Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Progress in Making Resolutions is Hindered by My Lack of Initiative

It is once again that wonderful time of year where every one is guilted into making resolutions, the achievement of which would bring about absolute perfection, never ending happiness, and possibly world peace. Unfortunately I am too lazy to reach that far, so I am hoping to become just a little, teeny, barely noticeable bit better. In fact I am so lazy I decided to only make one resolution. With such a limited supply of motivation, and hoping to be fair, I decided to interview each resolution and choose the best one. Here is how it went:

So, Stop Yelling at the Kids, what brings you here today? What? You think I’m too quick to raise my voice? Psychological damage to the kids and all that? Well, I’ll consider it, but my house is noisier than a jumbo jet, so I’m pretty sure picking you would equal never being heard again (and as far as I can tell, I’m only heard 5% of the time already).


Loose 10 Pounds, what are you doing here?!? I thought if I ignored you long enough you would really go away. Some goals just can’t tell when they aren’t wanted. Yes, I’m aware I still have those pants in my closet, “just in case" and I think of you every time I accidentally look in the mirror clothes-less, but let’s be real; I can work on weight when I have less stress in my life. Take a look at my 6 kids and husband’s job- it ain’t happen’n anytime soon. Can you hand me those cookies on your way out?


Stronger Effort to Keep My House Clean, I’m sorry but you came at the wrong time. With Christmas exploded all around me and my kids under my foot for two weeks, I know there is no way my house will ever be anything close to clean until my kids are closer to 30. If you tried me at the beginning of the school year when I am basking in less kids time, you might make more headway. Hey, don’t cry. It’s not MY fault New Year Resolutions come when my kids are on break.


You do realize, Spend Less Time on the Computer, that I am typing this on my computer right now. Why are you wasting my time?


Bwah-ha-ha-hee-ho-ha-ha-ha-ha, gulp, sputter. I’m sorry, bwah-he-he, snort, I don’t mean to laugh. He-he-he, cackle. No, Replace Chocolate With Vegetables, come back! Ho-he-he-he. I didn’t mean to laugh. Bwah-ha, snort, gulp, sputter. No, really, you maybe should go . . .


Where did Go To Bed and Get Up Earlier go? Already off to sleep?  Well, I guess that’s an automatic disqualification.

Stay on a Budget? I’m sorry my husband is conducting his interviews down the hall.

Read My Scriptures Every Day, you’re so worn out and frail from years of use, I’m afraid to even interview you.


What?!? There’s no resolutions left to interview? Did they all just give up and go home? Isn’t there anything I can do that involves absolutely no personal effort or growth? I suppose I will resolve to resolve nothing this year. That is something I’m sure to keep.

Are you making better headway deciding on your New Year’s Resolutions?

(In actuality, my list making mania could never let an opportunity like New Years go by without seizing it. I’ve already spent a few days evaluating and deciding goals I want to make for this year. Also tweaking my routine and reorganizing how I create and follow my lists. But that would be boring to write about, so you get my blowing off steam instead.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Keeping to Tradition (of Forgetting Garbage Day)

This morning my dear husband stood in the middle of the kitchen and excitedly asked, "garbage?"

I, always on the same wavelength as my soul mate, tried to figure out how we could have lost the garbage can.  "It's missing?"  I ask, for an instant thinking he may have never known where it was in the first place (he did need help finding the dishwasher soap the other day).

"Did you take it out?"  he replied (complete with eye roll).  And that is when it hit me that, despite my best efforts, I have forgotten garbage day the week after Christmas AGAIN.  You'd think after I posted this last year, I would have remembered...

The Trouble With Garbage

{posted January 2009}

There is a fast held, unintentional tradition at our home: I will forget garbage day leading up to and winding down from Christmas. I'm not sure why this tradition persists. After the first few years you'd think I would make a more concerted effort to NOT forget. Yet, every year you can find me hitting my forehead with my palm as I see the line of now empty garbage cans lining my street.

The worst part of this tradition is that I am too cheap/lazy/determined to see it through to take the excess garbage to the dump myself. I choose the much less fun option of over stuffing my garbage can every week until all the garbage is gone. During most of the year this can be accomplished by the next week (as long as I don't decide to clean out my fridge/basement/closets that week, I'm sure I'm too smart to accidentally do that more than a few dozen times).

But Christmas provides enough trash for a week all by itself. In fact I have more garbage the entire month of December. Add to that the missed week (or two) leading up to Christmas and there is a lot of build up. One year, I forgot two weeks before and one week after Christmas. Yes, I do hold to this tradition that strongly. I spent three months compressing sacks and filling my can overflowing. If you don't believe me, ask my neighbor, who had to notice the sacks of extra garbage piled on my back porch. I really am that cheap/lazy/determined to see it through. (I do make sure the garbage waiting to go has the paper, packaging remnants, empty food boxes, and other nonrotting type things in it.)

This year I was determined to break with tradition. Until two Mondays before Christmas. As I drove through my neighborhood on the way home from running errands, I couldn't help but notice the blue garbage cans sitting along the curb. In front of all driveways but one. Palm, meet forehead. How did I not notice the cans on my way OUT of the neighborhood? I must have a strongly developed BLIND spot for the sake of tradition.

I went out to the garage for some forgotten reason early the Monday before Christmas. While frowning slightly at the unsightly pile waiting its turn from last week I realized the day. ACK! I almost forgot again. It had snowed all weekend so I ran into the house grabbed my boots and coat and ran the garbage can over the icepacked driveway entrance and out onto the street.

Then the week after Christmas, Monday morning again, my mother-in-law was kind enough to remind me of the big day. Of course, I don't know what led her to believe I'd forgotten. Hmmm. Anyway, she saved the day and my forehead from another slap.

Despite these two saves I'd still missed a week, so now I sit exactly where I am every January, with a pile of garbage sacks waiting their turn to enter the garbage bin. With all the extra company and accompanying trash, I should be trash free by at least February. As long as I don't forget garbage day again. I mean, who would be silly enough to forget garbage day on a regular basis?

Once a month isn't "a regular basis", is it? In fact, while writing this post I realized this isn't so much a Christmas tradition as a monthly tradition in my house. Christmas just makes forgetting garbage day A LOT more annoying. I hold that it is Peter's job to take out the garbage, even though I am the one who has always done it. "Always" not being the most accurate term in this case. But if I can pretend it is his job, then I can pretend it is his fault, right?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Normal? Don't Waste Time With That Fallacy

The other day I pulled out the good hot chocolate.  Stuff that requires milk instead of water, may cost more than drinking shaved gold, and must be how heaven tastes.  I keep it hidden from my children so it doesn't get wasted on their less cultured palates (it might kill me to see it congeled and forgotten on the cupboard like I regularly find the other hot chocolate).  So when my oldest son asked to have a cup, it was a big deal to allow him 4 tablespoons from my hoard.  And when I saw the teapot heating up as my oldest daughter pulled out a packet of Swiss Miss, I felt rather gracious informing her of my temporary generosity.
"That's okay, Mom, I like this kind just as well,"  was followed with a reflective "I know that's not normal, but I don't mind not being normal all the time."  Those are words of comfort to the mother of a near teenager.  I have noticed lately that many people, even at my age, are still battling the idea of Normal.

Normal.  There are three lifestyles I've noticed that are based around it. 

  1. There are those who spend their whole lives on a quest to achieve Normal with all goals centered around reaching that blessed state.  Differences sprout embarrassment or self castigation and are often hidden in shame.  If only I {whatever} like everyone else, then I would be happy, productive, liked.  If Normal is crafty, so must I be (even if I hate crafts, I just pretend).
  2. Then there are those so frightened of Normal they spend their lives running or hiding from it.  They think if match up to Normal too often, they will cease to exist as an individual.  They spend their whole life making sure they don't like Normal.  If Normal is crafty, I'm not interested in crafty.  I won't even try.   (I must admit that there was a time when this described me and I didn't do things merely because it was Normal or popular with women my age.  It wasn't until I overcame my fear of Normal that I found I liked scrapbooking and baking bread)
  3. With similar fear, but stronger reactions, are the fighters.  Somehow they see normal as an evil that must be eradicated, with shame and superiority as favorite weapons.   Normal is wrong and they seem bent on proving it.  Normal is mundane, small minded, ignorant, and low class.  They are different and that somehow makes them better than Normal. If crafty is Normal then those who like it should be ridiculed, I have too refined taste for such things.

What none of these people seem to understand is that Normal is really quite imaginary.  There are certainly norms and things many people have in common, but nobody typifies everything.  The longer I live the more I see how little anyone has in common with Normal.  Actually, a lot of conceptions on Normal depend on where you live.  I may be Normal with my 6 kids in Utah but I am odd here.  And it doesn't matter to me if I live where it is Normal or not, I enjoy my large family.  If you still think that everyone else is Normal and you're the odd one out, you need to look a little harder.  Besides, if you spend your time seeking, fighting, or hiding from Normal your going to miss how fun it is to be you! 

Don't be scared of not being Normal.  Hate chocolate?  Embrace that fact.  Prefer odd hair colors?  Why not!  But don't be scared of Normal either.  Like to scrapbook?  Read Twilight?  Prefer McDonalds?  Don't let a fear of Normal get in the way of liking what you like.  And if you find a knee jerk reaction to Normal is to argue or feel superior?  You need to reevaluate.  There are norms that should be argued, but there are norms that have good reasons, too.

So I say be who you are and throw Normal out the door.  It is when you stop worrying about Normal that you see how illusive a concept it is.  I hope my daughter keeps wanting to be herself.  I hope she continues to not mind Abnormalities and that she doesn't shun something merely because it's Normal.  I hope she knows that the only thing completely Normal is the lack of Normal.  I hope she can embrace that fact wholeheartedly.  (And I hope she continues to prefer the cheap hot chocolate so I can enjoy my expensive stuff in peace).

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Decorations (I'd like to claim temporary insanity)

Ever have a great idea that then becomes a teeny tiny bit of an obsession?  My cousin's wife gave me the idea for the ornament wreath and making it somehow gave me a bug.  A make all homemade ornaments this year bug.  I'm happy with the results (although I lack the photography skills to give it justice).

Homemade Ornaments:

Paper Triangle Balls:

(I made these a decade ago, but homemade all the same!)

Gingerbread Men (& Women):

Popcorn Garland:

The Wreath that Started It:

Bought this (but it took 3 years to figure out how to get it to stay on the top of the tree):

I'm thinking of posting tutorials these ornaments (wreath tutorial here), since most are a conglomeration of lots of google searching.

I'm finished now.  Except a Christmas banner and possibly these trees

Friday, December 4, 2009

Spontaneous Dancing

It is completely normal to break out into spontaneous dancing, right?  I was going to cut down the video into smaller clips, but I figured some of my friends and family might enjoy the entire 2.5 minutes.  A  few notes:

  • Elise was once grounded from her ipod and I begged Peter (who had done the grounding) to finally give it back because repeats of songs like this were making me crazy.
  • Last time my sister was here, her husband concocted a plan that involved running around the beach on New Year's Eve in boxer shorts.  Took video of Peter and him doing it, but Peter didn't want me to post it.  So I didn't.  May not have told him about this video.
  • This was during Thanksgiving break.  I had 6 adults and 10 children in my home (although at the time one sister and family had already left to go home), so judge kindly the state of the kitchen.
  • Don't ask about the kitchen cupboard doors, it is a sore spot and one of the joys of renting.
  • Don't ask about the decorating, either, as I am reluctant to spend too much money decorating a space unique to a rental (first person to point out we may live here longer than any other house our married life will get their pinky toes broken).
  • Yes, my sister really is that skinny with 2 babies the age of my youngest or younger, and yes, I am behind the camera the entire time so you can't compare our stomach sizes (or dancing ability).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Peter, Black Friday, & Sleep Deprivation are NOT Budget Friendly

Like all good Santas (are they all female or is that just my house?), I had made my list and checked it twice (or 100 times- don't judge my list making ways).  Nearly everything had been ordered, shopped, or at the very least planned.  I was a little short on Joseph so I scanned the Black Friday ads for ideas.  There, on page 4,096 of Toys'R'Us, was a {*Christmas*Present*Censor*}.  Five-year-olds love to jump and this might direct his energy in a less parental back straining direction (how often must I remind him not to jump on my back?).  So at the lovely hour of midnight I sent my husband out to purchase said item and promptly went to bed.

Now if you are unfamiliar with Black Friday, let me tell you it has long ago stopped being about the exceptional deals that save our meager budget.  Now we do it for the joy of the hunt.  We love pouring over the ads, making a grand scheme, and dreaming (in much too short dreams) about the deals we'll be making.  We've never been in a riot, instead having many a pleasant chat with all the other crazies waiting in line at 4 in the morning.  My husband and I find it, well, fun, something we look forward to and are disappointed if no door busters call our name.  I, however, was eschewing the nontraditional midnight time in favor of a 5 o'clock run to JoAnn's for $1.50/ yard flannel.

I knew I was in trouble when I woke to the phone ringing at 4:00AM; it could only mean one thing and Peter's brief message (when I was unable to find the portable phone in time) confirmed it: he was in Walmart and had been since leaving Toys'R'Us.  I knew he had been looking at that ad a little too long and often.  I stumbled around (I am blind without glasses, contacts, or light of any sort) until I found my cell phone and dialed my husband's  number, which promptly rang on the back of the couch.  He must have borrowed someone's phone to call me!

Even in my half awake state, I realized nothing good could be had from Peter wandering the door buster filled aisles of Walmart for 4 hours.  I grabbed his phone, threw on a jacket and trudged through the rain to the car.  Due to my husband's schedule, we had yet to doorbust in our new state and I was unsure about how busy it would be.  Pulling into the parking lot left no question: the entire thing was filled!  The doors were blocked off with one small entrance for the floods of people entering.  I walked the aisles for an hour, with no success, looking for my husband to deliver the phone and check his cart (in retrospect I should have used my cell phone to take pictures for People of Walmart, but I was too tired to think about it at the time).

Admitting an inability to find him among the throngs, I trudged home to await my fate.  My husband made it home by 5:30 and I surveyed the damage.  While waiting for the 3 {*Christmas*Present*Censor*} he stayed around all night to buy (arguing quite reasonably that it was the best deal he had ever found), he had wandered the store adding things to the cart.  For. FOUR.  hours.  His purchases included the board game, {*Christmas*Present*Censor*}, which we already own, and a {*Christmas*Present*Censor*} game that I had already bought (and showed him!).  There was also the {*Christmas*Present*Censor*} and the {*Christmas*Present*Censor*}, oh, and a {*Christmas*Present*Censor*} that we had discussed and decided not to buy for Joseph this year (ironically he was the one who wanted to wait till next year).

To make a long story even longer, he spent way more than the $30 I planned.  He did finish off the two older boys lists (even Ethan's list, which is always double due to his late December birthday).  He laughed about some of his choices (later when he wasn't sleep deprived).  Some of it will be waiting for birthdays, others will be added to Santa's list in lieu of things I hadn't yet bought, and still others will sit and taunt me with their hilariousness.  And Peter is grounded from Black Friday shopping alone.

The End

P.S. I had a lovely time at JoAnn's and A.C. Moore.  Hardly any crowds and plenty of flannel to go around.  Even spent time talking to a lovely woman about our Thanksgivings while waiting in the fabric cutting line.  I stayed within my own budget (kind of).

P.P.S.  I am glad Peter likes to be involved in the present buying and that we are blessed enough financially that blowing the budget was funny and not stressful (I do allow extra room every year in the Christmas budget because he buys something not in my plan for the kids) .

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Update

Being so far from family is by far the hardest thing about living where I do (although a lack of CiCi's Pizza and Sonic and many other fast food chains I have come to crave) come in a close second).  In North Carolina, I had two sisters a couple hours away; now they are my nearest relatives, but at a 12 hour distance.  Somehow I was able to bribe and beg (and possibly add a slight bit of guilt) both sisters to drive up for Thanksgiving.  The good news for them is that after holiday traffic added an extra 3 to 4 hours to both their drives, the balance of guilt capital has decidedly switched back to them.

It was a wonderful, but too quickly over, few days.  I enjoyed seeing my niece and nephews.  Um, my sisters and their husbands weren't too bad either, but I couldn't hold and love on them nor smile at the things they say and do (at least not to their faces!).  I intended to get copies of all the photos everyone took, but forgot so I will share the sparse ones I took.

Thanksgiving itself went wonderfully.  My brother-in-law, Ken, spent Wednesday night making a pumpkin cheesecake that I accidentally dropped.  Luckily it more imploded than splattered and still tasted wonderful (although it looked a little, well, dropped).  That was the worst mishap of the day and for that I can be extra grateful!

So in the last week of preparation, company, and recovery I haven't had time for much else.  Now that all I have left is Christmas, I'm sure to have lots of time to hang out online.  Actually I do have a story about my husband's Black Friday experience,  my Christmas decoration preparation (I wasn't kidding about going slightly crazy), a video of my family dancing, and other sundry things banging around the inside my head. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

O Amazon

It is once again the time of year where I am thankful so many of my presents come directly to my front porch.  As I was doing my Christmas shopping this morning in my PJ's, I remembered my ode to Amazon I wrote last year and thought I would post it again!

O Amazon,
O Amazon
I love you so much

I Christmas shop
with kids asleep
and hubby gone.
Sanity I keep. 

O Amazon,
O Amazon,
I love you so much

Your prices rock,
Selection's great.
I’ve never had
You ship too late.

O Amazon,
O Amazon,
I love you so much

Supersaver shipping
changed my life.
Ship straight to friends
Saves me some strife.

O Amazon,
O Amazon,
I love you so much

Come home and find
At my front door
Another box arrived
from your great store.

O Amazon,
O Amazon,
I love you so much


Monday, November 16, 2009

Just Another Typical Afternoon (of Chaos)

And now for another episode of Sanity is Overrated featuring abandoned children, idiotic cars, and obliging friends...

The afternoon opens with Peter on his way to a doctor's appointment (the first in WAY too long) and Elise waiting to be picked up from an after school activity.  I am headed out the door, having timed my departure from the house so I can pick up Elise and go directly to piano lessons.  The other 5 children are getting in the car at their usual pace of turtle/snail.

It takes me a moment to remember why I parked the car backwards.   **  This is the part where I flash you back to yesterday where I realized on the way home from church that I was nearly out of gas.  Or at least I might be, it is hard to tell when your fuel gauge only goes down to a 1/4 tank.  I had decided to risk making it home.  **    I was worried enough about my gas level to think parking on a down slope was important, but had completly forgotten I was running low until that very moment.  Great, a stop at the gas station will make me late picking up Elise.

If only that was the worst of it.  The Suburban is out of gas.  The gas container for the lawn mower is obviously hidden next to the porch.  So obvious that I find it after several minutes of looking in the garage and a call to my husband confessing my overreliance on fumes.  The sloshing liquid looks less than a half gallon, but it is enough to start the car ... if the battery hadn't died in the five minutes I left the keys in the ignition and the car door open.

Peter, who is only 20 minutes into the 25 minute drive to the doctor and ironically at the exit for piano lessons, turns around to pick up our daughter, who, in turn, is only sitting outside the school 30 minutes later than all the other students.  (Luckily she called me to find out why I wasn't there; my call to the school office went unanswered.)  They swing past the house to jump start the Suburban (a task we are quickly perfecting, stupid car) and Peter follows me to the gas station, ensuring his family isn't stranded by the side of the road.  He needn't of worried, I had enough gas to enter the station, realize I turned in wrong, pull out, drive back around, and reenter with the fuel tank on the correct side.   By the time we get to piano, the kids have been sitting in the car an hour.  Their feelings on waiting so long are EXTREMELY clear and have been for at least 45 of the 60 minutes.

The piano teacher is understanding that we are a half hour late, the doctor willing to postpone Peter's appointment an hour.  There seems to be only one relationship damaged: I am not on speaking terms with my fuel gauge lying, too small battery Suburban.

This stress filled afternoon is why ...

... I never called back my sister (sorry Brenda!).

... I dumped out and reorganized my friend's Dora memory game during piano lessons. (Nothing wrong with trying to find some order somewhere.)

... I cruelly snickered when Peter called (on the way to a recruiting dinner before heading out to the night shift- did I mention I'm a single parent tonight?) after his doctors appointment  to tell me he has been permanently banned from aspartame (in all diet drinks) and caffeine.  

... we had Burger King for dinner.  Well, also because I am susceptible to commercials, despite the fact that I fast forward through most of them.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Whistler's Mother (A Cautionary Tale)

Once upon the time there lived a beautiful princess full of patience, wit and grace; but this story isn't about her. It is about a slightly frazzled, frumpy, grumpy mother who, cursed by the evil work schedule of her husband, had to take all the children to the far away land of piano lessons (even though only the oldest three take them).

During this long journey, amidst conflicts and territorial disputes, an annoying sound permeated the air: the sound of whistling. "Please stop whistling," this mother would ask her 3rd child and for a time it would stop. But the yearning of expression is strong and inevitably the whistling would start again. Loudly, the same lines over and over and over and over till the mother wanted to jam something, anything, into her ears to keep that tune from echoing inside her already stressed out mind.

"JUST STOP WHISTLING NOW!!!" She finally exclaimed in a last ditch effort to preserve sanity. In the stunned silence that followed the mother could (finally) hear her conscience whisper, "Dude, that was a bit harsh." In an effort to restore any lost or broken confidence in her tender son, she followed the outburst by weakly chuckling, "You know, you are just like your father, he is always whistling, too. Can't help it."

And That Was The Fatal Flaw Which Sealed Her Fate Forever.

"Just like Dad. I whistle all the time just like Dad." Now her entire house is filled with the whistling of this young child. Interspersed with, "You know I whistle all the time, just like Dad." One can hear the forced quality to the whistle, but it is quickly being engulfed by a more natural, habitual sound. Years of living with a unaware, prolific whistler are now twice as fun. She inadvertently created a monster.

The moral of this story? Never, ever, EVER drive with Peter or Ethan on a long car trip. Especially if the radio is broken.

The End.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Theory of Sleep Deprivation & Chirstmas Ideas

It is once again that time of year. The time where I wake up and realize Christmas is only a few weeks away and I have six kids and I had promised myself I would start Christmas preparation months ago. It is quite unfortunate that this realization always comes just after late nights of  Halloween prep compounded by the evil time switch of daylight savings. Because I am sleep deprived. Not enough to appear overly grumpy (ha ha!), but enough to definitely impair my judgement.

I hold that this is the reason I decide that playing Santa to 6 kids isn't enough stress in my life. It's inadequate rest that makes creating all homemade decorations sound lovely. Staying up late to order on Amazon is directly related to the inspiration of cooking five hundred thousand cookies for neighbors and friends. (If I had pushed my bedtime another hour I might have decided to hand quilt them all blankets!)

It is a vicious cycle. A night of stitching individualized book marks leads to a (too early) morning and an idea to bake every Christmas pastry known to humankind. Welcoming the next new day at its earliest beginning, still brushing glazes on bread, will definitely mean choosing to go with hand quilled snowflakes. And as the paper rolling winds into another all nighter, my sleep deprived ideas are fueled into even wilder ideas.

So far this year I have kept my ideas to a minimum. Except the crayon holders, Christmas banners, painted ornaments, and husband's coworker gift. Did I mention my dearest husband is enabler to my lack of sleep creativity?

So if I seem a little distracted, perhaps snoozing in the middle of conversations or forgetting little things like my name or pants, please excuse me. At least there will be enough cookies, decorations, and hand sewn gifts to last a lifetime (or at least till next November).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Overcoming What Life Throws at You (3-Year-old Style)

It all started with a common morning complaint of growing young children, "My leg hurts."

I assumed it was typical growing pains, he had complained similarly a few days before, but an hour later this Friday morning he was still limping around the house like a zombie. Groaning, too.

I knew it was getting serious when he started asking to be carried wherever he went, opting to sit the rest of the time. That is not normal for any of my children. After several attempts to get things done were foiled by my shadow whimpering, "Mommy" while trailing behind me with an increasingly severe limp, I gave up and spent the afternoon on the couch with him. He fell asleep long enough for me to get some work done and woke unwilling to walk at all with a visably swollen knee.

Saturday morning Peter took him to get an X-ray: no apparent broken bones, swelling didn't look like an infection, traumatic injury of some sort probable. (Did I mention that I have no idea how the leg was injured? Not even a clue.) Appointments made on Monday with an orthopedist to make sure.

But my son was tired of waiting to be carried around. He simply wasn't going to wait to be pampered. The 2nd day of injury he was up and down the steps, all over the house, on and off the couch, and giggling while playing hide and seek with his siblings all while vehemently eschewing most attempts to be carried. He wasn't walking, but had perfected his own technique:
(Note- this was Halloween day, I was busy with things other than sweeping. This is what my floors look like after one day.)

So, what do you do when life throws you for a loop? I was impressed how well (and quickly) Matthew adapted. He wasn't grouchy about it, he didn't even complain. In fact, he was delightfully cheerful the entire time he scooted. He just dealt with it. More often than not I spend a lot of time fretting about what I can't do instead of looking for solutions that will work within my limitations. I am hoping to become a little more like my little son the next time life decides to challenge me.

Post-Script: Sunday he was willing to tentatively put weight on his leg, taking a few steps by the end of the day and waking up Monday without limp or complaint. Found him jumping on the mini-trampoline. Cancelled the ortho appointment, kept his leg wrapped another day, and all appears to be well.

Post-Post-Script: Just watched the video. Didn't comment on the noice because I forgot not all of you are used to the regular Saturday noise level of my house. This might actually be considered a quiet moment. And my boys are practicing Mario Cart in the hopes of one day defeating my friend's husband- they are out for you, Clark...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween

There is something about autumn that wakes up the craftiness in me.  I may only use my sewing machine and glue gun for Halloween and Christmas, but it often totals the entire 3 months.  And then the craftiness in me hibernates another 9 months.  I always think I will keep it going; I do, after all, enjoy it, but it takes that long to recover from the late nights of those last months of the year.

This year we went with a more loosely held theme for Halloween.  We had everyone choose someone from history.  After Ethan chose an obscure Japanese ruler from a PS3 game called Civilization Revolution, we limited it to Western history.  I made a total of 5 tunics without a pattern.  I had no idea how easy they were. May need to figure out how to always use tunics in my costumes.

I made spider cookies and our traditional Dinner in a Pumpkin.  Peter and the kids carved a couple pumpkins.  But mostly I sewed, measured, glued, and painted.  Here is the breakdown:

Peter was Caesar.  I was particularly proud of his costume because I made it all without a pattern.  The laurel wreath took some thinking, but gold spray paint, hot glue, old fake leaves a I already had, and pipe cleaners did the trick.

I was Cleopatra.  A little but of a frumpy Cleo, but I can't complain.  Also made up the costume without a pattern. 

Elise was Amelia Earhart.  This costume was chosen before knowing about the movie.  Her costume was store bought and she has been wearing the jacket for over a week again.

Ryan was King Tut.  My sister helped me with ideas for the headpiece.  The snake was a rubber one that  I cut the head off and spray painted.

Ethan was Leif Ericson.  Another costume I made up completely.  The shield is a pizza pan and the helmet was a cheap plastic one I fancied up.

Kirsti was Queen Elizabeth.  When we went trick or treating, she was every one's favorite.  I bought the dress (I have made princess dresses before and knew what a pain they were), but added the white collar.  After looking all over town for a red wig, I gave up and spray painted a blond one.

Joseph was Abraham Lincoln.  His was the first pattern I used.  Couldn't think of another way to get the old fashioned coat.  The beard was left over of Ethan's cape and a cut up sock.  The hat was foam.

Matthew was Joseph and the multicolored coat.  Made up that one, too.  He hurt his leg a few days before Halloween and wouldn't put any weight on it.  So we carried him the near mile around the block.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mishaps, Mistakes, & Misadventures- Or How My Week Went

I scarred my hand.  Slightly over flipping my pumpkin rolls onto the waiting powder-sugared towel resulted in an unwelcome meeting between my skin and the cookie pan.  What was once perfectly fine skin (howbeit slightly older looking than I had realized) was instantly streaked with a 2nd degree burn.  A permanent one inch reminder of my favorite fall snack.

The next day I met a unhappy kindergartner at the door after school.  I had neglected to remind him his siblings were attending an after-school activity, making his bus ride a solitary one.  In my absentmindedness, he also walked home alone from the bus stop.  If he hadn't been upset, I can't guarantee I would have noticed he walked in alone and may have left the two other children stranded at the school.

Searching for a lunch, I pulled out left over soup.  It wasn't till I took the first bite that I calculated it had been left overlooked in the fridge a little too long.  First bite was last bite and my appetite was not left over to find an alternative meal choice.

I had a Frogger schedule for the kids on Saturday.  Hop here, move here, drop off here and then head backwards; I puzzled together a way to get two kids to birthday parties, and a couple other kids over to play with friends.  After dropping off my son at a party at the bowling alley, I found I had miswritten the ending time.  Frogger End of Game.  Unfortunately, I couldn't start over and repuzzle;  instead I begged an early drop off at the second child's party and made the 40 minute round trip in a mere 45 minutes, arriving to pick up the first with 5 minutes to spare.

Why 45 minutes?  While driving to the party, I missed the turn off the main road.  The turn to a house I go to almost twice a week.  It was the second regularly taken turn I had missed that day.  I turned into a museum parking lot to turn around, but unwittingly entered a long, one-way winding drive to reach the parking lot and exit.  As I waited to turn back onto the street, the woman in the neighboring car asked directions to a pretty main road (in fact, it was actually directions to the road that leads back to my house).  It wasn't until I myself turned that I realized the exit was on a different street than I thought.  I had sent the poor woman off perpendicularly from her desired destination.  She may have hit California by now.

I allowed my kids to cut up magazines, but accidentally handed them the pile I hadn't yet read.  I left the house three times with lip liner in place and lipstick neglected.  I grumbled all day when my daughter took my jacket to school, only to find it hanging on its hook (luckily 5 minutes before she got home).  I had to restart a Sudoku puzzle four times for silly mistakes.

I had a wonderful week.  We enjoyed a trip on a steam train and a riverboat ride.  Chili’s returned their 2 for 20 menu. I found a heavy GAP jacket in Ryan’s size at the consignment shop. And the material I needed to finish Peter’s costume was ½ off at JoAnn’s. But things were a little off.  Or perhaps I was just a little off.  Probably I was just distracted.  You see, every time I leave my house, this is what I see:

I apologize, I was about 2 days late to catch the most vivid reds.
This post is about a week two weeks past, but the pictures are from this week.
Just imagine the trees more beautiful than they appear here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Where I Admit I Never Intended to Be the Halloween Family

Some of our family traditions are holdovers from my youth, while others were purposely introduced and tweaked to fit our family. But there are other traditions, too. Just as important are the the accidental traditions (and also the every day, barely realized traditions, but that is a whole other post).

We were once a normal family.  Well, at least we were normal as far as our Halloween celebration.  We threw something together sometime before Halloween either buying something new, making something, or recycling previous costumes.  Just like everyone else.  I even have some photo proof:

But then we unwittingly became some other type of family.  The first year past Peter's residency we I decided to have some fun with Halloween.  After all, we could finally afford it.  Star Wars was big that year, so we all dressed up as different Star Wars characters.  I didn't account that this was our first year in North Carolina, so no one had seen our more regular costuming traditions.  We were suddenly THE over the top Halloween family.  It wasn't just in the neighborhood and church.  Peter worked Halloween evening and somehow I convinced him to go in costume.  We came up to show his coworkers all our costumes.

The next year people started asking Peter and me in September what our theme would be.

Accidental traditions are often born this way.  Something done on a whim finds a comfortable fit and becomes a permanent fixture in a family's fabric.  It turns out Peter and I enjoy dressing up.  Even the kids like going with a theme.  They start coming up with ideas in November.  By August we've decided on a theme and in September final individual costumes are decided.  Then I think, shop, sew, glue, tape, paint, and google.

I was worried Elise might be getting a little old to think dressing in a family theme was cool.  I  was wrong.  This year she has convinced several friends to dress up and come to the elementary Halloween festival with their younger siblings. 

Anyway, this is why I disappeared from the cybersphere this week.  I knew what everyone was going to be and had bought most of the supplies, but hadn't started putting everything together yet.  Monday I realized the school party was Saturday and it took a solid 5 days to make the costumes.  I finished this afternoon (a whole day early!) and will have pictures tomorrow.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Can You Just Forget You Know That?

I know in my last post I talked about how wonderful it is to have more independent children, but there are some things I would rather they hadn’t learned:

  • Chicken nuggets at fast food places can come with sauces.
  • Fast food places also offer children’s meals and they come with toys.
  • We have unlimited text and, despite their lack of cell phone ownership, they can use mine.
  • IPhones have game apps.
  • I’m a sucker for math oriented games and books. When asked for, they’ll usually get them.
  • Our CD player has a repeat song feature.
  • Chances are high I won’t notice if they wear the same shirt twice. Definitely won’t notice underwear.
  • As long as they’re being quiet, they can stay up late. I won’t check until I’m going to bed.
  • I won’t wake up if someone sneaks into my bed.
  • When I'm in the middle of a book (or blog post) I'm not really paying close attention to what they're doing. 
  • Forgiveness is easier to obtain than permission (especially in the kitchen).
  • I can’t tell if they throw something in their packed school lunch away or eat it.
  • They can DVR shows. Press record twice and get the entire season.
  • The existence of the Disney Channel, Full House re-runs, and What Not to Wear.

Do you have knowledge you wish your kids would just forget?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I Will Not Be Adopting Monkeys Anytime Soon

Sometimes I wonder if I'm normal.  OK, honestly I have no delusions of being normal, but I wonder just how odd I am.  The other day I watched a show called "My Monkey Baby."  It was about people who adopt monkeys and treat them as their children.  One of the reasons given was how much they missed feeling needed in the way only small baby or toddler needs.  The hunger for absolute dependency. 

Granted, my ideas of normal shouldn't be formed by people who get angry when their monkeys are referred to as monkeys, but, still, I have heard that sentiment before.  I wonder if I am alone in feeling relief as my children grow independent: when I put up my crib for the last time I was excited, I smile as I give away clothes finally too small for me to keep as hand-me-downs, I love sending my children to school and watching them perform tasks for themselves I once had to do.  As each stage ends I leave it behind without remorse, regret or longing.  Not that I didn't find joy in my toddlers, just that I am completely okay with being finished with that stage.  Granted, I have been dealing with the terrible twos for a dozen years, so I may be suffering from over kill.

Last week I had book club at my house and decided to attempt balancing out my fireplace with some pots.  It wasn't till after everything was in place that I realized I had reached yet another milestone.  The pots were on the floor.  After years of keeping everything higher than a toddler can reach (with or without a chair), I can finally use my floor space again.  It was a happy thought.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

We Finally Remember to Visit a Corn Maze

A couple weeks ago we decided to get lost. And we decided to take some friends with us. After years of remembering I wanted to go to a corn maze only after they had all closed for the season, I actually dragged the family out at the beginning of corn maze season.

We learned a lot. Important things like no matter how fast you're going, if the other group has a navy sub navigator with them, they will beat you out of the maze. Also, giving 11 year old boys control over navigation will lead to dead ends not shown on the map (Peter learned this, not me). Also, a large black pipe is all children really need to be happy. And I will forget to get any photos in the maze, only playing outside it.

Lastly, it looks like fall is arriving in New England. Be still my heart.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Moms Say the Darndest Things

Things that have actually come out of my mouth:

  • "You can not go outside until you've played that video game!"

  • "Broccoli? Are you sure you don't want fries as your side?"

  • "That's it! You're grounded from reading."

  • "Stop doing those dishes!"

  • "Put those away, we're not reading scriptures right now."

  • "Are you sure you're really feeling OK? Your not faking well to go to school again are you?"

  • "Get down here, you are going to watch this TV show!"

  • "I better not see you doing your homework."

  • "Please tell me the underwear you're wearing on your head came out of the clean laundry pile."

  • "Next time why don't you let me clean up your puke."
Ever hear something come out of your mouth and can't believe you actually said it (and/or wonder how such a phrase could possibly be necessary?) Life sure can be weird sometimes.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Being a Laid Back Mother Makes Well Child Checkups Rather Uncomfortable

My lack of clean clothes did not bode well for Matthew's doctor appointment. (I ended up wearing a shirt so faded it's nearing its initiation into the "only wear why cleaning" pile and Matthew's underwear had an unraveling waistband.)

So sporting a slightly frumpy & frazzled look, we started the interview with the doctor. It went something like this:

Doctor, "So this is Matthew's first time to visit us?"

"Is it?" I madly try to remember which of the kids I have or have not yet to bring to the doctors' office. It is difficult. When I had our last pediatrician release our records to this office, they didn't have charts on my two oldest- I hadn't brought them in the entire time I lived there. I figure, as quickly as I can, that 3 of my kids have been to this office, 3 have not. "Yes, I guess you're right."

Doctor, slightly confused about why I am confused then asks, "So you just moved to the area?"

"Well, it's been almost 2 years now."

Doctor, slightly flustered that this statement of my lack of medical care for my healthy child didn't fluster me, "I see that he has had a couple of ear infections."

"He has?" I knew I had brought him in for some sort of meet the doctor thing 6 months ago! That is the only way that could have been written in the file, because by now I have forgotten that I ever wrote ear infection down on his history. Then I realize that most mothers would remember this because they would have come in for the infection, whereas Peter took care of it for me so I'd forgotten. Besides, I am already failing this interview so I try to cover with, "Oh, yeah. Ear infections. Yep."

Doctor, in the hopes of frustrating me as much as I've frustrated her, "So he is behind on his immunizations, he needs shots today."

"Yeah, I know. These are the last set before his kindergarten shots, right?"

Doctor, thinking I should be breaking down in tears from my lack of proper child care, "No. He has to get a set of shots today and then more for kindergarten. You are BEHIND on shots."

"I know I'm behind, this will catch him up. This is the LAST set BEFORE his kindergarten shots, right?"

Doctor, begrudgingly admitting that I'm right and that I knew where Matthew stood with his immunizations, "Yes."

Then came some exciting questions about his development:

Can he say his full name? "I have no idea, every time I ask he thinks it is a game of coming up with silly names." I ask him his name right there and it turns out he does know his full name. I politely not notice that the doctor seems disappointed.

Can he copy a circle and line? "I don't know."

You mean he doesn't color at home?!? "Oh yeah, he colors. I've just never asked him to draw a circle. Oh, wait. He draws people with circles and two lines for the legs, so change my answer to yes he can."

You didn't answer if he can ride a bike. "Our tricycle broke 2 kids ago, so I'm not sure. He can scooter and ride this tractor thing (which unfortunately hasn't broken through all 6 kids), but it doesn't have pedals. "

Is he in a day school program? "Nope."

At this the doctor's eyebrows raised and I thought I heard a suppressed tongue click. I felt bad, not about how I am raising Matthew, but that I wasn't going to explain to this lovely lady that I had 6 kids and I had learned to not sweat the small stuff. I'm pretty sure it would have hurt my case even more.

The worst part of the whole visit was when I found out Matthew thought getting the shots meant he was old enough to ride the bus to school with Joseph. Anyway, turns out he is a healthy, normal 3 year old, but I already knew that. Luckily these things only happen once a year (or at least are supposed to happen once a year). So that means I won't be going back for ... about a month, when I have the makeup appointment for the appointment I accidentally missed for Ryan. I am expecting it to be a lot of fun. As long as they don't ask me any questions expecting an actual, knowledgeable answer.
Maybe they'll just give up if we come in regular attire:

PS- Is the slogan "immunize by 2, it's up to you" or "immunize by 3, it's up to me"? Because I'm hoping its the latter.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

How Do You Thank Friends Like That?

As I was getting ready for my trip last week, I started to have an odd sensation. It felt like nervousness, but I couldn't place why I was feeling it. Then, suddenly, it hit me: I had never left all my children overnight with nonfamily. Now I was leaving them and going over 2 hours away. My children are pretty independent, but there was no way to judge how they would react to a complete disruption of routine and normalcy. In honesty, I was more worried about what that would mean for my friends (who had graciously offered to take the kids) than to my children. Because I know what it is like for me when my children have a break down. It is not a pleasant experience!

So we dropped off the youngest, leaving the other children to be picked up after school, and headed to New York. Then I forgot to call. All evening. It wasn't till half way through dinner (way past bedtimes) that it occurred to me I hadn't checked in with anyone. I made a couple of quick calls and talked to one of my friends, who assured me all was well. The next morning I finally talked to the same batch of kids. My phone somehow missed my other friend calling me back, even though I was holding the phone in my hand at the time it should have been ringing.

So after the play, as I headed home, I finally got ahold of everyone and made my plans for regathering the kids. I reached the first house (the one where I hadn't spoken to the kids for 2 entire days). The reaction was luke warm from Ethan and Kirsti, until Matthew saw me. Then it turned downright acidic. So I loaded up the kids, my 3 year old screaming that he didn't want to leave yet, and begging me to let him move there. I arrived home to meet my second group. Ryan had fallen asleep, Joseph was enjoying cuddle time with my friend, and Elise was in the bath. Glad to know I was missed.

Actually, I was relieved my children had fun. But I was left in a quandary. How do you thank friends who watch your children overnight, make special trips into town to drop and pick them up from school, are kind enough that your children are comfortable staying there, and then insist that your children were delightful? How? It is the last part that left me totally stumped. I love my children fiercely, but am perfectly aware that they can be a bit difficult. Granted Elise no longer dumps flour all over the cupboards, Ryan doesn't take apart electrical outlets, and even Joseph is beginning to calm down a bit, but still I get nervous that after watching my kids people might question their sanity for having offered. Even if they did, they didn't let on to me at all. That is true kindness.

I was thinking proper thanks might include kidney donation or indentured servitude, but settled on more standard chocolate and a gift card from Chili's. Oh, and undying gratitude. Thanks guys!

Friday, September 18, 2009

What Happens When ED Doctors Eat Together

Our first night in NYC Peter and I attended a recruiting dinner for his company. Not only did we get to eat at a fancy restaurant, I had the entertainment of listening to conversations in a room full of emergency room doctors. Are you ready to replay the evening?

We got out of the gate a little slowly: because we arrived there early, the only other people present were a couple other directors of emergency rooms run by Peter’s company. Conversation topics included “what computer system is your site running?”, “what is your volume these days?”, and “did you hear how many doctor hours that ED staffs every day?"

Luckily the residents finally arrived and conversation quickened to an exciting pace. We steered our way through various odd topics. Comparing the weirdest way they’d witnessed someone intake drugs (shooting heroine directly into the radial artery) naturally turned to the oddest arm cases treated (an industrial power washer hitting the arm and shooting it full of water). Somehow this topic turned the conversation toward the “regulars”. Every ED has them. Every ED doctor (and nurse) knows them by name. It can be entertaining to compare the creativity your regular’s pain meds seeking excuses with regulars in other cities.

Unfortunately the conversation stalled for a while on what sort of ultrasound equipment is used/preferred/disliked in their departments. But not to worry, it sped up again when they started talking about appropriate names to call unwilling consultants, which would be inappropriate to tell here. (You imagine what you would call a urologist who refuses to see a patient in your department.) Then there were the reasons they’d been written up before. (Can you believe that sometimes an emergency room doctor loses his/her cool? Peter apparently asked a patient’s husband once were he got his medical degree).

Naturally the conversation meandered through favorite reverse discrepancies (mostly they focused on when the nighttime radiologist resident reads a test one way and the next morning the attending radiologist reads it differently. The ED doctor must then call the patient and tell them their initial diagnosis was wrong. Turns out ED doctors HATE that!) Sounds sort of boring, but you’re talking about brain bleeds, broken bones, and any number of reasons to get CAT scans and X-rays.

The conversation ended on the not so high note of favorite intubation tools. Yawn? Um, they are talking about how to jam tubes and scopes down people’s throats. I may have had no idea what the names of the equipment were or understood what they were doing once they started speaking in pure medical terminology, but I did find it extremely entertaining to watch the eyes around the table brighten as increasingly bizarre techniques and/or equipment were mentioned. Protected airways never seemed more exciting.

And that was the journey of dinner last night. If you can’t take words like cadaver, blood, puke, septic, or anal exam while eating, never attend a dinner party exclusively made up of doctors.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Brilliant Plan, Except the Part Where I Wore Heels in NYC

Brilliant plans are often a collaborative effort. Ours began with a realization. Several months ago I was reading about a friend going to see Wicked. I thought it sounded like fun and left it at that, until one day it hit me that, living only a couple hours from Broadway, there really wasn’t anything keeping me from going. All I needed was a reason to be in NYC without kids.

(A side note/paragraph: in most things pop culture I am an idiot. I wanted to see this play simply because everyone kept saying how good it was. I went into it having never heard any of the music and knowing only the vaguest of plotlines, which mostly came from reading the first part of the book before I put it down because it was so filthy. I apologize for this shocking revelation, continue with the story.)

The second part to our plan came only a couple days later when Peter called me with a suggestion. His company had planned 2 recruiting dinners in NYC on my birthday and the following night. Since he has to attend a couple dinners every year, why not fly my mom out to watch the kids and make it an extended date/birthday present. Desire to be in NYC kids free plus a reasonable excuse to do so (with the bonus that Wicked has matinees on Wednesdays) meant the birth of a workable plan.

When I mentioned our idea to a couple of friends, they graciously offered to split my kids between them and save us my mom’s airfare for another day. I decided to cut my stay by a night, go to only one of the dinners, the matinee the next day, and then go home. It was a perfect plan.

(Another side note: it turns out that my sister already had tickets to fly out to visit my mom that week so she wouldn’t have been able to fly out to watch my kids anyway. So don’t feel gypped Mom!)

The weekend before my birthday I began to wonder what exactly one would wear to Broadway (and to a professional recruiting dinner). Can you believe that business casual does not make up a large part of my wardrobe? Then I remembered that it this was all my birthday present so I went shopping. Sometime during the shopping spree I decided it would be fun to try the whole jeans with high heels look. A new pair of jeans and shoes were added to list.

So the kids were successfully handed off to friends, the dinner was kind of fun, I like my new outfits, and my very first Broadway play was fantastic!! It was great to have some time alone with Peter and just talk. The only flaw was deciding to wear heels when I know our favorite thing to do in any city is walk around. Aimlessly. For hours. For miles. My feet are less than happy (turns out the prefer comfort over style). But every silver lining has to have a cloud, right?

Extra thanks to my friends for watching the kids- that deserves (and will get) a post in itself! As does the adventures of walking around NYC for a day and a half. As does the conversation at a dinner table full of emergency room doctors.

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 Changed My Life. Twice.

Matthew is three. Somehow I'd forgotten how exciting the third birthday can be. He knew it was coming and he anticipated this day for at least the last week. Every time someone told him, "Happy Birthday!" today he would run to his cake and ask for us to "put the lighter on it, so we can sing." He sat completely still beside his pile of wrapped presents for 15 minutes, waiting for his siblings' arrival home from school. He couldn't contain his excitement as each gift was finally unwrapped. In short, it was joyfully adorable.

And yet, hanging over it all was the day. My youngest was born exactly 5 years after the 9/11 attacks. The overwhelming sadness that accompanies remembering that day was always present, looming over everything we did and said. I can't avoid it, I don't want to avoid it. I feel strongly my responsibility to NOT forget.

Until now I've been able to compartmentalize the day. Give Matthew some festivity and take time for solemn reflection. But this year, now that he knows what a birthday means, it was much more difficult. How do you celebrate while mourning or mourn while celebrating?

I think it must be similar (and probably even easier) than those who lose a loved one on a holiday.

It didn't help that he choose a firetruck birthday cake. If I had realized the irony before this morning, I might have encouraged a different choice. As it was, as I passed the cake sitting on the counter all day, I was reminded of my torn emotions. My heart swelled at the gift of my son and his sweet innocence. Yet, my heart sank as I thought of those that lost their life and a national loss of innocence. How is it a heart can do both? How do you survive a day when you're torn into two? (And, do you think it will affect him, that his mother grieves on his birthday?)

Today was a very strange day for me.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Short Post Announcing the End of Diapers in Our House

I have tried 3 times to write a post about how wonderful it is that my youngest potty trained himself and had only a handful of accidents before getting it. Unfortunately, I can't get around my propensity to share too much information and my comfortableness (after 12 years of changing diapers and potty training 6 kids) in using potty words. In short, I'd read the post I was in the middle of writing and think, "If I'm worried it might be too crass, then it must of really crossed the line." So I kept erasing the posts.

Let's just leave it at this:

  • he has not had any accidents for over a week,

  • he decided to wear underwear a whole 2 weeks before he turned 3 (when I would have pressed the issue),

  • he refuses to sit down to pee but has been finally convinced it is necessary when in the women's public restroom,

  • he keeps going outside wearing only underwear

  • (and for a brief moment today I worried he may have snuck out wearing even less).

And I didn't even have to try to think of a nice word for bowel movement. So there you have it: until I become incontinent myself, I am officially finished with diapers. For 7 years I was changing a child in diapers and for 5 years I was changing two. A dozen years and I am done!! I am one happy, happy mother.

(P.S.- I wait until they're three because I had a horrible, terrible, excruciating experience potty training my oldest. You'd think she would have been ready when she kept trying to change her own poopy diapers, but you'd be wrong. It was horrible enough that I would rather change diapers an extra year and wait till the kids are old enough to be trained in a couple days. This was the first time I learned that it is far better to wait till a child is old enough to learn something rather than to beat us both up trying to do it before they're ready. That lesson was ALMOST worth the terrible experience)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

This Playroom Will Self-Destruct in 5 Seconds

Unlike my husband and children, I have long since outgrown my youthful belief in the housekeeping fairy. However, I absolutely believe, and live in fear, of the housekeeping goblin. The facts are overwhelming: he attacks my home daily.

At times you may see me prancing through the house and wonder if I've joined some new age, abstract dance group. The answer, of course, is No. I am procrastinating a trip to the restroom. But Charlotte, you may ask, don't you have 5 restrooms in that house you're leasing? Surly they aren't all out of order again? Yes, I do, and they're all working (and actually clean right now). The problem is I know as soon as I shut the bathroom door, the housecleaning goblin will strike, destroying my house. It is uncanny! It doesn't matter if I take 1 second or 10 minutes- that goblin is fast. One instant is all he needs.

Sometimes, when the kids come home from school, all I have to do is blink and that goblin has worked its evil magic. Papers strewn across the room, backpacks flung to high heaven, lunch bags freeing their lingering crumbs. Not to mention the shoes and socks decorating any and every flat surface not already taken by art projects and $1 toys from the prize box.

If there is a housekeeping goblin, as I firmly believe, I know where its lair can be found: the playroom. That is the only explanation for the conditions in that room. It doesn't matter how often I clean, organize, and threaten the children to only take out one toy at a time, that room is determined to stay a mess. I finish cleaning, get a drink of water, and come up to grab the broom to find every toy in that room dumped. I've even tried weeding out the toys- it didn't help. Obviously the goblin feeds on a mother's sweat and tears.

So, anyway, in my continued goal to deep clean my house in the first 3 weeks of school, I entered the goblin's hideout today. I dumped and reorganized all those toys. I gathered the discarded dishes and cups, swept the crumbs and took out the garbage. It took 4 hours. While I was gone the goblin made a weak counterattack on my living room (apparently the goblin is greatly inhibited during school hours), but I won the battle today.

Or so I thought until I checked while tucking in the kids. He is already rearranging that room, preparing to redecorate in a manner more suited to his personal tastes; toys and garbage and dishes had already found their way back inside. I would raise a white flag, but that would involve finishing my laundry. And believe me, the laundry fairy is in cahoots with the goblin.

*OK, honestly, the top picture is the "after" of the below "before" one and these pictures are really from a couple months ago (and are the reason I did my great toy reduction), but they convey the idea perfectly so I added them.*

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Reclaiming my House in this Post-Summer Era

This is my first experience with half day kindergarten. In preparation to have all my days nicely cleaved in 2 distinct parts, I've been trying to decide how to schedule my days. Do I run errands with my youngest 2 in the morning so the afternoon can be spent with my quiet, little trouble producing preschooler? Or do I spend my mornings at home and enjoy errands more by cutting the kid count in half?

After several weeks of summer my house has settled into complete chaos. Frightened I may have lost something important in the disorganized mess (like a few library books, all my bowls, or maybe even a neighborhood child), I decided to spend the first three weeks of child reduced bliss deep cleaning my house. I divided it up and every morning I let Phineas and Ferb watch the boys while I tackle yet another room. Then, after I send Joseph off to school, I recover from my cleaning blitzes.

This has been an adventure. Wrought with games like "That is where my masking tape/mascara/camera case have been all summer?" and "What kind of food was that originally, and how long does it take to grow that sort of fuzz." Not to mention the ever entertaining "Why would anyone even think to stuff underwear there? I would rather throw it away than check for cleanliness."

Knowing my cleaning drive would begin strong and quickly diminish, I started with the worst areas and am working toward the easier ones. That means I've cleaned, in my first 3 days of school: the girls' room, the 2 boys' rooms, and all the bathrooms. You read that right, by virtue of the order I listed, the girls' and boys' rooms ranked above the bathrooms in nastiness.

It's been a blast, I tell you. Or rather, my house looked like it had been blasted and I am in the process of post-war reconstruction.

For your reading enjoyment here are some of my finds so far (enjoyment may not be the best choice of words here):
  • I couldn't figure out why there was a can opener in the boys' room. Until I started finding the empty cans of olives in there bathroom. If memory serves there were at least 6 cans (and one in the girls' room).
  • No wonder I kept having to buy more printer paper over the weeks, there must have been 200 folded airplanes stuck in my boys' closets. And another 200 stuffed on a shelf in their bathroom.
  • Couldn't figure out what that was, stuck to the bottom inside corner of my daughters' bed stand, till I realized it was an old spider nest. Explains all the webs full of dead flies I found in every corner of their room and bathroom.
  • Took a while to place the odd smell permeating the girls' room: it was coming from their carpet. Carpet removed, their room no longer smells like a mold fest. (I've told them not to bring water in their rooms at night!)
  • Completely unrelated? 3 huge cups (1 still full of water), 4 water bottles, and 3 small cups in the girls' room.
  • The new trash can I bought for the boys' bathroom: the good news was they had filled in partway with garbage, the bad news was they had also filled it with something else (use your imagination- but in case you have boys and therefore a vivid imagination- it was liquid something not solid).
  • I was able to fill an entire (small) rubbermaid container with the pens I found in the girls' room while I found the smallest K-nexs pieces along the border of both boys' rooms. Also under every bed, chair, toy, piece of trash, and laundry.
  • Enough garbage to fill an X-large U-Haul packing box (that had been "borrowed" and covered in fabric to create a Webkinz home to match their virtual one). I am not kidding, when I was done the box was FULL and I threw it out before Elise saw because I'm sure she would disagree with me on what qualified as garbage in her room.

Everything has been cleaned out, disinfected, and made to look neat. Today we are having a combined youth activity at our house, so I am suspending the worst to best order for a day to concentrate on bookshelves and countertops. You know, things people are actually going to see if they come into the house. As long as I don't add anything to my list, my reclaim-the-house-daily-in-the-4-hours-before-afternoon-kindergarten-starts project should last 3 weeks (Yes, I actually wrote down a list and cross it out with a note of how long it took to clean. Underneath the chaotic outer layer of a mother of 6 children was once a list-making, organized freak.)

I bet you'll enjoy your housecleaning a little more today knowing what it could be like...