Friday, May 27, 2011

Scouts or Just Armed and Dangerous?

Kaiden was sucked into the boyhood dream they call Cub Scouts. This guy must have been a helluva salesman, gearing his pitch to six- and seven-year-olds...promising BB guns, bow and arrows, fishing and camping. They really know how to reel them in. It's a pre-tween cult! Not that I have anything against Scouts really. I think they do wonderful things, things from which Kaiden could probably benefit. I mean when I was young, I was actually jealous that I couldn't be in Scouts. My mind at that tender age conjured up images of skinning a bear with nothing but a Swiss army knife, building fires by rubbing twigs together, creating a campsite that included cans of beans roasted over aforementioned fire, a sheet thrown over a tree branch as a tent, sitting around telling ghost stories while roasting marshmallows on a twig cut by that exact same army knife, learning to tie knots and dress horrifying wounds using only your day-old socks.

Oh, and occasionally helping an old lady across the street, which I now probably qualify as being the helpee. But my understanding was that it was a father-son sort of thing, and apparently, in this world of gender equality, MOMS can now play the role that used to be exclusively held by dads. Which just means another thing to try to schedule around, another hour later that I would be up at night to finish the things I didn't get done during the day, and less time to myself. I know that sounds incredibly selfish, but after Kaiden realizes that not every meeting involves the use of a deadly weapon, he'd get bored, and then it would be just more fights and episodes of bribery to get him to continue to go. And trust me, he wouldn't be grateful for any of the time and effort I put in to it.

Why me? Why wouldn't his dad go you may ask? Besides the fact that he sometimes is required to work nights and weekends, this man HATES to socialize. Unless it's family, he avoids it at all costs. We are totally opposite in this way and it nearly destroyed our relationship once. The man would be content to have us live in a cave, away from civilization, as long as he had cable TV, his La-Z-Boy, and the Schwan's man stopped by every week to deliver ice cream sandwiches. I'm not exactly sure what causes this fear of the human species, you'd think growing up as the youngest of six boys, he'd be used to being surrounded by other living, breathing beings. I think he sometimes feels as though he is constantly being judged or compared to other males and he imagines that he just doesn't measure up. Which is totally ridiculous, because he's quite handsome and in the times that I've forced him (by any means necessary) to be among a group of people he isn't familiar with...he shown quite the talent for quick wit and a marvelous sense of humor.

But I digress. Kaiden came home and breathlessly described all these cool things that Cub Scouts would let him do, focusing mainly on weapons of destruction and camping. I reviewed the highlights sent home in the flier and tried to picture my involvement in each event.

A) Shooting a gun. At a target.That's all fine and good under close supervision. But I have seen this boy's temper tantrums and all it would take is some helpful criticism and I would be facing a 50/50 chance of either a meltdown that included the tearful, guilt inducing "You don't love me" scenario, or an ass full of BBs.

B) Learning archery. See problem A, substitute  helpful criticism with the frustration of not being able to pull back a bow (I've tried, it's not as easy as Russell Crowe or Brad Pitt make it look), an ass full of BBs with an arrow through the head...Steve Martin style.
Wild and Crazy Guy!

C) Hiking and camp out. Now this would be fun for me, except...what if the standard father-son thing is still prevalent, and I'm the only female on the trip? Consequently, I would be the only one dragging a carry-on luggage suitcase behind me containing several outfits (only because I don't know what the weather will bring, not because I'm a fashionista), my make-up (meeting ME in the dead of night without make-up will haunt those boys longer than any piddly ghost story), two rolls of toilet paper (I'm no dummy), bug spray, sun block, first aid kit, wine opener and a bottle of Relax white wine (trust me, I'll need it.)

D) Earn badges! Translation...have your mom finish every attempt you make at earning a badge because you got "bored" 10 minutes into it. Not to mention, I can't sew, so he'd be the only boy with badges stuck to his banner(?) using super glue or duct tape.

E) Promotes self-esteem! Well yes, I worked hard for those badges!

F) Wear the Scout uniform proudly. Um, they are seriously in need of an update. The bandanna around the neck as a fashion statement went out in the 80s. Trust me on this one. I was there. I owned one in nearly every color.
Bad hair band.

He seemed genuinely excited, and after hours of begging, pleading, stomping off to his room only to return and beg and plead some more, we decided to let him attend a "Hooked on Scouting" event. A one-time deal to satisfy his curiosity, but no long term commitment. It was to be a family affair, promising a free meal of hot dogs, chips and lemonade. I paid $10 to attend.

Kamrin, upon learning we were going "fishing" was in hyper-excitement mode. He loves to fish. We were fishing in a pond in the middle of a residential neighborhood. (Do they stock ponds with fish for this sort of thing?) The entire 10 minute drive consisted of the boys fighting for whatever reason, (he looked at me!) and Shawn and I threatening to turn around and go home (which we wouldn't because I PAID $10!) We parked the car, and sneaky Kam, managed to unhook his seat belt, maneuver his way across the front seat while simultaneously hitting the button to pop the trunk (where his fishing rod was). While I tried to grabbed my eco-friendly bag containing spare jackets just in case (see what I mean?), Kamrin grabbed his rod and RAN toward the pond, twirling his rod above his head like a deranged Knight with a medieval spiked battle flail.

Long story short, I'm hoping the registration form isn't binding in any way, the kids were so honed in on fishing, they skipped all the "stations" (learning to cast, tie a knot -AHA!, and practice netting a fish) and went straight for the free worms. I gently, yet forcefully, nudged my kids towards the far end of the pond, away from potential hook-in-eye and worm-in-lap victims, to allow them to cast their line. Ten minutes later, they were begging me to go play on the playground. Not even CLOSE to $10 worth of fishing. Oh, and the food? It was windy enough where two chips were consumed before they, and the plate they were on, went flying. Both pants and shirts will need to be soaked to remove ketchup stains and I didn't even get to eat due to the gross factor of not being able to wash my hands after handling earthworms.

While the two boys played on the playground, Shawn and I sat on the bench and observed other families calmly laughing and fishing. "What are we doing wrong?" Shawn asked me. "I can't tell ya," I replied, "Schmid-el-lits." (Our code word for 'Little Schmits'- you can figure that one out).


Where's my flippin' badge?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's A Piece of Cake

I'm throwing my son his 7th birthday party tomorrow. First, I have to admit that I'm pretty impressed with myself and my husband for the fact that we've actually managed to keep him alive this long.

Secondly, I baked his birthday cake...myself.

Looking at the picture, you may say to yourself, "Well, that's nice, but I'm not going to lie, it doesn't blow me over and certainly looks home made." Yes, it does my friends, yes it does. But if you know my history of baking, this cake is one for the books for me.

Allow me to elaborate. I am a heck of a cook, for real. Where a person could look through their cupboards and proclaim, "There's nothing to eat," I can concoct a pasta primavera. I'm a whiz at improvising if we're missing an ingredient. I can combine the oddest things and have them taste delectable. I am able to disguise vegetables within a dish that has my children asking for seconds and thirds. I rarely use a recipe.

But when it comes to baking...I suck, royally.

It started when I was young, way back in the prehistoric days of life without a microwave. Days where, in order to pop popcorn, you first put two kernels of corn in a pan with oil, put the lid on, and waited for them to pop, thus alerting you that the temperature was ready to add the rest of the kernels. Way back when, I was attempting to make candied popcorn. Sometime after adding the two kernels to the oil, smoke filled the house, to the point that the friend helping me evacuated the house in order to breathe and to flee the blaring smoke alarm. I lifted the lid of the smoking pan and immediately faced an explosion of flame which threatened to  remove my eyebrows.  My reaction at that age, was to put the fire out with water...bad idea. The flames escalated. Extreme panic mode set in and I actually BLEW. OUT. THE. FIRE. Either that, or I was hyperventilating and manged to direct my super human breathing technique toward the pan. You'd think I'd learn my lesson, but that wasn't the last time that happened.

Fast forward several years. I was in my experimental stage (and I'm still talking baking here) and decided to make pumpkin bread. Simple enough, right? Yeah, for the baking capable person. To this day, I have no idea what happened, but I baked those loaves for 3 HOURS and the toothpick still didn't come out clean (a tried and true way to tell if something is done). Each loaf weighed approximately 5.2 lbs. It was 10pm, before I finally gave up, pulled them out out of the oven, set them on the counter, threw my hands up in disgust and went to bed. The next morning, blurry eyed, I wandered into the small apartment kitchen and realized one of the loaves was missing.   It dawned on me  that my then boyfriend, decided to take one of them to his office to share with his co-workers. I admire the faith he had in me at the time, but he had been around long enough to know better. I called his cell phone over and over and over, praying I'd reach him before he cut that bread in front of drooling male co-workers. I considered dialing 9-1-1, for it was a true emergency.

In my college years, I attempted to bake a cake for my upstairs neighbor's birthday party. I bought a boxed cake mix with the assumption that I couldn't possibly screw up adding eggs, water and oil. Imagine my horror when, upon taking his first bite, the guest of honor spit out a completely whole hard-cooked egg yolk that had managed to elude my beaters!

In an attempt at self-improvement, a subscribed to the "Taste of Home" food magazine. The pictures brainwashed me into believing that, yes, I COULD bake. I saw a gorgeous photo of a multi-layered German chocolate cake (a favorite of mine) and just knew I had to make it (Baakke, Angie...simple instructions...20 minute preparation time...). I dove in. I bought all the ingredients, mustered up some self-confidence and began to bake. Once the cake batter was complete, I realized that I didn't own round cake pans...but I owned pie tins! That should work, right? Um, no. My cakes were 1" high with tapered edges. Oh well, I would forge ahead with a vertically challenged cake. I proceeded to create the delectable frosting to go between each layer and on top of the cake. It never thickened and ended up being the consistency of soup. I didn't quit. This wasn't going to defeat me! When all was said and done, I ended up with a soggy, squat Christmas tree-looking thing, surrounded by a moat of soupy coconut Carmel mess.

I attempted an angel food cake, my favorite flavor, only to discover that I had forgotten to remove the stove rack above the one I was baking on, and ended up using oven-mitted hands to pry it loose, having baked through the upper rack. Unconsumable.

I've created chocolate chip cookies the consistency of peanut brittle, and I sliced those off of the frozen cookie dough roll for Pete's sake! Explain that one to me?!

Do not tempt me, church cook book, with "Grandma's Easy Caramel Corn," "10-Minute Ice Cream Dessert," or "Best Ever Cheesecake." Lies! All lies! You are wasting your time with me, I am beyond help.

I've mutilated brownies, murdered banana bread, invented divinity that could be spread on graham crackers, burnt rice-crispy bars and used my fudge recipe as frosting.

When invited to potluck dinners, I always ask what I can bring. More times than not, the hesitant reply is, "Um...chips?"

So tonight, after spending 4 hours on this dang cake, forever scarred by red and blue food coloring stained hands and fingernails,

Blue lips and teeth

Um, yeah, not to gross you out with my toilet, but how does this happen? Wasn't me.

you can imagine how my heart lept with joy when my son, upon seeing his birthday cake, exclaimed, "WHOA! That cake is AWESOME!!" Yeah, well we haven't tasted it yet.

And wait! There's more! For all of my baking-challenged colleagues out there, as a special added bonus (for the amazing price of $9.95) I am including a fool-proof, yes I said FOOL proof (living and breathing example here) recipe for fudge. One that even I have been able to master. No seriously. I'm not kidding. If I can do this, 99.9% of the population who own a microwave WILL NOT FAIL. Here it is:

MICROWAVE FOOL-PROOF (and it is, from experience) FUDGE
3 cups semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup margarine or butter
1 cup chopped walnuts (or less)

Place ingredients, except walnuts, in large bowl. (See? Easy.) Mix well. Microwave on high until chocolate chips are melted, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring twice during cooking. Stir in walnuts. Pour into a well-greased 8 to 9-inch square pan. Refrigerate; then cut into square.

Seriously, if I can't screw this up, no one can.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Video Game Intervention

Every parent does it, whether it's Sesame Street, Johnny Test, Dora or video games. We allow our children to indulge just long enough to get supper cooked, the laundry folded, or that blog written without interruption.
Not my kid, but you get the idea.

But maybe, just maybe, I've been needing too much of that time and find now that the signs point to having to take a stand, being the "mean one" and cut back on their video game time. The signs? Here they are:

  • During the 10 minute car ride from daycare to school, your child complains, "he's bored."
  • After much prodding, your youngest son finally finishes the vegetables on his plate and announces, "Mission complete!"
  • You've noticed a patchy rash area at the corner of your child's mouth from sticking his tongue out during play.
  • You praise your husband for a household job he's finished, and your youngest asks, "Dad, did you get to the next level?"
  • Your children keep the controller with them when they use the bathroom to make sure "no one steals their turn."
  • Your oldest child's dreams involve King Kong, James Bond and Mario Brothers.
  • You notice your child shaking his hands excessively, when you ask why, he explains he's getting the cramps out of his thumbs. 
  • There is a permanent dent in the couch oddly the exact same shape as your child's little butt.
  • Your 4-year-old can trouble-shoot any technical problems with the X-Box AND fix them.
  • Your children show their dad the tricks to completing a level.
  • When your children actually DO play "army guys" using their imagination, they have more than one life.
I think that if they created a reality show about my children's video game habits, it would be as horrific as "intervention." Now I just need to come up with a good retaliation to, "But YOU'RE always on the computer!"

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Odds N Ends

Crazy week this week, but overall very nice. Just to wrap up:

One day, while working at this department store. I looked over at another cashier and saw that one of her customers had a Gloria Vanderbilt tag on the pocket of her capris that she was wearing. I'm not going to lie, my first thought was that she was making a not-so-subtle attempt to steal them. As I pondered whether or not to call security, I decided to take a not-so-subtle approach myself. My line was clear, so I casually sauntered over to help aforementioned cashier by bagging the items. While bagging, I mentioned to the customer, did she know that there was still a tag attached to her, shall we say, voluptuous bottom? Turns out, she apparently had gotten "hot" while shopping and decided that the capris would be much better suited for her than the sweats she came in wearing. Oookaay. Somewhat acceptable. She had given the tag to the cashier to ring through, so it wasn't like she was stealing. BUT, how do you explain the other tag that was given for scanning for the underwear that her 12 year old daughter was wearing?!! I tried to think of various emergencies that could warrant such an action, but the fact that they put the clothes they WERE wearing into the same bag as the new clothes, makes me believe that there wasn't some sort of accident that could be brought on by puberty. (To put it politely.) And was the cashier paying attention? Did they give her tags from cheaper merchandise to scan but wear the more expensive stuff right out the door? Not like we're going to strip search a 12-year-old. And if it WAS all on the up-and-up...WHO DOES THAT?

I also went to the college that I'm about to attend in July to register and to take an accelerated placement program test. I am going to brag here a minute. I was told that they have not had scores that high in a "very, very long time." For example, in the arithmetic section, you needed a 35 to test out of the class and I scored 112. They also told me that it was extremely rare that a person test out of ALL of their fundamental classes. What does this mean to me? It means I save about $7000 in tuition and save 12 weeks of school. I'm pleasantly surprised at my retention level after being out of college for nearly 20 years. *grin*

My son's birthday party is in a couple of weeks. He will be 7. (Where does the time go? I feel lucky that I've managed to keep him alive for that long.) His friends all have parties at "Games To Go," where they feature a monstrous room full of immense blow up bounce houses and slides, rollerskating parties and the like. We're on a budget. So guess what? I'm doing a "retro party" featuring games like Twister, Pin The Tail On The Donkey, and a version of musical chairs which involves popping a balloon by sitting on it in order to be the winner. I think it will be cool. We need to revert to simpler times. Prizes will be shopped for at the dollar store and loved as equally as those that can be bought by "tickets" at Space Aliens.

I am kind of a phone-a-phobic, so it took a lot for me to "mom up" and call people on Kaiden's "friend list" (a.k.a a list of people willing to put their phone number out there for all classmates) and get their addresses so that we can send invites. Hell, I might even splurge for a pinata.

We had a BEAUTIFUL 70+º day today, and I managed not to blind anyone when I decided to wear shorts for the first time in 9 months. (Think of what broken limbs look like when it comes out of a cast...I'm pretty sure that's my legs...without the smell.) I mowed the lawn and the lawn mower started on the first, yes first, pull. My boys insisted on running through the sprinkler in their swimsuits. Can you blame them with this incredibly miserable winter just now past us? I tried to talk them out of it (to no avail), and after 1/2 hour, they were blue-lipped with chattering teeth, and a grin from ear-to-ear. My oldest also earned a certificate to Dairy Queen for the number of books he read last month, which gave us all an excuse to eat ice cream. Unfortunately, I'm lactose intolerant, but couldn't help myself and decided I could live with the numerous bathroom trips for the smallest of Heath Blizzards. (It was worth it.)

I had the strangest dream last night. I dream vividly and can analyze most of my dreams, but this one involved finding out that my husband had been intimate with a very young woman while at one of his handyman jobs. In the dream, I was FURIOUS, and if I hadn't been trying to protect my children from yellow-eyed King Cobras, I would have clawed his eyes out. I'm fairly certain that this dream came about because my husband and I have been severely lacking in any one-on-one time. I'm not just talking (whisper) S-E-X, I'm talking about meaningful conversations without interruptions, or even just hand holding. But here's the weird part...I actually dreamt ANOTHER dream where I was standing in the driveway, telling him about the FIRST dream, to which he replied, "That must have been awesome sex." It seemed so real. Very normal interactions. I guess the cheerleaders standing on yoga balls on the street should have been a dead giveaway that I was still dreaming.

Anyway...I had to work a horrible shift for pennies tonight (it's hard going to 1/3 your salary sometimes. I worked from 5pm until midnight. Dead on my feet, I came home to this:

I felt like I had crossed police tape and stumbled on to a crime scene with chalk outlines. I can only guess that there is a boy with a lizard tongue, some math (1,000+1,000=2,000), my youngest's version of a person (head, no body) and a beautiful flower (done by Kamrin, impressive.) Awesome.

I stepped inside, removed my shoes, and checked on my sleeping babes. Dad and oldest in our bed (great, I get to move him) and youngest covered in his smallest blanket with only bottoms on. I move the oldest to his room, and cover youngest. I change into my pajamas, turn the light on in the kitchen and see this:

AWESOME!! I know that not every mother would love this, but I do. I have been complaining about this stupid faucet leaking for I don't know how long, wiping up the puddle that made its way to our countertops for nearly a year...and now I have this!! Screw the flowers, give me a faucet...and installed. I love thoughtfulness and practicality rolled into one. Mom's out know what I'm talking about! This means that every time I cussed under my breath while I wiped up the countertop puddle, was actually heard! Not only heard, but noted! AND it came not only installed and working (oh yes, I tested it) it has a note! "Happy Mothers Day. We love you." I nearly kidding. I'm not sure who wrote the note, because Kaiden's teacher has mistaken Shawn's handwriting for his...but I DON"T CARE! I so love my family.

I just wish they were awake so I could tell them. Embrace the little things and find happiness where you can. I did. Holy cow! It's 1:30 am, time for bed.

Friday, May 6, 2011

From Beneath the Couch and Other Terrors

I finally got a quick moment to do some cleaning, and this is what I pulled from underneath couch. Let's analyze, shall we?  First, hurrah, THERE'S the DVD remote! Also there is a used kleenex, the roll scotch tape, two of the bottles I have been frantically searching for to put water in for work, the usual toys and stuffed animals, and a clean (yes clean!) pair of socks. Among the debris, probably the only crayon in the house with a sharp point, various candy wrappers, and a piece of something that I cannot identify. Not too unusual. But a pedicure brush? How did that manage to make it's way from the bathroom to its cozy dark spot under the couch? I know that I certainly haven't had time to use it lately. In fact, I didn't even know it was missing! Lastly, a used pudding cup and spoon, which has obviously been under there long enough to dry, crack and flake. Wonderful. It's a wonder that my kids get sick at all with their robust immune systems having adapted to all the rampant germs in my house. Oh, and ignore the stain right next to the remote that I discovered after removing a dishtowel that was haphazardly thrown over it in a blatant attempt to hide it from mom until it was too late.

For one of those special occasions, my husband bought me a bagless vacuum (and before anyone is up in arms, I actually WANTED one), because my current vacuum SUCKED, or rather, didn't. I thought it would be great to be able to use it at any time without worrying if the bag would explode in a cloud of dust, lint and dog hair and not have a back up bag. The first time I used it, I was amazed at the amount of dirt it pulled up in just a few strokes. I was morbidly fascinated at what had been buried in the nap of my carpet. Now, it irks the hell out of me that I have to make several trips to the garbage to empty the thing. I bang the canister against the side of the trash and the ball of hair snarls and snips at me as it makes its way out. I then must attempt to dislodge the microscopic pieces of dust (which have bonded to become a thick layer on every accordion surface of the filter) and STILL end up fighting my way out of a dust cloud.

Speaking of know you've been slacking with the Pledge when your kids start writing messages on the base of the TV stand. It's a cry for help.

I should be thankful that this mess was, at least a bit, hidden. My boys are slobs. There's no getting around that. I've let it happen. If their rooms go unchecked for more than a day, the boys feel it is just too overwhelming to clean themselves, so I agree to help. They whine that it's, "too hard" their little limbs becoming unbearably too heavy to move toy to toy box a mere 14" away. Sixty-five seconds into "helping" them, I look around only to realize I am alone in the room and boys are sitting on the sofa watching the latest Johnny Test show. Case in point, Kamrin's room:
I'm pretty sure the hangers were left there by my husband, who keeps his shirts hung in Kamrin's closet. Leave the evidence here, blame the kid later. There's the humidifier, which I have been too lazy to put away. Notice the blanket on the floor, but no comforter on his bed. Why? Because, EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, he drags it into our room, hoists it on the bed, squeezes his body between myself and hubby. The heat from the extra comforter and two adult bodies on either side of him cause him to kick ALL of the blankets off and weight them down with his little chicken legs. I can no longer shield myself from the blasting fan that my husband insists on running at the highest setting. I wake up freezing and beyond the laws of physics, I am unable to dislodge even the tiniest area of blanket from underneath a 35 lb. body.

Next door, we have the older, more advanced version of the bedroom mess, Kaiden's room:

Note, the drawers are never completely closed. I'm guessing the books are strewn about because he was looking for one in particular, found it and then left the scene. What you can't see it the chaotic pile of toys in his closet left from the last time he "cleaned" his room (in a record breaking 7 seconds.) I was proud of this room when I did it. He was a huge fan of Spider Man and I found the posters cheap and framed them myself and did a denim faux wall. But it is anything but inspiring in this state. At least the mess covers the crappy carpet that was here when we moved in and we've never had the money to replace.

As I have mentioned, I've decided to go back to school full-time, attempt to work part-time and get in some studying. When I'll have time to keep up with this is anyone's guess. My plan is to become harsher with demanding the help I need from the boys. I'm sure I'll find a whip hidden under one of the couch cushions.

PS: In his retirement, my dad has decided to try his hand at blogging. If you get a chance, visit and comment at Ideas & Adventures.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Monster Mom

We had a surprise retirement for my dad this past weekend and had decided to make the 5.5 hour drive (give or take...mostly give) home to be there. There were several moments that I almost gave it away in my blog before reminding myself that my dad has my blog downloaded to his Kindle and made the necessary edits. We were supposed to leave Thursday, as the party was Friday night, but hubby's job proved to be a little more time consuming than expected so we left Friday morning...early.

I hate this trip. Just the driving part. (Here's why.) At least I had hubby with me this time. Things should go easier. We stopped and filled the gas tank (heart attack and a whole other blog-rant when I get a chance). We needed to be there in time to unpack, change clothes and get to the party without Kaiden spilling the beans. We were making pretty good time, but it was exceptionally windy and Kaiden's bladder forced us to stop 4 TIMES, and usually right after we passed a rest stop. Each dirt road pit stop we made, I had to get out with him to check wind direction and point him the right way. Thank goodness for boys!

I had been telling Kaiden that we were 'going out to eat' with Papa and Grammie in hopes of keeping the secret. But after we arrived and had changed clothes, Kaiden's lightbulb went on. He caught me in front of the bathroom mirror, "Mom, when is Papa's party?" I proceeded to tell him that it was that night, but we were PRETENDING to go out to eat. I also warned him not to tell Kamrin, because he certainly would not keep a secret. The entire time before leaving the house, Kaiden kept reiterating how he just "couldn't wait to GO OUT TO EAT (wink, wink)." We took separate cars. If the kids acted up, Shawn would take them back to the house.

Long story short, I thought Kaiden was going to blow the whole thing when we entered the restaurant and were headed up the stairs, prominently labeled 'Private Party Room.' My mother had told my dad that we had special permission to eat up there because of the boys (and if you know my boys, this reasoning seems perfectly acceptable), but Kaiden can read. He saw the sign and grabbed Grammie's arm, pointed to the sign and gave her the thumbs up signal. The party was a success, my dad was completely surprised and the kids were behaved. In fact, at the end of the night, the waitress said how well the boys did, and I looked over my shoulder to make sure she was talking to me. Of course, Shawn made a quick escape shortly after dinner so who knows how the night could have ended up?

They were well behaved...that night, but it was downhill from there. The 70º Friday turned into a freezing, gale-forced wind with snow (yes, I said snow) nightmare. We were stuck inside. Shawn actually attempted fishing (true sportsmanship), but couldn't even tell if he had a bite with the amount of wind (so he tells me). The boys fought about EVERYTHING...who was player one on the Wii, whose markers were whose, who got to sit where and whose glass of water that was. It was exhausting. When constantly reminding them of the consequences of their bad behavior, I was met with, "I didn't do anything!" even though I was sitting right there and watched them do it. We decided to leave Kam with Papa while Grammie, Kaiden and I, went grocery shopping. He insisted on pushing the cart and our 10 minute shopping trip turned into 30. Mom and I uncorked the first bottle of wine when we got back.

They fought over the movie to watch. Grammie tried to coax Kaiden into reading her a book. He insisted that he read to only Shawn or I (and Grammie was the only one NOT watching the movie). She thought it would be fun to give the boys a bath in the jacuzzi tub, which is very similar to bathing in Cool-Whip. Suds were everywhere.  They had decided to 'swim' and created tidal waves large enough to spill over the sides. There was a small pool of water on the floor, and the walls had acquired a new white, poofy, polka-dot pattern. While Grammie scurried to wipe up the mess, I shuttled the boys from tub to shower to rinse them of there bubbly hair-dos and beards.

Dried off and smelling like lavender, it was finally bedtime. This seems to be a special bonding time for my mom and it all sounds perfect, until you actually go to bed. Grammie is a light sleeper, like myself, and every toss and turn, slap in the face and leg tossing no matter how large the bed, will have you reaching for the light. Needless to say, Grammie didn't get any sleep.

My mother also wanted to go to church the next morning. I don't enjoy this either. (Here's why.) She insisted that she would be able to take the boys without me. Right.  First, she has to help my dad (who suffered from a stroke and needs assistance) and then to deal with MY two boys...again...riiight. Secondly, I know my mom, and if I didn't go, she has the gift of passive aggressiveness. I know. I have inherited this trait. And my last few hours would be painfully strained. So we go to church. The fighting begins. The boys notice I am chewing gum and insist on having some. 'Insist' being the nice way of saying 'crying, pounding fists and trying to reach their hands in to my pockets'. I cave. On the condition that if it even ONCE leaves their mouth, they are to forfeit aforementioned gum. They agree. Not ten minutes into the service, Kam has a string of strawberry gum linked from his mouth to the tip of the pencil provided in the church pews. Amazing. Kaiden complains he's bored and asks me every two minutes if, 'we're done yet.' Oh joy, we have communion this service as well. Nice leg-stretcher for the boys. My mother takes my dad's arm and navigates him as I herd the boys and keep them moving forward. The pastor hands out the sacrament to the adults and as Kam is passed by, he loudly proclaims, "Heeyyy! Where's mine?!" And Kaiden, who has not mastered the art of whispering says, "Are you really drinking blood?"

My parents decided to meet their breakfast group after church. The ladies at my end of the table try to reassure me that they are grandmas too and I shouldn't be uptight, as they have seen it all. Bless their hearts. But it's always different in hindsight where you can laugh about things than when it's actually happening. While paying the bill, my youngest ran off and I nearly had a panic attack wondering where he was. Never mind the fact that I should have been astounded that he left the building and was able to locate my parent's car in the parking himself! I had to restrain myself from throttling him in front of my parent's friends.

The trip back to Fargo was miserable.  The fighting, the decibel level of their voices, the repeating of the word "fart" over and over again followed by insatiable giggles was more than I could take. They had been warned several times and my jaw hurt from me gritting my teeth. They were too hot, then too cold. I rigged blankets in their windows to block the sun. They punched, pinched and kicked one another. They kicked the back of my chair, played with the windows and got marker on my car seat. They threw pieces of wadded up paper at each other and thought it was hilarious to have a burping contest. Enough was enough. When asked if we could stop for something to eat, I said a resounding, "NO!!" I was then informed that they, 'wanted different parents!' (Hear blood boil and clenching of fists). I swelled to twice my size, I actually took my seatbelt off to turn around and explode, "You want new parents?! Fine!! I'll have your dad pull over right here and you can stand by the side of the road. But with your behavior, no one will want you!!" Yep. That was me. I actually said that. Shawn shot me a sideways glance which told me it was too much but he wasn't about to touch that.

An hour later (and also only an hour away from our destination), they looked like this:

This couldn't happen sooner?!

And guiltily, I thought, "How could I have been so mean? It's a 5 1/2 hour trip and they're young. I've probably damaged them for life. Did my parents ever say things like that to me and my brother? Maybe, but I don't remember. Is that a good thing?" It must not have had an everlasting impact, as they were back to fighting the minute we walked into the house.

The only comfort I have is reading other blogs and know that I'm not alone. We all have weak moments. And I am truly grateful for that knowledge.