Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Double Team

Nights like last night make having another baby seem utterly foolish, in a take-your-tongue-and-stretch-it-over-your head kind of way.

Jamie has that zombie rattle cough that seems to be going around lately. I think he caught it from a preemie friend of ours, who definitely isn't big enough to handle being a zombie. He's in the hospital with it. Every time I hear my healthy six year old struggle with the congestion in his lungs, I worry and pray for the tiny non-zombie doing the same thing over at Children's hospital. I'm so glad we didn't give it to him...that would make me feel even more like a zombie mom than I already do.

Charlie isn't a fan of zombie brothers and their incessant hacking. Last night was a race to see who could get to mom and dad's bed first. Jamie slept on our floor so he wouldn't bother Charlie in their bedroom, but then Charlie wanted in on the fun too (it was 1am when he decided to pull the "this isn't fair" routine, does he have sibling radar?), so then we tried to put him back in his own bed. That went over about as well as you would expect a second-born to react to being left out. Charlie screamed bloody murder for over an hour, and was inconsolable. Then he was complaining of his legs hurting. Growing pains? So we massaged his legs and sang to him. He finally gave up and went to sleep around 3:15am... approx 45 minutes before Jim had to get up for work. What in the world would you do with a newborn in the midst of that sort of midnight circus?

I love snuggling with my boys in the morning. They like to slip into bed with me after their daddy leaves to work. Sometimes they tell me stories, or whisper secrets. Sometimes we sing songs or pray. Sometimes they drag me out of bed for food...and sometimes they bring the food to me and I prop open an eyeball to find cheerios raining down on my sheets.

But lately it's become a competition. Their morning ritual has started happening at 5 am, then 4 am, then 3 am, now 2 am... We've got two stubborn children fighting over blankets, mattress real-estate and pillow privileges. Not cool. I don't know if it's because Jamie was sick, or if this is the new "normal", but it's stopping tonight. I wish they could just enjoy the morning tradition without ruining the whole thing. That or we need a bigger bed.

Charlie got all his curls chopped off. *sniff sniff* I'm trying to be ok with it, but I miss the old mop.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I had forgotten...

I had forgotten that Star Tours at Disneyland made me toss my cookies when I was a child.

I was reminded of this insignificant memory when I took my kids to the science center yesterday for one of those "dome" Imax experiences. My kids (who can't sit still through even their favorite episode of Mickey Mouses) were enthralled. I on the other hand, made several frantic trips to the bathroom. All that videography of zooming over mountain tops and running through forests made me realize chasing boys around a park is much easier than I'd previously been giving it credit. At least your feet are firmly planted on the ground.

And then all those mind tricks in the space center. You know, the ones where you sit in a chair, and look in a mirror and it appears like you're floating upside down or something. The scientific explanation on the dutiful placard is lost as my kids race to see what crazy thing the next exhibit will do. They're like a dog team, exuberantly dragging their poor, broken sled along with them. For me it was a game to see how many optical illusions my body can handle before my three month long bout of food poisoning sends me frantically looking for the closest food repository station again.

Jamie calls his new sibling "chicken nugget". Very confusing when he tells the cashier "my mom throws up all the time because of the chicken nugget." He points and grins, while the cashier looks at me like I'm a walking billboard against eating McDonalds. Whatever the case, it's better than when Jamie didn't know and was only telling everyone "my mom throws up all the time." And I got the "Oh honey, here's a pamphlet on eating disorders."

When people ask if we are going to find out if it's a boy or a girl...we laugh. We want to know so badly, I think both of us are in denial we even have a baby until it has a name. Our big 20 week "anatomy ultrasound" is January 10th. But Jim keeps sending me ultrasound deals that I've already secretly researched myself. Has anyone tried those? Are they accurate? I'm not sure I will believe anyone but a doctor.

Jim is hoping for a girl, Jamie is positive it's a girl, and I'm pretty sure it's a boy. I keep having dreams that it's a boy and I find myself almost buying cloth diapers in boy colors before I remember to stop myself.

And that's the big news in the Ramsey household. I technically hit the second trimester last Saturday, but I still don't feel one whit pregnant. Just crazy.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The soul sucking vortex that is school

I caved. Sometimes the way you did things as a kid is just the way you have to do it as an adult. I have resisted buying Sing Spell Read and Write to get Jamie to like reading, but I finally went ahead and bought it. (there's a treasure chest and a race track. And I loved it as a child!) He likes curling up and looking at books, but if you ask him to sound out a word, it's like a cute stroller you were pushing turning into a semi truck you have to drag across sand. I hope (God please) that the songs and games in Sing Spell Read and Write will do the trick.

Being a second generation homeschooler has some distinct disadvantages. Or maybe my problem is that childhood is still too fresh in my mind. I cannot make my children do Saxon Math when it was just yesterday I was poking myself with a safety pin and swearing on my mother's, uncle's grave I would never put my children though that kind of insidious torture.

Speaking of torture. I wish I could go back to my 15 year old self and tell her... Being a parent is waaaay worse than being a kid. I'll even go so far as to say infancy and toddler-hood with all it's sleepless nights and temper tantrums, are still far easier than mothering school aged children. If parenting is like a graph...the more dependent your child is, the lower the stakes are, the more independent they are the higher the stakes are. So a three month old requires almost constant, around the clock care, but they can't sell drugs or get anyone pregnant. My six year old can make himself breakfast, feed the dog, and brush his own teeth, but he can also be bullied on the playground or flat out refuse to read and write.

Charlie on the other hand does the bullying on the playground. He's a tiny little chap, and though he's spent a good three years on this planet now, he's only about the size of a sturdy 18 month old. You'd think with his snuggling ways and his small huggable-ness, he'd have a hard time keeping up. Instead, I have to tell kids to take a ticket and line up to list their grievances against Charlie. The best one recently came from a seven year old. "That kid (points to Charlie) looked at me with a mean face." I apologized profusely and gave my child a stern talking to, but if he can already terrorize his older peers with a mere glance, then I can't wait to see what he could do on the basketball court or hockey rink. Last time I checked you couldn't get fouled for just looking mean. Charlie also thinks he knows how to read, but no one can convince him that How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head isn't about flying motorcycles... or that he's reading it upside down.

If I can stop completely freaking out about whether Jamie should be reading better...whether Charlie should be better at counting now or not. Or wondering, when are they supposed to be able to tie their own shoes again? What if they don't wear shoes with ties? What if Charlie never ever stops pitching a fit over using a fork?

...then I'm really enjoying this stage. Ha. No really.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lists and Syndromes

My children are suffering from a serious case of grandparents-syndrome.   I used to catch it as a child myself, so I suppose it's hereditary, common to all Adam and Eve's children.   Charlie spent the six days I was in Ohio, turning into an insufferably spoiled child.   He and Jamie both think the magic of the sun has been transferred into their veins, and the universe has deviated its orbit to now revolve around them.  I did not get the memo.

On top of that, Charlie has become a koala bear, clinging to me with feats of defiance against gravity, lest I disappear into the night again.  ... a cranky koala bear because he hasn't been sleeping or eating terribly well.  ...a adolecent, cranky, koala bear because he suddenly has an attitude like a 16 year old girl.  Last week it felt like he could barely string two sentences together, and this morning he put his hands on his hips, with a glare and said "I don't think you're a very nice person anymore.  You get me my breakfast now or I won't be friends with you."   

Flabbergasted.  This stage will have a parent-induced short life span.  

Random things I want to remember about this year thus far.

1)  We paid Jamie to potty train Charlie.
2)  Jamie gave up training wheels.
3)  Charlie beat up an eight year old.
4)  Jamie lost his first tooth. 
5)  Charlie started preschool
6)  Jamie started First Grade

Thursday night the power went out...everywhere in San Diego.  From the coast to Arizona.   It was like the zombie apocalypse without any zombies (although Jim was prepared just in case).    Normally we have plenty of food but a messy house, but the one day of the year I have no food and a spotless house...the zombie-less apocalypse happens.   We went out to grab a bite to eat and a few groceries (because we didn't know how widespread the power outage was) and even walmart was closed.  There wasn't a single gas station open in the county.  The freeway was peppered with fuel-less vehicles on the side of the road.  We came back home to our disinfected, foodless house and Jim pointed out, we could live on rabbit stew indefinitely.   Truly, between the chickens, garden and well, we could weather emergencies quite well.   Sure, we'd have to go to bed every night at dusk because locating batteries and flashlights is something of a problem area for us, but nobody can complain about being well rested and well fed. 

I didn't sleep well, but it wasn't for lack of air conditioning, but rather the war I waged against black widows.   My natural sense of eyesight is so poor, I've learned to trust my children explicitly when they say something like "snake!" or "spider!".   They're straightforward little kidlets without the tendency to "cry wolf", but one of these days the joke will be on me when I jump three feet for an invisible rattlesnake.     So when I tried to wash Charlie's hands in the middle of the night and he kept twisting his legs around me trying to avoid being put down, saying "scary spider mamma...bad spider"  I knew it was a black widow.    That's the third time this month, that Charlie has seen and avoided a black widow directly in his path.  It freaked me out so bad, I went on a black widow hunt and killed two more.   Unbelievable.   No wonder I couldn't go back to sleep. 

Just in case there are a few people left out there who haven't been scared away from ever visiting me.  I got stung by a scorpion in my kitchen while Julie was here. 

Between that and the black widows, I sort of hop, gasp and dance through my house at night. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ahhhhh....sometimes I wish for the good old days where my only concern was keeping Jamie alive.    When he popped into this world unexpectedly, I got an unexpected dose of reality:  Keeping him as a living and breathing homosapien on this planet is hard work. 

Nothing's really changed on that front except now instead of I.V's and blood transfusions, it's paragliding with a paper bag off a cliff and trying to cut up lemons with forbidden kitchen knives (attempt number two today at homemade lemonade).


On top of all of that, (which I still maintain is a full time job) he now has to do things like read and write, start math, and go to school.  Suddenly zero to five years old seems like it was so easy.   I spent thirty minutes yesterday trying to stay calm, practicing my breathing like I was in a LaMaze class, while Jamie struggled to read things that were easy for him to read at the end of last year.   The letter U is apparently incomprehensible to him, but he can talk about epithelial tissue all day.    He can barely write his name (a prewriting worksheet is a rare form of torture unless it's disguised as a maze), but he can draw you a disgustingly detailed picture of the e.coli bacterium ("google images+germs" is his friend).

There are so many things about him that I don't understand.  To quote an Anne book, he's nothing like my personality, and I have at least a dozen of them.   When I was a kid, I had to prop my sleepy eyeballs up with spoons in the morning, while I surreptitiously shoveled my oatmeal down the garbage disposal.  I could barely remember my own name before 10am.  Jamie this morning made his own breakfast and had three lessons of math done, while I was still attempting to wake up.   Since it was before 10am, I couldn't figure out how he successfully completed math lessons he had no instructions for, until he proudly showed me the teacher's manual he'd gotten out of the bookshelf and meticulously copied all the correct answers from.    I was surely not prepared to give the "cheating talk" this morning, and like Amelia Bedelia, I don't think he really got it either.  He was rather proud of himself. 

Yesterday I was so depressed by his abysmal reading and writing capability, Jamie climbed into my lap and asked me what was wrong.   Since my Ohio trip to Nona's funeral, I've turned over a new leaf and am trying to be uber encouraging like she was.  I told Jamie that unless he stopped jabbering about connective tissue, and improved his handwriting, he was going to end up a doctor.  He must have taken it to heart, because at the moment, he's got magazines tied up all over Charlie as splints for all of Charlie's broken bones.    Charlie is wailing that he doesn't have any broken bones, but Jamie's not listening.  He tried to doctor the dog, but Barnabas is smarter (and runs faster than Charlie).   We all think Jamie's bedside manner could maybe improve, he's a little too gleeful.   
Maybe more writing worksheets will help. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Big Shoes

Of all the people one should be nervous to meet, normally tiny little Italian women aren't one of them. And yet ten years ago, when Jim took me home to Ohio to meet his family, it was his Nona he talked the most about. Nona would have the final say on whether or not I was accepted in the family. The man I loved, loved his grandmother, and I sure hoped his grandmother would love me. Or at least like me. Or at least... you know... let me kiss the feet of her favorite grandson.

Then I met Nona. Her arms wrapped around me with an "amore baci bella" and she hung on like she was never going to let go. Like she was single handedly going to move heaven and earth to take care of me. She made me feel like her favorite grandaughter and I wasn't even her grandaughter...yet. Somewhere in there I figured out she had 21 favorite grandchildren. She added me to the mix and made me feel like a celebrity. Knowing her made me feel like I knew a celebrity.

She taught me how to make homemade pasta and gnocci, and was the first person to tell me you could pour sauce over polenta or risotto. She danced, sung, cooked and told stories like it was bursting out of her and she could do it forever.

...and I'm sure she's dancing now. In heaven. She slipped between the halls of earth and eternity in the wee hours of this morning. And while she would assure me vehemently that she was ready to meet her savior, I can't help but feel robbed and desolate. There's an aching hole in my heart that matches the bigger one in my husbands heart.

Jamie is worried she's going to have all the fun in heaven without him, and he'd like to hurry up and get there so he can play with her. I hope no one listens to that request.

He also wants to know if she's having dinner with the tooth fairy. He lost his first tooth, and surely Nona has the inside scoop on what mysteriously happened to his tooth.

He wishes she'd come back and give him his tooth back. I selfishly wish she would too.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cardboard Robots

Did you know...

That postal workers are trained in creativity-humor-inducing-mechanics? I am working on getting a passport for Jamie and I've discovered they've either got realistic looking robots with cardboard innards working at post offices these days, or they have highly trained specialists that guarantee you'll either laugh, go crazy, or become an alcoholic.

"I'd like to set up an appt for a passport."

"We offer passport appt's 9:45-11:00"

"I'm assuming that's a.m.?" *chuckle....chuckle (poor attempt at humor)*

"We offer passport appt's 9:45-11:00"

"Do you offer appts after work or on Saturdays by any chance?"

"We offer passport appt's 9:45-11:00"

"Do you know of any other place I could get a passport appt with longer hours?"

"We offer passport appt's 9:45-11:00"

"Hello? Is this a recording?"

"We offer passport appt's 9:45-11:00"

"I see. hmm... I'm traveling to Batidalunga, which I'm sure you know is a planet in the Ruditary solar system, their president needs me to clip his toenails, and I'm sure you understand...it's imperative I get a passport appointment."

"We offer passport appt's 9:45-11:00"

"I know I sound like a human, but actually I'm a highly trained Chimpanzee with an intelligence quotient that is illegal on nine worlds. Do I still need to get a passport?"

"We offer passport appt's 9:45-11:00"

"Thank you so much for your help, it's been great chatting with you, if I need anything else, I promise I'll bash my head in with a baseball bat first."


See? It's genius. I would never have even thought of Batidalunga prior to making that phone call, but now, after calling every post office in the area, I can tell you Batidalunga's national holidays, how they paint their road signs, and what the squirrels there eat for breakfast. Batidalunga post offices are always happy to help you get your passports, in fact, in Batidalunga they send you your passport for free along with a box of cheezits.
Thankfully, there is one post office in the good U.S.A. that accepts passport applications until 3pm. Three in the afternoon! The sacrifice that must involve, it makes me tear up a little.

Oh...but psyche

They wait until you get there before they tell you that's not true.
But no worries, that's just part of their highly lauded humor training exercises. Whether it's training for them to keep a straight face while they tell you this, or whether it's to test your ability to laugh and roll with the punches, I'm not sure. Probably both. More effective that way.

Considering Jamie rent his clothing, wore sackcloth and ashes, and wailed "I'll never get to see my Grandma and Grandpa again... Why won't that mean mean man give me a passport?" I'm pretty sure he failed the test miserably. We'll give it another go as soon as I find another place.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dragon Pizza and The disappearance of Charlie

I thought Jamie was my stubborn child. Now I'm eating my words. I guess all two year olds are conniving, iron willed little tornadoes of furiousity? We managed to clear out the church cry room. You know...the place where noisy little kids are allowed. Either every other child in there was overly angelic, or Charlie really is that bad. Neither one is very comforting to me. I'm pretty sure the thought forefront on everyone's mind was "Supernanny/Nanny 911 candidate."

I feel like I need to turn in my resignation as his mom, or wear a sign on my head that says "I really do discipline this child."

I haven't figured out how to outmaneuver a kid who throws a fit intentionally so he will get punished. i.e. If he wants to leave the grocery store, he throws a tantrum. He knows he'll get in trouble, but getting in trouble is better than doing something he doesn't want to do.
If he's not allowed to get out of time out until he changes his attitude, then he just pretends he likes sitting there. There's almost no such thing as a punishment where he loses. At least not yet. We're still working on it.

He woke up at three in the morning and demanded cereal and mickey mouse with all the imperialism of an emperor. When that didn't work out so well for him, he stubbornly refused to sleep the rest of the night. Where does he get the will power to hang on that long? I finally "won" that battle, just as Jim's alarm went off and he and Jamie got up for the day.

I'd say how I love getting only three hours of sleep, but truthfully, I don't have room to complain. Normally, they both sleep fine. I'm pretty sure even with the evil spawn that took my sweet baby's place, my life is pretty fun. We get up, we eat strawberry pancakes, and spend the rest of the day either building giant cities out of playmobil, legos and lincoln logs, or we play Jamie's new favorite game. Dragon Pizzeria. Every now and then you stumble across a real gem at the library, and this book is our current favorite. Two dragons who make pizza and deliver it to fairy tale people? The possibilities are endless. Jamie makes the pizza, Charlie delivers it, and together they think up every possible pizza to character combination you can think of. Did you know Frosty the snowman likes ice cream pizza? Lemon drop pizza for Dumbledore, applewitch pizza for Aslan and melon pizza for Appa. The storms we encounter getting from Narnia to Hogwarts are insane. My kids can't carry a tune in a bucket, but they make good sound effects. Probably because they aren't children with human mouths and vocal chords. They're actually dragons. So they say.

Maybe that's why I'm having such a hard time with Charlie. Apparently I need to pick up Dragon Parenting for Dummies.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The post in which life turns out better than I thought

Love is a tricky thing. But when you're a teenager, you feel like an expert.

8 years ago today, Jim asked me to marry him. I'd never been so sure of anything in my life. When we went through premarital counseling, Jim's pastor told us that even though we couldn't imagine ourselves more in love, and we wondered how we could love each other more than we did... give it another day, somehow you discover you love each other just a little bit more.

True words.

We had a difficult relationship. Strict parents, with different ideas on how things should be done. He lived in Ohio, I lived in California. We both got semi kicked out of college, where we had school faculty trying to forbid or destroy our relationship. Lies, separation, lots of rules. We used to fantasize about how amazing it would be to just lay intertwined and watch a movie. How awesome it would be to talk for hours without someone telling us it was inappropriate. Living under a bridge somewhere, sounded like a happy ever after.

Everyone told us that marriage was hard work, but I secretly thought that marriage sounded a whole lot better than whatever the heck you could call our strange dating experience.

I know eight years isn't a lot of time, but so far I've been right. Marriage is so so so much easier... and amazing... and romantic. Everything I thought it would be. We still cling to each other and think, we belong to each other. And it gives us shivers.

I had absolutely no idea what I was doing at 19 (still don't), but somehow I got the perfect person for life.

Although clearly I knew nothing about exposure or white balance back then.