Monday, November 29, 2010

Boys & Their Toys

I blame my boys' lack of patience on technology. I'm not anti-technology by any means. Quite the opposite. I just think that my children have been born into a world of instant gratification.

It seems like every toy has to DO something. In order for it to be deemed "cool" by my sons, it has to talk, play music, move or having flashing lights. Remember when toys ran on imagination? I realize I will be falling into the pattern of my parents, and theirs before them, when I say, "When I was a kid...." But really, we didn't have to have dolls that cried or wet their pants. In fact, my brother and I used to play with a set of Legos® that wasn't preordained to be something. The blocks didn't have to be the pirate ship on the front of the box. They were just a box full of random blocks ready to be anything our little minds molded them into. My mom still has them and they happen to be one of the boys' favorite things to play with when they visit.

I admit, I'm guilty of setting my children in front of a video game when I really need some uninterrupted time to finish something. But they can hardly sit still for the entire two minutes it take for the game to load. My first video game was on a black and neon green screen. We hit a cube (ball) between two vertical lines. Now I have to monitor every game they play for violence and sexual content. Pathetic. I realized that Kam may have too much video game exposure under his belt when I was visiting my parents last weekend. Grammie and Papa took us all to a matinee. The green screen came up proclaiming that the next preview was suitable for all audiences and Kam leaned over and said, "It's loading."

It's just a little scary, too, when I'm fumbling around behind the TV, plugging and unplugging cables to switch the TV from the video game to the DVD player and Kam wanders over, hands me a cable, and says, "Here Mommy, it's this one. See?" And he's right.

Not only is it toys, it's day to day conveniences. I used to have to wait for water to boil (on the stove) in order to cook a hot dog. Now, twenty-five seconds later and we're ready for the ketchup and mustard. I started a couple of fires back in the day waiting for the oil in the pan (on the stove) to be hot enough to pop popcorn.

A trip to the library with Kaiden has the same atmosphere as a trip to the museum. All our research is done on the Internet. Kaiden once commented, "Wow, Mom. Look at all these real live books!"

My husband and I only have cell phones now. All you have to do is push one button to connect. I once scolded Kamrin, went into another room to finish folding laundry, came back into the kitchen, only to find Kamrin had speed-dialed Grammie to tell her the injustice of it all. Can you imagine them on a rotary phone? Once you started dialing, you had to wait for the dial to rotate back to its original position before dialing the second number. Lord help us if you mis-dialed, because then you would have to hang up and start all over again...from the beginning. There were probably a lot of people back then who had the misconception of being unpopular when the truth of the matter was, they just had a lot of zeros in their phone number. Not to mention we were restricted to a 3 ft. radius because the phone was actually attached to the wall! My parents also gave up their land line. That was actually a sad day for me. I had had that phone number since I was able to dial and only had to dial the last four digits. I couldn't tell you today what my mom's phone number is. She's just "Mom" on my cell.

TVs can record without VCRs (not that I ever mastered that before they disappeared) and Sponge Bob is available any time of day or night. Kaiden can find free games (all educational I assure you) on the computer without my assistance.

Commercials are full of every electronic gadget, thing-a-ma-jig and remotely controlled toy a boy could ever want. The boys "want" everything they see. After several of these flashy advertisements, and with Kamrin saying, "My want that," after each one, I encouraged him to save up his money so he could pay for it himself. As I was stepping out of the room, I saw Kaiden cup his hand to Kamrin's ear, "You don't have to save your money, you just have to ask Santa Claus."

During our Thanksgiving visit, Papa put an image of a crackling fire on the big screen TV. No sound, no heat, and yet Kamrin grabs Grammie's hand and says, "Come sit with me by the fire, Grammie." And he did. He just sat there staring at it.

Really, I'm not complaining. After all, without technology, I wouldn't be sharing this. My classmates from high school would have just faded away, but now I can read what they are doing every minute of every day whether I want to know or not. I see pictures of their kids online, read what the weather is doing and how much they hate / love their jobs instantly. My boys get to actually see Grammie and Papa when we use the computer and web cam to visit.

I think I got a glimpse of how much technology has become a part of our lives when I saw Grammie and Kamrin, holding hands under a blanket and keeping "warm" in front of the cyber fire and right next to them, Kaiden was snuggled up against Papa, reading "Peter Cottontail," the e-book, which Papa had downloaded especially for them to read on Papa's Kindle™. I guess boys never outgrow their need for toys.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Over The Hills

It's that time of year again. The time where the boys and I make the trek home to visit Grammie and Papa. I actually love to myself. Having to travel with two little boys is a whole different story.

Due to the economy and lay-offs, my husband decided to start his own business. It started slowly, but things are picking up so, bless his heart, he's been working seven days a week or else he'd come with me.

But I'm used to it, and I have a system. Everything has a designated place in the car. Toys and distraction devices (portable DVD player, coloring books, etc.) go on the floor in the back with the boys. It provides easy access for them, and brief moments of quiet for me. Extra pillows and/or blankets go between the boys' car seats. This serves two purposes. If they fall asleep, it catches their floppy, rag-doll heads, instead of having them bob at the nearly 90ยบ angle that would leave me reaching for the Tylenol for a week. It also acts as a buffer zone so they are unable to touch each other. Thus avoiding the, "He's on my side!", shouting match.

All food and beverage items are in the front passenger seat, solely under my control. Beverages must have a resealable cap. Food items that travel must be carefully selected. No chocolate, it melts. Even M-n-M's are forbidden. No taffy or gum. My windows, car door handles and any toy they touch will be sticky and they will somehow manage to transfer said stickiness to me. I tried bananas once, that was a disaster. I once had a chunk of candy cane stuck to my cup holder well into the month of July until I took a screwdriver and chipped it off, piece by piece. So that leaves us with beef sticks, fruit snacks and crackers. Yes, I end up with crumbs in every nook and cranny, but at least I can suck those up with a high-powered vacuum.

Also in the passenger seat, I have an extra plastic grocery bag for garbage or for the rare occurrence of car sickness. A big tub of wet wipes is a standard feature in my car, but in the winter, I have to remember to put it on the dash heater since they're useless frozen. My purse goes on the floor and cell phone in the cubby under the radio where I can easily grab it when my mother sends me a text, (always a half-hour out, and always asking where we're at).

It's hard to keep boys entertained for 5 1/2 hours. There's only so many times I can say, "Look, cows!" It loses its excitement after the first three times. There's nothing along this flat, prairie drive, except maybe a nano-second to glimpse a buffalo while going 75 mph through Jamestown. If we're unlucky, we'll see a deer in the ditch and then I'm tense the entire drive.

I have short legs. I'm so close to the steering wheel that if I were to crash the airbag will do nothing for my knees which are a 1/2-inch from the dash. If my kids need any provisions from the front seat, I set the cruise, if it isn't already, and then use the electric seat adjuster to move the seat back, hand whatever the kids need to them, (is it possible to teach yourself to become double-jointed?), and then "rrrrrrrr," move my seat back up.

There has never been a trip where I haven't had to stop at least once. Mainly because it takes more than one tank of gas to get there. Except once, but I had an awesome tailwind. We always have a potty stop, and if I have fortune on my side, it'll wait until the convenience store. I'm pretty sure it's some sort of crime to leave a child unattended in a car, even for a moment, so we all go. You must know, the moment my boys got in the car, the shoes were off, the coats were off, and I'm doing well if the socks are still on. Just getting them from car to restroom is a race. Shoes on, coat on, times two, while one or the other is saying, "I gotta go baaaad!" In the restroom, we all pile into the handicap stall since it's the only one large enough to hold all three. Lord help us if Kaiden has to go #2! Kamrin does not understand what privacy is. His idea of privacy at home is to close the door of the bathroom for me, but he remains on the same side as I am. It's not uncommon for him to try to say, "Hi!" to the people in the next stall from underneath our stall. I usually wait until they leave so no one can identify us.

If we don't make it to the truck-stop, oh boy. There have been times where we don't even have time to hit an exit. I have to find the safest place, given the conditions, crawl out the passenger door, open both passenger doors to create a wind barrier and provide some discretion. I then instruct whichever boy to unbuckle his seat belt while I lick my finger and check for wind direction and survey the slope of the land. Since I want them within the safety of the car for as long as possible, we undo the pants in the car and when we're ready, I lift them out, put their feet on mine (in case of run-off or mud) and hopefully we're good to go.

Once we leave the interstate and are on the two lane highway, our biggest source of excitement is guessing which animal is compacted in the bed of the semi in front of us. We'll maybe catch a hint of a snout, a batch of fur or a bunch of feathers. This always makes me a bit sad, but makes my situation look like a luxury cruise.

I hate passing on a two-lane. I try to do it as quickly and painlessly as possible, while the boys lift their arms above their heads and shout, "WHEEEEE!' like they're on a roller coaster.

We finally arrive and the boys have their seat belts undone and doors open almost before I've come to a complete stop in the driveway. I get out, shake my cramped hands and try to walk some sensation back into my numb backside.

The trip there is always worth it and after all the fun and excitement is over, we must head back. 90% of the time, the boys fall asleep ten minutes outside of Pierre and I'll actually turn the radio on and search for a station. I sigh sadly as it loops over and over finding nothing. Oh well. Hey, look! There's a...oh never mind.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bah Humbug?

I'm a scrooge when it comes to Christmas. Not that I dislike the holiday itself, I just hate all the preparation beforehand. I think it's sad that stores feel this need to have both the Halloween items AND the Christmas items on display at the same time. I don't need the added pressure. I have no need to hear a Christmas carol hummed, whistled or in an elevator until AFTER Thanksgiving. My husband and I are on a very limited budget, and as much as I would love to spoil every single member of our families, we just can't, and sometimes that's depressing. But when I finally do pull out the holiday decorations, and I'm sitting there untangling several strands of lights, I look at my kids and wonder, "Why I can't approach life like they do?"

Kids believe, that's why. At this point, life has given them no reason not to.

My children believe that a small sprite with wings is actually willing to pay them for that tiny tooth, because she makes necklaces out of them. My children believe that I actually did talk to Santa Claus on the phone, and their behavior changes dramatically. They believe the sun sleeps at night and that clouds can cry, monsters can fit under their bed, and we should have a never-ending supply of quarters, because daddy pulls them out of their ears.

They believe people are essentially good and so they smile and say, "Hi" to everyone they meet, no matter what they look like, how old they are, or what color their skin is.

They find simple joy in watching a squirrel do a tightrope act above the street on an electrical wire. I once took them for a walk after dark on a rare windless, clear winter night, just for something out of the ordinary. I bundled them up in boots, hats, gloves and snow pants over their pajamas. It was so peaceful and quiet. The stars twinkled and every tree branch became a dinosaur. They talked about that for months.

Overall, they are very giving children. Kamrin is definitely the 'sharer'. It doesn't matter how much or how little he has of something, he will share with Kaiden, the kid next to him at the park, and the kids at daycare. If I ask him if I can sit with him on the big comfy chair, he replies in typical Dakotan style, "Yeah, sure!" Kaiden will hand out back rubs for as long as his little fingers will let him, and once in a blue moon, he will take out the garbage without being asked (but I do have to feel how strong his muscles are afterwards!).

Their love knows no bounds. It never runs out. They love family night all cuddled up with a bowl of popcorn and movie. They love home-made smoothies and hot chocolate. Kaiden once said of a friend, "They have more toys and a bigger house....but that's okay because I love you and dad more." Melts your heart. Kam doesn't really have to say anything, it's the way he plays with my hair, holds my hand, or squeezes his way up on my lap no matter what I'm doing. Although it is pretty common for him to say, "Mom, love you." They even attempt to sit silently for a few seconds before asking if I've had enough 'piece of quiet.'

So that's really what it's all about, finding that child-like wonder and innocence again. To believe, find simple joy, have faith, give without expecting anything back and to love without limitations. I'm going to do my best not to succumb to self-imposed stress or worry and just try to sit back and enjoy the magic of the holiday season and enjoy being surrounded by the people I love.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

World of Whats

I little while back I had said that the word 'what' is the most used word in my vocabulary. I wasn't exaggerating. Not even a little bit. 'What' can be used in so many contexts, and I have become painfully aware of all of them. If I had a dollar for every time I used the word 'what,' I would give the Trump family some competition.

My son has entered this phase which is more than mildly annoying. He starts to tell me about his day, which is great, but in between every half sentence he breathes, "And guess what?" He will not continue with his story until I say, "What?" Being the concerned mom, I always say it.

"Mom, we did this project at school, and guess what?"
"My friend Abby, the one at school, guess what?"
"She started drawing some clouds, some blue ones, and guess what?"

Anyway, you get the picture.

My second all time usage of the word 'what,' is one that mom's all over the world have to deal with, I'm sure.


The last 'what' has now become loud and strained, which my sensitive son constitutes as yelling. He looks at me, the corners of his mouth turn down and his lip trembles. The tears start to well up in his eyes, because he has absolutely no idea why I'm shouting at him. Which leads to the third most common type of 'what.' The 'what' that I have to repeat over and over again, because he is blubbering, whining and speaking some unintelligible language in a sing-song, voice that draws every word out and makes it at least two syllables longer than necessary. His breathing becoming hitched with hiccups thrown in for drama.

"What, Kaiden? What's wrong?"
"You don't mmmnfmmmffr, and then mmffmmnnff," (sniff, sniff) "And, and then mmmmber nmmfif,"

And then there is the 'what' that I hate using, but warrants double usage. Usually there is some kind of panic involved. I think the sense of impending disaster, especially with her children, is something that is hardwired into a mother's psyche. We are actually able to determine the severity of the situation based on the one word "mom" and how it's spoken by our children. For example, I was working downstairs when Kaiden screams, "MOM!!" And that was when I said the double, "What? What?!" as I was running up the stairs.
"Kamrin put a pine cone in the microwave and it's on fire!" (True story.)

And of course we had to incorporate the, "Whhhaaaaat?" from the movie, "Despicable Me." spoken by one of his faithful yellow minions. For those of you who've seen it, you know what I'm talking about. For those who haven't, rent it when it comes out, it's great. You'll be doing it too.

Despicable Me (click here for the short version)

Last, but certainly not least in my family, we have the all too familiar...well, let's put it this way. My sons were taking a bath and I was trying to get in 10 minutes of down time by staring at the TV while folding laundry. I hear giggling and then nothing. If you're a mom, the nothing is what puts them on your radar. It's like your a deer in the woods and all of a sudden you a perfectly still, your ears twitch, and you smell something just not quite right. I waited a moment, and sure enough I hear some splashing, and then a loud THUD, followed by more uncontrollable laughter. And then silence. I didn't wait for round three. I open the door to two naked boys sliding across the bathroom floor on about a quarter inch of water. I soak it in for a split second (no pun intended), try to keep my head from exploding and growl, "WHAT THE.....!"

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Old Gray Mare

I had my children later in life. I think sometimes people wait because they want to be more financially secure, but when it comes to children, I'm not sure a person can ever be completely ready. That wasn't really the case with me, just thought I'd throw that out there. Actually, I had wanted children earlier, but life just had different plans for me. And when I least expected it, here came the curve ball that we later named Kaiden.

There are a lot of pros to being an older parent, but there are a lot of cons, too. That became very apparent when I was at my 20th class reunion. I'd pull out my photos of my tots to show them off and they would pull out theirs. Most of them were senior portraits. Empty nesters at my age. Wow, what a concept! Of course, then I would be worrying about how to pay for college right now. But I would be lying if I said I didn't envy them sometimes.

I would only have to laundry once a week. I could by milk a gallon at a time. Shawn and I could actually have an uninterrupted conversation. My house would stay clean for longer than 15 minutes. I could buy new furniture and not have to worry about wear and tear. I could wear a white shirt. The most used word in my vocabulary would not be "What?" I could attend any function without having to plan weeks in advance. My car would not be filled with toys and wrappers. I might also be able to watch what I wanted on television AND be able to hear it. I could invest in a gym membership. Wait. That might be pushing it.

Even at this age, at the end of the day, my energy is zapped. And to think, I will be 55 by the time the last one leaves home. IF they leave home. (They better, or I'll charge rent!)

I'm already surprised at how they try to outsmart me, even at the young age they're at. Just think of when I'm older and my mind is not as sharp! For instance, Kamrin was being particularly sassy one night. I had warned him that his behavior was going to earn him a ban from television. He informed me that I would be banned from television. I said, "Kamrin. If you don't quit being a smart aleck, I'm going to have to put you in time out." He started to return fire, "You are being a smart..."

"Kamrin," I interrupted, "You don't want to go there."

"What? I said you smart. My (I) being nice."

Really? He doesn't think I see through that one? And I'm pretty sure they will start teaming up to try and outsmart Shawn and I. My sons were watching TV on one of the channels geared toward children. After about the 5th toy commercial and the fifth time that Kamrin said, "I want that." I finally told him that if he wanted that, it would be a good idea to save up his money so he could buy it himself. As I was leaving the room, I heard Kaiden lean over and whisper, "You don't have to save your money. Just ask Santa for it." Yeah, they're schemers.

You have to be able to remember from day to day, the things that you have told them about the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny and Santa Claus. I remember one year while celebrating Christmas at my parents' house (Grammie, Papa and Sophie the dog), and it was Christmas Eve. We were having a hard time getting them to go to bed and go to sleep. So we told them that Santa wouldn't come if they were awake. We put them in their bed, and just to make sure they would close their eyes, we found a Christmas door hanger with jingle bells on it and Shawn went outside and shook it to sound like sleigh bells. Well that seemed to work. But then just the other night, Kaiden asked me, "What if I'm not asleep when Santa comes?" I told him Santa would have to wait to come until he WAS asleep. "But what if the dogs bark when he comes and wake me up?" I told him that Santa had special Christmas powers that made dogs like him. "Then how come Sophie barked at Grammie's house?" Oh yeah. Forgot about that.

So, yes, some days I feel lucky that I color my hair, because I'm pretty sure there are some gray ones in there and the two deep wrinkles between my eyebrows have gotten deeper. But all-in-all, I'm fairly certain that they are keeping me young at heart.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sheep and Weapons of Destruction

I know Shawn has always wished we could have a girl. He'll never say that out loud, but I know this for a fact. He was born the youngest of six boys, and I suppose that he has always wanted a Daddy's Little Girl. As for me, I love having boys. I've never been much of a girly-girl myself, so I'm just not sure that I would have made a little girl very happy. I don't like to shop (much to my mother's dismay), I don't really like to play dress-up or have tea parties, so I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been any fun at all. I know that when I'm older, I will probably have wished we would have tried one more time for a girl. Girls are just better communicators. Who's going to call me up just to chat? Or ask me for advice? Or remember to send me a card on my birthday? I just hope my boys find a girl out there who will make an effort to remind them to do those things when the time comes.

There are so many differences between having boys and having girls.We have a neighbor across the street who has a little girl who is about Kaiden's age. She's loves to come over to play and we love having her over. Problem is, about 10 minutes into the play date, Kaiden will come over to me and whisper, "Moo-ooom. She doesn't want to do anything fun!" The boys' idea of fun is playing in the dirt, shooting each other with toy guns, or any type of game that involves running, yelling and tackling someone. I guess she's just not into that sort of stuff.

There are some boy games I'm good at, and a lot I'm not. That's why I'm so glad that Shawn is not too distant from his inner child (and I mean they are very close!) I tried to play "guys" with them once, you know, the GI Joes, or the WWE wrestling guys. I walked my guy over to Kaiden's guy and in my deepest voice said, "Hi guy." Shawn about had a fit. "What?! You don't walk over and say, 'hi guy'! Are you crazy?" Apparently the protocol is to walk your guy over, and even if you don't know him, you beat the crap out of the other guy. Who knew? I am banned from playing guys.

Boys are restless. They don't sit for long periods of time, at least mine don't. Long car rides are especially difficult. The only advantage to having boys vs. girls when taking a long trip is you can stop anywhere to pee. I just have to remember to face them down-wind and downhill. I learned that one the hard way. My boys even consider the 15 minute car ride from our house to the bus stop/daycare in the morning, "a long ride." Consequently, I have used some of the tried-and-true games that I did as a kid. One of those is a game called "Rock, Paper, Scissors." I'm sure you all know how it goes. Well, the three of us were playing it one morning on our daily commute. "Rock, paper, scissors, SHOOT!" we say together. I say, "I have rock." (I always go first to give them a chance to beat me, since I'm in the front seat and can't see what they have.) Kaiden shouts, "I have paper!" And after a split second pause, Kamrin says, "I have gun!" Well, who can beat gun? I nearly wet my pants laughing so hard. So after that incident, the game has now evolved into "Rock, Paper, Weapons of Destruction.' We basically get to make up any type of weapon we want and we try to figure out how it beats the others. Let's see you do that with a girl!

Kamrin is finally coming to the age where he can actually participate in these games. I-Spy was a bit painful when it was Kamrin's turn, "I spy, with my whittle eye, sumpin'.....that's a.....truck!"

We also have a game we that we have just dubbed, "Animal Sounds." It's a lot like I Spy, except a person makes an animal sound, and you try to guess what it is. (I had them completely stumped when I chose a turtle once!) So I had my turn and made a hooting noise like an owl. Easy. Kaiden's was a bit harder, because I thought it was a mouse. Turns out it was a bat. So now, I need to explain this to Kamrin so he doesn't give it away. "Kamrin," I say, "Remember, just make an animal sound and we'll guess what it is." He pauses for a bit, and after some thought, he says, "Sheeeep. Sheeeep."

Even though my bathroom will never be the same, my house is never quiet, passing gas and burping will always be hilarious, and having pants without holes in the knees is a miracle, I'm quite content with boys. And I'm quite sure that, although Shawn may never stop wondering what having a girl would be like, he's going to really have some great little buddies as they keep growing. I can't say that I'm not a little jealous.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Celebrate the Differences

They say that a mother should never love one child more than the other. I believe that's true. I love my boys equally, just for very different reasons.

Kaiden was the most beautiful baby when he was born. I thought he was perfect in every way, as most first time mothers will tell you. He was a happy baby. He had our full attention. Kamrin came along, and I learned that love didn't have to be halved, it just doubled. Be he was so different from Kaiden from the beginning. He was colicky. Where Kaiden had slept through the night, Kam was up several times. Kamrin wouldn't give up his bottle, Kaiden could care less. But Kaiden still has a security blanket, and Kamrin has no need for one.

At this age, Kamrin's biggest goal in life is to be just like his older brother, but as much as he tries, his personality just won't let him. Oh he'll do his best to mimic what he says and what he does, but that inner part of him just reaches out and takes over.

Kaiden is somewhat shy. He loves new people, but it takes a good 10 minutes to warm up to someone. He tends to use his little brother as a human shield when he wants to do something he isn't comfortable with. He meets new people by pushing Kamrin out ahead of him, because Kam says "hi" to everyone, and I mean everyone! Kamrin's question to all he meets is, "What's your name?" and he is under the assumption that anyone who answers him, loves him. While trick-or-treating this year, Kamrin would go up, ring the bell, say trick-or-treat and then ask what their name was. Upon getting his candy, and them telling him their name, he would say thank you, and, "Bye Bob!" (or whatever that person's name was) and then he'd tell me, "Him loves me."

Kaiden can play for hours by himself. He loves toy cars, action figures, dinosaurs and all he can imagine they do. Kamrin doesn't have a whole lot of interest in toys. He would much rather take something apart to see how it works, flip switches and push buttons.

Kaiden is ultra sensitive (I hope this is a stage). He'll be the first to cry at sad parts in a movie (along with mom). One perceived negative sentence and the boy's face crumples into tears as he stomps off to his room telling me to "leave him alone." And when I do, then I, "don't love him any more." Kam is carefree and approaches life with wild abandon. He can be mad one minute, but the next, scrambling into your lap and saying, "My love you." He tosses those My Love You's around a lot ("My," meaning "I"). I think he's told a convenience store clerk, a neighbor, and a strange dog that in the past week. One time, Kamrin was bothering dad with the fly-swatter and after telling him to stop several times, Shawn flicked him on the head. Kamrin crinkled his brow and simply said, "Well that sucks."

Kaiden loved baseball this past summer, couldn't get enough. While he practiced batting, Kam sat on the grass behind him and picked dandelions.

Kaiden likes country music, Kamrin's favorite song since at an early age was, "Don't Fear the Reaper."

I have a piano in my living room, Kaiden will pound on it and sing loudly and off-key. One day, Kamrin asked if I wanted to hear a song and when I said yes, that kid sat at the piano and swear to God, played a crooked little tune. Moved his little fingers gently up and down the keys and sang in a quiet whisper-voice and when through, told me that was his "sad song."

Kamrin has an inner intelligence. There's just something behind those eyes that lets me know that he understands a lot more than he lets on. He has "street smarts" and he isn't afraid to manipulate Shawn and I with it. Kaiden is a bright kid too, he just has to be taught and then he catches on like wildfire and makes the connections.

The physical differences too: Kamrin is blonde, with whispy-wild hair that goes in every direction. Kaiden has dark thick hair that he perfectly combs every morning. Kamrin has this closed-lipped smile that melts your heart while Kaiden has a big wide grin that makes his eyes sparkle. Kamrin has such delicate bone structure that I can touch my thumb with my index finger around his forearm. He often says, "My tiny." Kaiden is built like his dad, thick boned and a solid little guy.

Despite, and because of these differences, these boys make my world complete. And more often than not, when Kamrin says, "My love you, Kaiden." I hear, "I love you too, Little Man." What more could I ask for?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Laughing in Church

My husband Shawn doesn't share the same idea about going to church as I do. I have to be honest, I don't always enjoy it. Mostly because trying to keep two boys quiet is nearly impossible. We need an entire pew to ourselves. We have to have room for coloring, for sliding back and forth on the wooden surface, and of course room for any dry cereal in a ziplock (which is the standard staple so we don't "starve" in church). My boys do not know the definition of the word, 'whisper.' The part they love is wishing everyone a good morning and shaking their hand, which continues well into the first hymn much to the dismay of fellow worshipers (okay, not all). I spend most of my time, trying to keep them quiet, pulling them out from under the pew in front of us, and trying to keep their mess from spreading too far.

I had to give up. What was the point of being in church if I didn't hear the sermon, wasn't able to sing the hymns, and left feeling like I needed to be absolved of all the sinful thoughts I was having two seconds after church service was over? Now that they both need to go to Sunday school, I get there just in time for donuts (how else to I bribe them?) and to see them off to their classes. I then sit through 45 minutes of bible study and then take them home. I have to make a second trip to the church during the week for their alternative service so I can go alone. Ah, the sacrifices we make as mothers!

It wasn't always this bad. I've learned that the older the boys get, the more they feed off of one another. Bad moods escalate and a fit of giggles is uncontrollable. I used to be able to just take Kaiden. Yeah, he had his moments of misbehaving, but overall, he was tolerable.

The reason I'm bringing this up is one of my favorite memories of a "Kaiden-ism" is at a church service at the age of about 4. He had been good for most of the hour, but was starting to get restless. He kept asking if it was over yet. In order to try and keep him occupied, I handed him the envelope with our offering in it. The conversation went a little like this:

Me: Here, you can hold this and then put it in the offering plate.
Kaiden: What is it?
Me: Our offering.
Kaiden: What's an offering?
Me: (for lack of patience and explanation) It's money for God.
We sat there for a moment, and the usher came to our pew and held out the plate. Kaiden's mouth dropped open and his eyes widened as he looked at the plate and then the usher. He turns to me and says in a loud stage whisper,
"Mommy! Is that God?"

I'm pretty sure there were several rows of shaking shoulders.

That one brings a smile to my face every time I think of innocent and literal way a 4 year old thinks.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Times Past

Everyone has always told me that children "grow up so fast." You never realize how true this is until you have children of your own. I have two boys, Kaiden, who's six and Kamrin, who's four. Every time that they have said or done something funny, not so funny or at least noteworthy, I thought, "I'll never forget this." Right. I can't even remember how much each of them exactly weighed when they were born. I tried starting a baby book and that's as far as it got. I feel so bad for Kamrin sometimes, because being the youngest, mom just ran out of time to do things. He doesn't have a baby book. I have an old empty diaper box that I just throw things they've drawn, projects they've made, reports from teachers...hoping I will sort it out someday. We have a photo album of pictures of Kaiden when he was young, Kamrin thinks they're of him. I sometimes let him think that because all of the photos I have of him are on CD, my camera or facebook.

Anyway, in this new age of technology, I've decided that I need to start writing things down. Somehow capture them, so the boys have some proof of their childhood existence. I want them to know some of the silly, lovely, and beautiful things they said and did when they were growing up. Who knows if this will survive the technology upgrades that happen nearly daily? My son ran across an roll of film in a container, unused, and looked up at me and said, "What's this?" But at least now I can say I tried. And maybe, just maybe, someday they will be able to share it with their own children.

So, here we go. I'm going to start with some of the stories I do remember. Maybe I'll have to scroll through some of my facebook posts and see if that jogs any memories as well. Then, I think I'll just keep up with the day to day.