The Sound Of Silence…

First off, it is colder than hell outside.  And while you may think that’s an obvious (and somewhat stupid) statement – let me just say that for some people (*ahem, me) being cold is a whole lot worse than being hot!  And yeah, I’m in Florida.  No, thankfully it is NOT snowing.  Yet, YES, I am still bitching.  I’m cold when it’s 80, you can bet your fluffy down comforter I’m freezing when it’s 30.

Anyway, I started off saying a first, so let me get to the second.  I’ve finally figured them out.  My kids.  Frighteningly enough, part of the riddle has been solved.  No, really, it’s actually pretty scary.

Oh, and yeah, third.  I’m back.  Again.  I’ve been remiss.   Yada yada… busy, busy.  Life and all that crap.  So, I offer no more empty “I’m back for real and gonna make this a weekly thing” business, because I’m being honest, and I honestly cannot guarantee when I’ll actually write anything.  But I’m writing this, so I’m going to go ahead and be happy with that.

Back to the second.  The boys.  My favorite Monsters.  Holy realization moment.  Kaleb is me.  Mase is totally Daddy.  And while they both have parts of us in some ways (I’ll man up and take blame for the road rage) – it isn’t the same.  Allow me to explain…

I need recognition for things I do well.  No kidding, serious verbal recognition.  I thrive on it.  I will keep doing the things you verbally recognize and appreciate I do.  If you don’t … well.  I tend to stop doing them.  Because I feel like they (and I, by extension) go unnoticed.  I need visual stimulation.  I need to be able to escape from reality though books, music and other such things when I get overwhelmed with life, because otherwise I end up over-thinking everything and my anxiety gets bad enough that I stop functioning like a normal person should.  I require step-by-step instruction when introduced to something new because otherwise I will totally go off book, and let’s be honest – that never ends well.

I don’t respond to hounding or constant reminders – that feels more like a piano hanging over my head by a string than a motivation to remember something.  My memory is lax when it comes to a lot of things because there is almost always something bigger and more imminent looming in the forefront of my mind, even if that particular thing seems small to anyone else.  Threats never work with me, because it isn’t real if it isn’t right there in front of me.

I know, to an extent, how much this sucks for the people in my life who want to convey important things to me.  Because while I can spend hours, days, or weeks consumed with fictional worlds, I cannot genuinely envision my life without the things that are already in it.  I forget simple tasks, silly things people ask me to do for them, things I usually start to do (because they mean a lot to people who mean a lot), and then I get bogged down by other things.  Those big important things that are consuming my thoughts like endless riders on a Merry-Go-Round.  Or I get overwhelmed.  I don’t know what to do first.  I start a million things at once and finish exactly… none.  I let people down constantly.  I let myself down constantly.  Because the minute my mind leaves one topic, another crops up, and the one that is right there is the one that ends up being most important.  I can’t imagine how petty and selfish that must sound to you.

Honestly, it sounds horrible to me, and I’m talking about myself.

But this is me on my most honest level.

***Okay, I know I said before that I need recognition – but not on this.  I’m not looking for validation here.  I’m looking to be brutally honest with myself as a person.  So the first person who tries to offer me an excuse for the behavior I have just admitted to will be promptly showed the door ***

I’ve been like that forever.  Ask my mom.  She could ground me for weeks.  I would shrug and walk away.  What did I care?  But to take my most prized things?  My books, my music… the world would all but collapse as far as I was concerned.  I was actually a decent student. I did my homework.  Every day… but I’d forget to turn it in.  Every day.  I’d forget to put it in my bag.  It wasn’t because there was something else I wanted to do; it was more because I would finish that task and move on to something else that was now a big deal.  But even then…when I’d really get in trouble (and believe me, I totally deserved it when I did.  I was a sh*t), I’d scream, and I’d cry – but to what end?  Did I actually do what I was supposed to have done in the first place?  Eh…. Usually not.  I had the kind of attitude that would send people running for the hills faster than you could say “Call SuperNanny!”

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Kaleb’s like that.  He’s stubborn.   He has a few interests that really encompass him.  And he has a few passing interests, ones he could do without, but they entertain him when all else fails.  He’s got an incredible imagination, and an admirable amount of determination.  Add that to his confidence in himself and his growing skill-set… in 20 years he will be a force nobody will want to reckon with.  But as a child…

I want to go back in time and pick up every hair I must have caused my mother to pull out of her head.

His attention span is exactly that of a dead gnat – unless what he’s looking at involves a book of LEGO instructions, Marvel Superheroes, or something that will piss off his brother.  He forgets to do something about five seconds after you tell him, unless it is either A. written down; B. directly in front of him; or C. beneficial to him in some very literal way.    Everything is a personal attack.  And I do mean everything.  It is your fault he’s screaming, because you told him to use his napkin and he didn’t want to use his napkin, so therefore it is your fault he’s screaming.  See the logic?

That’s the thing.  You have to actually see the logic to understand him.  His world consists of exactly two things, and two things only:  What makes him happy, and What makes him not happy.  I wasn’t quite that bad as a kid.  But, the more I think about how he thinks, the more I understand it.  For Kaleb, everything is immediate.  We can put him in a five minute time-out, but at the end of that five minutes, his mind has wandered all over the place, and he genuinely might not remember why he was in trouble.  Sure he can remember every name of every Spiderman Nemesis – but that is inherently important to him.  At least, it’s a whole lot more important than remembering to use a napkin.

Then again, there are the times he just screams – I mean really, really screams… I think that’s honestly just to make me completely crazy.  Mason had to have taught him that.

I keep asking myself how do I get through to him?

The honest answer is…. I probably won’t.  I probably won’t be the one to do it.  For me, it was a couple of incredible teachers who banned together and changed a great many of my perspectives.  Don’t get me wrong, I was still a total shit when I was at home.  And my mom never stopped trying.  She never gave up on me, or the future she wanted for me.  I was just not ready to listen to her.  At the same time, for once she wasn’t the only one fighting for me.  I worked a bit harder for my future.  I responded to people differently.  I stopped forming so many arguments against my mom in my head and started listening to what she was saying, even though she didn’t know that (and still probably thinks talking to me is the equivalent of talking to a stack of bricks).

But as I pointed out in the beginning of all this – I am in many ways still who I was a kid.  I’m a more grown-up version, sure.  The problems have changed, they’ve gotten bigger, more challenging.  They aren’t just my problems anymore.  They’re the problems of everyone I love and care about.  Myself included.  But it’s sobering to realize as a parent, that there might be a lot more to that old saying about taking a village to raise a child.  Kaleb’s teachers get through to him in times when I can’t.  There are days when they ask me how we handle X, Y, & Z when all I want to do is ask how they got past A & B.

Then, there’s Mase.  Ooooohhhhh The Mase Bug.

It started off as a totally absurd Dora-Inspired nick-name.  The kind of thing that starts because it’s too late for the hospital to do anything but batten down the hatches and tell you to hold on.  An hour later you find yourself face-to-face with this little dude (who may just have the most expressive eyes on Earth), while silently still singing the song Dora sang to help the Mommy Bug-a-bug find her baby bug-a-bug in the episode you fell asleep watching with your toddler.  Or… maybe I wasn’t singing so silently.

Now, I actually think it might be a thingThe Mase Bug.  He’s cute.  He bats those ridiculous eyelashes over those big brown eyes and you want to smoosh his little cheeks.  He says goofy, silly things, and makes absolutely no sense, and you just adore it.  Despite the fact that he’s four, and has a perfectly functional vocabulary he is completely competent in using.

My curious, destructive, charming, deceptively smart boy.  He is his daddy’s clone.  He’s too smart, and too distracted.  By everything and nothing.  He may not being paying attention outwardly, but he is fully tuned in when you think he isn’t.  He wants everything his way, otherwise, well… you can just kiss that cute little butt of his and wish him safe travels – ‘cause he will cease existing in your world the minute you stop making sense in his.  Now, to be fair, both boys are very much like that.  But Kaleb lets you know when you’ve stepped off his planet (usually by screaming that you are wrong).  Mason just checks out.  He won’t return the key – I swear he’s a time travelling Muse for The Eagles.  He’ll check out any time he wants – but he won’t ever leave.

You can sit with him and talk and talk and talk to him until you are rainbow colored.  But unless what you are saying consists of certain key words or phrases, you could be talking ancient Greek.  ‘Cause he is not listening.  He’s thinking about a hundred different other things.  He isn’t building like his big brother.  He’s not dreaming of LEGOs or colored pencils.  He’s thinking about how one car went faster than the other, and he is wondering why.  He’s ripping apart brand new toys just to figure out where things are, where they’d be better suited, and why other things are missing.

He wants to watch me cook, because he wants to figure out what the difference is between a raw egg and a scrambled egg.  Start to finish, he has to understand the entire process or he is not satisfied.  He wants to know why the dome light comes on in the car when the door is opened but turns back off when it’s closed.  He doesn’t just want to know, but needs to know the how and the why.  He wants it faster, louder, and bigger.  And if he has to rip something apart to see what was different inside this toy, versus that toy – he will do it in a heartbeat.

He’s singled minded, and determined.  He’s brilliant, but stubbornly makes everyone show him how to do everything multiple times before he’s satisfied knowing he can do it himself.  He’s loving, but only to certain people at certain times.  He’s distant, but he feels so strongly for those he loves, it’s almost become a defense.   By all accounts – he’s just like Daddy. Smart, sweet, stubborn, with an insatiable curiosity, and a unique, yet disquieting way of viewing the world.

They are us.  Our product.  Both of them.  Beautiful.  Strong.  Stubborn.  Isolated inside a world filled with people that love them, but don’t quite understand them.  Sometimes angry at the hands they’ve been dealt, when they played so much better than everyone else at the table.  Loyal.  Fun.  Joyous.  Intelligent.  Underestimated.  Overestimated.  Such a delirious mix of light and dark.

I forget as a parent (a lot), how I was as a kid.  How singled minded I was.  How absolutely focused I got on the things that interested me.  The things that gave me joy just by doing them on my own.  The things that made me… “Me”.  I’ve become so focused as an adult on making my kids “well rounded” that I forget that a part of becoming an adult is honing those solo interests.  Screaming when you feel like you’re going to explode.  The tantrums and the fights about the fairness of life.  Those things that make me so mad as a parent – I honestly couldn’t count how many of those I put my mom through when I was growing up.  They’re a part of growing up.  You don’t just wake up one day and realize “I’m 4, I should be potty trained.”  Or, “I’m 7, I can tie my shoes.”  Those are things you learn as you go.  Things other people teach you.  Frustration, anger, sadness, confusion – that’s part of life whether you’re a child or an adult.  You only learn how to channel and process those things by watching the adults in your life.

Of course, no matter how much I kicked and screamed I still had to do my math homework – but I was a hell of a lot more prone to do it (and turn it in…) if that meant I got an extra 20 minutes to do something I genuinely enjoyed at the end of the day.  Some days that was watching Gilmore Girls with my mom (Yes, I just did totally out you Mom, sorry).  Some days that was sitting on the kitchen counter picking apples out of the pie mix Nana was making when (I thought) she wasn’t looking.  Or going upstairs and getting lost in a story.  Every day I was a different version of myself.  Some days I wanted companionship, some days I didn’t.  Even as a small child.  That’s an easy thing to forget.

I think maybe it’s time we all take a few minutes to remember ourselves as kids – our HONEST selves.  How we really were, not how we like to think we were, and try to imagine applying it our lives now.

Think about what motivates you now – what motivates your spouse – what motivates your kids…

And I don’t mean money, work, grown up crap.  I said think like a KID. A little kid.  Little kids don’t think about money – at least not in concrete terms.  They think about the abstract.  If you could do one thing at the end of the day for twenty minutes, what would it be?   What about your spouse?  Your kids?  Not a group activity – save that for the weekends or holidays.  Not some sibling activity to force your kids to get along (BTW, if you have one of those I am beyond open to suggestions).  Not something for someone else either.  Be selfish, be abstract.  Think like a child.  Find a true, free, honest reward for surviving the day.

I’d spend twenty minutes writing.  Or doing something to further it.  Research, outlines, whatever – something just for me.  I’d give Daddy twenty minutes of complete he-man time – no phones, no kids, no email, nothing but peace and the understanding that comes with a perfect match of man and machine (just for the record, if this wasn’t an abstract, I’d give him twenty minutes a day flying instead).  I’d give Kaleb 20 minutes of LEGO time.  I’d give Mason twenty minutes to talk about, throw, drive, or destroy any 3 toy vehicles of his choice.

If we all stopped looking at life like a race to be won, a battle to be waged – and started thinking about how to encourage the people next to us to be better, happier versions of themselves, instead of constantly trying to make everyone be like us, think like us, want what we want – just imagine how much better and happier we would all actually be…

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The Munsters…

I’m baaaaaaack…

Though why I felt the need to make that sound like an ominous thing I have no idea.  Clearly, I’ve been gone for a while – and for that I apologize.  It’s been a simply insane 6 months.  So, today I’ll play catch up, and I swear I’ll do my best to get back on track with the Monster reports!

Let’s see, where should we start?

Oh!  I actually got married (those of you that know me are probably still pondering such a miraculous event, and those of you who were directly involved with the sanity *AKA Miss Lisa* are probably still sending thanks to the universe that it’s over)!  Growing up I never figured myself for the marrying kind.  I mean, let’s be honest here – I am a giant pain in the ass.  I’m stubborn, have an issue keeping my thoughts to myself, I absolutely loathe dishes and laundry (the two things that just never seem to go away), oh and then there’s the whole ‘crazy as a loon’ thing I’ve got going on too.  Somehow or another I managed to wind up with a man crazy and brave enough to want to marry me – and the fact that he still wanted to marry me in the midst of all of my fanatically insane wedding planning is a testament to either his own brand of lunacy, or the size of his you-know-whats!  So, anyway, here we are, married.  Eventually I’ll throw some pictures up for your viewing pleasure – after I finally pin the silly man down long enough to go through them.

So, now onto the more important things – the Monsters.

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Let’s start with the main man, Kaleb.

Oh, Kaleb.  My budding thief, word connoisseurfood snob *ahem, I mean critic*, scream king, master builder, tree house dreamer, beverage expert, and all around living breathing proof that insanity is hereditary.  First things first – it was time for a medication change.  After three years, we’d hit the limit with his current medication, and after his latest growth spurt (seriously, how freaking big is he going to get?!) it was no longer doing the job.  Allow me to explain that statement.  Kaleb went from a wily, crazy, creative, loud, messy monster to… well… the truth?  A total nightmare.  We couldn’t contain him.  And I don’t mean to sound like we didn’t try – because oh good golly did we ever.  But it so wasn’t happening.  He was completely out of control.  The violent mood swings and meltdowns increased 50 fold.  The ability to stop and listen long enough for words to sink in – completely vanished.  Grocery shopping turned into a marathon game of “get in, get out, quick quick quick before the screaming causes someone to kick us out”.  Dresser drawers destroyed, toys dismantled, books shredded, ear drums pierced.

Basically, it was time for a change.  Unfortunately, our family is more like the Musters than the Cleavers, and nothing ever goes right.  For starters, the boys’ insurance plans got changed in May (can we say pain in the ass?).  Which in turn, meant we changed pediatricians – something I’d been wanting to do for a while.  However, I clearly didn’t think through the consequences of changing doctors in the middle of a state-wide game of musical chairs.  Within days I had a call from Kaleb’s neurologist informing me that due to the new pediatrician, we needed an updated referral in order to go to our appointment the following week.  So, I immediately call the new doc, requesting the very simple act of faxing over a referral so we can go to his neuro to discuss the medication change.  And I was promptly informed that they wouldn’t do it without seeing him.  Which, due to the previously referenced game, they couldn’t do until October.  Ummmmm what?!  No.  Unacceptable.  Danger Will Robinison.  I cannot wait until October.  He needs his meds changed, and he needs it now.

He needs time to adjust before school starts.  We need time to decide the correct dosage, make sure there are no negative side effects (you know, like how he rabidly devoured anything with a hint of sugar within a five mile radius when he changed his ADHD meds last summer?), and you know – chill him the hell out!  So, now I had to play a new game.  Ring around the freaking rosy with the insurance company and every pediatrician’s office in the damn county.  After a week of frustrating phone calls, I threw in the towel and requested to be sent back to pediatric hell (AKA his previous doctor’s office).  Once done – quite quickly at that, I’m pretty sure the poor lady at the insurance company has started making signs to ward off evil every time she discovered it was me on the other end of her phone – I then had the delightful task of wrangling a referral out of the world’s worst doctor’s office.  Now, don’t get me wrong – it was never the doctor I had an issue with.  It was just everything else.  The fact that I’d show up fifteen minutes early for every appointment, yet never actually see anyone until two hours past my appointment time.  The fact that nobody ever calls you back – ever.  The fact that the dragon lady receptionist wouldn’t give you a straight answer if her life depended on it.

Regardless, there I was, making a very simple request – please send an updated referral to my son’s neurologist.  The very same one you have been sending once a year since he was 18 months old.  Not so difficult.  Or so one would think.  A full month went by with me calling the neurologist every three days only to confirm that they had not yet received the referral, then calling the pediatrician to once again request that it be sent.  Finally, the lady on the phone confirmed the doctor she was sending it to – who just so happened to be the sleep specialist Kaleb hasn’t seen in years – not the neurologist.  The next day we finally got to reschedule Kaleb’s appointment, wham bam thank you ma’am!  Of course, it was for three weeks away, pushing us ever closer to the start of school.  Now, we’ve got him on new meds – but of course we’re on the lowest dose possible to start, and have to wait six weeks to go back to increase the dose if necessary (which, it most certainly is).  In the meantime, Kaleb has been a busy boy – but more on that later!

Now, on to the Mini Monster…

Ah, Mason.  Little devil.  Seriously.  Yes, he’s cute.  He’s freaking adorable.  He’s melt-in-your-mouth-sweet when he wants something from you.  He’s inquisitive as all get-out, to an excessive degree.  I mean, how many times can one person hear “what’s that?” in a fifteen minute time span without starting the slide to complete madness?  He’s also stubborn, aggressive, picky, obsessed with cars (still) and deceptively manipulative.  Oh, have I also mentioned that the kid has an arm reminiscent of a child-version of Cy Young?  I’m not joking.  If you had any idea how many times I’ve been pegged in the head by that dead-on aim you’d end up with sympathy headaches.

Not too much has changed in the world of Mase in the past few months.  His vocab is better – strangers can almost understand him more often than not!  His fine motor skills… well, we’re working on that.  He still refuses to use utensils – not that he can’t, he’s just stubborn and lazy, and prefers the easy way (can you really blame him?).  He’s still obsessed with vehicles of all mode and make.  Trucks, cars, buses, emergency vehicles, trains, boats, planes, helicopters, you name it – if it has an engine and moves, we likely have a miniature version sitting somewhere in the house suspiciously positioned for maximum foot injury.  I have to get him a new copy of his “Things That Go!” Tag book for his birthday because he reads it so often it’s hanging on by a wing and a prayer.

Mason started full-day Pre-K this year.  Cue mom getting caught fist pumping and yelling “I’m Free!” in an elementary school parking lot.

All summer long we counted the days.  7 precious hours to actually accomplish something without having to drop everything every five seconds to prevent Monster 1 from strangling Monster 2.  Or Monster 2 from throwing a giant dump truck at Monster 1’s head.  Or the destruction of the house (massive fail on that one)… 7 chaos free hours, five days a week – imagine the possibilities!  Just imagine!  We certainly did.  Dreams of solo grocery store trips and actually eating my own lunch floated through my head like relentless torture.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my kids to death, and I’d do anything for them.  But holy crap.  Between Kaleb’s constant meltdowns and the two of them constantly at each other’s throats, it was just about impossible to even leave the house with them, let alone actually go do something fun.  Add in the cabin fever we were all experiencing by the end, and can you blame me?  I’m just proud I didn’t spend the entire first day of school curled up on the couch in my snuggy watching the freakin’ Vampire Diaries.

Anyway, back to Mase.  He’s officially a big kid now.  No, that does not mean he’s potty trained.  I swear the kid fluctuates between being convinced the toilet contains the devil, or determining the sole purpose of the device is to wash his favorite dinosaurs and matchbox cars.  But he is going to school full time now.  Now, originally, I was seriously skeptical.  Like considering getting a variance and driving him to and fro every day for the next two years to keep him in the school he was in instead of the new one.  Why, you ask?  Because he was being transferred to the school Kaleb was at 2 years ago.  The one that suspended him 17 times in a span of 3 months because the teacher quite simply (and this is a direct quote from her) “didn’t want to deal with him”.

Yeah, remember that?  Fun times.

However, I’ve got a whole lot more confidence this time around.  The reason?  There are actually a couple.  First, Mase isn’t Kaleb.  Was I worried about his brother’s reputation preceding him and making the road a bit bumpy?  Are you kidding?  I was terrified.  However, we finally got a lucky break.  When I went to the IEP meeting to discuss this upcoming year, I couldn’t have been more thrilled – he was getting a teacher I actually knew (not well, but well enough to have faith that things were going in a good direction), and liked.  I’d met her on multiple occasions while Kaleb attended the school, and I have a great deal of admiration for her – in much the same manner I do for Kaleb’s current teacher, who has turned into no less than a walking talking miracle for him.  So, that right there was a great big chunk of balm on my nerves.

The icing on the cake?  The administration has changed.  I don’t know where the old principal went, and quite frankly, I don’t care.  I don’t hate the woman, I’m sure she’s probably a generally nice lady who did her best.  However, I don’t take well to my child being treated like nothing more than a pest that won’t stop circling your head.  As much as I’d like to say she went out of her way to help him – it just isn’t true.  The VP at the school he’s at now?  I could, would, have, and will continue to say that he’s gone above and beyond.  It’s an insane comfort to know the people in charge of my child’s school actually care about the children – because I’ve met plenty that don’t in my short lifetime.  So, new administration, new teacher, new beginning.

So far Mase seems to be loving it – though I do feel bad – nobody sees the Mase-train coming until it’s steamrolled over them a couple dozen times.

So, there we have it.  New school year, new meds, oh and we finally got a golf cart!  We then promptly destroyed one of the batteries.  Yep.  We’re definitely more of the Munster type of family on this block.

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Decency Defied…

What happened to Customer Service?  What about Common Decency?  Common Sense?

Apparently, they’ve all vanished in the suck hole that is corporate America.

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I’m so angry at the stupidity, and lack of human decency I’ve been assaulted with lately I could seriously break something.  For starters, I can’t get a single pharmacy in this town to fill a stupid prescription – but instead of telling me they can’t fill the prescription – they take it, and then wait for me to call two days later to see what the heck is going on before saying “Oh.  No, we can’t fill it.  See, you have to do X, then the doctor has to do Y, then the insurance company has to do Z.  After you have done that, run a marathon through giant fields of dog feces, climb the Empire State Building like King Kong, invent x-ray vision and win the state lottery in at least 30 states… well, after that maybe we’ll consider it.”

Okay, yeah, a bit dramatic really.  But the first part of that statement is actually fact (but for all the fat lot of good it did me sitting around waiting for a phone call for two days, they may as well have told me to do the rest).  So my question is…

Why didn’t you tell me this in the first place?!  Why did you sit in your stupid little pharmacy, behind your stupid little counter, with your stupid little coat, and not inform me that you could not do what you said you could do?  Why, when you attempted to put my order in your little computer box there, did you not immediately think oh, we can’t fill this just yet.  Let me call this person and let them know what has to be done first, so they don’t waste their time?  

Heaven forbid we use a little bit of common sense or decency here people.

Now – truthfully, it’s been a month since that happened, but in light of recent events, I felt the need to bitch about it again, so, sorry for that.

Today – the problem today – is a certain corporate wedding dress chain that decided to pull a stunt that I will likely be bitching about for DAYS.  Once again, a surprising (or not so much?) lack of common sense, human decency, and just plain good customer service has caused me the mother of all headaches.

Now, when I started this little adventure, I knew there were going to be snags.  I knew there were going to be things that stressed me out, and I knew things weren’t going to go perfectly smooth.  However, I also never envisioned myself going insane over any of it.  Did I expect to be a little panicked at times?  Of course.  I did not however, foresee myself on the phone yelling at some dimwitted store clerk like some lunatic on the Oxygen channel.   I picked out the bridesmaids dresses months ago.  I did this to give my girls (many of whom are out of state) plenty of time to get in, pick the one they liked best out of three (see – I’m a nice bride.  I gave my girls options because I wanted them to feel happy and beautiful. Nice bride.), and get it ordered in plenty of time.  Then came snag number one:  one of my dresses was discontinued.

Okay, no big.  I went in, I picked out a new dress, put it in the system, gave the girls a heads up, and that was that.  A few small bumps in the road later, and everything is still hunky dory.  Until today.  One of my girls went in last week to pick up her dress, only to learn they weren’t carrying them in stores any more.  No big, we can order it.  Well, apparently, if you order a dress, you have to pay in full – no deposits, no payments, just cold hard cash in hand.  Again, okay, we can work this out.  And we do.

I call the store today to order the dress, since the store informed my bridesmaid that the dress would take anywhere from 6-8 weeks to come in.  Not wanting to cut it too close, I call ready to get it on the way.  Only to be informed that it’s been discontinued.  It was discontinued weeks ago.  Not only did they not inform the bridesmaid when she physically went to the store – they didn’t bother to so much as send me a freaking carrier pigeon.  At first I’m stunned.  That gave way pretty quickly to serious anger.  I would love, love to know why nobody even thought to give me a call and inform me that my freaking bridesmaid dress was discontinued?!  The girl on the phone informs me that they don’t like to call the brides more than three times – since they don’t want to bombard us with phone calls.

This is a joke, right?  You people fill my e-mail with more junk mail on a daily basis than any other company I’ve ever given my email address to.  And you don’t want to bombard me?!  This is not some idiotic blowout sale offer.  This is not some stupid “Downtown meets DIY” email.  This is a good freaking reason to call me!  Not to mention, I’ve got 17 voice messages from you people from the month of December alone with a bunch of offers that don’t even apply to me!  And you choose now not to call?

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I ask how I can get the dress, what other stores have it, etc.  Apparently, they took every single one of these dresses, mailed them up north, and sold them at a freaking clearance sale!  There’s one dress left in the entire country, a grand 4 sizes too big, and it’s in New-freaking-Mexico!  Yeah, and how much is that going to cost in alterations?  Well, stutter-stammer-stutter later – she can’t give me that quote.  Of course not.  Because it would cost more than the dress!  Then she proceeds to apologize for the “Miscommunication”.  Miscommunication?!  Lady, there was no communication.  How about we call a spade a spade here?  I make it very clear I’m not happy about having to pick a new dress with so little notice (try none) so late in the game, I hang up, call the corporate office, and leave a not so subtle message requesting a supervisor call me ASAP.

I find a new dress – well, should I say – I find the exact same dress minus one decorative detail, on the website.  I click on it, check out the shipping…

5-10 days.  DAYS!  These people are telling me it’s going to take two months to get a dress in, when I can order it off the website and get it within two weeks?!  Are you joking?

So, there you have it – everyone is going to go in, get fitted, go home and get on the computer.  Cause this is just plain nuts.  It makes me so sad to see how little effort people put forth anymore for other people.  Chivalry may not be dead, but common decency is certainly nearing extinction.

I feel better now, I’m going to go get my kids off the bus, and hopefully at least one of them is in the mood to snuggle with Mommy, cause this chick needs a hug.

The Assignment…

OH for the love of Pete (who the hell is Pete, anyway?  What’s so special about this guy that he pops up in all sorts of non-swearing swearing?).

If I have to hear one more second of this whining, screaming, slamming, smacking, shrieking, throwing, kicking meltdown extravaganza I may very well go lock myself in a closet with a stocked mini-fridge and a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.  And by fully stocked I am not talking about Juicy Juice here.  Okay.  Deep breath.  I am not actually naive enough to believe that would do me any good.  For starters, my bedroom closet is the Party Express Catch All right now – all of my party supply crap bins are in overflow mode and I haven’t quite felt like dealing with the mess.  There’s barely room enough for me to grab clothes, let alone get comfortable with a mini-fridge.  Even if there were, I’m well aware that the drama would follow me.  That’s kinda how it works.  Mom has a headache?  Let’s see how loud we can be!  Oh well.  It’s a nice fantasy at least.

Apparently there’s just something in the air today.  Don’t ask me what, because if I knew that I’d have found a solution to this by now.  But both of the kids are completely on edge today.  I’m sure part of it has to do (at least on Kaleb’s part) with the fact that he was up at 4:30 this morning (again) and he still has a cold.  Mason… well, he’s just Captain OCD when it comes to those damn matchbox cars.  Heaven forbid they don’t line up just right  every single time.

So, here’s the deal.  Kaleb, as I said, was up well before the crack of dawn (for the third time this week).  First he was in our hallway, then behind the couch, then on the couch, then under the desk, then attempting to build a house with blocks – at five in the morning.  miraculously, at this point Mason was still asleep, and judging from the stuffy snores coming from his general direction, in need of more sleep.  And Kaleb was in no way helping to maintain his brother’s peaceful snores.  After hearing the blocks go crashing down, I jumped out of bed again and ran out to see what was going on.  Of course, Kaleb’s answer came at a decibel about 7 octaves too high for the current situation and I just about had a mini omg-he’s-going-to-wake-mason stroke.  I sent him back to his room, informing him for the third time so far that it was way too early to be running about the house like a giant sound wave.  I gave him a book, closed his door quietly, and went back to bed.  For all of ten minutes before he emerged again only to go rummaging through the pantry.

This went on until it was time for his alarm to go off.  After he informed me that he kept leaving his room to avoid the alarm I wanted to smack myself.  His alarm wasn’t even set!  I had purposefully left it off because he stayed home from school sick yesterday, and I didn’t know if he would be going in today until I was able to see how he was feeling.  Obviously, he was feeling well enough to get his hyper-active loud and proud tush on that bus.  After arguing over his clothes for ten minutes (I had given him a tee-shirt to wear under his long sleeve hooded shirt because it was supposed to warm up today, and he insisted on wearing the tee-shirt over the hoodie.  He looked absurd, but it so wasn’t worth the fight before I’d had any real caffeine, so I let it go), arguing over his applesauce (I want pudding! Than you shouldn’t have gone running around the house at the butt-crack of dawn), arguing over his blankie, and finally fighting over his refusal to untie his shoes… we finally got him on the bus.

Of course, Mason woke up 30 minutes later.

I had to go grocery shopping, and this morning was the only real chance I was going to have, so I packed up the kid and off we went to CrazyLand (AKA Walmart).  After discovering a couple quarters in my jacket pocket we checked out the gumball machines.  I then spent the next 78 minutes of my life listening to my three year old insistently asking for cupcakes (“We get cupcakes?  Cupcakes?  My cupcakes?  Cupcakes Mommy?  Pleaaaassssse?) which I did end up buying, and will end up eating all by myself because oh man were they good today!  We did our shopping, and got home with just enough time to put away the groceries and get the Mini-Monster on the bus.

Daddy and I had to leave immediately after to go sign a contract for the place we’re renting out for the wedding rehearsal party – or so we thought.  Twenty minutes in traffic and one closed bridge later, we found ourselves going over all the details I have literally gone over on the phone more than half a dozen times in the last 8 months.  So, instead of signing a contract, we ended up working it up, and were informed it would be emailed to us.  *sigh*  Who knew this wedding business was so complicated?  I have a whole new respect for those brave enough to make careers out of planning this nonsense!

Got home, did dishes, etc… all the other normal daily crap, and realized with a start that I had all of three minutes before I had to leave to get Mason off the bus.  Everything was hunky dory until we got home.  Milo, in his typical “OMG-you-were-gone-forever-now-I-need-to-be-loved-right-this-very-second-loveme-loveme-loveme fashion, came bolting through the living room at light speed.  In the process, he managed to run right through the cars in the middle of the living room floor.  The ones Mason had painstakingly lined up this morning.  The ones I went out of my way to avoid all day so as to prevent another matchbox car catastrophe (you should have seen the hallway last week.  There was a 75 car pileup in front of the bathroom door).  And just like that, everything spiraled out of control.

Mason lost it.  LOST.  IT.  Dropped down to the ground like he couldn’t stand the pull of gravity for one second longer.  Then the kid let out a scream worthy of a high soprano opera star.  After that the real fun began… again.  Throwing the cars all over the house with as much force as possible.  Screaming what sounded like jumbled obscenities at the dog.  Repeatedly hitting himself in the head as hard as he could.  Normally, I’ll let this go until he figures out how to calm himself down, despite my overwhelming desire to make the kid stop smacking himself.  Partly because he really needs to learn how to calm himself down.  But mostly because every time I try to intervene he ends up louder, more angry, and more violent.  Unlike Kaleb (who always aimed his physical anger at yours truly), Mason has a tendency to aim his anger at himself (which I’d honestly prefer, he’s really going to hurt himself one of these days).  So I usually sit close by, and monitor him until he seems more receptive to me involving myself.  But considering he was on the verge of slamming his face into the floor with some serious force, and I had to get Kaleb off the bus in under five minutes, it was time for Mommy to jump in.  This of course resulted in more screaming, more face slamming, and more frustration for both of us.  I set him down, grabbed up all the cars, lined them back up, and he stopped.  He looked at the cars, then looked at me, gave me a face, yelled at me not to touch his cars (“My cars!  Mason’s cars!  You understand?!”  At least, that’s what it sounded like), and went back to putting them in the proper order.

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Crisis averted.  Well, crisis stopped at least.  Until Kaleb got off the bus seven minutes later.

This time we didn’t even make it down the driveway before the meltdown started.

Every week Kaleb receives a homework assignment.  This might seem a little crazy for kindergarten, but considering he’s actually doing first and second grade work, it’s good for him.  Typically, he comes home with a packet on Monday, and it is to be turned in on Friday.  The packet usually consists of five pages.  The first page is vocab/sight words for the week (so far he’s known them all already), as well as a list for me to fill out of what he’s reading each day during his 20 minutes of required reading time.  The second page is typically some form of math assignment.  The third page usually asks him to write out sentences using each of the vocab words on the first page, the fourth page is a comprehension assignment – read the paragraph, answer two questions about the paragraphs.  The last page usually asks him something random (what did you do last weekend, what is your favorite food etc) along with a place for him to draw a picture of his answer.

This hasn’t been a problem for quite some time – he generally enjoys doing his homework.  However, last week she upped the ante a bit – I’m guessing because she picked up on what we were coming to realize – it was too easy.  So, she added two new pages.  Another math assignment (with the world’s most absurd word problem.  Why do people insist on coming up with the most obscure problems for kids to solve?), and another writing assignment.  This was more of a creative writing assignment, so I didn’t really think it’d be difficult – given Kaleb’s outrageous imagination.  Oh was I wrong.  Daddy and I have been fighting with Kaleb about this homework since Wednesday.  He did the normal four pages and then came completely unglued at the sight of the two new ones.  One meltdown after another, and the homework still wasn’t done as of this morning.

So, when he got off the bus today I asked if he had homework – since he missed school yesterday I assumed he did.  He immediately started to spaz out.  The whining, dropping to the ground, high pitched “I hate homework” shriek.  All the way back to the house, barely shuffling along (once he got off the ground) fighting and complaining about the prospect of homework.  When he was finally somewhat calm I sat him down and told him he needed to finish last week’s homework – today.  He didn’t have to worry about this week’s homework right now, but the work from last week needs to go to school tomorrow.  The last thing we need is for him to get into an early habit of turning in his work late.  When he started to whine again, I informed him that he had until the end of the day to get it done, or I was going to take the Lego Airplane out of his room until his homework got finished.

Needless to say at this point, as I am sure you’ve figured out where we’re going from here – a gigantic meltdown ensued.  Pencil thrown across the room, a six year old thrown onto the floor, brain rattling, glass shattering shrieks, punctuated with high-pitched whining shouts of “I don’t want to do my homework and you can never, never, ever make me do things I don’t like!  You need to be nice to me because you are a Mommy and you can’t be mean!”  This went on for a few minutes before I got down on the floor, and informed him that if he was going to continue carrying on he needed to take it to his room until he was calm enough to talk to me.  His response?

“I HATE YOU!”  

Now, I am well aware of how freely this phrase leaves the mouths of children.  I said it plenty as a kid myself.  But oh… I was so completely unprepared for it.  The kid completely rocked me right out of my shoes.  I told him as calmly as I could to go to his room, then immediately walked away.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment.  The first time my child told me he hates me.  Five minutes later he came out of his room, and asked for milk.  I told him once more that I wasn’t going to give him a single thing until he first – apologised to me for the terrible thing he said, and second – did his homework.

He offered up the apology quickly enough, and I then spent a few minutes trying to make him understand just how terrible it is to say what he said.  I’m pretty sure it went in one ear and out the other.  I then told him to do his homework.  He asked for help with the word problem (yeah I don’t blame you kid – we’re going to be in deep crap when he hits middle school math), and I sat down to work it out with him.  As soon as he had an answer put together, I told him to write it down and finish his homework.  Enter Meltdown mode.  Again.  After another five minutes of screaming, back to his room he went.

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Now, an hour later, his homework is done, dinner is in the oven, and Mason is in his room screaming at his cars again (I swear on all that is holy I am going to melt those suckers down and throw them in the river one of these days).  It’s been one heck of a day, and I am very much looking forward to bed time.  I love my kids – more than anything – but I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to start applying wrinkle cream at night (ha!  Like I’ll ever remember to do that!).

I hope you all had a better day than we did!  And I really hope tomorrow is better – though I’m not super optimistic, stupid early release days.

8 Days a Week…

Okay, it’s been more than a week, so obviously I haven’t been that great at blocking my time to write lately.  Though, to be fair, I spent all day yesterday with the world’s worst headache and the perfect mold of my bottom on the couch to prove it.  I could barely look at written words, let alone be the one writing them!

Mason is sick – we kept him home last Friday because he had a slight fever and a leaky nose.  He was fine Saturday and Sunday, runny nose again Monday, fine Tuesday and Wednesday, and then there was this morning.  The kid’s nose looks like it’s trying to run the Boston Marathon and with all the coughing and sneezing going on he sounds like a bad Allegra commercial.  No fever (hopefully it stays that way), but he’s just about as miserable as he can get.  Currently he’s curled up in bed watching The Backyardigans between bouts of sneezing, coughing, whining, and attempting to fall asleep.  So, after a phone call to cancel an appointment to do dinner tasting for the wedding, a phone call to let his teacher know he was going to be absent from school, and another phone call to let the bus know they don’t have to drive all the way out here, he is officially taking the day off.

The book contest I entered last year starts back up again in less than a month, and I decided to take another go at it.  Probably futile, but what the hell, right?  Of course that means going through and doing a crap pile of editing, which I honestly don’t believe is anybody’s idea of fun (maybe I can blame yesterday’s headache on that).  I guess you never know though, maybe I’ll make it further this year than I did last year.  Truthfully I was shocked I made it past the first round last year, so I might as well throw it out there and see what happens.

Kaleb decided on a 5am treck to our bedroom this morning, which included singing to himself, and driving me, Daddy and Milo all a bit nuts.  Of course, making me crazy seems to be a special kind of talent for him lately.  He’s been super lovey lately – which I adore – except when it entails him gluing himself so tightly to my rear end I can no longer tell where he stops and I begin.  I was all about the snuggling yesterday afternoon, since we spent the majority of the time curled up on the couch watching a How It’s Made marathon.  Until you throw in the fact that my very cute 6 year old is physically incapable of sitting still or staying quiet for more than 30 seconds at a time.  Have I ever mentioned that my child doesn’t posses an inside voice?  As far as I’ve been able to tell, Kaleb has three noise settings – whisper, loud, and ear-shattering, migraine murdering, glass rattling LOUD.  Of course, this third level is the most frequently used, and quite often a source of trouble for the Monster Man.

He spent the weekend trying to scheme up ways to earn 124 points – and he was specific.  This was the number he NEEDED to have.  He needed 100 points for new Legos, 20 points for a new Build & Grow kit from Lowes, and 4 points so he could watch TV at bedtime.  Of course, every time he brought this up I had to remind him that he already had four new Lego sets in the cabinet that hadn’t been built yet (birthday and Christmas presents), and we weren’t buying new ones until the ones he already had were built.  So, of course he spent the rest of the weekend cashing in points to built the sets he already had so he could set about working toward his goal.

I’m still really pleased with the points system, not only is it helping keep him a bit more on the “more cooperation, less trouble making” side of the law in the house, it’s helping him understand the concept of money and spending (something his mother obviously never really learned well).  I’m waiting to hear from the school to schedule another IEP meeting, which, if all goes well, will require some reworking of the points system.  At the last meeting we had, it was decided that we would wait until January to see if he was ready to lose the harness on the bus.  His bus driver commented not that long ago that he felt Kaleb was ready to be done with it – which I’m taking as a very good sign.  Hopefully we can get rid of the thing and be done with it – which means we’ll have to edit the points board, since a good number of the points he earns every day are from wearing the harness to and from school without complaint, getting a 100% on his daily bus log, and actually riding the bus home in the afternoon (there was a good month there where he was refusing to get on and I had to go pick him up every afternoon).

So, I suppose in preparation for this I should start figuring out some replacements.  I’m not sure what though – what kind of chores can I give my stubborn six year old to do around the house?  He makes his bed almost every day (1 point), puts his laundry away when it’s folded (2 points) keeps his dirty clothes in the basket (1 point)… there’s also cleaning his room (1 point), cleaning the living room (2 points – since usually more than half of it is Mason’s mess), flushing the toilet (1 point – you wouldn’t believe how big an issue this has become), brushing his teeth (1 point) with toothpaste (2 points – though thanks to Dr. Barnes, it’s not nearly as much of a fight as it was a couple months ago)…

I mean, I can think up a hundred things to have him do, but rarely are they consistent, need-to-do on a daily basis type of stuff.  I don’t really want him unloading the dishwasher – for one thing, sharp knives, glass and ceramic dish and bakeware… those aren’t a good mix for my pay-no-attention-to-what-I’m-doing kid.  Plus, he can’t reach 90% of the cabinets that contain the items he actually could put away.  We’ve tried the laundry thing before, but aside from the fact that I hate doing laundry, and it’s torture to have to stand there for an additional 40 minutes while he has constant meltdowns because his shirt isn’t folding perfectly – that’s something I tend to do while they’re in school.  So, thoughts on that?  Helpful hints or ideas?  He’s not big enough to push the beast of a vacuum around the house (and come on, I’m not Martha freaking Stewart, my vacuum under almost no circumstances runs more than once a week, at best).  Dusting… see previous statement.  I’m not homemaker of the year.  I’m barely homemaker of the minute on a good day!

finally finished putting up the new decor in Mason’s room (and yes, we are talking almost a year of me trying to accomplish this, if you must know).  Got all the letters down, new posters, shadowboxes, and decals up.  Then came time to touch up the paint in the places it came off with the letters (note to self, maybe using hot glue to attach them to the walls wasn’t the best idea in the world).  Annnnnd I totally screwed the pooch.  Instead of using the light blue paint from Mason’s room, I somehow (I am entirely blaming this one on Daddy, cause he is the one who gave me the paint) managed to use the blue from Kaleb’s room – which is significantly darker.  Doesn’t look like it when it’s wet… sure as heck looked like it dried.  So, now I’m going to have to find the right paint, and paint over the patches of dark blue all over the kids room.  And yes, I painted them all with the wrong paint.  How was I supposed to know paint gets darker when it dries, not lighter?  Is that some sort of universal painter knowledge or something?  Honestly, the last time I painted a wall I came within seconds of trailing paint throughout the entire house in the shape of my footprints (I have pictures to prove it).

I set up Mason’s drum set this weekend too.  I’m already regretting it.  I had to confiscate the drumsticks two days ago because world war three broke out over who got to play the drums (ahem, they are Mason’s drums – Kaleb got a keyboard for Christmas).  Santa should have brought me a nice set of noise-cancelling headphones.  And a bigger bottle of aspirin.  It’s extremely entertaining to watch though, if your ears can handle the racket.  Kaleb knocking out “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on the keyboard, and Mason beating the hell out of the drums – they make quite the sight!  Until they decide to try and out-noise each other.  That’s my cue to go hide in a dark corner somewhere.

Oh, and Kaleb has become completely obsessed with time.  Everything from demanding an exact minute dinner will be ready (When it’s done!  That’s when!  Which will be next Thursday if you don’t stop getting under my feet!), to counting down minutes (Mom, it’s 4:58.  Only two more minutes until 5:00 and it will be evening.  Mom, it’s 4:59, only one more minute until it’s evening.  Mom, it’s 5:00, it’s evening now.  Does that mean dinner is ready?), to letting everyone know exactly how many minutes are in how many hours.  Of course, the last one has got me amazed at certain points.  We were sitting at the dinner table talking the other night about the time I took him to Tampa to go see Laurie Berkner (yes.  I drove all the way to Tampa to watch a 45 minute kid’s concert and it was entirely, 100% worth it).  I said something to the effect of spending 6 1/2 hours in the car to take him there and back.  He asked how many minutes are in 6 1/2 hours.  I told him to figure it out – I asked him how many minutes are in 6 hours (expecting this to take a minute, thinking I might be able to get a mouthful of food in), and he immediately says 360.  Ummmm okay… so add thirty minutes.  He immediately starts beaming and says “390!  There are three hundred and ninety minutes in six and a half hours!”  I looked over at Daddy and silently asked if that was right – he took a minute to do the math and agreed that it was.

My six year old is better at math than I am.

Middle school is going to suck.

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I’m Only Happy When It Rains…

Even though it would appear we exchanged the rainy weather in Florida for the rainy weather in Massachusetts, so far the rain here has proven to be much more entertaining.  At least, when it comes to a couple of little Monsters.  You got a glimpse of that yesterday when I put up the pictures of Mason playing in his first “real” mud puddle.  obviously with all the rain we get at home, there are puddles all of the time – but rarely do you see an actual mud puddle.  Mostly it’s just sand or concrete.  That little adventure was magnified yesterday tenfold.

First, we had to go shopping yesterday to get food for the week, as well as some bug spray and anti-itch cream (OMG did the mosquitos up here get genetically modified or something?  They’re like the size of baby ptyerodactyls!) because Mommy and the boys are more sensitive than most to bug bites (read:  we swell up like balloons around the spot that’s been bitten, and the itching is so unbearable we tend to claw the bites open in our sleep).  Unfortunately, as Daddy was showering and everyone else was getting ready to head out, Mason was not.  Mason realized he had a rare moment to himself, so what did he do?  In under 30 seconds he spread dirt from a potted plant across just about every surface in the dining room.  Table, window, baseboards, floor, and so on.  He was covered in potting soil.  As was the dining room.  And all it took was 30 seconds of freedom.

I cleaned him, Granny K cleaned the table, Grandpa Dave cleaned the floor, and Daddy marveled at his child’s ability to create havoc in such a short amount of time.  Grandpa Dave made a comment at some point similar to “If that’s the worst he does while he’s here we’ll be fine.”  Daddy said exactly what I was thinking – that is almost certainly not the worst thing he will do.  So, mess cleaned up, we headed off to the new Super Walmart – at about the same time Mason would normally go down for a nap.  Now, there’s no point in trying to give the little rascal a nap while we’re here, because he’ll just weasle his way out of it, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a bit crotchety during the day.

We get to the store and headed over to look for something Daddy needed to help Grandpa Dave fix a light socket (this completely reminds me of a Dr. Who episode when Rory’s dad ends up in the Tardis while trying to help Rory fix a light socket).  Of course, to do so we have to go by the toys.  Or, should I say, the giant evil aisle filled with matchbox cars and monster trucks.  In other words:  Mason’s instant screaming ON switch.  Daddy and I were looking at outdoor toys when the screaming started.  We could hear him ten aisles down as if he were sitting right next to us.   We exchanged a glance and with a quick “He sounds like he’s dying” from Daddy, I headed toward the sound to see if everything was okay.  Of course it was.  Mason just wanted a car.  Kaleb was walking around with one of those giant balls they set up in nets all over the store like mean little “there’s no way you’re leaving this store without a ball you don’t need” traps.

Mason, sitting in the cart, proceeded to scream like someone was removing his fingernails with a rusty spoon for fifteen minutes.  Eventually Granny K caved (as pretty much all of us do at one point or another) and took him back to pick out a car.  Quickly, we headed over to the grocery section to avoid another incident if at all possible.  Eventually we figured out a plan, everybody ran around grabbing food and throwing it in the cart, and we headed to check-out.  One more quick stop at a store for produce (Daddy, Grandpa Dave, and the Monsters stayed in the car), and we were homeward bound.

We made lunch – which neither of the kids ate having eaten a bunch of snacks while shopping – and put the boys down to have some quiet time.  After a couple hours we headed outside to see what Daddy was up to, as he’d vanished shortly after lunch never to return.  While I discovered that Daddy was resurrecting an old fire pit (much to my delight, the future S’mores dancing in my head), Mason discovered a lawn mower while Kaleb enjoyed swinging and taking in the sights.

Mason has an obsession with lawn mowers.  I don’t know if this has been mentioned before or not, but he is absolutely in love with them (as well as anything else that has a motor and moves).  Mondays at home are Mason’s favorite because practically every house on our street within viewing range gets their lawn cut on Monday, and Mason gets to run around from window to window all day watching the lawn mowers in action.  Daddy notices Mason excitedly inspecting the lawn mower, and decides to take Mason for a ride.

This did not go as we had expected at all.  We anticipated glee, excitement, laughter.  What we got was a shrieking, angry little Monster who wanted “DOWN!”  Though I did get a good picture anyway.

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Shortly after that little adventure, Granny K, Grandpa Dave, the boys and myself walked over to the playground next door.  Kaleb and Mason both immediately honed in on the slide for a bit, then we went to swing.  Kaleb loves to swing.  I’ve been trying to figure out a way to hang a swing from one of the trees in our backyard for years, but it just won’t work.  Mason on the other hand, both loves and hates to swing.  He ended up sitting on my lap, facing me, with his legs wrapped around my back like a little spider monkey while I did the best I could at swinging without dropping him on his head, or falling back on mine.

Kaleb learned how to roll down a hill, and Grandpa Dave taught him how to pump his legs to get the swing to move.  After a while it was time to go, since they wanted to take the boys to a place called Natural Bridge.  I’d never heard of it, so I did a bit of googling on the way.  Here’s what Wikipedia had to say:

 “Natural Bridge State Park is a Massachusetts state park located in North Adams, Massachusetts, in the northwestern part of the state. It contains the only natural white marble arch/bridge in North America. The “natural bridge” for which the park is named, according to geologists, is 550 million year old bedrock marble, carved into an arch by the force of glacial melt water over 13,000 years ago.[1]

Formerly the site of a marble quarry from 1810 to 1947 and privately owned tourist attraction from 1950 to 1983, the site became a state park in 1985. The arch and associated quarry have long attracted attention from hikers, including Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1838, who wrote of it (among other local features) in his An American Notebook”

And of course, it started to pour on our way over.  Luckily, by the time we got there the rain had pretty much stopped and we were looking forward to a bit of a hike and some cool sites.  We managed to get almost there when the next storm came through.  And of course, Mason could not help himself, he was going to find a puddle.  This presented more than just a few problems – the biggest being that we were in the middle of a bunch of slippery marble on the edge of raging waters.  Foregoing the nice dry luxury of the umbrella, I went after the Mini Monster to help him find a place where he could play without the threat of slipping down a deadly slope.

We all ended up under a big tree that was blocking most of the rain, and Mason played away.  The rain let up and we continued our trek.  We found ourselves at the top of a waterfall, looking out at a dam as fog rolled in.  And we were in that same spot when the rain rolled back in as well.  Mason at this point had become downright miserably angry at all of us each time we made him leave a puddle to go look at a different spot.  We headed back over to the tree to wait out the rain, while Mason headed straight for a new puddle to play in.  After the first time he started to take off I jumped back into the rain to stay by him to make sure there were no more escape attempts.

Once the thunder rolled in it was decided we needed to leave.  This did not work for Mason.  Kaleb had been running around wearing a hat he took from Granny K’s car when we arrived, so most of the rain water didn’t so much as touch him.  Mason and I, on the other hand, were soaked right through.  I picked Mason up, and carried him back down to the car while he screamed to be let down the entire way.  On a really big plus, there were some pretty slippery stairs we had to tackle to get down to the car, and Kaleb managed to walk all the way down without freaking out.  I’m still really proud of him – I know he was probably freaked out of his mind.

We got back to the car, looking like a couple of drowned rats, while Mason continued to scream over the injustice of it all.  Daddy got a blanket for him and got him in the car, Grandpa Dave got a blanket for me and we headed out.  Of course it stopped raining as soon as we left.  The rest of the evening was spent trying to keep the kids happy and dry.  When they finally fell asleep Daddy and Grandpa Dave tried to start a fire.  After 30 minutes of battling damp branches, they finally got it going.  Just as the skies opened up again.

Whoever it is out there doing the rain dance, could ya give it a rest for a few days please?  We really want S’mores.

Here are some pictures from the adventure of yesterday – I never did get a picture of the Natural Bridge – it was raining by the time we got there and I couldn’t pull out my camera.  I’m sure you can find a good one if you google it though.

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A Kind Of Hush…

Mason, the murderous fish Monster has struck again.

And this time it was catastrophic.  7 dead fish.  Every single fish left in the tank is now floating in the bottom of a bowl.  Life cruelly ripped away from their glowy fins.

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And of course, it couldn’t have come at a worse time.

I’m writing this from the quiet comfort of Granny K and Grandpa Dave’s house in Massachusetts.  The fish incident happened on Sunday night – as Daddy and I were attempting to pack everyone’s bags, clean the house, and make sure we weren’t forgetting anything of relevance.  As I sat on the floor in the office switching Kaleb’s clothes to a different suitcase (I am constantly forgetting how big he is now – therefore, I always forget how much room he needs for clothes), Kaleb did something he wasn’t supposed to do.  I can’t even remember what he did at this point.  What I do remember is yelling “Hey!” which was followed immediately by a sinking feeling in my gut when Mason was the one to react to the admonition.

His reaction was typical trouble maker Mason.  He squealed, he laughed with conspiratorial joy, took off across the house, and when he thought nobody was looking he pulled a 180 and went back to what he was doing.  I asked Kaleb to find Mason and then tell me what he was doing.  Daddy heard this and went to look for Mason as well. Before Kaleb could tell me Mason was playing in the fish tank, I could hear the vein in Daddy’s forehead yelling (telepathically of course, I do know that veins cannot speak) for me to get my butt in gear and get over there before he succumbed to a stroke.

For two minutes we just stood at the counter (after properly yelling at and shooing away Mason) staring at the fish tank, wondering what on earth he’d thrown in it.  Finally, it was Daddy who figured it out.

“It’s Ritz Bitz.”

“What?  It can’t be Ritz Bitz.  I watched him shove practically the entire bowl in his mouth not fifteen minutes ago.  Where would he have gotten more?”

“He must have chewed them up then spit them back into the tank.”

“Why??  Why would he do such a thing??  Who spits half eaten Ritz Bitz into a fish tank??”

The answer, of course, is Mason.  Mason drags a stool over to the bar where the tank resides.  Mason removed the lid from the tank.  Mason spit a loaded mouth full of chewed upon Ritz Bitz into the tank.  And in doing so, Mason sealed the fate of the fish.

Daddy left to get a haircut, and I got to work on the tank – all the while giving Mason an imaginary verbal lashing the likes of which he will likely never see.  I emptied the tank, scrubbed it out, scrubbed the rocks, refilled the tank, and dumped the rocks back in.  Only to have a couple hundred tiny pieces of Ritz Bitz float out of the rocks.  Oh, Come on.  Really?

Empty the tank, clean it again, scrub the rocks again, fill it back up, dump the rocks back in… and still there are Ritz Bitz.  You have got to be kidding me – I would be pulling out my hair if my hands weren’t prunes.

Empty the tank, clean it again, say to hell with it and grab the small back of spare rocks in the cabinet, dump those in the water – no Ritz Bitz!  Pull out the filter and throw it in the trash upon realizing it’s covered in a gooey, buttery cracker layer.  Open up the new filter and run it under the water for a couple minutes, put it back in the tank.  Treat the water in the tank and start up the filter.  Daddy comes home from getting a haircut.

Finally, we transfer the fish back to their nice clean home.  And one by one, they completely spaz out.  Twitching, spinning, slowly sinking to the floor.  some of them seem to react when they get close to the filter.  Some of them just act all nuts for no visible reason.  Until, fifteen minutes after taking them out of the yucky Ritz Bitz infested water – they are all dead.

Kaleb watched this whole thing happen – and it was a bit disturbing to see how easily he took the whole “the fish are dying right now as I watch” thing.  One by one we pulled them out of the tank.  They ended up sitting in the bottom of a bowl on the kitchen counter because I was sad and couldn’t bring myself to flush them (yes.  I am sentimental about the fish.  The fish I didn’t even want.).  I then catch Mason throwing popcorn in the bowl of dead fish.  Oh child.  What on earth is wrong with you?  Why would you torture the already dead fish??

Anyway, I’m pretty sure we’re done with fish.  It was a nice idea.  In practice, it was traumatic.  Especially for Daddy, the fish, and myself.  I’m really glad we didn’t end up getting a hamster.

So, we are on vacation.  We’re spending one week with Daddy’s parents and family, and then we’re spending four days with my grandparents.  The last time I was up north Mason was barely a year old, and it was winter – so I froze my bony butt off.  But now… well, when I said earlier that it’s quiet – I certainly wasn’t talking about my kids (when are they ever quiet??), I was talking about the area.  We’ve lived in our neighborhood for a little over four years.  In that time I’ve becoming increasingly better at ignoring all of the constant noise happening around us.  But sitting here this morning, I listened to nothing.  Nothing.  I barely even knew what to do with myself.  There was no traffic, no planes starting up or flying overhead, no lawn mowers or any other kind of motorized noise.

It’s been so long since I’ve been around the quiet, when I first woke up I legitimately thought something was very, very wrong.  I knew I wasn’t deaf – I could hear Daddy snoring.  Zombie apocalypse?  Maybe.  But there are too many houses around for us not have heard some zombie-like noises throughout the night.  Nuclear bomb?  Well.  Really.  I happen to be really fond of myself, but even I know I’m not good enough to survive a nuclear attack that wipes out every other noise around me.

Of course, it was around that time that I fully woke up and realized it was just that quiet.  And as much as I relished it, a part of me was silently grateful when the kids got up and started running amok.  At least the chaos confirms that not only has there been no sort of apocalypse (after all, Mason needs at least three more years to finalize his plans), Hell has obviously not frozen over since neither of them were behaving.

Anyway, as soon as we arrived yesterday Mason jumped out of the car and headed for a mud puddle (it was raining).  Which he proceeded to jump, skip, and crawl around in with the kind of glee you rarely see on his face unless he’s making his brother crazy.  It will definitely be an entertaining week.

 

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