Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Dog Whisperer

Okay, it's been a couple of months since I've written anything here, so this blog is just about kaput. Who knew that getting a real job would take up so much time ...?

But the kids are still pretty damn funny, so I'd like to keep writing it. The interruption probably has more to do with me spending less time with the kids than with me spending more time with work. Though the preceding sentence is horribly written, hopefully you get the point. What I'm trying to say is, it's not just that I'm busy, it's that I don't spend as much time with the boys anymore – and that's why I don't find as much to write about.

And that's not a good thing.

So here's a funny one-liner from the master of one-liners that's been bouncing around in my head for a week. We were sitting outside on the deck enjoying a family dinner, when Micky – that's the incredibly annoying dog – began whining with his nose about 6 inches from Matthew's plate. Matthew, who is now 6 (I've actually missed two birthdays since my last post ...), was mostly ignoring the whine.

In a playful mood, I asked Matthew: "What is Micky saying?"

He turned to the dog, looked at him, then looked back at me and said: "I don't speak squeak."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

'I wanna a new pet'

Matthew seems to enter the room when I'm in the deepest of deep sleeps. Last night, he wasn't even in the room when he ripped me from one of those deep sleeps.

Somewhere deep in my dream state, I heard sobbing. I jolted awake, discombobulated, half-conscious of my surroundings. The clock said it was 4:48 a.m. I slid out of bed and stumbled toward the bedroom door. As I reached the door, a small boy, wrapped in his favorite Thomas the Tank Engine blanket, padded down the hallway and into the room while weeping. "I wanna a new pet," I heard him cry. "I wanna a new pet!"

"Go to the bathroom," I told him.

No, it's not the typical response to a weeping child in the middle of the night, but I am endlessly practical. I didn't want him climbing into my bed and falling asleep with a full bladder. Without question, he turned, walked into the master bathroom and peed, crying the whole time.

As he walked back out, I decided to follow my own advice, and I headed into the bathroom. As we passed, I said, "we can talk about a new pet in the morning."

He instantly stopped crying, looked up at me and said, "What are you talking about? I didn't say I want a new pet. I said I fell out of bed."

"Oh," I said. "Well, go to bed."

Since the tears were over, he climbed into my bed, I followed him in, and we both went to sleep.

I hope he doesn't think I'm getting him a new pet.

Don't shoot McDonald's

Since our family could use some good news these days, I'll try sharing some lighthearted family moments. This one happened a few days ago, when Josh made me smile.

I had taken the boys for a double-fun trip to Target and Lowe's. The highlight of the Lowe's trip was the purchase of a line trimmer, so I can finally knock down the two-foot-high grass around our yard. The machine was packaged in a long narrow box that didn't quite fit in the carriage, and it kind of resembled a large cannon.

The older boys were pretending the box was a huge gun, and they were shooting home improvement objects throughout Lowe's. Colin just stared at them in bewilderment, and they kept blowing things up.

When we loaded the huge gun in the car, it draped from the third row (where Josh was sitting) into the second row (where Matthew was sitting). That gave Matthew perfect access to point and aim the gun wherever he wanted. He was targeting and destroying things along the way, while Josh had his head buried in a book.

In perfect Josh fashion, without looking up from the book, he said clearly, "Don't shoot any McDonald's, cuz those are my favorite places."

Friday, May 11, 2012

Colin was a rock star today

I find unexpected moments to be proud of my children. An insightful comment, a surprise gesture, a challenging question – all can trigger silent pride.

Today, it was a trip to the doctor.

Colin went to see a pediatric cardiologist because another doctor detected a heart murmur during a recent exam. We've been told heart murmurs are relatively common in children, but there was some anxiety nonetheless.

Colin was a rock star.

We spent nearly two hours in the office. Three doctors listened to his heart, silently moving the stethoscope over his bare skin. They stuck eight or more sensors to his chest, stomach and legs for a complete EKG. They put him through a 15-minute echocardiogram, asking him to lie on his back with blue jelly smeared on his chest while a technician watched his little heart beat, beat, beat.

My pride swelled during the echocardiogram. I'll never forget the image of his little body, suddenly looking so long from head to toe, stretched on that table.

Colin was wearing gray corduroy pants, with gray socks. His shoes were off. So was his shirt.

His tiny, bare chest showed the scars of his young life – the one-inch slice where a G-tube once protruded; the strange, purple-blue mark that's been there since birth; the outie belly button that guarantees he will never be a swimsuit model. Lying on his back, still as can be, he quietly looked around the room as the woman slowly circled his torso with the magic wand. For a full 15 minutes, he did everything she asked without a whimper. He sat up. He tilted his head back. He straightened his legs. He lay back down.

Colin has always amazed us. This kid spent nearly three months in intensive care. He went under full anesthesia half a dozen times. He had a double hernia repair. He had a G-tube. He had supplemental oxygen, a helmet, full leg casts, a bar between his feet, a walker, ear tubes, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Now he has a heart murmur.

All those trips to doctors, all those procedures, all those pokes, pricks and prods, all have toughened him up. All prepared him for a two-hour trip to the cardiologist.

Colin was a rock star today. Once again, he made us proud.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Josh is so helpful. He was working on a puzzle a minute ago and Colin was having a great time kicking Josh's puzzle pieces. "Stop it, Colin!" Josh yelled. "Stop it! Stop it!"

Then he solved the problem by picking up Colin, carrying him across the house into the bathroom and handing him the toilet plunger. I turned around to find Josh instructing Colin on how to plunge the kitchen floor.

"Okay, Colin?" Josh asked.

"Yaaah," Colin said.

And Josh ran back to his puzzle quite satisfied with himself.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kids are weird

An hour ago, the two older boys emerged from their bedroom, post-shower, in identical, green truck pajamas. "Daddy, can you tell us apart?" asked the boy who was six inches taller and 25 pounds heavier than the boy standing next to him.

"No, I can't," I said.

"Well, I am so hungry all the time I could eat all the food in the whole entire world," the big one said.

"Well, that sounds like Joshua," I said.

"Yup, that's me," said Josh, then he ran downstairs to make himself dessert.

Matthew followed him down, and before Colin and I could get there, dessert was well underway. They had taken out a half-gallon of Breyer's vanilla ice cream and were scooping it into separate bowls. Then Matthew took his bowl, put it in the microwave and set it for four minutes. He stopped it with 3:20 to go. "Wow, it's never been hot before," he said while staring down at the soupy mix.

Next came oyster crackers. As I watched in awe, Matthew pulled a package of oyster crackers from the drawer, ripped it open and dumped it in the ice cream bowl. "Really?" I asked him. He just looked at me. Next he got out the gallon of milk and poured milk on top of the ice cream and crackers. Finally he sat down to eat.

Josh followed his lead, also putting the ice cream in the microwave and then pouring milk on top of it. No oyster crackers for Josh. After two bites, Matthew said to himself, but loud enough so we could all hear, "Actually, this isn't very good."

"Mine is so good!" Josh said while devouring his vanilla soup. Colin of course screamed for his own bowl. I set him up between his brothers with a nice dish of cold ice cream and a plastic spoon, but a minute later the spoon flew across the room and hit me. Apparently Colin was having a hard time scooping cold ice cream with plastic, so I forgave the spoon-throwing and helped him finish the bowl with a fresh metal spoon.

The final noteworthy moment was at the very end of the night. Jenn was upstairs with Josh and I was downstairs working on the kindergartner's homework. Colin climbed down the stairs, saw us doing homework, and wandered into the kitchen. He came back a moment later with the electric mixer.

When we finished Matthew's homework, I told the boys it was time for bed. Up we went — me, Matthew, Colin and the mixer, firmly lodged in the boy's grip. I said goodnight to Matthew and brought Colin into his room. He walked to the crib, lifted up the mixer and dropped it over the bars, onto his mattress. I turned out the light, sang one verse of "Twinkle, twinkle little star," then put Colin into the crib. In the dark, he reached out, pulled the mixer close to his chest and curled into a ball. I fluffed out a blanket, let it fall over the boy and the mixer, said good night and left the room.

I haven't told Jenn about it yet. I probably should before she goes to check on him and discovers a kitchen appliance in the crib. But I won't. It'll ruin the surprise.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Josh makes a funny

I took the two older boys to a crowded Target on a rainy Sunday afternoon. We made a deal. They had to behave in the store in order to get a treat afterwards – Skittles for Josh, lollipop for Matthew.

They behaved exactly as expected. They ran through aisles. They elbowed each other for carriage positions. They grabbed boxes I told them not to. They fought. They wrestled. They bumped into other people. They blocked aisles. They screamed. They left me. They rolled on the floor. They knocked things off shelves.

They were the most rambunctious children in the superstore, but all things considered (rainy day, distracted father, loads of temptations), they were fine. I wanted to drag them by their ears only a couple of times, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Once we were settled in the car, they asked for their treats. I said no. I told them they hadn't really earned them. They whined, so I told them they could still earn them by doing two things. They had to help me carry the bags into the house. And they had to solve a riddle.

"What's the riddle?" Matthew asked.

Before I could speak, Josh said, "What's mean and grown-up? And has three boys that don't listen?"