Sunday, October 9, 2011

How my household is sleeping (or not) tonight.

I would like to apologize right now to my poor kids' teachers. You see, they are still awake and it is way past bedtime. We sent them to bed earlier, but for some reason they aren't sleeping tonight. Our 7-year-old just loudly threatened to tell on our 10-year-old for turning out his bedroom light. We were torn between reprimanding the latter- "Leave your brother alone!" and "Why are you not in your own room?"- or reprimanding the former- "Why is your light BACK ON?"

Kind of like the Tattle-telling About Open Eyes During Prayer dilemma.

 For the record, we reprimanded both. And NOT in our sweetest voices.

Anyway, I feel now like we should have gone with the Pretend You Didn't Hear Them So You Can Believe They're All Actually Asleep route. We'd save my vocal cords and not feel guilt for their teachers tomorrow. After all  Peter worked two twelve hour shifts this weekend, leaving me solo with all six kids both days long, so we're both entitled to a little self delusion.

Speaking of sleep, my husband is a couch sleeper. Not is a bad marriage sort of way, but in an I'm not tired yet, I'll be up in a zzzzzzzzzzzzz sort of way. Drives me slightly crazy, but he might come to bed more often if I didn't sleep-complain about the noise level of the TV. Hey, I can't help what I do after I'm already asleep. (Which is, incidentally, the same argument he makes for the couch sleeping.)

Would it be bad to sneak melatonin into his Diet Coke? So he would be tired enough to come to bed when his fuddy-duddy-early-bed-time wife does? It's not like I'm sneaking in Viagra or Arsenic or anything. It's like sneaking vegetables into brownies. Only with a natural sleep aid that I'm half convinced works for me placebicly. (placebo-ic? placebo-like? Imaginatively?) 

By the way, I would never actually sneak vegetables into brownies because the only one in the house who doesn't like vegetables would be the one doing the sneaking. My kids beg me to add broccoli to the menu. It's weird, I know. Also, they order asparagus at restaurants. Maybe all that healthy eating has made them immune to sleep. Or, more likely, they sneaked some of Peter's non-melatonin-ed Diet Coke.

Peter is snoring next to me on the couch while he watches the football game he recorded during his 12 hour shift. If I wake him up, he'll claim he wasn't asleep and not ready for bed yet. Also, I think I heard one of my sleeping children walking around upstairs.

So I am going to convince myself the footsteps are ghosts and slyly steal the remote out of Peter's hand to watch something more interesting. Then attempt to trick Peter into bed. 

(And yes, I know the play on words I could make about the tricks needed to get him to come to bed, but I'm above pointing them out. Oh crap, I guess I'm not.)

Good night.


Monday, October 3, 2011

My life is a little busy

School can't be in session for over a month. I refuse to believe it as it would mean accepting "once things get settled" must already have happened. This level of busy can't actually be my baseline!

I blame encouraging the kids to get involved at school.

        And having five kids in school.

        And needing to entertain the lonely one left at home.

        And needing the whole month to get my house to approximate some level of post-summer clean.

        Although, it would've been cleaned much sooner if the kids didn't come home from school everyday.

Speaking of which, does anyone else suffer from Mopped Floor Syndrome, whose primary symptom is having something red, sticky, or voluminous spill immediately after mopping?

I'm not bitter about the can of soda spilled on my just-mopped floor after dripping off my just-polished granite. Not bitter at all.

But the 20 socks I picked up off the floor this afternoon (and or threatened the kids to pick up)? Totally bitter. I swear some of the kids double up. Which is weird, as every time I check they've forgotten to wear socks at all.

I cleaned over 8 hours today. Tomorrow I will run approximately 5000 errands.

When Peter surprised me with an overnight bed and breakfast trip for my birthday last month, my brother and his family came and watched the kids. The list of what they needed to do was two pages long. After we came home, we asked them if they took advantage of our bathtub (of which, I just realized, I've never posted pictures). "No," my sister-in-law replied, "by the time I got the kids all in bed, all I could think was that I had to get up in the morning and do it again. So I crawled to bed."

I took it as a lovely compliment (or maybe just grateful acknowledgement of how exhausting my life can be sometimes).

Which reminds me, I really need to get to bed. Tomorrow will come way to early.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

And speaking of laundry...


 Twenty what, you ask?

 Twenty laundry baskets. That's how many it takes for me to do my laundry. Are they technically called laundry hampers? Oh well,  soft shell tortillas aren't called tacos and a Suburban isn't a van, but that's never stopped me from using my very own vernacular.

 You may think I am over compensating for my lack of true laundry talent. And I may have an entire summer of unsorted socks that would agree with you. Well, I did have an entire summer's worth before Peter kindly matched them up the other day. My plan was to ignore the pile and continue wearing sandals until my toes froze off.

Want to know why any sane person would own 20 laundry baskets? I'll break it down for you:

3 are for the kids' bedrooms (one per room). Yes,they're mostly for looks. I'm not sure I've ever found dirty clothes in them. Empty chip wrappers, lost library books, and the shirt I've washed 10 times without seeing worn once- this is what I find in these laundry baskets.

6 are for sorting dirty laundry: 2 darks, reds, lights, whites, and blue jeans. I only do laundry once a week, so I fill all 6 overflowing each week.

Four kids still aren't done. Hmmmm.
9 are for sorting clean laundry: one for each person (Peter and I split 3 between us.) As you might have gathered from my last post, my kids think of them as a mere extension of their actual dressers. I found them on clearance, or I probably would only have 6. "Only six"would seem less crazy, right?

2 are for towels. Which run on an entirely different schedule from laundry. Or, more accurately, run only when I'm forced to dry off with a washcloth due to towel shortages. See the "towel hamper" full of socks? I wasn't kidding about the Summer Sock Sort. That is the basket AFTER it has been raided for two weeks.

(3 is the number I'm still short as I have no basket downstairs and two of my dirty laundry baskets double as bathroom baskets.)

My weekly pile (unsorted)

If twenty baskets makes one of my least favorite chores a little more tolerable, it's a small price to pay. And by "small price" I don't mean small price at all, laundry baskets are expensive! Anyway, please tell my I am not the only person with an odd collection of random storage/cleaning/household supplies. Confessions are encouraged to help me feel better about my obsession ... makes me look like a hoarder in training .... my hobby ... no, that sounds even worse... my quirkiness.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Laundry Purgatory or A Piece of Heaven?

Laundry was taking a while. Approximately eternity, give or take an infinity. That's how it seemed anyway. That is pretty much how it always seems. I gathered, sorted, washed, dryed, resorted and began folding. 

Now I am no fool. My kids fold their own laundry. But I am neglectful sometimes, and my two youngest had at least two weeks of unfolded clothes. Last week it had seemed easier to let them live out of the laundry basket than enforce rigorous folding regimes. Since I am also  impatient sometimes, I decided this week to fold and put them away myself.

So after I folded my clothes and my husband's clothes (don't ask*), and after I got after the older four kids to get theirs done (I confess. I had purposefully overlooked more than just the youngest two's lack of folding. In fact, only one child had folded their clothes last week), I folded and put away Joseph's clothes.

One more basket. ONE MORE BASKET. Laundry purgatory nearly escaped!! But as I walked to my room with Matthew's basket on my hip, Joseph bounded up, boldly smiling his toothless grin, "Mom, want help folding Matthew's clothes?"

Of course I didn't! If I wanted his brand of help I would have encouraged him to fold his own. I was only one stinking basket away from finished!

But his enthusiasm struck me dumb a moment. One moment. A pause. A reflection. What was a little more time in laundry purgatory compared to answering his earnestness with gratitude?

"Sure thing, I'd love some help," I answered in the faux-what-a-fun-adventure voice all mothers master.

My apprentice folder added at least 5 minutes to my folding time. In those five minutes we talked about the first 3 weeks of school. I learned a silly writing exercise his teacher assigned in class ("Can you believe it, Mom?" he giggled, "it was so funny.") and how many of Matthew clothes used to be his ("All these pajamas used to be mine! I loved this one!"). We joked, we laughed, we folded. He talked, I listened.

Those five minutes were the best of my entire day.

Who knew I could find heaven by staying in laundry purgatory a little while longer?

Mommy Snark

*Fine, do ask. I fold my husband's laundry. And I feel like I should be ashamed by this. And then I feel bad that I don't feel ashamed. So I think I should pretend to be ashamed, but I can't bring myself to do it. So if my laundry folding insults you, please feel free to get a life.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Autumn despite the weather

I couldn't wait any longer. School has started, my birthday is past, and days are noticeably shorter. Despite the weather still tipping past 80 (sometimes flirting with 90), it is soup weather.

After all, isn't it included in the extensive Labor Day rules of etittiquette? White shoes must be put away and soup should be served at least once a week. I know I learned it somewhere.  My mind said, "still too hot," but my heart yearned for Chicken Noodle. And last week I could hold off no longer. I ground my wheat for homemade bread and pulled out the slow cooker.

It isn't just the soup, thoughI've found myself eyeing my jackets and sweaters, trying to decide if the inevitable heat stroke would be worth it. It just feels like it should be time to bring out the warmer clothes even if reality feels like I'm melting when I walk outside.

I long for cool mornings, colorful leaves, and apple cider. September means summer is over and fall has begun. But, it is becoming increasing difficult to ignore the stubbornly high temperatures. Even the desert-induced cooling at night is only a weak substitute for proper autumnal temperatures.

Maybe it's worse because this is our first autumn since leaving New England. Perhaps I'm must be suffering from major Fall Season Withdrawals.

Despite the fact that nothing can ever compete with New England Autumn, I hope to survive this difficult transition by cranking up the air conditioner a bit and snuggling under a blanket with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate.

If reality won't play nice, I'll just use my imagination.


Friday, September 16, 2011

A Quick Hello

Hello?    Hello ...    Hello . . .  Hello  .  .  .  hello.

Is this thing even still on? {Tap} {Tap}  {Tap} {Screech}

Maybe if I wipe some of this dust off. {A-choo!}

Summer was exhausting in its fun. It was full of camping, swimming, golf lessons (for the kids, not me), and a trip- complete with 48 hours of driving- to Disneyland. We put together no less than eight 700+ piece puzzles, read some books, and forgot the meaning of "bedtime."

Many things left me this summer. Old Red is finally dead and was replaced by a less bold, newer model Suburban. My iPhone is now a Droid. Which was stolen out of Old Red and replaced again.Oh yeah, my oldest was magically replaced by a high schooler; I swear it happened while I was blinking my eye.

And with my brand spanking-new laptop, I can finally have some time online again! Good thing, because it turns out I need to write to keep any semblance of sanity. Speaking of which, if you find where I've currently misplaced mine, will you let me know?


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our Super Adapting Skills

I’ve noticed my family adapts extremely well. It’s amazing really. I mean, Darwin might as well have studied us when he developed his theory.

For instance…

Our entire married life, my husband has probably averaged 55-70 hours per week working (and/or studying). I bet close to 99% of it was weekends and evenings, too. Or at least it felt that way. When we moved here, his work dropped closer to 30.

The first month, I was thrilled contemplating his new schedule. After so many years, the thought of him home more often made me giddy. The idea of regular family time blew my mind.

The second month, I couldn’t believe how many family activities he attended. No longer did I need to drag the kids out on my own.

The third month, I frowned a little when he worked on the same night as a church activity. What a pain!

The fourth month, I caught myself irritated -even slamming a car door- because he worked on a Tuesday; I had to drive the Suburban on my regular errands instead of borrowing his more fuel-efficient car! I mean how unlucky is that?

Then I had a reality check. Hello. My super-adapting skills caused me to go from ecstatic to whiny in four short months, way too soon take his new schedule for granted. Months 5 and 6, I kicked myself whenever I thought to complain. (I’ll not embarrass myself by telling you how often I had to do it.)

Of course my kids have adapted, too. They’d probably seen their cousins, at most, 5 times their entire lives. Less than six months after moving closer, they think I’m inflicting cruel punishment if they go longer than 4 days without contact.

I won’t talk about my husband’s adapted need to be on the golf course 3 times a week.

Perhaps our adapting talent is only surpassed by our whining one. Hopefully we get to continue adapting to more positive things instead of testing our ability in the other direction!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Proclamation of Ban Lift and Reinstatement

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Eleven, We, the Benevolent and Tyrannical Rulers of this Realm, did proclaim a moratorium on our longstanding Ban on Chewing and Bubble Gum within the Borders of Our Home.

Unfortunately, despite multiple allegiances sworn toward Proper Gum Disposal by the Citizens of this Realm, our subjects celebrated the lift of this oppressive Ban by leaving saliva infused gum everywhere.

With great wailing, gnashing of teeth, and use of ice to eliminate matted gum from new carpet, We, the Beloved and Feared Rulers of this Realm, have reinstated the Ban. Probably forever.

To avoid Confusion or Protestations of Ignorance, the following is a list of things We, the Wise and Unreasonable Rulers of this Realm, have prohibited within our Home's Borders:

Chewing Gum

Bubble Gum

Songs sung by Boy Bands and/or over-hyped celebrities of certain children TV stations.

Playdough and all derivatives

Rated "M" video games

Non-Washable markers

Neon clothing

Books based on TV shows or toys (With the exception of Phineas and Ferb)


Socks worn with Sandals


As of this morning, after investigating a Horrendous Smell in the vicinity of The Girls' Room, We, the Exacerbated and Exhausted Rulers of this Realm, are considering the addition of Nail Polish Remover to The List. We will interrogate the Perpetrators and make our decision forthwith. (Creating Fear in the Subjects and demanding a Room Cleaning might be sufficient)


Monday, May 16, 2011

Thoughts on My Cleaning Day

I woke this morning with a jarring thought: I hadn't charged my cell phone. Most days it wouldn't be a big deal, but this is Cleaning Day. The only things that keeps Cleaning Day tolerable are podcasts loaded on my phone.  Instead, today, I was forced to keep company with my own thoughts.  Here is a sampling:

What is that smell?

How many children used the toilet before any attempt was made to flush?

Did we pack the plunger when we moved?

I shouldn't have bought chocolate when I ran to the store for a plunger.

Having kids has really given me a chance to practice my gag reflex.

Is every dish/spoon/cup/utensil I own dirty?

How creatively can I load the dishwasher to get them all in one load?

Who ate chips in the bathtub?

 What is that noise coming from the dryer?*

How many sunflower seeds could possibly be hidden in a pair of baseball pants?

What is the best way to get toothpaste out of carpet?

I concede, it will be a two dishwasher load day.

If I saved everything I swept off the floor, how long would it take to fill my entire bathtub?

 I wonder if my sister realizes her kid's shoes are here?

Better text her to let her know. Where is my cell phone?

You'd think I would've plugged it in when I first remembered it was dead.

Who took my charger AGAIN?!?

I really hate cleaning toilets.

Why am I feeling lightheaded? Oh yeah, all I've eaten today is that candy bar.

I think I can ignore the playroom closet one more week.

Redbox? Redbox?!? When did we last get a Redbox?

Is it worth keeping it one more night to watch since we already wasted $5 to see it?

Why does ~censored to prevent future embarrassment~ only have two pair of underwear in the wash this week?

The kids are already home from school? But I'm not done yet!

After that I am pretty much brain dead. Or maybe I've blocked the memory of what the kids did to the house after they got home.

Rest assured, I will not forget to plug in my cell phone before the next Cleaning Day. Alone with my thoughts is not a fun place to be when I'm cleaning.

*All things really happened today except this one, which happened last Monday. But I was still cleaning seeds up off the laundry room floor today.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Two Types of Green in this World

I posted this a couple years ago, but it honor of gas prices once again making me cry, shrink rays not yet invented, and Earth Day being celebrated today, I thought I would repost it.

I have an announcement: I have decided to go green. You see I like green. I think it is very important. Only the green I’m talking about comes in paper form. You know the kind you might find in a wallet or bank; although not a lot of banks anymore (stupid lending practices), or, for that matter, wallets (stupid spending practices). Don’t get me wrong, I love our environment. The moon would be fun to visit, but who would want to live there? Plus, I’m all about clean air and water. And I’m sure you all realize that SUV’s caused the extinction of the dinosaurs and the Kyoto treaty wasn’t signed during the Little Ice Age of the 1600’s.

But my green helps with other important things in life, like eating or buying iTunes songs. Lucky for the over the top, crazy environmentalists (you know the ones fighting for the rights of one species of roach or flying in private jets all over the world to environmental conferences), my green happens to correspond with theirs this time.

You see, funny thing about 6 kids, they TAKE UP A LOT OF ROOM. Which is why I drive a huge, gas guzzling, 9-seat Suburban. With the rising gas prices, I am having major green anxiety. Did you know most gas stations have a maximum amount you can buy per purchase? I do. In fact for certain parts of last summer I hit that limit EVERY week. I think it would have been less painful to actually give the station an arm and a leg.

Nowadays, $75 dollars seems to buy about 5 gallons of gas. With my Suburban’s mileage, I estimate that is enough to drive the 3 miles directly home and almost make it back to the station (on fumes, of course). So I have decided I need to find a way to save on my gas budget (which is closely approaching my house payment in size). Here are my ideas thus far:

1- Shrink the children with a shrink ray so they fit in the backseat of a car. This idea was perfect, until I found out shrink rays are hard to find. Did you know that “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” ISN’T a documentary?!? I know, I know, I was shocked, too.

2- Bungee cord one child on top of a minivan. I was in the middle of trying to decide between bungeeing a seat up there or just hooking the cords directly around them when I remembered how our window broke in our 1st house in PA- it involved bungee cords and near eye loss. And a lot of parental yelling. I decided I didn’t want to risk losing my voice (or eye) so I had to retire this idea.

3- Walk. Pioneers did it, why not? I was trying to estimate the size I needed to make my handcart. By the time you added everything I take with me in the Suburban (6 kids, water bottles, snacks, diapers, toys, extra clothes, missing shoes, candy wrappers, old french fries, the kitchen sink, etc.) I found my handcart would need to be, well, suburban size. I tried pushing the suburban. Not so great.

4- Combine outings for fewer trips. Hello, I actually tried this one after the oldest kids started school. Did you know that taking 2 kids to 6 stops is as exhausting as taking 6 kids to 2? And they said I would never need to use 1st grade math skills in real life.

5- Have my husband take the Suburban to work while the kids are in school so I can drive the Audi with my preschoolers. He told me he would get back to me on that one. . .

6- Convert my SUV to run on natural gas, or maybe milk, or uneaten french fries residing under car seats. My kids can come close to producing enough natural gas but not quite (only way to get it yet), milk is nearly as expensive as gas (don’t get me started on my exploding grocery budget), and the science just isn’t there yet for french fries (although I’ve heard some interesting things about used fast-food oil).

7- Buy a transporter. Star Trek isn’t real either? Science-FICTION?!? Totally not fair.

Well I am about out of ideas, plus I just found out that I could only sell my SUV for about $3.67 anyway (apparently no one else wants to spend a fortune on the drive to the supermarket either). I guess I’ll resort to sobbing miserably every time the gas gauge approaches “empty”. It’s not easy being green. Or losing green to my Big Red Suburban. And I think science should start researching shrink rays, transporters, and french fry cars. That would be great.

>Join me next week when I discuss how I am trying to conserve water. Family baths anyone? We can wash the dishes at the same time!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Learning to balance the teenager line

It must have been quite late, that night several months ago, when the creeping footsteps woke me. I could feel her in the room, hesitating by my bedside, hoping to not startle me awake.

"What do you need?" I mumbled, still half asleep.

"Matthew just threw up. I've started a bath for him and stripped the sheets. I'll wash him off, remake the bed and clean it all up. I just remembered running water in the middle of the night often wakes you, and I didn't want you to worry when you heard it."

I felt instant relief as I sank back into dreamland. My teenager seemed to grasp what needed done and had it under control. My precious sleep time could be preserved.

Just as I hit the brink of oblivion, a thought jolted me back; I suddenly remembered that I am the mother. She was a good-hearted teenage girl who still needed sleep before facing a full day of middle school. Just because she is willing to take on responsibility doesn't mean I should make her. So I sighed as I forced my body fully awake. I thanked her for being so kind to her youngest sibling, and sent her off to bed while I headed down to take care of a sick preschooler.

I know I lucked out with my teenagers. So far, they still like my husband and me. In fact, they still model their behavior on us. I guarantee you if I'd heard how she comforted her brother that night, it would've been exactly what I'd say. They crave responsibility and often thrive on it.

My struggle is finding the balance. Where is the line between teaching them to be a grown up and letting them be a kid a while longer?

The hard thing is I suspect that darn line is moving around. Not only is it vastly different for every child and age, it is different from day to day. Sometimes it's movement can be measured in minutes. At times, I realize I've heaped too much responsibility on and other times I've let the load become too light. Tracking our proximity to this child-teenager-adult line is often near impossible.

But even I knew midnight sick duty for a four-year-old jumped far over the line. Despite what my sleep addled mind whispered in the moment.

Dinner tonight, however, will be up for you-should-know-how-to-do-this grabs.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Not my finest trait- The Reluctant Baseball Mom

A Baseball Mom by protest. That is what I am. My kids asked passionately, I relented. I wish it were my favorite thing to do: go to three 1 1/2 hour practices a week and two 2-3 hour games a week, almost all right over dinner time, all so I can watch, if I'm lucky, 1 minute of performance by my child. But try as I might, it just isn't MY thing.

Still, I go. I try to watch when it is my kids' turns. I try to notice things to talk about on the way home. I try to smile and appear like I am enjoying myself. I'm pretty sure my kids know better, though.

It would help if things went a little easier.

First some definitions:

Scrimmage: A mean trick where they turn a drop-off-and-leave-the-child practice into a game-you-must-stay-to-watch, at least part of, even though it isn't a REAL game.

Scrimmage BONUS: Peter is working so I get the job of being the parent who stays. For some unknown reason I decided to bring my youngest two children with me. Extra fun that he worked every night this week which meant I got to run all three kids in baseball to their practices all week.

Scrimmage DOUBLE DOWN BONUS: Is there some Law of Baseball that the temperature, hovering near 70 all day, must DROP and the wind must PICK UP during games or scrimmages?

So we are at the scrimmage. My six-year-old, Joseph, wants to know if we can go to the Concussion Stand. Well, it does feel like you've been hit in the head when you see the prices. It is another unwritten Law of Baseball that you buy food at the Concussion Stand, so I buy nachos and a pretzel. I also get two cups of hot chocolate to counteract the falling temperature. My 4-year-old, Matthew, proceeds to dump half of one cup on my jacket, while I am wearing it. Joseph manages to dump half the other cup on the ground. Maybe we were all hit in the head.

Actually last week I WAS hit in the head at a game. Luckily it was after the ball hit the ground and bounced.  But still, getting hit in the head did not foster an appreciation of the game.

After some time at the nearby playground with the younger kids, we head over to watch some of the (not really a) game. My son stands in out field. He stands at second base. I'm 90% sure he never touches the ball. You see, a lot of the kids are just learning to play in the kid-pitched league. That means many of the pitchers are new. That means almost every kid on base is there for a walk and almost every run is the result of stealing to 2nd, 3rd, and home plate. I think there's an average of 3 actual hits a game.

My son has taken note and decided that his chances are higher of getting to base if he stands there and never swings. The pitcher will get to 4 balls before he gets to 3 strikes. It would be easier to correct him if he weren't correct. (I asked him and I am right. He did the math and liked his chances.)

After 5 1/2 innings (rules are flexible since it isn't a real game) and an extra 30 minutes past the scheduled time, it is over. I am cold, hot-chocolate-ed, tired, and hungry. As we head toward the car, Ethan chatters excitedly about his scrimmage, his two runs, and all the nuances in the game that I seem unable to pick up.  When I look at his face, lit up with excitement, I think maybe I could learn to love the game a little more.

Have you learned to support your children in things you have no interest in? Does it get easier? Any clues on how I can be a better sport? I've done baseball for at least 3 seasons and can't seem to enjoy it. I can tolerate other sports, but baseball is SO BORING.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Just Another Parenting Mystery

What is that word that means something like conundrum? Only it takes a lifetime to even begin to understand how to balance the enigma, without ever really solving it? Oh yeah, that's right. It's called parenthood.

I have this child.  When faced with food he didn't like, he complained his stomach hurt. Then one day it became a tooth ache.  Every couple of days he would mention his tooth hurting, but then, when prodded, would stop complaining and eat.

Finally, after complaining while eating  a meal where all the options began with Mc-, my husband decided it might be more than a food-avoiding gimmick. He looked into the deep pit of our son's mouth and found hiding in back a severely abscessed tooth. He should've been writhing in pain for at least a week.  That is when we learned he has excessive pain tolerance; for all he complains, a small stomach ache could be appendicitis!

On the other hand, I have this child. A papercut is the end of the world. Stubbed toes elicit animal like howling and scraped knees warrant headache-inducing screeches. I must hear him holler from stepped on feet, small pinches, or simple stumbles a hundred times a day. He has zero pain tolerance (and excellent vocal skills).

Just what is the mystery, you ask? I am describing the SAME child.

Got it? Screaming and crying = fine, calm or slight mention of pain = might be dying. My child with the highest pain tolerance happens to have no pain tolerance at all.
  • So ... if you see my child complain of something small and he doesn't even seem upset, yet I give him a full history and physical, don't think I'm an over-hovering mom.

  • On the other hand ... if you see my child come up to me practically wild with pain and I just roll my eyes and send him on his way, don't think I'm completely detached.
I'm just practicing balance with a personal parenting enigma.


Monday, March 21, 2011

That time I gave my eyes an accidental overdose

I'm rather fond of my eyeballs. Sure, they require super strong lenses to see past the end of my nose. And they did once got a serious tissue-destroying infection that caused me severe light sensitivity and pirate looking eye patches. Oh, and allergies once caused the white part to swell like a blister. But I can't complain about what my eyes have done to me, as I once almost killed them.

What? I never told you how I almost accidentally murdered my own two eyeballs? Well, I can fix that right now.

It's all the fault of the TSA. Or is it the terrorists? Whomever you choose to blame for the "only 3 ounce liquids on an airplane" rule. We were travelling to Texas for my brothers wedding. (Maybe it is his fault for getting married and making me travel by plane?) Wanting to see more than the end of my nose, I brought my travel-sized contact solution and case. At the time we lived in North Carolina and by the time we traveled to the airport 2.5 hours away and then flew to El Paso with all six kids, we were a little tired. I dug through the luggage, took out my now-glued-to-my-eyes contacts, washed my face, and went to bed.

Something I've done a thousand times, right? Not the travel to El Paso part. The take out my contacts after a long day part. In the morning I completed the ritual by reinstalling my contacts. There was the not-unusual burning the first blink or two, and then... and then ...

The burning seemed to intensify? Ouch! It hurt so badly! When I ran back to the bathroom to take out the trecherous contacts I realized what I had done.

You see, ever since the allergic eyeball swelling incident, I have been very good at using allergy eye drops. Nothing like Frankenstein eyes to learn that lesson. But, the normal small bottle of eye drops was almost the exact size and shape as the contact solution bottle. In my exhaustion the night before, I had grabbed the wrong bottle. I had soaked my sight-giving, water absorbent pieces of plastic in allergy eye drops all night. And then worn them on my equally absorbent eyeballs for 5 minutes. (What can I say, I'm a little slow to respond. I kept thinking the burn would just go away. If I'd realized what was causing it earlier, I would have acted sooner.)

I had just given my eyeballs a major overdose, and they were MAD at me.

You might be asking what three months worth of eye drops absorbed in 5 minutes feels like? Well, my pupils completely overtook my irises. If I didn't know better, I would think it went past my irises. My eyes went from hazel to pure black for over a day. Light became my enemy.

The next day or so, I was the idiot rocking sunglasses indoors. Over my normal glasses (which were held together with tape and wire). It was a beautiful way to meet everyone coming in for the wedding. Luckily, by the time the actual wedding came, I was able to put contacts back in, but I still couldn't handle bright light. Good thing we weren't in the middle of the desert. Oh yeah, we were. I could at least pull off my sunglasses for short amounts of time, long enough to not look dorky in the wedding photos. More dorky than normal that is. It's been a few years for my overworked mind to forget, but I think I did okay in the temple without the sunglasses, too. That would be something I'd remember, right?

On the plus side, I had no itching or redness in my eyes the entire time. My eyes may have never been so black, but they had never been so white, either.

So the next time your packing all your 3-ounce-or-less liquids for a trip on the airplane, remember to be careful. All those bottles may  look alike, but they are definitely not the same thing.

Strangle enough I also learned about under/over exposure on my camera this trip, too
Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Just a post until I can post for real

I didn't mean to leave you hanging, thinking I was recovering from Joseph being sick for all this time. I wasn't. I was recovering from Joseph being sick, me getting the same stomach bug, then Ethan, Kirsti, Ethan again, and Elise. And then a sinus infection for me which resulted in a 3 day long medicine-only-makes-me-barely-functional headache (which included items 7-11 below).

Oh, yeah, and
  1. Mom in town,
  2. Elise's birthday,
  3. Peter out of town (for #'s 4-8)
  4. school project for Ethan, Kirsti and Joseph,
  5. Young Women project for Elise,
  6. ward activity where I brought potato soup and homemade bread all dyed green
  7. subbing as Primary chorister (I didn't know it was called music leader?),
  8. taking kids alone to church on Daylight Savings Day after forgetting and letting them stay up late,
  9. elementary kids out of school for three days,
  10. pi day (one of my kids favorite holidays),
  11. parent/teacher conferences,
  12. and Ethan's pinewood derby.

But, you know, no big deal. I'll be recovered enough to post soon...


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Next time I'll just stay in bed and read all day.

I like Mondays. There I said it and you can think I'm nutty all you want. For me they are a new beginning; a chance to start things off right. One I get every single week!  Unless in the process you start the week out by ripping your favorite jeans, of course.

That being said, Tuesday could be considered my stereotypical dreaded Monday. It is shopping day, and recently became gym day, too. This week I met my goal on distance during my elliptical workout. It felt wonderful! And by wonderful, I mean I felt like my legs were going to fall off. Then I walked around the grocery store and took Matthew to lunch with his cousins and Grandma (who is in town watching some of his cousins).

As if that weren't exhausting enough, because, trust me, it was, I also finished my laundry and mopped my floors three times (in an attempt to find a system that didn't leave streaks on my floors and/or instant footprints afterwards).

And I cleaned my pantry. Emptied, wiped down, organized, and labeled. By that time I was really ready for the day to be over.

Then dinner and running my older half of children to church activities. Anyway, it wasn't until I got back home that I realized the slight headache and scratchy throat I'd felt all day was quickly descending into a full blown cold. I put the kids to bed and then took some Flonase for the building mucas, IBprofin for the headache and Melatonin for its- possibly placebo- sleep producing abilities. 'Cause I don't care why it works if it works and I figured that was the only way I was going to sleep when I felt so awful.

On my way up the stairs to bed, exhausted and drugged, I thought I heard the washing machine over flowing. As I ran the rest of the way, I realized the sound was coming not from the laundry room, but from the hall where Joseph was stumbling around half-asleep.

Was he walking through celaphane, my denial asked? The hallway light quickly dissipated those hopes. He was christening our new carpet with his stomach contents.

After my husband and I cleaned him and the floor up we went to tuck him and a barf bowl into bed. There we realized we'd only found the secondary explosion, his bedroom received the initial shock. So did several toys and clothes. More cleaning up. Joy.

Another load of laundry and I was finally able to stumble to bed myself.

 Wednesday was a needed Tuesday-recovery day, but...

  •  my cold hit full force,
  •  I found out the laundry I tossed in half asleep somehow contained a bottle of nail polish,
  •  and, in his own words, Joseph "farted throw up." 
  • I cleaned it up.
At least I found, after another 3 mopping attempts, that Windex works best on my wood floors. And Peter bought Joseph and me Powerade with an additional dose of Peanut Butter M&M's for me. Also by nightfall Joseph was well enough for us to grab some Mexican food for dinner.

Still, I think next Tuesday I'll just stay in bed and read all day.


Monday, February 28, 2011

Some thoughts on my cleaning day

Once upon a time, I had a preschooler.

 Whenever I cleaned, she would follow behind me and make a mess. Then I had two preschoolers. They could mess up as quickly as I cleaned. Then I had three preschoolers. Cleaning actually left the house messier. Then I had four preschoolers. Some things are too terrifying to speak.

Anyway, I am back to one preschooler at home. What was once so hard is now the easy cleaning time. Because as difficult as preschoolers are to the cleaning process, at least I didn't have to deal with magical backpacks spewing never-ending supplies of schoolwork, newsletters, and notes I should have responded to 3 weeks ago.

Plus, I'm pretty sure the socks and shoes in my house are reproducing- parthenogenetically of course, as it is impossible to ever find them mated. Did I mention that I threw away all lone socks when we moved 2 months ago and my pile is now large enough to make sock puppets of every Dr Seuss character ever created?

In other news,my kitchen is able to explode in 5 seconds. But I think it's trying to beat this record.  Daily. The family room is also in the running for the record, but is impeded by the closet capable of being stuffed with sundry stuff.

Today is cleaning day at my house; I ripped my favorite pair of jeans.  Not that I'm bitter about it or anything...


Friday, February 25, 2011

A tooth, a confession, a hole in my parenting experience.

I have an embarrassing confession I need to make. I don't even know if I should post this as it is totally humiliating, but I'm hoping through this public disgrace I can pressure myself to repent and change ways.

You see a few nights ago Joseph came to me with a problem: he couldn't sleep due to his first loose tooth. Also because he is a six-year-old insomniac who finds every possible excuse to not sleep, but that is another story. When I checked his mouth, the tooth was practically dangling, so I decided this was a stay-up-a-few-minutes-later worthy excuse.

It was when trying to figure out the best way to separate tooth from mouth that my terrible revelation crystallized: I had never pulled a loose tooth before! This is my FIFTH child to begin loosing teeth and I HAVE NEVER BEEN THE ONE TO PULL THEM. My husband has been tasked to do them all.  Which might explain why my tooth fairy gene is completely dysfunctional.

Since Peter was working a night shift and unavailable as tooth extractor, I took on the role. I yanked, I wiggled, I slipped, I even made it bleed a little. I couldn't get the tooth out. Joseph went to bed with tooth still in its wobbly place and I stayed up to ponder this new-found hole in my parenting experience.

Then next evening Peter was home. He pulled the tooth in 5 seconds. He was equally surprised when I confessed that he has been the only tooth torturer in the family.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Limping Through Life

Limping through life- and I almost wish I was speaking figuratively.

You see, a couple months before we moved out here, my siblings all joined a gym. Since the point of moving here was to be close to family, we decided we should join the same gym. There may have been some motivation from the extra stress pounds our recent move provided.

I could go buy pants one size larger or try exercising.

The first day I went,I joined my sister and in-law on the elliptical runners. After a half hour, I thought I was going to die. Then a couple days later I tried out their dance aerobics class. And realized the "going to die" of two days before was nothing compared to how I was really going to die. It mostly felt like my legs were wanting to fall off but wouldn't as a punishment for what I put them through. My arms and shoulders staged their own protests. Not that being able to lift my arms above me waist is important or anything.

After three weeks I was still sore after working out, but I was only slightly limping the next day. I thought I was ready to push myself a little more.

And then I tried Zumba.

I went past thinking I was going to die to wondering if I actually had. Afterwards I crawled into bed and stayed there the rest of the night. I'm talking 7:00 at night. The next day all attempts at walking were with tender care, and kept to absolute minimum The stairs in my house? They were taken toddler style: step down one step- bring the other foot to meet it- take another ginger step down- bring the other foot to meet it- repeat all the way down- keep grimace to minimum. Not to mention my stomach muscles.  I thought they went into permanent hibernation after my sixth child was born.  Well they woke up with fierceness and let me know they were not happy to be awakened so cruelly.

I think I might be a little out of shape.

(Getting out of breath walking to the pantry to eat more chocolate should of clued me into that fact long ago.)

The funny thing is, after limping around for three weeks, I love going to the gym.  I've tried lots of exercise before: running, walking, pilates, wii fit (that counts, right?), but never really looked forward to doing any of it. But I look forward to going to the gym.  I like the elliptical runners and treadmills and bikes. I like those evil muscle-wrenching classes. For the hour or so before the limp sets in, I feel great! Already I notice the limping is letting up and I can run farther and harder than I could at first. Plus, Matthew enjoys the babysitting room with his cousins.

I plan on hitting the zumba class again this Friday night. Maybe this time the limping will only last one day instead of three. Or maybe my legs will actually fall off? I'm think I'll be good, either way.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Slow Track to Moving In

Sometimes I wish I had a remote for my children's vocal cords. One with volume, mute, pause, rewind, fast forward buttons. Especially since we still have one room with a wood floor and without furniture. And, since I must have selected the slow track this move for getting settled, I have yet to hang a single picture. It is echo-induced insanity waiting to happen over here.

Although, as of 9 o'clock this morning, we finally hung a TV on the wall, the kids no longer treat that room like a gym. Instead they've decided to treat it to slack jaw stupors. I'm weak; until I can get more unpacked, I'm encouraging TV related brain rot.

The missing couch (which is already ordered) and empty walls aren't the only things indicative of our slowness to finish unpacking. Today I finally plugged in my freezer. I suggest you don't let your freezer sit unused in your garage for over a month, especially if you didn't have time to give it a thorough scouring before loading it into a moving truck. Regardless, it is now clean, disinfected, cooling, and waiting to be filled.

Another item we've yet to get around to? We technically don't have any window coverings up. I use "technically" in the hopes that you'll think I've hung up something. Which I haven't, excepting the old mismatched curtains in the master bathroom, whose large windows faces the main road. Peter did remind me today that, "Love is blind, but the neighbors aren't," so I think we'll be taking care of this oversight soon.*

Did I mention that Peter just got home last night after being gone for two weeks? From his second, and final, trip back to Connecticut to finish work there? My molasses unpacking plan is starting to make sense now, isn't it? How often do you get to write a paragraph using only questions? Is it worth the improper sentence structures?

Anyway, he is home now: hanging televisions, moving around freezers, pricing blinds and helping hang pictures. Last night, after he finally got home, we celebrated his birthday.  It was belated, as it occurred while he was out of town. My sister and two brothers came over with their families for brownies and to belt out the Happy Birthday song. As I watched us all laughing around the table, I knew all the trouble was worth it.

Any neighbors who may have seen too much of us (so to speak) might think otherwise.

*I'd like to point out that on either side of us is an empty lot and on either side of that is a house that is still unoccupied. There is just an empty field behind us. Since I put up curtains in the two front bathroom windows that face the road, we don't actually have neighbors to whom we can expose ourselves.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Zombie in my Graveyard of Mothering Theories

I've written before about my Graveyard of Mothering Theories where all unwanted good ideas go after their short-lived and spectacularly failed lives. Ideas like never feeding kids preservatives or letting them watch TV. Or the theory that I would never yell. Then there are the sundry ideas guaranteed to make chores desirable, homework doable before due, or washing with soap standard. Most of these theories are killed so thoroughly they sensibly stay buried in their graves.

But there is one idea that just won't die!  No matter how often it's veracity is destroyed and it is sent again to the Graveyard, it comes back in rotten, zombified form to try again. Obviously it has already eaten away at my brain.  Why else would I listen to it over and over and over again?  After nearly FOURTEEN years of failure, I still think it will work this time.

What is this zomberific, evil idea that refuses to die?  If my kids stay up late the night before, they will sleep in the next morning.  It never, ever works, and yet . . .

Every weekend, school holiday, or snow day as bedtime approaches, I think to myself, "I'll just let them stay up late now so they'll sleep in late tomorrow."

The problem is it makes sense! Logically, when one stays up late they'll want to, need to, try to sleep in the next morning. The law of conservation of sleep. Of course, if logic mixed with kids they wouldn't whine when their mother is already irritable or try to wear sandals in knee-deep snow.

The worst part is that the kids are then grouchy the entire next day. And, since it isn't a school day, I'm the one stuck with them and their cantankerousness! I'm telling you this zombified mothering theory is downright SCARY.

This is why last week, on a Monday without school, I could be found with 6 ornery children at the McDonald's playland. (Thinking taking them out of the house would make them magically less grouchy- another theory that just won't die.) If I looked like I was ignoring my children please don't judge too harshly. I had, after all, just become a little more brain dead from attack of the undead parenting theories.

What about you? Have a great parenting idea that just won't die, no matter how often it is disproved?

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Suburban's spectacular manifestation of its death wish

My car has a death wish.

I know I should have gotten a clue when odd parts started breaking or when it started running out of gas at embarrassing times. But I thought the car gods were finished using me as their personal comic relief. New drive shaft, new brakes, new dual screen portable DVD player, and new XM radio would guilt the Suburban into playing nice during our cross country move.

When we finished our Tetris worthy loading of the moving van, only to be held up by the Suburban running out of has AGAIN in our own driveway, you would think I'd question my faith. In hind sight, I should have worried.

On the first day, a mere 2 hours into the 5 day trip, I rolled down the passenger side window so I could hand over ransom, I mean toll, money to Peter in the moving truck. (Why didn't we do this before we left? Because we are poor planers.)

It. Would. Not. Roll. Up. Again. We are in the middle of New England winter, driving down the freeway with the window down.

Did I mention the part where we took an 18-year-old kid, Alejandro, with us to drop him off at BYU-I? Did I mention that this last minute addition saved my sanity? So he and I used clear plastic and A LOT of tape to cover the gaping hole. We choose warmth over quiet as it was beyond loud for the entire ten hours left in our first driving day.

The next morning Peter wondered if we could last until our mid-trip rest day at Mt Rushmore before fixing the window. Um, NO. Luckily Alejandro's father works on cars and he phone conferenced his son and Peter through a disassembly of the car door- the only casualty being the locking mechanism. Unfortunately, the window still remained stubbornly down.

So they broke it out of the frame and duct taped it into place. We totally went gettho. But it was now warm and quiet, so I was happy.

I mean every trip needs a disaster. I was just lucky mine only cost me dignity, an unlockable door, and about half a day loss of driving.

 We busted our humps to get back on schedule and pulled into Rapid City, South Dakota, late Saturday night. We were finally back on track!

Sunday was our day off driving. We were supposed to head to church in the morning, visit Mt Rushmore in the afternoon, and enjoy the small indoor water park in the hotel in the evening. One block after pulling out of the church parking lot, someone mistook a green light for a green arrow and turned left into us. Smashed the entire side of the car and caused Peter and Ethan to hit their heads.

Our trip just took a turn for the stressful. It was not until THAT moment that I finally realized how strongly my car wished to die.

Luckily neither head hit caused an injury and there was no doubt that we were not at fault.

A bazillion phone calls and one day later, after a complete clean out of a car that had been stuffed to breaking and lived in for three days straight, we got a rental minivan (it was the only choice we had). Insurance seemed to think the Suburban wasn't totaled. I don't know what number they were looking at: a total of the mechanic bill, the minivan rental bill, and the bill to ship the car from South Dakota to Washington far surpassed the value of the 9-year-old Suburban.

We were fortunate that we already planned on spending all of Sunday in South Dakota and there was a water park in the hotel we were trapped in for the day. The next morning we took a quick look at Mt Rushmore and hurried on our way, arriving right on schedule two days later.

One month after moving here, the Suburban joined us. Since I'd rather not replace it until after I've saved enough to pay cash for something else, we decided to play nice; a full detailing job will be enough to appease a death wish, right?


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pictures of the House Part 1

I decided to post pictures of the house before I posted about my adventures with the car. This may be due to implicit threats from family members.

Just remember, I have not had time to decorate. Mostly I've thrown things in roughly the right place, hoping they'd stick eventually. Also, I have not hung any pictures yet. Oh, and I have a room still waiting for the 12 foot couch we've ordered and the flat screen TV we have not.

And I know the table doesn't match. It will after I paint it black. And get new kitchen chairs since mine didn't make it onto the moving truck.

Also, I didn't mop my floors.

And there is a reason you are only seeing the downstairs. It will take a few more days to do upstairs.

So, now that my warnings are made...

Kitchen from different view
Now I'm standing in the kitchen. See the spots for the missing couch and TV?
Facing front door
Pantry.  It will be beautiful, once it is organized properly.
Front Parlor

And again
Powder bathroom
Back bathroom by guest room and mud area
Just in case you think I didn't have a lot left to do...

Guest Room/Craft room

What will be our mud closet but is now Mt. WinterGear

The edge of Mt. WinterGear by door to garage