Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bunk Bed Jumping

One of my standard to-do items over Christmas break is to tidy up the digital photos from the year. Well, it did not get done the last two years so I have been fighting through a lot of photos purging, purging, purging, and then purging some more. This is always an activity that should be done with CrazyMom held at bay. If there are twenty shots of the exact same scene she will deem them all worthy of archival since each infinitesimally different expression on a child’s face makes every photo have infinite value.

In going through the photos, I discovered the following photos from May of 2007 which I did not take.

When I asked CrazyMom about them, she laughed and said, "Well, there was adult supervision," conveniently omitting exactly who that adult was.

These photos really were a great find. Now whenever CrazyMom says, "I don’t think what you are doing right now with the kids is an appropriate indoor activity" I can say, "Yeah, kind of like bunk bed jumping."

Friday, December 26, 2008

I’m Not White!

For over a year our family has been listening to the Chronicles of Narnia on audio CDs. We normally listen when we are all in the car, but the other day when we pulled into the garage from church we were at a particularly good part of The Silver Chair. I agreed that we could listen a little more once inside.

As we started reconvening around the stereo inside, K.D. was anxious to get started.

"Come on, Dad! Start playing it!"

"We can’t start yet. Not everybody is here," I replied.

K.D. looked around. "There are two brown kids and two white kids. That’s fair. Start playing it, please!"

"Hey, who are you calling white?!?" Little Foot objected. "I’m not white, I’m tan!"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Family Christmas

For all of you who read the last post and felt a twinge of "Oh, we ought to sleep under the Christmas tree, too" I have just two words for you - forget it.

OK, I’m back now. Just as I wrote the words "forget it," Anna called out and CrazyMom and I dashed upstairs to find Anna about ready to vomit . . . again. CrazyMom is super fast and would have made it to the bathroom earning a perfect score of 10.0 for vomit control except that she ran Anna and herself full bore into a closed bathroom door. It sure is a bummer that the night light in the hall is not brighter. CrazyMom still scored an impressive 8.7 on the maneuver because she did not drop Anna and was somehow able to prevent any unwanted liquids from hitting the carpet. Unfortunately, most of it was inside of her sleeves. By the time I arrived on the scene (my dashing is clearly slower than CrazyMom’s dashing) Anna was standing in the bathroom as CrazyMom was whipping everything into shape.

"How are you doing, Anna?" I asked tenderly, knowing this is a difficult situation for anybody.

"I’m good," she said perkily unfazed by it all.

Anyway, as I was saying, forget it. Sure these are the things family memories are made of but the memories are things like your back hurting from trying to sleep on the couch, not sleeping because Anna is coughing the whole night through, not sleeping because Anna is throwing up, and not sleeping because when Anna throws up every kid wakes up. On the bright side, you get a much earlier start on opening presents.

Anna started out marginally OK this morning, but was fading fast. We called the doctor and they wanted us to come in ASAP because they were hoping to go home. That did not work for us since we were having our Christmas so we delayed, finished our gift exchanging, and then CrazyMom took Anna to urgent care.

Now I am certainly not glad that Anna was sick, but we had one fantastic time while mom was gone. We purchased four very sweet laser tag guns (my idea, obviously) and spent hours running all through the house playing laser tag. The great thing was that since CrazyMom had to leave right after the presents were opened there was no time for me to discuss with her what the house rules should be. This meant that I got to pick the house laser tag rules on my own. We started with some lame rules about keeping it to one floor and the like, but they soon were all thrown out and we were just left with "You can’t swing your gun and hit somebody" which the kids would never do, but it makes it sound like I had some rules. The only problem with the afternoon was that CrazyMom kept calling me on my cell phone to give me updates on Anna. I felt obligated to take the calls but in doing so I would give away my position in the house. Such is life, I suppose.

Shhh . . . Not a Creature is Stirring

CrazyMom and all of the kids are asleep now "under the tree." Traditionally our family sleeps in the family room alongside the Christmas tree on the eve before we open presents. Because of how our schedule is working out this year, tonight is our Christmas Eve.

"Dad, do we have to move all of the presents?" Anna asked me earlier today.

"Uh, no. We don’t need to move the presents," I replied, unsure as to why she would think that we needed to.

"But we need to," Anna insisted.

"Where do we need to move them to?" I asked.

Anna shrugged. She did not know where they needed to go. After a pause she said, "But how are we going to sleep under the tree?"

Then I got it. I explained to her that we were going to sleep in the same room as the tree, but that the whole family was not really going to sleep under the tree.

As I look at the kids sleeping now, it is remarkable how peaceful it is compared to the vivaciousness of our day. This peacefulness stands in stark contrast to several hours ago when we had our first ever family pillow fight. We started with a full family melee, but soon realized that it was better to do groupings by age, as you can see in the videos.

The kids had such a great time that when I suggested that we should do this every year at Christmas they objected. It was clear that they thought pillow fighting should be on the agenda far more frequently.

I should give credit where credit is due, however. The family pillow fight idea came from an email from Family Man Ministries where Todd talked about his family pillow fight. It sounded like a wonderful idea and so I told CrazyMom to pick up some extra pillow cases the next time she was at the thrift store. Tonight when we let the kids open a present early they were pretty excited . . .until they found the gift was a used pillowcase.

After the pillow fight we settled in for some reading before bed. When we finally turned out the lights, there was still quite a bit of squirming, coughing, and last minute runs for forgotten stuffed animals. But like the tide which is slowly but inevitably retreating, the commotion faded and kids drifted off to sleep one by one.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ties that Bind

During a pre-church laptop session this morning I was trying to put the finishing touches on a Sunday school lesson when I noticed Buddy standing by my side. How long he had been there I could not say given how absorbed I was in my work. Buddy made no demands, seemingly content on watching me fly around on my laptop copying, pasting, reformatting, and printing.

Eventually Buddy said, "Dad, can you tie my tie?"

These words snapped me out of my work and I noticed for the first time the red plaid Christmas tie draped around his neck.

Why these words grab my attention stems from the fact that as a teacher, I occasionally have a privilege that is not mine - teaching a fine young man how to tie a tie. It almost always occurs when a student athlete faces their first game and the team is wearing a tie during the school day in anticipation of the game. Coming to my room with a tie in hand is usually an athlete whose father was not there in the morning to help them put it on, often because the father is no longer in the home.

I immediately rise taking off my tie trying to make it seem natural for me to help him. Standing side-by-side in the gray-walled computer science lab we do a half Windsor knot. I am pleased that I could be there for the moment. It is also a time where I recommit to myself to be there for my boys so that I can be the one who shares this distinctive father-son rite of passage.

Since Buddy is not old enough to tie a tie himself and I can’t do it facing him, I stood behind Buddy reaching around him to do the job. He was all smiles as I wrapped up and I also smiled for I could feel the positive vibes in the air that come from a moment of connectedness - an intimate moment as far as fathers and sons go. I smiled too because I was there to experience the ties that bind a father and a son.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oh, Whoever You Are!

(Note: Enough of you have complained to my children about me not posting for awhile that you have won. They have diligently passed along your calls for a post pushing it to the top of my list. I have to admit that I am unsure about the power that you have over my family!)

It is common knowledge that parents, in the middle of trying to get a particular child’s attention, have a hard time coming up with the right name. I often find myself calling in rapid pseudo birth order many of our children’s names when trying to address a child.

If that was the worst that it was, I would not feel too bad. But . . .

I sometimes will say, "Buddy! Little Foot! K.D.! Oh, whoever you are! Pick up those toys right now!" I am desperately trying to curb the "Whoever you are!" because it is borderline derogatory. But in the heat of the moment after I have gone through three, four, or even five names and have not hit the right one yet, it just slips out.

If that was the worst that it was . . .

Tonight I hit a new low. I had the youngest two boys "helping" me fix the gas fireplace. I had to go settle a date-on-the-milk-jug issue (clearly a story for another post) and upon my prompt return, one of the boys had already disappeared.

"K.D.!," I yelled, a little agitated that he had run off.

"Yes," said K.D. who was standing a few feet in front of me probably wondering why I was calling so loud.

It did not register. In my mind the kid in front of me did not have the name I was calling.

"K.D.!" I yelled even louder, now a little more than agitated because I knew he could not have gotten that far yet and was probably ignoring me.

"I’m right here, Dad." K.D. said again. This time it registered. I was yelling the wrong name.

"Oops." I said.

"Little Foot!" I yelled next.

"Here I am!" Little Foot said. He was hiding three feet from me and pretty tickled because he could see what was going on the whole time.