Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Ants and the Worm

A few weekends ago, several of us packed up our tents and outdoor gear for a camping adventure at the lake.  It was a promising weekend with daytime temperatures in the high sixties and nighttime temperatures in the low thirties.  A strong wind blowing off the lake cooled the evenings down pretty quickly so we spent a lot of time by the campfire.  The boys loved every second of our camping trip.  They roasted marshmallows, chased each other around the campsite, explored the lake shore, and climbed everything in sight.  At night, they crawled into their sleeping bags exhausted.

One morning after breakfast, Son #1 and Son #2 hopped across the rocks by the parked cars.  After a while, Son #1 grew tired of their game.  He called out to his younger brother.  "I'm going over to the fire!"  Son #2 looked up for a brief second to acknowledge his older brother and then continued on with his game. 

Slowly, Son #1 meandered over to the enclosed picnic table and sat on the edge of the concrete slab.  He put his head in his hands and poked at the dirt with his toe.  His toe stirred up an ant pile underneath the concrete.  His toe also disturbed a tiny worm's hiding place just inches from the busy ants.  I leaned forward in my camping chair and suggested to my eldest son.  "You might want to move.  Those ants look mad.  I wouldn't want them to bite you."

Son #1 stood up and squatted a safe distance from the swarming ants.  He poked at them with a stick as I watched nonchalantly.  Then, I noticed the worm had wriggled into the path of several angry ants.  "Oh no!"  I shouted.  "The worm's getting attacked by the ants!"

Son #1 peered down with interest.  "No way, Mom!"  He called out with a touch of worry in his voice.

"Look!  I'm serious.  See the worm!  He's right in the middle of the ants."  I exclaimed.  "Go little worm!  Hurry!"

"Yeah!  Hurry worm!  You're going to get eaten!"  Son #1 yelled. 

We knelt down to get a better view of the drama.  The worm was deep into the heart of the ant colony's territory.  A group of well organized ants marched toward the worm.  Soon, the worm was fighting off the ants with all his might.  However, the ants were relentless in their attack.  They nipped at the worm and dug their mandibles into the worm's body.  My son and I were gripped by anxiety as we feared for the worm's life.  Incredibly, the worm fought off the small army of ants and escaped into the loose dirt.  My eldest son and I cheered.  We were so relieved.

Later that morning, Son #1 told the story of the ants and the worm to his dad, aunt, and uncle.  He pointed out the ant pile and described the worm's escape.  They were amazed by the little worm's grit and tenacity.  If you think about it for a second, the worm taught us a life lesson.  Even when things seem impossible, never give up.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Master Chef Son #1

Son #1 will be an amazing cook when he is an adult.  He has been interested in cooking since he was a toddler.  Every time I go into the kitchen to bake or make a meal, Son #1 is there beside me wanting to help.  Sometimes, I let him help me,  Sometimes, I'm in a hurry and I have to tell him that he can't help that day.  Son #1 is usually a little sad when he can't help.  However, he is always very excited when he can help.

One of Son #1's favorite shows on television is Master Chef Junior.  He studies the children as they chop, slice, blend, fry, saute, bake, and arrange an exquisite plate of food.  He usually cheers for the chefs that are around his age.  I think he identifies with them and hopes that they will find a way to win in spite of being the youngest kids on the television show.

After one particularly captivating show, Son #1 decided that he was going to make supper.  I was thrilled.  Son #1 opened the pantry door and began to inspect the food on the shelves.  He put his index finger to his chin and tapped it slightly as he pondered his choices.  Once a few minutes had passed, my oldest son reached up to a middle shelf.  He wrapped his fingers around two boxes and brought them to the kitchen counter.  Then, Son #1 announced.  "I'm going to make macaroni and cheese for supper tonight!"

"Mmm!  That sounds yummy!"  I said with a smile.

Son #1 grinned and started to read the directions.  He knelt down to search a cabinet for a large cooking pot.  Carefully, he filled it with water but he could not carry it to the stove.  "Mommy!"  Son #1 called.  "The pot's too heavy!  Can you help me?"

"No.  I wish I could help you.  I can't lift it because I just had surgery.  Let me get your dad."  I replied.  I peeked into my husband's office and said.  "Hey, Honey.  Son #1 needs you to carry a pot of  water to the stove.  I can't lift it because it's too heavy."

"Hang on."  My husband said absentmindedly.  Quickly, he wrapped up a few tasks on the computer and came out to the kitchen to help.

As soon as my husband entered the kitchen, Son #1 pleaded.  "Dad!  Help me get this pot to the stove.  I've tried and I've tried but it's too heavy."

"Sure!"  My husband said cheerfully.  Then, he watched curiously as Son #1 turned on the heat to the appropriate level.  My husband and I talked about our day as we waited for the water to boil.  Son #1 ran off to play in the living room.   Periodically, he popped into the kitchen to peer at the water in the pot.  Finally, the water boiled. 

As Son #1 added the noodles to the pot, my husband advised.  "You'll want to stir the noodles every few minutes so they won't stick together."  Son  #1 nodded his head seriously and began to search for a wooden spoon in the drawer beside the stove.  Once a wooden spoon was located, Son #1 climbed onto a chair and followed his dad's instructions.  When the noodles had softened, my husband helped our oldest son pour the noodles into a colander.  The hot water drained quickly from the noodles.  Then, the noodles were placed back into the pot. 

Son #1 looked at the cooked noodles in the pot and asked.  "What's next?"

I responded.  "Look at the instructions."

Son #1 picked up the macaroni and cheese box.  He read the instructions aloud.  "Add 4 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup of milk."

"Don't forget to double that."  My husband reminded.  Son #1 opened the refrigerator door.  My husband help our oldest son carry the ingredients to the counter.  Then, my husband helped our son measure out the proper amounts.  Slowly, Son #1 stirred the ingredients into the pot.  Finally, Son #1 added the cheese.  As soon as he finished mixing in the cheese, our oldest son announced.  "The food is ready!"

My husband, Son #1, Son #2, and I grabbed our plates.  We served ourselves a wonderful portion of rich, creamy, macaroni and cheese.  When we took a bite, we all agreed it was delicious.

Son #1 is completely inspired by these young chefs on Master Chef Junior.  At different times during this week, he has helped me make tacos, blueberry muffins, and rice.  I'm starting to get spoiled.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Racing with the Boxcar Children

One afternoon, Son #2 sat perched on the sofa watching a movie called The Boxcar Children.  This is a very sweet movie about four children that have been orphaned.  It delves into their adventures as they create a home in an abandoned boxcar in the woods.  My children love to watch this movie.  My oldest son is addicted to the book series and is now on his third Boxcar Children book.  The books and the movie are fantastic.

There is a scene in the movie that has a huge race.  The race is very exciting because the oldest brother of the Boxcar Children is competing in this race.  If he wins, he will receive a big cash prize.  The Boxcar children desperately need the money for food and other necessities.  Son #2 sensed the urgency in this scene and sat glued to the T.V.  My youngest son's eyes were wide with anticipation and his body was tense from the excitement.

All of a sudden the starting gun sounded and the race began.  The oldest of the Boxcar Children dashed ahead of the crowd.  Son #2 saw this and jumped with excitement.  Suddenly, my youngest son wanted to race as well.  He crouched in a corner of the living room and growled.  "On your mark.  Get set.  Go!" 

Son #2 sprinted in circles around the living room as the eldest of the Boxcar Children continued his race.  The music in the movie intensified.  Son #2 responded to the change and picked up his pace.  As he ran, Son #2 screamed in a garbled voice.  Round and round he went.  Past the sofa.  Around the lamp table.  Between the arms of the recliner and couch.  The oldest Boxcar Child rounded the corner and came into view of the finish line.  Son #2 took note of the latest event and began his final lap.  The oldest Boxcar Child neared the finish line.  People in the stands began to cheer.  Son #2 also neared the finish line.  He decided that he needed to cheer as well.  Finally, the oldest Boxcar Child crossed the finish line.  He had won the race!  Son #2 also crossed his finish line.  My youngest son had also won his race!  Son #2 stood in the middle of the living room with his hands raised above his head in a victory stance.  He yelled at the top of his lungs.  "I won!"

"Good job!"  I shouted in return.

Son #2 walked around the living room with his arms held high enjoying his accomplishment.  Then, he flopped onto the sofa in exhaustion.  The race around the living room had taken all his energy from him.  He watched the rest of the movie, cuddled up with his stuffed puppy dog and covered with his favorite blanket.

Monday, January 19, 2015

I Scared

It was a cold wintry day.  I bundled up for work in my thick, dressy coat.  I also accessorized with a matching scarf, ski head band, and a pair of neutral Isotoner gloves.  The biting wind had no chance of going through my clothes that day.  Opening the door carefully, I tiptoed out of the house to my car.  My husband and children were still asleep.  I wanted them to stay asleep as long as possible before facing the icy day.

When my work was complete, I threw on my winter apparel and headed out the door to find my car in the parking lot.  My car was miserably cold as I sat inside.  I could not wait to get to my warm home.  A short time later, I pulled into the driveway and turned off the engine.  I eased the car door open and then sprinted for the front door.  As I put the house key into the lock, I heard a little voice on the other side of the door.

"I open the door!"  The little voice shouted.

I sighed and closed my eyes.  "Hurry."  I called out.  "I'm cold."

Son #2 fiddled with the lock on the other side of the door.  He unlocked the bottom knob.  Then, he reached for the deadbolt.  I jumped up and down hoping to stay as warm as possible.  "Are you almost done?"  I asked trying to stay patient.

"No."  Came the little voice from the other side of the door.  "Hold on."  Son #2 stretched and pushed on the deadbolt.  Slowly ever so slowly, it unlocked.  Then, Son #2 began to twist the bottom knob.  He struggled to turn and pull the door open.  I tried to lightly turn the doorknob and help the little guy out.  From inside the house, my  youngest Son cried.  "Stop it, Mommy!  I do it!"


Breathe Deeply.  

"Let me help you."  I cajoled.

Son #2 caved.  "Alright, Mommy."

I helped him turn the doorknob and then I quickly stepped into the entryway.  It was blissfully warm inside the house.  Son #2 hugged my knees as I bent down to give him a kiss on the head.  "Hi Baby!"  I said cheerfully.  "How are you?"  Slowly, I knelt down and held my gloved hands out to give him a hug.  Son #2 started to run into my arms but suddenly stopped.  His eyes grew wide as he gazed at my hands.  My little baby backed away slightly shaking.

"What's wrong?"  I asked.

"I scared."  Son #2 replied pointing at my hands.

I looked at my hands in confusion.  There were gloves on them.  Could he be scared of the gloves?  It's not every day that I needed a pair of gloves to go outside.  I peered into his eyes and questioned my young child.  "Are you scared of the gloves?"

"Yes.  I scared."  Son #2 responded.  He still would not come near my hands.  Finally, I removed the gloves and put them in my purse.  I held out my hands so Son #2 could inspect them.

"See."  I assured him.  "There are no gloves on my hands."  Then, I held out my hands once more and asked for a hug.  Son #2 ran into my arms.  We snuggled and gave kisses.  My hands were not scary anymore.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Baby's In There

Son #2 was watching an episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood one afternoon.  The episode talked about Daniel Tiger's mother, her pregnancy, and the upcoming birth of his brand-new baby sister.  Son #2 sat glued to the television with his mouth hanging half open.  Excitement radiated over his tiny face.

As the show ended, the melody of the final song hung in the air.  Son #2 scampered to my side while I relaxed in my rocking chair.  He snuggled against my arm and looked lovingly into my eyes.  Then, he said something that made me almost fall out of my rocker.  Son #2 pointed to my breasts currently undergoing reconstruction and innocently stated.  "A baby's in dere."

"What?"  I asked, a bit confused and almost laughing.

Son #2 pointed to my breasts once more and said in a matter-of-fact tone.  "A baby's in dere."

"No no no."  I giggled.  "A baby lives in the tummy."  I said as I pointed to my stomach.  Then to clarify things for my youngest son, I said.  "There is no baby in my tummy.  But a long time ago you and your brother were in my tummy."

Son #2 closed his eyes for a moment.  He looked at the last few pictures of Daniel Tiger and his mother on the television screen.  Slowly, he turned his head back to me.  This time he pointed at my stomach.  "Dere's no baby in dere?"

"No.  There's no baby in there."  I confirmed.

Son #2 looked sad.  I leaned over and wrapped him in my arms.  "You know what?"  I whispered in his ear.  "One of my babies is right here."

Son #2 giggled with delight.  I tickled his tummy and cried aloud for both of my boys to hear.  "I love you, my little babies!"

Son #1 yelled back from his room in mock disdain.  "I'm not a baby!"

Son #2 imitated his brother.  "I not baby!"

"That's what you think!"  I hollered.  "You'll always be my babies!"