Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Pumpkin Patch

Diapers are washed and folded. Little pink onesies have a home. I have 12 receiving blankets at the ready. But no baby...

I thought it would be fun and relaxing and novel to have a few days (or even a week!) off before this baby came. But no. I'm ready. Let's get this party started.

I sat around all day yesterday while the kids were at school and tried to relax. When you are used to living your life at full speed, it's kind of hard to just chill out. So today I gave up on that and decided we would have some sort of family adventure that just might bring on this baby.

I am often the cheerleader for these kinds of family excursions and it took some tears and a time out to get us out the door. By the time everyone piled into the car, I was the only one still excited about going to the pumpkin patch.

But once we got there and the boys were able to feed the goats, it suddenly seemed like everything would be just fine.

And I am now convinced that Wednesday mornings are the only time to go to the pumpkin patch. No lines! No hoards of kids! No swarms of paparazzi parents to compete with for the perfect shot!

Jack declined our offer to go on the hayride, but Sawyer was all about it. He was especially excited about holding the tickets. Ah, to be three!

And so off we went! I was secretly hoping the bumpy ride would send the baby her eviction notice, and I could see from faces of my fellow passengers that I was not the only one thinking about my impending labor.

Sawyer kept me company with his running commentary of preschool chatter and we walked hand in hand through the muddy patch to find his perfect pumpkin. I squeezed his little hand in mind and reminded myself that this will be one of the last times that he is still my baby.

At last my little goofball found his perfect pumpkin and we lugged it over toward the wagon until a dad came running over and insisted on carrying it for us. You get special treatment when you are nine months pregnant and carrying a giant pumpkin.

I asked Brent to get some belly shots, just in case the hayride was going to do the trick.

I find Jack's comparison to be accurate.

And I'll include this one just for laughs. I am pretty sure this is one of the most awkward pictures I have ever seen...

And finally, caramel apples. Because that's half the reason I wanted to drag my family on this adventure in the first place.

And so I could hold that little hand just one more time while it still seems so small.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Correction: No-Fun Draiser

So.... that fundraiser? Ha ha. Funny story there. Turns out that if you completely forget about the wrapping paper and candy you have sold and leave the money and order form on top of your refrigerator for weeks past the payment deadline, they will cancel your order. Even if your kid did win the grand prize stuffed alligator. So yeah... that part about our first fundraiser being a success? Scratch that. Fail.

(But don't worry- the same day that the school emailed to tell me they had cancelled our order, they sent home a NEW FUNDRAISER! Woohoo! Anybody need a wreath?)

Another fail: School pictures. Of course, OF COURSE my kid would split his forehead open the week before school pictures. What's funny (not funny ha ha, but more funny irritating) is that we have a DELUXE and SUPER SPECIAL- need I mention expensive- CUSTOM MADE fireplace cover that it supposed to prevent just this type of injury. Alas, BOTH of my children have found ways to vault over the protective hearth pad and split their heads open on the brick wall surrounding the wood stove.

Jack had a little help from Sawyer with this injury. Apparently there was some pushing and a scuffle and who the hell knows how they managed to do this, but I will tell you this- Jack is a bleeder. Sheesh.

Boys will be boys and all that blah blah. You want to know who is really to blame for ruining school pictures? The damn DMV.

A few weeks ago I received a postcard informing me that my driver's license was going to expire on my birthday. Okay, fine. Whatever. I tossed that piece of mail aside and went back to whatever exciting task I had been doing, drinking cosmopolitans and eating bonbons probably, and didn't think about it again. Then we had a three day weekend and I remembered that I needed to go to the DMV and so I scrounged up that postcard to make sure the office was open. This time I actually read the fine print (it's actually boldface and all caps, as if the DMV is screaming at you via this postcard) about the new identification requirements for license renewal. You need an original of your birth certificate and/or a passport, but if your name has changed then you also need your original marriage license.

Now this seems like overkill to me, but what do I know about homeland security?

Okay, fine. Whatever. I begin to search for these documents. No shocker here- I can't find them. And Brent is NO HELP WHATSOEVER because he knows exactly where his birth certificate and passport are and attempts to lecture me about the importance of keeping my things organized as I am tearing through every nook and cranny of our house in a fruitless pursuit. Needless to say, his diatribe fell upon deaf ears.

The birth certificate is iffy. It might be at my dad's, but since they are on an extended vacation and I can't seem to find things in my OWN house, I don't think I'll go rummaging through their stash of important documents.

But I know I have seen that passport. Where the hell is it?

And so I was searching once again in the deepest, darkest recesses of my closet instead of supervising my children when the head injury occurred. I think the blood is on the DMV's hands.

I was thinking with some direct pressure we could stop the bleeding and slap a bandaid on Jack's forehead, but Brent, having more experience with forehead wounds, thought we probably needed to take him in for stitches.

So instead of going to the DMV that day, I went to Urgent Care and waited for over an hour for the doctor to come in and superglue my kid's forehead back together.

And now I have an expired driver's license. And no birth certificate. And no passport.

But I do have these guys who are clearly enjoying the first fire of the season. And a big old pregnant tummy that should probably be photographed one last time before little sister makes her appearance any day now.

And now that I'm stuck at home with no driving privileges, I just might be able to find that passport. Or remember to order a birth certificate for this baby. Or at least make sure we turn in our fundraiser money on time.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


One of my many reservations about sending Jack across town to the French immersion school (aside from the elitism, inequity, and all that) was that we had been repeatedly warned about all of the fundraising that's done at his school. While most kids can handle a few magazine and gift wrap sales, I know my kid and I knew he could not.

Fundraiser #1 was shoved down our throats a mere two weeks into the school year. (And don't even get me started on why they do so much fundraising because it kind of makes my blood boil with that whole elitism and inequity and all that so LA-LA-LA.) Jack came bounding in the door clutching his first ever fundraiser packet and talking excitedly about all of the prizes he was going to win. And like a fool I just waited for his enthusiasm to wane, knowing full well that once his eyes were on these prizes, he would be able to think of nothing else.

Jack badgered me relentlessly about going door-to-door on his quest for sales, but I stood my ground and refused to let him hustle his overpriced chocolates and wrapping paper in our already economically depressed neighborhood.I don't want to be that neighbor, and I certainly don't want the neighborhood kids coming to my house to peddle their wares. Jack was pissed.

"But Mo-om, how am I going to win those prizes? I need at least 7 sales to get the pencil topper, the bracelet and the bracelet plugs!"

I wanted to tell him how crappy these "prizes" really are, but as I have told you before, Jack gives absolutely no credit to my parental wisdom and/or life experience. So instead I told him I would buy a roll of wrapping paper, knowing full well that that would not be good enough. 1 sale = the pencil topper only. Like I said, not good enough.

I changed my approach and helped him come up with his list of trusted adults. It was a short list, but that's because Jack is usually pretty shy around adults and even people who have known his since birth often get the silent treatment from him. This is really frustrating to me at times, but he is who he is, and a friendly conversationalist he is not.

The grandmas were good for a few sales and that just whet his appetite for more. I tried (unsuccessfully) to hide the fundraiser packet for awhile, but Jack would not and could not let it go. I started to get really irritated about the whole thing. Maybe I would just "forget" to place the order and be done with all of this nonsense. Damn that school and their crappy prizes! The whole thing was making me grumpy.

As the end of the fundraiser approached, Jack got more and more annoying. Then one night he got up out of bed and came tearfully to the couch. You can always tell the difference between bratty crying and genuine crying with Jack because he makes this pathetic little froggy face whenever he is really sad. Froggy face said, "Mom, I'm just really sad because I want to win those prizes and get my name called over the intercom to come to the office and every day I wait to hear my name and I never do." And suddenly I realized just how important this pencil topper and bracelet and bracelet plug business really was to him. I remembered being a kid and selling magazines for crappy prizes and the excitement of the raffles and assemblies and all of that consumerism.

Later that night as I was attempting to sleep (it's getting rough here, people, the end is near), Brent came to my bedside and informed me that a building behind our house was on fire. "But I don't think you need to get up or anything," he continued nonchalantly. FIRE? OUR HOUSE? SLEEPING KIDS? I bolted up out of bed and sure enough, big orange flames were shooting up from over the fence, illuminating our backyard. We could hear the sirens coming from all directions and soon we were listening to the spray of hoses as the fiery peaks behind us began to die down.

Hopped up on adrenaline, I knew that going back to bed would be a joke. So instead I sat up with Brent and we talked until we both got sleepy enough for bed. During this time I had a mini emotional breakdown, fueled in part by pregnancy hormones, over this whole fundraiser. I was feeling guilty for not realizing earlier just how important this was to Jack. "Sometimes I think we are too hard on our kids," Brent concluded. "Jack is a good guy. Just buy some more wrapping paper so he can get his prizes."

And so, thanks to Brent's logic and some very special trusted adults, Jack managed to sell enough items to get his pencil topper, his bracelet, AND the bracelet plugs.

All the next day at work I kept thinking about what Brent had said. Jack is a good guy. He is the kid who never takes his eyes off the ball during the soccer game.

But he's also the kid who will sit for hours at a time and listen intently to an audio book.

He punches in his own number in the school lunch line. He loves school and homework and learning.

He eats his broccoli. He is a good kid and he deserved to win those stupid crappy prizes simply because it meant so much to him.

When I came home that afternoon, Jack came running up to show me everything he had won that day. Among his loot was a giant stuffed alligator named Zoe. "Where did this come from?" I asked. Brent shrugged his shoulders and Jack launched into this bizarre story about being called up to the principal's office and having to wait and getting the stuffed alligator. Brent and I raised our eyebrows and then I texted a friend who has an older child at our school and discovered that Jack had won a special raffle prize for participating in the fundraiser. And for some reason this made me feel really, really good, like all was right with the world.

Despite the fact that the bracelet and one of the bracelet plugs broke before he even got them home from school that day and Brent had to take him back to the office to get replacements. And then I had to sew up Zoe's back when she started leaking stuffing. But Jack didn't seem to mind. When you are five, even crappy prizes are super exciting.

Also, now I have plenty of wrapping paper. So here's to our first elementary school fundraiser. We survived. And with the age span of our three kids, this means we only have 11 more years of this to go.

PS: Do let me know if you're ever in the market for overpriced chocolates or wrapping paper. I can hook you up.