You Have the Freedom to Marry Who You Want (Except Your Brother)

I remember being 4 years old and having someone ask me who I was going to marry. Without a moment of hesitation I told them I was going to marry my brother. All of the people in the room began to laugh and someone piped up with, “Oh honey, you can’t marry your brother. It’s against the law.”

Considering he was the only boy I knew at that age and I thought he was pretty cool; I was crushed. At the age of 4 I already began to picture myself as an old maid living out the rest of my days all alone because the one shot I thought I had at getting married was against the law.

Me at the age of 5 all dressed up in my Mom's wedding dress trying to figure out who I was going to marry!

Me at the age of 5 all dressed up in my Mom’s wedding dress trying to figure out who I was going to marry!

As a mother now to a girl and two boys I wasn’t surprised when my own daughter at the age of 4 declared that she was going to marry one of her brothers (her choice between the two fluctuated week to week) when she grew up. I only smiled and said, “That’s nice dear,” so as not to give her the same complex that I had at that young age. When she was still holding on to the dream of marrying within the family when she started school I decided that I better let her know the truth and I figured at least being in a school full of lots of kids she would see that she had plenty of options besides her own brothers. After I broke the news to her that her dream of her and brother standing at the altar wouldn’t be happening she looked at me and said, “Well, is it okay to marry girls?”

My response: “Ummmm….well….(goodness, I wasn’t expecting this question)…kind of, well, I think right now the only way you can marry a girl is if you go to California. Ummmm…actually, I don’t know if it will always be this way though.”

Since my daughter was only 6 at this point it’s no surprise that she had such a confused look on her face to my answer, shrugged her shoulders and walked away to go play Barbies.

Apparently, my daughter forgot about this conversation we had two years ago because a few weeks ago she asked me the same question, “Mom, can girls marry girls?”

This time around I didn’t need to hem and haw. I didn’t need to think about how I was going to explain this. Our country has made some important decisions concerning gay rights and I don’t think we have to worry about them going away. I think the freedoms for the gay Americans are only going to continue to grow.

I confidently told my daughter, “Yes, yes girls can marry girls if that is what they want to do.”

My daughter smiled and said, “That’s great. I wasn’t sure if it was against the law. I’m glad it’s not because I think I am going to marry (her best friend’s name) when I grow up.”

Of course since my daughter is only 8 years old, she has no idea who she is going to marry or whether it will be a girl or a boy. But even at the age of 8, it is just nice to know you have the freedom to marry whoever brings you the most happiness in your life.

This is my brother that I couldn't marry!

This is my brother that I couldn’t marry!

So We Did

I’ve seen it in pictures but it was one of those things that I have always wanted to see in person.

So we did.

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These are my kids in front of Mount Rushmore. What? This isn’t the real one you say. Oh yes, this is a knock-off at Wall Drug in South Dakota. Wall Drug is also another place I always wanted to see after I received a post card from a friend when I was 10 years old stating her parents took her to Wall Drug in South Dakota. In her postcard she didn’t state what it was or what she did there so I had no clue what she was talking about but to me it really sounded like a questionable place to take a kid. It wasn’t until many years later (like 2 years ago) I found out that it is a famous pharmacy in South Dakota.

It is best known for it’s 5 cent coffee, amazing doughnuts, a ton of crazy photo props and a huge T-Rex dinosaur that scared the bejiggums out of our 2 year old!

My husband being a good sport and posing with his 5 cent coffee!

My husband being a good sport and posing with his 5 cent coffee!

I'm pretty sure this is the only place in the world that you can have your picture taken with a huge jackrabbit with a saddle on it's back!

I’m pretty sure this is the only place in the world that you can have your picture taken with a huge jackrabbit with a saddle on it’s back!

This giant T-Rex that roars, his eyes light up and his head moves has turned my 2 year old into a dinosaur hater!

This giant T-Rex that roars, his eyes light up and his head moves has turned my 2 year old into a dinosaur hater!

Honestly though, I have always wanted to see the real Mount Rushmore. As an American it kind of seems like it’s one of those things you need to see before you die.

So we did.

My kids in front of Mount Rushmore

My kids in front of Mount Rushmore

It really is a sight to behold. I’m glad we went to see it. It’s amazing to me that someone not only thought about doing this so long ago but actually executed their plan and brought it to fruition. Absolutely remarkable in my opinion.

Isn't it spectacular?

Isn’t it spectacular?

Another truly great moment on our recent vacation! Two Mount Rushmores in one day!

 

 

 

 

 

Duct Tape for My Heart

As you may know, my middle son, Bency is a rip tail peeler (other people use that term to describe mischievous children right…or is it just my family?).

Bency's Kindergarten picture

Bency’s Kindergarten picture

He is the epitome of what this blog is about…finding the humor in parenting or else you would probably cry.

People often talk about the amount of money it costs to raise a child. Diapering, clothes, food and college tuition are a few items that are often mentioned but I never saw anyone mention the BREAKAGE or the LOSS.

Perhaps it’s because they never parented a Bency.

For Heavens to Betsy (or in this case, Bency) I have never seen so many things broken and lost this year. He started off this Kindergarten year armed with new clothes, shoes, backpack, lunchbox etc. Guess how many of those things made it through the year. None I tell you.

Well, actually, the backpack did make it through only because I duct taped it all over after it got ripped in many places.

this back pack is all duct taped up now!

this back pack is all duct taped up now!

He broke 3 lunch boxes, put holes in every pair of pants, broke the soles off of shoes and has lost 2 water bottles. He also lost several articles of winter apparel and was reduced to wearing two different mittens at the end of March.

Also in Kindergarten you have rest time which requires a rest mat that basically consists of foam that is covered in a nylon fabric. Guess who managed to break their rest mat and have it sent home several times. I refused to go buy a new one so I just kept duct taping up all of the holes where the foam was falling out. With 3 days left to go in the school year he is basically just sleeping on one big pile of duct tape!

Yesterday I sent Bency to school with an umbrella that has only been used 3 times. It came home broken because he said he tried to chop down a tree with it.

I don't think I can fix this with duct tape

I don’t think I can fix this with duct tape

He is a bundle of energy and is always racing through the house and being loud. The other day after a particularly rambunctious episode that left me feeling weary I told him to go sit down on the chair and not make a sound.

He replied with, “Okay mama, but please don’t get mad if I breathe. Sometimes it makes sounds when you breathe and you know we all need to breathe to stay alive.”

I sighed and answered with, “Yes, Bency. You can breathe. I would never get mad at you for breathing.”

And then I walked out of the room and chuckled.

There is something about that boy that makes me want to pull my hair out and laugh all at the same time.

We are about to embark on the celebration of his birthday this weekend. I expect him to break one more thing. My heart. It breaks my heart to see that boy grow older and there is no amount of duct tape to fix that.

Do I look like a rip tail peeler?

Do I look like a rip tail peeler?

Happy 6th Birthday Bency!

I Go Out Walking After Midnight, Out in the Moonlight

Some of you may have recognized my title from the Patsy Cline song, “Walking After Midnight.” However, this story has nothing to do with Patsy Cline even though I am a huge fan of hers. It is actually about an event that took place last week at our house.

If this event had turned out differently; there is a good chance that I would still be sitting in the fetal position, rocking back and forth and muttering incoherent sentences somewhere.

I’ve mentioned before in the story You Can Sleep With Me Forever that my 5 year old son, Bency, has sneaked into my husband and I’s bed almost every night of his life. On the nights that this doesn’t happen, he sleepwalks, and we find him somewhere else other than his bed.

Most of the locations are pretty tame:

the living room floor

the living room floor

his bedroom floor

his bedroom floor

or a living room chair

or a living room chair

However, there was the time that we almost called the police. One night as my husband and I were getting ready to go to bed, I looked in Bency’s room. He was not there! We began searching the house for him everywhere. We looked in every room, every closet and under the beds. No Bency! As I was starting to come unglued I happened to look in the attic playroom and lo and behold there was Bency fast asleep.

sleeping in the attic

sleeping in the attic

We have also had a few instances where Bency has sleepwalked downstairs while my husband and I are still awake watching television. Bency has walked into the living room, pulled down his pants and has come close to peeing on a chair. Thanks to my husband and I’s quick reaction times we have been able to escort him into the bathroom, wake him up enough that he is able to use the toilet. Bency has never had any recollection of any of these occurrences happening!

Now onto my story of what happened last week. My husband and I were in the living room watching television. The kids had been in bed for a few hours. All of a sudden we heard footsteps coming down the stairs that we assumed had to be Bency. Instead of the footsteps entering the living room they went the other direction in the house and we heard the basement door open. My husband and I each shot each other a quizzical glance and quickly got up and bounded to the basement door. When we looked downstairs we saw Bency standing at the bottom of the stairs looking around in a daze.

We asked him what he was doing and he answered with, “Oh nothing, just going to go to the bathroom.”

We responded with, “No, No Buddy. You’re in the basement. There’s no bathroom down there. Come back upstairs and we’ll help you into the bathroom.”

So Bency gingerly made his way back up the stairs and my husband helped him into the bathroom.

But what happened next will explain why if we hadn’t found him right away and ushered him into the bathroom would have caused me some serious cleaning and possibly mental toil.

Bency had explosive diarrhea.

In unrelated news. I finally finished my children’s book yesterday! I sent it off to be made up and it will be shipped to me soon. If everything looks good, I will be holding a giveaway on my blog’s 1 year anniversary July 6th! Here’s a sneak peak of the cover:

the cover of my book, What's in the Bucket?

the cover of my book, What’s in the Bucket?

 

Every Moment in Time

I take an obscene amount of photos every month. I whip out my camera almost every day to capture something special, something I deem cute, something that makes my heart sing.

Cesar enjoying swinging

Cesar enjoying swinging

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Taken the other day at the park

Taken the other day at the park

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I often ask myself, “Self, is it really necessary that you take hundreds of photos every month? Do you really need to capture every moment?’

The resounding answer is always, “Yes. Yes it is important to me. For every one of these great moments there are an equal number of not so great moments. During those times I can reflect on those incredible instances. I can look at those photos. I can think about those memories. I can trust in the knowledge that this too shall pass and just over the ridge there will be another moment that will make my heart sing!

Let's face it, life has plenty of these moments too!

Let’s face it, life has plenty of these moments too!

 

 

 

Someday This Will Be a Law

Have you ever heard about some of the ridiculous laws that some states have?

Take for instance, in Alabama you may not have an ice cream cone in your back pocket at any time or play Dominoes on Sunday.

In Billings, Montana no person shall raise pet rats.

Do not try to put a coin in your ear in Hawaii because yes, you guessed it, it’s against the law!

I'm sure in some states it's against the law to play hopscotch in rain boots and no pants!

I’m sure in some states it’s against the law to play hopscotch in rain boots and no pants!

There are hundreds more equally strange laws in different cities and states across the country and I found myself thinking about them the other day when the kids and I were driving down the street.

As we were driving, my 5 year old son, Bency, asks, “Mom, is it against the law to drive backwards down the street?”

I immediately said, “Yes! Well, ummmm…..I think so. Well, I don’t know. If it isn’t a law, it should be.”

I tried looking up the answer to this burning question but have yet been able to draw a definite conclusion if this is in fact a law. However, you can bet your patootie that when Bency reaches driving age I will be constantly monitoring him because if anyone would try to drive backwards down the street, it would be Bency.

I'm sure Bency is trying to figure out how to put this car in reverse!

I’m sure Bency is trying to figure out how to put this car in reverse!

This also brings me to another burning question. How in the world do these strange laws get enacted?

I’m taking a wild stab in the dark here but if I had to guess based off the examples of weird laws I gave above; I would be willing to venture they all have a fed up mother behind them.

If I had the ability and drive to put a new law into place I certainly have a few in mind.

I have a feeling this might be against the law!

I have a feeling this might be against the law!

My most recent annoyance has been stickers. You know those big stickers that people hand out to kids at stores, doctor’s offices, fairs etc. The ones that are encouraged to be put on your child’s shirt as soon as they receive them. Yes, those little gifts of kindness that my children enjoy receiving are one of my biggest pet peeves.

Why you ask? How could a simple sticker be the bane of my existence? Well, the problem with these stickers is that we forget about them and the clothes go through the wash with these stickers still adhered. After we pull them out of the dryer the sticky substance is still there in a perfect rectangle with bits of the paper still remaining. I either have to deem these clothes as a lost cause or sit for hours trying to get it off. Just this past weekend I pulled out my favorite sweatshirt and there on the front was a sticky patch left over from one of the kids putting their sticker on me!

I’ve had enough of stickers and am ready to march down to City Hall and fight the fight. I want the production and doling out of all stickers to cease.

I want it to be a law!

Look closely at Bency's shirt...yep, it's one of those stickers!!

Look closely at Bency’s shirt…yep, it’s one of those stickers!!

 

All of Their Belongings Fit Into a Volkswagen Beetle

Have you ever found yourself wondering how different expressions come about? Take for instance the phrase, “Bite the bullet.” People often use this expression when they are referring to taking a chance on something. This expression came about due to a dangerous army practice in the 1850’s. Prior to using their rifles, soldiers had to bite off the head of the cartridge to expose the explosive to the spark which would ignite it. This was extremely dangerous and needed courage and firmness to pull it off.

In our family we have many expressions. Many of them are originals. I owe this fact to a particular reason.

They came about because my mother and father have been together for a long time. They are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary today. They got married young, came from the same area and know all of the same people. They have many inside jokes.

For instance, when the house gets a little messy one of my parents will say, “It’s starting to look like the Coggins around here.”

Apparently, a family that they both knew from their childhood days were not very good housekeepers. I have no idea who the Coggins are, but seeing that I have heard this expression over 5000 times in my life you better believe that when things are getting a little out of control in the upkeep of our household I say, “It’s staring to look like the Coggins around here.”

I am determined to keep this expression alive, along with many more.

My parents started from meager beginnings. They started out their life living above my grandparent’s general store. They soon moved into their own apartment with their new baby. My Dad went to college and worked full-time. My Mom worked as a nurse and took care of my sister. When my Dad graduated from college he received a job offer 3 hours away, working for the State of Wisconsin designing roads and bridges.

My parents say they moved themselves, my sister and all of their belongings across the state in a Volkswagen Beetle and that included a rubber tree plant.

My Dad always brings up this fact whenever my mom brings home a new piece of dilapidated furniture she recovered from the thrift store to refurbish. He then adds, “Now we would need two semi-trailers” which my mother likes to retort with, “Well, if we didn’t have that stupid treadmill in the basement collecting dust we would have more room.”

They’ve added more than just belongings in the past 50 years too. They added 2 more children, 10 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren with one more due any day. Plus many memories….many, many memories.

If you ask them how they managed to stay together so long their answer would be because they are best friends and they know that no one else would put up with them.

However, I do know one other key element that is part of the longevity of their marriage.

Whenever my Mom gets angry with my Dad and yells something along the lines of, “Gosh darn you (insert my Dad’s full name here), why on earth would leave grape jelly blobs on the counter? Why can’t you just wipe them up gosh darn it?”

My Dad busts out in a baritone version of Brenda Lee’s “I’m Sorry” song.

Happy 50th Anniversary Mom & Dad!

I’m so glad you “bit the bullet” and got married and stuck it out all of these years!

Mom & Dad's Wedding Day

Mom & Dad’s Wedding Day

Memories, Like the Corners of my Mind

Memories,

Like the corners of my mind

Misty water-colored memories….

It has been brought to my attention by my mom that my memories and some of the things that I recount here on my blog aren’t always factual when it comes to my childhood.

Remember when I said that my older sister gave me a home perm when I was a kid? Well, it was actually my mom that gave me the perm. My mom has finally figured out how to comment on WordPress so now if I get some facts wrong she will kindly set the record straight. Also, my aunt pointed out the other day that my Grandma didn’t eavesdrop too much on the party line. My dad may have exaggerated a bit that it was often.

The point that I’m trying to make is that everyone’s memory of a situation is different…especially when it comes to a kid’s memory.

Someday, I want my children to read this blog and see all the wonderful and not so wonderful memories of their life and their family’s history.

So today I am writing this post for my 5 year old son Bency.

When Bency was 3 years old he tackled his then 5 year old sister, Iris, on the recliner in the living room. She immediately began screaming, “Get off of me, you’re hurting me! Get him off of me…he’s hurting me!”

I was sitting on the couch adjacent to the scene and my husband was sitting at the computer desk next to them. After we both asked Bency to get off of his sister and he made no motion to discontinue his jumping on his sister, my husband reached over and pulled Bency off of her.

We heard a pop.

Both my husband and I looked at each other with wide eyes and then Bency let out a blood curdling scream.

Bency began holding his elbow and continued to scream at the top of his lungs. We instantly knew that something was seriously wrong so without a second thought we scooped him up and we all raced to the doctor’s office 5 minutes away.

Once inside the clinic, they immediately ushered us back to the examining room and the doctor came in within minutes as Bency laid in my lap still crying softly. He briefly felt Bency’s arm and elbow and then looked at me and said, “This will only take a second but hold him tight and expect a pop and a scream.” The doctor quickly pushed and turned and within seconds we heard the pop and Bency let out a yelp. Bency cried for a few more seconds and then we asked him if his arm still hurt. He thought about it for a moment and then answered, “no” and proceeded to hop off of my lap and start jumping around.

The doctor then explained that this is a common occurrence in children between the ages of 1-3 years old and is often called nursemaid’s elbow. It happens because the ligaments in that area haven’t fully developed at that age. You have to be extremely careful not to pull a child by their elbow. There is however no permanent damage done and it just pops back into place.

We breathed a sigh of relief and after spending a mere 15 minutes at the doctor’s office we left with a happy boy.

Over the last few years we have brought the story up occasionally because it was slightly horrific at the time. Also, Iris was 5 years old and remembers it quite vividly so she has told her brother that his elbow popped out of his socket. Bency, however , obviously doesn’t remember the situation at all.

The reason I believe this is because last summer Bency said, “Mom, do you remember the time my elbow popped out of my socket and blood started spewing all over? There was blood flying everywhere and my bones were poking out and you were trying to get my bones back into my body?”

I immediately sat Bency down and told him the whole story and assured him there was no blood involved and no bones were poking out of his body. I went over it a few times to make sure he fully understood. I was certain I had set the record straight.

A month ago at the dinner table Bency said, “Remember the time my elbow came out of my arm and all of my skin started melting off of me and all of my fingernails fell off? It was so terrible. The skin was literally just peeling off of me. And bones just started falling out of my body and blood was just dripping everywhere.”

I let out an exasperated sigh and once again found myself telling Bency the whole story all over again. Step by step. Every detail. I once again reiterated that there was no blood involved. No skin peeling or melting off. No bones protruding or falling out. Not one fingernail fell off.

So Bency, this one is for you. This is the real story. Please don’t tell people “your version”!!

Can you believe my bones were falling out and blood was everywhere and my skin was melting off??

Can you believe my bones were falling out and blood was everywhere and my skin was melting off??

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Engrave a Ray of Sunshine on my Soul

Is compassion something learned or is it born into us?

I watch the daily interactions between my children. Sometimes I see moments that engrave a ray of sunshine on my soul. Other times I witness acts that make me wonder if solitary confinement is the only way to successfully achieve peace in a house with three small children.

One of those sweet moments of Bency reading to Cesar when he was a baby

One of those sweet moments of Bency reading to Cesar when he was a baby

We have a basket of blankets in the living room that are for any ones use should they get cold. For some reason my 2 year old, Cesar has formed a strong attachment to the red fleece blanket in the basket. Even though there is an exact matching blue one and my 5 year old son, Bency, doesn’t prefer one over the other he will grab the red one if he sees Cesar entering the room just to start a battle. It’s moments like these that make having more than one child difficult.

But then there’s instances that occur like the one last week. It was my daughter, Iris’s 8th birthday. In the past I have taken Bency to the store to let him pick out a small gift for his sister. However, this year things got busy and I found no time for this outing but I did pick up two ceramic unicorn statues for each boy to give to their sister on her birthday.

As Bency gave Iris her gift I heard him whisper something to her. I saw her give him a smile and a nod. I couldn’t help but to ask what was said. Bency looked at me and in the sweetest voice said, “I told her that I had really wanted to buy her a unicorn swimsuit. Maybe someday I can get that for her.”

Those words melted my heart.

Iris does love unicorns and a honestly, she really does need a swimsuit for this summer. It would have been the perfect gift and this sweet, little 5 year old boy knew that because he loves her and knows his sister so well.

Two days ago another touching moment occurred.

Normally I help Cesar brush his teeth in the morning. When he requested my help Saturday morning I told him I was busy and to hold on a minute. Bency immediately piped in with, “I can help Cesar brush his teeth.” I was a bit taken back by his offer because Bency has not really shown any nurturing qualities in the past but I agreed that he could help.

I noticed that the boys had been in the bathroom quite awhile so I decided to go check in.

When I peeked in, I saw Cesar sitting on the stool and Bency sitting there lightly brushing Cesar’s hair. Bency looked up and said, “I already brushed his teeth but I’m just trying to get his hair looking good too.”

As I stood there speechless just taking in that moment, Bency also asked if he could help Cesar get dressed for they day. I proceeded to witness Bency remove Cesar’s pajamas and help him into his shorts and button-down plaid shirt.

Bency wasn't always a hands on kind of brother. Sometimes he would ask, "What's wrong little guy?"

Bency wasn’t always a hands on kind of brother. Sometimes he would ask, “What’s wrong little guy?”

Later that day, my two older children and I went to the grocery store. As I pulled in, I noticed an old lady struggling to push her shopping cart across the parking lot. By the time I got parked and got the children out of the van, she had made her way to her car. I immediately went over to her and asked if she would like help putting her bags in her car. She said she did.

I helped her and we talked for a few minutes before the kids and I headed into the store. I did not discuss this with my children and they did not bring it up.

Should I have explained why I did this or do my children already know.

To lend a hand when you can. To lend a smile or a nice word. To buy a unicorn swimsuit…or at least tell someone you would if you could!

You're never too small to lend a helping hand

You’re never too small to lend a helping hand

 

Weekend at Grandma’s

As indicated by the title I am sure you have surmised that my children spent the weekend at Grandma’s. This is in fact true. You may have also felt your mind wandering to the movie Weekend at Bernie’s and are imagining that my kids had one heck of party while they propped “dead Grandma” up in a corner.

Weekend at Bernie's...image courtesy of Google images

Weekend at Bernie’s…image courtesy of Google images

In past overnight visits with Grandma this is not that far off base. My husband and I pick up the kids late morning only to find a once very tidy house looking like a tornado has swept through. The children are running around like lunatics still in their pajamas and uncombed hair throwing Cheerios and marshmallows in the air and Grandma sits in the recliner looking like death warmed over in a comatose state.

Even though my Mom raised three children herself, we were all spaced out quite a bit so she never had 3 little kids running around. My kids are all small yet so they all demand guidance, supervision and some level of help. I am somewhat accustom to the demands and expectations that this involves but am not immune to the knowledge of the amount of work and exhaustion this brings. Through the years I have developed a set of guidelines I expect my children to adhere to at home so that things run somewhat smoothly. However, when my kids go to Grandma’s house all of these rules and regulations go out the door.

My children convince Grandma that food should be doled out every hour, there is no such thing as bedtimes, clothing is optional, every toy in the house should be taken out and cleaning up is not necessary. It’s not that my Mom doesn’t try to enforce proper behaviors but after a few attempts she just gives up when she realizes the effort it would take and comes to the conclusion that it’s only for a short time and her most important duty is to keep the children alive and let them have fun.

However, this past weekend was different. When we picked up the kids, the house was tidy. The children were sitting quietly playing toys in their clothes. The came and gave us hugs and began showing us the stacks of crafts and projects they did with Grandma. Grandma looked vibrant and youthful.

I think weekend at Grandma’s was a roaring success!

We arrived back at our house at noon on Saturday and unloaded the kids from the van.

The youngest had fallen asleep on the way home so I immediately brought him up for his nap.

When I came back downstairs I found a most unusual sight. My two older children who never take naps….were sleeping! All of the kids slept all afternoon and my middle son only woke up long enough to go up to his bed and go back to sleep until the next morning.

Iris asleep on the couch Saturday afternoon

Iris asleep on the couch Saturday afternoon

Bency just fell asleep on the floor

Bency just fell asleep on the floor

Apparently, even during the most successful weekend at Grandma’s there is still no such thing as bedtimes!