Iceland Bound

Bill & Paisley

Bill & Paisley, busy plotting out how they will take over the world, one unsuspecting country at a time.

Research, research, research…

Library books, purchased books, maps, websites, blogs, and more books. All in the name of research.

That’s what my husband’s been doing, every free moment he has had for the past three weeks… Yes, three weeks ago we spontaneously – and really, I mean rather impulsively and totally-out-of-the-blue – decided that he and our 9yo needed to start our family’s world travels (well, we’ve been to Canada, and it is wonderful, but why don’t I think that counts?) without further ado. He bought their tickets to Iceland exactly one week later (that’d be two weeks ago for those of you who don’t care much for math), and off they’ll go in exactly four months (well, four months from yesterday, but I’m one of those who doesn’t care much for math – my apologies to my brother the physicist and all the math-loving mathematicians out there!).

That’s right, in four months the two of them are off to explore ICELAND.

They are going to have SO much fun. And I am jealous. Excited for them, but jealous…

The thing is, I’d love to go myself, and I’d even love to pack all five us up and go, even though I think the youngest – currently 22mo – is at the absolutely most challenging age to travel with: he can walk and run and climb, and insists on doing all three, regardless of any fasten-seat belt signs that might be alight; as of yet, he has no patience for watching three movies in a row on what I believe to be the most essential travel item to own with kids, the portable DVD player (the iPad and iPhone work as well – it’s all about giving them endless amounts of the “screen time” that is strictly regulated at home); he doesn’t care a jot for art museums or restaurants, or the need to stay quiet within either; and he carries with him (or rather, we serve as his personal Sherpas) five times as much luggage as I do (and for the record, I like my shoes, which take up a lot of space). No, I’d love for us all to go to Iceland, but have you checked out the price of tickets to anywhere lately?? Multiply that by five (because Broder will have crossed over into that over-2yo status requiring his own seat, even if there is no chance whatsoever of him actually sitting in it when there are two siblings to tackle and two parents’ laps in which to bounce), and all the work we’ve done in getting rid of our credit-card debt goes right out the airplane window.

But even before we were married, Bill and I have planned on travelling the world with our kids. We have always believed that international travel (or even just travelling out of your hometown, but what a gift to be able to journey to far-off destinations that truly challenge your assumptions of what is normal or expected or routine) is vital to our children’s education. Our goal is to raise children who will grow up to be open-minded, socially-conscious, citizens-of-the-world. In this vein, we’ve long hoped to take the kids out of school and travel to one new country a month for twelve months in a row in some future year where all three kids are just old enough to appreciate such an opportunity, but also young enough that taking them away from their peer group back home (aka, high school) won’t make them despise us until they reach 21yo (at which time they will, we hope, come back to their senses and appreciate we had provided such an opportunity). But with such a wide age-spread between our kids (our eldest is seven and a half years older than our youngest and will be a junior in high school by the time he’s her age now), and also really, truly, and finally recognizing what a frightfully expensive proposition it would be for both of us to take a year off work and travel around the world (unless someone wants to give me a book contract for chronicling such an adventure right now?? I’m more than willing to negotiate…), we started realizing that perhaps, just perhaps, we could instead take one of the kids, when they’re ready (age 9 anyone?), on shorter (1-2 weeks, say), more cost-efficient trips (read: we don’t have to pawn any non-existent family heirlooms to afford our travels), once a year from here on out?

I’m not sure why we hadn’t thought of this before. It’s not ideal, of course, but eventually all five of us will travel together, and it’s true: NOW is really the best time to start travelling with Paisley. She’s so engaged, and open to new experiences, and ready to have her horizons expanded; she is still absorbing everything around her like a sponge (and will happily talk the ear off of any stranger that comes across her path). She’s able to pack her own bags and can sit on a long flight as well as any grown-up (no one likes long flights, but a good book, a good movie or four, and a bag of Goldfish crackers are her Nirvana). And as Bill noted (not knowing he was completely selling me on his taking her off on the first leg of their global domination tour), if we start travelling with her now, by the time she’s in high school (and possibly not wanting to spend any time with us at all, as high schoolers are wont to do), she’ll probably be insisting that we go on our yearly family trips abroad. Heck, she’ll probably be thrilled to plan the trips herself, by then (And hey, parents of teenagers: don’t burst my bubble here! A mama can dream!). So even though we’d rather all travel together, isn’t there some value in at least one of us starting to take the kids out into the wide world when they hit that age-ready age? SOLD!

So, now that we’d decided the when (NOW!) of one parent taking one kid off to one new country a year, we needed to decide the where. The most logical decision was to visit our fantastic and beloved neighbors who are currently living in Beijing for the next year and a half (we miss them, AND they have an insider’s perspective to travelling in China). But… And this is a BIG but… that meant our 5yo (who absolutely adores our neighbor’s 5yo and 7yo boys) would not be able to visit Beijing (as he won’t reach the age-ready age of 9yo, or even 8yo, by the time our neighbors return to the States). And if you think for one minute that he wouldn’t be devastated by this, and would let us have one day of peace until his first excursion abroad, you haven’t yet experienced one of my son’s epic temper tantrums (I take full responsibility for the drama-gene my kids seem to have inherited), and just how LONG he can throw them for… Just ask my neighbor: she heard more than a few through the open (and closed) windows. Because I just can’t cope with a year and a half long tantrum (can you see me shudder?), we had to think of somewhere else.

After perusing several travel websites, Bill discovered that, hey!, did you know that there are some great deals on non-stop flights between Seattle and Reykjavik?? And hadn’t one of our other neighbors travelled there with her kids and had a good time? And, how cool is this?? There are HOT SPRINGS all across the country that you can soak in all day long!!

Well, that was easy… Now how about the when? Spring Break? Nah… for some crazy reason, three days didn’t seem quite enough time to plan (the kids’ Spring Break was last week). How about as soon as Paisley gets out of school? Tickets are still available. Cool; we’ll buy them in the morning. [Cut to the next morning.] Wait! The tickets are gone?! Well, how about the end of summer? No, don’t wait! Book now!!! That’ll be four months to plan.

Research, research, research…

Where to stay? A rental apartment owned by a sweet family with a young baby – check. Where to go? The Blue Lagoon every day, or at least several days, to soak away all travel fatigue – check. What to do? A ride on indigenous Icelandic horses through ancient Viking ruins – check and check!

Though Bill’s tried to include Paisley in some of the planning, so much of it is done late at night after everyone is in bed that that’s one of several lessons we’ve already learned for when I get to take her on a trip somewhere next year. In addition to needing more than four months to plan, it looks like eight days (two of which are travel days), just aren’t enough – Bill recommends at least 10-14 days. Fine by me! But where will I take her? Bill: “I bet you take her to Paris.” Me (guffawing): “No, I will always be taking the kids somewhere warm. And with a beach.”

Of course, the 5yo believes he should be able to go to Iceland first. Or anywhere first, really. But he’s finally come around; a couple of days ago I asked him where he wanted to go on his first trip abroad: “Beijing!” When I explained our neighbors wouldn’t be home by then, he quickly replied, “The desert.” Hmm… At least it sounds warm. Then I asked Paisley where she thought she and I should go on our first trip together. She thought for a minute, then shouted (really, she shouted, that’s how we talk in this house): “PARIS!” Me: “Really?? Paris??” Her: “I want to see the Mona Lisa. And I want to climb the Eiffel Tower. And I want–” Wait, how did she already know this much about Paris?? So much for the beach…

So, Paris it is…

Mais, où est la bibliothèque? I need to do some research.

Spring Training

Liam's 1st T-Ball Game of the Season

Liam's first T-Ball game of the season, April 2012. Go Hammerhead Sharks!

Bring on the spring! I’m ready.

Or maybe not (ready, that is), but at this point it doesn’t really matter. We’re in (wait for it…) FULL SWING here.

According to the roster (aka, my calendar), we have a full line-up this season. Yes, indeed-y, our spring training schedule shows at least one kiddie-centered activity a day from now until mid-June.

That’s right. Every. Single. Day. Know what I say about that? I say: GAME ON!!

Here’s my color commentary of any given week during our spring season:

On Monday afternoons, Paisley (the 9yo) is in a league of her own in art class, hitting frame-worthy masterpieces (which I really need to buy frames for) right out of the park.

Then on Tuesday afternoons, Paisley laces up her cleats for some spring soccer. I am currently her coach’s Number One Fan (see my foam finger waving in the air?): as an eco-conscious believer in carpools, she has graciously offered to drive Paisley to and from practice for the entire season. I owe her mad amounts of locally-sourced beer (or wine) and organic kettle corn (or chocolate) come June.

Paisley at her 2nd Soccer Game

Paisley excited for her soccer game, April 2012. Go Howler Monkeys!!

On Wednesdays, we really have the bases loaded. Before school, Paisley warms up by tickling the ivories at piano lessons. After school, it’s a double-header… First up is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for both Liam (the 5yo) and Paisley (while I work on my agility and speed-training during a rousing one-hour long game of Let’s-Keep-The-21mo-Toddler-Off-The-Mat-While-Also-Trying-To-Keep-Him-From-Screaming-His-Dang-Head-Off-In-Frustration-And-Disrupting-The-Entire-Class). Then it’s a slide into home for an early dinner in order to send Liam and Bill (who is taking a swing at coaching) off to the ballpark for their weekly T-Ball practice.

Liam and Paisley at BJJ

Liam and Paisley both successfully tested for their yellow stripe in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu yesterday afternoon. They are so proud!!

On Thursdays, Liam’s on deck as we return to the dojo for his Aikido class, and another round of keeping Broder off the mat (his cries of dismay clearly communicating, “Put me in Coach; I’m ready to play!!”). Thursdays usually involve an extra inning of Paisley’s major league Aikido class for older kids right after Liam’s minor league class, but for some silly reason, I just don’t have the stamina to spend two and a half hours at the dojo these days, so she is gracefully taking a rain check until this summer…

On Friday evenings, Paisley (aka Lyka Livewire) and I run on down to the Rat’s Nest so she can play some hardball on the Roller Derby track. I actually love taking her to derby; it’s two hours of sitting out in left field on the old, second- (third-? fourth-?) hand couch working tirelessly to better my win-loss ratio on the Solitaire app on my iPhone, while Bill serves as cleanup hitter on the home field and puts the boys to bed. Now that March Madness is over, I suspect Bill will once again generously offer to “relieve me” and close out the rest of the season; I think we’ll have to flip a coin to see which of us “gets to” stay at home!

Paisley at her Last Roller Derby Bout

Paisley at her last Roller Derby bout, April 2012. Now that's a Game Face!!

Then comes the weekend, and we don’t drop the ball: Saturdays were clearly made for T-Ball games (Go Hammerhead Sharks!!) and Sundays were clearly made for soccer games (Go Howler Monkeys!!).

Bill at his 1st T-Ball Game of the Season

Coach Bill at the first game of the season. "T-Ball: base hit every time!"

And just because it’s the kids’ Spring Break doesn’t mean we sit on the bench. Oh no. We might not be in the Cactus League (too bad, really, as a trip to sunny, warm Arizona sounds like a grand slam about now), but Liam cashed in his Christmas gift from Grandma (a week of any camp of his choice), and is currently practicing drills at Soccer Camp here in rainy Seattle. Sleeping in and staying in pajamas until lunch is obviously just for belly-itchers.

Yep, Spring Training is in full swing, here at the Hoven-Lowie house. So, ready or not, it’s time to PLAY BALL!

But, just wondering… when’s the 7th inning stretch?

They are SO Lucky I’m a Vegetarian…

Bear & Sprite

They look so innocent, don't they?? Don't let those eyes fool you... (Sprite & Bear on a walk a year ago: April 2011)

So…

I just caught one of the [censored word] dogs. Eating the [censored word] stew I was [censored word] making for dinner. Directly from the [censored word] pot. On top of the [censored word] stove.*

(Big sip of wine…)

I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m just a tad more than slightly upset.

I mean, I just dumped a perfectly good dinner – a dinner that everyone in the house actually eats (ha! the dogs too, it seems!) – down the [censored word] sink. I like this stew. It’s delicious. I am hungry. I want to eat stew. This stew. For dinner. Tonight!

(Another big sip of wine…)

Honestly, I was so upset by finding my dastardly little counter-cruisers eating my dinner that (I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s just between you and me, right?) I actually debated whether or not I should just carry on like nothing happened, heat the stew, and serve everyone dinner as usual. I mean, it’s just a little doggie drool, right? We’re okay with doggie kisses, right??

Yeah, I know. Gross.

(Sip sip sip sip sip…)

I poured myself the wine I’m now gulping – I mean drinking in a very ladylike fashion – while I figured out how to salvage dinner. After a few restorative sips I calmed down enough to open the fridge, pillaged any and all Tupperware containers I found, and managed to put together enough to feed Bill and the three kids.

But I’m still not sure what to do for MY dinner… Do you think dog tastes like chicken?

(BIG SIP.)

Hmm… Those dogs are SO lucky I’m a vegetarian.

 

*No, I hadn’t turned on the heat yet, so all [censored word] dogs were unharmed during the making of this blog post. Not that I’m terribly concerned about their health at this very moment…

When the Tooth Fairy Met the Easter Bunny

Liam, Age 5

The child responsible for introducing the Tooth Fairy to the Easter Bunny: Liam, Age 5 and 1/2.

It’s not that some days are tougher than others… It’s just that, some days, I let it get to me more than usual.

Some days the sink is full again as soon as I finish washing the dishes. Some days I can’t see the floor underneath all the soccer balls, basketballs, and assorted other potentially ankle-twisting balls that have been unceremoniously dumped out of their basket for the umpteenth million time. Some days I can’t figure out why I’m tripping over what feels like every single pair of shoes in the house, which for some unknown reason have been removed and left directly in front of the door, rather than put away in the mudroom where they belong (and you know, thereby actually allowing anyone to USE the door – novel concept, I know). Some days I just want to vacuum up all those little Lego pieces, rather than continuously battle with the 5yo to pick them up.  Some days I wonder if my kids just like to fight. Some days (actually, this one is EVERY day) it makes me absolutely WACKO to nag and nag and nag my kids into putting their coats and shoes on (please, oh please, why do they require me to repeat myself at least 285 times?!).

And usually I am fully aware that none of these common, little irritations are particularly dreadful; they are (thankfully!) not life-changing incidents or horrific accidents. Most days, even if I am a teensy bit whiny, I’m also grateful for having good food to put on those dishes in my sink (even if the kids would prefer to live solely on goldfish crackers), that my children prefer playing soccer and T-Ball to spray-painting their names on the neighbor’s dog, that some of those shoes in front of the door are mine, that I’d much prefer Liam to play with his Legos than goad his sister into another cage-fight style kicking match, and that someday I just might miss nagging my kids into putting on their coats and shoes (well, no, probably not).

But sometimes, some days… well… all those pesky annoyances, when added all up together, can just really make a person – or at least this person – a tad grumpy. Okay, maybe spectacularly grumpy. Oh, fine. Grumptastic, if you will.

On the Saturday before Easter Sunday, my husband, perceptive guy that he is (poor, poor man…), realized that I was about one “You’re the meanest Mama ever!” away from sweeping every single toy in the house off the shelves (and floors) and into bags, to be carted off to some charity that would give the playthings to children who just might actually appreciate them, and suggested that we head to my mom’s house in Gig Harbor (a little over an hour’s drive south of Seattle) a day early; we were already planning on going to her place for Easter, so why not just make it an overnight stay? Why not? Do you have any idea how long it takes to pack up a family of five and two dogs, even for just a one-night getaway??? But… as the sun was starting to make an appearance (and who knew how long that would last?), and my mom lives on the beach (truly one of the prettiest places ever, I could admit in spite of all my grouchiness), I couldn’t think of a better place to at least try and get away from it all. Or rather, get myself a little much needed perspective.

So… three hours later we were packed and finally on the road.

My mom poured the wine as soon as I arrived (at 4:30pm; c’mon – I’m not that bad!). Bill took the kids and dogs down to the beach to collect pockets full of shells (the 9yo), discover sea stars and crabs (the 5yo), eat rocks (the 21mo), and fetch tennis balls (the dogs).

A crab on the beach

Liam (5yo) and Broder (21mo) and a crab (age??) on the beach in Gig Harbor.

And I felt my grouchiness just melt away…

Letting my troubles slip away...

Can you see my grouchiness melt away? There it goes...

It was a PERFECT WEEKEND.

The kids had a fantastic time rediscovering all the awesome toys that make Grandma’s House the most thrilling of adventures – and please understand, Grandma is very strategic about buying “the best” toys for her beloved grandbabies, toys about which she can proclaim, in mock innocence, “Oh, that’s too bad it’s so big you can’t take it home; you’ll just have to come here to play with it, I guess.”

Broder in the Jeep

"Hey, baby, wanna take a ride??" Broder waiting for one of his older siblings to drive him around in the battery-powered Jeep. They all particularly enjoy spinning out at the bottom of the driveway. Of course.

Paisley & Liam in the Bouncy House

Paisley and Liam (aka, the older siblings) were busy tackling each other in the bouncy house that takes all of two minutes to inflate. I so wish this would fit in our playroom!!!

After what feels like a decade of non-stop rain (I know I shouldn’t complain, after all it’s my decision to live in wet Seattle, but still – it’s been a particularly dreary spring!), we couldn’t get over the amazing, warm weather that compelled us to remove the fleece coats and stay outside all day long. While the baby napped and the big kids splashed in the hot tub (another “toy” I can’t take home!), I read a magazine (decadence!!) and finished the New York Times Sunday Crossword (my favorite!!) in the sunshine (sunshine!!). And did I mention that my mom made every meal that weekend (decadence!!)??

Spring in Seattle

The magnolia trees are in bloom - every once in a while it's nice to remember that the rain is definitely good for something!!

But what really put the cherry on top of the weekend was the 5yo losing his second tooth on the night before Easter, just as he was being tucked into bed. His little body was literally quivering with excitement as he shouted, “THE TOOTH FAIRY IS GOING TO MEET THE EASTER BUNNY!!”*

The kids were so jacked about this meeting that they woke us up AT 3AM (!!) on Easter Sunday. Liam proudly showed us the Sacajawea dollar the Tooth Fairy had left him (our kids always get Sacajawea dollars from the Tooth Fairy; in a rare parenting win – woot! woot! – I’d actually brought one of the coins with us in anticipation of just such an event). Though both kids were more than eager to go discover their Easter Bunny loot, we sent them back to bed; I don’t believe they actually slept, but at least they didn’t return until 6am…

While I hooked up my coffee IV drip, the kids squealed in delight as they hunted up all the plastic eggs filled with M&Ms and Peeps the Easter Bunny always hides in my mom’s living room (as it’s usually raining in the Pacific Northwest, the Easter Bunny kindly keeps the egg hunt indoors). This was, Liam loudly proclaimed, “THE BEST DAY EVER!!”

Their enthusiasm was infectious…

And I thought: if only I could bottle up that pure, innocent, unadulterated BLISS in a bottle, to bring out and use to spike my coffee (or wine, depending on the time of day!) on “those” days where I, for some reason or another, let all those dishes-in-the-sink and balls-on-the-floor and shoes-in-front-of-the-door and Legos-in-the-toddler’s-mouth and siblings-making-each-other-scream and repeated-admonishments-to-put-on-your-BLEEPITY-BLEEP-BLEEP-coats get me to the point where I just want to throw a good, old-fashioned, foot-stomping tantrum that would rival any of my children’s melt-downs…

Well, I guess I’ll just have to look forward to the next time the Tooth Fairy meets up with another bigwig childhood legend to get another hit of such bliss. The kids still have lots of teeth left, after all.

Or, I could just run away to my mom’s house again. Now there’s a thought…

Bald Eagle

One of the resident bald eagles flying by "Grandma's House" on Easter Sunday. Gig Harbor, Washington (April 2011)

* My 9yo daughter would like me to inform everyone that she was responsible for the Tooth Fairy meeting Santa Claus, back when she was “little” (she was 6yo) and lost a tooth on Christmas Eve, also at Grandma’s House, and that that, too, was a VERY VERY EXCITING time.

 

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In apparent attempts to keep today from being one of those “tough” days, Off Duty Mom (you can read her blog here) has kindly nominated me for the Versatile Blogger award. Thank you!! It’s so nice to hear that my stories are even read, let alone enjoyed. You made my day!

More Band-Aids! STAT!

My 9yo daughter’s not a doctor… but she plays one at bedtime.

Or rather, when I’m reading to her before bedtime.

You see, the last few evenings (nine to be exact), she’s been carefully nurturing me back to health. Not that I’ve been sick or wounded or anything – that’s the 5yo.* And the 21mo.* No, nine days ago, while the 21mo was “helping me” make dinner in the kitchen, I managed to drop the food processor onto my finger, bruising it underneath the nail. I know. Ridiculous.

Perhaps inspired by her recent trip to the ER with Liam, Paisley decided to administer some much needed medical attention on my damaged body.

And has continued doing so for the last week and a half. Turns out she is very serious about the healing arts.

Night 1: My own Florence Nightingale bandaged my finger together (very, very gently!) with a ribbon she’d found in the playroom. I left my fingers tied together (they were completely useless – she ties a good knot) for more than an hour after tucking her in to bed, worried that she’d come downstairs and berate me.

Night 1

Tied up with a bow! (The bruise has darkened into a lovely dark plum shade now.)

Night 2: Dr. Paisley moved beyond my bruised finger (which she still tied together with the ribbon), affixing four Band-Aids on my left arm. “You have so many cuts, Mama. Like a warrior. You should be more careful.” Please note: I have no cuts; she covered up some rather dark freckles. I was smart to keep all Band-Aids on and ribbons knotted; she did indeed sneak downstairs, “to say goodnight to Papa.” Sure…

Night 2

Can you spot all four bandages??

Night 3: Re-covering my left arm with Band-Aids (this time with five, including one Hot Wheels Flame Skull “Tattoo” Band-Aid – very cool), my little medic moved on to my right arm. Interestingly, she ultimately removed all but one of the Band-Aids on the right arm (for aesthetic reasons? I don’t know. Maybe she just didn’t “feel” the first three?). As I steered her toward her bed, she admonished, “You can take these off, but not until morning.” I was glad she’d forgotten to tie my fingers together (but only because she’d left the ribbon downstairs), as it’s much easier to pin pretty pictures on Pinterest when my fingers are free…

Night 3

Sometimes *this* patient needs more than just a Band-Aid... I hear red wine is very good for the health.

Night 4: Special treatment tonight: strips of silk were wrapped around three fingers (two on the right hand, one of the left hand), and secured with Curious George Band-Aids.

Night 4

Cartoon-styled Band-Aids make everything better.

Night 5: The healer cried. And cried and cried and cried. Because she COULDN’T FIND ANY CUTS TO TREAT (!!). I told her it was because she’d taken such good care of me the last few nights, but she only sniffled disdainfully at my attempt to cheer her up. She settled for adhering three Band-Aids to my left hand and arm, but I believe she went to bed that night secretly hoping I’d sustain some major injuries for her to treat the next day.

Night 5

The last of the Curious George Band-Aids...

Night 6: Deciding that the original injury (my still-bruised finger) needed some looking after, she painted my fingernail with nail polish. Oh, yeah! And then, of course, she had to paint the other nine nails…

Night 6

I thought the splotch of polish on the top of my hand was a nice touch, personally.

Night 7: As the fumes from the layers and layers and layers of nail polish that she’d applied the night before were, shall we say, a bit overwhelming, I suggested (ever so subtly) she use some hand cream and give my damaged digits a hand massage. Bliss!

Night 8: My gentle nurse returned to searching for any possible cut she could treat. Right arm: two Band-Aids. Left arm: One Band-Aid. Ankles: One Band-Aid each. She sharply, if politely, requested I change into my loose-fitting pajama bottoms for the next night: she couldn’t push the skinny jeans I was wearing up more than an inch or two past my ankles, and was grouchy that she couldn’t examine my legs for any potential gashes that might need tending.

Night 8

I am apparently falling apart, given all the places my daughter has found to bandage...

Night 9: Turns out I didn’t need to get into my PJs… ‘Cuz there was nothing. Nope. Nothing. We just read. No search for injuries, no attempts to bandage non-existent cuts, no knotting of ribbon to bind my fingers together…

And I was sad. Not just kinda sad, but really sad.

I’m not ready for our little game to end. I quite like spending this quality time with my precious daughter, who is growing up too fast for my liking, but who thankfully still enjoys playing make-believe games like House and Doctor with her Mama. I reveled in her innocence. And I enjoyed that I was her playmate of choice.

Though it used to drive me bonkers watching my kids waste an entire box of Band-Aids on their toys and various surfaces of the house, I’ve long since realized that if my children are content playing with a box of sticky, cartoon-covered, plastic strips of gauze-y goodness rather than coloring on my walls with permanent markers, then bring on more Band-Aids! And if the “toy” my daughter wants to “take care of” this time is me, than I’m more than happy to oblige.

As bedtime nears, I’m not sure what will happen tonight. Maybe we’ll just return to reading as usual, and I’ll be okay with that (honestly, I’m just grateful she hasn’t “outgrown” me reading to her). Or perhaps my inventive daughter will have come up with yet another elaborate game for us to play (and I’ll be happy with that, too, as long as it doesn’t involve any more visits to the hospital).

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll see the return of my little doctor.

I better stock up on some more Band-Aids, just in case.

 

 

* The 5yo was in the ER at Seattle Children’s Hospital after splitting the back of his head open 16 days ago: Not What it’s All Cracked Up to Be (Or, I’ll Take My Eggs Scrambled, with a Side of Stitches). 

* We were back at Children’s with the 21mo, though we “downgraded” to Urgent Care rather than returning to the ER, five days ago: Please Tell Me They Deliver Margaritas.

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On a separate note, I’d like to thank Suzy Platt (you can read her blog here) for nominating me for The Very Inspiring Blogger Award and The Sunshine Award, and I’d also like to thank Soapfi (you can read her blog Soapfi, and Other Stuff here), for nominating me for The Liebster Award. I am very grateful for their support and kind words… I seem to have found a lovely little blogging community, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Thank you to you both.  

Glory Days

Liam and his beloved coat.

Liam and his beloved blue fleece coat on yet another day when he refused to wear his rain coat out in the rain. (Feeding the penguins at Woodland Park Zoo, December 2011)

Some days are more challenging than others…

Today started out well enough: the 21mo didn’t wake up at 5:15am like he did the other morning, but “slept in” until 6:45am (woot!); the 5yo had plenty of time to eat breakfast and play with his Legos (having woken up at 6am – which he does almost every morning); and the 9yo didn’t have to have a claxon bell rung in her ear to get her out of bed in time to have her “absolutely necessary” bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios before leaving for school. I even had plenty of time to drink my “absolutely necessary” cup of coffee, and even started the laundry.

Wow was THAT the wrong thing to do – the laundry, that it; the coffee part was probably the only way I survived the fall-out of having started the laundry.

You see, Tuesdays are the 5yo’s laundry day, and today is Tuesday (yes, I realize that organizing laundry by days-of-the-week is borderline-OCD, but the therapy sessions will have to wait). And today I decided that Liam’s fleece coat – the one he wears every single day – needed to be washed. I should’ve known this would’ve been an issue, but as he saw me put the coat in the washing machine and heard the washing machine door lock, and knew that washing machines make clothes wet, I did (reasonably?) think he’d realize that he wouldn’t be wearing his fleece coat to school today.

Silly me!!

Let the temper tantrum begin in 3… 2… 1…

Me (realizing we’re suddenly five minutes behind schedule, for no good reason at all): Alrighty, shoes and coats on everyone! Let’s go. (Trying to unsuccessfully get my daughter’s nose out of her book) C’mon. Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!

Liam (unwilling to put down his Legos): But where’s my coat?

Me (a bit distracted because I’m tackling the toddler, who thinks it’s funny to run the other direction as soon as he sees me holding his coat): In the washing machine. Remember? You can wear your winter coat or your rain coat.

Liam (with “that” look on his face): But, I only wear fleece coats.

Me (having let go of the toddler, who takes advantage of the moment to gleefully run to the other side of the house, I hold up both perfectly good alternatives): Honey, both of these coats are lined with fleece. See?

Liam (seeing, but undeterred): But, they’re blue. I don’t wear blue! I HATE blue!

Me (oh no oh no oh no oh no): Pumpkin, your fleece coat is blue…

Liam (jumping onto the couch and burying himself in the cushions): I’m not wearing those coats! I’M NOT GOING TO SCHOOL!

And repeat.

Yep, go ahead and reread the above conversation to yourself approximately 200,000  times. Because that’s how many rounds it took to get Liam into the car (with no coat on, of course, though at least I finally did manage to Velcro his BLUE shoes on to his kicking feet). And it didn’t stop once I managed to buckle his writhing little body into his car seat either (“I’m just going to unbuckle myself so you can’t drive! I’m not going to school! I want my fleece coat!!”).

As Liam, his voice raising an octave with every passing minute, launched into the 200,001st attempt at convincing me to what – go get his wet coat out of the washing machine? – I decided that, rather than banging my head on the steering wheel, I was just going to turn up the radio.

And finally caught a break. As luck would have it, a song that both kids always demand I turn up was playing. For two blissful minutes I enjoyed the ceasefire. But as the song came to a close, my heart started racing, worried that the Battle of the Coat would recommence. Oh, no… In the rearview mirror I saw him open his mouth…

“Mama, can we listen to Bruce Springsteen?”

What?? Are you kidding?? Why yes!! Yes we can!! (Did I just shriek? Sorry…)

Because one or another Springsteen albums is ALWAYS in my CD player (go ahead and keep any snarky comments about being in the dinosaur age to yourself, please; you’re more than welcome to buy me a new car stereo with an MP3 connection if you find it so very amusing), I pushed play and…

The upbeat, rockin’ tune of “Glory Days” filled the car…

I could not have asked for a more perfect song. As I turned up the volume, Liam smiled for the first time since the tears started flowing, bobbing his head up and down to the beat. And all my own frustrations just ebbed away.

Listening to the lyrics (if you’re unfamiliar with the song, it’s a story that subtly calls into question our nostalgia for the “glory days,” those moments when life seems to be so perfect, effortless and care-free), I was struck by the notion that, in spite of all the crazy in my life (and there’s a lot of crazy in my life), I am in the middle of my own “glory days.”

You see, unlike the characters in the song, I am rarely nostalgic for the past (I shudder to think that some people believe high school or college was the best time of their life; just shoot me now). I am, however, sometimes (okay, often) guilty of anticipating an idyllic future when the kids put on their shoes after I ask them just once to do so; when the weeds don’t outnumber the flowering plants in the yard; and when I somehow have enough in savings to afford that family trip to Greece. And Egypt. And Japan. And Sri Lanka…

So, as I drove the last few blocks to school, singing along with Springsteen at the top of my lungs, I was reminded that life is only ever truly lived in the present. As messy and sometimes silly as my life can be (let’s be honest – a tantrum over a coat is pretty silly), I am so grateful for all that I have, like being able to offer my very distressed son two equally warm coats to choose from, even if he wasn’t in thrall with their fleecy blue splendor; and even more importantly, I’m truly grateful for my three healthy, if occasionally silly, children who keep me on my toes.

Though I don’t think I’ll ever be nostalgic for temper tantrums, and though some days are more challenging than other days, it was good to be reminded that all days spent with my little ones are glory days.

But for the record: I think next time I’ll wash Liam’s coat while he’s sleeping…