What's happening with the Hill family!

Friday, June 25, 2010

I'm no David Hasselhoff

My kids love to swim. Connor has been a fish ever since his first summer on this Earth and in typical Hudson fashion, he wants to be just like his big brother minus the actual swimming skills.

Matt's parents have a great pool and luckily only live about three minutes away so we are over there swimming at least four times a week. Last summer, Mush wasn't even walking so he was pretty content to hang out in a baby float, tooling around the pool working on his tan. This summer, I'm not so lucky. He is fearless. He has quickly developed two new vocabulary words, Jump and Catch. If I hear one of those words, it is usually too late to even think, those words mean that he has already thrown himself off the side of the pool or the diving board and is about to land on my head with a gigantic smile on his face, oblivious to the look of terror in his poor mother's eyes.

So last week, we were spending the morning swimming with some of our very good friends. Jaime has two little ones, Pearce and Camryn, they are five and six and two of Connor's best friends. The three of them are all pretty good swimmers and love jumping off the diving board. Hudson just kind of straggles behind, pretending he is a big kid.

So anyway, back to our morning swim session. All three big kids had jumped off the board and of course little man wanted to give it a try. He has jumped off the board plenty with mom treading water in the deep end and I have never seen him even try to jump without a parent waiting with outstretched arms. This time he climbed up on the diving board with a big grin on his face and yelled, "Mommy!" I was out of the pool, gathering up stuff and looked up to see my tiny little boy standing over the deep end with no adult in arms reach, so I told him to get down. Now. He said, "kay!" and started to climb down off the board. Now, since Hudson's legs are basically two golden tan stumps, he has to really work to climb on and off things. He was about halfway off the board when I noticed that he was not over the concrete like he thought, he was dangling over the water. But he couldn't tell that of course, because of his insane shortness. I started heading that way because I knew at any second he was going to step down into air. I yelled out, "Hudson stop!" which of course, startled him and caused him to drop into the water. I panicked and started to run to him because I could see his little blond head all the way under the water.

I made the split second decision to make a running jump in order to rescue my drowning child and as I am leaping into the air to "save" him, the following thought entered my mind. "What am I doing?" But I was already committed. I landed directly on top of my poor, tiny son and naturally forced him even lower in the water before I yanked him up to the surface. When we came up he coughed a little bit and sputtered out, "I fall?" in a little voice. Well obviously one of us still had our wits about us. The whole ordeal took all of 8 seconds, but the cliche is so true, it was like slow motion and felt like he had been under for an hour (counting the extra time when I pushed him deeper with the force of my body weight). It scared me to death.

After I had calmed down and was retelling this story to Matt he said, "So let me get this straight, instead of leaning over the side to pull him up because he was easily within arms reach you decided to leap in directly on top of him in order to save him." Yes, that sounded right. It wasn't really a conscious decision. I told Matt it wasn't as if I said, "You know, I am going to further traumatize my son by forcing him to watch his giant beast of a mother fall out of the sky and land on top of him while he is bobbing around under water. I just reacted, it was very natural. For those of you that are wondering, there doesn't seem to be any lasting trauma from his ordeal, he was immediately back to jumping into the pool and he hasn't been waking up with recurring nightmares about his mother shoving him under water. At least not yet. But I still say, lives were saved that day and I am taking all the credit I can give myself.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The birds, the bees and the Mexican food

Connor's favorite thing is for Matt and I to tell him the story of the day he was born. He absolutely loves it. He likes us both to tell it because he like the different perspectives. We have been telling this story for several years now and he now likes to take an interactive role. He loves the drama (shocking, I know). The anxious waiting, the family all gathered together, the spur of the moment C-section and finally......his entrance into the world. He wants to know what everyone's face looked like when they first laid eyes on him, how loud his cries were and if the doctor thought he was tall.

He could tell this story in his sleep and it always make me happy to tell it. However, it has been leading to some uncomfortable questioning about the origin of babies. Since my pat answer of "because that's the way God made it" is no longer cutting it, I am forced to come up with some technical answers and frankly, I don't want to. Currently he is under the belief that some babies get picked up by families as they are floating around in baskets. He gleaned this particular Old testament jewel from an extensive study of the baby Moses story in Sunday School. I'm okay with this because it buys me more time.

But with the constant retelling of the Day Connor was Born, he is starting to put some more thought into things and I have to prepare myself. Matt was telling him the other night and the next morning Connor came to me and said he had been thinking and had some questions. Fantastic. He said that Daddy told him after he was born, the nurses cleaned him off and took him to the nursery to get a bath and have his hair combed. I confirmed that yes, that is what had taken place. Well then he wanted to know what they cleaned off of him. Why was he dirty when he was just born? I explained that since he had been inside mommy's tummy for so long that he had blood and stuff (I honestly have no idea what else is on a baby) and since there is blood inside our bodies, that is what gets on babies. There. I handled that quite well if I do say so myself.

But we weren't done yet. He came back a few minutes later and told me that he thought I was wrong. He said that since my favorite food is Mexican food then that was obviously what was in my tummy and therefore Mexican food is what they had to wash off of a brand spanking new baby Connor. Specifically enchiladas. I was a little surprised. I said, "So let me get this straight. You believe that you came into the world as a brand new tiny baby covered in enchiladas because that is what I like to eat? Are you sure about this?" He said, "Oh yes Mommy that is what happened, they cleaned the food off of me and then took me to get my hair brushed because that is the way God made it."

We are going back to the baskets in the water story, because that is all I think I can handle.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summertime and the livin' is easy

I have a great job, I really do. I love teaching and I love these wonderful summer months that I get off with my kids. But at the same time, it helps me realize that I am not full time stay at home mom material. I just don't think I have it in me.

Another teacher friend and I were just discussing how we have the ability to get 22 kids in our classrooms to toe the line with a simple look. On the other hand at my house I have one kid using a cozy coupe as a stepping stool to reach the chandelier and the other dancing around clutching a fish bowl. (He was practicing a dance he calls "the swim" in case you were wondering.) It is exhausting. It is such hard work to live in the world of Connor Hill all day long because it doesn't come naturally to my grown up self. We hit the ground running and every morning he wakes up in the midst of some new imaginary adventure and those adventures can take us anywhere from a tent in the closet to the office of the person I like to call Dr. Dramatic. He is the keeper of all bad health news. He took his brother's temperature the other day and said, "Oh my goodness Mush, this says you are almost dead. Let's go change your clothes for your dying time." And since I know some of you are wondering what the outfit of choice would be for a fake deadly high temperature, I will describe it to you. Swim trunks, Christmas sweater featuring seasonal train and bath towel turban on his head. Dr. Dramatic doesn't put too much stock in patient dignity.

For Father's Day, Matt requested that his gift be simple....No more phone calls during work hours featuring his children screaming in the background. I thought that was asking a bit much, it is kind of a Hallmark holiday after all. But I'm going to try and cut back because after all Matt does have a job that on rare occasions does actually require him to handle things that might potentially electrocute him. I can see how moderating World War 3 on the telephone might be considered a dangerous distraction.

So here is how our lazy days of summer usually break down. We try to go somewhere in the mornings. We hit up the library, the park, you know, just somewhere public because my children usually act better around strangers than they do for me at home. I call these my "show children" only seen in public and never at home. Our days go much better when we get out. The days that we stay in are crazy, it amazes me how fast time flies by. I feel like I spend all day keeping everyone entertained and at least some of the chaos at bay and then all of a sudden I will look up and it is 4:00. I have to race around, get everyone out of their pajamas and throw an onion into the oven before Matt walks in the door. The onion buys me some time on dinner. I know. I'm not fooling anyone but myself.

Summertime is crazy fun, emphasis on the crazy, but I wouldn't trade this time with my boys for anything in the world. These are their formative years after all. Who else is going to teach them how to wrap towel turbans and cook an onion (in the skin) for dinner? Their part-time stay at home/full-time crazy mommy, that's who!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Glovie, new love of our life.

Well we have a new family member and frankly, I am not so thrilled. Connor has been saving his allowance for months and finally decided he wanted to spend it on a pet of his very own. Great. He first decided that he wanted to buy a baby puma, but I had to inform him that was too big of a stretch for his budget and it would probably end up eating his brother. So after a lengthy discussion of all the exotic animals we couldn't possibly buy, we settled on a beta fish.

Mom was secretly happy because they are a very solitary fish and thus, I will never feel the pressure of having to get Glovie (pronounced Glow-vie) a lifemate. So off to the pet store the three of us went, armed with two pockets full of quarters. Grand total? $11.00. Connor was giddy with excitement, Hudson was worried about lunch.

Once we saw the sad display of fish, swimming lethargically in their tiny cups of blue water, it was love at first sight. Connor squealed and pointed to the tiniest, runtiest, might be mistaken for dead he was swimming so slow fish and shouted, "It's him! That is Glovie, my new best friend!" He clutched the cup to his chest and hugged it, sloshing water all over himself. If that fish wasn't on death's door already, he was now about halfway to a heart attack. We asked our own personal Petsmart attendant (business was slow that day and I could tell they wanted to get rid of us as fast as possible) what we needed to properly care for this magnificent pink creature. Connor butted in and said, "Oh mommy I know. I am an expert on pink fish." Of course he is. We got Glovie some food, some drops for his water because goodness knows fish cannot swim in tap water, and then it was time to select a new home for this treasured family pet. I walked over and picked up a plastic aquarium the size of a shoebox with a locking lid. Practical, safe and a big improvement from the tea cup he had been swimming in. I looked around for Connor and saw him standing in front of a massive wall tank that easily had to hold 1000 gallons of water. This is the kind of tank that rap stars have installed in their bedrooms and filled with baby sharks. I overheard him say to that stupid fish, "this is your new home Glovie do you like it?" So once again, Mom had to be the bad guy and point out all the flaws in his plan. First, he was now down to $9 dollars after purchasing the fish, that tank cost $800, he had a lot more bed making to do in order to earn that much coin. Second, at the speed that fish swam it would take him many moons to make a lap in that tank and that would undoubtedly be a blow to his self esteem. And finally, since I highly doubt MTV Cribs will be stopping by the Hill house anytime soon, I was forced to qualify this tank as too gangster for Glovie.
He settled for the tiny plastic aquarium and off we went home to get our new family member settled. On the way home, Connor regaled his totally uninterested brother in a story about Glovie's parentage and hard scrabble childhood. Apparently, his parents were killed when he was barely a hatchling. His mother was caught and subsequently eaten by a fisherman and his dad died when some mean man poured oil in his lake (Don't say that we don't know our current events! Take that BP!) Glovie was left to raise all his brothers and sisters alone. He finally decided to run away and live in the pet store in hopes for a better life and an adoption by a boy named Connor. We don't know what happened to the brothers and sisters. So that in essence, makes us this orphan fish's saviors. No pressure there or anything.

Glovie made himself at home with only a little fanfare. I don't know if fish have ears, but if they do then I can bet that Glovie is wishing for deafness. Connor has kept up a running, one-sided conversation in which he has complimented everything about that stupid fish from his swimming abilities to his absolutely cute fins. He even pauses for Glovie to return a compliment (those character development lessons are really paying off here). The whole exercise is really annoying and if I am feeling the pain from listening to it, then I can't even imagine how that dumb fish feels.
I think it's probably a good thing we sprung for the bowl with the locking lid, otherwise we might have a jumper on our hands.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The tower of Babel has relocated

Now that we have completed our first full week of summer, I just have to say that we are having a blast. I also kind of feel like the warden in an insane asylum and I only assign myself the role of warden as opposed to patient because of the three of us, I am the only one that can legally drive a car. Hudson is now one month away from his second birthday and we are engaged in an age old battle of communication. Hudson knows exactly what he is saying and his mother and father are apparently too moronic to understand him.

He will say in a loud clear voice whatever he wants and I will try really hard to translate in my head. Sometimes it is easy, he has quite the collection of words, mostly pertaining to food and drink that we can understand without much thought. It is the rest that give me trouble and he has the patience of well, an almost two year old. If I don't respond to his request/demand in a reasonable amount of time (about 2.1 seconds) he repeats it. Over and over again. Never changing tone or inflection, he is a persistent robot while I run around the room holding up objects saying, "this?" while he shakes his head no. It is absolutely maddening. I spent 20 minutes the other morning sitting in the bathroom while he sat on his potty and sang songs to himself. Connor wandered in and said, "Mommy, he didn't need to potty, he wanted to have a party." Oh. Well that makes perfect sense. As soon as Connor said the word party, Hudson jumped up off the potty and yelled "Pise!!" Connor got really excited and said, "Oh, a surprise party, those are the best ones!" Do you see what I mean? I don't even have a chance here.

Which leads me to my little UN translator, Connor Hill. He is a fantastic liaison for his brother and they communicate in a way that I cannot even begin to understand. We have really been trying to enforce the rule that Connor cannot talk for Hudson, because we thought that it wasn't doing him any favors developmentally. But, when I finally decide I have exhausted all my skills in mind reading, I call upon my oh so wise older son to come help his mother out. He walks calmly into the room, bends over right in his brother's face and says, "Tell me Mushy." Hudson tells him and then Connor will look at me and say, "Oh Mommy, he wants to watch a Wiggles movie on your iPhone, the one with the dog. He said dance doggie." And sure enough, as soon as the word dance leaves Connor's mouth Hudson starts dancing and saying yay! Brother saved the day again.

Matt has even less luck than I do. He came in this morning while I was getting ready for church and said, "Hudson has been asking for what sounds like dog-wich for 10 minutes. I give up, where do we keep the dog-wiches?" I told him to ask our official translator and sure enough I came downstairs a little later to see Hudson happily sitting in his highchair eating a biscuit with strawberries aka dog-wich.

Matt and I used to think that having two kids was perfect for us because we would be evenly matched and never outnumbered. I realize now that those were just the random musings of dreamers and fools. In our reality we are easily the mental minority in this house. I am just praying that they don't ever join forces against us to overthrow the family government, we don't stand a chance.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Character Development or Assasination:I honestly can't tell.

In August we are starting a new character development program at my school so I spent a couple of days in training last month to get ready to share it with our faculty. When I was perusing the book I noticed there was a section for preschoolers so I decided that this summer, the boys and I would get in a little character development time. I thought it would be helpful to familiarize myself with the material and also, let's just be honest here, my kids could definitely benefit from a little more character : )

So this morning was our first session. The whole premise is to get a small group to share, build relationships and then those relationships will foster feelings of respect, mutual admiration, etc. etc. So our very small group of three sat down on the floor of our playroom and I (the trained facilitator) started the discussion. We first talked about things that make us happy. Connor had an extensive list that included art galleries (I'm not kidding), mud, white dogs and space. When I asked Hudson what he liked he responded with a single word, "Eat!" Okay, got it. I checked icebreaker off our to-do list. I was now thinking that this was going extremely well, no one had wondered off, there had been no hitting or crying and I could practically feel the relationships building right in front of my face.

Next, we talked about how it makes us feel happy when we see those things that make us happy and that it also makes us happy when people say nice things to us. Connor was now so excited to share he is bouncing around raising his hand left and right trying to get my attention. He is apparently going to be "that" kid in school. You know, the one the teachers always love and never find annoying? So I let him share about fifteen stories about his general awesomeness and then interrupted to tell him that I wanted him to think about the fact that since hearing good things about us makes us feel good, then telling others nice things will make them feel good. I could see the little light bulb go off and he proceeds to tell me all these nice things. How pretty I am, how I make the best sandwiches, how smart I am.....and you know what, I was right, it did make me feel good. So then, to set the right example, I shared with Connor some compliments. All of which he apparently already knew. So this goes on with Connor and I just showering each other with praise and after a couple more minutes, I call a time out to the love fest and tell Connor that it is now time for him to share some nice things about his brother (who this entire time has been eating graham crackers like he will never see another in his life and completely ignoring us). Complete silence follows. If our life was a cartoon there would be crickets chirping. I looked at him and could see the wheels turning, but the kid who never shuts up, apparently cannot think of a single compliment for his baby brother.

Finally, he jumps up and said, "I thought of something nice for Mushy!" It was about time, so I readied myself to hear the nice thing that had taken so much thought. He turned to his brother (eye contact is key in this exercise) and said, "Mush, you are the smallest boy I have ever seen and that's good because you can fit into tiny places where nobody else can like the bottom drawer in my room." Then he kissed him on his graham crackery lips.

Hmmm, that was not in my manual. Two things really bothered me about this. First, was that really all he could come up with, pointing out his tiny physique? Is that truly the only compliment we can come up with for poor Hudson "Mushy" Hill? And second, when the crap has Connor been putting his brother into the bottom drawer of his dresser and how long has that little exercise been going on? But in a desperate attempt to get our little group therapy session back on track, I told Connor that I would praise his brother in an appropriate fashion and I showered him with compliments on everything from his intelligence to his graham cracker eating skills, because by then I was feeling pretty guilty.

The whole thing kind of fell apart after that, Hudson took off his diaper and started streaking around the room while Connor went to his bedroom to give compliments to Kenny and Stuart on "their cute faces."

I just can't wait for next week's lesson.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I'd like to swing on a star

For the last couple of weeks Connor has been pretty much an angel child. Not that he isn't usually, but well, he isn't. Since he turned four we have been dealing with a child trying to find his place in the world and we have struggled with disobedience, willfulness and some other highly annoying habits. But lately, all that drama has basically disappeared and he has been on his absolute best behavior. It all felt very unnatural and even Matt was getting weirded out by the total change.

He has become a model of good manners, every request has been answered with an automatic yes m'am or yes sir without anyone having to remind him. He is the first to volunteer to help out with anything and he does it with a smile on his face. He has about helped his little brother into an early grave, chasing him around with diapers and force feeding him yogurt until he screams for some personal space. He is complimentary of every single thing we do. I dropped an egg on the floor while making breakfast the other morning and Connor announced, "Mommy you are the most beautiful girl that ever cleaned up egg off the floor." In short, he has turned into Eddie Haskell and it is freaking us out.

I hate that I am such a cynic about my already sweet little boy's transformation into a walking talking package of high fructose corn syrup, but I just kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I just had a feeling, maternal instinct I guess, that he wanted something and it had to be something good because he has really committed a lot of time and effort into laying the groundwork. Well tonight that other shoe finally fell and he did not disappoint. He snuggled up to me on the couch after picking up his room, making his bed and tucking his brother in, complete with a laying of the hands bedtime prayer worthy of Billy Graham. He asked me in a sweet little voice if I thought he had been a good boy and if I liked how nice he was being to everyone. I told him yes, I thought he had been a wonderful boy and that I was so proud of how helpful and loving he had been. He then said in a tiny angel's voice, "Mommy, I love you so much can I have a favor?" Ahh, the moment I had been waiting for! What could this favor possibly be?

"Mommy, I want to go to space. Tonight."

Oh. Is that all? I could tell he had put a lot of thought into this plan so I played along for a while and plus, I always like an insight into where his highly complicated mind takes him. He then shared with me that he has been thinking about going to space for his "whole entire life" (or at least two weeks) and he has a ship ready to take him to "Nectune" then maybe Saturn if they can land on the rings. He even had a bag packed. He brought out his rolling suitcase full of canned goods, a pint of blueberries, his books on space (naturally) and, here is the heartbreaking part, a picture of Hudson. It was all incredibly serious.

So, what's a mother to do? I let him go. I had to, he has worked so hard and after all, he has been thinking about it for his whole entire life. He is in his room right now, fully dressed with his suitcase at the ready waiting on a ride to Nectune and Saturn, weather permitting. He told his parents that he loved us and that he would for sure be gone before breakfast but probably back before his summer party at school tomorrow. Apparently Nectune isn't that far.

I think I am in for my most interesting summer yet.....