Random Musings

S decided to take it upon himself to further decorate the wall in the upstairs bathroom.  He wrote, “No grownups allowed” above the toilet.  Since I’m not allowed in there anymore I guess I’m not responsible for cleaning it either.  Silver linings and all.  Except that’s the only bathroom with a shower, and while my kids don’t seem to notice if I get a tad aromatic, I’m sure others will and I do need to leave the house from time to time.  He was thoughtful enough to use a bath crayon to write this, although if I try to wash the walls, the paint comes off followed almost immediately by the plaster.  Guess that’s staying up until we move as it doesn’t pay to paint the walls while the children still live here.  Unless of course we feel like painting them regularly, which we do not.  At the rate housing prices are going, the kids will be moved out by the time we can afford to move, and I may be quite attached to their artwork by then.

Shout out to our new neighbors, as we are no longer the last house to bring our garbage can in from the curb.

Wind should be illegal in the winter.  Just sayin’.

E has finally decided to be potty trained and I’m happy to announce that for the first time in over ten years there are no diapers in the house.  This calls for a celebration.

The most valuable things I learned at university were how to sleep sitting up and that I should have gone to a trade/tech school.

Now that E is potty trained, she likes to wear her brother’s underwear half the time.  She also likes changing her underpants several times a day.  Like I need more laundry.

As I was pulling the kids’ laundry out of the washing machine, I found a sucker.  So now I guess their clothes were washed in pink sugar water.  Does that mean they’ll smell sweet?

E had gotten a wad of lint stuck in her hair I had to cut out.  She insisted on keeping it and has named it Peeky.  They are currently having many fun adventures together.    Looks like I might be able to save some money next Christmas.

Day one of Easter break.  E has taken to running around without most of her clothes and one of her siblings wrote “boob” on her chest.  They broke the Etch-A-Sketch and got aluminum powder all over their hands and my heavy fabric scissors, which were not supposed to be in their room.  At least they picked up the plastic shards without being told.  S did something to the can of hairspray, still not sure what, but not good.  I was alerted to it when W came and informed me something exploded upstairs.  Always a positive sign. Went upstairs to find E and V in the bathroom, with V holding a container over the top of the can of hairspray, which was hissing and spewing liquid.  I put it in a bucket and took it outside to calm down.  I can’t wait to see what day two will bring.

Filed under “Things I Never Thought I’d Say”: “We don’t crack eggs open into water bottles”.

S and E were upstairs talking.  I wasn’t paying much attention until I heard S ask E if elephant was an emotion.  I think I may have missed something.

0811CBEE-E24D-45F0-A694-F3018337FB41

E: *knocking on oven door*

Me: “I don’t expect anyone is going to answer”.

E: *laughs*  “There’s hamsters in there”.

We don’t have hamsters… that I know of.  

Family Vacation (Part 3)

Our trip to Mississippi was uneventful, but we didn’t have the Garmin as figured out as we thought.  Thankfully we realized it before we had gone much out of the way.  One last pit stop to figure it out for good and we arrived back at my mom’s not much after.  We were fortunate to miss most of the lights we hit the first time we went there.  Apparently their city planner, or whoever programs the traffic lights there, thinks it’s a great idea to give the green to one direction at a time, red for the other three, even when there is little to no traffic.  Our second time there we were graced with the lights programmed by someone who realizes people actually want to get to their destination in a timely manner.  Especially with four kids, two of them sick, in the vehicle.

It was late so we got the kids in and settled into bed.  Since H was sick he went right to bed and my stepdad went to watch T.V. so my mom and I could visit.  We got the wine cracked open and had adult time.  I don’t get much opportunity to talk to other adults and have adult conversation so I yakked her ears off.  I appreciate her not falling asleep with boredom as I rambled on.  Thanks, ma!  (She’s awesome)

I suppose she couldn’t get too bored as about an hour into our conversation W came in to tell us she was hot and having bad dreams.  We walked her back to bed telling her she didn’t have to go under the covers if she was hot.  We had just gotten back to the kitchen when W went running for the bathroom and hurled everywhere.  So much for my last clean pair of pants.  So mom was cleaning the walls, I was wiping down the toilet and one of the dogs was cleaning the floor.  So much for adult time, at least of the pleasant variety.

Next morning I looked for pants.  Okay, I did have one more clean pair of pants, but they didn’t fit very well.  While my mom said I could do laundry there, I just didn’t feel like it.  We were heading home the next day and I figured I’d just make do.  I was at the point of vacation where I just didn’t give a hoot anymore.  I even had alcohol for breakfast because, why not?

V found enough energy in the morning to help E get Fred, one of the dogs, all riled up.  She succumbed to sleep shortly after.  S was able to stay awake to watch videos, but didn’t have enough energy to do more than occasionally wander out of the room for a few minutes.  W and H pretty much slept all day so it ended up being a fairly quiet day.

With most everybody out of commission and my mom and stepdad willing to keep an eye on E, I went out to clean and organize the van.  They offered me their vacuum cleaner, but with a seventeen hour trip the next day I knew that would be an exercise in futility.  I was more interested in picking up the garbage and repacking everything in a much neater fashion.  Especially as we had Christmas gifts from our first stop to take with us.  My mom had made me a beautiful quilt and I didn’t want that to get destroyed by being shoved in and squished somewhere.  Luckily I am a Tetris master and got everything sorted.

They have a player piano, which my kids love, and E calls the “magic piano”.  As she was the only kid who wasn’t sick, she had a good time dancing with grandpa while the magic piano played.  We were going to go out to eat, but with H and three kids being sick we opted to order in pizza.  The sick ones didn’t eat much, so my poor mom and stepdad were stuck with a lot of leftover pizza.  Best of luck to their digestive systems.

It didn’t take much to get the kids to bed, and my mom and I had more alcohol and conversation.

The next morning was the beginning of our last day.  Those of us able to eat had breakfast, sans alcohol this time, and started getting ready to leave.  We lingered a little so as not to eat and run, but before long we said our goodbyes and were on our way in the germ-mobile.

Most of the trip home was uneventful, with the exception of traffic coming to a standstill for forty minutes.  Of course this happened right after V informed us she had to go to the bathroom. With a sign off to the side that said there was a gas station in two miles.  Yeah, if only we could get there.  At least she didn’t have to vomit.

By the time we got home it was very late.  We got the kids inside, sent them to bed, and hauled everything in the house and just left it for the next morning.  The van needed to be cleaned out, again, and you couldn’t tell I had just picked it up two days before.  I hurried to get things unpacked, washed and put away since I was expecting to get sick myself at any time.  Oddly enough, E was the second last one to get sick, which I still can’t figure out as she personally taste tested many railings at the parks. I’m still waiting for the hammer to fall, I really have no idea how I haven’t gotten it, especially since my face is one of E’s favorite places to cough.

I thought it would be nice to go back to Disney in the future when the kids are all tall enough to go on all the rides and remember the trip.  Glad we’re waiting that long because it’s going to take at least that long to save up for it.  For now, we’re back to living in our sardine can, minus the strong smell…usually.

5CEE49CE-F8EA-44D6-86B9-FD2E09E98DC6
Have to get mouse ears your first time at Disney.  

*E giving the Buddha statue at Epcot a titty twister*

Me: “What on Earth are you doing?”

Family Vacation (Part 2)

Safely at Disney World, it was late and time to go to bed.  We were to spend the first week there with H’s mother and sister.  They were going to fly in Monday afternoon, but due to uncooperative weather (aka, a blizzard) back home they wouldn’t be getting there until Tuesday evening.  We were saddened they would be late in joining us, but quite happy to miss the storm.  The kids didn’t know their grandma and aunt would be joining us, so it was a nice surprise Wednesday morning when they came to our room.

Wednesday was cool, for Florida anyway.  The high was in the fifties.  At home they were having wind chills of fifty to sixty below, so fifty above was balmy and wonderful to us.  If you ever have the opportunity to experience wind chills or temps that low, just pass on that.  Although it is a novel experience to breathe in through one’s nose, have it instantly start running and the nostrils freezing shut.  We witnessed one brave soul going down Splash Mountain after dark.  In just a t-shirt.  We were not sure whether to be impressed or horrified.  Soon after we witnessed a smart family going down in rain ponchos.

S wore his Pikachu sweatshirt.  He had a lot of people saying, “Hi, Pikachu!”  S being who he is, had to take off his sweatshirt every time and tell them who he really is.  Yeah S, I don’t think anyone really thought you were Pikachu.  I guess we’re going to have to work harder on him not taking everything so literally.  He must have gotten sick of it because he ordered one poor park employee to say hi to him by name.  Oh my.  Doesn’t help that he has a very uncommon name either.  Yeah, we’re those kinds of parents, but he said he likes it, so there.

Ever the thrifty one, H ran to a store and picked up a toaster, glass bowl and food instead of paying Disney prices for everything.  Eating breakfast in the room was fine with me, but he seemed to want to do this for every meal and while I certainly wasn’t looking to spend a fortune on every meal, I didn’t want to eat PB&J and ramen the whole time either.  I know, crazy, right?  In my opinion, food is part of the vacation experience.  We were to find out later that eating in an actual restaurant there was near impossible anyway.

Each day started out with H making about ten PB&Js and putting them in a bag, to be doled out to the kids over the course of the day as they complained about being hungry.  For supper we did get hot food at the parks most nights.  One night later in the first week we hadn’t had time to eat at the park, so H decided to make noodles for the kids once we got back to the room.  I won’t horrify you with what happens to my digestive system when I eat those noodles by themselves with nothing else, so let’s suffice to say I opted for something else.  After days of burgers, wraps, hot dogs, and fries, I was ready for some real food.  I looked at the room service menu and finally found something that required a knife and fork and ordered that.  Deciding to be nice, I even ordered some breadsticks and wings for the rest of the family to supplement their meal.  Of course by the time it arrived most of the kids had fallen asleep.

H’s family left early Saturday morning, and as we didn’t have park tickets for that day we took the kids to the pool.  This made V happy since she had mentioned more than once that week she’d rather be at the pool than the parks.  And E said she’d rather be at home playing on the tablet.  Kids.  The laundromat was right next to the pool so H and I hauled down the laundry to do while the kids played.  H was kind enough to switch the laundry from two washers into one dryer for me, and when I went to get it I found the dryer popped open.  So I had to parcel some out to a second dryer.  After another hour, and a cocktail, the laundry was dry…enough, and we brought it back to the room where I spread it out on the bed to finish drying.  Too bad I hadn’t brought the trusty ol’ crib rail along.  Shortly after, my family started arriving.

My brother and his family and my parents were already in Florida and arrived at the hotel midafternoon.  A and D had their flight cancelled due to a situation at the airport and had to book another, much less convenient flight.  At least they beat the ice storm at home which would come a day or two later.  They wouldn’t be there until much later, so once we surprised our kids with more family and let them get settled we headed out to Disney Springs for dinner.  We should have taken the park buses because the traffic was terrible, but at least we got souvenir cups with our meal.  I do have to say, even though the cost of adult beverages is outrageous at Disney, they don’t seem to skimp on the alcohol.  Which is good, because with four kids at Disney, mom needs some alcohol once in a while…or more.

With the rest of my family there, we totaled fourteen and the vacation by committee had started.  This portion of the trip was blessedly being covered by my parents, which meant, or so I thought, better food.  Yet apparently if you want to eat at an actual restaurant there, not the fast food style places, and especially for a group of fourteen, you have to make reservations weeks, if not months, in advance.  That made me sad.  Tuesday we had an “off” day with no tickets and spent the day at the pool.  I went to the hotel cafeteria just to order vegetables and brought them back to the pool, picking up a cocktail on the way.  The pool bar had a fabulous drink that was a raspberry pina colada slushie, I had more than one during my stay there.  H’s favorite was a blue Long Island Iced Tea at Hollywood Studios.  That evening, since my parents had made reservations weeks in advance, we got to eat at a swanky restaurant with table service and real food.  Steak and asparagus!  Being so deprived of greens I could have made a meal out of the asparagus alone.

While we were at the pool, I noticed a ping pong table.  The paddles were there but you had to buy the balls from a machine at a quarter apiece.  Which I don’t fully understand as the pool had such limited hours it didn’t seem like beer pong and wild drunkeness in general would be a problem.  I gave W two quarters and told her to have fun with her family.  I think they played ping pong for almost two hours.  My brother agreed with me when I said it was the best twenty-five cents I ever spent.  Some other kids played for a while and then ours again.  We even brought the ball home (hey, we paid for it).  I suspect W pocketed the other quarter, but I chose not to ask.  One does not always get their money’s worth, but that time I did, woohoo.

E was short enough that she couldn’t go on most of the rides the rest of us preferred to go on.  Thankfully Disney has a wonderful baby swap thing so you don’t have to wait in line twice for both parents to go on a ride with the kids.  S loved all the roller coasters, there was only one he wasn’t tall enough for, but didn’t like the Haunted Mansion (my favorite ride when I was a kid).  I think he thought the Haunted Mansion was literally haunted, and I was going to ride with him our second time there to explain the effects to him, but we got to wrap up our trip with H, V, and S getting sick (probably not enough vegetables).  They spent our last day there sleeping in bed with a fever while W, E, and I went to the parks to flee the germs.

The next morning H sucked it up enough to load up the van.  Since we were the only ones driving, the rest of the family decided to give us a bunch of food they couldn’t take with them.  Somehow we ended up with more souvenir cups than we had a day before, hmmm.  H did bring the toaster home with him, not sure what we’re going to do with two of them, what with our unlimited space and all.  He did leave the glass bowl there, however.  While our kids were cleaner than usual there, I did feel badly for housekeeping as it looked like a crumb tornado flew through the room in addition to the bowl and all the perishable food they would have to deal with.  I left what I hope was a nice tip.  I would have left a thank you note as well, but of course my kids had ran off with the pens and paper provided the first day.  Shocker.

Overall a nice, if painful to our house fund, vacation.  The van was still a disaster from our trip down, but with half of the family being sick we just shoved stuff in and left.  We got the GPS figured out as well as possible again and headed back to Mississippi.  Of course we hadn’t even left the resort grounds yet and V was asking to stop for fast food.

2F2AE02F-5226-49B6-AE16-CDEB137E377D
All tuckered out

S: *unintelligable*

Me: What?

S: *still unintelligable*

I bend over so he can talk in my ear.

S: *whispers, still unintelligable*

Sigh

 

Family Vacation (Part 1)

We were obligated to go on a vacation.  Normally we go for little excursions for anywhere from half a day to a few days to local, inexpensive venues, and infrequently at that.  However, some grandparents had other ideas, and since we have to see them again we had to fork out the money for the trip.  Two weeks at Disney World does not help save for a house.

Flying costs money so we decided to drive, visiting one of my mothers along the way.  A cross country trip in a minivan with four young children is a great way to test your sanity (and patience, stress levels, etc.).  While I’m normally against the use of DVD players in vehicles as I have this silly notion my kids should learn to entertain themselves without screens, I was glad to make an exception for the seventeen hour drive and thankfully the van we borrowed had a DVD player.  *cue hallelujah chorus here*  I also packed little bags with crayons, pens, pencils and coloring books because I wanted the floor of the van to look just like the floor at home so we wouldn’t get homesick.

Poor H packed up the van early in the morning in subzero temperatures as I got the kids up and dressed to go.  They each insisted on bringing a pillow and blanket, and with the weather I couldn’t blame them although I would inwardly curse over the space it took up more than once.  We figured out the GPS we borrowed as well as possible and set out, it had us headed south, so close enough.  It only took the van two hours to heat up, whether that was because the heater finally overpowered the cold leaking in or because the exterior temp had finally climbed from -24 to about zero I don’t know.  I just know I’ve never been so excited to see single digit temps in my life and was an avid fan of watching the thermometer as we traveled.

After a full day of prepacked snacks, cheap fast food and a majority of the DVDs we brought, we finally arrived at my mother’s house late at night.  I’m still trying to decide who I was more thrilled to see, her and my stepdad or their palm tree.  We got the kids settled for the night and visited for a bit before turning in ourselves.  The following day we took a little tour of the town and then celebrated a late Christmas with each other.  My mother made her awesome ham and sweet potatoes.  My kids decided to have an unapproved awesome belching contest.  S pounded too much water too quickly and ended up spitting up at the table from trying too hard to burp.  Joyous holiday memories we shall cherish forever.

The next day we set out on the final leg of our trip.  The kids did not know we were going to Disney, so to allay suspicions about heading further south we told them we were taking them to the beach so they could see the ocean.  We found a beach in Florida and took the kids down to the shore.  It was only slightly warm out and the water was cold, so we kept them in their clothes, kicked off our shoes and walked along the coast.  As time passed, collecting shells and looking at dead starfish parts lost their appeal and the kids started jumping waves.  They got more and more daring and ended up drenched, so we added a bunch of sand to the art supplies on the floor of the van.  I just hoped the wet clothes in the plastic bag wouldn’t get too ripe before I had a chance to deal with them properly.

We then told the kids they’d have to try alligator since we were by the gulf and found a little local restaurant that served it.  I had forgotten how good it was, and the kids (even the picky eaters) loved it so we ordered seconds.  We would have liked thirds but H likes to try and feed a family of six on a budget for two and these certainly weren’t value menu prices.

Back on the road and moving closer to our destination.  We hadn’t told our kids where we were going to ward off constant questions of “Are we there yet?” and “How much longer?” and such nonsense as that.  At least we figured it wouldn’t be as bad as it could be if they were super excited.  We hadn’t gone far into Florida to get to the beach so I’m surprised when they asked a few times if we were out of Florida yet they accepted the answer of no.  They just said Florida must be pretty big.  We played the last of the DVDs we brought and then switched over to Weird Al CDs.  The pure genius that is Al, however, was not enough to keep them awake and they drfted off one by one.

My plan was to wake them when we had to get them up to the hotel room, but H decided to wake them as we were approaching the gates to the grounds.  W sat up, looked, said, “Nice” and fell right back asleep.  S woke up and smiled with eyes half closed, fighting sleep until he succumbed shortly after.  V never even woke up.  E started some hybrid of screaming and whining common to upset preschoolers woken up from a peaceful slumber.  I asked, “Don’t you want to go to Disney World?”  To which she screamed, “No!”  I asked, “Don’t you want to meet Mickey?”  She responded by yanking her blanket forcefully over her head and returning to the land of Nod.  Not the excited, enthusiastic reaction I was hoping for.  Needless to say, once we did get them up to the hotel room they weren’t so keen on going back to sleep (my apologies to the people in the neighboring rooms), the fact that it was after midnight by this time made no nevermind to them.  We got them into bed and H and I fell asleep to the sounds of their fervent whispers coming from the next room.

8792E57B-E06E-42FC-9C82-5B17F8E991C8
Before getting drenched in the Gulf of Mexico

(When waking the kids [again] to get out of the van and go up to the hotel room)

W: “Why does that building have Simbas all over it?”

 

 

Another Christmas Down

Even though six weeks ago I felt like wailing and gnashing my teeth at the thought of another Christmas in our sardine can of a home, I managed without sobbing uncontrollably in a dark corner.  The first challenge was to buy Christmas cards.  I try to buy them before Thanksgiving and then fill them out that weekend and mail them the following week.  Unfortunately I like to send funny cards and all the retailers in my town seem to feel people should only send serious cards the past few years.  Unless I feel like buying them all individually from the card section, and we know how economically practical that would be.  Since I had to settle for glittery cards with puppies and kittens with a message that aspired to be slightly humorous, I just wasn’t feeling it and didn’t get them done and out until less than a week before Christmas.

I also try and get most of my shopping done before Thanksgiving.  This year I managed to get the gifts for everyone but the kids purchased and wrapped before Turkey Day.  Now, before anybody gets impressed by that and mistakenly thinks I have my act together, there are reasons for this.  First, I live in an area where the climate is not usually conducive to spending much time out of doors in December for a person who hates the cold.  Doing this stuff earlier lets me shop in slightly less frigid weather and enables me to park a little closer to the stores.  Second, I don’t handle crowds well.  More specifically, I don’t handle slow walking shoppers who block entire aisles with their carts well.  Nor do I have patience for long lines.  I won’t step foot in a store on Black Friday because I’d probably be on the news for flipping out because I stood in line for twenty minutes only to have the customer in front of me argue with the cashier over expired coupons, misunderstanding how the sale works, and then having problems paying.  I figure it’s better for everybody if I just stay in the house that day.  I’ve also had years where I left things until the last minute and lived to regret it, also this helps spread the monetary damage out a bit so I don’t feel the need to drink so much.

Next was time for making goodies.  Fudge is my specialty, so I make mostly that.  It is given as gifts and taken to gatherings as my dish to pass.  This year, just because I’m a glutton for punishment apparently, I made twelve flavors.  Along with turtles, peanut butter balls and the obligatory sugar cookies.  I even got ambitious this year and tried Linzer cookies and candied pecans.  Working with only three square feet of counter space must just really excite me.  On the bright side, I managed to keep my kids out of the goodies until just before Christmas.  Miracles can happen.

Of course we had to see Santa, and go to several concerts.  We also got to go to the kids’ Christmas concert for school, which was a treat.  I had no idea what to expect, as last year’s concert saw S standing on the edge of the risers, looking at a music stand and conducting the zero number of people off to the side while wearing his headphones and biting his chewtube.  This year was better, both in his engagement with the audience and personal entertainment value.  I was a little nervous as he had a line to say and was to play the bells, but he said his line nicely and played the bells just fine.  And then for one song, he decided to put his face on the music stand and push it down and stay like that for the whole song.  I don’t know if anyone besides H and I noticed since S was in the second row, but I felt a curious mixture of humor and confusion.  When I asked him why he did that, he responded it was to see the music better.  Okey dokey then.  I know better than to expect “normal” from any child that comes from my loins, but sometimes they really impress me.

S was so excited for Santa this year that he put out milk and cookies a day ahead of time.  I explained to him the milk would go bad by then, a concept he still doesn’t get as he has no problem drinking spoiling milk.  I learned this the hard way although I seem more grossed out by it than his digestive system is.  Guts of steel.  They woke us at 6:30, which is pretty good, I think.  We told them to give us until seven and they spent that half hour sorting the presents.  So much for that picture I usually take of them with the gifts under the tree.

Even though I try not to get the kids too many toys, there are still four of them.  To give them more stuff to open I get them some practical items or things I would have bought them anyway if it wasn’t a holiday.  Things kids love like clothes, hats, mittens, pajamas, toothbrushes, band-aids, etc.  Then there are the items I war with myself about every year, like slime and playdoh.  If you’ve learned anything about my kids from other posts, you know how risky it is to get them those things.  On the plus side of those items, they’re inexpensive and my kids will use them up fairly quickly so I can throw the dried playdoh and slime with cat fur and crumbs into the garbage and there’s less stuff in the house.  They behaved pretty well with the playdoh this year and I only had to clean slime daily for a week.  I like living on the edge, I guess.

Now that Christmas is over and the kids are back in school, I’ve been trying to get the house back to normal.  This means trying to find places to put their new stuff.  I am having no luck in that regard so far. To make things more interesting, everybody’s coming down with a nasty cold.  V got it first, then E, now W, S, and H are in the beginning stages.  So I’ve been busting my butt trying to get caught up before it’s my turn with the virus, and I know it will be because my kids just love coughing in my face.  Their special gift to me for the holidays, I suppose.  They’re so sweet and generous.

8563615b-889a-4cd2-96fb-6abe3fe94bb9
Yes, this is pretty much our entire living room.  For a family of six.  No, we don’t have a family room or rec room or anything.  Did I mention we were a family of six?  Yes, we have to put our tree in a doorway.  Our enormous living room has two of them.  

E: (While playing in water in the bathroom sink) “I’m making chicken soup!” 

Me: “Oh yeah?  Sounds good!”

E: “I’m putting germs in it!”

*on second thought*

 

So Much To Do, So Little Motivation

Lately, if the past three months count as lately, I haven’t had much motivation.  Maybe in my case I should call it notivation.  As the summer progressed and my house just got more and more messy, I just gave up.  It was enough to keep track of where my four kids were in the neighborhood at any given time.  And while I was outside chasing one of the younger kids, any of the other not-being-chased kids would be inside making a bigger mess.

Last year I was planning on having a rummage sale to clear out the baby stuff, but hurt my ankle so that plan was flushed.  This year, I thought, and thinking about it caused me to abolish the idea.  There is no room to lay things out and organize and get ready.  So now I have two possible options.  The first miracle, er, option, would be getting the rest of our place clean and organized enough to have a base of operations.  I know, that’s funny.  The second miracle would be to find a house we can actually afford next spring.  Easy peasy with current housing prices, right?  I feel happy to know I could afford a pretty nice dollhouse, anyway.  Then we could just leave the rummage sale stuff here to be dealt with as we paint over all the sharpie, glue, slime, and other substances on the walls.  Possibly replace carpeting as well.  A new toilet.  New toilet paper holder installed.  I’m sure when we get the bulk of our stuff out, I’ll find more little precious surprises my darling spawn (and maybe husband) have left.

By the time school started, my place was a shambles, but I figured with three kids at school I would only have the three year old to tend to and should have time.  E had other ideas.  So I broke my day up into a chunk for her, and a chunk for cleaning.  First room to be tackled was the living room, which is more like a large walk-in closet without the closet rods or shelving.  It is also our only communal gathering room and only took a mere four hours to clean pretty thoroughly.

Thinking I was off to a good start, I felt pretty good.  Then the phone started ringing.

I got called in to work a lunch shift.  Okay, good, we need the money.  But then another lunch shift, and another, and another.  When my boss approached me at work or called I screamed internally about the disaster scene I lived in.  Much as I need the cash, I also needed to get my house dealt with.  The little bit of motivation I developed when school started began to evaporate as time went on and I wasn’t seeing much improvement as my four kids can mess faster than I can clean.  Fortunately my husband is a team player and helps them leave messes.

Finally had time to clean the bedroom of the older two, and kitty thought she would “help”.  Apparently, it’s tremendously helpful to have the cat walk in front of or on whatever item I’m trying to pick up.  Especially helpful when I’m on my hands and knees checking for small Legos and other small items, yet when I’m not cleaning, she’s napping.  Kitty is so thoughtful.

Not sure when I’ll get around to dealing with the dining room.  It’s like another large walk-in closet.  Room for the table and chairs and not much else.  While not a large room (actually, we have no large rooms in our house), we have several hundred VHS tapes for the tv/vcr combo in the corner.  (Our kids are too rough with dvd’s)  We used to only have a hundred or two, but my husband was offered another hundred ot two for free and thought that sounded swell.  The only thing swollen about it is the pile of tapes on the windowseat.  Ah, the good old days when I actually had room for the tapes we had.  He recently acquired a used XBox and smaller tv and put that on the windowseat, so I really don’t know where I’m supposed to put these tapes now.  I think I need to find a wall to bang my head against repeatedly.  Maybe if I make a few holes in the wall in the process I can store some of the tapes in there.

Now I’m to the point where I sit online and play with E and try to do a little bit here and there.  Finally starting to see a difference though.  At least until Thanksgiving break, which is five and a half days this year.  I’ll just be happy if they don’t almost burn the house down making toast in the microwave this time.  I refuse to think about Christmas break or where I’m going to put all the stuff they get.  *shudder*  Although with Halloween around the corner it’s a great time of year to scare myself with those kinds of ruminations.

58425392-13BD-433E-B539-06DFE3260DF3
At least the cereal was without milk.  Small blessings. 

My boss: “Hey, what are you doing *insert day here*?”

Me: “Not cleaning my house, apparently.”  

Adventures With Toilet Paper

I really miss having dry toilet paper.  Our house has pedestal sinks in both bathrooms.  Quite lovely to look at, but rather impractical as we have no counter space for anything.  The children seem especially challenged when it comes to not knocking things off the slim edge of the sink.  Our toilet paper holder broke off the wall well over a year ago, and I have been especially challenged as to where to keep the toilet paper.  We have an old pedestal that served a function in our last place, so I tried putting that in the bathroom to keep the roll on.  The kids are under the mistaken impression that the pedestal is a science lab for letting things melt on.  I have given up cleaning it after several experiments.  Then I tried keeping it on the edge of the sink.  If it gets put there I find it relocated to one of three places; the wastebasket, the floor, or the sink.  The wastebasket is problematic as the litter box is located in this bathroom, and being the aspiring tidy person I am, I scoop the cat box and put the dirty litter in said wastebasket.  Not what I want to wipe with.  The floor is problematic as there’s usually a bit of stray litter on the floor at best, but if the roll is within reach of the cat box the cat will grab at it and pull paper into her litter box until she can’t anymore.  I’d rather not discuss how many rolls we’ve lost this way.  To the toilet paper companies, you’re welcome.  Lastly, the sink.  Well, that might be okay if the sink were dry, but that porcelain receptacle resembles the Amazon much more than it does the Sahara.  My kids also like to see just how many cups they can balance all around the edge of the sink.  It’s probably unnecessary to add that the cups are not always empty, or even close to it.  Even though I buy paper cups for the bathroom, they prefer to get a clean, plastic cup for every precious sip.  Perhaps that’s code for them desperately wanting to do the dishes themselves.  One can hope.

When they run out of room for plastic cups, or just run out of plastic cups, they move on to the paper cups, which they like to let sit until the water soaks through.  Sometimes, if I’m lucky, the sink will be only damp and the roll of toilet paper will dry out.  If I’m not lucky, it will be completely soaked.  And yes, for some ungodly reason they will turn the water on even with a roll of toilet paper in there.  While it would be convenient to keep backup rolls in the bathroom, they will be subjected to the same treatment and I’ve lost more than one roll in a day, so all extra rolls are now kept in the basement.  I’ve had some good fortune with keeping the roll on top of the toilet tank, but I do need to stress the quantity of some and that I’m being foolishly optimistic when I say that.

My husband, being equipped with male plumbing, is obviously not as reliant on toilet paper as myself, and doesn’t seem to grasp my level of exasperation.  After months of explaining to him why putting in a new toilet paper holder would be a jolly good idea, he finally broke down and spent a few dollars on one.  Now I should only have to remind him a few more months to actually install it.  Perhaps if I point out all the money being wasted on destroyed toilet paper that might get his attention.  I may have to do it myself, but do not feel like being the responsible party if something goes wrong.  The extent of my handy knowledge is calling somebody and writing a check.  Not to mention if I try to do it myself, I have to try and concentrate on a new task with an audience of four inquisitive children in a tiny half bathroom with me.  Things may go horribly wrong.  I would add toilet paper to my stash under the mattress, but I don’t think it would fit.  Not to mention that it’s an inconvenient place and with how much I’d use it the kids would catch on.  Just another reason to make that necklace holding a roll of toilet paper.

3284158D-7227-43E1-8921-9CD43BAB04DC
One of their melting “experiments”. I believe this was a mint chocolate chip ice cream sandwich.

E – “Is my egg done cooking yet?”

Me – “Not yet.”

E – “That’s not fair.”  

Stop The Ride

Roller coasters can be awesome, but sometimes I just want to sit on the bench.  The past few weeks have been a whirlwind, and that little tornado of chaos can just stuff it.

First, V came down with strep throat.  While strep throat is annoying, what is more annoying is that, unlike with a cold, you can’t wait for it to go away on it’s own (well, I guess you can, it’s just not advisable).  Start out with a visit to the doctor (and the co-pay), then the strep test (and the lab cost for that), then the antibiotic (and the money for that).  Then you get to play the fun guessing game of how many people out of the family of six are going to get strep with the attending costs.  It is difficult enough to keep the kids from sharing food and drinks as they only share them when they’re not supposed to, and darn near impossible to quarantine any one of them, so the suspense was almost palpable.  We won the health lottery that month and nobody else came down with it.

Of course, a few days after she finished her antibiotics she said it hurt to swallow again.  Nothing like a little panic and dread.  However, the following day she said swallowing was fine and was getting congestion.  So while we didn’t have to face another bout of strep, she went from strep right to a cold, not that that slowed her down at all.  We also weren’t so fortunate this time and everybody but H came down with the cold.  This cold is a fun one because the sinuses produce snot for weeks.  I have long learned my lesson about buying facial tissue as my kids waste the whole box within hours even when they’re not sick, so we all use toilet paper instead.  Well, those of us old enough to care about wiping our noses neatly.  E prefers to use my clothing, that I’m wearing, to wipe her nose.  How cute.  Her second preference is to smear it all over her cheeks.  I may just have to wear a necklace with a roll of toilet paper hanging from it.

I was the last one to come down with the cold, and after being afflicted for a few days, some muscles in my neck decided to freak out and tighten up, causing a quite unpleasant sensation every time I moved my head.  The hot water bottle has been my snuggle buddy for days now.  Between my cold and neck I was in great shape, which was excellent news because our weekend schedule was not empty.

My job is pretty part time, but I had to work Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.  Normally I’d be happy to make the money, but I had the unenviable task to get the house clean by Sunday afternoon for V’s party, and you can imagine how it usually looks.  W had joined softball and had a tournament that weekend.  They had to sing in both services at grandpa and grandma’s church Sunday morning, and had their last night of the school year of a children’s group there that evening as well.  And still had to run out to get the stuff for the party, plus schedule H and his mother to help with softball while I was indisposed.  Nothing that would take up the whole weekend or anything.

So with sinuses producing snot at a prodigious rate and a kinked neck I worked, took the kids to softball, worked, ran errands, sneaked some sleep in, went to church, ran more errands, supervised the party, went to work and picked up the kids.  Some people just love to be busy and go, go, go.  I am not one of those people.  At all.  I should have cleaned up after the party, but decided I just could not bring myself to care at that moment.  Messiness would be there for me the next day.  And the day after that, and the day after that.  In fact, my family makes sure it’s there for me every day, and they’re kind enough to make sure it changes each time so I never have a dull moment.  They’re so thoughtful.

042
My current snuggle buddy

“What is dinner called?” — S  (translation: What’s for dinner?)

Now Don’t You Get Smart With Me

I don’t know how many other people were told by their parents to curb their intelligence, but I was.  Being the sassy kid I was I thought about this expression in the literal sense and have opted not to use it with my kids.  Now I’m wondering if I may have made a mistake.

My children are smart.  Sounds great, right?  Not so fast though.  At least with my kids it manifests itself in, shall we say, inconvenient ways.  I imagine it will serve them well in adulthood, but it’s going to be one interesting ride there.

Child proof devices, including the tops of medicine bottles, become ineffective with my kids when they reach the age of 3 or 4, depending on the size and strength of their hands.  There are precious few places remaining in the house where I can successfully hide things from them, and I’m so good at hiding things that sometimes I can’t find them.  While many people hide money under their mattress, I hide things like scissors, fingernail clippers, deodorant and tweezers.  I may have to add glue and tape to my stash.  It doesn’t help that most of my kids were early readers, and hence, could read the instructions of how to open and get into many things they should not have been.

This skill has also enabled them to look up videos online of how to do things that they really should have an adult helping them with.  Apparently my kids are too cool for stodgy adult supervision and perform their sneaky experiments in secret.  There was one summer S used up all my baking supplies in his quest for following what he saw in a video.  Maple syrup may taste wonderful when the entire bottle is emptied into the sugar canister, but renders it unusable for most anything else.  Mixing flour and water, butter and jelly together in the tub of margarine was another dear memory.  His sisters helped him hide little bowls of flour throughout the house that season.  Sigh, the memories.

Speaking of them thinking they knew how to do something just because they had seen it…  S decided he wanted snow cones, so he would get ice out of the freezer and add snow cone syrup.  Of course the large bottles were a bit much for this and he inadvertently (I think) painted the wall by the back door.  Visitors who enter that way are now in for a treat of red, orange and blue streaks greeting them as they arrive.  Or the time he wanted toast, but as the toaster was unplugged he decided to put it in the microwave, but that’s a different story.

003

They also practice their creativity and reverse engineering skills.  They live for taking things apart and/or decorating them.  I keep different kinds of glue hidden for fixing things when possible and every day I’m thankful for the ability to google how to clean various things.  At least now that my permanent markers are gone they can no longer use those, although there are still some ball point pens floating around.  I have enough of their drawings to wallpaper a mansion with, and the plethora of crayon stubs that were sacrificed in the pursuit of honed artistic abilities.  They seem to be allergic to crayon wrappers on crayons and must always have very sharp pencils, and love to scatter the bits of paper and shavings around the house as if they were strewing flower petals at a wedding.  My vacuum is eternally grateful to them for giving it purpose in abundance.

S has always been obsessed with letters and numbers, and as soon as he learned how to write he was labeling things around the house.  I’m so glad because I never would have known that thing was a wall if he had not labelled it so.  Not to mention the lights, baby gate, door, garbage, potty, etc.  Thanks to his obsession with Baby Einstein, he not only knew early on how to spell Beethoven and Shakespeare, but each tile in my bathroom had the title of a different Baby Einstein video.  He just may have a future in interior design, although I’m secretly delighted he elected to use a washable marker for those.

Now I could take away all their art and craft supplies and crack down on other nefarious activities of theirs, but I know this builds their mental capacity which will serve them well later, so I let it be, even if my little remaining sanity is screaming desperately for me to come to my senses.  But I really, really, really, really, really hope they appreciate all I’ve done, spent and tolerated for them someday.  And I hope they have smart kids of their own and I will laugh and laugh…and gift my grandchildren with superglue, nail polish and permanent markers.

011

 

“I’m doing a ‘speriment'” —  E

Musical Beds

The joys of living in a small house are ever generous.  We bought our house when A was 16 and W was -4 months.  We wanted a place in the country, but at that time everything was way out of our price range (raging hundredaires that we are) or a complete dump.  We’re creative people, so a dump in itself wouldn’t be the biggest problem (although getting H to let me fix it up how I like might be), but we figured there were better ideas than having a fixer upper being fixed up while newborns, babies and toddlers were around.  So we settled for something in town that we could move right into.

To be fair, when we bought the place we had no idea what our family was going to be like ten years later, and we thought four-ish bedrooms would be good.  Let’s all take a moment now and laugh at our folly.                                       Okay.  On one side of the hall are three okay sized bedrooms in a row, on the other side is one tiny bedroom.  Only two of the bedrooms have closets.  Why the builders thought that was a good idea I’ll never know.  Of course why we decided to purchase regardless I also may never know.  We took one of the rooms with a closet, the other is the tiny room.  We gave A the room furthest from ours to spare her as much as possible from our nocturnal activities.  We set up the tiny room as a library (I think I’ve mentioned I’m a bibliophile) and miscellaneous room and it now doubles (triples?) as a therapy room for S, with the last room going to W.

W came along and moved into her room after we got her sleeping through the night.  Things progressed happily for a year and a half.  V came along and we added the toddler bed to W’s room for her so V could have the crib and put the younger girls together in that room.  Things continued fine, well, after we got V sleeping through the night.  She was not as cooperative about that as W and A.  Then I got pregnant with S, a boy.  Now we had decisions to make.

By this time A was almost nineteen and graduated from high school.  I had always told her as long as she was working full time or going to school full time she could continue living at home.  She would have called my bluff, except I wasn’t bluffing.  By the time autumn rolled around and she was busy working a whole six hours each week, filling out a whopping two job applications a week (“It’s too hot out”) and bereft of any plans for further education, I let her know it was time to leave the nest.  No endless summer vacation bumming with her boyfriend on my dime, I’m not that rich.  (sad face)

That freed up a room with the added bonus of lighting a fire under A’s butt to join the adult world.  We switched A’s twin bed and the crib and now had a room for S.  V seemed excited to get out of the crib and move into the toddler bed, but as soon as I turned around she’d climb into bed with W.  Once S got to be about 3, he decided that his own crib in his own room was cramping his style and took up mountain climbing to escape his confines.  Every night he would climb out of his crib and over the baby gate to sleep with his sisters and since I was worried about him getting hurt in the process I stopped fighting it.  His sisters didn’t seem to care anyway.  Plus we were now expecting E.

When E came she had her room to herself, and slept there happily for 3 years.  During that time we acquired a bunk bed from our awesome neighbors for the girls.  It didn’t come with a ladder, but H found one at a local resale store.  It is large and heavy, and my imagination ran wild with scenarios of what could happen if the toddler got up there, so it currently lives in the garage.  The older kids still manage to get up there, however, and while I personally use the top bunk as a makeshift linen closet and large stuffed animal container, the kids have used it as a cat castle and reading hideaway among other things.  The also love to test my heart health by making a pile of their mass of pillows, blankets and stuffed animals on the floor and cliff diving onto it off the top bunk.  The ceiling fan has since been turned off.

Recently E let us know she was ready to move in with her siblings.  The older girls quickly became less than thrilled at this change, especially W.  Our crappy solution for the time being is to put the younger two in E’s room during the week when the girls have school, and let them sleep together on the weekends.  While we desperately need a bigger house to create a better room situation for them, they are adorable all sleeping together like a pile of kittens.

011a
My makeshift linen closet/large stuffed animal container

“Not me!” — E  (In response to when I find something which displeases me and ask who, what, when, where, why or how)