Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Swimming with Cousins

When I was a little girl, my brother and I used to go over to my cousin's house to swim.  They had a big pool with a diving board that was regularly invaded by various extended family members.  Each time an invasion occurred, the glassy water would morph into a choppy sea of waves.  Once in the pool, everyone would join a game of Marco Polo or Shark.  Sometimes, the teenagers would tease the younger kids by dunking them under the water.  Shrieks of laughter would ring out across the backyard.  You could definitely tell we were having a good time.  Many years have passed but every now and then I'm reminded of those carefree and silly days. 

This last summer, Son #1 and Son #2 went over to their cousin's house to swim in the pool.  Son #1  tore across the lawn with his towel slung over his shoulder.  Several yards behind, Son #2 and I skipped along side the house to the backyard.  Just as Son #1 was about to hop into the pool, I called out.  "Did you put on your sunscreen?"

"No."  Son #1 responded as he wandered in my direction.  I lathered the sunscreen onto my oldest son and then shooed him off toward the pool.  Then, I turned my attention to Son #2.  My youngest son was hopping up and down impatiently.  Quickly, I slathered sunscreen onto Son #2, buckled his life jacket, and gently guided him into the water.  Their cousin hopped into the water as well.

The first game began as their older cousin swam after the boys pretending to be a sea monster.  Son #1 and Son #2 screamed with delight while their older cousin dove under the water.  My eldest son paddled with all his might trying to escape his cousin stealthily stalking him from the bottom of the pool.  My youngest son splashed about in the middle of the pool completely oblivious to the drama that was about to unfold.  All of a sudden, their cousin rocketed to the surface and lifted Son #1 high into the sky.  Son #1 laughed and flailed helplessly.  A split second later, my eldest son was released and plummeted into the water with a giant splash.  Son #2 clapped with glee.  Son #1 sputtered and spit as he hung onto his cousin's neck.  His cousin asked with a grin.  "Are you O.K?

"Yeah."  Son #1 replied as he wiped his face.  For a second, it looked as though the game was done.  Then, my oldest son shouted.  "Let's do that again!"

The game continued on for quite a while.  Son #1 and Son #2 hung onto their older cousin's neck as he bobbed and dove about in the water.  The boys shrieked with joy while water splashed on their faces.  Periodically, they stopped for drinks, snacks, and a moment to catch their breath.  Soon, they tired of this game and began another.  The sun beat down and eventually they were exhausted.  Finally,  everyone crawled out of the pool and headed for the shade.  The afternoon was coming to a close.  Son #1 and Son #2 waved goodbye to their older cousin.  Then, slowly they closed the gate to the yard.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Observation

The kids were safely snuggled into their seat belts as we drove away from the restaurant outside of Boise.  As we entered the freeway, Son #2 drifted gently to sleep lulled by the sound of the tires on the concrete.  Son #1 stared out the window and watched the cars pass by in the fast lane.  I fiddled with the dials on the radio as my husband turned on cruise control.

Once we settled into a comfortable speed, my husband struck up a conversation about semi trucks with Son #1.  They talked about various semi truck tractors and the types of trailers they were hauling.  Son #1 had a million questions to ask.  "Why are there flaps sticking out of the back of that trailer?"

"The flaps help reduce air turbulence behind the trailer and makes it more aerodynamic.  It helps the truck get better fuel mileage."

"Oh!"  Son #1 said thoughtfully.  Then, he asked again.  "How do they keep the big stuff from falling off the flat bed?"

"The truck driver straps it down.  Do you see all those straps?"  My husband pointed to the straps holding down the over sized equipment on the flat bed trailer.

"Yeah."  Son #1 replied.

"The driver has to make sure all those straps are tight and secure before he can drive down the road."  My husband explained.

"Oh.  That's cool."  Son #1 said as he peered out the window.  Silence followed for some time.  We listened to the music on the radio.  Fields of onions, potatoes, and alfalfa stretched on for miles across the agricultural landscape.  Soon, we passed another truck and trailer.  Son #1 stared at the trailer's Great Dane logo.  "I wonder how many dogs are in that truck?"

"Huh?"  My husband responded.  He glanced at the trailer and  laughed.  "Oh.  There's no dogs in that trailer.  That's just the name of the trailer company."

"What?!?  There's no dogs in that trailer?!?"  Son #1 echoed in amusement.  "That doesn't make any sense!  Then, why did they name it after a dog?!?"

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Compliment

A little while after removing the booger from my hair (see previous post), we finished our comfort food at the restaurant.  The boys slurped their drinks and wiped their faces.  My husband and I picked at the crumbs on our plates.  This stop on our long road trip had given us a bit more energy to complete the journey.  After paying our bill, we reluctantly got up from the table and inched toward the door.  The boys held their boxed leftovers and complained.  "Aww.  I don't want to get into the car again.  I'm tired."  Son #1 whined.  "No more car!"  Son #2 chimed.

"Sorry guys."  I said with a yawn.  "We have to get in the car.  We are not at Grandma and Grandpa's house yet."

"If we don't get in the car, we'll have to live here."  My husband teased.

The boys' faces were stricken with fear as they raced to the car door.  "No! No!  We want to go to Grandma and Grandpa's house!"  They yelled.

"Then, get in the car!"  My husband laughed and we hurried the boys into their seats.

"Mom?  Can you help me?"  Son #1 asked.

"Sure."  I responded.  "What do you need?" 

"I need help getting my seat belt buckled.  My hands are full."  Son #1 explained.

"Sure.  Sure."  I said as I buckled the seat belt.  "How's that?"

"That's good."  Son #1 said with a smile.  "Thanks mom.  You're a good mom."

I leaned over and kissed his forehead.  We hugged.  There is nothing like a sweet compliment from your child to brighten your day.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Booger

After gassing up in Mountain Home, we continued on our journey to Boise.  Everyone in the car was ravenous so my husband scanned the side of the freeway for a restaurant that served comfort food.  Ten minutes passed before we finally saw something that peaked our interest.  My husband quickly exited and pulled into the parking lot.  Then, we happily went inside.

The boys squirmed in their seats as we reviewed the menu.  "What do you guys want to eat?"  I asked.

"Hmm.  I don't know.  Let me see."  My oldest son replied.  Son #1 studied each page of the menu thoughtfully.

I turned to my youngest son and questioned.  "Do you want pancakes or sandwich?"  Son #2 giggled and wiggled.  He was not paying attention to anything I had to say.  I opened the menu and showed him the pictures of the food.  "Show me what you want."  I said with a smile.

"Hmm.  Let me see."  Son #2 replied.  My youngest son checked out each picture with delight.  Finally, he settled on the pancakes.

"Have you decided what you're going to order?"  My husband asked Son #1.

"Yeah.  I think I'm going to have fries and mozzarella sticks."  Son #1 responded.

The waitress approached our table and wrote down our choices.  Within a few minutes, she was back with our drinks.  My husband and I casually sipped at our sodas as we talked about nothing in particular.  The boys bounced on their seats and stared out the window.  Periodically, they would chime into our conversation.

Suddenly, Son #2 had to sneeze.  He leaned back as he rubbed his nose.  Then, his body pitched forward.  "Achoo!"  He yelled with his eyes squeezed shut.

"Are you o.k?"  I asked.

"No, Mommy.  I have a booger."  Son #2 murmured.  I reached for a napkin to wipe my young son's nose.  I also reached for my pony tail holder so that I could pull my hair away from my face.  As I popped my hair into a loose top knot, I felt something slimy.  I grimaced with horror and thought.  "Please don't let it be a booger." 

Before I could take care of the slime in my hair, I carefully cleaned Son #2's face.  Once Son #2 was presentable again, I reached for another napkin.  Slowly, I removed a rather large booger from the top of my head.  Then, I pulled my hair into a fresh top knot.  To my disgust, I felt another glob.    "Honey, is there another booger in my hair?" 

My husband checked my hair with a look of glee.  "Yeah.  Just move your hand a little to the right and you'll get it."  He laughed.

Son #1 leaned over the table to peer at my hair.  "Almost got it, Mom.  Almost.  Almost.  You got it!"  He shouted triumphantly.

Just as I was about to pull my hair up for the third time, Son #2 urgently announced.  "I got to sneeze again."

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Road Trip

Several weeks ago, we decided to take a road trip across the country to visit family.  You may notice that this is a recurring theme in my stories.  You may wonder why we don't just fly.  That is a very good question.  Maybe, flying is too expensive for us right now.  Maybe, we want the children to experience different parts of the country.  Maybe, we're crazy and like to exhaust ourselves.  Maybe, it is all of the above.  Regardless of the answer, you will find us winding along our favorite mountain roads again.

Thirty hours into the road trip, we were hungry for real food from a restaurant.  Surprisingly, we had eaten fairly healthy food along the way.  My husband and I tried to stop at regular meal times for the boys.  We also tried to make time for play as we traveled through the various states.  So that we didn't completely run out of energy, my husband and I would trade off driving every several hours.  The lucky one in the passenger's seat would try to rest during that time before having to drive again.  On the thirtieth hour of the trip, I found myself in the driver's seat listening to a George Strait CD and cruising down an empty highway.  It was almost supper time and everyone was hungry.

I nudged my husband to wake up.  "Hey.  Where do you want to eat?"  I asked as we raced by fields of corn, wheat, and alfalfa.  I could see mountains in the distance and a large river winding around the foothills.

"Ugh.  What?  What?"  My husband mumbled as he slowly opened his eyes.

"Where do you want to eat?"  I repeated.  "The kids are hungry."

My husband sat up in his seat and rubbed his face.  The kids were playing with their toys in the back seat.  As we discussed the options, their heads perked up to listen to the conversation.  "We could eat in Mountain Home."  My husband suggested.

"We could."  I shrugged.  "I don't really want to eat in Mountain Home.  It would be nice to get further down the road.  Do you want to eat in Boise?"

"Yeah.  That sounds good."  My husband agreed.  "There's more options in Boise but let's get gas in Mountain Home.  We're almost out."

"O.K."  I said.  "Where in Boise do you want to eat?"

Before my husband could answer, Son #1 popped up from the back seat with a look of alarm on his face.  "What?!?  We're going to eat poison?!?"

My husband and I burst out laughing.  "No!  We're not going to eat poison!"  My husband chuckled. 

"We're eating in a place called Boise."  I explained.

Son #1 furrowed his brow.  "Boise."  He murmured.  "Not poison."

"Yes.  Boise."  My husband confirmed.

"Not poison."  I emphasized with a giggle.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Las Mananitas

When I was a little girl, members from our church used to serenade families for special occasions.  The groups would start in the wee hours of the night.  It was a great way to wake up.  My brother, sister, and I would rush to the door with our parents to listen to our friends sing.  On one particular Mother's Day, the group sang a song called "Las Mananitas".  As the guitarists accompanied the singers, the stars twinkled in the dark sky.  Off on the horizon, a dim glow proceeded the sunrise.  Now when I think about it, the memory of those early morning serenades seem to brighten my day.

One evening, the kids had just finished bathing and getting ready for bed.  They were playing with their cars in the living room while I watched a documentary on PBS.  I rinsed dishes from our dinner and loaded the dishwasher while the narrator described the plight of children from impoverished countries traveling alone to find a better life.  Several children were interviewed at various stages during their journeys.  Their stories captured me and pulled at my heart.  At the end of the documentary, a mariachi band began to sing "Las Mananitas".  I was undone.  I had not heard the song in years.  As nostalgia swept over me, I danced with my boys around the kitchen.  When the song was finished, the kids cried out.  "Again, Mom!  Again!"  I grabbed my phone and pulled up a video of the song on YouTube.  Then, we began to dance again.

The kids and I danced to "Las Mananitas" several times.  At one point, Son #1 did a tango across the house with Son #2.  They laughed and squealed as they bumped into furniture.  A few times, I had the boys stand on my feet as we waltzed to the guitars and trumpets.  We spun and twirled around the kitchen floor until we were completely out of breath.   Then, we all collapsed onto the chairs around the table. 

Son #1 gasped.  "Mommy, I'm thirsty." 

Son #2 reached out with his hands and said.  "I want water." 

I opened the cabinet door and pulled down three glasses.  Carefully, I filled the glasses with ice and water.  Then, I passed the drinks out to the boys.  We sipped our water quietly for a while watching the sun sink into the horizon.  Soon, the boys' eyelids began to droop.  They were getting sleepy so I walked them to their beds.  After tucking each son into his bed, I went to the living room and listened to the "Las Mananitas" once more.  As the last notes drifted into the air, I smiled at the memory of my brother, sister, and I peeking around our parents' legs while friends serenaded us in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Fire Fire Fire

Earlier this month on the Fourth of July, a group of family gathered at my sister's house.  We cooked fajitas, ate pie, played outside, and eventually lazed around the house during the heat of the day.   As evening drew near, the guys each dug out their personal stash of fireworks.  Then, we all ran to the back of the house to set up for our firework display. 

While the guys were busy playing with artillery shells, my sister's father-in-law helped set Son #1 and Son #2 up with sparklers.  Son #1 was nervous about holding the sparklers at first.  With a bit of coaxing, he slowly began to have fun.  Son #2 was excited about holding his sparklers.  He felt like such a big boy playing with sparklers beside his older brother. 

My husband cracked jokes in a Beavis and Butthead voice.  "Heh heh.  Uh.  Fire, fire, fire." 

Son #2 listened intently as his dad goofed off.  Then, Son #2 imitated his dad in a small voice while waving a sparkler in each hand.  "Fire, fire, fire."

Time passed by slowly as we relaxed in lawn chairs.  Neighbors all around the countryside put on their own firework shows as the guys lit shells, spinners, and roman candles.  Soon, the supply began to dwindle.  My husband dug around his box of fireworks and brought out his endless supply of bottle rockets.  He carefully set up the first rocket and lit it with his lighter.  Quickly, he rushed away to a safe distance.  The rocket shot noisily into the air.  Son #1 was intrigued.  The next time his dad went to light a bottle rocket, Son #1 was right by his side. 

While the guys lit bottle rockets, the girls sat in chairs relaxing and talking.  Son #2 settled into his chair with a bottle of water and a bowl of ice cream.  We gazed at the stars as fireworks periodically burst in the sky.  Suddenly, my sister turned to my mom and said.  "Oh, look.  The clouds have burned off."

Son #1 looked up into the night sky with confusion written on his face.  A look of shock spread across his face as he watched his dad light a few more bottle rockets.  Then, Son #1 cried out in dismay.  "My dad burned up the clouds?!?"