Tuesday, October 28, 2008

almost a catastrophe

When I plan things to do with Wesley, I always try to "talk them up" a few days in advance. I'm not sure why I do it - it's bound to backfire on me someday soon. And it almost did yesterday.

There is a corn maze/petting zoo/pumpkin patch about 50 minutes from our house. We didn't do it last year because Wesley couldn't even walk but I thought this year he would really enjoy it. And since my mom was in town, I thought she might like to go with us. So all weekend long, I've been telling Wesley that on Monday we were going to go to a special place with a giant cornfield that we would walk around in and he would get to pick out a pumpkin and there would be lots of animals he could pet, which to a two-year-old is almost better than your very own pony.

I told Bryan to hurry through his work so he could go with us. It was pretty windy but we all bundled up and got in the car. Poor Bryan had to fold his 6 foot 3 inch body into the back seat between the two carseats. We drove the 50 minutes to the corn maze, talking about it to get Wesley excited the whole way.

When my mom turned into the place, I started to get a little worried - there weren't any cars in the parking lot. Not one. Zero cars. It was like a flashback to the movie National Lampoons Vacation - the one where they drive across the country to "Wallyworld" only to find out the park is closed.

There were two men talking in front of the big barn so I told my family to wait while I checked to make sure we could go. I considered working up some tears as I approached.

I walked up to the men and asked, "Are ya'll open?" (I'm learning to speak the dialect here quite well...)

"No, maam, we aren't," was the reply.

Gulp. I hadn't even thought to call and make sure they would be open. I just assumed - I mean, this is the week before Halloween, right? How could they not be open?

I honestly can't even remember what I said next but it was something like, "Are you kidding?" The man explained that they are only open on Thursdays thru Sundays. My eyes just about fell out of my head. I told the man, "I'll just go back to the car and tell my two-year-old son...and my husband...and my mom who flew here from Ohio...and she only has a month to live...are you sure we can't go? If we are really fast?"

He let us go. I mean, it wasn't really much of an imposition since all the stuff is outside and we still paid and everything but he really didn't have to let us go and he did so for that I owe him something really big. Like a kidney. Because I'm not sure what would have happened if I had gone back to that car and told my family it was closed. Just kidding about the cornfield and the pumpkins and animals you can pet, Wesley. I don't want to think about how that would have gone.

I guess I should have learned something from this experience - perhaps to call ahead, or to not talk things up so much until I know they will happen - I don't know.

Hey, if anyone hears that Halloween is cancelled, please let me know. Because I've been talking that up, too, and I don't think even a kidney will save me next time.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

my stint as a stage mom

About a week ago I was scanning the local newspaper for interesting upcoming events. Finding none, I settled for a mildly amusing upcoming event - a Halloween costume contest at a local store - a contest for dogs.

I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I've thought about dressing up my dog for Halloween before but I've never actually been motivated enough to do it. But that's because there have never been PRIZES involved - and the ad said, "Over $8,500 in prizes." Suddenly, it's worth my time.

I'm a competitive person - I immediately wanted to win. So I started thinking. I figured all the other dogs would be wearing store-bought costumes and the key to winning would be something unique and hand made. In the back of my mind, right next to my memories of eating the foam padding out of my childhood carseat, was the memory of a costume I saw on a dog in a magazine - a dog dressed as Spaghetti and Meatballs.

My mom, the boys, and I went shopping and gathered all the necessary materials. When we got home, I fired up the hot glue gun and got to work. I was pretty proud of the end product. So proud, in fact, that the next day at Bryan's grandma's house, I invited the whole family to come and watch Winnie kick some dog butt.

The contest was scheduled for naptime and it was outside but there was no way I was missing it - $8,500 in prizes were calling my name. So I dragged my sleepy boys in hurricane force winds to the contest. I put Winnie's costume on her and we checked out the competition. There were probably 40 other dogs there but not one of them had a hand made costume. There were several dogs dressed as bumblebees, a few witches, a couple of pumpkins, and some other miscellaneous un-original costumes - but there was only one Spaghetti and Meatballs. Oh yeah, we had this in the doggie bag.

All the dogs lined up and had to parade in front of the judges. I felt just like one of those moms that force their little girls to be in beauty pageants - I really wanted Winnie to win. I whispered some tips into her ear, "Remember to smile and make eye contact with the judges." I suddenly wished we had practiced this at home. And that I had put some lip gloss on Winnie - and perhaps a breath mint.

As Bryan's whole family looked on, they announced the semi-finalists - Winnie had made it! Then the semi-finalists were lined up again for the final judging. I was so nervous, and Winnie was, well, Winnie was probably wishing she had stayed home and that she didn't have a meatball strapped to her head.

And guess what? She didn't win. I'm not kidding. Some other dork dogs won first and second prize and third prize went to a rat dressed as a teddy bear. A RAT! Was that even allowed?!? I felt so ripped off. And the whole promise of $8,500 in prizes? That was apparently at all the stores combined because the prizes were pathetic - not that we got one. Bitter? No, not me.

Next year, I won't forget the lip gloss.

Monday, October 20, 2008

To Whom it May Concern

Dear Rest of the World,

I regret to inform you that the Phillips family will not be observing Daylight Savings Time this year. Before you write me off as crazy, let me explain. I was looking at the calendar tonight to see what the rest of October has in store for us. We're pretty busy right up to the end. So I peeked around the corner to November and, oh, there it was: Daylight Savings Time Begins. A wave of panic came over me instantly. Because as every mother knows, it doesn't matter if we're "springing forward" or "falling back" or taking a flight to Tokyo - it all means the same thing to me - lost sleep.

You see, my 2 year old and 4 month old sons can't tell time yet. And we run on their schedule. They already wake up when they are cold or hot or wet or hungry or thirsty or itchy or when they hear a housefly fart. And then they wake me up. It's been a long two years of this Mommy business. There have been days when I was so tired I felt like my eyelids were lined with sandpaper. I've shampooed my hair with shaving cream and fallen asleep on the toilet.

But it was starting to get better...in the last month, we've had some nights when I was only jolted out of bed by someone who needs me three times! I'm feeling refreshed in the mornings - or at least less like a torture victim.

And now here comes Daylight Savings Time trying to mess it all up. Well, this year, I'm putting my foot down. We're not doing it. I guess this means that until Spring we will be an hour late (or is it early?) to church and for doctor's appointments and everywhere else we go. OH, STINKIN' WELL.

At least when we get there, I won't have red puffy eyes and shaving cream on my head. I sure hope you all understand and we'll catch up with you again in April.

Sincerely, Laura
p.s. Thanks for hearing me out. NOW you can write me off as crazy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

the Bahamas does sound nice, doesn't it?

Years ago, I was back "at home" in Illinois and I ran into an old friend from high school. She already had two little girls at the time but I was still very much single and childless. The friend seemed slightly frazzled and proceeded to tell me about how that particular day had been for her. I don't remember all of the details but the part that stuck in my mind was this: one of her daughters had been playing in the toilet and had gotten a spanking. At the time, I remember thinking, "Why would you spank her? That sounds kinda cute!" I guess ignorance really is bliss when it comes to parenting.

Yesterday was one of those days for me - the kind of day when I've had to spank Wesley's bottom before the smoke from cooking breakfast has even had time to clear, the kind of day when you start getting the kids ready for bed - at 2:00 PM, the kind of day when I wonder who tricked me into becoming a mom, anyway.

I was up pretty early and Wesley was contentedly watching cartoons. Wyatt was still sawing tiny logs. I recognized this as my chance to get a shower - possibly my only chance for days...so I quietly turned on the shower and got my towels ready. As I attempted to step into the shower, Wyatt began to cry and Wesley came running. As if the very idea that Mommy might be trying to do something alone had set off a silent alarm alerting them both to come immediately.

Typically, I shower as fast as humanly possible with both boys in the bathroom, peeking out every minute or so to make sure no one is on fire. Well, yesterday I pulled back the curtain just before turning off the water to see Wesley dip the toilet brush into the toilet and then wipe it all over the wall. He looked up from his work and told me proudly, "I paintin', Mama."

The day dragged on with him climbing into the fireplace, spitting a mouthful of juice onto the carpet, and having a breakdown every few minutes for miscellaneous reasons that only he could understand. Right before bedtime, I noticed his fingernails needed to be cut so I pulled him on my lap and did this while he screamed as if I were removing his appendix without anesthesia.
Thankfully, at this point it was close enough to bedtime to call it a day. I held him on my lap for a few minutes in the rocking chair to calm him down. Then Bryan and I both took him to his bedroom. We prayed with him and then Bryan left but I stayed for an extra minute to give my monster another kiss. As I stood up to leave the room, he whispered, "You look pretty, Mama."

And that was just enough to make me put off buying a one-way ticket to the Bahamas for another day.