Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A World Without Walls

The walls have come down. On January 13th, 2002, Mike and our good friend, Mike Strode, put together our crib. All laughs and fun; it was a simple project due to the fact that the only little beings shuffling around actually had paws and were easily convinced to go lie down. Its disassembly was accompanied by struggle, with Finn’s curiosity latching on to every nut, bolt and bar. With much effort, it finally gave way to a new phase in our life. After six and a half years of constant service, two moves, a stint in our bedroom and three trips from newborn to toddler, its mission is complete.

And Finn is in a big boy bed. This has come with its own needlessly unmentionable challenges; I’ll leave them to your imagination.

I suppose it’s fitting that such a big “end of an era” type change should come just days before another so monumental – when Logan hops a school bus and heads off to 1st grade and 8 hours away from home each day for the first time ever. I love that school is about to be in session, I have an addiction to school supplies anyway and I think we all need a little separation to make the heart grow fonder – if you know what I mean. But each time I step near that school lately, I feel a surge of emotion, my eyes flood with tears and like my six year old says at times, I can’t really put into words why I feel this way.

It is a big change and I will miss her terribly, but I want this for her and she is ready for it. Sometimes change, even when you want it, makes you sad. Makes you wish for what you had as you see it morphing into something else. Makes you aware of the times you took this stage of life for granted and wish you had one more day. But I do, I have today and we’ll spend it celebrating just being together without worrying about much else.

Yesterday during Logan’s open house at school, we swung by her kindergarten teacher’s room to say a quick “hello”. She quietly waited in the doorway unassumingly, hoping her teacher would catch her eye. She did and gave her and warm and welcoming greeting. We turned to leave and Logan said, “You know, for some reason I feel like I want Mrs. Engdahl (kindergarten teacher) to be my teacher for all my years of school.”

“Sometimes when things are changing, it feels like it would be easier to keep them the way they were instead of learning a new way,” I said as she shook her head in agreement. “But just think of all the things you’d miss out on if you never tried anything new. Don’t you think the world would be a pretty boring place?”

I think I’ll cling to my own advice as my own walls come down and I make my way into this new era, filled with crib less toddlers and school age kids. It’s certain to be different and bound to be exciting!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

This dish is microwave safe.

I will forever regret not taking a photo of the sight of which I am about to write. Sometimes though, your reaction gets the better of you and the moment is gone. I’m sure you will all appreciate that fact, although I think this picture would have spoken volumes about our summer with Finn. He continues to shock me at every turn, becoming more and more a different animal to contend with. I have about four different blog posts bubbling around my mind on him right now as he is a constant source of material. Here’s the latest.

It was 4 pm yesterday (now you know this story is going south.) All afternoon I had been thinking how wonderful it would be to write about the morning we spent at Finn’s new “school” where I walked in hoping he’d pass their maturity evaluation, but was pleasantly surprised to find out that all that meant was that they wanted to know if he’d play without clinging to my side! They gladly accepted him and his shock of summer white hair into their program, promising me at least two hours a week of time with all three kids in school. I was elated; not only about the break, but the program, at a nearby Methodist church, which is staffed with the four warmest, most welcoming women teachers I could have imagined. Logan even wanted to go there!

Fast forward several hours and I am cooking dinner with a group containing four, five, six and seven year old girls upstairs playing house (with Finn tagging along.) I cannot describe the level of pitch that those four ages can reach when screaming, but I can tell you I have never flown up a flight of stairs so fast.

I should back up and say that when searching for Finn’s bear earlier in the morning, I picked up the distinct smell of poop in the playroom. A quick look around produced no source, so I moved on my way, vowing to come back later and figure it out. But the girls found the culprit for me - a nice, compact and somewhat petrified (forgive me) turd, methodically placed and waiting for them in our play kitchen’s microwave. I was speechless.

And I asked him, “Finn, did you put that poop there?”

“Yeah Mommy!” he said excitedly.

“Why did you do that, Finn?” I needed to know.

“Why Mommy?” he asked back innocently.

And there you have it. With no explanation possible, I grabbed some tissue, removed the specimen and with a flush, the smell was gone and the girls stopped screaming. Yes, my mind crossed over the conversations at neighbors’ dinner tables about the poop in the Anderson’s microwave. I wondered what those families would think, likely not getting the whole story from their young girls’ mouths. All I could do was laugh.

In the end, it didn’t matter. Poop is just poop and Finn is definitely curious about it. I hope to never again see it in a microwave and to only see it in toilets soon.

Nothing like filling up the witching hour with some good ‘clean’ fun.

Friday, August 8, 2008

"Up You Mommy!"

Before this little tidbit of toddler hilarity disappears into his preschool years, I felt the need to get it on record. A month or so ago, Finn began saying, “Up You Mommy! Up You Mommy!” every time he wanted to be picked up. Following a typical course of action taken by my children, once Finn sensed the words and the needs succeeded in getting my dander up; he proceeded to do it non-stop.

Now, as the short hand of the clock nears the dreaded number 5, I can’t help but yell back, “No – Up You Finn!” I hate to admit it, but I actually get some pleasure out of letting that vulgarity rip. Usually though, just that one shameful mother-of-the-year comment zaps me back to reality and gets me chuckling at how funny our 5 PM experience really is. Can you imagine if someone was listening in? My MOY award would be replaced with a DCFS citation!

The bottom line is, just like Finn’s perfect little “Yessss!”, “Up You Mommy!” will soon be replaced with another adorable Finnism, only to live on in the corners of my mind and now this journal of our days together. So what if it sounds like he’s cussing me out; he still wants me to hold him tight.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


I was talking on the phone with a friend last night. As I looked to my right out the office window, I saw the blackest, scariest stormy sky that I have ever seen. My friend lives just east of us, so I warned her of its impending arrival. She said, “I know, my husband just said “The end of the world is coming and you’re on the phone!”" We quickly got off and just as I shut down the computer, the sirens went off on TV.

Of course, Mike was outside watching so I yelled to him to come in – my fatal error. As I shuffled the kids and dog into the basement, the drama escalated to full hysteria (not my intention, believe me) and the girls were completely out of control. Finn, on the other hand, was frantically checking out every corner of our unfinished basement, a forbidden wonderland to his basement-virgin eyes. As he tried out every old tricycle and art supply and pulled stored clothes out of plastic bins, the girls screamed.

It was quite a scene – I almost couldn’t help but chuckle in combination with the sadness I felt in witnessing them so truly terrified. They absolutely refused to listen to reason, hollered for the door to be shut, wanted to go get toys and dolls for saving and refused to let go of Harley’s collar for fear that she’d wander back upstairs. We did everything we could, but nothing really worked; they went on like that for 20 minutes, at least.

At one point we went up to check the news again and the tornado warning had moved eastward – we were now just in the middle of a whopper of a storm. In all my 36 years, I have never seen storms like those we see out here. Right about now, many of you are joking under your breath that we live in big sky country. But there must be something to not having mature trees all around and sitting up on a hill – the sky does look so big and we see every single bit of the storms. Once we moved upstairs, donned PJ’s and played Sponge bob; I took a few minutes to watch the real show. The lightening was humbling and constant and everywhere and honestly a little scary, too. It literally took my breath away.

The kids recovered and Finn tried to shed a few fake tears to ward off bedtime, but we eventually got them down. We had now all grown used to the constant rumble of thunder (that is still going on this morning) and the flashes from the windows all around us.

Next time, I’ll think before I’ll yell for Mike. I'll try not to use the word "tornado" ever again. I’ll announce that we’re playing school downstairs. We’ll skip the hysteria all together. Lesson learned.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Where art thou patience?

I came home from vacation with an enlightened outlook and fresh feel for the rest of the summer. But the truth is, these kids have worn me down. Some days, I can’t stop wishing that I would have had them at 20 instead of 30 (not really) because I’d have more stamina for the whole enchilada that is their lives.

There’s no specific problem here, kids will be kids and if you ask them they’ll tell you that they are having the best summer of their lives, hands down. Unfortunately from my standpoint, I can’t agree and it’s bumming me out. They play all day and into the night, they go to the pool and parks and have picnics and took an amazing vacation and at the end of it all, when they come in to take baths and go to bed, I get the worst of them. They are appalled by my suggestions to eat meals (children should live on popsicles alone), are shocked that I expect them to brush their teeth and hair (they will soon be shaved) or bathe, but literally pant with excitement and enthusiasm when the doorbell begins to ring around 8:30 am.

Don’t get the wrong idea and think that I am in here filling my days with me-time; wonderful organizational projects, cleaning my already spotless house or finally getting photos in an album – I’m not. First of all, there’s Finn and second of all, I’m one of only a few stay-at-home mom’s on the block. The kids are (all 18-20 of them) banging down my door for snacks and drinks and sprinklers and toys to be brought outside, every second of the day. They come to me for every dispute and owie in the 19 house radius. I can’t complete a thought, much less a project. When the older ones are making requests, Finn is howling about going outside. Big ogre that I am, I have no desire to follow my two year old around outside when it’s 95 degrees!

I have started researching our days the night before, trying to plan anything to get us out and about and away from the wild pack of kids. They are good kids and I am grateful for all of them and the fact that we live here, but I am tired of handling most of their days on my own. (Most other families have uninvolved parents or moms that work and dads that “watch” them working from home.) No one is really doing anything wrong; it’s just that kids will go where the most attention flows. I have never been so tired at the end of the day. I have never been asked so many battering questions in my life before. They want something from me every single minute and as much as I hate to admit it, I can’t wait for school to start and I wish Finn was going, too.

So I am a terrible person. But maybe not. I am, like I predicted in “See Ya Later May!” yearning for the structure and routine of the school year, itching for a few hours a week to expand this little career of mine and dying for a few minutes of peace where I am not closing doors after people, chasing out flies, cleaning up messes, handing out popsicles and enduring the most summer-tired and unreasonable hours of my children’s days.

Finn is due to be “evaluated for maturity” at a local church’s parents day out program for the fall. Mike laughs. That scares me. I feel a few hours separate – me and all my children – will do us all some good this fall. Lord, grant me patience and forgive me for the hours I’ve spent without it this summer. I need some in a bad way. School starts August 27th.