Friday, August 29, 2008

perspective

We had an additional five year old in our car tonight. While we were going where we were going (football practice - where else would I go on a Friday night?), the middle child was acting completely normally.

Well, normal for her.

This extra five year old, no joke, turned around in the minivan, looked her in the eye and said, "Why are you acting like that?"

I nearly ran off the road with four precious bodies in my car I was laughing so hard.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Plans.

My sister told me that I should have a specific plan for the first day that all the children were at school.

My plan so far: Sob like a baby, fret over the dog (because there's noone else to fret over), snivel on the couch while watching soap operas, then pick up the children from school and wonder why on earth I missed them.

Sound good?


I'm only half kidding - I haven't shed a tear - I hid behind my camera at the Kinder-mom breakfast, citing my job as PTA Historian as my excuse, but I am worried about my dog - what dog only eats half her breakfast? She must miss the children, too. If she dies while they're at school they'll never forgive me.

And I'm spending part of the day resisting the incredible urge to run back to the school with the binder that my oldest child forgot. With everything in it. But he's in fourth grade now, and these are the rules, right? You don't bring him his stuff? Right? Right?

Oh, and I filled out paperwork until my fingers bled. And now I'm going to fold laundry, put it away and then sew. I'm currently avoiding the treadmill, which was technically on my plan for the day, but I may have used up that slot fretting over the dog. While eating bon bons. But whatever.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Isms

The little one only had school for an hour this morning, so in honor of his last day alone with me, here are a few of his words in the last few days.

"I hate itches I can't reach."

"Do all robbers have gold teeth?"

"I used my golfing stick to turn on the lights!" You mean golf club? "It's my golfing stick!"

"Can we go home now?" That was after about ten minutes of Kindergarten.

"Do squirrels have a penis?" "Really?" "That's weird!" Giggle.

"Do I have to wear my puffy thing to football?" He was referring to his large piece of batting that he wears over his cast to protect the other players. We call him the Michelin Man. He's not terribly fond of that, but he'll do just about anything to play football.

But the best came from his teachers - she was explaining the required footwear for PE, and was telling us that they couldn't wear gators to school - there was giggling, "you mean CROCS?"


Sorry, that's all I've got today. I've got two in school and one more to go. We're headed to the doctor today to re-x-ray his arm. Fingers crossed for a new non-smelly short cast!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Just when I was starting to get excited...

We got a form from the music teacher. Fourth graders begin to play the recorder. The recorder sounds annoying and screechy when played by someone who knows what they are doing. I'm thinking ear plugs. And headphones.


P.S. If the words are tear-stained in the next few days, please, just politely look away and pretend you didn't notice. I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to be okay with having a fourth grader, a second grader and a kindergartener.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Confessions of a PTA Mom

When my oldest child started Kinder, and in First grade, I was the most anti-PTA person I'd ever met. I had to keep it quiet - I thought that it was a way for people with no lives to get control and power in a setting where they didn't have to get hired and couldn't get fired. I thought it was the most inane way to spend one's time.

Until. Until my oldest child begged me to get involved with the PTA when we changed schools. So I put my pride and convictions aside and did it for my kid. And mostly because I knew it was a way to get to know the school - really get to know the school. And maybe I could get up on my soapbox and complain about how no one there had a life. I was bitter about the times when it took me away from my family - I'd say to my husband "Why would I be involved with something that claims to be for my children but actually takes me away?" This is ridiculous! And I may have stomped my feet. Or not. But probably.

But then I jumped in with both feet, figuring that old saying must be true - "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." And lo and behold, there I am in the middle of the biggest fundraiser of the year.

All that money! Our PTA was able to pay for a lot of extras for our school - things that the kids didn't necessarily NEED, but some great things for them. Programs - at assemblies, special science programs, BOOKS and more BOOKS, benches for the front of the school, benches and shade at the field, trees!, lunches for the teachers, extra supplies for the teachers, the list goes on and on.

None of these things were imperative. But all of it makes my child's learning experience better and their teacher's happier and better able to do their jobs. So I've done a complete 180 degree turn from where I was four years ago, and I'm so happy that I did.

A moment

I had a moment today. The children and I were out running errands - we were coming out of the post office and we were laughing and joking. We were having fun, despite the mundane nature of our errands. They were helpful and working together. It was a moment, for sure.

I said to them as we walked out, "You know, I'm going to miss you guys next week - you're great companions and I enjoy being with you. I might even be lonely next week when you're in school."

My heart was full.

Then they started to argue over who was the most helpful and lovely.

And I asked, "Did y'all do that on purpose? Start arguing so I wouldn't miss you next week and just shove you in the door of the school? Because I'm thinkin'..."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Becoming an obsession

The football pants.

It's been more than a week of practices, and regardless of whether or not I wash the pants the minute they walk in the door, they look no different when I take them out of the washing machine.

The ladies sat at the sidelines of practice today, and instead of talking about crockpot meals and potty training, the conversation turned to the dreaded white pants. One boy hides them from his mother and doesn't allow her to wash them - the smell and filth apparently are a source of pride. And the fact that one boy's pants were pristine. His mother admitted to spending hours on them yesterday, to get them clean.

Guess what? Ten minutes into practice? Covered in mud.

So I started not feeling so badly - I mean, who cares, right? But I had an idea. What if I washed them once, then took a scrub brush and some Spray 'n Wash and scrubbed, threw them back in the wash. So when we got home, I tried it. It didn't take too much time - less time than it will take him at practice to get them muddy again, provided that he doesn't trip on the way from the car to the practice field.

White. The pants are white. Mostly white. I was so proud. SO PROUD. I'd redeemed myself! I am a Proper Football Mother now! And a Woman.

I was so proud that I told my sweet nine year old boy that I'd managed to succeed at making his pants white again, regardless of the copious amounts of rain that is making the field a giant puddle of mud for him to roll around in.

And he says, "OH, NO! The coaches were making fun of the kids who's pants were too white!"

Um. Oh. Now I know.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Complaining about the wrong thing

The middle child has been complaining and complaining that the little one is getting so much attention because of his arm. Honestly? He's getting a little more than he usually does, but not as much as I would think a kid with a broken arm would ordinarily ask for.

I've spent a lot more time sitting on the couch than I normally do, but sitting with both of them. She's getting more attention by default that she normally would because they're not off playing and ignoring me.

Until this morning. I figured out what she really meant when she wasn't getting enough attention. She wasn't getting enough attention from her brother. When she asked him to play with her, he'd actually turn her down, which he NEVER does. EVER. He wasn't running off to play "Johnny and Petunia" with her or even play Barbie with her.

He was in a fair amount of pain yesterday, so he spent a good portion of it sitting still, which he never does. But today, he's felt better, and they've run off to play together for a good bit of the day, and lo and behold, she's not complaining about the lack of attention, even though she's gotten less today than she did yesterday.

The older two even went so far yesterday as to say they wish they'd broken their arms so they could get attention. I'm pretty sure the littlest one would be perfectly happy to have had it happen to them instead of him.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Highlighting the need for better American schools

It's tax-free weekend here in Texas, meaning that if you want to buy specific back-to-school items, but, obviously, not including paper, pencils, crayons and backpacks - because, duh, why would anyone buy those things this time of year? -- you don't have to pay tax.

So I got the extraordinary pleasure of watching the news about it yesterday, and the reporter had a whiteboard in the shoe section of Target, explaining that the experts say that if you spend $100, the average person will save approximately $8. On a whiteboard. She wrote the two numbers, $100 and $8.

Um? The tax rate? Approximately 8%. She picked a hundred dollars? And felt the need to put this on a white board? And quote the experts? What experts - my calculator? my nine-year-old? Or wait, my five year old?

Honestly. I'm a little ashamed. And a little embarassed. And a lot scared.

Friday, August 15, 2008

NOT what I intended.

I've been quietly praying for months that I would be able to handle both boys going to practice and the schedule that entails. Once I found out that all three of the littlest one's practices were on the same nights as three of the four of the biggest kids' practices, I'd been praying even harder.

I've been trying to be patient, knowing that things would work themselves out. The first week, Sarge was able to help. Tomorrow morning was going to be my first test - Sarge was to be at work and the boys were practicing across town from one another, both ending at the same time. I had to be in two places at once.

So, this evening, I tucked my pride between my legs and asked one of the other moms who lives near us to help - to drop the oldest one at the littest one's practice field when they were done, which was on her way home. She so very graciously said that of course she would help, and of course she wouldn't mind. I let the coach know that I would be leaving the oldest in the morning, and that I would leave him my cell phone, and not to panic if the police show up to watch practice.

But then. But then. The children were off playing on the playground together. Until the middle one ran up to me saying that the littlest was hurt and needed me. I ran.

My heart perked up a little when I saw him standing up - I could see the back of his head, and thought, "that little stinker isn't even crying and I ran all the way over here!" But no, I got to him - he was covered in dirt and was holding his arm. HIS ARM.

He wouldn't move it. I carried him over to where the grownups were and got him a juice box to chill his little arm. He refused a cookie. We decided that we needed to get him an xray. Because we all know there's something wrong with that kid if he doesn't want a cookie.

So we did. And it's broken. His left arm. His throwing arm. His writing arm. School starts in a week. But I don't have to be in two places in the morning. Even though I'd rather try to be than to have another broken arm on that baby.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Emphasizing my womanly shortcomings

Apparently, along with never having learned how to change a tire, I am completely inept at getting out grass stains.

One football practice, two grass-stained knees. WHY DO THEY WEAR WHITE PANTS???


GAH!

The fashion sense of a stick.

I made the mistake of purchasing super-hip plaid shorts for my oldest child. They're very "of-the-moment" style. And I loved them.

What I didn't know is that he would pair them with a bright golden yellow T-shirt. And black socks, pulled up to his knees, with fish on them. And very old ratty sneakers.

It may have been spite, because he wasn't terribly excited about the shorts. But I'm honestly afraid that it wasn't. Just the fashion sense of a sixty year old man (sorry, dad.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

VictoREEEE!

I did something this afternoon that I thought was not possible.

It was something I'd never done before, nor had I ever been taught.

It took courage.

I was sure that I'd do something wrong and cause major damage or bodily harm to me or my children.

Wanna know what it was?

I CHANGED MY TIRE.

I know, I know, I can't believe it either. And it didn't even fall off when I was driving down the road!

I got ready to leave this evening to go to a fun event with the children. My neighbor's mowing man flagged me down as I was backing up out of the driveway. I thought, "oh, Dear Lord, please don't ask me if I need yard service. And please don't yell at me, because I know I was close to you, but I totally saw you there. I was not going to run over you." But, alas, the nice young man said, "your tire - es no good." Me? Wha? Surely you're joking.

I pulled back into my driveway, hopped out, and sure enough, I couldn't even believe I'd gone an inch without noticing - flat was an understatement! So I stomped a little, then tried not to cry a little, then I did what any American woman would do. I called my husband. And begged. He wasn't terribly happy about coming home.

My argument was this: "you do it for perfect strangers all the time, but not for your own wife? Boo Hoo Hoo." His response," Yes, but they're usually on a major road or in the way or in danger. You're in the driveway. I'll be home in ten minutes. Grr."

As I waited, I told the childen to get the chairs out and make themselves comfortable, because there's no point in changing the tire if you're not going to have an audience. And I got to work. I got out the jack, and began to jack up the car. I had a little help from some smaller people. I lowered the spare. By the time Sarge made it to the house, I was standing on the tool to loosen the lug nuts, because, my word they were tight! I was on number three when he arrived, and by that time, I had something to prove - I was not going to let him take the glory for all that work I'd done loosening them!

And I completed the task. Took the flat tire off, placed the spare on and replaced the lug nuts. In the right order. All he did was add some man-muscle to the nuts to make sure the tire didn't fly off. Lowered the jack and was on my merry, very late way.

Next on my list? Learn to change the oil. Because my dream job? It's totally a mechanic - even though no one believes me when I tell them that. But I took the first step, right?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Disaster Area

And I'm not talking about my house. Well, I could be. But I'm not.

I woke up this morning, thinking there was something in my eye. Upon closer inspection, I discovered there was not, but my eyeball still hurt. And it has all day.

Then, I was working in the garage and stepped on a nail. Ouch. And no one was even around to hear my wails and pity me.

After I hopped dramatically to find Sarge, who got me the alcohol and a Spongebob Band-Aid, I got back to work. Sarge decided that he would leave, as I was using power tools and my track record wasn't very good for the day.

I survived, broken and battered, hopping and winking my way through the day. Here's hoping that tomorrow will be better (especially since it involves ladders and more power tools and making holes in someone else's house!)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I made it.

Phwew. I made it through our first morning of practice. Oh, the boys? They did fine, too.

I did not immediately come home and start spraying and teasing my hair. I did not cheer or yell from the sidelines. I think I managed myself just fine, and even participated in a conversation about what gift we should make for the cheerleaders. I'm even bringing my pinking shears on Monday.

However, I may have negated all that with my sideline bets on when my child would fall. And my subsequent cheering when he did fall, because I totally could make some extra cash over on the sidelines.

On a side note, the littlest one has been wearing his practice pants ever since he came home. I may have to hide his jersey so that I can wash it. And the oldest one is a little surprised at how much work it all is.

Friday, August 8, 2008

C'mon, hit me! Hit me!

Football starts tomorrow. It's this giant thing here, where no one's allowed to practice before tomorrow, except for the cheaters who practice in the coach's backyard with a "pickup" game.

All over this town, every park, every field will be filled with kids from five to twelve. And their rowdy, overzealous parents, wearing bedazzled tshirts with their sons' names on them.

We're a little excited, and by "we" I mean the children. We've been conditioning for weeks now, playing outside with all the gear on, in the sun for as long as we can bear it (about four minutes) and then every evening with Sarge the kids have been playing some kind of sport in the backyard. Because, you know, it's August, and it's Texas. Which means the only time it's bearable outside is between the hours of three and four in the morning.

But today, I pulled out the last piece of equipment that we've not been practicing with. The dreaded CUP. Being a girl with only sisters, this is a new thing to me, which evokes highly mature giggles.

I suppose that I shouldn't have fallen on the floor laughing when I pulled out the apparatus for holding the CUP in place, and the oldest child said "That looks like a diaper!"

And I guess I shouldn't be calling it a diaper, lest the other children hear us talking about a child who is nine wearing a diaper to football practice. Because I might not be the only one laughing. But yet I still find myself calling it the diaper.

But there was nothing greater than when he put on his diaper with the CUP and put on his padded pants, and exclaimed in the middle of the kitchen, "HIT ME IN THE PRIVATES! C'MON, EVERYONE HIT ME! HIT ME ANYWHERE BELOW THE WAIST! IT WON'T HURT ME!"

But his father? Wouldn't hit him. Not even a tap. Must be a guy thing.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Not-so-hired-help

Lately, I've been eyeball deep in fabric. Gorgeous bedding, both of the adult variety and of the pre-teen girl variety, complete with silks and velvets and ruffles lots and lots of ruffles. And curtains, dozens and dozens of curtains, all being delivered at the same time to a newly completed house.

Literally, you have to do a dance to reach the front door, and jump over a series of fabric hurdles to reach the computer. There was a pile of fabric and gorgeousness at the bottom of the stairs. I've taken over the guest room with piles of completed-yet-to-be-delivered work. And don't even get me started on the actual sewing room. It's not pretty. Well, it's pretty, but not because of anything that's permanent.

Finally I've hit a stride, able to deliver some of the work (but of course forgot my camera) and am plowing through a house full of fabulous window treatments. Feeling good about my work, and the amount I've accomplished and the four square feet of carpet I can finally see in my sewing room, I got to work tonight.

Apparently I've uncovered a little too much of the floor in the sewing room, because the dog decided that there was a dog-sized spot right there in the middle, between the ironing board and the cutting table. And I found myself doing a dance around the dog.

I'll console myself with the fact that she's actually sleeping on carpet, not attempting to sleep on curtains.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

How Delilah got me a speeding ticket.

I've had four tickets in my adult life, (not including all those parking tickets I received in the two months that I had a car in Boston, ahem), but the confession is that two of those tickets came while my husband was in the police academy.

There is a perception among my friends that I will never get a ticket. I'm here to prove that wrong. In fact, I got one in a neighboring town from an officer that had just gone through a training class with my husband. And let's just say my last name is a memorable one. And the two during the police academy? How do you bring that up gracefully?

But there was one that I must blame on the cheesy radio DJ Delilah. It was totally her fault. My children were little, so little that there were only two of them, and I was off working one evening. The ride home was about thirty minutes, and I was REALLY enjoying my peace and quiet, not really in a hurry, because I wanted to make sure the children were asleep so I could continue enjoying my peace and quiet.

So there I was, driving down the road that wasn't one that I usually traveled, listening to one of those gripping stories that her listeners tell that ALWAYS make you cry (well, at least, when you're me). Next thing I know, there are lights behind me. Her story was so engaging that I wasn't paying attention to the sudden drop in speed limit.

I totally should have sued. I mean, if her story hadn't been so good, I would have slowed down, right? And, to add insult to injury? I didn't hear the end of the story. Whatever it was.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

ch-ch-changes

It's been pretty quiet around here of late, in case no one has noticed.

Here's the thing. Each time I've been pregnant, I've known that there was a change coming, but wasn't quite sure how things were going to change. I just knew they would. I had plenty of time to deal with it, plenty of time to get ready for it. And each time, most of the time, I was excited about the change.

In the last week or so, I've begun to come to the conclusion that I'm about to have a pretty big change coming up, but it's kind of blindsided me. I know, I've had five and a half years to think about it, to know it's coming. I've known, but it's not occurred to me until recently that things are really going to change around here.

My baby is going to kindergarten. I will drop off all of my children at 7:45 in one place and I will pick them all up at 3pm. I have known this for quite some time now. Some may have even heard me gloat about it. In theory, it's really quite lovely.

I've had five and a half years to plan for this, prepare myself for it. But here I am, three weeks away, and suddenly, I'm not ready. There's a breakfast on the first day of kindergarten for the moms. They call it a "Boo-Hoo-Ya-Hoo" breakfast. I've been laughing with my friend for a year, bragging about how I'll be the one skipping in and shouting for joy. And she would laugh at me and say, "you're such a liar - you know you'll be off in a corner asking for a second package of kleenex."

Three more weeks of summer, three more weeks. I've been so busy soaking it up that I've not had a chance to reflect on it. That, and I'm a little sad about the whole thing.