Sunday, March 30, 2014

Going Green

These pictures are all from the week of St. Patrick's Day. Eli has had a little bit of an attitude lately. If I ask him to do something, he often yells, "NEVER!" It's very endearing...

Here he is probably being crabby because we had to drive on the freeway. Any time we get in the car, the first question Eli asks is, "Do we have to go on the freeway?" If the answer is yes, he throws us looks like this. For some unknown reason, Eli totally hates the freeway. His freeway hatred is rubbing off on Carson, as Carson will now ask, "Are we on freeway?" every time the car starts going somewhat fast. Funny boys.
We've entered busy season. It hasn't been that bad so far. Jeff has been home by 8:00 every night, so he has been able to help me with bedtime. One evening while Jeff was working late, the kids were being particularly ornery and whiney and screamy. As I was getting them their bedtime milk, I looked  our the window and saw a beautiful, bright rainbow. It was just what I needed to calm me down and take a breath before wrestling the kids through their bedtime routines.
Eli is quickly learning the benefits of having a younger brother. Carson is practically programmed to begin picking up toys if you just sing the Barney cleanup song for him. He happily sings along while dutifully cleaning any space he occupies at the mere mention of the cleanup song. Eli has picked up on this, so when I ask Eli to clean his room, he demands Carson to join him, and then Eli sits on his bed and sings the cleanup song in an effort to motivate Carson into action while Eli sits on the sidelines reaping the benefits.

I couldn't help but appreciate Eli's cleverness. And I took the stand that as long as his room gets cleaned, he can go about cleaning it through whatever resources he can muster. If that means delegating his duties to his brother, so be it. I got a little glimpse into Eli's potential as a leader, rallying the people around him to get a job done. If that's his personality, we'll let him rally Carson into his chores until Carson revolts.

Likewise, Eli somehow convinced Carson to push him around the backyard one afternoon on one of his toys. Carson pushed Eli around for at least 10 minutes at a time. Then they would switch spots. However, Eli would only push Carson for about 1 minute before making him get off. It was so funny how they had their little system and both boys were as happy as could be. They did that for hours.
Carson. Carson. Carson. His over-a-month-long sleep strike is starting to be humorous now that Jeff has whipped his sleeping routines into shape and has him taking naps again. But before Jeff worked his magic, I had many afternoons of this view from my sewing machine:
After at least an hour of trying to get Carson down for his naps, I would tell him, "Fine, Carson! I don't care if you sleep, but you have to stay in your room for quiet time. You can play with your toys, you can do whatever you want, but you have to stay in your room."

This is one of my favorite tricks. It's kind of like how my sister once told me, "The speed limit is 30 because they expect you to speed and go 35." So I set fake speed limits, so to say, for the boys. I set the rule one notch higher than what I really expect, so they think they're in trouble when they barely break my rule, and they stay quiet and in line.

Case in point, Carson was supposed to be in his room (speed limit is 30), so he "broke the law" just a little by defiantly plopping down on the steps just outside his room. He didn't dare go 40MPH and charge all the way into the kitchen, clearly breaking the rule, he just tried to let it slide a little bit by parking it on the stairs. So he sat there for at least 45 minutes. Perfectly still. Protesting nap time. Shyly eyeing me through the crack between the walls. I still got my 45 minutes worth of quiet time, with his rule breaking keeping him quiet. So win-win.

He finally braved up to emerge looking ever so guilty, knowing he broke the rule not to come out of his room. And I have to take a picture of his guilty little face because he's just too cute when his conscience has the better of him.
Another funny thing about Carson, he is in a phase where he thinks every speck on the ground is a spider. He has to crouch down to inspect every possible spider. One day we were at JoAnn's and there was a pretty big piece of black lint on the ground. Carson was crouched down like this, trying to decipher whether it was a spider, and then Eli ran by, resulting in a gust of wind that whooshed the lint ball right next to Carson. 

Carson. Freaked. Out. It was hilarious. He screamed bloody murder, and had the most scared little quivering lips I've ever seen. 
Spiders don't scare Eli anymore. Rather, leprechauns are the thing that scare our nearly 4-year old. The day before St. Patrick's Day, Eli and I were coloring. Eli started squeezing glue all over his piece of paper saying he was making a trap.

I seized the opportunity to give Eli his first dose of St. Patrick's Day-ness. You see, I set a goal for myself this year to do more holiday related things on holidays. I am such a boring mom. I don't take advantage of the excitement of a holiday to do something fun and different with my kids, so I decided on St. Patrick's Day Eve to begin to change.

"Eli! Are you making a trap for a LEPRECHAUN?!?" I eagerly asked.
"What's a leprechaun?" He timidly replied.
"Well. A leprechaun is a small little guy who likes rainbows and gold and four leaf clovers. And he's really fast. And he comes on St. Patrick's Day -- which is TOMORROW! Are you going to try to trap him?" I began to explain.

This prompted a 2-day constant explanation of what a leprechaun is, and what they do, and are they nice, and do they fly, and why do they like gold, and do they like green, and do they like blue, and why can't we see them, and do they like people and do they like bad people and so on and so forth. Two. Straight. Days. Of endless questions. And concerns.

And then we had another two straight days of Eli blaming leprechauns any time anything around the house was mildly misplaced or not as Eli remembered. "Mom, did the leprechauns drink all our milk? Did the leprechauns move my bed? Did the leprechauns steal my blanket?"

It was only after those four days of detailing the inner depths of a leprechaun that I decided I don't mind keeping the holidays low key because a certain preschooler in our house needs a logical and literal explanation of every new idea he hears. Maybe we'll introduce the Easter Bunny in another five years.
Eli and Carson in their green on St. Patty's Day. Eli wet the bed the morning of St. Patrick's Day, and I coincidentally put a green sheet and green pillowcase on his bed. Eli was so excited I had done his bed up all green so the leprechauns would like his bed.
Carson and I have a nice routine on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. We drop Eli off at preschool, and then Carson gets free reign of the TV while eating all the string cheese his little heart desires. He has to have a pillow on his lap to watch a show, which I think is completely adorable.
Eli had a St. Patrick's Day party at preschool and learned about the Blarney Stone (which I don't even know that much about). All I know is if you kiss it, it gives you good luck. Eli got his very own Blarney Stone that he and Carson spent the majority of the holiday smooching. When Carson was told to go to his room for bedtime, Carson couldn't part with the Blarney Stone, so at 8:00 at night, Jeff was wandering out in the backyard trying to find a "Blarney Stone" for Carson. If only I had known earlier in my motherhood career how entertained my kids would be from kissing a dirty old rock!
Carson is a total mimicker. He completely adores Eli. He does EVERYTHING Eli does. If Eli is ever out of sight, all Carson says is, "Whereli" It's all one word when he says it. I love watching Carson trying to keep up with his older brother, and following his every move.

With the nice weather, we've been going on a lot of walks, and I see Carson's mimicking most obviously when I let the boys get out of the stroller for the last leg of our walk. Carson is Eli's little shadow, rolling wherever Eli rolls, picking up whatever rock Eli picks up, veering off the sidewalk at the exact same places Eli veered off the sidewalk. It melts my heart to see how much Carson looks up to Eli and how he thinks whatever Eli's doing is the coolest thing in the whole world.

Yaaayyy for spring and lots of park days!
We were having a hard time with Eli at bedtime about a month ago. We used to let Eli play in his room with the door closed for as long as he wanted at night, and he just fell asleep on his own when he got tired. But I started noticing he was staying up waaaaaaay too late and wasn't falling asleep until he was past the point of exhaustion because he would get too busy playing.

We instigated a rule where if he stays in bed at night, he gets to play Nintendo64 the next day. If he gets out of bed, that's fine, but he loses Nintendo. For a boy who loves Nintendo, that was all it took to get him to stay in bed and go right to sleep at night. It's been awesome!
I had a million curtain orders over the last month, so my kids got used to seeing me stuck behind my sewing machine. I have noticed and learned to appreciate that my kids like to be where I am. If I am in the living room, they are in the living room. If I have to do a load of laundry, they meander downstairs with me to do the laundry. If I'm getting ready in the bathroom, they're shuffling through my makeup with me.

I sometimes find myself saying things to them like, "Why are you in my stuff? Don't you want to go play with cars or do puzzles or trains?" And they look at me like I'm crazy. Like why would they want to do that stuff when they could be right next to me instead? So even though they make simple tasks a little more time consuming, and make a mess of my makeup and look bored out of their minds  to be enduring my daily routine, it's sweet when I realize they are happy to just be with me.

One day last week as I was not wanting to be behind my sewing machine, but needing to get orders out, I was grumpily pining away and wishing I could just be with my kids without the extra responsibilities of maintaining a business. This is an inner battle I have often as I'm sure many mothers do with trying to find a balance between all the millions of things we have to do, and all the time our kids require of us.

So on this day, with my mom guilt in full swing, it was particularly sweet when Eli quietly sat down next to me and played with an empty bobbin and a threadless spool, racing them along the table, giving me smiles as I finished up the order. He was so content to just be there, right by me, even though I was a little preoccupied. He could have been anywhere else in the whole house, or outside since it was a nice day, but he wanted to be with me. And I was grateful to have him there, easing the stress of my orders.
And then we have this cuddle bug, fresh out of the bath, in the middle of his mandatory post bath snuggles.
I love my boys. And as they get older, and I see them together, I'm so grateful to have two boys. They are the sweetest brothers. They are so much fun, and I love having them in our family!


Rebecca said...

I loved every story in this post. Carson inspecting the fuzz that suddenly moved made me laugh out loud. I also loved the obsession with leprechauns, the guilty nap striker, and the boys taking turns pushing each other on the toy.

I agree - your two boys are so fun. Just think how great it will be when you have three boys! :)

Kenzman said...

I feel from all these stories of Carson and Eli (especially of Carson cleaning Eli's room and pushing Eli around) like Eli is only teaching Carson his destiny. Of being a middle child. I know it well.

Kim said...

Okay, I just laughed out loud at Kenzie's comment. Hilarious!

Eli has got the delegating down to a science just like Abe used to (and still does) get other people to do the stuff he doesn't want to do. Sign of a great leader!

All these stories were so absolutely cute, funny and adorable! Please never get so busy with your curtain business that you don't have time to document all the cuteness around you. The rest of us enjoy your take on life so very much!!!!