Wednesday, February 27, 2008

At the dinner table

I think I might be sleep deprived. It's the only excuse I can come up with to explain my behavior at last night's dinner table. And since I had gotten up at 4:00am for the past couple of days, I'd like to think my excuse holds water. But just to be sure, I'll tell you all about it. You can let me know if you agree, or you can gently nudge me toward someone with the ability to write out a prescription.

So there we were, sitting around the dinner table enjoying some potato soup, steamed broccoli and fantastic roasted garlic-y bread. It was a really nice meal, and it was great family time -- especially because both kids were in unusually good moods. We'd been able to get through most of dinner without incident, and without much cajoling about how much of each item they had to eat. Landis, having polished off his potato soup and all of his broccoli, was interested in another piece of bread. And being that he is three, he is also very interested in doing it himself. I cut a piece of the bread and passed it to him.

"I want to cut the butter!" he announced.

We let him try. Except that the hunk of butter he was carving off was huge -- even by my own butter-lovin' standards -- so Mike took over.

"Here buddy. Let's try this." says Mike, and cuts a more reasonable piece off the butter dish. Surprisingly, Landis is pleased. I am expecting a fit, a total melt-down about how he wants to do it, but no. He's happy. So happy in fact, that he gives his butter a little pat and says "Hey daddy. Look at my butter. I'm a butter-cutter!"

The phrase Butter-Cutter made me chuckle. (Say it. Say it right now. Out loud. It's funny, isn't it? Butter-Cutter. Butter-Cutter. The more I thought it, the funnier it got.) Mike corrected him. "Actually Landis, I cut that butter for you."

"Well then," I announce, laughing a little harder "I guess that makes YOU the Butter-Cutter!" And then I lost it. Shoulders shaking, body convulsing, barely able to sit up, all out cracking up. "No! Wait!! Wait!!!" I gasp. "You can be the HEAD BUTTER-CUTTER and Landis can be your apprentice!! He can be the JUNIOR BUTTER-CUTTER!!"

I collapse again into gales of laughter, bent sideways in my chair, howling like a hyena and using my napkin to dab at the tears streaming down my cheeks. Mike and the boys are sitting there staring at me, and I can tell that they are wondering just what it was, exactly, that pushed me over the edge.

I tried hard to compose myself, I really did, but I think I was too far gone.

"Or maybe........Or maybe........." I gasp again "if you'd like a higher ranking, you can be a King! KING BUTTER-CUTTER! Landis can be the Prince!"

And back down I go, convulsing and rocking and crying and knee-slapping.

Mike slowly shakes his head back and forth. "Well boys..........I do believe your mother has finally lost it." He watches the hysteria for a few more minutes and then says "Will you guys excuse me from the table please?" He pushes back his chair and makes his way over the the sink to start dishes.

"Me too!" shouts Landis. He climbs down from his chair and carries his plate over to Mike. I try harder to get a grip and finally.....finally......I think I can start to pull myself together. I dab at my tears one more time.

"I think maybe I need to be excused from the table too" I manage to say.

"Oh no." Mike replies from his station at the sink "The only people with permission to get up from the table are the butter-cutters." Which sends me back to the floor in hysterics yet again.

I don't know exactly how long it took, but eventually I was able to be composed enough to excuse myself from the table like a normal person. But I have to admit that I laughed - hard - in small spurts for the rest of the evening. So what do you think? Do I need to be medicated? I think the butter-cutters are worried about me.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things......

One of the things I love the most about Gibson is that he has the capacity to feel things so deeply, with every part of his being. He's sensitive -- unlike his brother, who is not particularly bothered by much. Things roll off Landis' skin much more easily than they do Gibson's. It's like his entire body is comprised of a giant, soft heart disguised as a little boy's body. His feelings are hurt easily, but he also finds joy in the little things. And one of the things I find so endearing is that he's able to verbalize his feelings in such a sincere way that it makes my heart melt.

For instance, when Landis was saying ugly things to him in the car the other day, Gibson looked at me with complete sincerity and said: "When Landis says mean things to me it hurts my brain."

Or this morning, when Landis was explaining how he only loved mommy, Gibson told him: "No, Landis. You love everybody. Like, I love Mommy, and I love Daddy, and I love you, and I love myself. You're supposed to love everybody."

But my favorite Gibson quote came recently when I was tucking them into bed. "Think about all the fun things you did today." I told them. "And then pick out your very favorite thing, close your eyes and picture it in your head." "No." Gibson said quietly, a small smile on his face. "Picture it in your heart......"

Just horsing around

My kids are into horses. Really into horses. Especially Gibson, who at the ripe old age of three, somehow managed to muster up all the courage he could find in his little body to actually reach out and touch one. I dare say that it must have been a religious experience for him (since he was such an incredible chicken) to actually make contact with such a huge beast, because since then, well..., the child simply can not get enough. Which is very convenient for us, since we live on a quarter of an acre in a subdivision in Charlotte. Horses don't need much room, right? And from what I understand, they don't cost much either. Which is also convenient for us since there are months when I cross my fingers and hope that neither of the boys will be needing shoes.

All sarcasm aside, what is, in fact, convenient for us is that Uncle Ryan works for (and due to the fact that they just sold their house, currently lives at) a camp in the mountains. A camp that has horses! Lots of 'em. What's also convenient for us is the fact that western North Carolina is the perfect place for a weekend getaway! Hooray! So last weekend we packed up our little Saturn, and headed that way for 2 and a half days of chillin'. The grown up boys had big plans of their own for the weekend -- camping, mountain biking, and scotch drinking -- so we (my sister-in-law and I) truly did not lay eyes on them from Friday evening until late afternoon on Sunday. Which was perfectly fine, because like I said, we had horses at our disposal. Lots of 'em.

This could turn into a long story considering we did so many fun things over the weekend, but for the sake of everyone's sanity, I'll just go ahead and whittle it down to what I consider to be the best part. Or at least what I'd consider to be the most entertaining. So, fast forward to Saturday afternoon when I am standing at the gate to the horse pasture with both my boys and one of my nephews -- ages 5, 3 and 3 respectively. All the boys were hanging on the gate petting a horse who had come over to get a little lovin'. Well, actually I think he'd initially had high hopes for some chow, but had good-naturedly submitted to some friendly pats instead. It must have been a relaxing experience for Mr. Horse -- that of having 3 small children "gently" patting him all over the face -- because he refused to leave. And let's just say that it became clear that Mr. Horse was....... well........ let's just say it was obvious he was a "Mr."

Here is the conversation that followed, once the boys realized that the horse was.......ummm.........very "relaxed":

"Oooooooooooooooo! He's pooping!"
"Is he pooping?"
"No he's not! I think that's his wiener!"
"Oh my gosh! Is that his wiener?!"
"That's a BIG wiener!"
"No, that's a really BIG wiener!!"
"Can you see how big his wiener is?!?"
"Look at that wiener!!!!"
"He has a big wiener!!!!"

And so on and so forth while my younger sister-in-law (pregnant with her first child -- a boy, God love her) and I stood looking at each other wondering how long two 3 year olds and a 5 year old can discuss the size of a horse's wiener. Turns out, a long, long time...........

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dream a little dream.....

"No!! No!! Because Clifford the Big Red Dog is REALLY fast!!!!!!!

At 2:30am, Landis yells out in his sleep this phrase, in a voice so clear I think it's possible he's actually awake. But no. Out cold. Apparently dreaming quite vividly about Clifford. And now that I'm awake, I lay there wondering what happened next. Was that an argument for Clifford because he's so fast, or an argument against Clifford for exactly the same reason? And why is it that before I had kids I could sleep through a hurricane? But now I wake up to any random noise they make at night -- a sigh, a slight cough, small footsteps on the stairs, a shuffling down the hall, and that blinking sound they make with their eyeballs when they are standing 3 inches from your face at the side of your bed.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The long goodbye

Last Tuesday, Gibson had surgery. A tonsillectomy and an adenoidectomy. That's a mouthful, isn't it? (Ha! Literally! Ha ha ha ha...... Oh heavens. I am so hilarious.) No, but really. Those tonsils of his were HUGE and getting in the way of all kinds of important things. You know, like eating and breathing. And they were making him wet the bed too, which tripled the amount of laundry I was doing! (Those #$*@! tonsils! The source of all my laundry woes!)

I've gotten quite the tonsil-related education recently, and frankly, am completely amazed at how our bodies work. And how something so seemingly insignificant as incredibly large tonsils can have such a huge effect on so many other things. Let's take for example the fact that Gib's large tonsils were causing him to suffer from sleep apnea. Something we never would have discovered save for that fateful night when he climbed in bed with us at 2:30am and proceeded to snore and gasp like a 70 year old man for the next five and a half hours. Somewhere, in the middle of my 18th attempt to turn his noisy, snoring little body on it's side so that we could grab at least a couple of hours sleep, my husband said to me "Hey. Listen to him...... Really listen to him..... I think he may have sleep apnea." And Lo and Behold, once I shook myself free of my middle-of-the-night-should-be-sleeping-but-can't daze, it was the most obvious thing in the world. I mean, let's face it, do you actually have to gasp for breath if you don't have sleep apnea? He'd snore in....and snore out.....snore in.....snore out.....snore in....snore out............. and then ......................nothing..................all quiet..............for at least 5 seconds or so............and then.........GASP!!! He'd start the whole cycle over again.
We sat there, both of us, at 3:45am, staring at him in disbelief.

So, the big tonsils cause the sleep apnea. The sleep apnea causes the bedwetting, and the poor school performance. Here's what I learned from our rockin' ENT Specialist. (Ear, Nose and Throat -- just to clarify.) Sleep apnea is a "stage 4" sleep disorder. This means that Gibson's body was never reaching REM stage. The stage where your body basically paralyzes itself and allows you to get a restful sleep. It's why adults with sleep apnea get up to whiz 3 or 4 or 5 times a night. Their bodies never "shut down the bladder" like they're supposed to. But kids, it seems, don't actually wake up. They just pee the bed. And sleep in it. At least in Gibson's case.

And how might sleep apnea affect school performance? Well, it would seem that a stage four sleep disorder like sleep apnea also means that he was only getting the equivalent of 3 to 4 hours of sleep a night. Three to four hours a night! Can you imagine? The lack of sleep leaves him with the inability to focus -- being totally exhausted and all. Hence the weekly behavior reports we get that say "Is easily distracted and sometimes distracts others." So now, in hindsight, I think "Well, DUH!' The kid's not sleeping. Which makes him behave a little like -- to borrow a phrase from my mom -- a fart in a skillet. And it would also explain why, as we saw in a snippet of a news story whilst channel surfing, they are discovering that sleep apnea is being misdiagnosed in children as ADHD. Interesting stuff, eh?

And to be perfectly honest, even with a total lack of sleep he was pretty darn pleasant! If I had to function every day on the equivalent of 3 or 4 hours of sleep a night I would eventually be a raving lunatic -- Having melt-downs over nothing and crying face down in a plate of spaghetti at the dinner table. (Wait. That sounds familiar........ Maybe I've done that. Or maybe it was Gibson. Who knows. It's not uncommon for someone to be crying at the dinner table in our house.) In any case, I get it now. I finally understand. I understand why he cried uncontrollably (and I mean uncontrollably) when I made him use a regular towel instead of a "baby" towel to dry off with after his bath two weeks ago. I understand why he'd occasionally climb into the car at the end of a long school day, just looking for a good fight -- and doing everything in his power to instigate an argument with his brother.

Poor kid.

And now instead of having my frustration, he has my sympathy.
And Tylenol with Codine.
And lots and lots of popsicles.

Goodbye tonsils. And good riddance.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Playing house with the Hatfield's and the McCoy's

My boys often say and do things that I know the parents of little girls never have to hear or see. Like for instance, how there seems to be a need inherant in little boys to fill various containers (buckets, pots, pans, and well...let's face it, anything that is capable of holding a liquid) with pee. I'm sure my brother - the father of three little girls - has never had to hear the statement "Dad!!! Maddie just pee'd in her yellow beach bucket!" And I'm almost positive that he's never had to bring the trash can down from the upstairs bathroom, hold it in front of his daughters and say "GIRLS! Who is PEEING in the TRASH CAN??!!??!! DO NOT PEE IN THE TRASH CAN!! Do you hear me?! I better never find pee in the trash can EVER again!" as they squirm and smirk at each other at the dinner table. I think I can say with some certainty that it just doesn't happen to him. Or to any other parent of little girls. (But by all means, correct me if I'm wrong....)

And tonight I was struck by another moment that I think is unique to little boys -- or perhaps just to my little boys. They were playing over at the neighbor's house, and after an hour or so they came back home for dinner. Landis filled me in on all the particulars when they came in the door. "Mom! We were playing "house". It was so fun. We all had guns and we shot each other.........! Like this!!" And then he collapsed on the ground with his tongue hanging out, because I don't know if you know this or not, but that's how you die. Your tongue hangs out.

"House"? They were playing "house"? This is not the game of house that I am familiar with. I always thought that "house" involved taking care of babies, and doing lots of dishes and cooking all kinds of meals, and maybe pretending to clean while you made an enormous mess. It never occured to me that the game of "house" should also involve guns and shooting at your neighbor. But maybe that's because I live in the wrong part of the neighborhood. Maybe it's because I wasn't born into a family feud. Or maybe, just maybe, it's because I'm a girl.


I've been trying to be healthy. Especially after the 6 week binge-fest I'll refer to as "the holidays". I know it's February, and most people have long forgotten about the time spent mingling with friends and family members and stuffing thier faces with all kinds of home-cooked goodies, but my jelly-belly hasn't. It's my daily reminder of my own personal little holiday tradition. I don't know about you, but I pretty much use the holidays as a convenient excuse to indulge myself to the extreme. Eat and drink like a mindless drone -- 12 pieces of fudge for breakfast; crack a beer by noon. (Which would be OK if that once-a-year time didn't span 6 weeks. Yee-HA!!! It's Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year's time!) Which brings me back around to my opening statement.

Since then, I've been trying to be healthy. I've been working out 5 days a week. I've been counting my calories. I've been making good progress. And I've been feeling pretty darn good about it. Until last night, when in an effort to save some time I dragged the boys into the shower with me. (What can I say......? It's efficient.) And then, without warning, Gibson spun around to face me. It happened all of a sudden, as he was right in the middle of scrubbing his hair. Catching me totally off-guard, since I was right in the middle of scrubbing my own hair, he grabbed 2 handfuls of my stomach and jiggled it all around. "Hey mom!" he shouted. "Look how jiggly your belly is! That's funny! Look how it shakes!!"
My response? "Aaaaack!!! Quit shaking my belly-fat and fininsh scrubbing your hair!!!!!!" I peeled his fingers off my stomach and made him resume his washing. And then I watched as all of my "I'm-lookin'-good" smugness washed itself down the drain with the Suave.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The name of the game

There are lots of nice people; You'll make new friends.
"Oh, that sounds very good."
Thanks, perhaps to the Alzheimer's, she is not suspicious of our vagueness.

I recently got “tagged” for a game unique to the blogging world. It’s called…………um……..well……I guess I don’t really know what the official name is. I think it’s referred to as “123,5,3 meme”, but I don’t know if that’s the actual name of the game. In any case, here’s how it’s played: You grab the closest book and turn to page 123. Then you skip the first 5 sentences on the page, and post the next 3. If you are “tagged” next, and you have a blog, you post your “meme” there. If you don’t blog, you can just play along in the Comments section.

I’m not sure, but I think the point is to reveal something about yourself through your choice of reading material. I know what my book choice reveals about me. Isn’t it apparent that I move through this world with a Zen-like nature? That I am deep and philosophical, and dare I say it? Genius…?

What does your choice of reading material reveal about you?

Consider yourselves tagged. (And you too..... You're tagged too.)