Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Alternative Engineering

 A good friend of mine always tells me that she loves my boys' "creative energy".  I'm pretty sure that's code for something else, but she has a good point.  If I had to bet on what their college majors would be, I would put a lot of money on the engineering field for Captain Competitive and SirWhineAlot.  I'm a little concerned that Good Time Charlie will either not make it into college, or will flunk out after having way too much fun at his fraternity mixers.  He has recently been asking if he can skip preschool and just go to hockey class everyday, which is a bit disturbing coming from a five year old.  Unfortunately, not surprising though. 

Alternative Engineering is what my boys are really all about.  I'm pretty sure it's not a true form of engineering, but my boys have mastered it nonetheless.  My inventive definition of alternative engineering is: when a person takes an object or objects and consistently finds an alternative use, other than what it was intended for.  My boys are genius' at this. Toilet paper becomes home decor, anything that resembles a long cylindrical object is a sword, pasta can suddenly be transformed into a gun at the dinner table, mail is for making animal habitats, hoses are for cleaning windows that were just professionally washed, balusters are for climbing onto built in bookshelves, transformers and legos are for plugging the toilet..... I could go on forever.  You get the idea right?

My favorite story of the boys is really about alternative engineering at its finest.  Two years ago, some very good friends let us borrow a moon jump for our basement for the winter.  We thought it would be a great idea to let them burn their energy off in the moon jump, rather than running around the house like crazy people.  One particular day around Christmas time, the boys were downstairs in the moon jump (or so we thought).  We noticed that their was a ton of laughter.  I have learned that laughter can either be very very good or very very bad.  Since I thought they were just jumping, I just worked upstairs and enjoyed the laughter..... who doesn't love to listen to their kids laugh?  Since I had music playing upstairs, I couldn't really hear what was REALLY going on.  About 5 minutes later, Captain Competitive runs upstairs to tell CC Senior and I, "Hurry, hurry, you have to come down and see how cool this is."   At this point, I'm still thinking I'm going to see some jumping moves or something of the like.   But what CC Senior and I really saw was something that resembled a Christmas war zone.  The moon jump was deflated, and the 3 boys, (all 5 and under at this point), had figured out how to take the blower off the jumper and use it to project my Christmas ornaments across the room and into the wall.  I'M NOT KIDDING.  They were using the blower as a launcher, and had launched ALL the ornaments from the basement Christmas tree across the room, into the wall, and then onto the floor (in many many broken pieces).  The scary thing is that they were SO proud of their engineering capabilities.  They weren't even worried that they might be in trouble, that maybe this wasn't such a great idea.  They couldn't have been more excited to show us how they had just mastered the laws of physics.  I can't even remember how we reacted.  I mean, who thinks their kids are going to dismantle a moon jump and use it as an ornament launcher?  All I can hope is that they are so creatively brilliant that someday they will put their "creative energy" to good use.

Unfortunately, the story does not end there, it only gets better.  Shocking, but better.  A few weeks later, after many, many conversations about the appropriate uses of toys, we bring the moon jump and the blower out of time out for the boys to use again. I hear the usual jumping and noises from upstairs, and then the dreaded LAUGHING.  Now Christmas was over at this point, and the ornaments were all smashed to pieces.  There wasn't much else in the basement to launch across the room, so I couldn't figure out what could be so funny.  I walk down to the basement to a very unnerving sight.  Three little boys were watching their privates move up and down from the force of the air coming out of the blower.  "Watch this mommy, it's SO COOL."  I was absolutely speechless.  I still am just thinking about it.

At that moment, the blower went away, FOREVER.  I also realized that these little surprises (or incidents) were what life was going to be like for many many years to come.  I guess it just comes from having a house full of boys. Hopefully by the time they all get to college, Alternative Engineering will actually BE a major.  Because they are all going to ace it. Maybe even Good Time Charlie. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Me, Myself, and I

Starting tomorrow morning, Captain Competitive Senior (a.k.a. my husband), is in charge.  That's right, for 60 hours, I'm going somewhere BY MYSELF.  For the first time in probably 11 years.  I'm pretty sure the last time I went somewhere by myself is when I flew home to get ready for our wedding.  Since then, I've gone plenty of places.  First accompanied by Captain Competitive Senior himself, or girlfriends (mine, not his of course).  Then with Captain Competitive Junior as a baby, and finally with the whole kitten caboodle of Alpha Gamma McVey.  I am usually the crazy lady in the airport with the 3 kids and sometimes a husband if it's a family trip.  I often do travel alone with them and have been doing so since the twins were 2 and still in diapers and CC Junior was 4. Crazy I know, but desperate times call for desperate measures.  Sitting here with 3 kids under four on a long winter day always seemed worse than hopping on a plane and constantly diverting disaster for a few hours until my parents picked us up at the Orlando airport.  To anyone who has ever had to sit next to us on an airplane, I am truly sorry.  Really I am.  I'm sure it was unpleasant, especially when Good Time Charlie had a major blowout as a 2 year old that leaked onto the airplane seat.  I hope all the good samaritans who have had to endure a few hours of us have long forgotten about me and my boys.

Back to tomorrow............. CC Senior is in charge for 2 and a half days.  He has been in charge plenty of times before, but usually enlists the help of his parents who live a couple of hours away.  This time he's flying solo.  I have pumped up the boys in my absence with promises of an exciting "Boys Only Weekend".  I have told them that this is very special to have this time alone with daddy (while mommy is sipping refreshing beverages with old friends in sunny California acting like she is 20 again).  Not that I don't think that the weekend will be a success, I honestly do. CC Senior is more than capable and may actually find himself having a great time.   But I have to admit I'm letting him off easy this time. 

To all the ladies out there... whether you work or stay home, don't you love it when the husband asks, "What did you do all day?"  CC Senior honestly asks me this because he is being nice.  And because he's a good listener and I told him that he needs to be more curious about my everyday life, however mundane it may seem (although insane is more of a correct term for everyday life here).  For these 60 hours, all I am asking him to do is feed, bathe, read to, and put the kids to bed on Friday evening. Wake them all up at 6:30am,  feed them breakfast, and have them all dressed and at the football field by 8am Saturday morning for CC Junior's football game. (Oh, and Sir WhineAlot is NOT a morning person, so listen to lots of whining, and watch carefully because Good Time Charlie likes to see how far he can throw his cheerios.)  Come home, feed them lunch, play, give them a snack, play referee, make sure they don't kill each other or flood the basement, and please please stay out of the emergency room this weekend.  After that, please feed them dinner, make sure they are clean (and wiping them down with a washcloth DOES NOT count as clean), brush their teeth, and put them to bed at a reasonable time.   Oh, and do that all over again on Sunday, except instead of the football game, make sure to drop CC Junior at the birthday party, and don't forget the gift.   I won't be home until Sunday evening, definitely after bedtime, and hope the house is clean.

Here's the thing........... here are all the things I'm NOT asking CC Senior to do this weekend (with 3 boys in tow):  grocery shop, pick up the dry cleaning, go to the post office, pay the bills, wrap the birthday presents, host a playdate, do the laundry, drive carpool with people flinging things out the window, plan a birthday party, wait for the cable guy, design a Halloween costume, make cookies, make play dough, make dinner (I'm pretty sure frozen pizza is the food of choice for the weekend), and hold on Line 1 to speak to the next customer service representative while Sir WhineAlot and Good Time Charlie toilet paper the house. 

Now I'm not saying I could do his job, because I know that I can't.  I have absolutely NO idea how to do his job and all the stress that comes with it, so I don't expect him to know how to do mine, especially with things flying around the house all day.  I appreciate that our relationship works this way. He manages the daily stress of supporting a family of 5, and I manage the daily stress of boys who are full of creative energy (that's the politically correct way of putting it).   All I'm saying is that he will probably have a much greater appreciation for me when I arrive home on Sunday. (He says that's not possible, but I'm going to leave that up to this weekend).  Just like I would of him if we switched roles for 60 hours. 

Until then, I'm going by myself.  Just me, myself, and I to watch an old friend engage in holy matrimony.  To ride on an airplane without a millions snacks and juice boxes, and to get reacquainted with the old me, before Alpha Gamma McVey became my life.  I wouldn't trade it for anything,  and it's nice to know it will be right here when I get back, probably with new nerf bullets adorning my windows.  Have fun boys.  CC Senior, love you, and please don't call before noon cental time, I'll be sleeping.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Top 10 most ridiculous things I've said to my children

Before having children, I admit I was very judgemental of other people's parenting, especially in public places.  Now I see a mom about to lose her cool, and I silently wish her a better day tomorrow and a cold margarita.  As parents, we instinctively try to always do and say the right thing.  But certain circumstances that my boys put me in make this impossible. I find myself saying ridiculous things  to Alpha Gamma McVey on an almost daily basis, things I can't believe actually NEED to be said.   Things I am so embarrassed to say, especially in public, but are absolutely necessary.   My top 10 favorites:

1.  Please don't pee in the trash can when it's sitting right next to the toilet  (most recently to Good Time Charlie at a highway rest stop).

2.  Please don't submerge the neighbors mail that you stole into the puddle to make paper pulp.  Despite what you think, it does not make a good habitat for your roly poly (very sorry Gigi and John), plus it's a federal offense. 

3.  No, you may not ask the lady with 6 kids across the street if she'd like to play with you. I'm pretty sure her answer will be "NO".

4. Captain Competitive,  please do not dismantle the moon jump blower and use it  to project my Xmas ornaments across the room (subject for a later blog, please stay tuned!)

5.  No, Sir WhineAlot,  you may not have any matches to make a "campfire" with the little girl across the street. 

6. Good Time Charlie,  please do not pull your pants down here at Jersey Mike's  or anywhere, no one else thinks you are funny (except your two crazy brothers).

7.  Please do not turn on the neighbor's hose to flood their lawn, spray their windows, or play firefighter.  Daddy will not be happy when he has to pay their water bill.

8.  No, you may not sell beer to the neighbors for dollars.  It's illegal and makes mommy look bad. 

9.  Please stop telling and showing your friends that we have "real guns" in storage..... we have your daddy's old BB gun from when he was 12, without the bee bee's.    Other mommies do not like to hear this. 

10.  Please do not put your private parts in front of anything electrical or battery operated.... this could end very very badly.

You may be horrified, but hopefully you are laughing.  But I've honestly said each and everyone of these things. I even have adult witnesses.   Thank Goodness I have amazing, forgiving neighbors who actually like my boys, even when their lawn is flooded and their American Express bill is floating in the puddle with the roly polys.