Sunday, November 20, 2016

Elf on the Shelf

I know I'm supposed to hate the Elf on the Shelf, but I love it. Our Elf, Elfis, usually comes on Thanksgiving night and stays through Christmas Eve, and I can't wait to see what he's going to do each year. 

Last year I lost my phone in a snow drift in Alaska and lost many of my pictures, but here are some. 

Elf one man band with k-cup drums and chopstick drumsticks and an ornament disco light. 

One morning Elfis snowed our window and wrote "The cold never bothered me anyway." 

One of my faves! A campout with sock sleeping bags, a luminary candle campfire, and roasting marshmallows from the Lucky Charms. They're also cooking a Swedish Fish over the pretzel firewood. 

Giddy up reindeer! 

We couldn't find Elfis anywhere, but opened the freezer to get waffles and there he was. With snow! I'm no elf expert, but it smelled like frozen shaving cream. 

Mickey Mouse ears before we went to Disney. 

Matching Elf aprons for The Boy and Elfis. 

He came in like a wrecking ball. 

Toddler proofing our tree: those large boxes are decoys to keep BeYoYo out of the ornaments. Elfis is hiding in the tree. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

November 1 (2016's Halloween post)

I have always loved dressing up. When I was a kid, my older cousin would give me her old dance recital costumes and it was the best present ever. 

Here I am as Jazz Minnie Mouse, or something. Does it matter what I am, actually, other than glittered and sassy?

And here I am as a hobo. I'm not sure why my mom had a hobo costume that she kept from her childhood, but I was rocking it.

Any time my school had spirit week, I was sure to dress the part.

So it's clear by now that I enjoy Halloween. Actually, I think Halloween is a little weird. It's bizarre that we all dress up and send our kids to strangers' houses to beg for candy once a year. And it's bizarre that no one thinks it's bizarre. It's the costumes I love really, and the excuse to wear them. Yesterday in Athens I saw someone driving (and smoking and texting) with a happy emoji mask and a Bob Marley wig, and I saw an older lady walking down the street with a walker in full clown costume. What's not to love??

But November 1. November 1 I do not like. November 1 is like Halloween's dark and weird cousin that no one talks about. To say November 1 is lame would be to imply that it is bland, benign, and has nothing to offer. Oh, the contrary. November 1 is depressing as the first day of rehab after a long night of partying.  November 1 is as rough as the sequins on my Jazz Minnie costume, but not nearly as pretty. And November 1 is sneaky, like taking the secret passage from the study to the kitchen in the classic game of Clue.

Let's back up. For weeks (and weeks and weeks) The Boy has talked about being Sonic The Hedgehog for Halloween. He has planned his costume down to the number of spikes it should have, and has confirmed and asked again and again if he could be it. Because I appreciate (and encourage) his love for costumes, I've tolerated much of this. I have also introduced the idea of 'creative license' and let him know that it doesn't have to be exactly like the real Sonic.

I wanted BeYoYo to have a good costume too. The Boy wanted him to be Sonic's sidekick, Tails, but he doesn't know who that is. I wanted something related, but that he'd appreciate, so naturally I asked him if he wanted to be french fries (from Sonic). He did. Done, and done. So I started working on both of their costumes.

On Wednesday we were going to trunk or treat at church. The Boy decided he'd like for them to be Batman and Robin, which we already had. So they went as the dynamic duo. A good time was had by all. Every year we've had multiple costumes for multiple events, so no problem. More details here and here and here. Mama loves it:

Then Saturday we went to the Wild Rumpus in Athens. This was The Boy's first time to shine in his costume that he'd designed. I painted his face, not an easy feat since I am no pro at face painting and he is no pro at sitting still. We both did really well, I'd say. The whole town comes out to play, and thousands of people gather in costumes to watch more people in costumes parade through the town. We'd been talking up BeYoYo's french fry costume too, and he would proudly announce "I be fren fries!" anytime we mentioned Halloween.

The Boy was Sonic, and loved it. He ran at super sonic speeds, and a few times tried to do some rolls on the ground to fully embody his character. I went as Sonic's sidekick, Tails. BeYoYo, on the other hand, was not as enthusiastic. He wore his costume for about 30 seconds, much of that crying "I no wike it! I take fren fries off!" He did smile momentarily when everyone seated outside cheered for him in his costume.

On Sunday we went to a birthday party where kids were invited to wear costumes. The Boy chose to be a Power Ranger, and BeYoYo chose to be a cowboy, both things we already had at home. Yesterday BeYoYo's class could wear costumes to school, and he wanted to be "Tar Wars!" I fished out an infant Jedi robe, that now fit him as a shirt, and he wore that.

Then last night I had everyone's costumes laid out again. I knew BeYoYo would likely not wear his, and I was okay with that. Since The Boy had been talking about Sonic for weeks (months?) I knew he'd wear his. I asked him if he wanted his face painted again, and he said no, and we both sighed in relief. Then he said he wasn't going to be Sonic. He said he was going to go as a power ranger again. I said okay, and sent him inside to change.

Naturally he came back out as Scooby Doo. Alright, man.  I never thought I'd say this, but it occurs to me that maybe one house can have too many costume choices.

Our friends came over (we have the cutest friends, ever) and we trick or treated with neighbors. And the boys really loved it. At one point BeYoYo said "I dark. I 'fraid!" but otherwise they loved running through the streets in the dark. BeYoYo did cry when he got chocolate on his chin, but he held up pretty well. We let the boys stay up too late, and eat too much, and be too wild, because childhood. They came home and crashed.

Then this morning, it was November 1. The fun was long gone. Responsibility loomed. We need to be up by 6:30 and leave for school by 7:40, but I let The Boy sleep in. I didn't want to start November 1 any more than he did. He said he couldn't go to school, he said he had a tummy ache, and a headache. He was hungover from a good time last night and wanted to avoid the real world. I knew it, because I felt it too. We plunged ahead. He refused to get dressed. I set a timer and warned him that if he wasn't dressed when the timer went off in 5 minutes that I would take him to school in his pajamas. We've been through this before, so he's heard these words in the past, but he's always managed to just squeak by in time. He called me on it, and did not get dressed before the timer went off, not even a little bit.

So I took him to school in his pajamas. He had slept in a dinosaur t-shirt and cartoon pirate tight fitting pants. When the timer went off I calmly picked him up in his pajamas and carried him to the car. He was pissed, and he let me know it. I buckled him in his seat and went back to get brother. When I opened the door to put BeYoYo in, The Boy threw his pants at me. Somehow he remained fully buckled, but in an impressive move of defiance that stretched the limits of contortionism and elastic, had gotten his pajama bottoms off. He was now fully buckled in his t-shirt and underwear. I didn't let on that I was impressed.

He cried that he didn't want to wear his pajamas "these clothes are dirty because I slept in them!" even though he'd wear pajamas for 48 hours straight on the weekends if we let him. I felt a twinge of guilt that perhaps November 1 is not the day to come down hard with the consequences, since we contributed to the chaos last night (and the night before. And the night before that. It's been an exhaustingly busy week). It was one of those times where I thought to myself "either this is going to work, and he'll know I mean it when I say he needs to get dressed, or I'm the worst parent ever. It could go either way." When we pulled up at school, I told him he could choose if he wanted to go in in his underwear or pajama bottoms. Begrudgingly he put them back on. Thank the Lowered, because I don't know if I could have made him go in the building with just a t-shirt and underwear on. I need to think these things through better sometimes.

Before I sent him in I snapped a picture of the note I was sending his teacher in his book bag, and I sent it to my friend with the message "we've had a rough morning". His friends greeted him with smiles, and he sulked as he went in his class. Whew.
Yes, that's a Batman notepad. Apparently even our stationary has costumes. 

When I picked The Boy up from school today I told him I wasn't sure exactly what went wrong this morning, but his choices might have had something to do with the amount of candy he'd had, or the fact that he'd stayed up late. Since we weren't sure which of those it was, I told him calmly, he wasn't going to eat any of his Halloween candy, and he was going to bed early. He didn't object. I asked him if any of his friends asked about his pants, and he said yes "I just told them my mom made me wear them" he answered. Touché, Batman/Sonic/PowerRanger/Scooby. You chose everything you wore to every event all week, today's pajama bottoms included. Maybe November 2 will be better for us all.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Mt. Vomitus

The Boy's first day of pre-k a few weeks ago was also BeYoYo's birthday, so we went out to eat to celebrate. We always take our kids out to eat on their birthdays. Mother-in-law and Niece met us at La Parilla, our local Mexican place. MIL was holding BeYoYo, and as we walked in she said to me casually "he just threw up." What?? I asked. I looked at the floor and saw vomit. I looked back at him just in time to see him projectile vomit all over a stranger who was walking out. She got caught in the vomital cross fire and stood there with her arms out like she was miming a zombie scarecrow, her face frozen in disgust looking at the vomit running down her shirt.

I grabbed BeYoYo from behind and started running out the door. I was like those action movies where people run from a volcano before it erupts. Only I was also carrying the volcano.

We made it to the sidewalk in time for him to throw up again and again. He spewed with great force and projection. MIL came out behind us and narrated "It looks like milk! It looks like water! What is going on??" At this point he'd thrown up all over the woman leaving the restaurant, created a trail on the floor, and now he and I were also covered in vomit, as was the sidewalk. But the eruption was over. 

I asked him if he was okay. He said no. We sat down on a bench outside amidst some onlookers. MIL said she'd go get something to clean us up with. I didn't know if we had any wipes in the car (classic) so she went inside. We waited. And waited. And waited. He was particularly concerned that my arm was dirty "clean it off, mama!", and that his brand new train had been barfed in. 

I texted the Husband, he didn't answer. I called him and asked where he was. "I'm still waiting on a table" he said. I told him I needed something to clean up with and his mom hadn't returned. He said she'd taken Niece to the bathroom, so he couldn't leave to go to the bathroom, because he NEEDED TO KEEP WAITING ON A TABLE. I told him that BeYoYo and I were vomitus. I thought this was clear based on the fact that everyone just saw him throw up, inside and out. So he continued waiting for a table, and we continued waiting outside. 

The lady he'd vomitted on came outside with her family. She was complaining to her husband "I got off as much as I could, but I'm still COVERED." There was a wet spot on her shirt approximately 3 cubic feet. She didn't realize we were sitting there. I called out to her that I was very sorry about that. She mumbled "tsokay" under her breath. It clearly was not. 

Maybe it had been 15 minutes, or maybe it had been 3 hours, I'm not sure. But hallelujah MIL came out with wet paper towels.  She said "I'm so sorry! I was helping that lady get cleaned off in the bathroom, and I forgot about you! Duh, you needed paper towels." The Husband and The Boy appeared behind her. She handed me the paper towels and continued "That lady was not very nice. She kept saying her shirt was RUINED. I told her she could put it in cold water, and she said 'I live an hour away!'And I know she has kids because she said they're going back to school shopping and now they can't go." I really was so sorry about that. Imagine you're walking out of a restaurant and bam! someone pukes on you. It's like getting slimed on Nickelodeon. 

The Boy, who had just emerged with the rest, asked if he could play with BeYoYo's train now. "No!" I said. "It's got throw up on it!" Then BeYoYo noticed that The Boy had had the other part of the train and he started to yell "My! MY! MY! I hold it!" Here we are, standing on the sidewalk, covered in vomit and arguing about a train, also covered in vomit. 

I started to wipe off BeYoYo's face, and he commented on MIL's horse earrings. She has three horses and he loves them. Then Niece piped up "I fell off Cowboy today." I started wiping vomit off my pants. "I fell off Cowboy today." I was wiping vomit off my arms. "Hey aunt Ruby?" (that's me) "I fell off Cowboy today." Clearly the child was not injured, based on the fact that she was here and upright and requesting steak quesadillas. "You're saying that a lot of times" was the most sympathetic response I could come up with. 

The Husband told The Boy we were leaving. So much for the table they had been waiting on. Then MIL said she and Niece were staying. I told them I'd take BeYoYo home and they could catch a ride with her. She said she hated for him to not get to eat for his birthday, and maybe we could eat outside. We declined, for our sake and everyone else's. They went inside and BeYoYo and I started to head for the car. He was none to happy about that, he wanted his BeBe and he wanted to eat. "I go in der!" he protested. I loaded him up in the car with his new train, which I had also wiped off. 

As soon as we got in the car he said "I crackas" so I gave him some cheez-its. He seemed to be doing okay with those, so we headed home. On the way home he talked and talked and talked. "See dat cow?....See dat bug.....My train.....Pig gon' ride it.....Lalalala......Singing......See dat der?....Mama's car.....I want Bebe.....more crackas......I eat......I MORE CRACKAS." He clearly seemed to be feeling okay. I got him out at home and he said "I more crackas?" I fixed him some more crackas, and he ate 3 servings of pasta. And he was fine as frog's hair. 

After he ate I put him in the bath. He was still bathing when the others returned. MIL and Niece came in the bathroom to sing happy birthday to him and he was majorly impressed. Kid was totally fine ever after. Just needed to throw up on someone and get on with his life. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Dress down

The Boy is full of personality. You may have noticed that before. He's funny and energetic and creative and dynamic. One might be worried that BeYoYo would get overshadowed by the largeness of his personality, and that would be a fair concern.

But hear ye, hear ye, BeYoYo shall not be underestimated. 

This child has just turned two, and the potential for his shenanigans is only starting to shine forth. Yesterday, at our house, was delivered one plus-size-stud-trimmed maxi dress. That BeYoYo ordered from Amazon. On my phone. On my work account. For $58. 

I realized the error the same day, and tried to cancel the order but it was too late, it was already on the way. It showed up today. I bet you're wondering how this happened. I found a really cool dress at a thrift store and I was looking it up on Amazon. It was the same brand as this "stud trim" number you see here, and he had the phone right after, so click click, here we are: 

You'll note the bag says "ready to ship"

I'm on a local buy/sell/trade group for parents, and I tried to list it there for resell before I have to pay for return shipping. 

So far, it's gotten plenty of likes but no one is interested in purchasing it. Can you believe? 
And the darn thing is SOLD OUT, meaning BeYoYo really has his finger on the pulse of women's fashion. They're flying off the shelves! So who needs a stud-trimmed dress? 

Maybe BeYoYo will help you find some accessories that match. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Balancing Act

Yesterday at church our sermon was about balance. Not getting your life all balanced, but being spiritually balanced and being willing to give up some of the things we have an abundance of. Our preacher preached, and a mom of four talked about her own balancing act of having three kids and then having a fourth born with special needs. The pastor joked about an online article claiming the healing power of crystals that could help us find balance.

Yesterday I was signed up to be an usher. That means we greet people when they come in, give them a bulletin, and then pass the offering at the end of the service. Sometimes kids help with passing the offering, so I'd asked The Boy if he wanted to help. He did. I think it's great that our church allows kids to be involved in an important way, and I like the message they get that they're a valuable asset.

Near the end of the service I went to his class to get The Boy. Since our church is small, he and BeYoYo are in the same class. I cracked the door open to call The Boy to come, but he didn't hear me the first time. I opened it bigger and said his name a little louder, and he came. I waved to his teacher to let her know. Then BeYoYo spotted me and said "I go! I go!" I told him I'd be back for him, but he cried and cried and screamed, thinking I'd never come back for him and I'd take his brother home to live and he'd have to go live in an orphanage and eat slop. Big alligator tears overflowed from his eyes and dripped down his chubby cheeks and he wailed incoherently. Not wanting him to feel abandoned, and not having time to comfort him or clear up the situation, I told his teacher he could just come too. He stopped crying as soon as he was in my arms, but continued to do some sobbing breaths for good measure, so as not to let anyone think he was manipulative.

I went back to meet the other ushers. We were standing outside in the narthex, and someone was making announcements. Or maybe prayers, I don't know. I explained to The Boy what we were going to do. He had a storm trooper of sorts he'd brought from his class, and he sat on the floor to play with it while we waited. I held the offering plate, and BeYoYo gestured toward it and said "I eat!" I told him it wasn't food, and showed him the empty red felt bottom.
Then The Boy asked to hold it. I complied, handing it to him while I followed BeYoYo around the narthex asking him to use his inside voice. He has no idea what that means. The Boys rolled around on the carpet, hugging and not-quite-wrestling in the floor. The other ushers watched the boys' show of physical prowess, likely reflecting on the times when their own kids were younger and acted like fools at church. I smiled my apologetic smile. BeYoYo said "I go home." I asked if he wanted to go back to his class and play, and he said no. I asked him if he wanted to take his hat off before we went in the sanctuary, and he said no. Actually he said "NO!" in a way that let me know he'd have been fine with it if it were his idea, but since I suggested it, it wasn't going to happen. 

I asked The Boy to take his storm trooper out of the offering plate, and he said "Awww, it was hot lava! He was trying to escape." My apologies to you and the storm trooper and Jesus. 

When the prayernouncements were finally over we opened the door to walk into the sanctuary. The usher on my side and I made eyes that said who was going on which side. BeYoYo became nervous and suddenly wanted to be held. "Up pease!" he shrieked. I have a sling on my left arm, but held him in my right.  His hat perched upon his head. The Boy held the offering plate and walked beside me as we processed down the aisle. Feeling hot eyes on us, I made a note to myself not to invite these people to help with this again unless I have two working arms. 

The Boy and BeYoYo and I walked around the front of the church to the right side by the windows. I showed The Boy where to start passing the plate, and receiving the one that was being passed in our direction. He was intent and engaged with his mission, and BeYoYo clung to me like a baby monkey. Then BeYoYo saw our friend Jill sitting near the front and he said "I get down! I sit Ji-ull." I released him, as he was sliding down my body like a firehall pole. He ran toward Jill. You'll remember her from this post. I had to assume he'd be okay. The Boy and I had to turn slightly to get a few rows of people in the side alcove. That's when things went awry. The Boy passed the plate to the first row of congregants, and then he noticed something shiny in the window and ran off, abandoning his mission. 

I received the plate and passed it on to the next row. I whisper-yelled to the child in the window to come with me, and he ignored that as he looked at some small flags placed in a vase there. Who was he standing beside but the mom of four who had just spoken about balance. Then BeYoYo appeared beside him, apparently distracted and lost on his way to find Jill three feet away. The two of them were enamored by these flags. Even a mother spider with her eight arms could not keep up with these children who went off in one direction, and the offering plate that was going off in another. In a split second I had to decide whether to abandon the offering or the children. They were no longer on the same path to the back of the sanctuary where I could juggle them all. Knowing Jesus said "Let the children come to me" but unsure where Jesus stood on the passage of offering plates, I decided to ignore the children dismantling the centerpiece in the window, and to continue with the offering. The show must go on and whatnot. 

As I continued walking I saw Jill get out of her seat and go attend to my children. Holy God in heaven IT TAKES A VILLAGE and there are SAINTS AMONG US. I made a note to myself to not invite these people to help with this again until they are grown. Now I'm passing the plate to my friend E.J., who also loves my children. She was also starting to get up to help, but saw that Jill had beaten her to the punch. She whispered to me "We're talking back here and we can't believe you're doing this in heels too!" Once I'd made it to the back of the sanctuary, I scanned up front to see if I could see The Boy. He was standing in the outside aisle, clearly looking for me. And he was holding a small Mexican flag. I do not know why. 

I motioned for him to come back and join me, and he broke into a full sprint down the outside aisle, waving his flag the whole way. I tried to sign to him to slow down, but he was all Cinco de Mayo  and he was too thrilled. By this point people in the back of the church were unable to hide their laughter. They had the joy, joy, joy, joy down in their hearts, I suppose. So The Boy gets to me, and presents the flag he's stolen from the centerpiece, as well as one of those clear marble things that are flat on one side that people use as vase fillers. And then BeYoYo appears, I'm not even sure where from. Surely Jill brought him to me, but it's all a blur. 

So at our church once the offering is collected, the ushers carry it back down to the front of the sanctuary and deliver it to the pastor for a ceremonial prayer.  I had one arm in a sling, a child on the opposite hip, and I whispered to The Boy that it was time to take the offering to Mr. Joel. He balanced the plate in one hand as he withdrew his marble from his other hand and placed it in the offering plate. All the parallels to theology came through my head- that offering is our way of giving back to God what is already his, that we bring what's important to us to offer, that we lay down the crystals the world tells us will help us balance. I was proud of him and basked in the teachable moment. 

We waited for the music's cue and headed back down the aisle again. He nearly spilled the plate a few times, but we made it back down to the alter, and he thrust the offering plate at Joel. Joel took it graciously, said his words, and we ushered back out. The ushers all ushed back to the back office where we turn the money in. Before one of the other ushers put it in an envelope, The Boy said "Wait!" and reached back in and grabbed the marble out. So much for laying it all down. It IS really hard to give things up permanently, even if you know they weren't yours to start with. I confirmed that he didn't remove any change or bills from the plate, and everyone witnessed. 

I sent the Boys back to their class as I went back in the sanctuary for the last of worship. I was already tired from that offering adventure. I slid into my seat beside Jill and she didn't even say anything. No laughter, no anger, no looking for an apology, not even a smile. It was business as usual. Because that's what a village does. If I hadn't shown up with my chaos and my deficits in patience and organization (and arms), these friends of mine wouldn't have been able to share their excess of patience and kindness and I wouldn't have felt their love. And suddenly I understood that message of balance. 

Again I'm presented with an opportunity to learn from my children. When we got home I noticed BeYoYo had a sticker on his back of a picture of Jesus. And he was upside down. He totally gets us.