Translation: “Sorry, Jesus, that you got shooted by humans.” (Repeat x 4)
Ever since “A” week at his preschool, Simon has taken a special interest in acorns (we collected a few to take for Show and Tell that Monday). A few days ago, he found that a couple of his treasures had cracked open a bit, and he wondered if maybe that meant they were ready to grow. So to test his hypothesis (thank you, Dinosaur Train), he and Jason (with Ian tagging along, if I remember correctly) headed out to plant the seeds.
The next day as we were shuffling kids out the door and into the van to get to church, Jason and Simon took a quick detour to water the acorns. As Simon headed back toward me and climbed into his carseat, I could tell something was wrong.
“Did you water your acorns, buddy?”
“They were dug up. The sqwooowuhs [squirrels] stole them.”
(And I just have to pause here a moment to laugh at how quick my temper flared and how incensed I was at those darn squirrels. What right did they have? Those were NOT! THEIR! NUTS! A fierce and swift mother love is triggered at the slightest injustice—perceived or actual—done to my child).
“Well, silly squirrels. How do you think they knew they were even there?”
He paused just long enough for me to know that he was really considering the question, and said, “Well, maybe they hear-ed me and Daddy talking yesterday when we planted them. . . . Or maybe they smelled them.”
“Well, shoot, buddy. That’s disappointing, huh?”
And I thought that was probably the end of it.
[A few minutes later, from the back of the van] “Mommy? I think we can build a remote control robot, and then from inside the house you can just push a few buttons and the robot will make a really loud noise to scare the sqwooowuhs: a Real Dinosaur Roar!”
Jason and I laughed and told him that sounded like a good idea and that maybe he could invent that kind of remote control robot. Then Simon and Ian happily spent the rest of the ride to church plotting their revenge on the poor squirrels with ever-more-imaginative devices. By the time we arrived, they had thought up some kind of remote control (of course) knight/volcano that runs on “gas and water and pizza, but not fuel” and that swings its sword at the squirrels and pours hot lava out of its mouth.
I think the real takeaway here is that I have a lot to learn about boys.
One of the ways that Jason and I are very, very different is in how we approach food. I love to experiment and am ever trying to cajole my family into eating “the same thing” but a more healthful version. Jason is opposite: if he finds something he likes, he sticks with it—he does not see the point in deviating from the tried and true. To his credit, he does always try what I make—and will keep his opinions mostly to himself for the boys’ sake. My latest attempt was (the really delicious, in my opinion) Black Bean Brownies. (FWIW, Jason prefers Betty Crocker’s Frosted Brownies.)
Me: Do you like it?
Jason: I don’t not like it.
Simon: What did you say?
Jason: I said, “I don’t not like it.”
Simon: What does that mean?
Jason: It’s called “diplomacy.”
Simon: What does that mean?
Jason: It means I’m trying to be nice.
Simon: Oh. It kind of sounds like you don’t like it.
Jason (to me): You’re loving this, aren’t you?
So, as I mentioned, Rebecca and I have decided to do a two-week fast from sugar. To be honest, I really didn’t think it would be that hard. I mean, I am doing this because I’ve been eating a lot (a LOT) of sugar, lately, but I can quit any time I like. Right?
The temptation started before I even got out of bed this morning. Simon, bless his little heart, offered to share the jelly beans that he had taken home from Grandma’s birthday party yesterday. (We told him that he could eat them “tomorrow.” He doesn’t kid around. He was out of bed and immediately remembered the jelly beans.) I had one in my hand before I remembered they were off limits.
Next up, breakfast: I was feeling strong and perhaps got a little cocky: I made muffins for the boys and the friends we had over for a playdate. It was kind of amazing to me how many times I just automatically reached for a muffin. I never did give in, but it was almost comical how often I had to stop and think and then not eat!
Naptime was the worst. I realize now that that is the time that I raid the pantry, always for something sweet. I made myself a cup of coffee, which took the edge off just enough, but good grief, I was wanting something—anything!—sweet.
I’ll pause here in the chronological rehash to confess what a cliche I am. I think I wanted to eat sweets today for just about every reason—habit, boredom, frustration, convenience, reward for some little task, craving, thought popped into my head, “I see it. I want it.” (family joke), and so on. What strikes me most is how mindlessly I can grab something to eat. I am thinking that if I want to make it through this that I’m going to have to dig at least a little deeper emotionally—cliche but true. And I’m going to have to have some serious guns to replace both the habit and the craving, which brings me how we almost lost the house tonight.
I have found that a cup of coffee, along with tasting pretty darn amazing alongside a good dessert, will also often be enough to curb the desire to eat something sweet. After dinner I decided to make another cup (it would have been my third). To make a long story short, I turned on the wrong burner and cracked my baking dish and melted the handle of the can opener and, well, could have burned the house down.
Come to think of it, in the hubub of cleaning up the mess, I never did make that coffee. I sure could use a little sumpin’ sumpin’. Sigh.
We have been blessed with kids who, left to their own devices, would sleep until at least 8:30 or 9 every morning and a church that meets in the evening, so Sunday is a day we usually get to sleep in. This morning was an exception, though. Ian was up by 5:30, Clara by 6:30, and Simon by 7. Clara tried to make it up to her daddy with a little pre-lunch nap for both of them.
I’ve had it in my head for a couple of weeks that I wanted to do a little photo shoot with each of the boys. Somehow, as if I didn’t know any better, I thought that we would, without any fussing or arguments, load up in the van and, at just the right time of day, head out to some idyllic, quintessentially autumn location (probably Pioneers Park). Once there, we would have found the perfect light with plenty of time, and Jason would have played with one of the boys while I captured the carefree shenanigans of the other—tossing leaves up into the air, stacking pine cones, doing somersaults, or looking directly into the camera with an impish grin. Then we’d switch kiddos and I’d catch boy #2 being completely himself as well. The colors would be rich and amazing! There’d be no stray cars or outhouses in the background! The light would take your breath away! The boys would be wearing killer-cute clothes, and their faces would be clean and snot-free!
Ahem. Instead . . .
I decided rather late in the day that the photo shoot should be right! now! I was, of course, neglecting to take into account the fact that the magic hour of light is also the witching hour. So instead of all that stuff I said before, we were looking at a fit that only a three-year-old could throw and that left ME in tears. What was it about? Shoes? Jacket? Candy? I can’t even remember now. As part of the Tantrum Suppression Agreement, we settled for Cooper Park across the street (strike the peaceful lake; strike the tall prairie grasses; strike the woodland paths; cue the playground already fully shaded; cue the grumpy mommy who had something else in mind).
I left the house with the camera and our mostly compliant youngest child, while behind me I could hear Jason and his mom, who is here visiting for the weekend, riding out of the end of the wrath of Simon. I’m not sure what negotiations had to go on, but it wasn’t too long before Simon emerged calmer, almost happy even, and with a dinosaur in tow.
It would be wrong of me to say I learned some profound lesson about gratitude, expectations, spontaneity, or even parenting. At the time, I was able to let go a bit and enjoy the moments of true delight in my adorable kiddos and in my wonderful husband, who never ceases to blow me away with what a great dad he is. Still, if I’m honest, I was still frumping about my expectations being blown, and I went home almost as grouchy and frustrated as when we started.
In the end, I didn’t get all those amazing shots I wanted (and, as I’ve written about before, maybe they weren’t even possible). But, yeah, we had some fun (she admits reluctantly):
And by “Village Pie,” I do not mean Village Inn–esque or anything of the kind. I mean simply that it took a village to make this pie.
We picked out Simon- and Ian-sized pumpkins (and plenty of apples too). From the beginning, Simon was insistent that we make a pumpkin pie with his find. Did he want to make a jack-o-lantern? Nope, pumpkin pie.
On a Monday two weeks or so later, we roasted the pumpkins.
Except for scooping out the seeds (not my favorite), roasting a pumpkin is surprisingly easy. Simon and Ian were good helpers too. They didn’t like the “yucky strings,” but they did like scraping the insides of the pumpkins once I had most of the grody parts out. I put the roasted pumpkin in Mason jars, where they sat looking beautiful in the refrigerator for another four or five days.
Then on Wednesday Simon insisted it was the day to make the pie. I didn’t have a pie crust (I find the ones in the refrigerator section quite tasty enough and oh-so-convenient), so I thought as long as we’re doing the whole fresh thing, I might as well give making my own crust from scratch a go. I found a recipe that looked pretty straightforward (and, bonus, I had all the ingredients on hand). Simon didn’t want to help this time, but somehow I managed to get the crust made without my little sous chef. The crust then sat in the refrigerator for a couple more days.
On Friday I decided the pumpkin and the crust either needed to be used or frozen, so I asked Jason to roll out the crust. (He is so, so much better at rolling out dough than I am. He learned from his dad, I think. Truth be told, Simon is probably better at rolling out dough than I am. He also paid close attention to Grandpa Morehead. It is a talent I simply do not possess.)
Finally the time had come to make the pie! I found the easiest recipe I could (and made a few modifications to suit my own spice preferences—added cloves, cut back on the nutmeg, e.g.). We (and by “we” I mostly mean Jason) whipped up the filling and popped the crust in the oven to pre-bake just a little).
Meanwhile . . .
Simon must have decided that he wanted a trauma and scar to match Ian’s recent adventures. Just as we were getting Ian’s jammies on, I heard a bump and a scream from Simon’s room. He had been running “weally fast” and tripped somehow and cut his forehead open when he hit it on his space heater. I will say that this was considerably calmer this time than our last trip to the ER. Jason called Rebecca, who came immediately to fetch Ian (bless her! I don’t think she even knew at the time what had happened, just that we were taking Simon to the hospital). Simon was done crying before we even left the house.
We tried to prepare Simon for the fact that he would probably need stitches. He was totally calm on the way to the hospital, dutifully holding a washcloth to his head while he chattered on about how it had all happened. He did say, “Mommy, I don’t like bleeding.” I don’t think anyone does, kid. And his one question when we told him that stitches meant the doctor would sew his forehead up was what a sewing machine for boys looked like. Good question.
He was quite the charmer in the ER, telling everyone who would listen how fast he had been running, that he weighs “firty” pounds, that he’ll be four! on his next birthday, and so on. At one point the nurse told him he was being a very good patient. “Yeah, I suppose I am,” he said. In the end, he didn’t get stitches, just glue (he was disappointed). And by now, you’d hardly know it happened (he has such a crazy amount of hair to cover), but he will have a scar to rival Ian’s.
And back at home (and back to the story of the pie) . . .
Rebecca and Liv came to put the Squisher down to sleep. Jason had turned off the oven but hadn’t thought to take the crust out. Rebecca to the rescue! I am so thankful for friends who took such good care of our kiddo, the pie, and, um, also of our house (I am particularly fond of the “also” link—love the sweet, sly expression).
We ended up baking the rest of the pie after Simon was safely tucked into bed. The end result was really quite good—but probably not quite as good as the saga of getting it made might have warranted.
Sadly, not all the hands involved got to partake of the Village Pie (which has now been polished off), but hopefully Rebecca for one was at least partially mollified by Baked Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes, made from the same pumpkins.
“Mommy, remember a long, long, long, loooong time ago? That time we went fishing on Papa’s boat with Daddy and Papa? That was fun, wasn’t it? But we didn’t catch any fish. Nooooooo, we didn’t.”
So we survived our first trip to the ER.* To make a long story short, while we were in St. Louis this past weekend, Ian was climbing on a chair and lost his balance and hit his head on a windowsill. As you can see, four stitches later he is doing just fine and hardly the worse for wear.
I knew when I saw the (really deep!) cut that he would need stitches. I also knew that wounds on the head bleed a lot and that, despite that, I needed to stay calm because Ian would read my fear. I tried. I really did. But, I’m sorry, my BABY had blood running down his face! So much blood—all over him, all over me, all over the carpet and microfiber chair** (which I had actually worried about earlier when Simon scraped his knee near the chair and drew blood), all over the carseat. Seriously, a lot of blood. And, yeah, I panicked. A little. In the whole scheme of things, I think we did alright.
The ER itself was a decent experience, all things considered. They got us in immediately (a toddler’s face covered in blood and and a very frightened mother helped I’m sure). There was no parking, so Jason had to park a couple of blocks away (ugh). The admitting nurse kept telling me, “It looks worse than it is,” which apparently was true because after the initial triage, we waited in a room—long enough for Ian to fall asleep, actually. Then after the drama of getting the stitches (seeing him restrained/helping to restrain him was so, so hard on this mama), we waited again for paperwork (and again, sweet kiddo fell asleep).
I was so sorry to miss dinner with Brook and Lou, Jason, and Chloe, but by all accounts Simon was well behaved and had a good time without us. I can’t even begin to say how thankful I was for our friends.
Jason was, of course, amazing throughout. And later it occurred to me how nice it was to get through the experience together and without any arguing (even in the TAKE THIS EXIT! and NO! TURN HERE! driving moments). I’m so deeply grateful for him and was especially aware of that during this surreal evening. I tried to rehash again with him on the way back home to Lincoln, and his response was so classically Jason: “With all due affection, honey, how many times are we going to have to process this?” So he wrote down his feelings for me, so I would always have a record:
The follow-up literature the hospital gave us said that the scar could be minimized by applying sunscreen once a day for a year. I have mixed feelings about that. In theory, it would be nice to minimize the scar, but realistically, I’m not going to remember sunscreen every day. Also, Jason was a little horrified (or at least feigned horror) at the thought of downplaying Ian’s first “badge of honor.”
* We actually did take Simon to the ER once, but this was our first panicked, bloody, plan-out-what-you’ll-say-to-the-officer-who-pulls-you-over type of trip to the emergency room.
** Apparently, club soda does wonders to remove blood from microfiber and carpet. Blot, don’t rub. Phew!
My name is Renae, and The Grand is where I keep thoughts, observations, and photos from my life.