Auntie in Jersey Day Four: In which we are prey to the vicissitudes of a squirt's sleep cycles, and in which I anoint my nephew with divine coffee
I was asked if Ian moaned and groaned about attending school on his way there, since he was apparently heavily stressed about his writing assignment. Honestly, he didn't have time for such things between shrieks of laughter as I ineptly attempted to wrangle the might mini-van beast. Mostly the driving was ok, although I continued to insist to him that it was just a matter of time before I hit something, because I didn't realize how big the car was. And ... maybe starting the drive with the parking break on, much to the vocal disapproval of the mini-van itself. Aaaand maybe needing him to take the keys to open up the back doors, then chasing him into the back of the minivan to retrieve the keys, insisting that I knew he'd lock me out and go on a joyride if I did not.
Of course once we started to stop, things went completely awry. He'd first suggested that I park and walk him in, so I pulled over and then couldn't unlock the doors first. I continued to push buttons, until the car refused to do anything. Ian, who insisted that he had been joking about being walked in, told me to just drive to the drop off point, but the car didn't want to start. Or give me the key back. After minutes of us both shrieking like hyenas, either he or I put the car in park, put all the breaks on, took the key out and started again. But of course I forgot to put the car in park when he got to the drop off point, so the door - once again - would not open for him. When he finally left (doubled over in stitches at his utterly silly aunt) he left the door open, and I had to crawl over the seats to shut it before a far less eventful trip home.
Being relieved of driving duties for the morning, I accompanied my sis and the younger 'uns to drop Braden off at Gym and Swim. We snuck out during the "gym" part to get a few errands accomplished, and generally see just how much we could push it with a cranky toddler who wanted to walk anywhere but where we went. He was pretty good in the grocery store. Rachel sat him in the base of the cart and he was momentarily contented jamming lunchable packages into the corner of the cart. Once he grew weary of that, I was on leash duty, which more or less involves holding onto some part of his clothing when he's about to go on a tear and getting the reproachful look of death when his intended trajectory towards whatever is the most dangerous or socially inappropriate object in the room is stymied by my intervention. Each trip involved at least one gleeful moment and one minor tantrum. Each return to the car involved a puissant rage, followed by a Herculean effort on my part to keep him from falling asleep in the car. Let's be clear, Sam could not fall asleep in the car ahead of schedule! Doing so would ruin his nap, forcing us to drive in the car for an eternity at peril of having an even crankier baby all day. Had he fallen asleep in the car ahead of schedule, we would likely have been stuck driving in the car for the subsequent two or three hours so as to avoid these consequences. Which would have been tough for Braden, since his class was only an hour long.
At some point in this juncture, I got coffee. Which was a good thing, even if Wendy's is not stellar for the fortitude of their brews. Those coffee cups are not - as it turns out - created for the kind of on-the-go life style of your average baby wrangler.
I am honestly impressed with the gymnastics I accomplished to both snatch my nephew from multiple jaws of death (or as he would put it - fun things) and manage to keep the larger part of my coffee. It involved a whole lot of holding the lid tightly in my teeth and an even lot more praying. Of course I eventually managed to get the coffee mug entirely on its head (and onto my nephew's head), as I was picking up my errant explorer in the ladies changing room of the pool. Fortunately it was quite tepid by that point, but I still felt like CPS would be leaping out at me with tsks and reams of reports to fill out. No such ill luck, I'm glad to report, and the coffee made his hair quite lustrous, in my opinion. Later, for good measure, I changed a diaper that turned out not to need cleaning (hey, a gal's gotta practice) and replaced it with a quite shabby effort at organized diapering.
In other news, Braden is quite the aquatic dervish (really, he enjoys spinning around and around and around). Ian was inspired by my advice that sometimes with writer's block, you just start writing nonsense and things you don't even care about, and suddenly your hands will just take over and write something you never expected. In his case, it turned out to be about a planet made of lava with diamonds, so seemed to have served him well enough. And, despite his aversion for pretty much all food (at least when it comes to actually eating instead of mashing it into other people's faces), Sam actually loves 80% Godiva dark chocolate squares. The child has good taste.
Anyways, it's a busy day on the horizon and due to the grand "maybe Sam should sleep with mommy and daddy since he's fussy" experiment nobody got enough sleep last night. I have been warned that it's going to be a particularly peevish sort of day for all involved. But then, fortunes changes. Maybe there will only be ten or twenty meltdowns for every heart-melting and totally worth-it moment! That does seem to be the necessary ratio.
Auntie in Jersey Day Five: Darth Toddler, Basketball and Play Date Diaries
As the weather turned from pleasantly pellucid to snarly-cold and strewn with snow, so turned our morning! The harbingers of doom were all pointing towards a dour and fractious day... Sam seems to have a cold. New theory: baby isn't fussing because he's teething, but because he's sick! As long as there's a reason, we're somewhat more ok. But, he does sound like some manner of a cross between a farm animal and a Sith Lord. It's piteous This meant Sam didn't sleep. So Rachel and Ryan didn't sleep. So the boys somehow picked up on all the insomnia and may not have slept much either. Braden was certainly up for second shift sleep interference just as Rachel was about to throw herself into a power reverie at about 5:00 a.m. this morning.
There were some predictable battles before breakfast. A number of polar shifts between delightful giggling and sniveling snaps. I am afraid I may have gored yet another of my nephews with my nails. The first time was playing thumb wars with Ian when she started gripping my hand tightly (thus driving my nails into his fingers). This morning, it was unintentional aftermath of physically pulling Braden off of Ian (whom he was choking and who needed to go brush his teeth to get to school). Braden said that I'd pay for this, but seemed to have forgotten the slight a few minutes later. Hopefully CPS is still at bay.
Ian seemed immune to the surliness of the morning, despite quite the little explosion of emotion last night having something to do with cleaning up army guys and/or doing his reading. He and I finished our first crossword and he insisted on starting a new one. this time he's doing the writing, so it's making it a little bit more challenging. His handwriting is not... well... sterling and even he can't figure out what letter he wrote sometimes when we go back for cross clues (I told him that he must be related to his Gramma Pam with her inscrutable client notes). I may have snuck back after he'd gone and "clarified" some of the more ambiguous letters.
The dark cloud of Braden parted briefly - and tentatively - for Braden's post-school playdate with Max. Max and Braden are besties and then some. They don't take each other's crap, and are both a tad obstreperous and contrary in a complementary manner. They rapidly dubbed me Mr. Cuckoobutt Macaroni and Cheese... or was that Rachel? As appropriate to soul-brothas, they eat matching mac and cheese on matching Thomas the Tank plates, with matching strawberry milks in matching planet glasses from matching green straws, with matching sides of pirate booty in matching bowls. Max even waited outside the door dutifully while Braden took care of his postprandial bathroom business. At least for a few minutes before he started knocking on the door and asking how much longer he was going to be (Braden's answer: "I just started. This does not involve you").
Incidentally, "number two" apparently does not involve Max, but peeing is totally ok for open-doored joviality and jokes about urine in hair. But, poor Braden had quite the struggle (yes, having children and/or a relative with any major illness will forever cure you of any social hangups surrounding detailed discussions of bodily functions), involving a few sobs and some teary pleas for intervention. he still won't eat his fruits and veggies, but these are naturally totally unrelated. My sister resorted to sneaking miralax into Braden's milk, hoping to god Max didn't drink it by accident with his matching-everything cup. Not that drugging your children's friends into dire diarrhea scheduled to hit just upon homecoming isn't a great way to widen their social circle, of course.
It was a Wendy's evening, so that Ian could go to his hour long basketball class and Rachel could narrowly evade total nervous breakdown trying to juggle the driving and cooking and wrangling. Braden gnashed his teeth, and threw his fits about such cruel punishment. Then he devoured a bacon burger and suffered a few giggling fits between his usual insubordinate ones.
Ian, got out of basketball - of which he'd be wary right up until it started - utterly abuzz. That carried him well through homework period and I even had a chance to read to him after his homework, which speaks well to his general compliance with his reading requirements. Lest it appear that I am painting him as the "good child," I will point out that obviously, he is a little sadist when it comes to his brother, Braden, and he was certainly roiling the grump-beast all yesterday. His greatest accomplishment yesterday was to call Braden up to his room and then - just as Braden looked bright eyed and came running - to smash him in the face with a pillow and say he wasn't allowed to come. Naturally, that spawned at least a crying jag and a half.
Daddy-Ryan, who is trudging through his own endless training at work, got home particularly late and equally dazed. By a few miracles, there was minimal resistance to bedtime, and even Rachel and Ryan went up for an early night after the regular evening phone call from my Dad. He and I communicate via email (you'd never guess that somebody with my typing-fingers would gravitate towards textual communication), while he and my sister are perpetual phone-gabbers. I am insisting that he talk to me while I am here, since he keeps calling. I get the legal questions, and she gets the deep grilling on the boys. It works.
Me, I'm relatively well-rested and ready to take on Darth Toddler and a day of errands and meteorological blegh.
Auntie in Jersey Day Six: In which I finally see The House, little bits of cinnamon and spice invade the home, and snotty cold-monster remains a bit inconsolable.
The day began somewhat promisingly, looking at runway collections online with Ian. Since this is one of my favorite snarktivites with my fella back home, I was delighted to find and equally receptive partner in the viewing, and one who could just as easily say "oh no, she forgot her pants, poor girl!!" I thought he'd look quite nice in a Dolce & Gabana piece with a rustic crown and a bit of the dress cut off into a shirt. We continued the search for the perfect outfit for him, which left him in hysterics straight up through school.
Braden, who blessedly slept in, declared himself the world champion slider for the morning, which was far better than his prior morning's "world champion hater of all things not exactly what I irrationally demanded in the moment." Sliding - which sounds like curling, but is an entirely different sport invented by Amuricuhns darnit - involves running across the kitchen and then falling down, perhaps sliding a bit in the result. As most sports inevitably fall pray to commercialism and extremism (hopefully not performance enhancing drugs just yet!) this evolved into doing the same carrying a sword, a nerf machine gun and a captain america costume turbaned about his head.
Our big early trip of the day was previewing the house. My sis and fam are in the process of a highly involved real estate embroilment (Vietnam's got nothin' on your average real-estate closing in my brief vicarious experience). After many bumps along the road, they are getting theoretically closer to to finalizing the purchase of their new house. Well, we think it'll still be their new house - the deal is set, but they haven't closed yet!! There's always time for another snag, and it's a frequent topic of conversation and deconstruction in the household and throughout the neighborhood (live in a place as intimate at Mountain Lakes and every one will know everything about your interpersonal transactions in time).
The home itself is currently buried in stuffed turkeys and peasants, but there's a sparkle underneath the rough. Previewing the house involved interacting with the current owner, a Brobdignagian shade of 80's power suits past. I felt this woman could at any moment devour me whole, or alternately try to sell me a time share in Barbados. They are Southern folk, and she carries some of those trappings I suspect, although far more brash than genteel in her manner. The third floor had a closet the size of my bedroom, and a separate room exclusively for the vanity and associated "beauty" products (including a magnifying mirror that could spot atoms in a lady's pores). I can't even begin to describe the gravity defying gymnastics of her short but fluffed coif. She seemed "nice" enough, at the time, but I've heard stories. Since I was the one tending the toddler and likely to be holding him while he inevitably broke into a screaming fit after being denied access to some thing that the current owner of the home wanted to keep intact, I was a tad impatient with her need to discuss absolutely everything in some detail and never let us go.
After a drawn out conversation about landscapers and other home related nonsense, we carted a fussing sickly baby to the future-neighbor's home (friends of Rachel) for some tea and snacks, until Sam fell asleep in her arms. And then fell asleep in the car. And then was totally zonked right up until I turned the lamp off in his room. At which point he perked right up, or at least flared right up for another good fussy couple of hours.
The nap fake-out was merely the beginning of the kiddie-carnival, including a nap-abridged toddler in full meltdown just when his mother had conveniently gone to pick up another kiddo, a deluge of fruit juice cast over homework assignments (naturally necessitating a hair dryer and a goodly amount of paper towels), two cute little girl-guests who (I am told) have a complicated love quadrangle thing going on with my two elder nephews, the near-annihilation of several lives and electronics, and some high-tension counting to ten stand offs between mother and sons. The boys have narrowly avoided losing their weekend kindle time, having their guns thrown out, and not getting dessert. Rachel has narrowly avoided rubber wallpaper and nice new medication regime.
As one would expect of this sort of break-down day, Ryan had his own dramas at work and got home extremely late only to have to call back into work immediately upon arriving home... the mood after 8 (last bedtime) was... sedate. Well, except for Sam's version of the evening which involved waking up and screaming just about when the business call was finally concluded and every one was on the way to bed. And then again. And again. Etc. rinse and repeat.
Today is a (light) snow day, which simultaneously excites me (ooooh childhood wonderment with snow!!!) and terrifies me (oh god, I have to drive a minivan in this?). I am told that the snow means every parent's worst nightmare: late start day!!! AAAAAAAH - now talk about Snowpocalyse.
However, I managed to hold a raging snot monster until he stopped sobbing over his daddy going off to work. I would say that I calmed or soothed him, somehow, with my babblings about pretty snow and deft and mellow manner, but I have learned better than to develop any hubris with which to taunt the baby-gods. Mother-fortune smiled on me once this morning. Who knows how much longer I shall bask in that glow!