Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Brettism Hump Day! Early morning unfiltered goodness!

I love Brett first thing in the morning. Like a light switch, he's either on or off. Sometimes, he wakes up foul and the only thing emanating from him are grunts. Or, he wakes up smiling and witty, serving up one liners for breakfast. This week, we've been blessed with most of the latter. So, grab your coffee and enjoy a small sampler of Brettisms.


Wandering upstairs in his hat, tee shirt, shoes, and underwear. He scampers into the laundry room to look for favorite pants. I had to comment. "Wow, Brett I love that ensemble!"

"Do you like it?" he models, "I was going to go to school like this, but I didn't want all of the other kids to be jealous."


Yesterday morning he walks up with his report on Asthma, freshly glued on poster board.

"Will you take a picture of me with my report mom?"

"Surely." I snap a few pics and then notice what's on the poster. "Brett, is that a LOLCat on your report?" Sure enough there's a print-out of a cat sitting with an inhaler and it reads "I has teh azmah".

"Yeah. The teacher told me there was nothing funny about asthma." he pauses, very serious. "I love it when I can prove a teacher wrong."


I'm sitting at the computer, hiding, slurping my tea when Brett appears at my side. I'm staring at him expectantly when he says in his best announcer voice, "This has been a random Brett moment. Please resume your regularly schedule day."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Forecasted rain = the calm before the storm

The weather is finally, reliably, less than frigid here. And with the drywall up in the basement and being finished by Drywall Dude, Curt turned all of his energy outside.

Warm weather is like Curt-crack and it started Thursday when he decided that he had to get the grass cut. And this weekend, a rare one off for him, we had the garden to till and plant, the water to siphon off of the pool, pool cover to fold and put away, the list went on.

And while I love this side of Curt, it's really hard to keep up with sometimes. When he started lamenting the forecasted inclement weather this week, I realized that with all we've left to do in the next month, this would likely be our only reprieve before he decided to kick it up a notch and become a mere blur, dragging all of us in his wake.

Once Drywall Dude is done plastering, taping, and sanding we have to find the time to apply two coats of primer, and then paint that mammoth space downstairs. The wiring will have to be moved for the light above the pool table, as well as all of the other set up to get the pool functional again.

All in time for Emma's birthday party at the end of May, to which I'm certain, she's invited half the county.

And while I'm so ready to be outside in the heat, and enjoy this summer, the sheer amount of work we have to do beforehand is daunting. I think I'm going to take advantage of this last week of cool, rainy weather and curl up on the couch whenever possible. Curt I'm sure, will be standing impatiently, waiting for the sun.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tick Tock

I'm standing in the kitchen after fixing some oatmeal for Lucas and Emma. My cereal on the counter, slightly soggy, and my coffee getting cooler by the minute. I take their bowls to them and warn them that it is still hot. Instantly, Lucas starts asking for ice cubes, to put it in the fridge, to be excused while it cools; all within a three second time frame.

"Lucas, just wait for it cool off and then eat it. Don't ask me anything else, for the next five minutes I AM OFF DUTY."

He looks down at his oatmeal and then back up at me. "Well, can you set the timer?"

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Just in case you were wondering

"Mom, we need to talk."

"It's not that I don't dig you, really. I dig you and your endless supply of milky. Mmmmmm, milky."

"But that Daddy guy? I don't know, I just feel like we get each other."

"When he's not here, I'm so sad. Sadder than when we ran out of those puffs I like."

"But, then he comes home and life is so exciting again!"

"So, if it's not too much trouble could you please scoot over? I think I just saw him behind you."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Brettism Hump Day! Pass the Vitamin C!

Brett, doing a project for school, once asked me if we had any family traditions. I glibly replied "Sarcasm". (Being Brett, he wrote it down and turned it in, but I digress.). And while our house is filled with love, it's also filled with humor. We jest and joke with each other constantly, especially at meal time. I wouldn't have it any other way; I love that my kids have sense of humor, and more importantly can laugh at themselves. I tell you this because, not only were all of us rolling after this week's Brettism went down, but I thought poor Mike was going to wet himself.

We were sitting at the dinner table, passing dishes, bantering about. Michael asked for the hundreth time to be excused to go and blow his nose. He sits back down and asks "Where does snot come from anyway?"

I'm about to interject that I'd really rather not discuss his sinus system over fajitas, when Curt answers him.

"It's when your brain cells liquify and run out your nose."

Michael smirks, searching for a comeback. Brett beats him to it.

"Well then don't worry Mike, you'll be out of snot and all better real soon."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Frogman vs. The giant pack-rat

Saturday, with the drywall all up in the basement, we went downstairs to begin the clean up. Because the boys rooms join the room we were drywalling (thankfully the bedrooms were already drywalled) they were a little dusty as well. Lucas and Brett share a room and while it's usually surface clean (everything looks put away and neat), every once in a while you have to don the Hazmat gear and get down and dirty. I was about half way done with going through the clothes in Lucas' dresser when I asked Brett to strip the sheets off of his bed.

That's when I noticed it. Under his bed, were boxes and several shopping bags, all stuffed to the brim. As I started to go through them, Brett looked stricken. I thought for sure I'd find something of value, maybe a purloined Playboy or two. What I got instead were broken toys, hand outs from the science fair a year ago, an IOU written on a paper napkin, a ton of fabric scraps, none of them bigger than a deck of cards, 37 issues of a comic he drew up called Frogman, countless pages of old school assignments, pens without tops, and pencils the size of his pinky finger. All of it absolutely essential to his existence, according to him.

"See I need these because when the teacher asks, I don't have a pencil, I half a pencil!" he cried when I tried to throw them into the trash bag.
Each thing he begged me to keep and mourned when I tossed.

I felt suddenly dirty and all weird. As if I'd lived next door to a person for years and then suddenly discovered that they'd been boarding a small crocodile in their bathtub and liked to cross-dress.

And, then I looked years down the line. His children and grandchildren coming to visit him in his old musty house. Newspapers stacked up eye level. The dining room table chairs filled with fruitcakes and boxes of Russell Stovers candy still in their wrappers, because 'Those were gifts, I'm saving them for a special occasion'.

I thought about calling Geekie brother up to complain, maybe get some insight into the mentality when I remembered something he'd once told me. "The floor is the biggest shelf in my condo."

And so, I shrugged and gave Brett the Frogman comics, his drawings, and a few broken toys to round out the collection. And then, I told him to keep his crocodile hidden in the bathtub.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The one in which we go really broke and insane trying to raise these kids, and Brett fans the flames

When we bought this house we knew we'd need to do a lot of work to it. A lot. The finished basement wasn't fit to rent out to drunken college students, and since two of the bedrooms are down there, it's been high on the priority list since we moved in.

The original owner had put dark wood paneling throughout, and aside from looking like it was the set to many a crappy 70's homemade porn movie, part of it had to be removed to fix the drainage problem. (DON'T ASK) And, we knew we'd have to drywall it.

We got a few contractors to come in and explained what we wanted to do. And then we got the estimates. And then we laughed long and hard. Finally Curt came out of denial and man-up'ed to the fact that he'd have to do the bulk of it himself. His cousin is thankfully knowledgeable in construction and had the free time. But more importantly, was free.

In addition to working almost 60 hours this week, Curt started ripping the old paneling off, moving around the wiring, and replacing several studs. Whatever the hell that means.

Of course, all of this culminated today when I had a thousand errands to run and about a thousand dollars to spend on food. Okay, not quite that much this time. But our total for the month? Pretty close to $1300.

Curt got off work and we literally passed in the driveway like ships in the night. I took Michael-the-muscle and at a dead sprint, managed to grab most of what we needed in a little over two hours.

We got home just in time for me to moo for Ellie, put everything away, wolf down some dinner, bathe some kids, and have Curt leave for his 83rd trip to Lowe's this week. It finally started to calm down a bit and I made my way to the computer to enter all of the receipts into the budget.

There aren't enough words in the English language to adequately describe just how fried I was by this point. I probably couldn't have named all of the kids on a bet. Naturally, this is when all of them wandered up in turn asking for something. Lucas was the last one and I snapped and started yelling.

"Don't talk to me. Don't ask me anything unless you are on fire!"

Brett was sitting a few feet away, quiet for once, taking in the chaos. "Lucas, if it's really important I know where she keeps the matches."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Brettism Hump Day! David Bowie wants his cut

Brett is a hat kid. Every night at dinner, we have to remind him to take it off. Every morning after his shower, he puts a hat right back on. He has a stash of "back-up-cool-Brett-hats" for when pesky mom wants to wash one. Or, when pesky Lucas has lost one.

It's gotten to the point where I had to go back and look at his baby pictures just to verify that he wasn't indeed,
born with one on. The whole thing king of grosses me out on that deep mom level. Especially because of the dirt and germ factor, and I'm constantly giving him mini-lectures on hat hygiene.

Last night he's sitting on the couch with Evan who is staring up at the bill of Brett's cap. Apparently, he couldn't figure out why Brett wanted to advertise for United Rigging and Crane either. Brett tears his eyes away from his beloved earned TV time long enough to acknowledge Evan.

"Hey Bubb! Like my hat? Do you want to wear it?"

I intervene. "Brett, you know we don't share hats."

"Yeah, I know." He says, and then begins to wiggle and sing. "Because of Lice, Lice Baby...we don't want Lice, Lice, Baby..."

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Out of the mouths of male babes

I'm sitting with Evan on my lap and having a snuggle. He looks up at me and points to my chest. "What's this?" he asks. He always looks both puzzled and intrigued when Elle hangs out there.

"That's my breast. That's where Ellie gets milk." I reply.

"Yes, that one's Elwie's." he says seriously. "And that one's Daddy's."

My facsimile

Not to toot my own horn, but I have some pretty great kids. Sure, they test, they push, and I've dealt with my share of deception and half-truths. But, for the most part, they're a very honest, respectful bunch.

And, it's no accident that I put so much value on their behavior. I grew up in what on
good days, was a free-for-all. Thankfully, I had some great outside influences, and I think I turned out all right in the end. But sometimes, when I stop and think about some of the crap that I pulled, particularly in my teen years, it makes my toes curl. And not in that good way, either.

So, I was a little taken a back with what Emma pulled this last Thursday when she presented me with a yellow ticket from school and a pen.

See, every day in Kindergarden Emma earns a ticket. Most days, it's a green one. She collects X-amount of green tickets (the number has been increasing all year, smart teacher!) and this earns her a trip to the prize box.

Yellow tickets are pretty rare, and indicate that she'd be warned about something and didn't listen. On the occasion she gets one of these I usually get a short, evasive answer on why we got such a sunny-looking ticket that day. "Mrs. H told me to stop talking to Janey while I was handing out the scissors, but I forgot because we were wearing the same shirt.
And Janey was talking too." And so it goes.

Only once, have we come home with the dreaded RED ticket. She immediately burst into tears upon exiting the bus and stood in the driveway sobbing, red ticket clutched in hand. I needed no explanation from her as to why she got the red ticket, because it was all spelled out on the back, with a Signature Requested stamp for the ticket to be returned. (Smart teacher!) Curt and I talked to Emma about what she'd done wrong that day at length and she had a time out in her room.

Since then, it's been pretty smooth sailing. Until Thursday afternoon that is, when she presented me with the ticket and the pen. I was a little confused as to why she had the pen, and then I noticed the way she was holding the ticket. She had laid it face up on her palm, the hand holding the pen anchoring it in place.

"Mom, I need to you sign this." Her hands twitched to keep the paper flat on her hand.

"Why am I signing this Emma?" I'm watching her with a mixture of amazement and dread. Her arms are stiff, her eyes shifting to the left as she answers me, and she'd turned her body so that she wasn't quite facing me anymore. Everything about her was screaming that a doozy of an untruth was coming at me.

"Because, um, you have to sign these ones that aren't green, right?"

I pick up the ticket with my free hand, and she stiffens further. I turn it over and it takes me a second to comprehend what I'm seeing. Dear, sweet Emma has tried to forge my signature. My initials to be specific, I sign most of the kids papers that way, and what I'm looking at looks an awful lot like a cursive 'C S'.

"Emma, what is this on the back?"

"Nothing! I was just trying to write a name!"

"Whose name, Emma? Were you trying to sign Mommy's name so you that didn't have to show me the yellow ticket?" I'm really rather pissed by this point.

"NO! I was just writing some letters!"

"Emma Caroline! Don't you lie to Mommy!"
And so the conversation went. She confessed, and I explained in vivid detail what forgery was and what a serious offense it was. Consequences for trying to pull a Milli Vanilli on Mrs. H were listed at great length.

I sent her to her room to collect myself and stared in disbelief at the yellow ticket. This was on par with
the great mail heist, and she's only five years old. She's five years old, and tried to forge my name. The room starts to spin a little bit as I contemplate what the coming years with her might bring. I'll need an alarm system for the house, the home numbers of all of her teachers, and a cell phone with GPS in it by the time she's a teenager, just to maybe stay ahead of her.

And then, somewhere in the back of my brain, a memory comes back. Of me. At 15, I'm sitting at the kitchen table after the first day of my Sophomore year of high school. Sorting through the first day information and emergency contact cards, inspiration strikes. I turn to my mother and offer to fill out the cards for her, correctly speculating that any woman with four kids worth of paperwork would be glad to have one less to worry about. When it came to the lines for Parent's Signature, I casually signed my best imitation of her name. She never asked.

It wasn't a perfect forgery. But it didn't need to be. Because, all year long, every one of my excuse notes for skipping class matched those signature cards perfectly.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Gardening for Bumfark Dummies

Curt and I have been talking for a while about putting in a garden. We spent a large amount of time and a small fortune last year at the local farmer's market. I bought a book on organic gardening and considered myself pretty ready for when it thawed enough and we could have his grandfather bring his little skid steer up to till one up for us.

Then last week Curt saw our neighbor that owns the farm behind us out plowing up his fields and wandered over to talk to him. They chatted for a while and then this happened....

Apparently, it's nearly impossible to put in a "smallish" garden with a big giant John Deere tractor. I think I had the same expression on my face that Evan does on his when I saw the size of it. Something tells me I'd better figure out canning too.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Brettism Hump Day! Lactose intolerant!

Meals with Brett are usually a struggle. Left to his own devices, he'd happily live off of frozen foods covered in ketchup. Breakfast is usually interesting, since he's not overly fond of cereal. This morning he was standing there weighing his options.

"Mom, can I just have toast?"

"Fine, but make sure you put some peanut butter on it, and get a glass of milk."

"Milk??" The eyes roll. He starts to mimic choking and death throes.

"Yes milk. Pour a glass right now. And I don't want to find it sitting on the table later, still full."

"Okay, but you know what they say mom. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make a Brett drink milk."

Monday, April 7, 2008

Party (and) crashers

Lucas turned seven this past Saturday. We had the family over to the house to celebrate and eat copious amounts of Dairy Queen ice cream cake. It was a huge success.

He got the iPod shuffle he wanted so badly, and now instead of hearing him ask 1000 times a day "Can I listen to Michael's iPod?", instead I hear "Can I listen to my iPod?" That subtle distinction really has made all the difference. Now I only want to slam my head off of the wall on days that end with the letters D-A-Y.

Actually, the party was a welcome distraction from the way we'd ended the week. Thursday evening I had loaded up Lucas and taken him down to pick Brett up from Curt's grandparents, where Brett was busy reveling in his status as the only person on the premises without an AARP membership card.

As we were pulling out of the driveway I told him he wouldn't know what to do with himself when he moves out and lives alone. "Sure I will" he said, very matter-of-factly. "Get a house and don't screw up." Amen buddy.

The chatter continued until we were about half way home, when Brett looked up and said "MOM! A deeee...." By that point we'd made impact with poor Bambi and it was over. Thankfully, no one in the car was hurt. I pulled off and had Curt's
other grandpa look at it to make sure it was still roadworthy before we continued home. Still, I was a little shaken, the noise of the impact was sickening. We were getting ready to pull out onto our street when a car turned in front of us without signaling. Brett sees me jump a little bit and quips "It's a good thing that wasn't deer shaped."

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Brettism Hump Day, MIA!

I looked up this week and it was Thursday. As in, the day after Wednesday. And I hadn't blogged anything.

Truthfully, I couldn't think of one funny thing that he'd said or done all week. And then I realized why.

He'd been missing in action most of the week. A Brett blur. And in the most wonderful way.

When we bought this house the previous owners had a, um, minimalist? approach to landscaping. The slope around the pool was filled with big, giant rocks. No plants. No shrubbery. Nothing remotely pleasing to the eyes. Just rocks. It felt like swimming in a farking quarry.

Anyway, we've been clearing them out all week to get it ready to plant something (anything!) over there. And, Brett has been amazing in helping. Every day after school he's been going out and helping Curt load up the truck to take them over to his cousin's. Yesterday he came home and went out before he was even asked.

Apparently, manual labor takes all of the -ism out of Brett. So until he comes to his senses and realizes that this manual labor thing sucks, I give you another archived goodie from Brett....

I am standing in the kitchen trying to fake a cobbler for the family reunion. I'm a little distracted as kids scamper in and out. Brett walks up and says.....

"Mom, what's a stripper mall?"

"What?" I reply

"A stripper mall" says Brett, more clearly this time.

It takes me a second, but I think I've got it.

"You mean, a strip mall?"

"Yeah, they just said it on TV" he replies

I explain what a strip mall is.

"Oh" he says. "I thought it would be much more interesting".


Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Curt came home early yesterday and had some work to finish up outside. I cautiously wandered out into the garage with Elle to say hello, and had stood there for a whole 3 minutes before it hit me.

It was no longer freezing cold! The tip of my nose wasn't numb! It was almost (gasp) Spring-like! I grabbed the babies, told Emma to suit up and we went for a walk around our neighborhood.

Curt made me grab the camera to commemorate the occasion. Not because it was the first real outing of the year, but because I was using the double stroller. The stroller I spent weeks obsessing over and comparing to every other double stroller in all of civilization. The stroller I HAD TO HAVE before Elle was born because
how else am I ever going to go anywhere with two babies???

This would be the stroller's third voyage since August.

Emma, being Emma decided that it was a big scary walk, and she'd better wear her helmet. That girlfriend is all about the accessories.

This is the calmest Elle's been in weeks. I think we'll be spending a lot of time outside this year.

At one point Emma came running up in the full throes of a tantrum. Girlfriend is all about the accessories and the drama.

I'm still not sure what she was so upset about, maybe Brett told her she'd have helmet head for the rest of the day. Or maybe she just wanted me to have a nice stash of pictures of moments like these.

You know, for when she has a daughter.