Browsing Archives for December 2008


Mere seconds after Drew was born, he located his thumb, stuck it in his mouth and began to suck on it madly.


He continued to suck on that thumb throughout his babyhood, into his toddler years and finally broke himself of the habit while he was in kindergarten.  He still sleeps with his hand covering his face, but his thumb rests on his cheek.


I am sorry to tell you this, but in my experience, thumb sucking babies are the most peaceful babies in the world. Drew was miraculously content as an infant, which was such a nice change from the utter and complete tyrant that Ethan had been.  Of course, Drew had a few advantages. He had two older brothers to entertain him night and day and he also had his thumb, his ear… and my ear… and anyone’s ear that came within his grasp.   


He sucked on his thumb and twiddled his ear… or any ear within twiddling distance… most often his own ear… which resulted in Drew having a very malleable ear.  He got into the habit of twiddling his ear and then tucking the upper part of his ear into his ear canal and walking around like this for hours.  We would be grocery shopping, or in line at Wal-mart, or at the park and suddenly I would notice other mothers giving my son sorrowful glances or looking at me with mournful eyes.  I would then look over at Drew and say, “Drew, take your ear out.”  

And he would.  
He would just pop it out and go back to playing. 
Then the mothers that had been giving me and Drew a mournful look would pretend that they were giving a mournful look to someone just past my left shoulder.   


A few years ago, I took Drew to see a doctor (not his dad).  The doctor gave Drew a well-child check-up and then looked at me and said, “So what about his ear?”  

I did not know what the doctor was talking about and looked at him with a confused expression on my face.
The doctor grew kind of uncomfortable and did not want to hurt Drew’s feelings, so he spelled it out saying, “uh… his um… his… L.E.F.T. E.A.R.”  
“His what?”  I asked.
The doctor continued stammering, “He seems to have a minor uh… problem… or uh… unusual uh… formation… with his left ear…”
“OH!” I said, suddenly realizing what he was getting at…”Drew take your ear out.”

Much to the doctor’s amazement and relief, Drew healed his own ear right then and there.  
I laughed pretty hard.
The doctor not so much.

Drew can only tuck one ear these days.


He has a few other talents, but none are as impressive as the old tricky ear.  I am sure it will serve him well in life.

Board Games with the Brethern

December 24th, 2008

It’s been miserably cold lately. 

Have I mentioned the coldness? 
Have I told you yet that I am freezing? 
Hey guess what… IT”S COLD! 
Breaking news… CDW is freezing to death. 
This just in… it’s winter in Kansas! 
Did I say that it was chilly yet?
I can’t feel my fingers.
Forget the sofa, I am sitting right on top of the heating vent.  
Warm toasty buns…
Everything is freezing except for my buns.   

I hate winter…

I mean… uh… er… I am not particularly fond of winter.

So winter means having a roaring fire in the fireplace. With four sons in the house and a rare chance to play with matches, it’s not too hard to get someone to build a fire around here.  If there is a fire in the fireplace than that means that everyone wants to curl up beside it.

There are no televisions or video games in our living room, so to entertain themselves while sitting in front of the fireplace, the kids can either stare at the walls, play with the laptop, read a book, wrestle with each other, or play a board game.  Since they are way too familiar with the disastrous side effects of having a parent that stares into space and that same parent has zero tolerance for wrestling matches in front of an open flame,and that same parent is using the laptop herself, I often find my sons either reading or yes… playing a board game in front of the fireplace. 
Which makes us look at little homeschooly.  
Which we are not homeschooly.  
We are not homeschooly at all.
If we were homeschooly, my sons would be dead and I would be in prison for their grisly demise.  
So according to several of my readers… here is my third installment of what would appear to be a homeschooling blog… except we don’t homeschool.
Because… no.


This is my eldest playing Monopoly with my youngest.

Or you could also say that this is my eldest son circling my youngest son like wounded prey, just waiting for an opportunity to make him squeal like a little girl.
Which happens approximately every three seconds whenever these two are within thirteen miles of each other.  
  

Here is my eldest playing with my second son Ethan.  
Over the years, Ethan has grown wise to the ways of “The Calder”.   See how Ethan is staring him down.  Watching him… just waiting… he has learned to be prepared and to never drop his defenses.

He is wary.  He is ready.  He has learned his lesson well.

Can you see it?  In Ethan’s eyes.  I think that is called murder.

Still, eventually Calder will get Ethan to squeal like a little girl.  Not as often as he used to, and these days, Calder is going to pay dearly at the hands of Ethan, for that squeal.
Still, Calder will make it happen.  
It’s just not fun for Calder until someone squeals like a little girl


Then we have the two youngest sons.  

In this photo, Drew is actually teaching Jack how to play Chess.


Jack is the baby around these parts and trust me, he reaps all the benefits and the rewards of that exalted position as well as all the punishing blows that come with being the most defenseless male in the tribe.


Except that Jack is not even close to being defenseless as he is wise in the ways of plying his mother’s fears and stirring up her protective instinct.  

Even with all that against him, Jack truly only trusts one person in our house and this is his brother Drew.  He listens to him, he learns from him, he does what Drew tells him to do.  
It is a strange relationship that I will never fully understand.  
I am just glad there is someone around here that can make Jack do something.  
Otherwise I am afraid of what would become of that stinkin’ rotten, spoiled, st

ubborn, never listens to anything I say to him, anger management issues, freckly, squishy, smootchy, wootchy, snuggly, buggly, little tiny tater tot kid… my baby.  

Yes, he is ruined.
And ultimately… 
I am pretty sure….
That it is my fault.

I believe I may have accidentally stumbled upon one of the secrets to a happy life. I was watching “Remains of the Day” starring Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, and Christopher Reeves, when it suddenly crystalized in my mind, but before I explain it to you we are going to have to visit my tawdry past.

Back in the olden times, when I was in college, I saw the movie “Mystic Pizza” starring Julia Roberts. I was deeply moved by the film and came to the conclusion that “Mystic Pizza” was the best film ever made and that Julia Roberts was the world’s most talented actress.
Then I went back to my dorm and spent the next two years perfecting the Julia Roberts pouty lip thing, which I am proud to say, I eventually mastered.

Several years later, I saw “Remains of the Day” and I thought it was stupendously boring.
Fast forward twenty odd years – and when I say odd… I do mean odd.

At some recent point in those last twenty years, I rented “Mystic Pizza” to watch again in an attempt to bring back my misspent youth. I was shocked and appalled to discover that Mystic Pizza was not the sweeping romantic epic that I had remembered. Instead, I found it to be silly and spastic and out of control which perfectly matched Julia’s big frizzy hair and her quivering lips. I could not remotely comprehend why I had loved that movie so much.

Then a few days ago, I watched “Remains of the Day” again… and it was wonderful. I was deeply moved and I came to the conclusion that “Remains of the Day” is one of the best movies ever made and also that that Anthony Hopkins is one of the most beautiful people ever made.


Um… well okay… maybe not, but still really a great film and completely opposite of “Mystic Pizza”.

Which makes me wonder if I am completely opposite of myself of 20 years ago?
And if so, how did I do that?
Twenty years ago, I loved nothing more than watching people express themselves passionately in hugely embarrassing ways, while proclaiming their feelings to the universe! These days I love nothing more than watching people who are highly suppressed, seemingly made of stone, barely able to take a deep breath, attempt to communicate without ever displaying an an ounce of emotion.
Well…except for the tray.
In the movie “Remains of the Day” the tray is a symbol of love, respect, friendship, humility, loyalty, care and concern People are always putting things on trays. They put tea on trays, and sandwiches on trays, and crystal decanters of amber alcoholic beverages on trays, and cake on trays, and breakfast on trays, and late night snacks on trays. They even put the newspaper on a tray… but only after they IRON it first!
Something about putting something on a tray… carrying it to someone… placing the tray in front of them and then serving them from the tray… this tray thing… it makes me happy. It makes me want to live my life via a tray. I want to put everything on a tray. I also want everything brought to me on a tray. Please bring me my shoes… on a tray. I need a pencil… please place it on a tray and carry it over here to me. I would love to pet the kitten. Can someone please put her on a tray for me? Darling, could you please bring me the phone… on a tray… not that tray… the other tray… the nice tray… yes… thank you. I would like my breakfast on a tray please… in my room… shut the door when you leave. Shall I bring you that tire iron on a tray dear? Yes, yes I will be happy to bring you a light bulb, but first I need to get a tray. You need me to hold the flashlight while you screw that light fixture into the attic ridge beam? How exactly do you expect me to properly aim a flashlight when I am also balancing this lovely tray of tea and sandwiches? I am going to need you to bring me a tray of two tickets to Paris please. Right now please. I said now. NOW!
Feeling low… put something on a tray. Holidays got you down…. try making some cocoa, placing the mug on a tray and then serving it to yourself. Credit card debt? Uh…. Perhaps a mini-tray to keep your cut-up cards on as a reminder to spend less?
All I know is that a tray makes everything better.
That and having a butler that irons your newspapers for you.