Let Freedom Spew.

It was the Fourth of July.

I had woken up at some crazy early hour to check out of our Girl’s Weekend rental house (more on that later), drive to the Detroit airport, and fly home. That night, we had our annual fireworks watching “party” planned, for which thankfully Chris had made the preparations and done all of the organization.

We have this fantastic spot we’ve been going to the last three years. Every year, we have a different group of joiners, and most are usually last minute deciders. This year ended up being the biggest crowd yet – over 20 people circled around our spot in the top of the Children’s Hospital parking deck that directly faces our city’s fireworks extravaganza.

IMG_9435Plenty of other people not-with-us came later, as well – we just tend to get there first.

 Chris brought Watermelon, Ice Pops, and Gummies. Noah and Ali each packed additional snack bags. My Mom brought adorable little strawberry shortcakes in tiny Mason Jars (she’s been a Living Breathing Pinterest since before the Commodore 64.) We arrived at 7pm, two hours before the fireworks show, so the children had plenty of time for running and playing and screaming and racing. I got tired of my kids asking if they could have another ice pop, so with grand flourish and holiday cheer, I announced “It is a night for snacking freedom! Eat whatever you want, whenever you want. You don’t have to ask me for anything.”

Being that we have a strict 10:30am/3:00pm snacking schedule at home (created solely to get them to never ask me if they could have a snack ever again), this was huge news. Both children lit up with The Cheer of Independence and began snacking with the fervor of the Declaration signers themselves.

(I assume there were some spectacular snacks at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The passionate throwing off of Tyranny cannot happen without a good measure of gluten.)

(And I can totally see John Adams being on a gluten-free diet and Alexander Hamilton brattily working in a few overt jabs his way during some awful Hamiltonian 16 hour speech.)

As it approached the 9 o’clock hour, Chris convinced Noah to come sit in his lap for the actual fireworks. Flush-cheeked and sweaty, Noah was obliging – perhaps needing a moment of stillness more than he knew.

I was sitting next to them, my camera tripodded and my phone controlling the shutter so that I could get long-exposure photos with as little camera vibration as possible.

The fireworks began, and we all oohed and aahed. They seemed to come in odd spurts – not the usual nonstop onslaught of previous years. But no one had brought a radio to play the accompanying music, so we murmured that it must have to do with the rise and fall of the melody.

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170704f-FireworksYou can see the rest of my fireworks pictures on my Instagram account or Facebook Page.

Then the fireworks stopped.

No grand finale, no obvious ending – they just fizzled out.

It was odd. I mean, I’ve been watching this fireworks show all my life and I know how long it should last and what an ending feels like, and it was clearly short and lacking of ending.

The hoards of people waited around in the parking lot for a few moments, staring impatiently at Vulcan, waiting for the show to pick back up. Then they started leaving.

Something just wasn’t right. So we sat there a little longer, waiting.

Still nothing.

I took my camera off my tripod so that it didn’t get knocked over just as I heard Noah say to Chris,

“I just swallowed a little throw-up.”

Chris sent him to get his water bottle, and said to me, “Too much snacking leads to vurping. Good life lesson.”

Noah crawled back up into Chris’ lap and began to cry. Then wail. He couldn’t say why, he didn’t know what was wrong, he was just sobbing with all his little boy heart.

…Until he leaned over and vomited, nearly on the shoes of the guest sitting next to Chris. (Quite possibly on his shoes and he was just too nice to say so.)

Right as he did, the very tardy fireworks finale ramped up.

Chris quickly shuffled Noah back behind our group, and as the finale popped and banged with color and flourish, Noah did the same. It was the most immersive surround-sound experience anyone could ever wish for.

Heave, crack, gag, bang, vom, pop, splatter, cheer.

Chris and I found ourselves on either side of Noah, helping him lean out, wiping his mouth with voluminous amounts of paper towels, and covering his puddles with more paper towels to prevent passerby trodding.

In between pukes, Noah would cry and scream “I HATE THIS SO MUCH!!!”

After half a dozen heaves, Chris and I made eye contact. And with our eyes dancing in the light of the lovely fireworks behind us and the moisture of the terrible vomit before us, we simultaneously burst out laughing.

I mean how can you not.

Parenting is the most hilarious affliction.

We quickly stifled our laughter for Noah’s sake, and went back to guiding his ice-pop-soaked half-digested fries to the ground.

Chris said that he had it handled and I should really try to get a few photos of the finale. I ran back over to my tripod, slapped my camera back up, and hastily tried to grab a few shots, right as it tapered down and ended – this time, with proper fanfare. I managed to get one single non-blurry finale shot.

170704b-FireworksVulcan’s explosions were so much more attractive than Noah’s, but approximately equal in color variety.

I went back to also-tapering Noah to comfort him, apologizing to our friends as they carefully filed past Noah and his freshly birthed lakes.

“Good night. I’m sorry. Hope you had fun. Happy Independence Day! Watch out for that puddle!”

Chris took all our stuff back to the car while I sat and rubbed Noah’s back. He stared ahead of him, looking like the miserable puppy dog that he was.

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“Why is it pink? I had green and blue ice pops…”

We had to walk through all of the vast amounts and varieties of food that he consumed that night to track down the color of his output, but he seemed relieved when we’d figured it out.

“It was the red JELL-O!!!”, he said with eureka.

We all made it to the car without further incident, gave Noah a bag in case of Dear-God-No a car emergency, and I sat in the front, downloading and editing pictures, while we zero-miles-per-houred it in the parking lot traffic.

When we finally made it to the exit, we could see the left turn we needed to make, which fortunately was down a clear road with no traffic, but there was a truck quite unnecessarily blocking our way.

Chris calmly ignored it for a few moments, but finally started muttering under his breath about the utter rudeness of this individual that could clearly back up or go forward to allow us a much needed exit and as-quick-as-possible return to home with our Puke-Risk kid.

…Which eventually led Noah to inquire, “Hey Mom, we’re too young to call people jerks like Daddy just did, right?”

So what did we learn from that night?

a) If given no guidelines, our son will binge himself to vomiting like a starving dog who finds a Costco-sized bag of Alpo.

b) Rudeness is, at least in the Callahan household, apparently a privilege of aging.

Jerks

The Inner Poet.

My daughter is the epitome of a cheerful optimist.

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She is nearly always happy, always pointing out the beautiful and amazing things around her, and is constantly looking to thank me for something or state how much she enjoys whatever it is we’re doing right then.

“Thanks for taking us on this run, Mom. I love running!”

“Doing laundry is the best, Mom. Thanks for letting me do it!”

“Thank you for allowing me to clean this toilet, mom. It’s so fantastic!”

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Although I appreciate her enthusiasm, because I’m a cynic at heart, I sometimes suspect that her cheery disposition is actually rooted deeply in her people-pleasing-oldest-child-personality and then multiplied by opportunism to capitalize on her little brother’s general lack of cheery disposition (and his being told to quit whining and/or arguing approximately once a second) in order to differentiate herself as The Favorite Child.

I believe this because the whinier he is, the cheerier she is. The more he says he hates something, the more she says she loves it.

It’s as if he left his lunch money in her room and she’s perfectly happy to collect interest on it.

But maybe I’m reading too much into her personality. Maybe she somehow missed all of my genetics and is genuinely the nicest person that ever lived.

Or maybe, deep down, she’s as cynical as I am. And is just WERKING it.

“Thanks for this English assignment, Mom. I LOVE writing acrostic poetry!”

Those are words that Ali spoke last week. Those words definitely never came out of my mouth, as I despise all forced attempts at rhyming or rhythm, mainly because I’m absolutely horrible at it. Like seriously – cannot write a rhyming verse to save my life. Additionally, I hated every English book and class that I ever knew. One time I loathed my English book so badly that I asked my Mom if I could finish the entire book that day and not do English for the rest of the year. She said yes, and I happily obliged.

(I didn’t learn much English that year, but I’ve managed to figure out the basics of the language in spite of my self-administered mini-term.)

But Chris is an excellent song-writer, so I thought that perhaps Ali has her father’s talent and love for the art.

She handed me her poem with excitement and glow.

“I wrote my acrostic poem about winter! Don’t you love it? It was fun to try and start all the lines with the letters W-I-N-T-E-R.”

I read her poem.

I giggled.

I read it again.

I giggled some more.

“It’s amazing, honey. Simply. Amazing.”

And at that moment I knew, deep down, in the places she doesn’t like to talk about, Ali had a hidden dark side, just like her mother.

Because Ali’s poem sounded just like April Ludgate had written it, and is best read with her fantastic monotone delivery.

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You go, Ali.

Keep being sunshiny and positive on the outside, but enjoy your Inner Evil Poet as well.

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Qixels are for Mommies.

There are certain things we buy our children for Christmas only because we love them. With dread and self-loathing, we purchase those sets that we know will lose two pieces on the first day and never work again, those million-tiny-parts that we are quite confident will be scattered throughout our house in 23 minutes flat, and those toys we KNOW they won’t play with but they’re just sure they neeeeed.

But every now and then, we buy something for our kids out of love for ourselves. Something we know we will enjoy as much – and sometimes more even – than they will.

Thus was the case this year.

Noah had a very thorough list of things he wanted for Christmas, but I bought him something I wanted. And not one set of that something, but four. Because I wanted it that badly.

Qixels.

Qixels are the modern version of perler beads (except you use water instead of the oven to fuse them together) and the “boy” version of Beados or Aquabeads, which Ali has been enjoying for quite some time. But Beados roll away, the templates are boring, and I personally do not find them satisfying to work with. Qixels are sturdy, square plastic blocks that fit onto a frame and you create objects, usually with a template underneath, that end up looking like they’d fit perfectly into the Minecraft universe.

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The minute I beheld Qixels for the first time I knew this is what had been missing from my life. It reminded me of my childhood beading days long gone – I was beyond into the beading scene in my wild junior high days. So much so that my parents would drive out of their way on family vacation when I knew there was a bead shop nearby.

(I don’t know how I knew this. There was no internet. How did one attain such knowledge back then?)

Qixels offer that same delightful pleasure of multi-colored creation, but are a much quicker experience, which is needed in my time-conscious state of adulthood. And as a bonus, I knew my son would enjoy them, so how could it be bad to buy something that we could do together?

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The kids do Lego with Daddy (I suck at Lego), they do Minecraft with each other (I cannot get into Minecraft), but there’s nothing that Noah and I do together. But Qixels could provide.

And…you could say it totally did.

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This collection doesn’t even count the Qixel village he’s already given away in Sunday School.

(If your kid is in Noah’s class and came home with a cute little monster, chances are, I made it.)

I was immediately and unapologetically hooked.

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I found the most efficient ways to sort my Qixels and get them onto the frames. I found the exact amount of water that should be spritzed to make sure all the Qixels permanently stuck together, but still minimize dry time. I even began branching out on the templates, adding my own touches, like the awesomely funky purple belt and shoes on this cop,

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Creating commissioned Items for Noah, like a ninja,

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making twists on blank templates, like this tacky LSU fan,

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(I didn’t set out to make a tacky LSU fan – the blocks decided that),

And, my Sistine Chapel, taking a picture of a race car off a box,

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and slowly and methodically using it to help me create Lightning McQueen.

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I am not artistic in the least but in that moment I felt like the love child of Michelangelo and Pixar.

I wasn’t the only one being creative, though. Noah created an army of “Old Men” – this same character over and over, a delightfully jolly big-eared fellow.

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I lined the old men up in front of our creations and began thinking of them as pawns. Ooooh – a Qixel chess set. We could totally make that happen.

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Only later did I realize that Noah was making a tiny army of Jeff Sessionses.

Jeff Sessions Qixels

Chris took note of our obsession and bought Noah a tackle box in which to keep our his Qixels. The delight of the organization of our craft scored Chris many kisses. From me.

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But the thing about Qixels is, you always need more. When you’re creating tacky football fans and tiny Attorney Generals at our pace, they quickly deplete. And since I might have been creating at a slightly quicker clip than Noah, I might have also felt guilty about my over-Qixel usage (at his insistence and glee, but still…), so I also might have began to buy refill sets at an alarming pace. (Thankfully, they’re fairly inexpensive.) My Google search history is full of things like “bulk qixels” and my eBay and Amazon searches are full of attempts to get Qixels at a discount price. Noah basked in the benefits of his mother’s obsession, excitedly cheering when I’d open another refill pack.

This past Tuesday was when I knew it had gone too far.

Noah heard me open the door to get a package off the porch. Or rather, Noah heard me open the door and, from his position upstairs, assumed I was getting a package off the porch.

“Mom! Is that more Qixel Refills?”

“NO…Why would you think that??”

(But it totally was. And I hid them before he came downstairs.)

Guys, I might need a detox.