Monday, December 31, 2007

You know you've left Texas when...

You ask for "tea" and they offer "hot or iced?"

You ask for Dr Pepper and they say, "we have Mr.Pibb" as if it's not an insult.


And you know you're in California when they mock you for not recycling your can at a party.

Friday, December 28, 2007

telltale signs

You can always tell a child who has new scented markers by the multicolored dots under their nose.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

M-ads.

There are televisions in my grocery store. Every aisle, they are advertising something at me. Telling me to clean out my refrigerator before I grocery shop, telling me to buy Chee-tos, telling me to buy, buy, buy.

It's new, this grocery store television thing. They are attached to each aisle, two per aisle, right at smack-me-in-the-forehead-while-I'm-buying-cereal level. I couldn't tell if what they were advertising was aisle specific (though the Chee-tos ad was in the vegetable section...) or if it was just throughout the store, like watching thirty solid minutes of advertising that I couldn't escape.

I object. Really, it wasn't terribly obnoxious or loud, it was just constant, pervasive messing with my subconscious, attempting to derail my plans for my coupons and list.

I suppose, with a Super Wal-Mart and a Super Target right down the street, they have to do something to boost their numbers, and they certainly weren't going to head down the "good customer service" road, so they are trying this. And it might just do the opposite of what they are intending. At least for me.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wheee! ...er, I mean, Wiiiiiiii!

So this Christmas, we dove into the video game world for the first time since the Atari. And, seriously? It's fun. So fun.

I'm terrible at it. I can barely play, much less beat the little people in the house. I'm guessing that the dog could probably beat me. Sarge is pretty good, and the kids seem to have a innate ability to know what to do. Except when the middle one was attempting to bowl and she apparently threw the bowling ball into the crowd rather than down the lane.

Did you know that the Wii will "boo" you? Yeah, it's boo-d me a bunch of times, too.

Monday, December 24, 2007

wedding gifts


A long time ago, I got married. In fact, it was nearly 12 years ago.


Today, as I was mopping and scrubbing my kitchen floors, I was reminded that the very bucket that I've been using for the last twelve years (not really as faithfully as I should...) was a wedding gift.


My twenty year old self thought it was by far the strangest wedding gift. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I didn't appreciate it. I can only imagine the thank you note I wrote:


"Thanks for the mop bucket. It's such a nice cream color and I it's such a useful gift. My new husband and I will enjoy the time we spend together using it."


However, my thirty-two year old self defininitely appreciates that gift. In fact, I'm glad it was given to me, and I'd almost like to go back and write another thank you note for it.


It's like when you have your first baby, the shower gifts that you love the most are the ones that you never use. They're so pretty and useless, but you know that with the second baby that you are all over that diaper shower. And onesies. And burp cloths.


People should get another wedding shower, but after they've been married about 10 or 15 years. I've not used all the gorgeous chrystal candlesticks or bowls. Or really even any china. And lets not even talk about the lingerie.


This time, I would be grateful for all the towels in the world. I wouldn't even care that they didn't match, I'd just be glad they didn't have holes in them. And potholders and tupperware and corning ware dishes. Oh, and recipes!


But I wouldn't need another mop bucket. The one I've got has a lot of life left in it.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Very Busy Doing Nothing

We've been very busy around this household, but when I sit down to think about it, I can think of nothing that we've done that I can write about without sounding lamer than usual. So I'll make a list instead.

  • We had sleepovers on Friday night. Well, the oldest two did with friends and I did with the littest one because he was whining he didn't have a friend. So I slept in his bed. Or tried to.
  • We didn't get much sleep on Friday night. I wonder why?
  • It could have had something to do with the icing the children ate (that was being minimally supported by a cookie) right before bedtime. I have no idea who's bright idea that was.
  • The middle one was sad all day Saturday that her friend was no longer here. Even though she nearly refused to play Barbies with said friend, even though that's all she ever wants to do when no one WANTS to play Barbies with her. Apparently, given a willing participant, it takes a little cajoling from mom before she'll play. But I did have fun making the Barbies have a knock-down-drag-out over a pair of shoes. And it made the girls laugh and decide to play (I only have a few years before I'm not cool. But I still am! Yipee!)
  • When it was bedtime, the girls and I decided to scare the boys. Who had already gotten themselves all worked up over BigFoot. Then the boys and I decided to scare the girls back.
  • I don't know how many more years I can do sleepovers with multiple genders in the house. It seems that after a few more years it's going to get weird. Something I never considered until Friday night.
  • I finally got my act together on mailing Christmas gifts. Or shall we say "Day After Christmas Gifts" because holy highway robbery, Batman! To get something 500 miles in three days apparently has to be individually driven by a monster truck and they'd still make a profit.
  • I've been mending clothes lately, and I'm afraid that only the pajamas are going to be socially acceptable. You know the look of pants that have been let out? Good idea in theory, but it looks terrible. And the jury's still out on the giant patchwork flowers on my daughter's knees. But the good news is that the 6" long tear in the seam of my son's favorite pajamas has now been fixed and we don't have to see his underwear every night anymore. I did draw the line on the hand-me-down underwear that had holes in it. I decided that the littlest one really did have enough underwear and that repaired underwear was just unneccesarily embarassing.
  • Oh, and the holes in my daughter's shoes. I'm afraid with the mending and the holey shoes we're going to end up on some charity list this year. Add that to the fact that my daughter keeps saying she hopes Santa will bring her new sneakers this year, and the whole guilt factor's WAY up. But, oh, I want nothing less than to go to the mall before Christmas.
  • I've managed to keep one of Sarge's three gifts a surprise this year. I was going to be two for three, but he got the mail the other day and spotted it. And there wasn't any guessing as to what it was. Darnit. And all he has to do is ask any of the kids and they'll probably tell him. That's how I know what I'm getting.
  • Oh, and the cleaning. That's more than just list worthy. But I've been doing a lot of it lately, and as much as I hate it, and as cracked as my hands are, I love having a clean and tidy house. Which annoys me. Because why can't I enjoy the cleaning and the clean? It seems unfair. But it makes my husband positively giddy.

So there. That's me being very busy doing nothing.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

four-year-old worries

After school one day, the littlest one informed me that he didn't think he'd ever be able to go to Kindergarten.

"Why not?"


Saddest face ever, "Because I can't open my chip bag."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lists for Santa

So there's a certain item on my daughter's Christmas list that she will NOT be receiving this year. Or ever.

It's a charming toy called Squawkers McCaw. As if the commercials weren't annoying enough, the genius marketing people make sure it's on an endcap at the store. Kids notice it, sure, but what they forgot about was that even when you walk by it without your children it still talks to you. Several of them all at once. Repeatedly. And to the person in front of you. And the person behind you. In the most horrible Gilbert Gottfried voice.

And no amount of wailing on Christmas morning is worse than owning the most annoying toy ever made.

On elevators and dating

When my husband and I met (almost fourteen years ago! gasp!), I was Catholic and attending a Jesuit university. It was Lent, and the tradition is to give something up. Feeling rebellious, I wanted to give something up besides chocolate or dessert or boys (that would have been a disaster!). So I gave up elevators.

For me, in this life that I live now, that would not even affect me. At all.

But at the time, I was living in a dormitory, on the fourth floor. I was all young and fit and so it was no big deal. But then, when I met my new love interest, I had to explain to his Southern Baptist self what I was doing, and NO, I was not crazy, just Catholic. I even would tell him he could take the elevator and meet me at the top - he hadn't given up elevators. But he was trying to impress me, I think, so he went along and took the stairs. He would even carry my groceries.

It's a wonder he stuck around. Maybe he only stuck around to harass me about it. Fourteen years later.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Almost Nine...

is apparently how old they are when they are no longer able to kiss or hug their mothers goodbye in public.


Humph.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

new chair

The other day, I mentioned that I had purchased new-to-us chairs. Two of them.

What I didn't realize then was the treasure that I'd purchased.





One of the chairs I purchased is a 60's era sewing chair. A real, honest-to-goodness, made for sitting by your sewing machine chair. Not folding. Not dinging. It's petite - small in stature, but a nice solid weight. It has a lifting-up seat. Covered in a bad fabric, but that's easily fixed.

Just today, my daughter asked what I was going to put in the seat of my chair. I told her I wasn't sure, but I knew I couldn't put anything in there that I needed all the time, because I'd be sitting on it!

Just like that, it came to me. I told her I thought it should be our mailbox. That we could put notes to each other in it. Whenever we feel like it, we'll put a note in there. It's an idea I've been toying with - I'd heard of parents sharing a notebook with their kids - a place to put thoughts that is placed under the intended reader's pillow when someone had something to say or a question to ask. Questions would be answered, thoughts would be responded to, and the notebook returned to the original sender's pillow.

She loved it. She skipped off to write me a note. As I sat sewing, she came to me with a paper in her hand and explained to me that I needed to get up, but not look at what she was doing (she's as good at surprises as her father and I are). And after she'd done what she needed to do, I sat back down. She looked at me expectantly. "Should I look in the mailbox?" I asked. "Only if you want to." was the answer. I got up and looked. I pretended to be surprised (it's just what we do - Sarge will look surprised when he opens his Christmas gift, too.). Then she asked when she could expect mail to be delivered for her.


I wrote her a note, placed it in the chair and she came around looking not too much later. She told her brothers, one of whom left me a sweet note.


This is so much more than a sewing chair.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

he knows.

The littlest one knows when the other pillow in my bed is empty. Sarge has been gone the last few days, and I got a visitor every night between 2 and 4 in the morning. Sarge returned yesterday, and I promised him that the littlest one would come visit between those hours, usually having removed his pull-up and changed his pajamas. I was so sure.

No visitors. Until after 7am. Bliss.

And, because Sarge had been busy being spoiled rotten by his mother for the prior four days, he bathed the children upon his return, put them in bed (except for the parts I wanted to do - bedtime kisses!) and got up with them this morning.

Double bliss. Life is good.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

from one extreme to the other

The littlest one is feeling better. Unfortunately, it took a round of oral steroids to make that happen for us. I have a love-hate relationship with steroids.

I love them because they likely have saved my son's life a time or two. This was not one of those times, but seeing your child's face in a shade of blue is something that you'll never get out of your memory. So I really do love them.

BUT, times like these, when they didn't save your kid's life, they just improved it, I really waver on whether or not to give them to him. For example, this morning, I told him I would play with him when I got the laundry in the washing machine. A task that was not 15 feet away from him and would likely take less than three minutes. He had an all out crying, yelling, temper tantrum. Complete with throwing toys. I didn't play with him.

Then, we went to Costco and I wouldn't buy him pizza, simply because I wasn't carrying enough cash to purchase it. I didn't have a chance to explain why, because as soon as he heard "no" he started crying and yelling "I want pizza" over and over and over again. Until we got home. I put food in front of him -- on a dime, he stopped crying and began eating.

That's the other thing about steroids. As it is, on a normal day, the boy eats and eats and eats. But on steroids? Forget it. He is STARVING ALL DAY LONG. He's not even five, but when he's on them, he consumes teenager-like quantities of food. It frightens me.

It's nice to know that we're on the other side of this illness. For now. But I'll be so grateful when we're all the way done and I can stop going on and on about it. And I can start going on and on about how organized I am these days. And that I'm a cleaning machine. And how I just bought the coolest chairs on craiglist and it's the end of the ding ding chair as we know it!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Have You Ever...

tried to go five days without making a four year old cry?

Things like this happen:

We showed up at the doctor's office today and he had a giant sucker in his mouth. When I asked the doctor if his throat was red, he paused. I asked, "Do you think his throat is red from the sucker or because there's something wrong with it?" He laughed. He was pretty sure it was just the sucker.

Sarge came home from work and found that his spot in the bed was occupied, so he slept on the couch until we woke up.

We watch Power Rangers in the middle of the night.


I'm not even sure I should admit these things. But, you see, I hate vomit more that I hate all of these things. And when he's sick like this, often times he'll projectile vomit everything he ate in the last twenty-four hours, simply from the force of coughing. And since I was traumatized by bacon the last time, I'm really not prepared for vomit, if I can avoid it.

And so I avoid it. And pay for it when he's well again and he thinks that he can have chocolate chip cookies for breakfast.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

check mark for tuesday

The kids were drumming on some Christmas tins, in the kitchen, right next to me. And yelling. Or singing. Whatever they called the racket they were making.

"Please stop! You're making me crazy!" I shouted over the din when I couldn't take any more.

The oldest says, "Well, put down a check mark for Tuesday!"


You've got to love that kid.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

RSV, or Why I Won't Hold Your Newborn

The little one is sick again, and everytime he gets sick, I think about our time we've spent battling his breathing, or lack thereof.

The first time he was in the hospital was arguably one of the most stressful times in my entire life.

When he was 39 days old, I discovered that I'd made a HUGE mistake. We'd simply forgotten to put him on my husband's insurance within the 30 days after he'd been born. I was informed of this by the cardiologist that he was supposed to see for a mild heart murmur. And again by the surgeon who was supposed to repair his dual inguinal hernias. I spent the next couple of days begging human resources and the insurance company to help me. They couldn't, or wouldn't.

A woman, sent to me by God (there's simply no other explanation), struck up a conversation with me over the weekend after my three days of begging. She's the only other person in the world I've met who did the same stupid thing. She explained that they got catastrophe coverage from their Allstate agent, for peace of mind.

Peace of mind, apparently, was the least of my worries. That Monday, I went to my Allstate agent, applied for the coverage for my little baby with a cold. It went into effect on Wednesday at midnight. I called the new pediatrician on Wednesday morning for advice for my baby who couldn't breathe. They explained that I should care for him at home with saline and humidifiers. He's 46 days old, just shy of seven weeks old. I was sleeping on the couch with him at night so he could sleep upright and begging him to nurse.

That was also the day that my husband got a vasectomy. I wouldn't ordinarily mention this, but the man had been promised 72 hours of sitting on the couch with a bag of frozen peas and a wife at his beck and call. He was not that lucky.

Thursday morning, I called the pediatrician again. They reluctantly agreed to an appointment that afternoon. I knew nothing of breathing troubles. I knew ear infections inside and out, but this was all new territory. Knowing what I know now, we would have already been at the emergency room, as he was in severe respiratory distress. I just didn't know it. All I knew was that each breath seemed to be a full body effort and that he hadn't had a good meal in days.

About 30 seconds after I arrived at the pediatricians office, he was given a breathing treatment with 100% oxygen. About ten minutes later, they were walking me and the baby, still on oxygen, over to the hospital, pushing my other two children in the stroller. The pediatrician asked me if I was worried about my insurance - apparently my face registered concern. I said no, I was worried about how on earth I was going to call my husband and ask him, 36 hours after surgery in a delicate place, to help me. I had promised that I wouldn't need his help for 72 hours, that I surely I could do it on my own for three days. But here I was, needing him like I'd never needed him before.

I waited about three more hours before I called him, and he didn't even complain once. He limped to the hospital, got the other two children (who were 20 months and 4, mind you) and called his mother. This was one of the times she rescued us.

But inside the hospital room, with my tiny baby, I still didn't know what was going on. I didn't know what the monitors were saying, I didn't know what was wrong with him. It felt like hours that we were in that room monitors were beeping (I had no idea that that number that was 76 should have been a 100. I had no idea that when the monitors beeped you had to go hunt down a nurse, that they didn't come to you). I didn't understand why they had to wait until the end of a shift to get a NICU nurse to put his IV in - the regular nurses tried and tried, but he was so small and dehydrated that they couldn't get it. The NICU nurse couldn't go back to the NICU after being near him. I didn't understand any of that, and none of it was explained to me.

They suctioned him and suctioned him. They explained to my broken heart that if I'd let him stay in respiratory distress much longer that he would have gone into cardiac distress. They gave him oxygen and medications that I didn't recognize. They xrayed him and hydrated him and suctioned him some more. And gave him breathing treatments every two hours. I tried to sleep, in my clothes, and picked at the hospital food.

Finally, the next morning, they gave me a name for what was wrong with my baby and a tiny amount of information. For someone who wants to know every detail, it had been torture for me. He had RSV and he would be fine. Except for that some of these babies have a hard time with their breathing for a very long time. I naively thought that I would not need my nebulizer for my infant for longer that the 10 days.

Since then, I've learned that insurance is a beautiful thing (between that hospital stay and the hernia surgery and all the other garbage from the first eight months of his life, that stranger saved us over $35,000). I've educated myself on my son's breathing and his medication and what oxygen saturation is and how it relates to his heart rate when he's monitored. I've learned when I can handle an illness at home, when I need the doctor and when I need an emergency room. I've learned to not let them put the IV in his left hand, even though it's his best vein, because if that boy can't suck his thumb in the hospital everyone will regret it. I've learned not to forget his woop. I've learned how much I hate steroids, but how I'm so grateful to them. I've learned to always bring the nebulizer on vacation, because if I don't bring it, we'll need it.

I've learned that information is power. And that my husband will always rescue me.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Cleaning, part 2

So I've decided that it's time to start chore lists in my house. Not just for the children, unfortunately. I think part of it was that I had a particularly busy week last week and things seemed to be rather out of control on the home front. With that supposedly being my primary job, I was feeling a little defeated.

But I also know that I'm a terrible housekeeper and that I'd much rather do fun stuff than clean, dust, vacuum, wash dishes or any other chore. Alas, the definition of chore, I'm thinking, is pretty far from "fun" or "favorite thing to do" for anyone, not just me. Yet they manage to get their house clean, dishes washed or papers filed.

In just more than eighteen months, I've managed to move into my larger space. I used to have a, um, cozy thirteen hundred square feet, which I was able to make work for my family of five and a smelly dog. But here I am, with nearly three thousand, and there's junk everywhere. I've spread my mess to fit the space. Which is something that I really wanted to avoid. Even the rooms that I've promised would stay neat and tidy (my bedroom) have succumbed to the piles (mostly laundry in there). I'm frustrated, mostly with myself.

In fact, the middle one asked me this evening, "Mommy, why is the treasure chest [the coffee table - a story for another day!] always so messy on top?" "Well," I answered, "mostly because everytime I clean it off, y'all add more junk on the top of it." Which I can actually blame on them. Unfortunately, I can't put the blame wholly on them - they are modeling my behavior.

Back to the chore lists. I'm going to give it a shot. And while I'm at it, I'm going to give some to the children. But really, is cleaning out the trash cans weekly really necessary? Can I make it monthly? I'm having a terrible time deciding if the lists I'm making are too ambitious (which I'm sure they are for someone like me, not so for the average human being!). But is vacuuming weekly enough? Do I allow myself some flexibility or just stay on task on the right day, no matter what?

And then I could spend so much time obsessing over the list that I just avoid the actual chores themselves. Hmmm. That might just be a plan....

Friday, December 7, 2007

cleaning confessions

This one's for my mom.

I decided that it was time to clear off my desk before it toppled over, or just collapsed under the weight of the junk that was on top of it. I found some horrifying things.
  • I was saving a ziploc baggie of about five water bottle lids. Apparently my daughter was starting a collection on only got to the starting part. And I was saving them for her. In a drawer.
  • I had coupons laying in some prime desktop real estate that expired this summer.
  • I had receipts from over a year ago in the basket on my desk.
  • I found three business cards from my dog kennel, each from the new owners when it has changed ownership.
  • I found medical bills from 2004. I was saving them in case the insurance company didn't actually pay them. I'm pretty sure they've paid them by now. I mean, some of them took over a year, but even health insurance companies usually don't take three years to pay. Or the hospitals would have come to take my child as collateral by now.
  • More thank you notes than any one person should actually own. Well, certainly someone who clearly doesn't actually use them.
  • This years and last years school pictures of my children.

Why is this one for my mom? Because she gets upset sometimes because we harrass her for being disorganized and having canned peaches from the eighties in her pantry. So, Mom? Now you know. I'm the pot, you're the kettle.

Oh, and the final confession? I've started a seed pile of junk that I just can't deal with right now. Any takers on bets that it will be there the next time I clean my desk? In 2009?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

confused conversations

We had two interesting conversations over dinner tonight. Apparently the youngest had a little bit of a hard time digesting the two.

Daddy went to the dentist today. Just a regular checkup, but also checking out the dentist to see whether or not they would be suitable for our children to also visit. So we laid it on the kids that they would soon be visiting the dentist, and that it's important to brush your teeth twice a day so you don't get holes in your teeth.

A little later, we were trying to gently explain to them that Mommy's uncle is very sick. That he has something called cancer and that it's in his brain. And that the doctors aren't giving him any more medicine. But that he could walk and talk. And laugh. But also that it's the kind of germs that aren't contagious, that you could hug him and sit with him and that you wouldn't get cancer. And that we didn't know how he got it, just that some people just do.

I'm sure the questions will keep coming. Already the middle one is playing "brain cancer Barbie." I wasn't really prepared for the first delayed question, though, from the youngest.

"Mommy, did your uncle get cancer in his brain because he didn't brush his teeth?"

my daughter, the control freak

A little. Well, more than a little. She likes to be in control of her environment, including, but not limited to, her brothers.

An example. The remote. When the three children are watching TV, she's holding the remote. Not necessarily watching the show of her choosing, but you'd better believe that she's the remote master. It even goes with her to the kitchen table, the bathroom and sometimes to the computer, which is nowhere near the television. Because someone might dare to change the channel without her knowledge or written authorization.

We had the opportunity to go to a restaurant recently where we were given a buzzer-thingie that tells you when to go get your food. It was in the center of the table. She spotted it, nonchalantly grabbed it and placed it near her food. I, being the troublemaker that I am, waited until she wasn't watching and stealthily moved it back to where it was. As soon as she noticed it had moved, she popped her little hand across the table and put it next to her. A little closer this time. In case.

Monday, December 3, 2007

What do you want for Christmas? What? Nevermind. Forget I ever asked.

My poor husband. I asked him, jokingly, the other day, "What would you think if I asked for jewelery for Christmas?"

His answer surprised me -- he said, "I'd be relieved!"

You see, I'm a fairly straightforward gal. If I say, "Don't buy me anything" for a specific holiday, it means, "don't buy me anything." If I say, "surprise me, here's the budget" it means, "surprise me and don't spend more than that."

But this year, when he asked what I wanted for Christmas, I think he immediately wanted to take the question back.

I asked him to paint our bedroom. I even provided the color I wanted.

Later, we were talking about it, and he told me that he might need my help. No worries, I said. The gift is not doing it by himself, it's doing it cheerfully. Not complaining. At all. Or at least very little.

He'd rather buy jewelery.

But I do want a puppy for my birthday. Don't tell the dog.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Herbivores don't eat little boys, I promise.

We came home late Saturday night, and by late I mean after dark. This is unusual for us, though. As I pulled into the alley behind my house to park, I spotted the rabbit, right near the hole in our fence. I backed up, pointed it out at the children and tried to point my headlights at it.

It dashed under the fence. Into my vegetable garden, where my broccoli was finally starting to recover. Dangit.

Imagine my surprise, when, in our conversations as we pulled into the garage, when the littlest one appeared nervous. Not nervous like the middle one, about letting the dog out into the yard (that dog's so old and fat the bunny had NOTHING to worry about. Even when she was young and lean, she was stealthy like a jet plane.) He was worried that the bunny was in our yard, and that it was going to come and get us. In our sleep.

He asked how high it could jump. And what it ate. We talked about what an herbivore is. He asked if it could crash through windows. And doors. He asked about it's teeth and what noises it would make. He asked each of these questions at least four times before bath. And then again as I was putting him to bed. Terrified of a cute little broccoli eating bunny.

When Sarge came home, I told him that I would bet that it was one of the first things the little one would tell him about. Even before the fun kid-centered late night activity we'd attended. True to form, the little one told Sarge all about the "stupid bunny in our yard" but the fear had subsided with the daylight.

Even at lunch today, Sarge brought it up again, and he denied being scared faster than the older one denied playing with Barbies. We'll see what the sunset brings.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Deny, deny, deny.

A friend of my oldest came to play today. We were joking around and somehow we were joking about sending the boys upstairs to play Barbies.

And the middle one outed the oldest one. "He plays Barbies. Yuh-huh. You do too, you play Barbies with me."

He denied it emphatically. How else does an eight year old save face in front of his friend?

You see, at the begging and pleading of his little sister, he'll play. In fact, that's what they played so beautifully together this weekend. He hasn't done it for months, but if he's in the right mood, and his sister has worn him down, he'll play.

I pulled the middle one aside. I quietly explained to her that if she ever wanted her brother to play Barbies with her again, that she needed to keep quiet. That she needed to keep in within our family. (Telling the internet totally doesn't count, does it?)

I'm not usually a fan of secrets. In fact, we don't keep secrets in our family, only surprises. I've explained that secrets usually are bad, that you're hurting someone's feelings by not telling them a secret or that it's just a bad thing that really should be told to a trusted grownup. Surprises, on the other hand, run rampant this time of year, and they're joyous things, they're fun, and the truth will come out and everyone will be happy with surprises.

But in this case, to save the oldest one's face and to save the middle one's precious time with her Barbies and her brothers, she needs to zip it. And she did. I was impressed.

Annual Traditions, Random Thoughts Style

Well, not that kind. And not every year, because I'm a terrible patient.

So, I'm getting ready to go to the doctor. And it's a little nerve wracking, because I'm not really accustomed to getting those parts of me ready for a viewing.

So I decide that shaving my legs is a good idea. Because otherwise the doctor might not know where to begin. But then I put on lotion and wonder if it was a mistake because it was pretty smelling lotion.

And as I'm getting dressed, I find that I care immensely what shoes I'm wearing. Not because I'll actually be wearing them, but because I'm worried that my feet will stink. And he'd think that something died in my lady parts. And well, ew.

And I wonder. Do gynecologists have a great sex life or a terrible one? Great because they know where all the important stuff is? Or horrible, because when they come home and the end of the day and their lady is feeling amorous, they just think, "Oh, no, I just can't look at another one today."

And my mom always says that you can tell how long the wait is by the quality of the magazines in the waiting room. If they're really good, you won't have to wait long. If they're bad, you're in for a long wait. True to form, I settled down in the waiting room with a big fancy decorating magazine and they called my name. I threw down the magazine with high hopes, then got back to the exam room and there was not a magazine in sight. And I waited. And waited.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Old. Again.

So the oldest one was talking about U2. About how he thought it was spelled. He got the spelling right, but his thinking was a little off. "You know, like they probably spelled it in a text message or an email." (How he knows about these things, I don't know. I don't know how to text message, and I certainly couldn't get over my spelling issues to do it, even if I did know how. Anyways.)

Um. Yeah. U2 was around before text messages. Maybe before emails. You know, back when I was a kid. I explained this to him.

"So, you mean, U2 is a bunch of 50 year olds or something?"

And you know, I had to google it to find out? I had to pause and think about it? It was even a possibility? And crap, I'm old.

(But not as old as Bono. Woo Hoo! He's 47. I know that now.)

There's a salon for everything

I made note this morning of a fancy salon this morning aloud to my husband and son.

"Salon Pour Vous"

The littlest one, nearly five, repeated me. Or so he thought.

"Salon For Poo?"


That's right buddy, that's the kind of town we live in. We even have places to fancy up your turds.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Poetry

I hate it. I know, I know, that makes me unsophisticated and unromantic. But it makes me crazy. Especially the rhyming kind that's not supposed to be funny.

Now, back in my younger days, if a boy wrote me poetry, his days were numbered. It was never a conscious thing, I probably couldn't even enumerate how much I disliked poetry, I just knew that if a boy was trying to tell me what he thought or felt in a roundabout way that we'd never last. But man, that was definitely the kiss of death for me. Let's just say that my husband has not one poetic bone in his body and thankfully for both of us, I think that's just perfect.

Here's the problem. I love to read, but I like to read and understand what the author is trying to write, not make guesses. I am such a straightforward person that I like to know exactly what someone is trying to say rather than having to guess and make inferences.



If you pick a word that rhymes, let's just assume it wasn't your first choice in words. You didn't pick it because it was perfect, you picked it because it rhymed and it was good enough. Why not pick the perfect word instead? I'm willing to bet money that the reason why a dove is a bird that symbolizes love is because it rhymes. You can tell me that doves mate for life and that it's very romantic, but I'm telling you, if "dove" didn't rhyme with "love" then they wouldn't be nearly so popular.

It just seems contrived. Even though I'm glad to be alive...d.

See what I mean? Or maybe I'm just a bad poet.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Almost

I almost posted earlier today singing the praises of my wonderful children, about how I really didn't want them to go back to school. About how I could keep them home for another week. They'd been playing together for three days. Straight. Upstairs, in the playroom, in their bedrooms, all weekend, together. The three of them played Barbies (promise me I'll remember that when they're older), played cars, built entire farms out of blocks, with the cars as animals. They had so much fun, barely watching TV, barely coming downstairs to eat.

But then. Then. Around five o'clock, it all came back to normal. And tomorrow, school.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

shopping. with kids. fun.

I have a shopping strategy with my children. I threaten them at the beginning of the trip that if they are naughty, then we will go somewhere extra. Somewhere horrible. Like the fabric store. And if the fabric store is on our list of things to do, I'll promise them that I'll browse and take my time.

Sometimes, when we're feeling fun, I'll beg them to be naughty so I can look around. "Please, please, knock over that rack of thread. Please, meddle. Come on, you guys, do something naughty!" They're so funny, because they'll act all conspiratory (is that even a word?) and whisper to each other to be good. And use their museum hands.

I figure that the reason why they're acting so naughty is that they don't want to be wherever we are, purchasing whatever we are purchasing. So when they were little, I'd threaten to take them outside. But the only person that punished was me. They got to leave and I didn't get my errands done. Misery all around.

So today, when the little one was naughty in Michael's, I told them that now we had to go to Hobby Lobby. And if they were naughty at Hobby Lobby, I'd go to the fabric store. And then grocery shopping. So, bonus, I got the things I needed at Hobby Lobby, and they acted like perfect angels, even in the longest line ever. Not kidding.

Smartest parenting thing I've ever done. Except that I didn't get my grocery shopping done.

Friday, November 23, 2007

This Is Texas

Where it's summer one day and winter the next. When there's a fall day, we always joke that we'd better enjoy it, because it never lasts a week. And it never does.

The tricky part is that it's fall for a week, then summer again, then winter. You can easily go from needing your air conditioner to needing your heat in a twelve hour period.

Ahh, you've gotta love this place!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

road trip



We were on a little road trip. We just came home, sanity barely intact. There was a little of this:







And a LOT of this:





And even MORE of this:


I got a teensy bit out of control with my fuzzy clearance yarn purchasing then scarf-making. I'm almost finished with the yarn I bought, and I bought *blush* twenty-two balls. I'm on scarf number 19.
Hey, want a scarf?




Friday, November 16, 2007

a good husband

My littlest one is going to make some woman a very happy wife one day. I asked him this morning if he could be good while I got on the treadmill for a little while. This was his answer:

"No, Mommy, you don't need to. You're not fat. Come watch Elmo with me."


His father has taught him well.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

scattered

The other day, we were spelling words together, the whole family. We were trying to find really hard ones for the oldest, moderate for the middle, and simple for the little. So I came up with "scatterbrained." Sarge spelled, "M-O-M-M-Y."

My head's been going forty-eight different directions and it's making me crazy. I lost my cell phone. I went so far as to go back to the scene of the flat tire to see if I'd left it there. I went even a step further and cleaned out my minivan. It was so lost. I found it this afternoon in a bag I'd used last Thursday.

We went to put the spare tire back where it belongs in the van and weren't able to. The thing that holds the spare tire on was broken. I'd gotten the van cleared of junk and I begged my mechanic (pretty please? I'm your best customer?) to vacuum the van. I hope I didn't leave anything important in there.

I've lost at least three measuring tapes in the last year. I finally ran out of measuring tapes and had to purchase a new one. And then left it in the first house I used it in.

It's ordinary that I forget at least one thing each time I go to hang curtains. This last week, I forgot practically everything. But I didn't have my cell phone to call my husband.

I can't write a decent post because I can't put my thoughts together in a coherent manner. But man, I can't wait to get them together, because I've got something to say. I'm sure I do.

I'm a mess.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

dinner: success!

The kids thought they won the lottery tonight. I've been knee deep in curtains the last few days and not getting even five hours of sleep. AND NO NAPS. I NEED NAPS. So I'm a little tired.

I didn't feel like listening to whining about dinner. After briefly considering Halloween candy for dinner, then Cub Scout Popcorn, but I decided on sandwiches. Turkey and ham sandwiches. With salami. Oooh, maybe on tortillas. Shoot. Too many options, and I hate having their orders being barked at me over and over again.

So I flopped the turkey, ham and salami on a plate. Cheese cubes, shredded cheese in bowls. Spinach, dressings, bread and tortillas. All thrown on the kitchen table and I said, "Here, it's a serve yourself meal tonight." And they totally bit.

They went to town, loading up their sandwiches with the things they love. The littlest one carefully cut his cheese cubes (with a butter knife) into slices and put them on his wrap. I've never seen a meal where none of them complained about something. In fact, the two oldest ones went on and on about how great their meals were.

I think they tasted better because they'd done it themselves. I wonder when that changes, because I know that things taste better to me when someone else makes them.

Monday, November 12, 2007

To the rescue!

As my husband was sitting on the side of the road, changing the tire of my minivan, he's busy telling me how horrible my van is and how we need a new car.

Um, babe? I ran over a nail. It has nothing to do with all of the cookie crumbs on the floor, stains on the seat or miles on the engine.

But he did rescue me, which involved going to work late and laying in the road. And I'm so grateful. And my minivan lives another day.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

like talking to a senior citizen

This is my house:

"EH?"

"WHAT?"

"I CAN'T HEAR YOU. SPEAK UP, SONNY"

But it's the eight year old saying all that. Of course, the ear pain got really bad about an hour after the pediatrician closed on Saturday. Because that's the way things work. So we went to urgent care, because I knew we couldn't wait until Monday.

But it didn't end up mattering. I asked him how his ear felt, and he said "It doesn't hurt anymore, but it's leaking." Well, really, he shouted it. So now both ear drums don't work. Nice.

He's the most pitiful sick person. Literally, he started tearing up at the thought of leaving the house to go to a birthday party. And he fell asleep on the couch later that evening and when he woke up, like two hours later, he says that he was asleep at least seven minutes.

And he's even so pitiful that his sister is waiting on him hand and foot. "Do you need a stuffed animal?" "A fresh snot rag?" "We can play whatever you want..."

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Great American Pole Fir

Noble Fir, Frasier Fir, and now the Pole Fir. We thought about assembling it and then tying it to the top of the minivan and taking a picture with the kids. It would make a good Christmas Card photo...



I will now stop making fun of my Christmas Tree and get to work.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Shoe-tying snafu

My daughter. For as contrary as she might be with me, adores school - everything about it. Her teacher is on the highest pedestal you can imagine. I mean, God's on top, her teacher is barely under.

So, you can imagine my surprise, when I found myself hollering at her to get out from under her brother's bed and get to school our friends our waiting outside. I wasn't even going to make her wear a jacket, it was that bad. I even took away a birthday party before she came out, and even then, it was only because the next birthday party she REALLY wanted to go to was on the line.

It all started because I'm the worst mom in the world and I told her to do the first part of the shoe-tying thing. I was even willing to walk her through it, I just wanted her hands to do it. It was at least ten minutes of stomping around (*mostly* her) and yelling (*mostly* her). She finally relented, very unhappily. She tied the first part, I tied the second part. Then we were fine, until I dared to tell her to put on a coat, it's 45 degrees out there. That was what sent her under the bed.

Fast forward to today. Not only did she do the first part of shoe tying on her own, she asked me to show her the second part. A near miracle. THEN. THEN! After school today, her teacher (not knowing any of the hysteria that had occured the day before) tells me that she's doing really well learning to tie her shoes and she's just about got it and that they had worked together on it.

That little stinker, for all the fussing she did, and barely 24 hours later, she's tying her own stinking shoes.

If I can't handle six, how will I handle sixteen?

scrooge-ish

I remember, back in the day, when it seemed obscene to put Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving. And even then, right after Thanksgiving seemed a little too soon. I mean, it wasn't even December yet.

So here we are, the days right after Halloween, when the Christmas decor has been in the stores so long that it's on sale, and decorations are not only everywhere, but they've turned the lights on. I've been watching since the first of November the men work tirelessly putting decorations up at the entrance to our neighborhood, stepping around the smashed jack-o-lanterns that haven't even had a chance to start rotting.

But here's the deal. I was coming home tonight after dark and the lights were on down Main Street, and they were (half -- high class!) on at the entrance to the neighborhood. As much as I wanted to feel indignant that the decorations were up, they kind of made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And it made me feel like I was betraying my upbringing and the family tradition of being annoyed at all things Christmas outside the month of December and the first few days of January.


P.S. And to further betray that, I purchased a fake Christmas tree today. FAKE. And, barely in November.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Shut down.

They shut my littlest one's preschool. Just until after Thanksgiving. And honestly, I'm a little relieved. I kept sending him this last week, though each time, I was a little nervous.

You see, the place was nearly infested with head lice.

None of the kiddos in his class had it. But all the kiddos around him had it. Every day when I picked him up, I checked his little head for creatures that had taken root. Today, I even took him to the elementary school nurse before I brought him home, knowing that I NEEDED to know before I scratched my head raw with nerves and the psychological head lice. ANd before the critters found a home in my home.

They've been fighting the good fight for over two weeks at the school. They've cleaned. And cleaned. And cleaned. And taken all the toys away -- okay, not all of them -- they've stopped naptime. They weren't letting kids back in who'd had it until they'd been checked. They hired nurses. I mean, they worked HARD to get rid of them. But they couldn't.

But not only is this a preschool, it's also a church. Which they're shutting down. Sunday morning services with no child care. Bare bones. This is no small undertaking! Fumigation is the name of the game.

And, because I'm completely paranoid, I'm taking away half of my kids' stuffed animals and blankets and stuff. Because I figure it's less to have to wash later. Oh, and tea tree shampoo, because apparently lice hate the stuff, and my kids love it, so YAY.

Apparently, I can handle cohabitating with spiders and crickets, but you give me bugs the size of a grain of sand, and I'm all about the clean. Who knew.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Coffee bean:0, Mom: 1

Since the hugging episode of yesterday, my children seem to have given me the giggles. Except for in the middle of the night last night when I went to go investigate why I heard whining from upstairs, but only made a little ways down the hallway when the culprit met me halfway. I wasn't giggling, mostly jumping out of my skin and yelling.

We went to the doctor today for the oldest, with a ruptured ear drum. Nothing says ruptured ear drum like terrible pain in the ear and then suddenly no pain at all -- just, as the oldest says, "wet goo in my ear." Anyhow, we giggled our way through the doctor visit, laughing about the book about obeying that had scribbles all over it, laughing over the songs the oldest sang while he was waiting for his ear drops to do their thing.

Since we were having so much fun, I thought we should go to Target. After I finished touting my great mother-eagle-eyes to my youngest, about how I knew he'd picked up a coffee bean off the floor and I knew he had it in his hands, and I knew he'd dropped it and was picking it up, we headed to the checkout. I looked down at the four year old, who's eyes were watering and he looked like he was getting a little panicky. "What's wrong?"

"I fink my coffee bean is stuck in my nose."

Well, at least we're still near the doctor's office. I knelt down, plugged the other nostril and told him to blow. The coffee bean flew out of his nose and down my sleeve. While I'm still processing the fact that this actually worked and was still looking for the bean, a woman looks at me and asks, "are you in this check out line?" "Um, no, we were just having a coffee-bean-in-the-nose emergency." And then I burst into a tear inducing fit of giggles. She must have thought I was nuts. She proceeded to hop in that line and wish me well with my emergency. I couldn't even speak, I was trying not to cry, I was laughing so hard.

I can't wait to tell the middle one. Finally she's not the only one who stuck contraband up her nose.

Monday, November 5, 2007

You hit, you hug.

I put my kids to bed at 7:30 tonight. I had them all in bed, came downstairs and realized how early it was. Oops. You've gotta love that time change.

They were exhausted, however. The younger two were arguing and fighting every time I'd turn my back. And the two of them can really scrap.

So for punishment, once the dust had settled, I made them hug. They had to stand in the hallway with their hands around one another and hug. At first it was really sweet. They stood there with their arms around each other like seventh graders slow dancing. Or at least back when I was a seventh grader.

Then the oldest and I were discussing the punishment, and he started to giggle about it. Which made me laugh. Which made the littlest one laugh, which FINALLY made the middle one laugh. Which is what I really wanted from the whole thing.

It almost all fell apart, though, when I made them look each other in the eyes and say they were sorry and that they loved each other. You would think that it was going to poison the middle one to have to speak those words with kindness.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Ice, Ice, Baby.

The icemaker in my refrigerator broke last week. The easy fixes weren't working, so while I was deciding what to do about it, we were filling ice cube trays. And when I decided that was a pain to refill the tray every time I wanted ice -- as to not incur the wrath of my husband (aka the ice cube tray filling police) -- each morning I dumped ALL the ice into the icemaker bucket and refilled all of them. That way, when the kids inevitably went to use the ice feature on the door, I didn't have to yell, "THERE'S NO ICE!" It was convenient. Well, not as convenient as having a machine do it for me, but more convenient than the alternatives.

Well, apparently, I offended my broken icemaker by putting inferior ice cubes in it's tray, and it decided to get off it's lazy buns and start making ice again. Like magic. You would not believe my shock when I went to get ice and that familiar shape was, yet again, in my ice bucket. The excitement was a little much, to be honest. I should be embarrassed, but I'm still too excited.



P.S. To the people giving out candy to my kids next year - More Butterfingers. Please?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Board Games

Somebody thought it was a good idea to vote me in charge of a group. As in President. Now, it might have more to do with the fact that there really wasn't a whole lot of competition, but I'm totally committed. I mean, committed to the organization. Not the other kind of committed. Yet.

BUT, silly me, can't leave well enough alone. So here's where I need help. I'm trying to compile a list of GREAT games, board games, that you can give your elementary schooler this holiday season.

My personal favorites, so far, are:

Blink

set

Zooreka (and all the cranium games, honestly)

And then there's the ordinary ones, like Othello and Monopoly. But I need more. And really good ones. Because these are some serious game-playing folks. And smart. So they can't be fooled by some list I googled. Because I considered that, too.

So, faithful reader(s), all four of you, tell me your favorites. Must haves. Discovered it in the lost corner of the store. Every Friday night game. For kids.

Please?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween

My oldest sister and I look a lot alike. I say that because I'm about to write something that might offend her, and I just want it on the record that it just as easily could have been me, that's all. We look so much alike that our mother has gotten us honest-to-goodness confused. Not calling us by the wrong name, but truly thinking that one of us was the other. Which, when we were younger, I'm sure offended her greatly, since I'm her MUCH younger sister (okay, not that much, but I'd like to have that on record now, as I'm in the mode of trying to confuse people about my age so that as I near 40 no one will actually know when it happens. Except my kids keep telling everyone how old I am.)

So anyhow, back to offending my sister.

I don't have heaps of memories of Halloween. Not that it was not anything special, I just have a terrible memory. But I have one memory that makes me giggle. One year, as she was getting on the older side of trick-or-treating, but still young enough, and old enough to have to go around with her annoying younger sisters, my sister dressed up as a man. It was cute - she wore our dad's tie, tied up her hair and painted a moustache.

It was cute. Until some crazy old bat says to her, in all seriousness, "Oh, you poor young man having to go out trick-or-treating with all these young girls" She probably even blessed her heart.

My sister, mistaken for a man. My poor mother made all those Halloween costumes for us, and that's what I remember.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Normal

My oldest child is rather smart. To me, he's normal. He just is who he is. He has strengths and weaknesses, he has challenges to overcome and things that come easily to him. Likes, dislikes, passions and things that he could care less about. His intelligence doesn't actually affect our daily life much - things are just normal.

But sometimes, just sometimes, he stuns me. Knocks me on the floor.

Like the time in Kindergarten when I realized that they needed to know their phone number and he didn't even know the number of digits in the phone number, much less what they were. So I sat down with him and repeated the digits over and over to him, and he just couldn't get it right. I mean, there was just no way. So I got the bright idea to show it to him. I wrote it down on a little slip of paper, just as though I was going to give it to a friend. I flashed it at him. He looked at it for no longer than 10 seconds. I took it away and asked him what our phone number was. He spoke it perfectly, never made a mistake after that.

Just recently, like in the last few days, he's just floored me again. With little things that I usually take for granted, because it's just who he is. There was a question in the paper the other day, a brain teaser. It went something like this:

"There are five people in a race. Rachel and George were not last. Jerry was before George. Pat was before George. Rachel came in after Jerry. Etc, etc. Who came in first?"

I can't remember the specifics, but I read it to him, just for fun. He knew the answer immediately. "Pat. Do you want to know the rest of the order? Next came Jerry, then George, blah, blah, blah." Um, seriously? I hadn't even sorted out who was in the race? And he did it while he was reading the comics! Gah!

And then, we were digging in the Halloween candy. I said, "oooh, an Andes mint! I want that one!" And he asked me about the candy. And I went on and on about how delicious it was, because, well, YUM. About a minute later, he says, "Mom, is it spelled like the name, Andy, or like the Mountain Range?" Um, seriously? You're eight.

Just little things. They normally just fly right past me, because they are who he is, but every now and then I can really step back and realize how cool he really is.

Middle of the night phone call

You know, the one where you jump out of your skin and answer the phone as fast as you can, because you know it's never good news. Especially when your husband is a police officer on duty. At that moment.

So, I answer the phone and I hear a "BEEEEP." I hang up, heart still in my throat. I attempt to calm myself. It was just a wrong number, someone trying to fax something. Hey guess what? Faxes always redial. Right after your heart has returned to it's normal position.

This time, I got really annoyed. I'm no longer worried, I'm just annoyed. Aside from the fact that there's a sick little girl in the bed next to me, I really don't want to have the phone ringing all night long.

So I call the number back. Never expected a person to answer. "County Sherriff's Office" the phone is answered. Um, yeah, someone in your office is sending a fax to my home phone number, and I'd like for it to stop.

"Well, ma'am, the only reason why someone would be calling you from this office is if you have someone in jail."

If I hadn't been so tired and annoyed, I would have burst out laughing. "Ma'am, the only person I know who would be at your facility would be PUTTING someone in jail. Can you make this stop?"

So she transferred me to dispatch. Who transferred me to the jail. Who assured me that no one was sending a fax.

So I did the only thing I knew to do. I called my husband.

"Are you okay?" Affirmative.

"Are you at the county jail?" Negative.

"Can you ask them to stop trying to send me a fax?" Wha?

So I explained the whole story. And I must explain here that our phone number, before it was ours, belonged to the office of an elected county official. So we get a few weird phone calls. Still, after more than five years. Usually about twice or three times a week. Still. But we've never gotten a fax in the middle of the night.

Oddly enough, when my husband called, he was not treated like someone who's loved one is a, um, client of theirs. Not treated like a crazy person making phone calls in the middle of the night. In fact, he was able to speak to the person in charge of the person sending the fax to the wrong place. And he asked them to stop. And oddly enough, they did.

And, UPDATE YOUR PHONE LIST, for gosh sakes!

I'm tired. And a little cranky. Can you tell?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

'Tis The Season...

To start listening to the whining about candy.

We went to a superfun Halloween event last night. The kids got to dress up and go around asking strangers for candy. The asking started as soon as the first piece of candy hit the bottom of the bucket. The littlest one looked up at me with his big, dark brown eyes. The eyes said, "do I eat it now?" "NOT YET" responded my look of death.

They ate candy in the dark on the way home. Is it gum? is it laffy taffy? Just keep chewing.

They poured out their buckets on the living room floor and inspected their candy when they got home. The oldest one is now, unfortunately, old enough to count his candy. Dangit. The littlest one complained of a tummy ache. I wonder why? He claimed it was because he was still hungry. Ah, I'm sure that's it.

Knowing this, I settled it in my head before falling asleep what their candy schedule would be. True to form, before breakfast, they wanted their candy. "No, and here's when you can have it, and only if you eat the meal preceding the scheduled candy time." There was a welcome lull in the whining. For a moment.

The oldest one wanted to count his candy again. Does that kid know his mother or what?

And the middle child wanted lunch at 8:30 this morning. I wonder why?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Visiting The First Grade

So Sarge went to the middle child's class the other day in his full uniform to go talk to the kids about being a police officer. Which is always great for me, because it's so darn funny to watch my husband be put on the spot.

Most of the kids in the class know me, especially the ones she was in Kindergarten with. One of these kids, who's just adorable, raises his hand when things were opened up for questions.

He asked, "[the middle child]'s Mom married YOU???" He seemed flabbergasted.

And then a sweet little girl comes up to me and informs me, "You are so lucky because you have such a cool husband." Um, yeah. Sure.

And then there were the great comments about one time when they called 911 and one time when Mommy got pulled over (that was my kid, but there's no need to go there, right?) and ALL the questions about the gun. So many. They all want to know if he's shot anyone. And if it has batteries. And about the blood and guts and gore. And they desperately want him to take it out and let them look. Which he won't. And his handcuffs, and why he keeps purple balloons in his back pouch on his belt.

I think that's the greatest thing about having a husband who's a police officer. It almost makes up for working on Christmas and Thanksgiving and all night long. Almost.

Why I don't post pictures of myself


The middle one was in trouble today. And was told that unless she intended to lose priveleges, she needed to shape up. So, true to form, she took to the paper and markers. And this is what we got.
She hid it from me when I walked by the kitchen table. She later told me that she wanted to put a note in the mailbox so someone would find it when they got the mail. I suggested that she put it under the person's pillow so that they were sure to find it. And then I forgot about it. Until my husband went to bed. And came back out with a note, saying he found it under my pillow.
I adore my daughters art. It is a window into her soul. Her brothers blab everything that come into their minds, but she keeps it inside more. But her thoughts come out in her drawings and her notes.
And she tells me I'm beautiful. Um. So now you know why you won't see any pictures of me here. The truth hurts, doesn't it?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Meddler Strikes Again

The little one, also known as "the meddler," was in full force today.

He was "helping" make his lunch today and dropped the jelly. And, by the way, why is jelly the only food item that still comes in glass jars? Smashed glass on the kitchen floor -- and while Daddy and I are cleaning it up, he's wondering why it's taking us so long for us to make his peanut butter and peanut butter (since we were freshly out of jelly) sandwich.

About twelve minutes later, after scarfing down said sandwich, he was in an odd and contorted position on a chair in the living room, which involved his feet flailing madly around and came in contact with the one lamp we have in the room. I couldn't get there in time to rescue it. It had suffered several falls before in other acrobatic poses gone wrong, but this was the fatal blow.

However, he is the meddler, not just the destructor, and found out something wonderful. A while back, I purchased a television for $10. It was cheap because it is small and because it had no power button. It took me a while to rig it, but I finally made the remote work for it. The meddler, because he's the meddler, stuck his finger in the hole that once housed a power button. And, for all the sticking of my finger in the child-sized-finger hole with no success, I'd never found the mechanism. I'm sure he'd poked his curious little finger in there plenty of times, because he can't help himself, but one day he figured out where the mechanism was. And now he proudly shows everyone that comes through our door how he figured out how to turn on Mama's TV.

The meddler. Can't live with him, can't live without him.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

wimp.

So it got chilly here, finally. And when I mean chilly, I mean in the 50's. My Arizona, "ack! It's down in the seventies here! I need a sweater!" sister will understand.

So Sarge was working, and I really didn't want to turn on the heat. I hate that smell of the first time it's turned on after a season off, and I just wanted him here for that. So I told the kids to put on warm pajamas and socks and make sure they had plenty of blankets. When I went to bed, I bundled up in my flannel and wool socks and brought out two extra blankets. We were ready for a blizzard. In the house.

So I wake up in the morning, all cozy and warm, proud of myself for not turning on the heat. Wow! We'll really do well turning down the heat this winter! Hot Dog! My nose was a little cold, and I certainly didn't want to get out of bed, but we were still alive!

And then I looked at the thermostat. It was sixty-nine degrees in the house. Umm, yeah. How on earth am I going to make it through the winter?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Transitions

Here in Texas, we are finally transitioning to fall. I mean, it may even get below 50 degrees! It's practically winter! Except that just a few days ago it was nearly 90. But, such is fall in Texas.

But we have some trouble in this household with transitions. I actually heard myself telling my daughter the other morning that I was going to confiscate all of her shorts if she refused to wear pants that morning. Seriously? That was my threat? I'm going to take away your shorts? Can I not come up with something better than that?

Anyhow, we're learning the consequences of our choices in our house. Your feet WILL be cold if you wear flip flops. Your legs will be cold if you choose to wear shorts. If you choose to forgo your jacket, you might shiver. And your mother will say I TOLD YOU SO.

And then probably hand you the jacket that she brought you just in case. I'm such a wimp.

Through this window

I was tagged by Karen at Pediascribe for a meme, which is like a blogging chain letter. But what I'm supposed to do is tell you something about myself, in this case, what I see out the window from the room in which I blog.


But here's the problem. There's so much stuff in between me and the window, I rarely look out. Twofold is the problem. First the stuff I see. I see all the junk on the desk, which is so sorely in need of clearing off, and the bills and receipts that desperately need sorting. Then, there's the treadmill. Now, before you think this is a giant room, you'll have to know that it takes a little aerobic activity to get to all the places in this room. Dancing, hopping, leaping, you get the picture. Fortunately, at this stage, three weeks into owning this treadmill, there is no guilt when I see it. Because that could be a problem. I'm using it faithfully, even though I can see NO results. But whatever.


Then there's the window treatment. Because it's what I do, I can't help but see it. I tell people all the time that when I've met them to make curtains for their house, I may not remember their names, but I can tell you all about the windows in their house, ones that I've made things for and ones that I've not. I just see windows. When I see your face, I immediately see a picture in my head of your windows. I'm sorry, I can't help it! So anyhow, I have a very pretty set of curtains on my windows, full and a gorgeous color. They're polyester with a beautiful embroidery on them. The only reason why I have them is because I made them for someone else and then made the single largest mistake of my sewing career, I cut them too short. And in a way that I couldn't fix them without having to remake them, purchasing new fabric for the client. Fortunately for me, I loved the curtains and they fit perfectly in this room. Although, they're right next to the treadmill, and I've asked my husband to kindly try to sweat away from the curtains. They're entirely impractical for this room.


OH! And I have the most aggravating set of windows in this room, also! There are three windows about two feet square across the wall, if this room were used for the purpose it was designed, in which one would put her china hutch. But they're placed so that you may only own a buffet in this room. Or metal filing cabinets and a treadmill. Thank goodness for that!


But, what do I see when I look through my window? Past the dirt and the cobwebs? I see that I am firmly entrenched in suburbia. I look out my window and see my neighbor's house. I see their pretty front door, I see their beautiful stonework and their giant ant mound. Sometimes I see moms walking past to go get their kids from school, which then prompts me to start running around the house looking for my shoes and hollering at the littlest one to get his shoes on, we're LATE!


So there you have it. Apparently I see guilt and discontent out my blogging window.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Art of the Silent Nag

When I was a girl, my grandmother dubbed me "the silent nagger." I would ask for something, and if she put me off, I would hang around. And hang around. And hang around. Until she finally got sick of me hanging around and got me what I needed or made me go away.

My daughter has not yet mastered this art. She has somehow skipped the "silent" part.

She wanted her brother to play with her this morning. He wanted time to himself. She kept asking, he got more and more frustrated. Instead of sitting quietly next to him, looking pitiful, she started kicking him. And yelling at him. And then sobbing because he kicked her back. It was a very pretty picture.

And if she wants a computer turn, or a snack, or a friend to play, she'll count the minutes. Literally. "Mo-om, it's 4:23! You told us we could have snack at 4:30!" "Mo-om, it's 4:24!" "Mo-om, it's 4:25!" You get the picture. It's charming. It's especially charming when you're in the car and you tell her that you'll be somewhere in about 20 minutes. And she counts the minutes out loud. Every minute. And God forbid you were off by a minute or two. Because you'll get in trouble for that. Maybe even called a liar.

You see, with the silent nag, you're much more likely to get what you want. Because if you frustrate and aggravate the giver, you're likely to get a big N-O. Quietly, patiently, wait. But make sure they know that you are quietly, patiently waiting. And waiting.

I'm not sure how to teach the silent nag. Oh, heck, I'd be happy if I could just teach the silent part.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Why I don't post pictures of my children.


Because if you kids looked like this, honestly, you wouldn't either, would you?

Never, never, never think or speak in absolutes!

Oh. Wait. I just did it again, didn't I?

I always swore that I'd never be one of *those* moms who overscheduled her kids and who spent every afternoon shuffling her children from one activity to the next. Never, never, never.

Well, guess what?

I have realized that it doesn't take much to be one of those moms. With scheduling conflicts and something to do every afternoon in a week and oh, no, we forgot to do homework!

My children are all in karate. Once a week. The oldest does Cub Scouts and the middle one just started Brownies. That's it. Oh. Except for the PTA Board meetings. And the GT parent board meetings. And the games nights. Crap. Can you say overscheduled?

It's kind of wearing on me. But if there were only one of them, it wouldn't seem so much, but it's when you have three, who all have one or two activities. There go all of our days of the week. But where do you draw the line? It doesn't seem that they do so much, but MY schedule seems so full. I've even resorted to keeping a calendar. I mean, me? a calendar? You know how busy it is for me if I'm keeping it all written down in a place other than on my hand.

Never, never, never speak in absolutes. Never. It always comes back to get you. Always.

A little prayer.


Thank you, Lord, for putting it on my heart to go to Hancock Fabrics today. I didn't know why my car went that direction or why I went to the fabric store further away rather than the closer one. But when I got there and You led me to the fabric that was on clearance AND 50% off, and You put one bolt of fabric there that was so gorgeous and put just the amount I needed on the bolt to recover my couch, I understood. And I appreciate that.


Oh, and while You're at it, could you please stop taking such good care of me and give a little extra to my kids' Papaw? Just for now? I know You're giving him just what he needs, but we could sure use a little speedier healing. And patience. Oh, and could You please ask the news media to stop scaring me with the whole staph infection thing right now? The timing is bad. You know.


Thanks, God. You're the best.


Sincerely,


fiveberries.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day

Okay, so I didn't sign up, because I'm a total slacker, but today is something called Blog Action Day. Which is where if you read blogs, you are going to read all about how to save the world, er, I mean, the environment. And, because I'm a closet environmentalist, I'm totally on this bandwagon. Just don't tell Sarge. Oops.

And we all know all the little choices that make a big difference - change your bulbs to CFL's, seal your windows and doors, hang your clothes to dry, turn out the lights, sleep naked. You know, the little things.

But there's some big things, too, that we've done that were good environmental choices. But I wasn't necessarily thinking of the environmental consequences of my choices.

We chose, about six years ago, when my husband changed jobs, to live about half a mile from his job. He filled up his gas tank about once a month.

Aside from the obvious gas savings, it also made the vehicle that he had last longer. It was an eight year old pickup with about 170,000 miles on it when we moved. When he sold it, four years later, it had 180,000 miles on it. Had he still been commuting sixty miles every day, there's no way that we could have gone four years without purchasing a new one or at least putting some significant maintenance into that car. All the mathemeticians (ahem, Dad, cough) can figure out for me how many miles that would have been more that he would have driven. And gallons of gas. Remember? I'm lazy. And a slacker.

When we moved again a little over a year ago, we still stayed close to his work, but this time, my one major requirement was that we'd be close to the elementary school, because I wanted to walk to and from school every day with my children. Sarge is a little further away from his job, but now it's like two miles. There are days that I don't even get into my car, and there will be even more next year when the little one goes to school there too. So now, instead of driving 4 miles every day to drop off and pick up my children, we are getting exercise, and talking with friends, and even, sometimes, stopping to roll down a hill. And watch ants decomposing a grasshopper.

Also, these choices that we made affected our quality of life. We have two more hours each day with Sarge that we wouldn't have had if he were sitting in traffic instead. We have friends that we chatter with to and from school each day, and we are active in our community because we see and interact with our neighbors everyday. And we are healthier, because we exercise a little every day (it's not far, but still!). And that's all big, too.

So there you have it. Not choices that are everyday choices, but it goes to show that each decision that we make, whether we want it to or not, affects the environment.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Solid as a rock.

I didn't realize that a marriage should last longer than the engagement ring. Or maybe most don't, I'm not sure. Well, I'm not sure if my ring underperformed or my marriage is over performing.

My engagement ring broke. Now, it's not the most fabulous, biggest ring you've ever seen. It's had more than it's fair share of troubles - the prongs first bent when we were still engaged, not six months into our engagement. The diamond fell out once - I've never before or since felt so compelled to dig through the trash, but you'd better believe I did that day. It's been repaired countless times. You'd think the way I talk about it that it's huge, but when I tell you that I was in college and my husband was enlisted in the Navy when we were engaged, that should tell you something about it's size.

I live in a place where most women "upgrade" their rings each year, with each raise, with each anniversary. But I was raised by a woman who still wears the same ring her husband of FORTY YEARS (!) gave her when they were fresh college graduates. She could have upgraded, but she chose not to.

I love the promise of my engagement ring. My husband promised to stick with me no matter what when he gave me that ring. We were wrinkle-free, didn't have to cover any grays and didn't have any extra chins. Neither of us had owned a house, had children or were completely on our own. We made that promise lightyears ago, but still make it every day. And I wear that reminder.

That said, the darn thing keeps breaking. Now, while I'm grateful that my marriage is far more durable than the ring, it seriously broke this time. It looked like it was an adjustable ring from the dollar store. I had worn through the inside of the ring.

We brought it to a GREAT local jeweler who didn't seem surprised. He said that 12 years was a long time for my ring to last! Yikes! What does that say about the expectations of marriage these days?

He put extra gold on the inside of the ring - the back half of the ring was replaced. I couldn't bear to have a new setting. My ring is now solid as a rock, but still my marriage is exponentially stronger. And I love that.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The gift of loud

My children can play on a gorgeous evening like tonight, with the windows open, and I don't have to be outside to know *exactly* what they are doing. I could be in here with the windows closed, and I'd still know what they were doing. The entire neighborhood knows *exactly* what they are doing.

So, I see it as a gift. I can send them in the backyard to play and safely get my chores done inside. Or watch TV. Or something else that's likely not chores. I don't have to worry about them getting into something or wonder what they are doing, because my ears are well award of what they are doing. I know precisely when someone is going to come inside and tattle, because I've just heard the altercation and the inevitable "I'm going to tell mom what you just did." And then I go hide.

As much as the loud is obnoxious, I don't long for the day when my backyard is quiet on a gorgeous fall evening. Because that means I have sulky teenagers. Or teenagers out with friends.

The loud. It's a gift. And not one that I'm ready to return.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Treadmill woes

So, I was getting frustrated. We've owned it for two weeks now. I've been on it every day except for three. I find myself wanting to get on it. I'll tell myself that I can take a break for a day, and I get on it anyhow, only because I want to. And I figure I'd better take it while I can, because you know that's never going to last.

But that's not why I'm frustrated. I'm frustrated because I've not lost a single pound. In fact, I'd go so far as to say I've gained a pound or two. Don't say it. Don't say "it must be muscle weight" because it's not. There's plenty of fat to be burned off before we get to any muscle. There are no new muscles here.

So frustrated.

But here's what happened tonight, which made me feel so much better. My kids were riding their bikes to school. And they ride fast. And I kept up with them. And didn't feel like I was going to die. I could run and run and run. And I felt strong.

So I'm still frustrated. But stronger. So at least there's that.

All right, who opened the cupboard?


Ah, the Tupperware battles:

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

change of heart

Apparently the little one is feeling a little less kind today.

He now wants to catch the rabbit so that he can cook it and eat it.

You never know what you're going to get each day when your kids wake up. Never.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Laundry. Again. But fun this time!


So we did a science experiment this weekend! It involved a pocket knife, melting soap and, of course, laundry! What could be better?

I had back-up laundry detergent, in case it turned into a giant fiasco. But I didn't have much. The kids were so excited. I guess they get the excited-about-laundry gene from their mother. But there we were.



We assembled all the ingredients, a five gallon bucket, children and the cub scout pocket knife. We shaved the soap into bits, melted it, added hot water and the appropriate amounts of the other ingredients.



We had to wait until morning for it to gel. Ours didn't really gel -- it did more like chicken broth, with a layer of ugly fat on the top, only this was soap. But I soldiered on.


And I did a load of laundry.


The washing machine did not explode. Nothing was ruined. Nothing was in shreds or purple. In fact, it actually smelled pretty good. Things appeared clean! Success! On to another load! So I washed my sheets! And they turned out clean! Miracle! Oh, the exclamation points that were my life yesterday!


And, as Sarge pointed out, it must have been a success, because the clothes are clean and no one has a rash. And I didn't even have to use my back up laundry detergent.
If YOU want to make your own detergent, there's a great description and recipe here.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Call me Mr. MacGregor

I found out what was eating the broccoli. It wasn't the children, that's for sure.

I went out the the garden yesterday and noticed that my broccoli plants had been mowed down to stems. The tomato plants were safe the cucumber plant that I thought was zucchini (don't ask) was also growing nicely. Just the broccoli. A mystery.

I thought, at first, the dog, as she tends to eat strawberries in the garden, but I was skeptical. I thought grasshoppers, but I'd never seen them do that without also getting into the tomatoes. I was stumped, but too busy gloating over my second watermelon of the season, which is ready to eat! Tomorrow!

So I was out today, picking a few tomatoes and something rustled and then ran through the watermelon forest. I screamed - I thought it was a rat, but it was a little bunny, who hopped innocently out of my garden through the hole under the fence that the dog had dug, as if he hadn't just been eating my vegetables!

Broccoli mystery solved!

However, he did not lose any shoes or a jacket. I have nothing to make a scarecrow! I have a feeling he'll be back. With friends. If only he liked weeds.

(Oh, and the little one wants to catch him and put him in a cage in his room. When faced with the idea that the Peter Rabbit might miss his family, he says that all the family can come live in his room, too.)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Potty Training: Solved!

I've figured it out. In order to get your child to no longer need Pull-ups at night, buy the biggest box humanly possible. The kind that barely fits in your cart. Then sit back and watch. They won't pee in a single one of them.


Seriously, I thought that night-time dryness was years away. YEARS. Just sucked it up and decided that I'd worry about it when he was twelve. That in mind, I went to WalMart, bought the biggest box of pullups I could find (because they're cheaper that way! Unless you don't even use half!). I thought it was a fluke the first time. And the second and the third. But we're into week two and they are still dry. Tree Frogs are still on them in the morning.

I'm thinking the best way to sabatoge the nighttime dryness is to write about it. Publicly announce that I'm forever finished with diapers and pee. Shout it from the rooftops. We'll see, won't we?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Questions about death, lots of them in my house these days.

So my kids are all asking a lot of questions about death these days.

We explained to them that the baby we knew had died. My son had already been told, as it was a teacher at their school, and the baby brother of a friend of his. So we talked, and left the discussion open, as we always do with difficult topics.

This morning, randomly, while he was eating snack, the littlest one asks me, "Why does the baby go to the doctor if he's already dead?" I realized that I had left a huge gap in my explanation. I had to explain that the baby wasn't going to a doctor to get well, that there wasn't a doctor that could do that, but that this was a special kind of doctor that would tell the baby's mommy and daddy what happened to him, why he died.

My children read the comics every day, and apparently this is deal-with-death-week in the comics as well. Not funny. The kids are worried about the turtle in Baby Blues. The middle one asked, after she read Funky Winkerbean, "What does, 'she's gone' mean?" And fortunately they've not grasped really what's happening in For Better or Worse. (And Mom, I know you've been on vacation, so sorry I've just spoiled all your favorite comics)

So the next question from the kids was, "Is your heart still there when you're dead?" Oh, yes, it's still there - your whole body is, it just doesn't work. Your heart doesn't say, "thump thump" so the blood's not pumping through your body.

I don't know the question that will come next. It helps, though, talking about it with them. It helps me to answer those questions in my head and to talk through the emotions of death. And to watch all three of them deal with it so differently, through their personalities and ages.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The (almost) TV disaster

So yesterday, I came home from working some time early-ish during the day and the littlest one tells me "I'm watching TV, but I can't hear it." And I think to myself, "get your lazy buns up off the chair and turn it up, good grief!" But I bit my tongue and checked the TV - volume was at an acceptable level, but no noise was coming out.

I looked at my husband. He shrugged. "I can't get it to work either. I think it's broken. Let's go buy a new one this afternoon."

Hardy-har-har. No. I investigated further. "How did this happen?"

"Oh, I don't know. The littlest one was playing with the remote and pushing buttons right before it happened, but I'm SURE that had nothing to do with it. It's broken. We need a new one today, I think."

So I'm pretty sure that it's just the speakers, since the picture was fine. And Sarge was SO convincing with the whole "it didn't have anything to do with The Meddler pushing buttons" thing that I became convinced. BUT! NO NEW TV FOR YOU.

After school, we ran to Target to pick up a cheap stereo system with speakers, since I've been wanting the ability to listen to the radio and CD's on something other than the tinny player I have. No luck, they're out of the cheap one.

So we head to Best Buy. And wander around with the tag "OLD AND OUT OF DATE" on my forehead until the teenagers finally took pity on me and worried that people were going to start running away with someone over the age of thirty in the store. And they told me that my computer speakers would work, I just needed an adapter, that they didn't carry and that I should go to Radio Shack. Good, this project is getting cheaper by the minute, though exponentially more annoying.

Off to Radio Shack. I finally found what I was looking for, with no help from the surprisingly un-technologically savvy employee. Finally, we're on our way home. NO, we will NOT stop at McDonald's! Gak!

We get home, I start messing with speakers and wires and plugs and why, oh why do they put these things on the BACK of the TV? And I had a moment. One of those moments with a light bulb. I turned on the DVD player and put in a DVD to see if there was sound.

Oh, for the love of cats. There was sound, not involving connectors and wires and plugs. Just sound coming out of the TV.

And my super husband says, "Yeah, I thought about just resetting the DVR this morning, I wonder if that would work?"

It did. And because I love him so much he's still alive.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Cherish every day.

I touched his little feet last week. They were so tiny and sweet. And now he's gone.

It surprises me the physical reaction - it makes me feel sick. He was just three weeks old and his purpose on earth has been fulfilled. But don't try telling that to his older sisters and his parents - it doesn't make it hurt any less. Nothing will.

Anyhow, if you're the praying type, please pray for this family. Their loss is great and their pain is unimagineable.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

math while falling asleep

The children ask me questions from upstairs while they are supposed to be falling asleep:


"Mom, what's tax on $57.91?"

"Mom, what's your budget for Christmas presents?"

"Mom, were you born in 1903?"

Living on less, the last day, finally!

Okay, I'm not going anywhere today, and I'm done spending money for the month. All is all, we did well, though there were a couple of things that we chose not to wait for.

Trees. In Texas, September is the ideal month to plant trees. Last year, we were under severe watering restrictions and unsure how long they would last, so I was hesitant to plant trees just to have them die. Fortunately we had a great rainy spring, watering restrictions were lifted, and the trees were calling my name. AND, they had the trees that I wanted, which is unusual, for a great price at Lowe's. Which is a little like buying a puppy from a puppy mill. You want to rescue them so badly, but you know it's not going to make them stop breeding new ones. But we purchased four trees, small ones, that needed a little TLC. And they bring me so much happiness, though not much shade. Yet.

Treadmill. I've been eyeing them forever on ebay and Craigslist, and finally the perfect one appeared. It was a great price and really close to home, so I jumped on it. I'm sure it surprises no one that there are a million "barely used" treadmills out there. We all buy one in the hopes that we'll use it everyday for the rest of our lives, but use it a week and then it collects clothes. But it's never for a great price. Or close to home. But all the stars aligned for me last week. And I love it and my sore muscles.

So there it is. There were a million things that I *had* to have for a day or so but waited on and realized that I didn't need. Or things that I *had* to have at the grocery store but resisted (dr pepper, I love you and I miss you!) We actually did quite well in relation to our "number" with the exception of our things that weren't impulsive at all. Now I just need to resist the urge to shop 'til I drop tomorrow!

near explosion

We invited friends to play this afternoon. The two oldest kiddos got to have their favorite friends over, but not until two o'clock.

The middle one started asking before nine this morning how long until her friend got here. And then again at 9:05. And 9:07. And 9:13. Well, you get the picture.

She wanted to start looking out the window for her car about 11. The excitement in the air was palpable.

When her friend didn't arrive at exactly 2pm, she was nervous. And at 2:01 and 2:02. I thought the child was going to explode.

Thankfully her friend arrived by 2:07, just as the countdown to explosion was beginning. And now she's got three hours of pure happiness.