Monday, June 27, 2011

Turtle Soup

Once in awhile, Jason and I like to pretend that we're good parents, and we do something fun with the kids.  This particular Saturday afternoon, Jason had the great idea to take the kids to Little Sioux Park in Correctionville, Iowa for some fishing, canoeing, and roasting hot dogs.  (The funny part of all of this was that when Jason mentioned his plan, all he said was fishing, so I was going to try to get out of going so I could finish reading a book I had started.  Then I walked out into the garage, saw the canoe in the back of the pickup, muttered an expletive to myself, and went back inside to change into some grubby clothes.  I'm so totally Mother of the Year huh!)

Now, I don't know how all of your family outings work, but ours usually end up to be a little bit of fun mixed in with a lot of whining and complaining.  Ah, the memories.

It takes a little over a half hour to get to the park and the kids kept asking the ever-popular, "Are we there yet?" and "When are we gonna get there?" types of questions.  I just LOVE those, don't you?  Then we get there, get the canoe unloaded and they decide they want to fish first.  So we fish.  Then they don't want to fish, they want to canoe.  So we get ready to canoe.  But they whine about Jason taking along his fishing pole because they "just wanna canoe!"  Too bad, Jason takes it anyway.  Then Lauren is screaming every time the fishing pole comes close to her.  And I mean screaming!  (I never should have told her the story about the time that my sister Meghan hooked me in the cheek with her fishing pole when we were little.  She was casting and the hook caught my cheek.  The bad part was she kept tugging at it not knowing it was attached to me....or maybe she did know....hmmmm.)  So Lauren is screaming, I'm yelling at her to knock it off, Jason's trying to explain to her that in all his years of fishing he has never hooked anyone, and Braden is trying to look into the lake, thereby rocking the canoe, and making Lauren (and I) scream more.  <sigh>  Finally Jason says he's just going to keep fishing until she gets used to it.  What a great family outing.  So, we fish and canoe, fish and canoe, fish and canoe.  And we finally start to have a little fun even though we have barely even seen a fish, much less caught one.  Then Braden decides he needs to pee.

We tried to get him to just pee off the canoe (yuck, I know, but we were in the middle of the lake!), but he wouldn't because he didn't want anyone to see his "buttocks."  (Now that he knows that word he likes to say it because he thinks he's getting away with saying 'butt' which is a word we don't allow the kids to say.  It's reserved for us when we need to drive home the point that punishment is near if they don't shape up!)  So, we rowed over to the shore and the kids and I jumped out and ran to the "bathroom."  Jason then proceeded to row back out to the other side of the lake to fish while we were using the facilities.  I remember looking back at him and thinking that he looked so peaceful out there by himself.  Meanwhile I'm stuck in a campground "bathroom" with two kids who are more interested in conversing with each other than getting their business done.

We continued to canoe some more, and even rowed over to the little swimming beach and walked around for awhile.  The kids had fun wading into the lake with Jason while I watched and took pictures from the shore.  Lauren waded right in, but Braden was not a fan of the "goo" that he had to wade through to get to the clear water.  (The "goo" being mostly mossy stuff, but I couldn't blame him considering I was staying ashore too.)  The highlight of the beach area was the little frog we found and played with. . .until it went belly up.  Literally, belly up.  I thought the kids had killed it for sure, so we told Lauren to just put it on the beach and for them to leave it alone.  The stupid little thing should have just continued to play dead, but it started hopping away with my kids hot on its heels.  We finally convinced them to leave the poor thing alone so we could canoe back to our pickup and roast some hot dogs.

While we were waiting for the coals to warm up we fished some more.  Poor Jason, every time we go fishing he feels so bad for the kids because we very rarely catch anything.  Such was the case on this day as well.  So it was a good thing we brought hot dogs along, as we would have definitely starved if we had intended to eat the fish we'd caught.

Our friends Danny and Linn stopped by to chat while we ate our hot dogs, and then we fished some more.  Or rather, we put bait on the fishing poles, cast them out, and let them sit there while we munched and watched the kids chuck rocks into the lake.  Braden is a very impatient fisherman, and always reels in his line only minutes after it's been cast out.  He did a great job of catching plants though!

We finally decided to pack it in, and asked Braden to reel in the fishing lines.  He reeled his in first and got so excited because the line felt heavy, but he'd just caught another plant.  Then he reeled in his sister's and got excited again because the line felt heavy.  We knew that it was just another plant, but why ruin his fun right?  Then we saw the end of his line.  What the heck is that thing??!!  It looked like a bloated fish, or a rock, or something.  Then Jason yells out: "Holy cow Braden!  You caught a TURTLE!"  Sure enough, attached at the end of his line was a good sized painted turtle.  Poor little thing had swallowed the hook, so Jason cut the line, and after admiring him for a bit we let him go.  The kids really enjoyed watching him swim away from us as fast as his little legs could carry him.

That turtle was lucky we'd already eaten. :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Do Over

I pride myself on being a good listener, and paying close attention to subtle hints about gifts people might want.  But I have decided that I might just be the world's worst gift GIVER.  My intentions are always great, and I know that it's the thought that counts, but for the last couple of years I just can't catch a break on Father's Day.

When we were finishing our basement, Jason kept talking about how it would be nice to have a nail gun.  So, Father's Day rolls around, and even though we had finished the basement I thought I would get him one because he loves to build things and would use it eventually.  So I truck my little female self to Sears and am quite proud of myself for picking out a really nice nail gun that wasn't cheap, but didn't break the bank either.  I was so excited to give it to him.  He opened it and said, "Wow, this would have been nice to have when we were putting up the baseboards in the basement."  I'm just grinning like a Cheshire cat by this time because I think I've done good, right?  And then the other shoe drops, "But, honey, I can't really use this for much now."  So, I go into my little speech about how I know he just loves building things and now he has a nail gun to do it.  Uh, wrong.  The nail gun I bought him was for finishing nails, not for actually building things.  AND it had to run off of an air compressor...something we didn't even own.  Strike #1.

Last year I got it into my head that I was going to buy Jason a canoe for Father's Day.  He always talked about what fun he had canoeing as a small boy, and we enjoyed it together as a young married couple.  So, I went canoe shopping.  I found one I liked that was a lot more money than I had anticipated spending, but hey, he's worth it right?  I had the men at the sporting goods place load it into the pickup for me, drove ever so carefully across town with it, pulled into my driveway and thought, crap, how am I going to unload this thing?  And where do you hide a 10 foot canoe??  So, a neighbor girl helped me unload it and we slid it underneath the deck at the back of our house.  But the stupid thing stuck out a little bit and I just prayed that Jason wouldn't see it before that Sunday.  Of course he did, but he's such a good sport that he didn't say anything.  So now it's Father's Day and the kids and I are so excited to give him his present and spend the day canoeing with him.  We lead him out the back and yell "Surprise!" and he acted like he was surprised.  And then he WAS surprised because the stupid canoe was only rated to seat 3 people....and there are 4 of us.  Strike #2.

This year I had it all figured out.  This year was going to be the year that I get him an awesome gift that he loves and uses all the time.

Our kids started playing Tball this year.  What a hilarious sport that is!  But, they are learning and getting better all the time.  Jason mentioned one day that he would like to have a new baseball mitt, as his is old and not real leather and falling apart.  AHA!  The perfect Father's Day gift.  And one that I actually know something about, being a former All Star fast pitch softball player myself.  So, while I was shopping in Omaha with a good friend, we went into a sporting goods store and with the help of the baseball "guru" there, I picked out a beauty of a glove.  And once again, the kids and I were so excited for him to open it.  He opened it today, and actually LOVED it!  Yes!  I'd finally done it!  I had finally gotten him a gift that he loved and could actually use ON Father's Day!  <sigh>  Not quite.

It has about a 1 and 1/2 inch CUT on the outside of the mitt where the thumb goes.  I bought it right off the rack, and neither the salesman nor I saw it.  And once I got home I stashed it away in the top of our closet.  Crap.  Not to mention it's TOO SMALL!  So frustrating.  So now we have to go back to Omaha to return it, as we don't have that kind of store here.  So much for him using it ON Father's Day to play baseball with his kids.

Next year I'm going to give him a card that reads: Happy Father's Day!  Go buy your own darn gift.  Much love....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Reality TV

There are days when I think that my life could be summed up by a 1/2 hour television sitcom (think more like Everybody Loves Raymond than the Brady Bunch).  But then there are other days when I think that my life could make a pretty interesting drama series; although I'm not sure I have the on-the-spot quirkiness to make it work like the mother-daughter relationships present in the Gilmore Girls, and my show would be lacking too much serious medical knowledge to make a show like ER work ("Pass me that Hello Kitty band-aide STAT!").  So, I have decided that what the world needs is a reality show based on my life.  I mean, c'mon, we have a reality show that follows the lives of Mob Wives, one that follows around spoiled rich women, and ones that document the lives and trials of teenagers who get pregnant.  My life is seriously funnier, more dramatic, and more REAL than any of the shows out there right now!  (I'd like to see the percentage of marriages that have lasted at least 10 years since the Bachelor/Bachelorette has been finding "love" for people!)

Here's what I envision my show would look like if cameras had been following me around during a typical summer week, and looped it all together into a one hour show:

  • The show opens with one or the other of my children coming into my room at O-dark-thirty, standing by my bed until either a)I gasp in fright upon realizing that someone is breathing mere inches from my face, or 2) said child smacks me in the face and says, "Mom, are you awake."  At which point I look at the clock, groan, lay back down and say, "No....go watch tv."
  • The camera would then follow my children around as they watch tv,get themselves breakfast, make their mom coffee, and do an art project that involves lots of glue and many different bottles of glitter that they found on the top of the fridge, hidden clear in the back, behind the Easter candy.
  • I finally emerge from my room looking like something out of a horror movie, and finding the mess the children have left for me in the kitchen, I groan, poor myself a cup of coffee (thanking God that my 6 year old knows how to make it), grab the newspaper off the porch, and sit down to fully wake up.
  • By now it is about 7:30.
The rest of the hour would be spent following me and the kids around as we clean, play,clean, play, clean, have lunch, clean some more, run errands, play and clean.  My show would offer practical parenting tips for dealing with breakdowns in the grocery store  (using effective time-outs in the frozen foods section - effective meaning that the child was only asked once if he was lost because his mother was hiding in the next aisle pretending not to know him), siblings smacking each other in the car (I have perfected the Doug Vallis Reach Around Smack that still makes my knee caps hurt to this day!), as well as what to do when your child makes embarrassing exclamations in church ("Mom, did you know that you have BOOBS!?).

My show would also deal with the drama that happens in the lives of "real" people.  Like explaining to your young child what happens when you die, or what heaven is like, or why a 1st grader in their school died even though he's not old like her great grandpa was when he died.  Or that their 30 year old uncle has cancer and what that means for him and for the rest of our family.

The hour-long episode would always end on a happy note with my husband, their father, walking in the door after his long day at work and our kids running to be the first one to hug him.  Then the camera would catch a glimpse of our children's disgusted faces as their mom and dad kiss and hold onto each other.  But deep down in our kids' hearts we know that they are happy knowing that despite all the daily pressures and family heartaches, that we are a family who loves each other and who will stick by each other day in, and day out.  Despite the fact that just minutes earlier one of them was mad at me for not letting them have a snack before supper and told me that they were going to trade me in for a new mom. :)