Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Calgon, take me away...

I'm lying in bed this morning - it's 6:30 am. I hear one of the boys go into the bathroom and the door shuts. A few seconds later, the the lock clicks. It must be one of the two older ones.

The water is running...hmmm... it sounds different. 

Another door opens, and a few moments later I hear a tap tap on the bathroom door. I look at the clock - 6:34 am

A muffled voice followed by:

Zach: What are you doing?

Ah... Evan made it in before Zach.

The water shuts off... I hear Evan respond, but I can't make out what he is saying.

Zach: I said, WHAT are you doing?

a louder response

Zach: What?! You are taking a bath?!

no response

Zach. No. No. No. There ARE no baths in the morning.

omg - he sounds exactly like me. 

no response.

Zach: Evan - if you wanted to take a bath - you should have taken it last night.

Now I hear the younger ones... omg. It is now 6:40 am. Do I seriously need to get out of bed this early? Isn't it bad enough that the male I sleep with wakes up at 5:30 am EVERY SINGLE MORNING? 

I get up. It is obvious by the heightened anger and volume of the voices I am hearing, it is time to intervene.


I come out to the hallway.

Zach is standing there in his NDSU flannel pants and no shirt. Zayd is in his pjs watching, and Ethan, in shorts and a tee - dressed for school. (it is 45 degrees outside).

I knock on the bathroom door - with force.

no response.

Me: Evan!

Evan: What!

Me: Evan! Get out of the tub. There are three other people who need this bathroom to get ready for school. If you wanted to take a luxurious bath, you should have done that last night.


Zayd: I took my luxurious bath last night.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Man Itch

Even though I have four sons, I still don't really know about a lot of "man" issues.

Issues such as itchy... well... you know. Itchy man parts.

I am sitting in bed, reading through email, Zach is sitting next to me, telling me about school... when Ethan jumps onto the bed and squeezes his way between us. He is, as usual, in just his underwear. He lies on his back, head nuzzled against me... and then... it begins. The Man Itch.

Ethan: Mom... my thingy itches.

I look towards him itching his "thingy" and sorta lean back. I don't know about itchy thingys.

Me: Oh. Well... uhhh...

Zach: Where does it itch Ethan?

Thank God - someone who knows something about itchy thingys.

Me: What do you mean where does it itch? His thing itches.

Zach: Looks over at me like, "just let me handle this okay?" I know it itches. I need to know where it itches. Like does it itch on the side, or do his balls itch?

I look at him with a mixture of disgust and wonder. Who knew this was so complex?

Me: Okay Ethan? So where does it itch?

Ethan: Right here. He keeps itching over his underwear. It seems sorta rough to me.

Me: I look at Zach. Is that okay for him to do?

Zach: Mom. It's fine.

Me: Okay show mom where it itches.

Without hesitation, Ethan pulls the front of his underwear down (he is still lying on the bed)... He continues itching... and then sorta... Well... sorta just lets go of it. And then it kinda flops around and... lands.


Zach and I lean in for a closer look.

Me: Oh my! It looks really red on the side. Is that okay?

Zach: Yes. It's fine. It's okay.

Me: Maybe we should put something on it.

Zach: Mom. He's fine. Ethan, it's fine.

Ethan: Continuing to itch with more vigor. But it weewy weewy itches.

Me: Zach! It really really itches him! That can't be okay. Ethan. Go show your dad where it itches. Tell him to put something on it.

Zach: Mom. He doesn't need anything on it. Sometimes it just itches.

Me: But he is itching it so much!

Zach: Sometimes it just really itches.

Me: That much?

Zach: Yeah.

Me: So what do you do?

Zach: You itch it.

Me: Why does it itch?

Zach: The underwear rubbing against it sometimes makes it itch.


Me: That's kinda sad. I mean, it's all just hanging out there - for the underwear to irritate it.
It must itch a lot.

Zach: It does.

We pause and look down at Ethan, scratching away.

Zach: Well... most people try to be more subtle about it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Ethan came into the kitchen for dinner...

Ethan: Ooooooo... (big sigh) OOOOOOOO..... (BIG dramatic sigh).

No one acknowledges the act.

Ethan: Oh my gooodness! (he holds his tummy and leans forward). I am soooo sick. My tummy hurts soooo much. (more dramatic sighs with fabulous accompanying facial expressions).

No reaction from the crowd. Everyone is busily getting their food.

Ethan: Mooommmm! Will you feel my forehead please? I think I am sick.

I touch my lips to his foreheard.

Me: Nope - you're fine.

Ethan: I think I am too sick to go to school tomorrow.

Paul: Oh! Hurry! Get up to bed! You're sick! Off to bed you go! Hurry hurry!

Ethan: Whyyyyy?

Paul: Because you're sick. Sick boys need to go to bed.

Ethan: But it is not bedtime!

Paul: That doesn't matter. If you're sick you need to rest. So hop up to bed and get your jammies on.

Ethan: Nooooo....


He sits on the floor in the middle of the kitchen... he is working on Plan B.

Ethan: Can't I just not go to school tomorrow?

Ah - Plan B is pretty straight forward: Just ask for what you want.

Paul: Are you sick so you don't have to go to school tomorrow?

Ethan: I want to stay home tomorrow.

Me: Well no one else will be home tomorrow. Are you going to stay by yourself?

Ethan: (sigh) Why can't I just stay home?

Me: Because.


Ethan: Argh. Fine!

He gets up and picks up his bowl of chili and proceeds to gobble it up.

If he's not going to get to stay home, by God, he's not going to bed early AND he will have his chili.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Tonight Zach, our 14-year-old, had a couple friends over for dinner. One of them was Carter - someone we've known since the boys were 3. Carter has grown up to be a big boy. Tall and muscular...

He also eats a lot.

After Carter downed a meal of hamburgers on the grill, corn, chips, pop, and more.... he lets out a big sigh.

Carter: Well... Thanks for the appetizers guys. I'm going to go home now and eat dinner.

Our luck at dinner

Paul and I have very interesting dinner outings together. We seem to have a third wheel join us when we are trying to just be together.

Last night, we went to a lovely, old-Hollywood inspired upscale called "The Silver Moon." The owner is a New Yorker who came back to Fargo to help care for his aging parents. He and his partner run the restaurant.

So, Paul and I are seated in this intimate corner of the restaurant by the owner. He tells us a bit about his restaurant (because it is our first visit) and mentions it is in part, inspired by the Rainbow Room. I then, offhandedly mention that Paul and I may take a long-weekend getaway to New York.

Leave it to me to offer too much information.

That was the end of our intimate dinner.

The mere mention of New York sent our owner into a euphoric state of skyscraper proportions... He could NOT stop talking about his city.

Owner: Oh my! I love talking about New York. I lived there for 30 years and it is simply a grand city. I will tell you everything you need to know to make your visit spectacular. Do you like theater?

Me: Oh, we do!

Damn it! Why can't I keep my mouth shut?

Owner: Well... (and then he explained where we can go for same-day tickets or deeply-discounted tickets, or day-before-show tickets, or online full-price tickets... I think he managed to give us names, addresses, and even ticket prices in 2 minutes).

Paul: Hummm....

Owner: Oh! Must run off! Enjoy!


Me: I guess I hit a hot-button.

Paul: I think he's done.

Not quite. A minute later, he returns.

Owner: Now, how long will you be staying in New York?

Frankly, we hadn't even gotten past the, "Wouldn't a trip to New York be fun?" stage.

Me: Uhm....

Owner: Well... you must stay for at least one week.

Paul: Oh...

Owner: Now are you flying into Kennedy or LaGuardia?

Me: We're not really....

Owner: Because if you take a cab, you are going to wait in line for about an hour and then who knows how much it will cost you. It can run anywhere from $40 to $60 depending on if they take you the long way around or not.

Me: (inhale in to respond)...

Owner: So what I'll do is I'll give you the name of my driver, Victor. He'll take care of you. Ooo. I need to go.

He sashays off.

I bite my lip and look at Paul who is giving me a look that says... "You have GOT to stop looking so interested in what he says."

Me: I can't help it! He is so excited!

Two minutes later - seriously - he is back.

Owner: So there are four things you simply must do when you go to New York: Enjoy the fabulous restaurants, sightsee, theater and shopping.

Me: I love shopping.

SHIT. Why did I respond! God, I can't even help myself.

Owner: Oh yes... the shopping is tremendous. Now if you are going shopping I suggest either cabs or you can use the bus system..... (on and on and on)

He leaves. He returns. He leaves. He returns. He leaves. He returns.

It actually became quite entertaining - like dinner theater. He would come and make a few remarks and then give a great punch line, and sashays off again. Paul and I then would look at each other and say "Buh dum pump."


This next restaurant experience was just weird. We were sitting at a beautiful table overlooking the river in Fargo - the room was floor to ceiling windows...

There was some sort of Norwegian festival going on at the Hjemkomst Center down the street because a group of older people dressed in traditional Norwegian wear came in and sat at a large table.

But then one of them - a man - probably in his 70s... came up towards the window with his camera to get a picture of the river.

Apparently the view from our table was exactly where he needed to be. I mean, exactly where we were sitting. He stood right at our table - belly pressed against it -- leaning over it to get a picture.

Paul and I first stared at each other with puzzled looks. We could actually look at each other because he was leaning so far forward. Then I couldn't look at Paul anymore because I thought I would burst out laughing.

The guy stood there for at least 3 minutes. Then he moved behind my chair (and I mean RIGHT behind my chair) to take more pictures.

About 5 minutes later he left to his table.


We burst out laughing.

Me: I don't even know what to say.

Paul: Oh my God.

Me: Do we just have labels that say, "Come on and join us - we don't mind?"

Paul: We want you to sit ON our table and feel comfortable.

Me: Is this what happens to Norwegians when they get older? I mean... they just become oblivious to their surroundings?

Paul: Yes.

Me: So, I won't be taking you out in public when you get older?


Paul: Not sure. Unless you are willing to put a leash on me.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Party at the Igloo

Parties just aren't what they used to be.

I picked up Zayd and Ethan from their after-school program. This conversation occurred during the car-ride home:

Zayd: Mom? Are we doing anything tonight?

Me: I don't think so. Do you have homework?

Zayd: No.

Me: I don't think we have anything planned. As long as you have your schoolwork done you should be okay. What's up?

Zayd: I have to be somewhere at 6:30.

Really? He's 9 - where does he think he is going at 6:30?

Me: Okay. Where are you going at 6:30?

Zayd: I'm meeting Cole.

Cole is a friend of his.

Me: How are you meeting Cole?

Zayd: On Club Penguin.

I think I have spoken of this "Club Penguin" before. It's kinda like SIMS for kids. They have a penguin persona, they get together online and meet and do activities such as sledding and such. Zayd is into Club Penguin.

Me: You are meeting Cole on Club Penguin at 6:30.

Zayd: Yeah - at his igloo.

Me: At his igloo?

Zayd: Yeah. He's having a party at his igloo.


What about this statement is so incredibly funny to me? I start giggling... I really try not to, but I can't help myself.

Zayd: (also starting to laugh). Why are you laughing?

Me: I don't know... (now I am really giggling) it just sounds funny to me. That there is a party at Cole's igloo!

Zayd: But there is!

Me: I realize that! It just makes me laugh!


Me: So what do you do at a Club Penguin party? (giggle)


Zayd: We dance. (he give his snort laugh)


Me: Huh. I see.

Zayd: And we play guitar and sing.

I think I want to go to Cole's igloo party.


That night Zayd comes up to my bedroom with a sour face.

Zayd: (heavy sigh)

Me: What's wrong.

Zayd: Well... there wasn't a party at the igloo tonight. We were supposed to decorate for the party.

Now this is really getting beyond my grasp.

Me: Oh... and you are disappointed?

Zayd: Well yeah! I thought the party was tonight and now it's tomorrow!

Me: Well at least there is a party tomorrow!

Zayd: Yeah, but I don't know if I can go tomorrow!

Me: Okay. Why can't you go tomorrow?

Zayd: Well, I don't know if you and dad will let me.


Me: I'll talk to your dad about it. As long as you have your schoolwork and chores done, I don't see any reason why you can't go to Cole's party.

Zayd: (still sourish face - but with a hint of relief). Okay.


Me: Wouldn't it just be easier if you have a party at your igloo?

Zayd: No. That won't work.

Me: Why?

Zayd: I don't have enough stuff to have a party. You need stuff in your igloo to have a party - and I haven't bought enough stuff.

Wow. Even in Club Penguin you have to keep up with the Joneses.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Today's prevailing theme is nudity.

The boys went to the lake yesterday so I could work on my dissertation. When they got home at night Paul said:

Paul: We went out on the pontoon and everyone went for a swim. Ethan forgot his swimsuit but had no trouble dropping trou in front of everyone.

Me: You let him swim in the middle of the lake? He's not that good of a swimmer.

Paul: No - we had a lifejacket on him.


Me: He had a lifejacket on and no swimsuit. 


Paul: Yup. 

Me: Just the lifejacket.

Paul: Yup.


Paul: It was quite a sight. 


This morning I came down the stairs and Paul was already up (of course. He wakes up at like 5:30 every morning)... 

Paul: I had a really weird dream about you last night.

Me: Really?

Paul: Yeah. Really weird.

Me: Well... tell me!

Paul looks over at Zayd who is standing in the kitchen with us.

Me: Oh... you can't tell me right now?


Paul: Well... no. I could. 

Zayd is now smiling.

Me: Does he know what it is?

Paul: No, he hasn't heard it.

Me: Tell me!

Paul: (starts chuckling) So you decided to become a nudist.

I start laughing.

Me: Of course I did.

Paul: And you said to me that if I really loved you, I would let you be a nudist.

I laugh out loud again.

Me: I would never say anything like that, would I? 

Yes I would.

Paul: Right. So I finally agreed and we had to go and see my parents.

Me: Oh my God. (laughing) You are kidding me? This isn't your dream, this is your nightmare!

Paul: So then we are at my parents and you are wearing this weird netting thing - but nothing underneath.

Me: Why am I wearing anything if I am a nudist?

Paul: Don't know.

Me: Okay. And what do your parents say?

Paul: Nothing. They just pretend nothing is going on. But then they had invited a bunch of people and so everyone was there and everyone was pretending that you weren't nude... but then they stopped talking to you because they were kinda embarrassed. 

Me: I would think.

Paul: And then all of a sudden you came to the realization that you were nude and you went into the kitchen and sat at the table and cried.

Me: And...

Paul: That was it.


Me: I think this has something to do with Ethan wearing a lifejacket and nothing else yesterday at the lake.

Paul: I hope so.

Me: I promise I will not become a nudist.

Paul: Thanks.


Later that morning, when Paul and I are having coffee and reading the Sunday paper... Ethan comes in...

Zayd: OH MY GOD!!!

Ethan: What?

Ethan is on his tip-toes, his had is on his action-pack. He is wearing a cowboy hat and nothing else.


Me: Zayd, stop screaming. Ethan, why are you naked?

Ethan: I can't find anything to wear!

Paul: There are some clothes on your shelf in the laundry room.

Ethan: I can't find anything to wear!

Zayd: AHHHH!!!!

Me: ZAYD! Stop screaming. Why don't you help your brother find something to wear.

Ethan is now draped on my chair. He gets up and his cowboy hat is now half covering his eyes. He looks ridiculously funny. I have to cover my mouth and turn to keep from laughing at him.

Paul: Ethan. You need to listen. Go to the basement and get some clothes - then brush your teeth please.

Ethan: Fine.

Zayd is still in the room with his hands over his eyes. Ethan VERY slowly walks away... on his tip-toes... hoping Zayd will look at him one more time.

He finally dances away.

Me: Okay - he is going to be a problem for us.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tears of Joy

This conversation happened at the dinner table last night:

Me: So what happened at school today, everyone?

Zayd: Well... I started crying at lunchtime.

Me: Oh no! Why? What happened!

Zayd: Well... the school talked to us about selling coupon books so we can get new playground equipment.

Me: Oh. So did that make you kinda nervous or something? Did you cry because you were scared to sell coupon books?


Zayd: No.


Zayd: They were tears of joy.



Me: Uhm... okay. What are you talking about?

Zayd: Mom. You WON'T believe what I can get it I sell the most coupon books! The prizes are HUGE. They are AWESOME!

Evan perks up.

Evan: Like what?

Zayd: Oh my God. I can win a computer...

Evan: What?!

Zayd: It gets better... I can win and X-box...

Evan: Are you kidding!?

Evan's getting more excited. And now Ethan pipes in.

Ethan: Yes! I can too! I can sell coupon books too! I'll show you the prizes book.

Zayd: You can win a Wii.


Zayd: A Wii. A WII! Seriously!

Now everyone is way too psyched up. My Zayd? Zayd who is so shy has now been swept away by greed - it is not about working towards playground equipment - it's for a Wii.

Zayd: Mom? Will you come with me to sell books?

Before I can open my mouth...

Evan: I'll go with you!

Zayd: Okay! Let's go now.

Evan: Okay.

Ethan: I want to go too!

Evan: Okay, we'll all go.


Evan: Can we mom?

Paul: I don't know if we should have them go door to door asking for money. This week while you were gone I seriously had 5 kids stop by asking for money.

Me: All the more reason to go out and ask their parents for money!

I love sales. I did Mary Kay for 6 years - the whole prizes thing totally speaks to me.

Zayd: And all I have to do is sell 5 coupon books to get a little basketball and hoop.

I look at the catalogue....

Yup - looks just like Mary Kay. Sell gobs of product and earn a prize worth 40 cents.

Zayd: Mom. I have faith in myself.

O.M.G. - I can't believe my Zayd just said that.

Me: Zayyd! That's awesome! I am so glad you feel that way about yourself. I have faith in you too! You can do it! You can do whatever you set your mind to! (Holy... I am now sounding like a Mary Kay consultant again)...

Zayd: I know. I'm going to do it.

So off the three of them went. Evan organized the materials, Ethan went along as eye-candy (who can resist a very cute 6-year-old), and Zayd was going to do that talking. Which actually surprised me because like I said, he is really shy.

About a half-hour later they came back having sold four coupon books.

Zayd: Mom - I did it. I only have to sell one more to get a basketball hoop.

Me: That's great honey. I am really proud of you.

Zayd: And I already think I sold it because the neighbors in the blue house told me to come back tomorrow.

Me: Great.

Zayd: But mom?

Me: Yes?

He holds up an envelope that has on it in large print "Money Envelope"

Zayd: Why does this say "money envelope?"

Me: uhhh... because it is to hold the money you get from people?

Zayd: It should say "SAVINGS" envelope.


Zayd: That really bugs me. I don't know why they say "Money" when it should say "Savings."


Me: Does it matter?

Zayd: Yes. It bugs me.

Me: Okay - let's just focus on what you accomplished tonight - let's not focus on the envelope and what it says. Okay?


Zayd: That's kinda hard for me to do.


Me: Yeah. I know it is. Try.


A few months ago I was telling a friend about how wonderful my husband Paul is... and he said to me (my friend), why don't you blog about that?

I had never considered it before. And, I didn't seem to have the time for it - my kids do so many funny things, I tend to focus on blogging about them. 

But I have found myself thinking a lot lately about what makes Paul so special - so, he deserves a entry. 

I have never, and know I will never meet anyone as loyal, hardworking, honest, unpretentious, gentle, patient, and completely dedicated to his family as Paul. 

His priorities are in this order: 
1. Me
2. the boys
3. our parents
4. our siblings and their families
5. his job, the company he works for and his employees.

 He never swears and the words he chooses are kind. He has never tried to hurt my feelings - even when he is frustrated with me - and believe me, I can be frustrating.

His job is important to him. It is his way of providing what he sees as a comfortable life for all of us. Oftentimes it overwhelms him and he brings work issues home - but he often says it doesn't take too much to step back and realize that the job is not as important as us.

He said something very sweet to me today - "I often think about my life when I was single, working, and living in that little apartment in Grand Forks - thinking I would never get get married and have children. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I think about how lucky I am to have you." He tells me all the time that what he cares about is my happiness. I'm a lucky girl to have him.

When he has free time, he spends it with us. The only thing he really likes to do on his own is go to a store like Menard's - and even then, he'd probably love it if I joined him.

I don't have to write "honey do" lists... because he does it all.... today I woke up late and came down the stairs to find him on his knees cleaning the guest bathroom because, "it stinks" as he put it.

I feel a little guilty being married to such a hardworking guy. He likes to accomplish tasks. He grew up in a family where being idle was a sin... I love being idle. LOVE IT! Sometimes he reminds me of my mother. When I was young, I'd wake up on a Saturday morning, listening to her clean and vacuum, and just think to myself, "Can we just relax today?!"

He is physically strong. He's 6'6, and trim - but man o' man is he strong. I can't believe what he can lift and carry by himself! He is logical, calm, and steady. EXACTLY the opposite of me... I joke that he is my VOR - "Voice of Reason."

He is also damn smart - remembers everything he reads, and can figure out how to do anything he sets his mind to... if the washing machine is broken, he fixes it. If the water heater isn't working, he figures it out. We have never hired a repair person for anything. He built a mudroom for me, redid our entire kitchen, put in hardwood floors in our sunroom... oh and built a beautiful deck for his grandparents lake cabin.

Even more impressive is what he's accomplished at work. About 12 years ago he started a new job with Forum Communications and put the newspaper on the web. He did it all by himself. He read programming manuals and he wrote the applications and he did it. That boggles my mind. He had NO computer background whatsoever! He is a journalist. Today he is vice-president of new media for the company. He moved up through hard work and dedication to his company. He is a great manager, leader and visionary.

He loves to be outside. He loves movies, popcorn, cycling, camping, canoeing, plays, music, television, news, politics (government, not work), his garden (veggie and flower), and being at the lake. I'm not a great fan of movies, but fortunately he now has four boys who love them. He loves to read, but doesn't always have time - I suspect as we get older and the kids move out, he'll be doing more. He does NOT LIKE to argue. Which can kinda be a problem because I grew up in a family where arguing is an Olympic sport. I've made him a little more argumentative, and he's made me a little less.  He is a great cook. I swear he can make a great meal out of whatever is in the cupboard. I am hopeless at that. However I excel at making a huge mess when trying to organize things, being distracted, starting projects and not finishing them, folding laundry and determining what clothes belong to what child. I am also funny.

Is he romantic and sensitive and kind? Yes - all of the above - but I won't talk about that because his Norwegian sensibilities would be embarrassed. But I can say that I find him incredibly handsome - blond hair, the bluest eyes - and his height. Something about being married to a tall man... can't exactly explain it. AND... he looks amazing in a suit. 

Oh - and his voice! He has a deep, deep, soothing, smooth and silky voice. I love the sound of his voice. 

I think our outer shells are opposite, but our inner selves are similar -- meaning I wear my feelings on my sleeve, and he doesn't - but we feel similarly about things, events, and people.

Not to long ago we were taking a walk around our neighborhood when we spotted another couple that we really didn't want to stop and talk to... We both kinda moaned and together came up with a plan to avoid any chit chat... then Paul said, "Wow... apparently we can only tolerate each other! Good thing we found each other!" It's true.

We also have the same values - family first. I couldn't be with someone who didn't want my parents or siblings in their lives. And I want his family in our lives. When his parents moved to town, we were delighted... when my parents moved to town.. well... after the initial shock, we were delighted. ;) He is considerate to my parents (they live just down the street from us). He's the kind of guy who will say, "I invited your parents over for dinner" - and he'll make dinner.

I think that's about all for now. -- Oh. One more important thing. He and I have four funny, handsome, healthy and intelligent boys together.

Let's face it - this blog wouldn't be possible without the contributions of Paul Amundson. ;-)

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I'm sitting in bed trying to get some work done before I have to attend a "ropes course" tomorrow from 7 am - 7 pm (don't ask - some leadership course thing... and no, I am not excited)

Zach, my 14-year-old, comes in and sits down on the bed by my feet.

Zach: Uh... mom?

Me: (I don't look up and continue typing). Yup.

Zach: Can I have a man-over tomorrow.

I look up.

Me: What?

Zach: A man-over?


Me: A man-over.

Zach: Yeah. A man-over.... with Jake.

Me: What's a man-over?

Zach: (completely straight-faced) It's when a guy friend comes for an overnight and we sit around eating beef jerky and talking about trucks.



Me: (I'm still staring at him). Oh my God, Zach. Seriously. Where do you come up with this stuff.

Zach: I'm quite clever.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

1st grade struggles

Oh... Ethan has started 1st grade. The homework is flowing and so are his tears. Apparently he doesn't like not understanding stuff and his little heart gets hurt when he gets something wrong.

Paul was helping him the other day with some of his homework - when he gently told Ethan that he had made the wrong choice - that the other item was the right answer...

Ethan tried not to cry... but then he couldn't help it and started bawling.

Yesterday, Zach, our fourteen year old helped Ethan with some homework. Zach came up to our bedroom afterwards:

Zach: Uhmm... I don't know how to tell you this.

Me: What?


Zach: I know this is going to sound bad, but I think you need to know.


Me: Okay.... what?

Zach: Ethannnnn..... Ah... Ethan really isn't that smart. He's not the brightest bulb.


Me: Zach. Really. Please.

Paul: That's not nice to say about your brother, Zach. He is just a first grader.

Zach: Yeah. Right. Well... that may be true, but I'm thinking that's not the problem. 


Zach: I think he just isn't that smart.


Zach: Sorry. I'm just saying. I'm just saying.


So today, I was assigned Ethan homework duty. We had a simple task... for a 42 year old at least.... To look at a list of words that rhymed, pick one of the words and create a sentence.

Clearly even the word "sentence" was a bit of a stretch for Ethan.

Me: Okay Ethan... so let's look at these words. Which one can you read?




Me: Ooookay. So... here's a word! (I point out the word "sad.") What does that say?



Ethan: Uhm.... I don't know.

Me: Can you sound it out with me?

We sound it out.

I do most of the sounding...

So I pick another word. "Nap"

Me: Do you know this word?



Again - I assist him in sounding it out.

Me: Nap! Okay - let's go with nap.

I need to speed this process along - so I'm going to just choose it for him.

Me: Now, we need to come up with a sentence using the word "nap."

Ethan doesn't seem responsive. 

Me: Ethan? Let's come up with a sentence using the word "nap."

Ethan: I don't know.

Me: What don't you know.

Ethan: I don't know.

Me: Do you know what a sentence means?


omg - what have I done. I have left the fourth child out to dry - have obviously spent no time working with him -- and this is the result.

I am now panicking.

Me: Ethan. (more panicked)... Ethan. Here is an example of a sentence (God knows if he even understands the word example - holy shit)....

Me: Mommy loves to take naps on Sunday afternoon!


Me: Now you try. Use the word nap.


Ethan: Mommy likes to take naps on Sunday.

pause. My eyes narrow... this is much worse than I thought.

Me: No, try to come up with a different sentence.

Ethan: Mommy likes to take naps on Sunday.


Me: Okay. Okay. Here's a different sentence. Ethan likes naps.


Me: Now write that down here on this line. (I point to the line).

Then it hits me. If he can't read... and he doesn't know what a sentence is - what the hell! He can't write this sentence!

Me: Okay. Okay... let's do this. (I write out the sentence on a piece of paper). Copy this on this line. Can you do that?

Ethan: Yes.

Me: Wonderful! Great. great. 

Okay. So we are getting somewhere now.