Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Horror From Below

Right after Bonehead got out of the Navy, he worked for a local railroad as a breakman. Although this job paid quite well and enabled us to stay within an hour of our parents (who were neighbors for the better part of 15 years), it had its disadvantages. He was on call all the time. He had absolutely no set schedule. And there were weird rules, too. Like if he worked an 8 hour shift, he had to have at least 8 off. But they were calling him after 6 hours off (in order to give sufficient notice) and sometimes he had an hour drive to wherever they needed him to be or back home. More often than not, his 8 hours off turned into 4. It completely sucked. He missed birthdays, holidays, weekends, weekdays, and more. I rarely saw him.

One Saturday evening, my mom had driven out to spend the night at our place. The hour was late, and my mom was long ago tucked into our guest bedroom snoring away. I had stayed up late watching movies with Bonehead in order to spend some time with him. Sure enough, at about 1:30 am, Bonehead got the call that he had to go into work. In order to be there on time, he left our house at about 2am. And I foolishly stayed up; curled up on our couch, wrapped like a burrito in a blanket, watching the remainder of the movie we had been watching.

Then the lights went off and the whole place got dark. After some thought, I realized the light in the upstairs hallway was still on, which led me to believe that a fuse blew. But the fuse box was located in the basement and I couldn’t see my way out of the living room, let alone down a whole flight of stairs. So I began to feel my way to our kitchen junk drawer I knew we kept a flashlight tucked into. On the way, I began to have more thoughts.

‘Wow, the whole house is creepy when it’s pitch black in here. It’s like straight out of a horror movie, with just enough moonlight coming in through the sliding glass doors to create spooky shadows everywhere. Say, what’s the first thing that happens in stalker movies? The lights go off, and the phone lines get cut. The lights go off? You don’t say…You don’t think there’s somebody waiting in the basement to bludgeon you, do you? Oh for crying out loud you big ninny, it’s just a freaking fuse that blew. Put your big girl panties on and go flip the freaking switch you giant scaredy cat.’

And that’s exactly what I did. With the trusted flashlight in hand I made my way to the basement and began to carefully navigate my way down the basement steps. Truly, I am not known for my grace. I once tried on a pair of high heeled shoes, and immediately after my husband told me I was insane for buying them that I would break my neck in them, I fell. In the middle of my kitchen. I had been standing still.

About half way down the stairs, my flashlight lost battery power. It didn’t die, exactly, but it did one of those moves where the beam of light got so dim you could hardly see with it. I started to wait a moment for my eyes to adjust to the new level of darkness, but decided I’d better just hurry up and make my way to the fuse box and flip the switch before I lost all light completely. There were no windows in the basement, and if I lost that little battery power I did have, I would be in total darkness.

We actually lived in a townhome at the time, and the layout was such that our basement had a door that led directly into the garage. So there was the wall the fuse box was on, and about 7 feet directly behind it was the door that opened up into our garage.

More horror movie thoughts followed as I made it to the fuse box and went to open the cover. I was quite busy telling myself I was an idiot for entertaining thoughts like that. Really, though, if there was a slasher in the house, he would have jumped out from behind my refrigerator anyway, long before I ever got downstairs…..

And that’s when I heard it. A bump came from the door behind me. And as I turned the flashlight to the door, I not only heard it, but through the faintest of dim lights, I saw it as well. A loud creak began to come from the door, and IT BEGAN TO OPEN.

At that point I lost all sense of reality, so sure I was trapped in a real life horror movie, and I began screaming at the top of my lungs and ran at full throttle back towards the basement steps and began the ascent at least 4 steps at a time. The entire time I was screaming about there being someone in the house in the best first hill of a roller coaster voice I could summon.

I made it up the stairs to the first floor still screaming. I ran past the front door to the second set of steps and then flew up them 4 at a time. My mom was half way down the hallway already to see what the commotion was about. She calmed me down, and I spit out my story. The only thing I could think was that Bonehead had forgotten to close the garage door on his way out, and someone had entered our home.

My mom then told me I was over reacting and asked me why I didn’t run out the front door (that I ran past) instead of up another flight of steps with no exit to be found upstairs (And WHAT exactly am I always yelling at the blond heroine with one high heel still strapped to he foot as she’s trying to escape? Take your freaking shoe off and go out the door! That one! RIGHT THERE!)

That’s right. I ran sniveling like a baby to where? My mommy.

My mother, being the mom she is, talked some sense into me. Through my shaking I remember scaring up some sort of defense mechanism, kitchen knives most likely, lighting a candle or three, and going back down to the basement together. We flipped the switch, the lights came back on, and then with kitchen knives held high, we opened the door to the garage further. The garage door was closed. It was just a draft that had come through.

Oh. Silly me.

Mom went back to bed, and I sat up WITH EVERY LIGHT IN THE HOUSE ON until 7am. When I drifted off peacefully for a couple of hours of sleep.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"You Watch Your Phraseology!"

Phrases & expressions often used in our home & their meanings;

Bean dip: What a person is full of at any given moment in time. If you’re pulling my leg (which has been known to happen on occasion) you are full of bean dip. If you’re telling a tall tale you are full of bean dip. If you’re telling the truth and we choose not to believe you, there may be a loudly coughed expression of “Bean dip!”

Wing nut: Bonehead is more often than not a wing nut. Wing nut is good because it often means there is laughter among us. Smoochie has his daddy’s impeccable comedic timing, making him a wing nut. Critter, although he can’t quite spew forth impeccably timed witty & dry sarcasm just yet, has inherited the mischievous sparkle in his eyes from his father as well, and is already showing wing nut traits. Kepler likes to lick the carpet. He’s a wing nut too. I’m surrounded by wing nuts. Which means I spend a good portion of my days crying with laughter.

I’m not thinkin so: Candy Nerds for breakfast? Uh, yeah. I’m not thinkin so. You want to wear shorts to school (In Chicagoland) in February? Uh, yeah. I’m not thinkin so.

Hey Bebbe (pronounced beh-beh): Comes with its very own NC17 rating. Somebody’s feeling a bit playful.

Up your butt eating a ham sammich: This phrase also has a NC17 rating. Honey, have you seen my keys? -If they were up your butt eating a ham sammich, you’d know where they are. This phrase can be used in many forms, for example: Where’s my belt? - Sitting next to your ham sammich.

Keplercino (Pronounced Kepler-Cheeno): The dog when he’s spazzing, like he’s had too much coffee.

I’ll get right on it: Yeah, right. I’ll be snoring in 5. The likelihood of “it” happing in the next hour is less than the likelihood of an army of genetically engineered pigs showing up at our back door to recruit our household pets for their cause.

Dropper: Borrowed from an episode of Friends, and is more often than not me. I’m known for my sweetness and charm, not my grace and agility.

Jackass: (NC17) Saved for moments when our 110 pound German shepherd (and OCCASIONALLY Bonehead) is acting like a stubborn mule. And if that doesn’t work, he gets called a Poodle. The dog, not the hubby.

Walk & Talk: Smoochie stories are notoriously slow. And he has the inability to do anything else while telling one of them. Even if we’re horribly late. Thus the phrase, “Walk & Talk, Smooch” came into being.

Choppin the liver: According to Smooch at 3, someone was not “chopped liver”, they were Choppin the liver. It stuck.

Quit your BeBoppin’: Smoochie never just walks anywhere. He’s like a popcorn kernel right before popping. Things break, or get knocked over. But mostly, it’s ineffective, like trying to bottle sunshine.

And last but not least,

Uh-oh: The phrase uttered approx. 5 seconds before somebody “toots”.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sleep Interruptus

It is common knowledge that babies don’t sleep well. If you are lucky enough to have a baby who sleeps through the night, blessings should be tallied and wood should be knocked upon. So when I (with an 8 month old son at the home front) state that I have had all of 2 full nights of sleep in the past 8 months, it should really be no surprise to anyone. And from my viewpoint, because I’ve already been through the baby stage with one child, it’s expected.

What I didn’t expect, however, was the severe sleep apnea I developed while just a few months pregnant with Critter. It left me sitting straight up in bed and gasping for air on at least an hourly basis throughout much of my pregnancy. Coupled by the fact that I was horribly uncomfortable, and the many trips to the bathroom each night, I was already severely sleep deprived when Critter actually joined our odd but happy little family. So that brings my tally up to about 2 good nights of sleep in over a year.

Contrary to popular belief, stay at home motherhood is not all naps and sitting on the couch while wearing short skirts, high heals and eating chocolate truffles. I think my weekly nap average is about 1. I would take more naps, but generally that is the time I try to get at least something accomplished with things like dishes. Sometimes on Sundays when Bonehead is busy hogging our only TV that can be watched without the pain of a workout attached with his football marathon, I will call forfeit and take a nap with Critter.

Which is exactly what I attempted to do Sunday because I had a little time before we had to pack the family up and head out to support Bonehead at his second official CycloCross race. Critter had other things in mind as he played in bed next to me, fighting sleep with every ounce of his little critterly body. And as I lay there next to him reading (impatiently waiting for his crossover to dreamland) I took occasional glimpses at my watch and started to feel the time for a real nap sliding away. I could hear the time loudly in my ears- the tics and tocks crescendoing to deafening decimals in my imagination, and frustration building below my surface of calm, cool (which others may perceive as snippety snarkiness although I have ABSOLUTELY no clue why) collectedness.

I wanted that nap so bad I was ready to make all kinds of crazy promises to Bonehead so that I could obtain one. To me, a good chunk of sleep is more valuable than spun gold because, well, I could actually use it.

Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to barter favors with the hubby because Critter’s eyes began the slow decent to sleepy time. I threw a quick dog ear in my book, a fleeting desperate glance at my watch (by this point I was down to about 40 minutes of sleep available before I had to get moving again) and hunkered down for my own trip to dreamland.

I did wake up once and check my watch to see how much longer I had. I had a whole 20 more minutes before whirlwind time, so I rolled over, fluffed my pillows, and drifted back into oblivion.

The next thing I know there is a giant yell from the living room (which is right next to the bedroom due to the fact we live in a bungalow with no hallway) that leaves me levitating 6 inches off the bed and shaking like a 5.9 on the Richter scale. So next I do the most obvious thing in the world- I yell in utter desperation and with absolute urgency, “John! What!”

Which in turn wakes up critter from his nap, leaving me shaking, levitating, and with a crying baby at my side. I looked at my watch at that point, and I still had 10 minutes left to sleep. My nap had been violently interrupted, so I got out of bed to see what the great emergency was.

Bonehead was watching the Bears game on TV. And amid the death ray glare I gave him, he tried to justify his actions. I really don’t follow football all that closely, so what I heard sounded much like, “something something something, ball, something something, touch down.” And at that point they were replaying the play on the screen, so my visual was enforced as well. Something happened and there was a touchdown.

Yeah. Whoopee. I love my hubby and I try to be understanding of the football thing- I even try to watch occasionally and ask questions in an attempt at interest. But COME ON! I had 10 whole minutes more to sleep.

Because I love my hubby so much, (almost as much as I love making lists) I thought I might include a list of reasons for which he should scream at the top of his lungs on a Sunday Afternoon while his wife is sleeping:

1. There is phalange loss on one of our spawn.

2. There is a 75% off sale in the home goods department at TJ Maxx.

3. A bomb has just exploded at our local Portillo’s.

4. We currently have a camel invasion in our living room.

5. Aliens have landed and are poking and prodding at him in order to discover the chemical make-up of his anarchy tattoo.

6. He has been so overcome by the need to massage my shoulders and back he simply can not contain himself.

I fully intend to shrink the list for him and tape it to the back of our remote control, so that in the future, should he feel the need to yell during a Sunday afternoon nap, he can check the valid reasons first. Hopefully this course of action will insure at least a few extra moments of sleep for his wife.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Our Good Morning Ritual

Before I had Critter, I worried the boys would not be close because of the age difference between them. I worried needlessly because the boys both adore each other.

At least until Critter is walking and able to steal toys and sneak into sombody's bedroom and chant things like k-i-s-s-i-n-g and report every move his big brother is making to Mom & Dad. Then things might change a bit.

But in the meantime, Critter likes to wake his brother up for school. It always includes a snuggle, which is loved by both parties involved.

And it ALWAYS includes three smiles. You can't see the third one here, that one's in my heart.

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Biggest Fear Part 3

Back before my pregnancy with Critter, I was busy discovering the joys of bicycling. I worked a 38 hour work week, and the scheduling of my hours actually gave me every Friday afternoon off. With Smooch in already paid for daycare and Critter barely a thought on the horizon, I could be a bit selfish and use Friday afternoons for me time. Naps, shopping, the occasional mid afternoon rendezvous with the hubby, time was mine to waste as my whimsy saw fit. Occasionally, Bonehead would take the afternoon off with me and we would venture out for bike rides together.

This was an opportune time for a bike date with Bonehead because the child sitting was already taken care of. One Friday morning I rode my bike to work, and he met me there on his bike when I was able to leave. We set off for our ride together, pedaling along and enjoying a beautiful summer day.

I love riding with Bonehead. He’s always sweet and lets me take the lead at my pace and never complains about the fact that my pace is usually 5-10mph slower than his. He’s never impatient with me, even though he could leave me behind in a nanosecond. And he is usually the event moderator, making wise crack comments every now and then, just enough to help me forget that my ass is killing me, my legs are screaming with burn, or my lungs are about to seize up from the last mole hill I had to climb.

We set off for the trail head of a trail I had not ridden before. The trail its self is nestled under a canopy of trees with breaks periodically, leading you through the perimeter of farmer’s fields here and there. As we rode further and further down the trail I took in the beauty of the quiet forest around us, noticing the occasional furry creature or two scamper or hop across the trail in front of me. It was beautiful, and breathing in the freshly tree filtered air filled me to the brim with a love of summer rides.

We hit a clearing and I happened to notice a bird or two swooping down toward us. But before I could get too worked up over it, we hit another canopy of trees and it was all too soon forgotten.

On the way back through, Bonehead, who knows my fear of birds, warned me.

“Chas, we’re coming up on where the birds swooped at us before, so you might want to pick up your pace a bit.”

I completely agreed, so I picked the pace up from about 7mph to around 10mph and felt I was doing a pretty good clip when I hit that clearing. And I saw it, a black bird with red wings, and it looked like it just might be chasing me. So I picked up the pace a little more. And I wasn’t sure, but I thought it was just maybe chasing me faster, so I picked up the pace even more.

From out of nowhere, the bird swooped down and pecked my helmet. I didn’t see it, but I felt the whack as it hit the plastic at the back of the helmet. I let out a scream and from that point on, I only had room in my head for visions of Alfred Hitchcock’s Birds followed immediately by vivid images of Crows eating carrion, followed by the image of this particular black bird missing my helmet and pecking through my neck and coming back out with a piece or two of brainstem.

That clicking sound of beak against my bike helmet was all I needed to locate the rocket propulsion in my legs. They moved at a speed I was not previously aware I was capable of, and I couldn’t stop even once I reached the next crop of trees. I was deathly afraid the bird was still chasing me, and I wasn’t sure where hubby was because I just knew if I turned around I would give it all inclusive access to my eyeballs.

My rush of adrenaline finally left and I stopped and collapsed like a bowl of warm Jell-o. And found Bonehead laughing himself silly at my trail side shenanigans. It was then I noticed the sign “Beware of Redwing Blackbirds protecting their nests”.

Fine time to notice the darned sign.

But at least Bonehead got a good laugh, because I’m pretty sure I resembled a clown on a tricycle- knees and elbows at 100mph must be a sight to see. And I learned I could exceed 18mph without going downhill.

However, I haven’t been back on that trail since.

Disclaimer: The picture above was in no way, shape or form taken by me.

To learn more about my fear of birds, check out My Biggest Fear Part 1 and Part 2.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sour Grapes

Bonehead and I try very hard to be good parents. We try to keep the fast food to a minimum, and do our best to try to make sure meal times are as healthy as possible. We make sure homework is done, and our children are clean- unless you catch Smoochie immediately after a meal. In which case you will be able to recreate the meal by looking at his sleeve because he always uses it as a napkin.

We also try to ensure there is physical activity beyond the thumb maneuvering of the Nintendo DS and the watching of the “Sim-Sims”. Bonehead and I encourage Smoochie to play soccer and participate in wrestling, and will genuinely support any sport he should choose to participate in. Right now, he is in soccer, with the season set to end at the end of this month.

As the parent of a soccer kid- wait, I think that makes me the dreaded “soccer mom”. As a soccer mom, at the beginning of the season you are supposed to sign up for your snack day. One game a season, you provide the snacks for your child’s soccer team. Last Saturday happened to be our turn.

We also had to drive to the In-Laws last Saturday, and decided to save time by leaving directly after the game, which was scheduled for 10am. It is not easy to prepare for a trip to Grandma’s. Given the later game time, I was impressed with our ability to get everything ready for the day at Grandma’s, have the snacks prepared and ready to go for the soccer game, and actually make it to the field on time as well. I was slamming some awesome mom love on myself for rocking and rolling that morning, let me tell you.

We showed up at the soccer fields toting 5 pounds of grapes (all plucked off the vine and washed and in 3 different giant zip locks for the ease of grabbing by the boys), a king size box of chocolate chip granola bars, and ample juice boxes. I even had time to stop at McDonalds for that cup of coffee I didn’t have time to get at home. We were pushing Critter in his jogging stroller, walking with a cute happy Smoochie, on time, and anticipating the day at Grandma’s (I had visions of a naptime dancing in my head). Life was good.

Right up until we couldn’t seem to find Smoochie’s team. We were looking and looking at the fields, trying to find the matching black white and red uniforms, and totally didn’t find a match. And then we saw one of Smoochie’s teammates walking past us with some friends.

Bonehead asked him if he knew where the team was playing.


I’m sorry, what was that?

The team already played.

The game was at 8, not 10.

Not only had we missed the game entirely, it was Smoochie’s snack week as well. The kids had had to play without a snack or water OR their coveted after game granola bars. My head suddenly had visions of the other parents on the team muttering things like “cheap bastards” and “how irresponsible CAN you be?” I completely wanted to go home and crawl under the blankets and call it a day.

Not only do I feel bad, but I foresee yet another therapy appointment in our son’s future. I used to think the warping of a young mind took effort. Apparently it is not that hard to do at all.

As an after note, we do get to redeem ourselves tomorrow. Unless they’re going to stone us when we get there.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Race

After losing 67ish pounds since April, and working very hard to get back in shape, Bonehead participated in his first Cyclocross race yesterday. It was fun to watch, and while the boys and I parked ourselves outside the "slip and slide" area of the race, I missed most of the action because I was trying to take photos of Bonehead en route. The irony of it is that most of the pictures I took turned out very fuzzy. And since I am sure he will be blogging about the experience on his blog later tonight after things settle down and using the couple of good pics I did get, I will only include the before picture he had me take. I left the experience with two insights.

1. If you ever get a chance to go watch a Cyclocross race, take it. I had a blast.

2. I am very proud of Bonehead for all of his hard work and accomplishments in the past few months.

As a side note, It has not escaped my notice that my 100th blog post is quickly approaching. This post is #92. I wanted to take a moment to hint that big things are in the works for the celebration. I'll make an in depth celebration announcement on post #100.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Experiencing Technical Difficulties

In an attempt to update the look of my blog, I have encountered a few snags, followed by a little Critter guy who seems to think he needs lunch. Please bear with me, and I will iron out the goofy kinks as soon as I can.

Neurotic Spot Management,
The currently frazzled mom.


As part of our morning routine, I have to make sure Smoochie gets to the bus stop. The stop is 4 houses down from us, so I give him a little freedom. I wait out in front of our house with Critter, and he walks down to the bus stop on his own. I stand and wait until he’s on the bus, and Critter and I wave as the bus drives by, smiling at Smoochie’s hyper-enthused expression.

And then one morning this week, Wednesday I believe, Smooch wasn’t there to wave at me. He’d chosen to sit on the other side of the bus, ignoring the fact that mom is standing in front of her own home waving at absolutely nobody like a doofus, and I caught myself grinning and giggling madly to boot. My smile fizzled when I realized what he’d done. I was feeling the Smoochie love.

Thursday arrived. Once again, we’re standing in front of our house, and I’m giving goodbye kisses to Smooch, about to send him off to the bus stop without me. He looked at me and said, “Wave at me, Mom.”

To which my response was, “You have to sit on the right side of the bus in order for me to wave.”

I knew his OK came way too quick. Once again, I became the Crazy Mom, standing outside her home waving at absolutely nobody. He got me twice.

Bring on the Friday morning bus departure. He actually looked at me and said, “Mom, make sure you and Critter wave at me.”

I said specifically, “You HAVE TO SIT ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BUS FOR ME TO WAVE AT YOU. If you sit on the OTHER SIDE I look like an idiot waving at absolutely nobody. Listen carefully child. If I wave at you and you are not there again, I am coming to get you, AND I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE.”

There were some giggles, an agreement, and off he went to wait at the bus stop.


That little punk did it to me again! Only this time I KNOW he was crouched down on the other side of the bus snickering. “Watch this. Tee hee. She’s ACTUALLY WAVING! Hee hee, haa haa. I can’t believe she actually fell for it again! What a chump!”

I walked Critter into the house giggling. “Your brother got me again. I’m such a dork.”

Yeah. It’s Halloween time. Monday morning, I think I might walk that boy all the way down to the bus stop with nerd teeth in my mouth, my hair in pig tails, and toting pom poms. If I’m going to look like the neighborhood crazy, I might as well drag the boy down with me.

Seriously, I can not believe I fell for it more than once. I’m kicking myself over here.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Again With the Lists

Things not included in The Handbook for Parents that should have been:

To avoid completely peanut butter coated faces, cut the sandwich into quarters.

Always have a supply of batteries on hand to combat the creepy evil toy sound of drained batteries.

White grape juice and apple juice are much less noticeable stains than grape juice and fruit punch.

Infant carriers are great beds for babies who are stuffed up.

Fingerprints will continue to magically reappear until all your children are away at college. Don’t bother.

Laundry doesn’t wash its self, nor does it walk its self into closets and dressers. Trust me, I’ve been waiting for a while.

Your child’s cuteness will be directly proportionate to the amount of trouble they are trying to get out of.

Hair spray takes out ink stains.

Magic erasers are a gift from God.

Be prepared to repeat everything you say for the rest of eternity.

The amount of gray hair on your head may very well be proportionately related to the amount of trouble your child is trying to get out of.

Dressers don’t have to be perfectly neat. What matters is the clothing made it there and you didn’t have to do it.

If you have a child who likes to vacuum, go ahead and hand it over daily. Eventually he will get to the spots he missed the day before.

There doesn’t have to be music for you to do a happy dance with your children.

There will be days when you’d rather have the dentist scrape plaque off your teeth than hear the word mom again.

Forget the terrible twos. There’s an attitude that begins between 5 ½ and 6 that may not (as I’m beginning to fear) go away until they hit twenty something.

Do you have any pointers that should have been included in The Handbook for Parents that I might have missed?