The Need to Know

One of the best things about living in Northern Virginia is the amazing foliage. Spring and fall are my favorite - so many blossoms and flowers, then so many different colors of leaves. One of the first colors in spring are these bright yellow bushes. They appear even before the cherry blossoms and daffodils.

Calvin has been asking for a couple weeks, every time we are in the car or taking a walk, "What are those bushes called, Mom? They're yellow - my favorite color! What's their name?" I've told him that I didn't know so many times, that I'd have to ask someone who knows. And I keep forgetting to find out, even though I know he seriously needs to know as much as he needs to breathe.

Yesterday we were on a little drive to see the cherry blossoms and I heard Calvin tell Henry, "There's one of those bright yellow bushes..." Then he piped up, "Oh, yeah! Mom! I've been meaning to tell you -" (OK, age five going on forty...) "Those bushes are called 'percynthia.' Mrs. O'Malley told me."

They're really "forsythia." But far be it from me to tell him the correct pronunciation - I need to know a little more than him for just a while longer.

And I probably need to tell his preschool teacher to quit tellin' him stuff.


He'll Drive You Crazy If You Let Him

I do remember Calvin having several months of complete and total obnoxiousness before he turned four, which is when I fell in love with him all over again and started thinking I could hack being a mom. And even at Calvin's most outrageous, I was able to figure him out and sometimes get to the bottom of it and find better ways to approach situations.

Not so with Henry. He is simply a piece of work. Laughs in the face of rules, rewards, punishments, furiousness...looks you right in the eye and with an impish grin will do exactly what you're telling him not to. Sasses like no other. The thing is, he is hilarious. Really. Ornery in the extreme. But hilarious.

He's going to be the death of me.

But before I keel over from exasperation, here are some things that have made me smile in the last couple of days and help me not to call the men in white jackets quite yet:

David was at home yesterday and mostly dealt with the boys while I...uuuhhh, what did I do all day yesterday? Anyway, late in the afternoon, from the other room I heard the incessant chatter/singing/falsetto monologuing and "gonnagetchous" of stuffed animals that I had mostly tuned out up to that point and suddenly David was pleading - I really think he was almost about to cry - "Guys! Henry! Will you please take your tiny bear and your dog paw and leave my face alone? I just want to read for a minute!" A while later he told me that he could never be a stay-at-home dad, so I shouldn't get any ideas.

Henry gets bored out of his mind when Calvin is gone to school. Most of the time I have to be on my toes keeping him occupied (and fed!! The boy is a bottomless pit!). Today he was busy for a good part of the morning until he came to me and started whacking me on the head (softly, but very. persistently.) with an empty water bottle and asking overandoverandoverandover (giving response time is unheard of) to put two of the bottles in his shirt. When I figured out where and how he wanted the bottles and what he was doing, I thought his idea was precious. When I said, "Oh! You want jet packs!" He said, "Yeah! 'Jet packs' is a short name for 'little rockets,' right?" And he blasted off.

He told me the other day that he was "deffitly" not tired, but he just wanted to snuggle with Duckie on the couch.

Sanity gets a chance.


Maybe We'll Try Again Sometime

They looked adorably handsome for church. All pastelly and crisp, like my favorite colors of Cadbury mini eggs. Little ties, the whole bit. Then, just by me saying, "Let's get a picture," they mutated into slumping, squirming, exasperated and exasperating stinks. That is, when they weren't making faces in the mirror that was behind me. What do you do? Think they'll be able to handle stillness and a decent smile in ten years?


Spring Doings

Only a few more weeks left of school and a lot of spring happenings going on, so I'm a little inundated with deadlines...Just wanted to post that I'm alive and all. Here's a few miscellaneouses that I thought I'd throw out there for you until I can get back to the blogging of the oh-so-fascinating aspects of our life.

I found a couple posts from my old Code Yellow Mom self that brought back some memories. Funny, the incidents had faded in my memory, but reading about them again, the feelings associated with them are palpable. If you're interested, click away. It's kinda like remembering high school angst - when you were in the midst of it, you didn't know how you'd survive, but when it's over, it really is almost laughable. I'm glad I'm writing it all down - the bad and the good. I'm not feeling the stress of momming as much right now because I am seriously expereincing something akin to a honeymoon with my boys. They thrill me and amaze me and I just want to squeeze them every moment. I know, I know - it's just a phase.

It's not like they are perfectly behaved yet or anything: I heard this amazing crash-clatter-shatter sound of a million duplos across the playroom floor and got after Calvin for throwing things again and he told me, "I didn't throw anything, Mom. I launched them." (Apparently the duplos were in the form of a rocket that he really thought he could throw launch it into the air?)

All in all, we're just enjoying spring...

The boys can't spend enough time outside. Charlie stood at the window for about twenty minutes the other day, babbling and watching his brothers play outside in the sand box and "garden" (it was actually a mechanic shop for Cal that day). It was very cute, because he was so enthralled with their activities.

Henry and Calvin went outside to play in the rain because that is an irresistible pull when you've got rainboots and a rainjacket. Cal came in slightly damp. Henry came in looking like he had been swimming. Seriously, the kid was drenched. Under his hood. Under his rain jacket. Inside his boots. Dripping. Squishing when he walked. And ecstatic about it.

Calvin is excited that bugs and worms are out again. He thinks about them. And talks about them. A lot. He and Lily made a worm hotel in the back yard the other day after the rain and they watched the worms for the better part of the early evening...He proudly "got" a "very small fly" the other day by slapping it very hard. Against someone else's car in the parking lot...And he also came up with this very accurate mosquito diguise. I wouldn't even know how to go about looking like a mosquito, but Cal nailed it, I think.

One of the cutest developments lately is that Henry has taken to calling Charlie "ChaCha." What makes it even more adorable is that Henry says his "ch" like a "ts" or like the z's in "pizza." I hear him talking to him: "No, no, TsaTsa. You can't play with this. But you can have this." "Here's a cracker, TsaTsa." We're all pretty much enamored with TsaTsa. It's like serious baby love fest. We can't help it. Could you?


For You Viewing...Pleasure

First, Charlie acting in his new role as Legwarmer:

Next, here's Henry in a nutshell:

(Note: We did intentionally change the word "girl" to "squirrel" - the boys came up with the rhyme themselves - since we have no girls around here.)

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books

And finally, why we don't pay money for professional photography sittings:


Mathematical Arbitration

Calvin isn't exactly a peacemaker - he likes to tease and pick little fights and definitely likes to be declared a "winner." All pretty normal boyish stuff. But he does have a desire to resolve conflict and it is actually pretty sensitive, often very creative, and shows me that he has this sweet place inside that wants everyone to be happy. Remember the smart vs. magic argument? Today he solved another spat in the car with Henry. (This one was reported by the Dad...)

My Spring Break is this week and last week. The boys have been really glad on the days that I normally go to school when I've told them I don't have to go because it's Spring Break. This morning on the ride to school, Henry said that I didn't have to go to school for three whole weeks, but Calvin knew it was only two and said so. They went back and forth - "Two!" "Three!" "Two!" "Three!" until David finally said, "No, Henry, Mom only has two weeks off from school."

The boys were quiet, but Henry was all worked up that he had been wrong. So Calvin said, "But Mom graduates soon. Isn't her graduation in three weeks?"

David answered, "No, it's a little bit further off than that. Maybe about six weeks."

Calvin wasn't set back in the least. He got all happy and said, "See, Henry! Three plus three is six. And her graduation is in six weeks. You were just thinking about her graduation, weren't you?"

A smile spread across Henry's face and he said, "Uhhhh. Yeah!"


In. My. Mouth. Please.

Charlie has taken to yelling "Daaa!" when David isn't giving him what he wants - face time, morsels of baby food, snuggling - quickly enough. As you can tell from the squealing big brothers in the background, this baby gets a lot of positive reinforcement for vocal outbursts. So I turned on the camera to catch him yelling for a Gerber cheese puff (it is pretty funny, and David would like it captured for posterity that Charlie said "Dad" before "Mom"). We weren't answering his inarticulate screeches, so he apparently decided to try something new to tell us what he wanted. (1:00)

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books

P.S. It also cracks me up that he chews like that. He has NO teeth and no sign of teeth, but he masticates like no other.


The Stuff This Blog Is Made Of

I don't have a cohesive, plot-driven post to give you today (not that I ever do, but...) I started this one eight days ago and decided I should post it before the kids are grown and gone. So here's just a few vignettes from the last couple weeks...Enjoy.

Doing Fine

When I was headed out to school last Monday, I stretched out my arms and said, "Cal, are you gonna give me loves before I go?" He barely glanced at me and said with a dismissive little wave, "Nah. I'm fine without 'em today."

Show Me A Sign

Calvin had a bad throwing-things-in-the-house-and-at-his-brother day the other day. When he got a glimpse of my out-of-patience wrath late that afternoon, he mumbled, "I just can't remember very well." Even though I know that's a bunch of poopsheesh, I said (really patiently), "You've been in trouble four times about this today. You've hurt Henry twice. What will help you remember not to throw things?"

In all seriousness, he looked up at me and said, "I think I need a sign with a boy throwing something and crossed out, so I remember 'No Throwing Allowed.'" It's been a long time since he drew signs to remind him of things he should not do, but it sounded like a reasonable enough suggestion, since nothing else was working, so I said, "Here's a pen and some paper. You make that sign and we'll hang it up so you remember the rule and you will never be able to say you don't remember. Understand?" He did. (Don't you love the way the boy is sad and the ball looks like it is really flying through the air? Definitely illustrates that throwing is not OK.)

Veggie Pictures

At church during Sacrament Meeting Henry drew a picture of his dad carrying a squash. In his Primary class, the teacher had the children draw pictures of something that made them happy. She asked Henry what his was and he said it was a squash because eating squash makes him happy. Before you start thinking what a great mom I am that I can get a three-year-old to wax artistic over butternut, you should know that we haven't had squash at our house in recent memory. But here's the picture of his dad carrying the squash, and you can see that Henry likes squash in a big way all the same.

Pint-Size Personal Shopper

I took Henry grocery shopping early in the morning to pick up a snack for his class. Since we were there at a quiet time of day and without his brothers, he got to push one of those (annoying) tiny shopping baskets for kids. We walked in the doors and he paused, with his hands on the cart handle and looked up at me, all business, and cocked his eyebrow like only Henry can do and said, "OK. Now. What do we need?"

Today he scored another one-on-one grocery trip with Dad. They were headed to the front of the store with the two things I'd sent David to the store for. Henry stopped with his little cart and said, "Uh, Dad? Is this all?" David told him yes, that's all Mom needed. And Henry answered, "Well, what about bread? We don't have any bread at home and that means I can't have toast." I had actually meant to add bread to the list, so it's good Henry went along.

Child Labor

I was loading all the kids in for preschool one morning, buckling the baby, trying to get Cal to go around to the other side of the car where his seat is, and all the while Henry was up near the front of the car chatting away. True to my deafness when I'm trying to focus on other tasks, I didn't really know what he was talking about until I heard, "This car is so wet and dirty. Why do I always have to clean everything and wipe everything up? Uggghhhh." Something in that exasperated groan caught in my brain and suddenly what he had been saying registered. I knew what he was doing before I even looked up to see him...wiping all the rain off the front of the car. With the coat he was wearing.

Splash Down

Charlie was just at my feet and then he wasn't, and I heard suspicious water noises. When I walked in to the bathroom, he plopped to the ground and flashed a little grin. And so it begins. The difference between this baby doing this and when my first baby did it is that this baby has two older brothers who don't always hit the target. Or flush. And a mom who isn't always on the spot with the bathroom cleaning. Are you sufficiently grossed out? Me too. Needless to say, Charlie experienced sanitization and the "Close the door when you come out" rule got reviewed. The bathroom cleaning habits have not yet improved. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

He Laughs At His Own Jokes

Charlie was fussing in the car the other morning and kept tossing his Nuk where it was unreachable and nothing Calvin did really made a difference. So we were letting him fuss. Suddenly, he was rhythmically flapping his arms in the air with a big "WAGH!" sound followed by a gutteral little giggle. WAGH! Giggle. WAGH! Giggle. WAGH! Giggle. We looked back to see if it was Cal entertaining him, and Cal wasn't doing anything. Charlie was making himself laugh! I've never seen anything like it and it made me giggle.

When Life Gives You Trash...

The boys have been building and rebuilding things with their duplo blocks nonstop, every waking moment for about two weeks now. I'm not exaggerating. They have built little towns (each house is one or two blocks and they put them in little rows and drive matchbox cars down the streets), they've thrown birthday parties for Duckie in which the duplos were the cupcakes, they've made hollow duplo boxes in which they encase various and sundry household items (measuring cups, the baby's Nuk, other small toys, crumpled paper), and they've built any number of vehicles. But my favorite so far is this:

It's a rolling factory that, as Calvin explains, "goes around and scoops up all the yucky trash everywhere, the trash goes in this side and the machine turns all of it into a meeeellion delicious flavors of jelly beans, and they all come out this side!"