braden compared academically to the kids in his grade and what curriculum the school used.

At home I discussed the tour with M. and was detailing the things I'd seen and conversations I'd had. Brogan and Colson overheard M. and I and came to me in tears.

"Mom?" said Brogan, with tears in his eyes. "Is Braden going to school? I can't play with him when he's at school." I hugged them and we talked about school, and how I was just visiting and Braden isn't going to school anytime soon.

Fast-forward to this morning, and I'm helping Braden get ready for a field trip. The historical museum nearby has an old schoolhouse on its property, and today several homeschooled kids would be students in a one-room school. Both Colson and Brogan were nervous about this school and whether or not they'd get to play with Braden at all today. Because of their anxiety we called it "pretend school" all day.

The students dressed in approximations of early twentieth century clothes, brought appropriate lunches (wrapped in wax or brown paper, and did lessons. They learned how to write with pens dipped in ink, had a spelling bee, did math together, and apparently participated in a discussion about prohibition. The teacher taught them period recess games and ran a lively, organized classroom. Braden enjoyed his day at "pretend school."

(Students in class.)

While Braden was in "school", the littles and I went to the history museum to explore and play. After an hour, we were made aware of the museum's storytime. Today's topic was "Building log cabins." They read a picture book about building a log cabin, and then another book about building houses today. A volunteer with an accordian sang made-up tunes about building log cabins and got the children singing along with her.

(Outhouses at the school. Braden was relieved <no pun intended> to hear no one would have to use these.)

The morning went quickly, and the littles had fun, but they were excited to pick up Braden from his "pretend school."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

What The - ??

As I was working in the kitchen today, Colson poked his head around the corner, shouted "Talk about a scapegoat!!!!" , and ran away giggling.

I could ask, but I'm not sure I'll even understand the answer.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Brotherly Love

Around here we love to listen to the NPR radio show "Car Talk," hosted by brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi. Brogan has a "Car Talk" CD we checked out from the library in his CD player and listens to it at bedtime.

The show is very funny, and one of the aspects I enjoy most is listening to how these two brothers get along. I'm sure they had squabbles as kids, but they complement each other so well, and their fun-loving banter is what propels the show. (Although Braden says, "They just need to stop laughing so much and get on with things.")

More than anything I want the boys to grow up and have strong relationships with each other. I hope they'll be friends as adults and that they'll remain close and enjoy spending time with each others' families.

Over the past year Brogan and Colson have grown quite a bit, and they play together more, as opposed to playing next to each other. Braden has started playing with them too. It's not easy for a 10 year old to play with a 5 and 2 year old, but they've been able to do it and have fun. Yes, they bicker and argue from time to time. And yes, the littles have learned that they can make the other cry simply by shouting "You're a bad baby!" But on the whole they get along well and it makes my heart happy.

Recently I've observed that Brogan and Colson hug each other a lot. I started noticing that there was a pattern to their embraces. This fall we started attending a community Bible study. It has classes for preschool children, and both boys have their own age-segregated class. After every class I'd pick up the boys, and when they saw each other they'd run to each other and hug. After class, we'd go pick up Braden and they'd call out (because they were strapped in car seats and therefore restricted to "verbal hugs") , "Braden! We missed you!"

As I've watched them, I realized that whenever the littles are reunited after a separation, they run to each other and hug. It's terribly sweet.

I know they'll grow out of this habit. I cannot imagine them being teenagers and hugging each other in public. But I hope that, in their hearts at least, there will always be a little of this:

Friday, March 17, 2006

Erin Go Brrrrr!!!!!

Friday we braved the weather and ventured downtown for the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. Locals had told us that it is the biggest parade of the year. I thought it was odd that the biggest parade of the year could be held on a weekday at noon. On a school day. (Teachers had it easy, though, because I swear that every child in town was along the parade route.)

It was overcast and cold. I took a picture of the thermometer on the building across the street and, as you can see, it was not even 40 degrees outside. It was quite breezy, too. We dressed in layers and brought 2 of the warmest blankets we own. I was tempted to bring along the boys’ snowpants, but thought that might have been too much. We picnicked as we sat along the curb waiting for the parade to start.

At first, Colson was so excited to see all the people on the floats waving at him. Imagine that! Waving at him! He waved at everyone. Even the Hooters float. Yes. That Hooters. It had a float.

Apparently, you don’t need to have a particular reason for being in the parade other than simply wanting to. Several “clans” of people with Irish surnames drove through. There were several unmarked cars driving through. They were decorated with shamrocks and leprechauns, but we have no idea why they were there. My favorite was a long, flatbed trailer pulled by a tractor. On the trailer was a bunch of people sitting under blankets in camping chairs. They didn’t smile or wave. They didn’t throw candy. They weren’t even wearing green. They just were. Sitting. On a trailer. In a parade.

The parade volunteers threw more candy than I’ve ever seen. And beads! Mardi Gras-style beads of all colors were given to people in the crowd. Every time a float came by that distributed beads, people in the crowd would stretch out their hands and yell “Beads! Beads! Beads!” It reminded me of baby birds chirping for food when their mother returns to the nest. At one point, I caught the eye of someone on the float and pointed at Brogan, who had no beads. She tossed a string at his feet and he glowed! After that, every time candy or beads landed at his feet, he’d dance a bit on his tiptoes before trying to pick it up with his mittened hands.

One of my favorite sights was watching high schoolers across the street gather candy during the parade, and then pelt their classmates on the “Class of ‘07” float as it came by. All in good fun!

I thought this was a nice way to end the parade. This was the last entry. Sponsored by a local funeral home. Thankfully it was empty.

Halfway through the parade members of a local service organization drove their classic cars. Their labels stated the name of their category and then the organization. For example “Classic – Red Cross” or “ Antique – Red Cross.” The final group of cars bore the label “Topless – Red Cross.”

As luck would have it, the cars stopped and idled in front of a crowd of young men next to us. We all kind of chuckled at the idea of a topless Red Cross. The young men began good-naturedly began chanting “Take it off! Take it off!” at the quite elderly woman riding in the vehicle. She grinned at them, held out her hand and challenged them, “Where are my beads?” The guys laughed, handed her a couple of strings of beads, and resumed chanting “Take it off! Take it off!"

She put the beads around her neck and then……………

Wait for it……………..




she took off her hat.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Heard At My House

Colson: "When I grow up I don't want to grow into a Mom or a Dad. I want to be a pilot. Not a big pilot. A tiny pilot."

Colson: I need to go to the doctor's office. The doctor with the fishies. I have no brains in my ears!!!
Me: Where are they?
Colson: The brains are all in my mouth. I want the doctor to take them out of my mouth and put them in my ears. I don't want to eat them!

Brogan: Mom, what's the name of the builder who built our house?
Me: Mr. "Jones."
Brogan: Why is his name Mr. Jones?
Me: Because it is. That's what his parents named him. Why is your name Brogan?
Brogan: Because it's not "Mr. Jones."

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Domo Arigato!

M. took us out to a Japanese Steakhouse. It was a tiny little restaurant with hibachi cooking right at our table. We've never been to a place like this before. The boys were wary at first, but by the end they were all talking about coming back again.

After the first two courses (clear soup and a salad with ginger dressing) the chef came out and started his show by lighting a giant fire. It completely caught us all off guard, because he was chit-chatting and making small talk and the all of a sudden we saw this flaming mass of light and heat! We all gasped and rocked back in our seats. Colson turned halfway around in his high chair, not taking his eyes off the flames and yet ready to bolt if necessary. It took a few minutes to convince him that the cook was not about to set us on fire and it was safe to turn back around in his seat.

The chef did a great job: he flipped things into his hat and behind his back, his knives and condiment containers flew in both rhythmic and visual patterns. He flipped food into our mouths with his spatula, and the boys had a blast craning their necks and leaning in their chairs at absurd angles in an attempt to catch the flying shrimp.

Braden, always an adventurous eater, tried everything that was placed in front of him. Colson loved the rice and the teriyaki steak. He was very excited to see the cook making rice and mixing eggs with it. "I like those things!" he'd say. Brogan refused to try anything, but he enjoyed the show as much as anyone.

The food was delicious, but the show was the best part. Watching the boys' eyes light up as they watched their food being cooked was a delight. I wonder if I could learn to cook like that at home. Would they be more enthusiastic eaters if I put on a show as I cooked their peas ad carrots? Maybe I should start with something simple - like flipping pancakes.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Pimp My Living Room

Okay, this year we've painted the boys' bedroom, the kitchen/dining room, the boys' bath, and the master bath. The next project on my list is the living room, and here's where I'm stuck.

I'd love for "Trading Spaces" to do an episode in this room. (Please, Vern? At least consider weaving your Vern Yip design magic in my living room!) As that is not likely to happen, I need another source for help. I need ideas. I need inspiration.

The trouble is that the living room has 2 hallways and an entryway that extend from it, so there's no clear definition of space. Also, it opens into the kitchen/ dining room, so whatever color I choose needs to coordinate with the sage color of the kitchen:

(The kitchen colors)

Currently, there's no seating in the living room, save for a brown easy chair. (The matching couch is in the photo below.) We moved most of the furniture downstairs to the family room. Once I have an idea for colors we'll purchase a small couch for that room. There's also a dark brown piano and a brown cabinet.

(View from unfinished kitchen into the living room.)

Ideas? Colors? Know a good designer that'll work for cheap? Leave it in the comments and let me know what you think.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Life Imitating Art

Here's a live-action rendition of the Simpsons opening credits. I don't know much about it, other than that it was done in England and took over a year to create and film.

As with most videos, it stops and starts as it loads the first time. You can either pause the playback while it loads and then hit play, or turn down the volume and play solitaire as it loads, then turn the volume back up and play it when it's done loading.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Embracing the Normalcy

We've had a lovely week. No sarcasm there. No veiled, hidden meaning. It has been a lovely week:

The weather has been wonderful - temps in the 70s and 80s. We spent time outside, hit a couple of parks, and even managed to squeeze a picnic in this afternoon. It even smelled nice for a couple of days this week. (That's a big deal around here!) The kind of nice where you take several deep breaths, savor the freshness, and allow it to conjure up happy memories from your youth.

While the weather was at its best we hit the zoo. Inspired by the lions, Colson decided to pretend he was Simba from The Lion King and spent some time climbing rocks and roaring. (Side note: The Lion King is the movie of choice around here for the "5 and under set." It's also the soundtrack of choice for bedtimes and the CD of choice for the karaoke machine. There's a whole lotta' Hakuna Matata 'round here!)

The dock was a peaceful, quiet place to hang out and watch the ducks and geese. Also, the boys discovered that the wooden dock sounds really cool when you stomp around on it pretending to be a transformer!

M. put training wheels on Brogan's bike. I think Colson was more excited about it than Brogan was, but Brogan practiced riding for a little while this afternoon. He struggled with pedaling, and once he discovered that pedaling was tough he just wanted to go inside. But M. convinced him to stick to it and he improved.

We've gotten a TON of school accomplished. I took an evening and hit Starbucks with my planner and got an outline of what I wanted to accomplish in school *next* year, as well as what we needed to accomplish during the remainder of this year. That kind of gave us a focus and additional motivation this week. We're ahead of schedule in some areas, and a bit behind in others. But we'll finish on time.

Brogan has zipped through his schoolwork this spring. We had not planned on doing any school with him, as he's still in preschool. We've done a bit of cut-and-color type pages, but that's it. He kept asking to work with Braden, so I ordered a small math workbook and we've been doing a little phonics each day. He seems to enjoy doing school "just like Braden."

Colson began swimming lessons. After months of watching his older brothers swim, Colson finally got his chance to hit the pool. We signed up for a parent-tot swim class and have participated in 2 classes so far. The first lesson he spent whimpering and hanging on to me with death-grip hands. At the second lesson he had a much better time. He laughed and giggled. He jumped into the water repeatedly. He sang the songs and did the arms motion. He even did a couple of head bobs, going completely underwater. After each activity he looked toward the bleachers trying to see if M. had seen.

The class is made up of very young families. At both lessons one parent would swim with the child in class and the other parent would be simultaneously cheering and taking pictures or aiming the video camera. It was fun watching these parents and remembering doing this with Braden. Somewhere along the line I've gotten away from taking pictures of Brogan's and Colson's firsts. Maybe next week I can convince M. to come to the pool and take pictures of Colson blowing bubbles or doing the hokey-pokey.

This week we also got the long-awaited chance to ride in the "shuttle" at the mechanic shop, and Colson worried that the chef at the restaurant we visited on Friday was going to set us on fire. But those are blogs entries for a later day.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Nightmare on Sesame Street

It was supposed to be a treat. A special afternoon spent snuggling on the couch watching our beloved Sesame Street friends have an adventure in Grouchland.

I’d seen this movie before when Braden was little, before Brogan was born. We’d loved this movie back then, and both Braden and I were looking forward to sharing it with the littles.

But not long into our viewing, Brogan expressed his worry about Elmo. “How’s he going to get out of Grouchland? How will he get back home?” I tried explaining that he’ll find his way. Maybe Oscar will help him, I suggested. This seemed to pacify him somewhat, but he continued to watch the movie with a very concerned look on his face.

Later, when the greedy character played by Mandy Patinkin took Elmo’s special blanket and flew away in his helicopter, both Brogan and Colson panicked and dissolved into tears.

We stopped the movie and tried to calm them down, listening to Colson sob “He took Elmo’s blankie and won’t give it baaaaack!” When his tears subsided we talked about how this was a movie with a happy ending, and that I knew for a fact Elmo would get his blankie back. “Maybe Elmo’s friends from Sesame Street will come help him?” I suggested.

We were eventually able to finish the movie. Brogan and Colson sat with me on the couch, snuggled under a blanket and holding my hands. When the movie was done we loaded up into the car and hit the park in an effort to run off some of the tension.

Their reaction to the movie caught me completely by surprise. I mean - it’s not like I forced them to watch “Old Yeller” or “The English Patient.” This was a Sesame Street movie. It doesn’t get much tamer than Sesame Street, or so I thought.

They’ve recovered, I think, and hopefully we won’t have nightmares tonight. Maybe we'll try to catch a regular episode of Sesame Street tomorrow, so they can see that Elmo did indeed make it home. I don't know if it'll be necessary, but it'll sure make me feel better.