Friday, March 17, 2017

Mr. Musket and Mr. Steven Musket

Wednesday was Clementine's fifth birthday. Every morning for the week leading up to the special day, she would wake up and ask me, "Is it my birthday?"

For six of those seven days, I would have to tell her, "No, not today. Wednesday." Or, "No, not today. Three more days." Then, "Two more days." Until, finally, "YES! It's your birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Sweetie-Pie!"

I am currently in my management class learning how to buy furniture on the government's dime before heading out to Jordan. No more shift work. At last, for a few more weeks, until I go back downtown for a few months before we ship out. That means, I get to be home for breakfast and dinner, though I have to head out the door by 8:00 to leave myself enough time to ride my bike to where my class is being held.

I spent most of the day sitting through my procurement class, occasionally receiving updates on how Clementine's day was going. She and Elise went to their new neighborhood lunch spot, Mike's Deli for philly cheesesteaks and pinball. Only the pinball machine was turned off, much to everyone's chagrin.

When I got home from work, I found everyone in the backyard, playing in the snow that had fallen the day before. After temps that reached almost 80 degrees in February, we received a few inches of late-March snow and mercury cold enough to keep it on the ground a few days (it's still too icy for me to ride my bike to work).

Clementine had requested an apple pie for her birthday, so when I opened the back door to the kitchen, I was immediately greeted by the aroma of baking cinnamon and spices. A few moments later, Elise would unveil a bubbling pie from the oven. The kids soon followed me into the house. Clementine has also requested sushi for her birthday dinner, and Elise was originally going to run by Whole Foods and buy some sushi and potstickers for dinner, but a neighbor stopped by in the afternoon with a present for Clementine, and after they all sat down for tea and before she knew it, it was time to run down to the corner to pick up the boys at the bus stop. We momentarily contemplated running to a small, cozy Japanese restaurant nearby, but no one could vouch as to its quality, so we decided to order pizza instead.

As we waited for the pizza to arrive, Clementine got to open her presents. She was visibly quaking with excitement, unable to physically hold still she was so excited.

Once the pizza arrived, we all sat down at the table and began inhaling the cardboard-like pizza. As the calories, carbs, and sugars began to hit Pete's bloodstream, he filled with energy and began his nightly comedy routine. Dinner manners are quickly set aside (despite our best efforts) as Peter breaks into stand-up. He finds himself hilarious. Fortunately, so do his brother and sister. One night, he told us about two teachers at his school, Mr. Musket and Mr. Steven Musket.

"Are they brothers?" I asked.

He said they were. One was a P.E. teacher and the other was a science teacher.

After dinner, the nightly struggle of getting them from the dinner table to the bath or shower began. We would put a candle in the pie and sing Clementine happy birthday once everyone had run through the rain locker.

Peter and I were goofing off in the hallway outside the bathroom. I was helping him take off his socks while he was pretending to pee on my head. It was actually pretty funny. We were all laughing when Peter walked naked into the bathroom, stepped into the shower, pulled the shower curtain closed behind him and fell.

To be continued...

Friday, February 17, 2017

Father and Son

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Mexican Food Tasting

After Sam's Ancient Civilization food tasting, Peter did a tasting of Mexican food at his school. (Both of the boys are taking Spanish and doing well. Peter tried to speak 'Jordanish' this morning at the breakfast table. I wasn't sure if he sounded more like he was speaking Korean or Klingon. He actually sounded a little bit like Greedo from Star Wars. That being said, I'm excited for them to pick up more Arabic than the word 'tizu' (butt).)

I'm not exactly sure if this qualified as 'Mexican food' though. It looks like a cube of cheddar cheese to me!

Sam's Valentine's Day Party

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Change of Weather (Or Why Trees Creak in the Wind)

Less than 24 hours brought a complete 180 in the weather. Three days of sun and temps in the upper-60s finally gave way to the cold, dark heart of mid-February in Northern Virginia. The wind whipped the bare branches of the trees in our neighborhood. When the wind blows, and its force moves the trees, the trees do not move uniformly back. As living organisms, the trees are in a constant state of growth. The muscle fibers in their trunk and branches are all at different stages of development -- some are fully mature and dry, some are new and full of sap. As the trunk and branches move, different areas of the wood respond differently. Some move a good deal, some don't move at all. Different fibers with different tensile strengths which are in close proximity react -- or not -- to the force of the wind, rubbing against each other. The tree creaks in response. Sometimes, hauntingly.

I came home yesterday to an empty house, snow flurries outside. Elise and Clementine had gone to a play date. They would stop at Target for new leggings for Clementine. She is growing. Fast. Unlike the trees in our neighborhood, she is all new and full of sap, and now none of her socks, underwear, or leggings fit her anymore which leads to a nearly daily break-down as she attempts to get pull herself into clothes that are two sizes too small. Unsurprisingly, this is frustrating. Not understanding why something that fit perfectly well just last week, is now riding, up, bunching, or rubbing. Tears ensue. They roll down her pinkish cheeks like marbles, clear and solid-enough looking that you want to pick them right up off her cheeks to make her feel better.

She also got a new superhero doll, though she wasn't allowed to open it yet. Elise is having to take Clementine with her to her three-hour hair appointment thanks to my crappy work schedule and lack of a regular babysitter. As a reward, she got to pick out a new doll at Target. DC Comics has a new line of Barbie superheroines: Wonder Women, Supergirl, Batgirl, et al. Clementine picked out Poison Ivy. Even in DC Superheroine World, even the criminals and villianesses now do good in Superhero High. Poison Ivy is the star of the botany department. I didn't have the heart to tell her, Poison Ivy was in Batman's rogues gallery.

Elise has been busting her ass for the past three days pulling out all the stops for a huge job she had gotten from Remy Martin. After a late night Wednesday doing food styling for a cognac tasting, she was exhausted. Needless to say, no one had anytime to go shopping, much less plan a meal, and no one was in their right mind to try and cook anything. Dinner out was in the cards (pun'll see why in a minute). Pete had other ideas.

When Elise bought Clementine the Poison Ivy doll, she was thoughtful enough to buy Peter and Sam each a pack of Pokemon cards for being so good on Monday and Tuesday -- the two teacher-planning days they were home from school.

Only -- as I've written previously -- Pokemon cards are like crack for Peter.

Pete ended up having a huuuuuge meltdown, and while there was no direct or overt cause-and-effect relationship, Elise and I are pretty sure it's the fact that Sam got a rare GX card in his pack and Pete didn't that sent him spiraling down into inconsolable despair.

When we announced that we were going out to dinner (and to one of our favorite pizza places, no less, Lost Dog), Pete freaked out and started screaming that he was hungry, "NOW!" Okay, fine. We're going to get something to eat right NOW, but that wasn't good enough. I offered him a banana, pineapple, grapes. He wanted none of it. "What do you want?" I asked him.

"A jelly sandwich."

There was the two ends pieces of a loaf of wheat bread in the fridge. I turned them inside out, so the insides were showing, and smeared huckleberry jam on the end pieces. I put the two ends together, so the insides were facing out and Pete wouldn't know I had just given him the two butt ends of bread. thankfully, he didn't notice and scarfed it down. Problem solved.

Or so I thought.

He continued to scream, telling us he wanted to take a nap. Clementine is learning to sleep without a pull-up on, but she didn't make it through the night and woke me up at 2:45 after wetting the bed. We then woke up Peter and Sam changing her out of her wet pajamas. This might explain why he was so tired and cranky. But my money is on the Pokemon cards.

Pete stormed off to his room, slammed the door, and slunk into bed. I went in their to try and talk to him, to convince him that he would feel better once he got out of the house and something to eat, but he wasn't having any of it, and, frankly, I was too tired to fight him. I feel like I sleepwalk through weeks that I am on opening shift, never really sleeping. I feel like I spend most of the night staring at the alarm clock, waiting for my 4:00 a.m. wake-up call. I didn't know how tired I was until I came home from work early on Wednesday. After picking Clementine up at school, taking the bus to Einstein's for an after-school treat, and walking home, we took a nap. I slept for an hour and a half and when I woke up, I felt like a new man. I chatted with the other parents at the bus stop and struck up conversations with people on the street walking there and back. I wondered what had gotten into me. Sleep.

I came out of Pete's room, and told Elise to go without us. Take Sam and Clementine. Just bring us back something. They left. Reluctantly.

Eventually, Pete emerged from his room. I didn't want to reward him for his tantrum by giving him extra special one-on-one treatment, but part of me also thought maybe that was just what he needed. I let him watch an episode of Star Wars: Clone Wars on the iPad,while I made him buttered noodles. When he was done with dinner, we played the "blowing up ships" game, the game where you fold a piece of paper in half and each player draws an armada of spaceships on one half. You then take turns trying to blow each other's ships up by penciling circles on the paper and folding it over to see if they hit. Its kind of like a poor-man's Battleship.

It may have been just what the doctor ordered. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Indian Spring

I'm not exactly sure if there is such a thing as an 'Indian Spring', but if there is, we are defintiely experiencing it now.

We've been blessed by uncommonly warm weather for the past three days. Fortunately, the spring-like conditions have coincided with two teacher planning days at the boys' school. 

While I'm at work, Elise has reported back that everyone played outside pretty much all day.

Yesterday, she sent me the following photo, taken after they had gotten back from the library. I asked her if she had been transported to an alternate dimension!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Movie Birthday Party

Sam spent Saturday morning at the movies with friends to celebrate his classmate, Kaelynn's, birthday. It was his first really big solo outing with friends (and Kaelynn's mom).

Of course, mom and dad (and Pete and Clem) were close by. We hung out at the mall, too. I was going to take the younger kids ice skating, but the with temps in the 20s, I decided it was too cold (for me, anyway!). We followed Elise around as she did some shopping before stopping for lunch at Wasabi, a sushi restaurant where the plates of sushi come to your table via conveyor belt. It was more for the novelty. The food was okay -- not great. Pete loved the dessert that was shaped like Pikachu and tasted like a Twinkie, and sushi is Clem's favorite. When she and Elise do the weekly shopping (at Whole Foods on Mondays), Clementine always orders a cucumber-avocado roll and finishes off the WHOLE THING! It was more for the novelty.

After the movie, Sam and his friends had a special lunch at T.G.I. Friday's. I could tell it was exactly what he needed to do, because he was kinder and gentler with his younger brother and sister in the afternoon.

I'm not exactly sure what he is doing in this next picture. I think it's a dance move. He calls it "dabbing" (??).

I just wish he hadn't covered his eyes.