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?!?"

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Rollerblading Lesson

A few weeks ago, Son #1 and Son #2 raced from the breakfast table to grab their roller blades.  Son #1 slid his on with ease while Son #2 yelled.  "Help me, Mommy!" 

I walked over to the entry way where Son #2 stood.  "Alright, I'll help you.  Sit down so I can get your socks on your feet."  I said hurriedly.  It was around nine o'clock and the morning air was still cool.  We wanted to get as much outside time as possible before the heat and humidity became oppressive.  I slid the roller blades onto my youngest son's tiny feet.  Then, I secured his helmet onto his head. 

"Mommy,  I want my gloves."  Son #2 squeaked as he pointed to his hands. 

"O.K.  Let me find them."  I replied.

"I've got them!"  Son #1 yelled as he glided from the bedrooms to the front door.

"My gloves!"  Son #2 cried out with glee.

"Thanks, Son."  I said to my oldest boy.  "That was really helpful."  Son #1 leaned over and gave me a kiss on the cheek.  Then, we helped Son #2 onto his wobbly feet.  Carefully, we guided Son #2 through the doorway, down the driveway, and to the sidewalk that ran in front of the house.  Once Son #2 was comfortable, Son #1 raced off to the end of the street.  I tried to take my youngest son's hand in an effort to help but he pushed it away in disdain.  "No, no, no!  I do it by myself!"

I shrugged my shoulders and sat under the shade tree.  Son #2 smiled at his new found independence and proceeded to inch across the concrete.  As Son #2 moved unsteadily about, Son #1 skidded to a stop in front of him.  My oldest son watched his younger brother for a moment.  I could tell he was analyzing the situation and trying to come up with a better strategy for his brother.  After some time, Son #1 tapped his brother on the shoulder and asked.  "Do you remember how Caillou roller blades?"

Son #2 shook his head.

Son #1 bent down to look his brother in the eyes.  "First you push and then you glide."  My eldest son explained.  "Watch me.  First you push and then you glide."

"Oh!"  Son #2 responded while nodding his head.  My youngest son slowly began to imitate his older brother.  At first, he was unsure of himself.  Yet after watching his brother a few more times, he began to get the hang of things.

We spent another hour skating in the front yard before the heat became unbearable.  Once inside the house, the boys drank ice water and lay on the couch.  I flipped on the T.V. and changed the channel to PBS.  Sesame Street was on and soon the boys were engrossed by the songs.  At some point during the show, Elmo and some kids decided to roller blade in the park.  Son #2 was delighted.  Some of the kids could skate well and others were just learning to roller blade.  All of a sudden he turned to me and shouted.  "Wow!  That's just like me!"

"That is just like you!"  I responded with a smile.  "You were learning to skate just like the kids on Sesame Street."

"Oh yeah!"  Son #2 giggled as he watched the kids slide around in the park.  "I skate, too!"  As the show continued, the boys slowly lay back on the couch with their eyes partially closed.  Soon, they were completely relaxed after a fun morning outside.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Basketball Hoop in the Tub

During halftime of the NBA Finals Game 6, I decided to bathe the boys as quickly as possible.  Son #1 raced to the bathroom first and took a three minute shower.  The mirror in the bathroom did not have any time to steam up before Son #1 came tearing around the corner wrapped in a towel.  "Hurry and get dressed before the half is up!"  I yelled at my oldest son.

"I'm hurrying, Mom!"  Son #1 yelled back as he zipped to his room to find his pajamas. 

I scrambled to find my youngest son.  "Baby!  Where are you?"

"In my room!"  Son #2 called out.

"Time for a bath!"  I said hurriedly.

"Five more minutes!"  Son #2 replied unconcerned.

"There's not enough time for five more minutes."  I said as I scooped Son #2 up into my arms.  We rushed to the tub and began to fill it with water.  Son #2 fussed and tried to wriggle away.  "Sorry little boy."  I said as I pulled his shirt off of his head.  "You need to take a fast bath before the game starts."

"O.K.  O.K."  Son #2 answered irritably.  He climbed into the tub and began to splash about with his toys.  I soaped up his hair and body quickly.  Then, I rinsed him with the blue cup beside the tub.  Son #2 wiped his face with a wash cloth.  As he removed the cloth from his eyes, he looked up at me and asked.  "Five more minutes?"

"Sure."  I responded.  "You can have five more minutes to play."

Son #2 cheered with delight and then fished around for two bobbing racquetballs.  Once he found the balls, he searched through the bubbles to locate a giant sized bubble wand.  For a second, my youngest son analyzed the toys in his hand.  Then, he placed the bubble wand onto the faucet.  Son #2 scooted to the far end of the tub away from the bubble wand, carefully position one of the racquetballs, and shot the ball into the air.  The ball gracefully arced over the bubbles and rubber duckies toward the bubble wand hoop. 

Bang!

Splash!

I rushed into the bathroom to see what had happened.  As I skidded across the floor, Son #2 launched another ball to the bubble wand hoop.  The ball fell like a rocket onto the faucet and bounced insanely from one side of the tube to the other.  "What are you doing?"  I asked.

"I playing."  Son #2 replied cheerfully.

"What are you playing?"  I continued.

"Basketball!"  Son#2 hollered as he continued to shoot hoops across the tub.

"Ohhh!  Cool!  I get it."  I said with a laugh.  "Are you the Warriors?"

"Yeah!"  Son #2 roared as he pumped his fist.  "I winning!!!!"

From the living room, I could hear my husband and oldest son screaming wildly as the Warriors made another basket.  The Warriors were winning the game and my baby was winning his game.  All was right in our world that night.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Tire Change

Recently, my husband has been restoring every part on his car.  I'm not exaggerating.  My husband is on a mission to clean, revamp, or replace all removable portions of the car.  Over the last couple of months, he has taken the entire car apart until only a shell remained.  Of course, the boys are thrilled with the prospect of putting the car back together.  However, the boys are only allowed into the garage when my husband is working on an easy task.

One day, my husband was finishing up his work on the transmission and the drive axles.  He was just about to place one of the tires onto the wheel bolts when Son #1 peeked around the garage door.  "Dad, can I help?"  He asked shyly.

My husband grunted.  "Sure.  Sure.  Come on in."  Son #1 bounced into the garage hopping over tools and car parts.  My husband was immediately alarmed by all the commotion and sharply instructed our son.  "Hey!  Stay still.  Don't touch anything."

Son #1 froze and then gazed at his dad.  "What do you want me to do?"

My husband sat on a chair for a second and removed the gloves from his hands.  "Well, you could help me put on a tire."

"Oh yeah!"  Son #1 cried.  "That sounds awesome!"  Then, he reached out to grab a few stray tools on the floor.

"Whoa!  Hold on a second.  There is a process that you have to follow."  My husband said.  "Let's get the wrench from the shelf behind me and then we'll get started."  Son #1 followed his dad dutifully and picked up the wrench.  Slowly, they walked over to a tire.  "Now, I need you to help me lift the tire onto the bolts."

"Huh?"  Son #1 scratched his head and made a silly face.  "You want me to lift the tire?"

"Yes."  My husband replied while ignoring our son's crossed eyes.  "Alright.  Grab that side and we'll lift the tire.  One.  Two.  Three.  Up!"  They carefully placed the tires onto the bolts.  "Go get the lug nuts."  My husband commanded.  Son #1 scrambled to the lug nuts and brought back the correct amount.  "Good job.  Now, we need to put these nuts on the bolts and tighten them with the wrench." 

Son #1 watched intently as my husband placed the nuts onto all the bolts.  He began to tighten the nuts that sat at opposite ends of each other in equal increments.  Quietly, Son #1 tapped my husband on the shoulder.  "Dad, can I try?" 

"Sure."  My husband replied.  Patiently, my husband helped Son #1 hold the wrench properly and tighten the nuts appropriately.  Son #1 smiled at his dad feeling very accomplished. 

Slowly, they worked together until all the tires were back on the car.  Then, my eldest son burst into the house shouting.  "Mom!  Mom!  I helped Dad put the tires on the car!"

"Wow!  That's so cool!"  I replied with a smile.

"Next time, I'm going to help dad with something else!"  Son #1 yelled with excitement.

"When I get to something easy, I'll let you help again."  My husband said encouragingly.

"Sweet!!!!"  Son #1 screamed as he ran to his room to play with his cars.  From his room, we could hear him pretending to fix his own cars before an exciting new race.  My husband and I grinned at each other as we listened to him play.  Son #1 was completely intrigued with cars both big and small.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I Flying!

Son #1 and Son #2 are at the stage where they constantly fight and argue.  Son #1 enjoys teasing his brother unmercifully.  Son #2 enjoys reciprocating the torture.  The mornings are usually peaceful considering both boys are well rested.  However, the evenings are incredibly loud due to extremely cranky children.  They scream.  They shout.  They chase each other down the hallway.  They pretend to punch each other.  They slam doors.  My husband and I are going crazy.  My only consolation is that this is only a phase.  It will end soon.

One typically noisy night, Son #1 and Son #2 ran from room to room screaming at the top of their lungs.  From time to time, my husband and I would separate the children.  We doled out punishments and sent them to their rooms several times.  Still like two strong magnets, the children were drawn back to each other and their ongoing brawl.

Son #1 screamed.  "Get out of my room!!!"

Son #2 kicked his brother's door and yelled.  "Popen da door!!!"

"Leave your brother alone!"  I ordered as I marched my youngest son to the living room.  One minute of silence passed.  Then, my oldest son charged from his room to the living room and tackled his younger brother.  Son #2 wailed in despair as he cried out.  "Brudder hurt me!  I so sad!"

"Son!"  I said irritably.  "That was really mean.  You need to say sorry!"

"But I didn't do anything!"  My oldest son replied.

"You just tackled your brother.  Go say sorry!"  I demanded.

Son #1 put his younger brother in head lock and muttered.  "Sorry."

"That is not the way you say sorry.  Give him a hug and kiss and say sorry like you mean it!"  I commanded.

Son #1 gave Son #2 a gentle hug and kiss.  "Sorry Bro."  He said with sincerity. 

Son #2 hugged his older brother back for a brief moment but then screamed in anger.  "Don't touch me!!!"  His little fists beat his older brother's back.

Now, Son #1 was crying.  I glared at both of my boys.  "Little Son!  That is not the way you accept an apology.  You go say sorry right now!"

Son #2's lip quivered.  Then, he broke out into a sob.  "I sorry."  He said as his lips trembled. 

"You guys need to hug."  I said crisply.  The boys hugged tenderly.  "Give each other a kiss."  I instructed.  Son #1 and Son #2 kissed each other on the cheek.  "O.K.  You guys need to stop fighting.  You need to love each other.  You guys are brothers and when you grow up you'll be best friends.  Treat your brother with kindness."  I lectured as both boys wiped their tears.  "You can go play." 

The boys scampered off to their rooms.  Two minutes passed before screaming could be heard from the hallway.  Then, two wild minions whizzed by my legs while pummeling each other.  "I thought I told you guys to stop fighting!"  I yelled.  "Fine!  I've had it!  One of you is going in the bath!"

Quickly, I chased after the two Tasmanian Devils.  Son #1 raced ahead of his younger brother to his room.  He scurried inside and slammed the door shut.  Son #2 was not as wily and I was able to scoop him up into my arms.  Son #2 did not give up so easily, though.  He hollered.  "Put me down!"  I ignored his complaints and swung him around like Superman.  This caused my youngest son to laugh.  I continued to zoom around the house as we made our way to the bathroom.  Son #2 squealed with delight.  "Again!  Again!  I flying!!!"

If only, I had the strength and energy to swing my children around the house all day.  They would never have time to fight.  I guess I'll have to take Popeye's advice and eat my spinach.