Monday, April 22, 2013

A Rock Star In the Making

I almost titled this post 'investing in my retirement' - but that might be a bit too presumptuous...

So Jack turns four years old in April.  Today, in fact.  ouch.  I'm not going to get all sentimental just yet - rest assured that is coming in another post - but for now - let's talk about rock and roll.

Now - I've confessed that I don't know a whole lot about music.  And that my three-year old (now four-year old) has a much more extensive music vocabulary and knowledge of the great rock and roll stars throughout history.  Thanks to his dad, youtube, and an ever-increasing desire to know more about music - and you have the perfect storm of musician wannabe.

When the time came to plan his fourth birthday party - he immediately piped up that he wanted a 'rock star' party.  I had no idea how to handle that.  Thank God for Pinterest and Al Gore and the Internet.  After way too much time researching and pinning, oohing and aahing over several parties posted on the web - I was on my way to superstar rock mom legend status.

So it all began with the invite - a back-stage/all access pass to the party.  In conference name tag holders and hung on lanyards.  Of course.  I heart Photoshop.

Then we had to have official concert posters and t-shirts, right?  Right.

T-shirt logo
We cleaned out the garage, pulled out Jack's drum set (and every musical instrument we had), along with his brand spanking new karaoke machine, and set up for a concert in the garage.  I can't even begin to tell you how much fun it was.

When kids arrived, they were asked to 'autograph' the Rock and Roll ABC book (which I highly recommend - it's got awesome photos of the top rock legends.)  They were invited to get rock star-ed up with wayfarer sunglasses, blinky light up rings, and glitter guitar tattoos.  They got to 'mod' their own card stock guitar (complete with ribbon strap so they could wear it when they were finished), and snack on Hershey's Kisses (Jack's favorite treat - and the Official Turning Four Snack.)

Speaking of snacks - kids get mighty hungry and thirsty at concerts, so they need lots of energy to refuel themselves.  Like Bon Jovi Berries, Pink Floyd Potato chips, Uncle Kracker Jacks, and Blind Melon kabobs.

They also snacked on Def Leppard Drum Sticks (chocolate covered pretzel rods) while slurping up some Judas Priest juice boxes, Lemonheads lemonade, and Everclear spring water,

And then - and THEN - what's a rock star party without a true concert?  Holy Moly folks.

We are truly blessed to know some amazing people - who will do things for our kids that not many will willingly volunteer for -  like dress up in spandex and pretend to be the Riddler (Brian C) for James' 5th birthday - or don wings and sparkly make-up like a fairy godmother to entertain and dazzle little girls (Laurie C) for Anna's 7th birthday.  And now, awesome ('real' - as Jack would say) musicians - who play in 'real' bands - to come and play and make our little boy's dreams come true.

Scott Rankin, from the Kenny George Band, is such a friend.  Despite feeling cruddy and like he was coming down with a bug (not to mention tired from playing a late night gig in Greenville - over an hour away - the night before) he willingly came with guitar, speaker, microphone, and amp - and played along with Jack.

Yes.  I said with.  It was awesome.  He played guitar and sang while Jack banged along on his drums.  And I gotta say - the kid actually has rhythm.  And he took his job very seriously.  He watched Scott intently for timing and cues for his drum solos and big finishes.

It.  Was.  Awesome.  My kid got to live out his dream - he truly was a rock star for a day.

But wait - it gets better.  In addition to playing along with Jack - Scott welcomed audience participation - and before we knew it - we had a great background percussion group.

These kids had a ball.

Including the entourage of girl groupies pictured in the photo above.  They all heart Jack.  Apparently he's the school heart throb.  (Can't say I blame them.  He is pretty cute.)

It truly was an awesome time.  I loved hearing Scott play - and was particularly proud when he told Jack they were going to play 'Brown Eyed Girl' and delighted, Jack piped up 'Hey - my mommy has that on her phone!'  See.  I do know SOME cool songs.

After the concert was over - it was time for cake.  I actually made the coolest electric guitar cake.  And it looked really good!  I even impressed myself!  But the best part was Jack's utter delight - and jumping up and down when he saw it.  It could have looked like an old tennis shoe - but as long as he loved it - it didn't matter.  (But thankfully - it didn't.)  Unfortunately - I didn't take a good photo of it.  I thought I did - but must have been distracted (imagine that?) so no good total snaps of it.  Oh well.  I'll remember it in my mind's eye.
And surely make it look better there than it did in real life.

Our little Jack is a very loved boy.  In addition to Scott playing especially for his party, he was also serenaded by another musician - Jack 'Bigger' - so coined by 'Little Jack' to differentiate between the two boys of the same name.  Jack (who came early to the party to help set up) decided he wanted to play for the birthday, had his mom bring his sax, then got online, downloaded the music to 'Happy Birthday' and played it perfectly while we sang.

Love that boy.  If Little Jack turns out half as awesome as Jack Bigger - we'll have done a great job as parents.

I think it's safe to say this little boy's birthday wishes came true.

We wrapped up the fun with impromptu jam sessions in the garage - with drum solos by all the kids who wanted to play.  And a few mamas may have gotten into the karaoke machine - and may have sung a few Taylor Swift songs.  To the utter embarassement of their older daughters.  But I can neither confirm nor deny that.

All in all a party fit for a rock star.

My rock star.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Annual Long Quarantine

Barf.  A lot.

Three kids who love each other so much they want to share their germy love.  Compounded by two boys who can't keep their freaking fingers and toys and any other piece of junk out of their mouths no matter how much I bribe, coerce, and/or threaten them.  I swear those two are worse than teething babies....

It started last Thursday with the littlest one who had a one-time episode right as we were trying to leave for school.  It continued Thursday night when Anna woke up screaming that her tummy hurt and ended up dry heaving every thirty minutes for about four hours.  She slept soundly for four more hours - then woke up late Friday morning feeling fine - and asking if the whole thing had been a dream.

Um.  NO.

I thought we were over it after a weekend of no 'episodes.'  And then Jack.  Sweet little Jack.  So he gets the gold star of throw ups.  I've dealt with a lot of barf in the past 8.5 years.  But never have I had a child vomit profusely inside a store - let alone Target - a.k.a. my Holy Ground.  My Mecca.  My Temple of Sanity.

But that is precisely what he did.  Monday night we were at the Holy Place shopping for a home printer.  Deonne and I were discussing the particulars of one that was on sale.  The boys were playing a rousing game of hide-and-seek - but not disturbing anything (that I know of) until IT happened.  Little Man came round the corner from the end of the aisle - holding his tummy - saying 'I think I need a bucket.'

Out of the blue.

I applaud his knowing he was going to toss his cookies.  Just not his timing.  Because there ARE no vomit buckets in the electronics section of Target.  Perhaps if we'd been in housewares or the cleaning section - hell - I'd have taken the shoe department where I could have emptied a shoe box.

But no.  We were in electronics.  And there was nuttin' around to catch the contents of his tummy that came pouring out.

Did I mention he'd just consumed a very large cup of frozen yogurt?  CHOCOLATE frozen yogurt? And without going into TOO much detail - I'll just tell you that partially digested chocolate yogurt on white linoleum tile makes for a big 'ol mess.

(Parenting is so much fun.)

So Deonne immediately ran over and picked him up - because I sort of froze in place - looking around for something - ANYTHING - to either catch any additional barf or to try to clean up what was now a spreading brown mess.  And then he retched again.  And I sort of turned around in circles - desperately searching among the USB cords and phone chargers, Wii games and printer cables for something to help the situation - completely befuddled what to do.

James took it upon himself to start squealing like a stuck pig 'EEEWWWW!!!! GROSS!!!'  Because we needed to draw MORE attention to ourselves.

(SO not helping James.)

I finally came to my senses and tracked down a sales associate - who was deep in conversation with another sales associate next to the camera case.  Now, I'm typically a very polite person.  I abhor interruptions and am proud to say that I try my best to never interrupt others.  Not this day.

Our conversation went something like this:

Me:  Excuse me - ma'am?  You're not going to like me.  Not one bit.  My three year old just threw up.  Everywhere.  We didn't know he was sick - he just threw up.  A lot.  And I don't know what to do to clean it up.

Target Lady:  Silence.  (The stunned look on her face was priceless.)

Me:  I know - it's horrible - but we didn't know he was sick.  It happened all of a sudden.  And it's all over the floor.  Over there.  (pointing to the back wall by the giant TVs)

The other sales lady hightailed it out of there - I think I actually heard her shoes squeaking on the linoleum when she turned to jet away from the scene - lest she get pulled into cleaning it.

The one that I'd spoken to finally snapped to attention and said "I'll take care of it" and immediately got on her little black walkie talkie - asking for some sort of 'absorbant materials' to clean 'something' in the electronics section.

I kept waiting to hear 'Clean Up In Electronics...' coming over the store loudspeaker.

So I walked back to Deonne - who by this time was hightailing it to the bathrooms (AT THE OTHER END OF THE STORE) while pulling James along behind - who was still complaining LOUDLY, with the added dramatic effect of plugging his nose.

I didn't look at the sales lady as we brushed past her.  I did overhear her repeating 'absorbant materials' like it was a hazmat scene.  Well - I guess it sort of was ...

As we flew down the aisle between electronics and toys - I saw another Target guy - carrying yellow cleaning gloves and what looked like four paper towels.  I thought to myself 'dude - you're gonna need a LOT more than that.'

I didn't make eye contact with him.

After Deonne cleaned Jack up in the bathroom we headed to the car (after abandoning our purchase - that I think was still in the middle of the printer aisle)- with thankfully no more barfarama episodes from this guy.

Fast forward seven hours.  Close to midnight.  We hear squealing and screaming over the monitor (James)  and figured it was a nightmare.  For some reason that boy typically has a bad dream somewhere around 11 - 12 each night, then settles down and sleeps solidly until morning.

We should be so lucky.

Deonne heads upstairs (I think he's feeling bad about not being home much and has been on 'dad' duty since he's been home this week, giving me a break.)  I hear more screaming/crying, then that all-too-familiar retching sound, followed by heavy footsteps to the bathroom.

'Another One Bites The Dust' kept playing in my head....

I suppose I should be more sympathetic and kinder to my children.  Deonne refused to let me handle the mess from the hosing-down-of-the-top-bunk (THANK GOD) - got James cleaned up - and sent him downstairs with a bucket and a beach towel (which is how we manage barf in our house - when we know it's coming, that is.)

And what do I say to my boy?  My poor sweet boy who is gray and pale as a ghost and clearly feels awful because he just threw up?  Not the loving response a worried or kind mother should give.  Not a reassuring hug or a kiss or a 'it's okay sweetie, mommy's here.'

Nope.  He got the 'don't you wish you'd listened to me when I told you to keep your fingers out of your FREAKING MOUTH?'

I wanted to firm up my candidacy for Mother of the Year, you see.

I do think we're over the worst now that all three have had it and our house officially smells like Lysol.  (knocking on wood)  And am now faced with my big dilemma.

How will I ever show my face at my beloved Target again?  How will I make my weekly pilgrimage to my happy place of cheery red shopping carts and pretty things where shopping for stupid stuff like dish soap and cat food feels like a treat?

Damn kids.  Damn stomach bugs.