Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pushing my buttons

I have one offspring whose defense mechanism is button-pushing. When he is angered or disappointed or frustrated about something...ANYTHING, as a result of me (no matter the innocence of the crime), he lashes out with 4-year-old-version hatefulness.


I just gave away the offender. Yes yes, it's Sullivan, my sometimes-sweet 4 year old. Sullivan does not enjoy feeling badly himself. He wants others to feel badly. Only fair, right? I get it. I really can put my littler brain inside his brain (no joke - I legitimately thing that boy has a bigger capacity for intellect than me... he's gonna be a freakin whiz) and observe the world the way he does. That is, if I try hard and take the time to, I get Sullivan.

Here's the scoop:  When he doesn't get to take a shower after a swim at the gym pool (as we normally do), because the showers are all taken and I am not interested in waiting in line, he says, "You mean, Mommy." When I let him know that we are not going to be able to finish a puzzle or game until later, because we have to leave to pick up Jackson from school, he says, "You're cheating Mommy." Sometimes this emotional response includes a hit or an air fist. And then, sometimes, he'll add a demented snicker... like he's un-touched by whatever is going on. He fake laughs to cover up the fact that he is truly hurting. And if I get quiet and have an authentically melancholy reaction to the way he is treating me/the situation, he sometimes adds "Gotcha!" with a finger point. Like getting me to feel icky was what he was aiming for.

When I use my good, healthy parenting skills and either  a) calmly explain the situation further so he understands that whatever I am saying he doesn't want to hear is not personally designed to alienate him, or b) calmly explain that his reaction to disappointment needs to be adjusted, then the following comment is made (while crossing arms and deliberately avoiding eye contact by looking out of the top little corner of his awnry little eyes, "Not listening, Mom. Not listening."

I know I am making my son sound evil. But if you have a Sullivan in your home, you know what I am talking about.

I don't like it. Clearly, I don't like it. Even if I get it, I don't like it.

But I've been letting him do it. Let the kid say what he wants to say. He's gonna do it anyway (cuz that's the kind of kid Sullivan is), so give him freedom of speech and then let's go about our business. His disagreeable-ness wears off pretty quickly, anyway. So what's the harm? Right?

Until yesterday.

I was treating him to a Frosty, which was a reward for having read these little preschool books a certain number of days in a row. Anyway, he had been talking about it and was excited about it. I was excited about it, for goodness sakes. He was so faithful about checking the little days off the chart at home and had been talking about his treat for days. We pull up to Wendys and he smells the stale yet yummy smell of grease. And his mind goes instantly to chicken nuggets, french fries, and dip. It was lunchtime, after all. Chicken nuggets and french fries and dip were not in the lunch plans. We had swung in the drive thru for a frosty. For a FROSTY ONLY. His hunger and his confusion and his excitement were all swhirling when I said "no" to the request for more than the frosty.

Thus began the rampage: Fit, "you mean, Mommy," "You cheating, Mom" (cheating is not really something Sullivan knows the definition of... it's used pretty much whenever he's mad.)  "I'm not listening!" Then, quiet the rest of the way home.

When we arrived in the garage, Sullivan busted out a whole new level of button-pushing. He crossed a new line.

He said, "Mom, I am not going to love Jesus."

Freedom of speech, my ass.
This. means. war.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I hate the bats, I mean fruit flies, hanging from my ceiling

I looked up this morning in my kitchen, and immediately felt the motherly instinct to swoop up Anderson for fear that my bat-sized fruit flies may just carry him off like To-to was by the flying monkeys.

I am so stinkin done. I have done the vinegar trick. Caught a few. Others seemed to grow larger while laughing in my face. I had one other infestation a few years back, and the cidar vinegar totally whiped them out in days. This brood is highly evolved, too smart to fall for traps, and is telling its friends and family members that the Arthur kitchen is a happening place. And, by the way, - the damn things say - bring your suitcase, cuz this party's gonna last awhile.

And, don't ya know, the woman way back in 2000 who gave me my first lesson on how to run them out of a kitchen (I had been house-sitting for their family while they vacationed and I had slowly observed the haze of life everytime I turned on the faucet... but I did what I do when problems arise I don't know how to solve : nothing. And when this family returned, Deanne sweetly took me under her wing to present the ole vinegar-in-a-shallow-bowl-with-holes-poked-in-lid trick. I felt embaressed and enlightened all at the same time) is visiting us from out of town THIS VERY WEEKEND.

She's gonna think all I've done over the past thirteen years is raise kids. And fruit flies.

Lord may they smell tastier fruit or be lured by trickier vinegar traps in someone else's kitchen before Friday. (the flies, that is, not my kids) (although that would be fine, too).

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Moon moment

We have two lime-green chairs in our front lawn which spent the first year here on Grenoble Rd mostly vacant. But this past summer, we've been loving us some adirondack lounging. Tonight, once boy #1 (#3) was put to bed, I plopped right on out there with a blueberry lemonade smirnoff (#2) while #2 and #3 were playing, #s 1 and 2 (ok, now even I am confused). I am amazed at what happens when I plop. I initially think to myself, "Hmmmmm. I'll be out of this position lickity split... cuz something else will call to me and there isn't much 'to do' here." Then all at once I realize just how hard it is to let my phone be. all. by. its. lonesome. On the arm of my lime green adirondack chair. (Cuz, after all, we have a thing-to-do attached to ourselve s at all times now... I shall name mine Frystone the Iphone) By the way, I've now been sitting for 15 seconds.

And then it begins: the let-the-world-pass-me-by-ness sets in. Tonight I was on that chair for about an hour. And here is what passed me by: 
** Neighbor boy, middle school aged or so?, rides bike back and forth with his buddy... he on a tandum bike with noone on the back and the buddy on his own bike. I think tandem bikes are awesome, so I shouted as such. He gave a polite reply. I wonder if secretly he is punkish. I wonder if his friend is punkish. Will J and S and A be punkish? How do you keep your kids from being punkish? Wonder why the friend just doesn't join on a tandem? Is it too dorky to ride tandem with another boy? Is it like 2 men sharing a couch or maybe love seat? 
** They are gone.
**Guy catty corner across street waters lawn. He is adjusting sprinkler. Lawn looks awesome. I shout as such.
**Boys come outside and drag a big fallen branch to center of yard. An obstacle course hath formed. Boys look like Patrick Swaze in Dirty Dancing crossing the famous log, except with shirts on and much cuter. 
**Next door neighbors head out for walk with darling lil doggie. Mom and just-got-his-drivers-license son. Their nightly ritual. I wonder if we'll have a dog by then. What a bonding time for Mom/son. Captive moments to talk about life. Having a dog = I bond with my sons. We need a dog.
**Empty nester directly across street leaves for 2 mile power walk. He had knee replacement surgery a few years ago and look at him go! Wonder what he does on his walks? No ear plugs. No dog. Kids moved out. Think about all that cleared up head space! And no music/sounds going in! He probably is solving the world's problems one night at a time.
**Other next door neighbor, Chris, checks her mail and I yell congrat to her, since her daughter just found out today that she got a job she'd applied for. This to that. That to this... and before you know it she is showing me the squid hats she just bought for her daughter and she to wear while volunteering at the zoo in the touch-pool area. Get it? I love this woman. Boys take picture with hats on. Chris shows boys "liken" (sp?) on said fallen branch, which basically is the mossy greenish crusty stuff on the outer bark. Boys loved squid hats better, but munch on liken information for a bit. Chris's husband pulls in the driveway with dinner. He points out full moon. I knew I was feeling awnry. Chris and hubby head inside.
**Boys revved up about moon. Hard to see with trees in way. Barefooted offspring convince me to let them get "closer" (someday I'll have to explain where the moon lives). I say yes. But a new tree keeps blocking moon-view each time they move beyond the tree that was blocking it. They are half-way down street with said shoelessness. I am shoeless too. And on my chair. 
**I humor their moon search. But then I get into it. Not only do I meet them on the sidewalk a few houses down, I likewise find myself angling for a better view.... which happens to be in the middle of the street. 2 boys, one mamma, and a bottle of Smirnoff (#2) staring at the full moon in the middle of the street with no shoes on. 

Now that is just Norman Rockwell. Yes?

So, if there is a point, the point is that having no deliberate goal of passage of time can really get you somewhere...It can get you shoeless, in the middle of the street... And a solution for how to ensure quality time with your future punkish pubescent boys (as a refresher: get a dog to walk). And knowledge about fungal tree growths. And some really funny shots of oversized squid hats on boys' heads to send to Dad. And a bunch of other stuff. It can get you now-ness. Which is now technically then-ness. And nowness gets ignored a lot these days. Tonight wI was perfectly aware of the beauty of that nowness. Lovely.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

No lie

This morning, as most weekday mornings, the kids watched a show in their pjs while i was in the kitchen prepping school stuff and breakfast. When I re-enter living room, Jackson is on a different couch. With his pajama bottoms off. And his dingaling sticking straight up.

No lie.

He wasn't touching it. But there was definitely some fishy business going on. He noticed that I noticed and didn't even seem phased (minor back-point: we are still very much naked around each other in this house... I know, I know, I better put an end to it soon, now that he is in kindergarten. It's right around the corner... Read: Today Might Be The Day)

So I just passed on through with only the comment, "huh. You're nakey." To which he replied, "yup." And the morning then carried on as usual.

P.S. He was watching Curious George. Seriously?

P.S.S. I do regularly sanitize my leather couches. Read: I never sanitize my lether couches but will today since there was a naked 6-yr-old butt on it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

and...i'm (hoping to be) back.

Well hello there.

Been awhile, but I think I may be... hope I may be...yearn that i might be, in fact, back. 

Been a doozy of a year. Anderson born. I nearly lost my marbles. Anderson turns one. I find most of my marbles, and I am back. Well at least I think I may be... hope I may be... yearn that I might, in fact, be back. 

I find myself (as always) with a lot of thoughts in my head. But - more recently - they are curious and creative and open in nature. Not motivated by one of the two most unhealthy and unhelpful entities: FEAR. (the other one is PRIDE, just so ya know). P.S. That belief about what the two most icky entities in life are is just mine. I could fully be wrong. The point is: I had gotten sucked into some serious negativity and fear-based thinking (about myself, about the world, about - well - anything) and now that most of that is gone, I have a lot more space up there for awesomeness. 

This past Saturday morning, I composed a lil speech I was asked to give at Otterbein University. The event was at 11:30. I got done adding mechanical-pencil-in-the-margin edits at 11:15. But, boy let me tell ya, I was on fire. I was having a ball plucking out stories...inserting jestful one-liners... piecing and repiecing together a quilt of a speech. I was sort of in writer's intoxication, much to my husband's dismay. Because while I was "drunk" at my desk, he was slopping eggs on three boys' plates and answering all the "Mommy... I mean Daddy"s of the morning. And it was then, as I blocked out my offspring in order to whip up a 3 minute speech, that i realized just how much I miss writing the written word. Either that or I just liked blocking out my offspring.

So this afternoon, I stumbled upon the Mrs. Hall letter thing. I think I may be late. Because it appears to me from my Google search that every blog on earth has already commented on what Mrs. Hall had to say. 

Except mine.

So here goes: I guess I just think we ought not criticize too severely a woman who likely did not spend a ton of time reviewing and meditating upon her blog that particularly day. And who likely did not intend for her audience to be the WHOLE STINKIN WORLD. And who likely didn't choose her words carefully. 

And instead let her have her point in peace. And, if we can ignore for a second the package that it came in (a touch sarcastic, a touch critical, a touch self-righteous, a touch overprotective and motherly), I think there'd be a lot more productivity in addressing what we CAN agree upon is a pretty decent point: we have to be responsible for the messages we put out there about ourselves. Boys. Girls. On internet. Off internet. In public. In our homes. In our communities. In pictures. In selfies. 

Now, as I understand it, Mrs. Hall did edit her blog entry after so many views. Something about changing the title and maybe deleting a picture?? Which made some Mrs. Hall-hate-a's even more critical since she didn't tone down her critical-ness.  Who can win.

I doubt that I will send out a warning to all of my boys' lady acquaintances in the same way Mrs. Hall did when that awful, awful day comes when they have internet friends... but I probably will want to.

So I'm back... And that's about all the awesomeness I can muster for today.

P.S. I did a load of laundry while writing this entry and... well... let's just say there was a purple crayon that managed its way into the dryer.

P.S.S. There was no reason for the above P.S. except to make you smile at the thought of all of my undies looking like I pooped blueberries. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013


1 month

2 months
3 months

4 months

5 months

6 months

Friday, February 1, 2013

New years 2013

Happy 2013. And Happy Groundhog's Day.

Since being late for our holiday card is a two-year running theme now, we've decided to throw in the towel and just start a new tradition: A Groundhog Day update. By early February we ought to be able to get our stuff together, right?

This year's update is going to reveal both sides of our family: the part that is fun to share and the part that is gritty, raw, and realistic. Hopefully you'll get a kick out of our own self-deprication.

The glossy parts:

Jackson: The eldest son in the Arthur clan is usually busying himself with some sort of an art project or learning about animals from library books and his favorite show, Wild Kratts. It is predictable, then, that his top 2 professions of choice are "artist" and "animal rescuer." He has not wavered in his playdate busy-ness since moving to Columbus; the kid simply does not prefer to be alone. Jackson began the fall season at a new preschool (his last year before Kindergarten!) about a mile from home, so with nice weather he has the luxury of walking back and forth with mom and Anderson and sometimes Sullivan. Sports are of interest to Jackson so long as there are friends present to be silly with. He has put some hours into soccer and of course tennis lessons, and the summer highlight was mastering unassisted swimming. He still loves being a big brother, especially since he is that of two now!

Sullivan: Sullivan dropped his "Sully" nickname this year, firmly announcing "It's Sullivan, not Sully" sometime around September. Jackson hasn't successfully made the transition, so he tolerates "Sully" from Jackson. This just begins his personality of particulars. Sullivan asks to have certain tags removed from certain pants, he wants to have his say about each and every outfit, he knows every nook and cranny and color and swhirl and size and diameter of every marble he owns (yes, there is still an obsession there) as well as most of his prized toys, and he has begun giving us "the plan" for what is about to happen, sequencing out teensy tiny details that the average person would overlook. He has been nagging us about gymnastics, which we finally signed up for this month, and he also has enjoyed soccer and swimming in 2012. The special education teachers who work with him at preschool adore him, absolutely charmed by his sweetness, patience, and up-for-anythingness. His speech has made incredible strides, and we are ecstatic to uncover parts of our son that were lying beneath his inability to communicate before. It's awesome.

Anderson: Our only complaint about Anderson is that he allows us to sometimes forget how many hours it has been since the last feeding or nap... because he is pleasant in any and all circumstances!!! Hungry, sleepy, full diaper... no sweat! This baby is the content-est soul I have ever met, making him of course our favorite :) He started out his life looking Scott, but recently there's some Tricia-ness shining through. He loves sitting up, staring smilingly at his brothers as they perform tricks in front of him, eating cereal, grabbing at ANYTHING nearby, and generally being in the mix. Thankfully, there is no aversion to the car seat, because he spends a good chunk of his time there while his mom galavants around town in it, dropping off and picking up little people. The child care workers at the gym have confessed wanting to babynap him and take him home, since he is happy all the time. As you can see, we are smitten over this newest Arthur!

Scott and Tricia: We have decided to stay put here on Grenoble Rd in Upper Arlington, OH. Neighbors are fantastic, elementary school down the street, our favorite yogurt shop walkable, the Olentangy bike path about a mile's jog away, and work for Scott is a 10 minute commute. But the real reason we decided not to move is that we didn't want to move. :) We rented for the past year, and are in contract now! Scott is both appropriately confident and appropriately challenged in his work as the VP of Constituent Giving at Nationwide Children's Hospital, affording him the pleasure of taking Tricia to ocassional dinner events. Tricia is enjoying the stay-at-home mom gig and continuing to learn how to have everyone where they need to be, fed, somewhat clean, and generally happy. 

What we really are like:

Jackson:  Jackson is often found with size 24-36 months socks on, since noone can get organized enough to get 5T ones. Losing his cool is Jackson's specialty. And taking a long time to get it back, too. Our especially sensitive child experiences emotions to their fullest, and so his highs are enthusiastic and his lows are... well, passionately out of control. Sullivan has recently picked up the new technique of aggrivating and pure, legalistic Jackson takes the bait every time. Although Jackson's spirituality is growing daily with his profound curiosity on the subject, he proudly boasted the other day that he prays to God every time he makes a basketball shot "God let it go in." I asked how that was working for him and he said, "Not good." Strike 1 on teaching Jackson about God. :)

Sullivan: Sullivan's beloved blanket, although an endearing accompanyment to his sleeping ritual, is only 12 inches by 12 inches and thus, since he must suck on it and since it never finds its way to the wash, spends most of its time smelling like rank dampness. Although we have peeing in the pot down, Sullivan poops his pants once a day. We thought we could get away originally with tossing big boy underwear with each accident, but the frequency has forced us to return to washing out the dang things. Sullivan's winter coat is blue. His winter gloves are brown. And his winter hat is army green. Even though it is endearing to have the tike obsess over his clothing, we are down to a three-shirt-rotation. And, parents' laundry negligence makes this a problem, leading to melt downs.

Anderson: Anderson took 2 months to detach himself from breastfeeding and begrudgingly accept the bottle. Several tough-love attempts to do a cold turkey transfer to bottle led to a hunger strike. Oh, and he has had a smoker's cough since October. Don't worry. Doctor says he's fine. You'd think we'd have clothes figured out by now for #3, but we still find ourselves unable to shift out the outgrown clothes and bring in the appropriate-sized ones in step. Lots of plastic totes just milling around in his nursery. It was so cute and tidy on the day he came home from the hospital.

Scott: Tired

Tricia: Tired

For those of you in the thick of parenting, you get it. For those who are beyond these years, you likely have glossed your memories over and think we are exagerating. :) In either case, hope you can smile at the reality if our lives. We write this before knowing whether the dang verment has seen his shadow or not. But, either way, may your Spring unfold gloriously. And may you always be reminded that you have love coming your way from the Arthur household.

Much joy and peace,

Scott: 614-315-1566
Tricia: 614-315-0569
1565 Grenoble Rd.
Columbus, OH 43221
 Sullivan - 3 yrs
 Jackson - 5 yrs
Anderson - 6 months