Saturday, August 30, 2008

Yar har, de Pirates of Baldwin Cove

Ethan's very favorite thing to do is shout out randomly. It's like turrets. He'll just be going along and then he'll just scream and say something like "I want apple juice!" or "Cereal! Cereal! Cereal!" It still makes me jump and grab my temple, almost like I'm trying to keep my brain from popping out from the pressure of the outer decibels. One of his regular shout-outs is "Look, I have one eye!" I can't help from laughing even when I'm in my own world making dinner, checking email, or running errands and he jumps out and says, "Mom! I have one eye." He then screws up one eye and sticks out his bottom lip like a pirate and just walks around for a few minutes like that. We have nicknamed him one-eyed Pete, which of course he hates and insists we call him "Plain old Etan, Mom!" Mason got into the game tonight and we called his crazy face toothless-Jack.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Going on a bear hunt...

As I open the laptop and prep my font and title for tonight's entry, I can feel my skin begin to itch. It starts up where a strand of hair has come loose from my ponytail which has become customary mostly to hide the rapid graying making my once dark beautiful hair look more like the bride of Frankenstein. The itch is becoming contagious and affects my shoulder blade just far enough in the middle that I'll need a large tree or wool rug to ease my discomfort.

Matt and I have been discussing a camping trip with the boys for quite some time now and I was very excited to get out into the great wide open and roast weenies, make ooey gooey smores, sing Kumbaya by the campfire I had started using the tee pee technique and only steel wool and flint, and then wake up in the morning refreshed and invigorated by the sheer cleanliness of the air. So invigorated would I be that fresh coffee would be on the, again built solely by me, fire in a percolator next to the pan of sizzling bacon and eggs. Of course I try not to think of the countless weenies I've lost to the flames because my stick wasn't angled just so. Or the time I had a delicious marshmallow charred to a most superb charcoal black and I swung around to show my mom and my ooey gooey goodness collided with my brother's cheek. Flailing to remove the good-as-glue gob, my poor brother fell in the duck pond. He still has the scar. Then there's the time I got up not so refreshed from sleeping on a large pile of rocks I didn't have the sense to remove the night before to crows greedily pecking at a dozen cracked eggs and a mutilated package of bacon. I don't even know what flint is.

Still fortified by our most recent camping discussions I tagged along with a friend to Snead's Asparagus Farm about 30 miles south of Stafford, VA. Yeah, that's what I thought too. Asparagus? Well, they do farm it and it looks like giant stalks of dill. Still don't know where the little bud comes from at the top. We never saw any of those! However, there were horses, cows, chickens and llamas to be seen as well so we packed our gear and headed out. After a skinny, orange barn cat had been properly rubbed on the belly it jumped up and then ran off ahead. It kept looking back and if to ask "Are you following? I know the way!" After our feline guided tour of pooping livestock, my friend and her son wanted to go on this "walking trail" that was printed on the map we were given at the entrance to Snead's. Sure! Why not? It's mapped and the two bridges looked like fun. Off we go; my friend and her 2 boys and then me and my 2 boys. Looking for adventure like Tom Sawyer. The 1st bridge is a tad bit rickety for my taste and angled so that you feel just a little woozy once you reach the other side. I'm not worried though because I'm prepping for our camping trip so I need some acclamation. The second bridge comes and goes. The fork is next and we consult the map. There's no fork in print. We have to make a decision and I decide that since she has more camping and walking in the forest experience, my friend should decide. We go right. Coming upon a grassy clearing, my spirit is beginning to lift and the tension that began to gather my shoulders to my ears is slowly easing. Wait. We never passed any bee hives! Running to get past what could be a flurry of activity (i don't really know because I never stopped long enough to actually look) of bees bringing home the pollen, we ducked back into the woods for safety.

There is an enormous spider's web and I'm talking more like spider's reinforced hammock hanging in one of the trees and there are leaves and such already in the sticky trap making it look as large as a soccer ball. My skin is literally crawling at this point and hives are visible along my jawline and neck. I am breaking out in anxiety-induced hives because I am in the woods. I am thinking this is really pathetic just as my foot falls through some rotting ground and I grab the boys' hands and walk super fast. They are starting to complain of being tired and thirsty and I am the mom and I have to take charge but the last 3 clearings of some other farm's corn fields were getting me down. Then in a muy muy soft voice I say " We're going on a bear hunt. We're going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day! We're not scared." Knowing full well I look like a complete loon, I charge ahead chanting louder to drown out complaints of thirst and tired legs but also my own manic subconscious. We get out eventually, only being lost for 45 minutes, but long enough for me to realize that camping is not all fun and games. We need a camper.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fishing at Lunga Park

When we first found out we were coming to Quantico, VA, we were excited for the opportunity and down-time we would get. When we found out our friends the Claytons were coming too it made it that much better. My friend Missy and her two boys Ray and Adam, aka Boat, are very close in age to Mason and Ethan, respectively. Mason and Ray went to preschool at Woodbine for a year together and we stayed in touch when Ray changed schools. We love having them here and it's nice to give someone familiar a call in the day and just chat or spontaneously meet up for a play date. Lunga Park is a really nice park area on the base up at Quantico. On our way up to this playground area we passed by a family of deer where a baby was racing through the trees circling its mom and dad. It is such a tranquil place and the deer had no fear of us in a running vehicle only 50 yards away. Still keeping our eyes out for more wildlife, Mason and Ethan both swore they saw a bear get sprayed by a skunk who then proceeded to pour a can of tomato juice on himself to get rid of the smell. Just call us the Big Fish family.

Ray and Adam got both Mason and Ethan starter fishing poles for their birthdays and so we took them to the lake to try them out. Mind you, they still had the little rubber fish attached to the string so they weren't catching anything, but that didn't matter. Adam, who will be 2 in the next couple of weeks, was showing them how to cast it out properly. What a hoot he is! He would cast it was out, start reeling it in and shout"I got a bite, I got a bite!" Too funny! They'd been hanging out at their grandparents' house in Ohio perfecting their skills so they had a lot to teach my boys about the great wide open. Mason thinks all grandparents live in Ohio now and wants to know when we are going to visit Ohio and when Ray is going home.

Speaking of Big Fish, our neighbors were telling us that they had been privy to hear one of Mason's stories over lunch one day. If you don't already know, Mason is our weaver of tales. Apparently, a Virginia opossum attacked Ethan one day and threw him over the roof. Niko was able to catch him and pass him to Mason who then threw him back to the opossum. Since Virginia opossums are known to throw little brothers into the air, that's what the opossum proceeded to do with Ethan, again until Niko saved him and put him to bed.

Ahhh...I can just imagine the day his new kindergarten teacher calls me to tell me she's reported us to the CPS because Mason told her we locked him and his brother in the attic with the blue yeti. Or maybe it will be the one where monkeys come out of the freezer and attack mom and Dad because we're not being nice that day. Nice of course constitutes juice whenever it's demanded, corndogs for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and sleepovers at anyone's house but ours every night. Ethan is starting in on the stories. Yesterday at lunch, he announced to Matt and me that he wasn't going to eat Chewbacca because he was too hairy and too fat.
Why, oh why did I encourage that imagination so enthusiastically???

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

You Say it's Your Birthday...

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you...Happy birthday to Ethan!!

Wow! I can't even process the fact that my baby is 3. He is still such a mama's boy that we're keeping him home again this year from preschool. He just wants to stay home with Mom. What are you gonna do when those blue eyes are looking at you? We went to a bounce house in the morning, McDonald's for lunch, and ice cream cone cupcakes for dessert. Big boy!

Ethan: We were in Target and he asked the teen aged cashier what happened to his nose. He had a huge zit on the tip of his nose and ET was not going to let this go. He wanted to know. So after the 10th or so time of asking very loudly and our ignoring wasn't working, I said, very quietly, he had a boo boo. ET then looked at the guy and said, of course in stereo, "You need a Nascar band aid for your boo boo on your nose." At this point I'm bright red and trying to get the bags in the cart and outta there fast!!!

Mason: We were looking through his Animal Encyclopedia and came across the hoatzin. Mason asked "Mom, can you sing me that song tonight at bedtime?"
Me: "Sure. What song?"
Mason: "You know, the hoatzin song."
I was stumped and was thinking when Matt nudged me and whispered to me.
Me: "Mason, do you mean the Oats & Beans and Barley song?"
Mason: "Yeah, that's it. Can you sing it?"
Me: Laughing," Yes, I can sing that."

Just Keep Them Busy A Little Longer

If I were filling out one of the many surveys a longtime friend had sent me via email and the inquiry was not only about the color of my underpants, but also on what my eyes were focusing right that moment, my answer would be this: a leaning tower of papers, magazines, and business cards haphazardly collected on the kitchen counter which, has since grown on me, resembles a Motel 6 counter top from back in the 70's.
I have managed to collect more Family, Parenting, What-to-do-With-Your-Child-When-You-Run-Out-of-Ideas magazines and newsprints than I ever thought could possibly fit on a kitchen counter. Although 'fit' is an extremely loose term in this case. Collecting in the pile are coupons for "Half-off First Months Enrollment," and "second sibling 25% off." I hope that one is for the admission part and not the body part. There are claim tickets for ice cream socials, Summer Reading charts, scraps of torn receipts where I've jotted down the number of a preschool I'd driven by whose sign boasted "Accredited," and "The best place for your child when they're not at home." Coffee rings make their mark on countless publications and on a couple I'd swear it was Ethan's future at risk. Vowing my revenge on Starbucks through gritted teeth, I dab at the dark stain, squinting to decipher the number beneath. My ink-blackened hands pore over the newspaper's Local section one last time, hoping for any missed tidbits of late summer vacation Bible school programs whose capacity hasn't yet been reached.
My emotional remote control is on fast forward, rewind, re-play, time-delayed playback;shall we just say my TIVO isn't hooked up yet. Mason just turned 5 three weeks ago and today is Ethan's 3rd birthday. So why are my brain and heart all mixed up? I count my blessings every day that I'm fortunate enough to stay home with my boys and nurture them and watch them every second of every day. I love them with all my heart and soul. That said, I love to have a few moments to just jam out with my iPod when Matt gets home. I like to go out with the girls once in a while and discuss a beer, I mean book. Get my toes done. Go to the Limited with Jackie. So why can't I get myself up and out?
As of late, it is more difficult to get up and going out of the house no matter the errand. The boys and I stay in our jajammas (ET's term) til 10 or so in the morning. It took me a very long time to finally go to a salon and have the gray covered up in my hair and I just painted over the old polish on my toes that I'm almost sure was pink and plucked my Frida eyebrows. This is not my normal state of being and I couldn't quite put my dry, cracked, flaky finger on it. Until today. I am missing our motivators.
We had someone and something to get up and go for in Pensacola. Our friends were down the street and our routine was one we'd had for years. Even the unscheduled, spontaneous things we did and places we went, were familiar and comfortable. It takes time for people and places to become familiar and comfortable. With the knowledge that this is a 10-month tour, it's that much harder to push myself out and into the world.
I do believe, though, that somewhere among all those ink-smeared publications and torn receipts, is just the right sport for Mason. From under the medium-bodied Cafe Verona darkened circle, an illegible number will reveal its identity and I will find the perfect preschool (ha! he'll never let go!) for Ethan. And the long-awaited call informing me that not one, but BOTH boys now have places in the summer vacation Bible school and I can drop them off Monday through Friday from 9am to 1pm. I don't care whether the nail salon is perfect or not. So now I just need a shopping buddy.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Scoot-a-da Pover, Rover Dover

Ethan finds lots of ways to pass the time
The wonderful Peck family
I hope he remembers where that piece came from
ET is practicing for his future-when he gets hip-replacement surgery he'll be a pro!
Happy 5th birthday Mason!

I recently read an interview by Jack Black and had to quote him in my title. I think it's silly and since I'm not sure where to start on my list of catch-up I thought nothing would be more appropriate than a funny 'move-over' term. We're moving over, under, around and through everything these days. We started our journey to Quantico, Virginia on the 2nd of July. Without all the details, it's been a bit bumpy but we're here and we had a very lovely visit with the Pecks on our way up. We have a phone and internet connection FINALLY!!! I am just now bloggin because my computer hasn't been hooked up for lack of service and then it was running so slow that I had to install a ton of anti-spyware stuff just so I could post some pictures.

Mason celebrated his 5th birthday on the 18th of July and Ethan's is on Wed August 6th and he'll be 3. So crazy how times flies by. They have been sharing a room in our new rented home here in Stafford and I love to sit on the stairs and listen to them talk. Last week it went like this:
Ethan: "I'm 6."
Mason: "No, you're not. I just turned 5 today and I'm older. You're 3."
Ethan: "Well, I'm zero."
Mason: "You wouldn't be zero or you wouldn't be born yet. You'd be dead." Pause. "No, you would get dead when you're older."
Ethan: "Older?"
Mason:"Older isn't bad though. Grandma and Grandpa are old and Niko too."
Ethan: "Like sour cream?" Pause. "I don't like sour cream."
Mason: "Stop talking! Go to bed!"
Ethan: "Ok, Mason!"

Mason funny--he was dressing up as a cowboy when he asked this question

"Mom? Am I like a tractor?" Why I asked. "Because I have these plowers on my boots," he said pointing at the spurs on the backs of his shoes.

Ethan embarrassment-- this is an everyday occurrence because he's 3 and says whatever and whenever VERY, VERY loudly! We were shopping in target for some various as sundries when he starts pointing wildly and yelling "Mommy, Mommy! Look! It's a pirate!" I'm already turning my head the OPPOSITE direction to avoid the "pirate's" dirty look I'm sure is directed my way. but ET grabs my face and forces me to look over where his finger is shaking and says"look at the pirate!" The woman dressed in an Army uniform next to me is chuckling and says "Can't say I've heard that one before. I have to tell my kids about it." She tipped her beret at ET, smiled and said "Arrrr, see ya later!" We all started laughing and I called Matt to tell him about it.