Thursday, August 26, 2010

Overdue for Some Luck at the Library

It will come as no surprise to anybody that my children and I are regulars at our local library. Before Benjamin started kindergarten I don't think we ever missed a weekly story time--and for the past three years at least the summer reading club has been at the top of our agenda for June, July and August.

This year Ben and Janae were among the first to get their reading medals,

and we have not missed any of the music shows, magic shows, science shows--we even made it to the PJ puppet show and the stuffed animal parade. We are--without a doubt--some of the library's most devoted fans.


One down side to these events, though, is that at EVERY one each of the children gets a ticket for a draw that is held at the end. This sounds like lots of fun--and it is to most of the kids--but unfortunately my children have a . . . let's call it "healthy spirit of competition," which makes it hard for them to understand why they don't win a prize.

I have had many talks, particularly with Benjamin, about being happy for those who win, reminding him that in these situations many children have to take turns at being the winner.

The problem is that even though we are always there, we NEVER win.

Then last Friday, our luck changed. We had attended a Mad Science show, where we learned all about things like flash paper and dry ice. Ben was amazed. Janae was impressed. Even Alaina was entertained.


At the end of the show the children's librarian went up to the front with her tin can full of ticket stubs. I tried not to groan and resisted the urge to quickly escort my children out of the room. Ben and Janae scurried over to me with their tickets, and I listened as the first set of numbers was read. I looked at Ben's ticket, and realized IT WAS THE WINNER!!!!!

You should have seen his face. His mouth was wide open and his cheeks were burning with excitement as he ran up to the front to get the coveted yellow paper that would later be turned in for a book and a toy.

After all our years at the library, finally we had won.

Then yesterday--Wednesday--only four days later--we went to the library again to hear a children's musician perform. As the presentation ended, the draw began, and once again we looked at our tickets. This time I didn't feel any stress or anticipation. Ben had just won, afterall.

But as the fifth set of numbers was read, we couldn't help but notice that THEY MATCHED JANAE'S TICKET!!!!!

Janae had been a good sport about Ben winning, but she was more than excited to have her own turn. She got a highligher with three colors (which she has been drawing with all last night and today) and a book of poems called Alligator Stew.


I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later, but twice in one week??


Do you think we should start playing the lottery or something? :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Excellent Plan . . . Actually Worked!

Before Alaina was even born, I had a feeling that we were heading for some serious sibling rivalry. After she arrived, my fears were confirmed--for the most part, Janae was not very happy to have a little sister.

Of course, I have tried lots of things to help the sisterly relations along--and we have made some progress over the past year. Now we are at the point where Janae will see a baby item at the store and say, "That would look so cute on little Lanes" (a nickname Janae came up with for her sister).

Since Janae loves clothes, and dress-up is her favorite thing to play, I thought it might be fun to get Alaina involved--so the girls could play together. But putting Janae's fancy dresses on Alaina hasn't always gone over very well.


(Alaina playing with Ben's Star Wars Lego doesn't always go well, either!)

So, when I saw a little fairy princess dress, in Alaina's size, in our price range (i.e., previously owned), I thought this might be the missing piece of my plan.


And it worked!


Alaina loves the dress (which makes crinkly sounds when she walks), and Janae loves having a little fairy princess to chase around.

I think Janae is actually starting to discover that it is fun to have a little sister :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Reflections on a Third Child's First Bandaid


Everyone knows that children born later in a family have a much different experience from those born earlier. One small illustration of this, which my sisters and I often noted while growing up, was that while we had about a thousand baby pictures of the firstborn (who happened to be me!), we had only a couple pictures of baby number four (and even they were not taken until she was about six months old!). Observing families in general, it is clear that things just seem to change as more children come along.

Even though I am aware of this, and have made extensive efforts to demonstrate total equality in the ways I've treated each of my children as babies, our family seems to be falling into this apparently universal pattern.

Sometimes this is a good thing. For example, I cannot count how many times we rushed Benjamin to the hospital emergency room--one time simply because he had been crying for 10 minutes. No other symptoms--just crying! Janae went to emergency only a handful of times as a baby (every time with croupe), and Alaina has NEVER been to emergency . . . even though she is almost a year old!

We are definitely much more relaxed with number three.

Unfortunately, though, this sometimes means that #3 gets less recognition for accomplishments (we've seen it all before!), less attention when upset (we can tune out so much more!), and--just generally--less fuss for any reason at all.

There is no question that things have deteriorated in the record-keeping department as well. When Benjamin said his first word, I rushed to the baby book and documented it in full detail (where we were, why he said what he did, what he was wearing . . .). When Janae spoke, I made a note on the calendar. When Alaina spoke, I made a mental note . . . and my mental notes not being what they used to be, all I can remember is that the word was "kitty." I have no idea when it was--was she ten months? Nine months? The information is simply lost.

Anyway, I do feel a little guilty about this and keep encouraging myself (mentally, of course) to make more of an effort.

This explains why when Alaina fell down on the pavement a couple of days ago, and I was upstairs putting a bandaid on her bleeding knee, the thought crossed my mind, "This is Alaina's first time having a bandaid . . . as far as I can remember!"


So I did what any guilt-driven blogging mother of three would do--I got out the camera and took pictures of it for the rest of the day!


Seriously, though, Alaina is such a sweetheart and I am so happy to have a #3. I think she gets the most hugs and kisses (with a brother and sister to love her, too), and she is--without question--our happiest, even though thus far least-documented, baby :)


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Old Things Were Made New, Unfortunately

Our downstairs bathroom is my least favorite room in our house. It is small, dark, dusty, half-painted, has a child safety gate in the doorway--and, most importantly, it is home to our cat Frisco's litter box.


When it is time to clean the bathrooms, I always start upstairs--and I often get interrupted or distracted before I get to the downstairs one. I sometimes call it the "boys' bathroom" because Frisco, Benjamin, Jason, and Jason's employees are the only ones who use it. In fact, even when I am sick with the flu, I usually attempt to climb the stairs and make it to the bigger, brighter, and cleaner "girls'" room.

So it wasn't too much of a surprise a few days ago when I noticed a foul smell coming from the small bathroom. I assumed it was Frisco's litter box (which Jason normally cleans), and--more than a little irritated--I not only scooped it (hopefully nobody is reading this while eating!) but dumped all the litter into an industrial-strength garbage bag and sprayed an unhealthy amount of Lysol in and around the entire litter box area.

I then invented an excuse to go out so I could balance the garbage bag on the front of the van (as opposed to lugging it down a set of cement stairs that had potential to rip the bag), and drive it to our complex's dumpster.

Problem not solved.

The next morning, I noticed that the disgusting litter box smell was not only still there--it was getting worse. I could smell it upstairs. In fact, it was so strong I could not even bring myself to go back into the small bathroom. I tried to do the laundry (which is beside the small bathroom), but the stench from the litter box was so overpowering that I decided to take action right away.

I piled the kids into the van and drove to our favorite pet supply store (okay . . . it was Walmart) to buy a new litter box, new kitty litter and an air freshener. While I was in the cat aisle, I also decided to spring for the slightly over-priced litter box liners and baking soda packaged especially for use in litter boxes. I even bought Frisco a new food dish and a new water dish--just in case the smell was coming from his dining area rather than the litter box. I was going to be thorough!


I came home, got out another big orange garbage bag, dumped all of Frisco's items into it, then started scrubbing the bathroom floor--all while holding my breath. I sprayed our new Fabreeze vanilla lavendar air freshener, then decided to complete the job by scrubbing the toilet, and then the sink.

Just as I was finishing up, I noticed a red bucket beside the sink that Ben and Janae had taken to the beach a couple of weeks ago. As I looked inside to admire the kids' seashell collection, I noticed something--the smell was back. I put my nose into the bucket--gagged, and realized . . . Frisco was not to blame. Jason was not to blame. It was the bucket and the seashells--and the person who hadn't cleaned the bathroom.


So, I hope Frisco will enjoy his new furnishings. It was about time to replace them anyway . . . and I think that cat needs a little more love!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Coming Not-So Soon to a Theater Near You!

We all know that Benjamin has some big ideas. A few months ago he was talking about building a boat, sailing to the Caribbean and finding pirate gold with a metal detector. He also has ambitions to attend a Santa school and become the next Santa Clause, build a full-sized totem pole, and audition for the part of Darth Vader when the current actor dies.


So it should come as no surprise that he is now planning to make a movie—and not just a home video or a made-for-TV presentation. Ben wants to make another sequel to Star Wars, which will premier only in theaters.

Benjamin says his movie is going to have “a lot of changes” from the original film, and he already has the ending planned. I don’t want to give too much away (and sabatoge my only son’s film debut), but it involves the Dark Side celebrating at a big party—rumor has it that Darth Vadar and the Emperor (who apparently are going to come back to life) will even be dancing. It is going to be quite a show!


Yesterday we were driving in the car, and Benjamin was talking about his movie. Then he asked, “Mama—how long will it be until I am a grown up?” (Ben knows he has to wait until he is a grown up to make a movie of this scale.)

I did a quick calculation and said, “About 12 years.”

Benjamin said, “On my movie, I will say it is coming out two days after 12 years.”

So, we definitely have something to look forward to!