Little Men of Mine

Friday, September 15, 2006

Picture Day

I don't think I've ever been so happy as the day when I realized that I'd no longer have to take Charlie to Sears for pictures because he would be having a school picture taken! I'm not sure about the rest of you, but professional pictures have always been the biggest nightmare for us. Something always goes wrong. We'd have an appointment, the baby would be all happy and smiley, and then we'd end up waiting because some walk-in had grabbed our spot five seconds before we checked in (and I'm ALways early!). Then it's all about having to coax those smiles that had been there willingly half an hour earlier. Or someone spits up all over his clothes. Or someone else won't sit nicely. Or a third someone thinks the platform is a mountain and he is the king and therefore must knock everyone else off. Ugh.

I have no 2-year picture of Charlie. The only one the girl managed to snap at all featured him standing in front of the table, raging at us and clenching his fists. I was almost tempted to buy it anyway, so I could show it to him later and say, "See? This is what you put me through!" But then I would've had to pay the sitting fee, and I didn't think it was worth it.

I have no 1-year picture of Teddy. He's kind of slow-to-warm, and the photographer was a loud, in your face kind of gal--he did not take well to her attempts to cheer him up and cried and clung to me through the whole session. I also have no 3-year picture of him, but that was due to my own laziness and dread of the whole exercise. Luckily, he'll have a pre-school picture done while he's still 3 and a half-ish, so I figure I'm covered.

Lou turned two in May, and I just got him in today. I'm tired of the hit-or-miss experiences we've had with Sears, so I thought I'd try the Olan Mills Studio at our local Meier. The photographer was nice and sweet, but not very take-charge. She kept deferring to me, as in "What else would you like to try, Mom?" I do like to have some input, but I would've preferred for her to make some professional suggestions as well. We also had a hard time getting him to smile, but there was some pretty good stuff there, so I'm happy. And thrilled that it's over.

Let's see, this time next year, Lou will be in pre-school--I might never have to go to a portrait studio again!

Posted by Jennifer @ 12:17 PM 0 comments

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Will It Ever Stop Raining?

The answer to that question is "yes, and very soon." Do you know how I am so very certain that this will be so? Because I just spent $90 on brand new, Kidorable raincoats for all three boys (we went with the dinosaur, the frog and the dolphins).

None of them has ever had a raincoat. I think that up until now, when it was raining, we just stayed inside. But now that I have two of them in two different schools with different starting and ending times, it seems like it's done nothing but rain on us--and HARD--at least three days per week. By today, I was seriously irritated, and tired of everyone being wet all the time, in and out and in and out of the van. Now if I could just find a raincoat for myself!

Posted by Jennifer @ 11:25 AM 0 comments

Friday, September 08, 2006

Mourning the Passage of a Special Friend

This has been a hard week for Charlie. Steve Irwin, the "Crocodile Hunter," was killed in a freak accident while filming an underwater special. What are the odds that he would be stabbed through the heart by a stingray? According to the stats we keep hearing, it's a pretty rare way to go.

Charlie has been into the Crocodile Hunter since he was about two and first saw him on a Wiggles video (which he then watched about 14 billion times). This summer when he started writing books, his very first one was "The Crocodile Hunter's Greatest Adventure Ever." He wanted to send it to Irwin. I had actually planned to make a color copy (no way I'd part with the original) and send it off to his hero. I never got around to it, and now it's too late.

When we first heard about the accident, Tom and I agreed not to tell him. I figured he'd find out about it eventually, but maybe after this man's importance to him had waned a little. We were successful in keeping it from him for about two days. Well, someone left the TV on in the front room, and he walked in on a newscast describing the incident. He had tons of questions, and although he never cried in front of me, the whole time he was asking about it, his face was beet red, and the little corners of his mouth were turned way down. It was all I could do not to cry myself!

Then there were his questions. "How will they (the family) get money now?" He couldn't understand how they would be able to get along if their daddy couldn't go to work. "Who will make the show?" "Who will take care of the animals at Australia Zoo?" "Will I still be able to see him on TV?" It was heartbreaking.

I'm deeply saddened by Irwin's passing. People keep saying that he was destined to go some way dramatic with all the risks he constantly took. But this was a freaky, one-in-a-million way to meet his maker. I feel so bad for his wife and two children. As big a show-boat as he might have been, he was very skilled and knowledgeable, and did a lot for conservation and preservation. I didn't feel the same way about the Crocodile Hunter as my five-year-old son did, but his death still feels so wrong, and I can't stop thinking about it.

Posted by Jennifer @ 2:42 PM 1 comments

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Here Come the Guilts

I seriously cannot wait until this project is over. I must have had temporary amnesia when I agreed to do this job because I failed to recall the difficulties I had the last time I worked for this person.

Two years ago, I had a deadline. I met the deadline. And on deadline day, this person suddenly discovered he had more space to fill and assigned me three more stories . . . the day before my middle son's 1st birthday party. I had a house to clean, food to prepare, a cake to make, presents to wrap; you name it, and it hadn't been done yet because I'd been busting my a-- to finish the aforementioned project. I had to move the party to the following weekend, and then half the guests couldn't come (including my brother and his family and my father). It was a teeny-tiny little party, and it was all Mr. Here's One More Story's fault.

This time, I told this guy that I needed to start the project as soon as possible so that I'd have as much time available to spread the work out as I could. It's very difficult to research, schedule interviews, execute the interviews, write the stories and follow up with the subjects when three extremely LOUD boys are all awake and going about their daily destruction. Did I mention that these projects usually entail writing about 10-15 stories in two or three weeks? So imagine my delight when Mr. Here's One More Story started getting me the assignments a full month before deadline!

Well, that's all well and good, and I did get a good jump on things. But last week, when there was another story assignment waiting every time I checked my email, it all started coming back to me. And yesterday, one week from deadline, with six stories still hanging over my head (including three elusive subjects who I still hadn't interviewed), I started freaking out. So I called my wonderful mother-in-law and asked if I could drop the boys off in the morning so I could get some quality writing time in. She agreed, and the boys were excited to go.

Here's where the guilt comes in (other than the guilt over yelling at and ignoring them for the past three weeks while I try to work). I had a lovely, productive morning alone. But when I arrived to retrieve my children, my MIL had to tell me about a mishap she'd had with Lou. While she was changing his diaper, he picked up her cylinder of Wet Ones and emptied it over his face. There were no longer any wipes in it, but there was a puddle of soapy liquid at the bottom, and he poured it right in his eyes. She had a hard time flushing them with water as the package recommended, but he seemed okay, if a little bloodshot.

Well, by the time I got him home, he wouldn't stop crying and kept telling me, "Eyes. Hurt." So I filled the sink with water and tried to splash it in his eyes. Let me tell you, that is not easy. He did a lot more yelling and crying, and then I gave up. I called my MIL to find out what the package said exactly. It recommended seeing a doctor if irritation persisted for more than 72 hours. 72 hours! So I let him fall asleep on my shoulder, put him down for a nap, and figured if he woke up complaining, I'd take him in. No way would I wait 72 hours!

Of course he woke up fine and virtually unscathed. My MIL called to check up on him, and that's when I really started to feel bad. She'd felt awful all day, worried that he could've blinded himself on her watch. I felt awful for putting her through that. I mean, being the grandma is supposed to be fun. The three of those boys together are a TON of work, especially when there's only one of you. Normally my FIL is around, but he had to take his mother to the doctor today, and I think Grandma was a little overwhelmed on her own.

I'm not going to do this to her again, and I'm not going to do it to my kids again, either. From now on, I only accept jobs from conscientious people who understand my schedule and my family's needs. Unless of course, the job pays well enough for me to hire a nanny. Yeah, right!

Posted by Jennifer @ 12:25 AM 0 comments

Sunday, August 06, 2006

That Time of Year Again

Yes, it's upon us. I'm referring to the "back to school" season, but not in the way you'd think. Of course we're cramming in last visits to the pool and field trips with our friends, shopping for new shoes and backpacks and, for the first time, a lunch box (my oldest baby's going to kindergarten--sob!).

But the back to school season I'm referencing is the one that requires my husband to work on the weekends. As a carpenter, he does a lot of work on schools, and August is always crunch month. New schools have to be ready in time for grand opening ceremonies. Work on old schools has to be completed so teachers can set up their rooms for the coming year. And everyone needs it done yesterday.

So it was no surprise that he had to work on Saturday, meaning six straight days of togetherness that featured me and the kids, exclusively. "That's okay," I just keep telling myself, "time and a half, time and a half." My dad was on a fishing trip, so my mom was home alone too, and we spent most of the morning with her for a little variety.

When my cell phone rang on Saturday night while I was scrapbooking with some friends, I immediately panicked. Other people's husbands call to chat or ask questions, or to put the kids on to say goodnight. Mine does not. We use the cells strictly for commuting updates ("traffic is horrible--I'm gonna be late") and food requests ("I'm at the store--what should I get for dinner?"). He NEVer calls me when I'm out with friends, so I thought something must be terribly wrong. Well, no one was in jeopardy, but the news wasn't good either. His boss wanted him to work on Sunday.

Now, it's no fun missing family time together or losing the "me" time I sneak in when there's another adult in the house to ride herd on the boys. But this time it's even worse because I'M ON DEADLINE! I cannot write during the day when I'm home with the kids. I can't even talk on the phone, which means phone interviews are out. The bulk of my writing happens in the evenings and on the weekends, and right now I'm about halfway through a 13-story assignment that's due by the end of the week. I have three completed interviews waiting to be turned into stories, and two more meetings scheduled for Monday. Several of my contacts can't seem to make the effort to return any of my calls, and I'm really starting to feel the pressure, big time. And now I've lost Sunday, too.

I just have to breathe deeply and keep telling myself, "Double time, double time."

Posted by Jennifer @ 1:35 PM 0 comments

Friday, August 04, 2006

Cows Are So Immodest

Out of the blue today, Charlie asked, "Do you remember how the baby used to drink out of your bra?"

Wondering where we were going with this line of questioning, I answered, "Yes, all three of you did when you were babies."

"Huh," he said. "Sort of like a cow."

"Like a cow!" echoed Ted.

Exactly, except cows don't wear bras.

Posted by Jennifer @ 10:17 PM 0 comments

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A Lot of People Must Drink Beer!

This evening I was finishing up my grocery column for the week, and it was about specialty beers. I was having a hard time coming up with a headline, and my husband and I were brainstorming. His were cute, but not useable ("Hop on in and see what's brewing . . . it's the yeast you can do!"). I said out loud, "How about, 'Calling All Beer Lovers.'" From the next room, Charlie responded, "Why don't you just call one of them? It would take a long time to call them all."

Posted by Jennifer @ 6:02 PM 0 comments