Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Before And After

I did the impossible. I cleaned out the master closet. I know. I don't know what insanity overcame me, but as is evident by the pictures, it was necessary. I donated three giant bags of clothes from the 1800's. I installed two shelves all by little old self. My dear husband now has a place to hang ties that isn't a hanger. I'm so very proud of myself. I like to go in there and meditate now. It only took me a week and a half.



It's not impossible for you either. You just have to be slightly insane first.

Monday, September 28, 2009

If you take a two year old shopping...

She's going to want some popcorn. But not until she throws a fit about taking her blankie into the store.

Today is definitely a Monday. My day started with the usual chaos of getting the older children off to school. Moments after they left, I realize that two out of three forgot to take their homework folders with them. I should have known at that moment how the rest of the day would go.

The girls and I got ready quickly and headed to the gym. O complained and cried about her shoes all the way there. "Tight", she kept saying. When we arrived, I noticed K's holey jeans and was informed that those are all she has.

Half a mile into my run, I was called down to the daycare and informed that E was poopy and sad. I quickly changed her, handed her back, made some suggestions, then returned to finish my run. While formulating a plan in my head, I finished my run, gathered the girls and a very sad baby and headed home. The plan was as follows:

1.Go to Target
2.Go to Payless
3.Go to the Grocery Store
4.Go to the Bank

I'll admit that it was a touch ambitious. But I had no idea how ambitious until we arrived at Target.

O had been a touch temperamental all morning, but I quickly learned that it was just the tip of the iceberg. Upon arriving, I unloaded E, grabbed my purse, unbuckled O and informed her that her blankie stays in the car. We do this hundreds of times a week, but today, she NEEDED her blankie.

Blankie's don't come with us, no matter how dear they are. I refuse to drag them around stores or any other public places. It's bad enough that they drag them around the house.

So I drag her out of the car and sit her, screaming, on the curb. With E in the sling, I was a little limited in my ability to handle a screaming toddler. I eventually hauled her down to a park bench and sat there while she screamed. I waited and waited and nearly decided to head home until I remembered that Target has popcorn. So I bribed her with popcorn. With a tear streaked face, 'tight' shoes in place, we walked into Target.

I bought the popcorn and the girls immediately began shoving handfuls of popcorn into their mouths as though they were starving and weren't going to see food again for another month. I'm not sure, but Target would probably like to ban us for the amount of popcorn the girls dropped on the floor. I decided to skip Payless and we got shoes at Target instead. Kill two birds with one stone.

By the time we made it out to the van, I realized it was lunch time and I was starving. The girls wanted to go to McDonald's, which was just across the street. I thought after some food in their bodies I'd be able to complete my list.

After we ate, we hurried over to the grocery store. "I just need a few things", I told them.

I rushed them through the store with few incidents, but upon returning to the van, I knew we weren't going to make my last stop. I unbuckled O from the cart and walked her over to the side of the van. She sat down on the pavement and looked at me like 'I just dare you to make me get in the car'. So I let her sit there. I unloaded the baby, I unloaded the groceries, and then I manhandled a screaming limp two-year old into her seat.

We then endured Pterodactyl-like screaming all the way home.

The Pterodactyl is now sleeping. I think the house threw up on itself, but I'm too tired to care. The school-age children get home in an hour and a half. I may have to find a padded room before this Monday is over!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Find them!

"I don't care if you have to go to the ends of the earth, but find them!" I holler at my son.

There's a phenomenon that happens in our house to clean laundry. It disappears in a puff of smoke. M (age 6), on a weekly basis, can't find his Sunday pants for church. Almost every week he comes to me in shorts and a button up shirt and proclaims that he can't find his Sunday pants.

Today he can't find his soccer shorts. If I hadn't washed three pairs of them on Monday, I might take pity and help him look. But I KNOW there are soccer shorts in his closet.

Socks disappear too. The sock fairy comes in the night and takes them away. And my oldest son who likes to proclaim that he ALWAYS puts them in the dirty laundry, thinks that I did something with all the socks he can't find. I think not, my son.

Of course they might be able to find things if they didn't spread their clothes all over the floor as opposed to putting them in their closet. I know. I come up with some wacky ideas.

"Look until you find them!" I holler up the stairs one more time. "You aren't going to your soccer game until you are dressed appropriately."

He groans at me and proclaims how he has looked EVERYWHERE. Hmmm, I wonder how long it will take him to find his missing shorts. Maybe the soccer shorts fairy ate them in the night, knowing that he has a game this morning. The soccer shorts fairy is mean like that.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Have you ever heard a Pterodactyl scream?

No? Dinosaurs are extinct you say? I beg to differ. I believe my two year old is a reincarnated Pterodactyl. What proof do I have? The proof is in the pudding, or rather the Pterodactyl scream we all experience when she is unhappy.

This mostly happens in the car when I am completely powerless to appease my little dinosaur. She will decide that it is ridiculously unfair that she has to wear a seat belt and will begin thrashing about. And before you know it she is making sounds that no human could possibly make. And she makes them at decibels that only dogs can hear.

Her endurance is staggering. She kept it up once for twenty-five agonizing minutes. E and I were virtually deaf by the time we got home. Why not discipline or perhaps even bribe her, you ask? Oh, I've tried. I've tried it all.

I've tried distraction.

"O, look! There's a horsey."

Her response is to scream louder.

I've tried bribery.

"O, do you want some candy when we get home?"

This one might make her stop, but then she wants it RIGHT NOW, and well, we've stopped using that particular method.

I've tried ignoring her. She just wants attention, you may suggest. I've ignored her many, many times. She still screams.

I've tried the strict mom voice.

"O, if you don't stop this minute, I'm going to pull the car over."

I've actually pulled over a couple of times to no avail. She settles down, then screams the instant she's back in her car seat.

For the time being, I merely pray. That's all I'm left with. I pray she doesn't scream. I pray that if she does I will survive with eardrums intact. I pray that I won't sell her on the next corner I see. And I pray that if she really is a reincarnated Pterodactyl, that she'll soon forget and stop screaming.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The gym

I'm a bit of a gym rat. But I don't go regularly for the obvious reason of getting into shape, though that does seem to be a by-product. No, I go for the daycare. I go because it's the one hour a day that I get all to myself. Barring poopy diapers or too much crying, they get to go play in the chaos with all the other children whose mothers or fathers are all too happy to ditch them in the daycare for a brief reprieve.

Now that I've admitted my true purpose in going to the gym, I'll also admit that I don't go pretty. I go ugly. I'm going to go get sweaty and gross, so I don't wear makeup, and my hair is usually in some semblance of a pony tail. I go ugly and so do my children. The other children at the gym are all dressed and groomed. And then there's my children. Hair all messy and usually in the mismatched PJ's they wore to bed.

One day I ran into a neighbor who was arriving as I was leaving. She told me how amazed she was that I got there so early. Her children were neatly groomed. I'm not the type of mother who can do both, I pick one. Early to the gym, or presentable children. Early to the gym wins. My children can be presentable later.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Epic Saga of the Clean Bathroom

I cleaned the bathroom on the main floor. It was grotesque. But for five wonderful minutes it was a thing of beauty. Here is it's story:

I am the bathroom and I am clean. My owner finally took pity on me and made me all nice and shiny. I am relaxing and enjoying my new state of being.

Oh no. A little person. Be careful young one. No! Not the soap. I am now watching as soap is being squirted out by the handfuls all over my lovely white counter tops. It's ok, I tell myself. It's just soap. Oh, small child, can't you hang up the towel just once?

I watch the small child exit. I breathe a huge sigh of relief. I can live with a little soap on the countertop.

Two minutes later a slightly bigger child enters. Oh no. What is that I see on your fingers? No, not dirt!! Ok. It will be ok. I watch as child attempts to wash his hands. Oh shoot. Dirt all over the counter and water spalshes on my pristine mirror. Child chucks towel onto the soapy mess and leaves.

I breathe. It's still not as bad as it was. I can still enjoy my cleanliness to a point. I relax again and cross my fingers. But no, mere seconds later the smallest child enters to play with her potty. I do not understand this. My owner seems content to let her fool around, yet not actually potty train this child. Oh, cool, she's leaving.

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

Oh no. There's a herd of children waiting in line. This is never good. I'm going to hold my breath, close my eyes and assess the damage after they are all done.

The damage: Pee on the floor, bits of toilet paper in the trash and next to the toilet, water soap and dirt all over the counter. The towel resides on the floor now.

I am the bathroom and I was clean...for five minutes.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hair drama

There's a raucous upstairs. I hear stomping, crying, yelling and more crying. Yet I sit serenely at the computer ignoring all the noise. Why am I so callous? Because I know that my daughter is merely brushing her hair and I've learned through careful research that no one has ever died from brushing their hair. Although from the sound of it, you'd think that statistic would be changing very soon.

It's a good thing I have a couple of boys. Girls having lots of hair just adds more drama. And girls are very accomplished at adding drama to just about anything. Like getting shoes on. You'd think that's a no brainer. Not in my house. In my house it is apparently a requirement to cry when asked to get shoes on. So you can imagine the trauma that goes into doing the girls hair.

For a while, I got all creative and cute. I would spend time looking for cute hairstyles online and I'd practice on(torture)my girls. It didn't take very long for me to see the disadvantage to that. More crying. It's not worth it. They just get to look like ragamuffins. I'm ok with that and have learned it is not a reflection of my parenting skills. Though I do occasionally envy those moms with the perfect looking children.

So when I finally go upstairs to help Lillie with her hair and I ask what she wants today, she replies through tears, "a ponytail". "Fine", I think. The less time in the bathroom doing hair, the better.

Maybe I could shave all of their heads. Start a new trend. Ok, I'm not that mean, but I can dream can't I?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My second job

I am quickly learning that my second job is that of taxi driver. I am the mom taxi. I need one of those clever bumper stickers that declares my status as taxi driver. I can spend anywhere from 20 minutes to a couple of hours running children to various sporting practices and events about three to four days a week.

The more driving I do, the more I wish for my extended van with separate bucket seats for each child. That way, no one can touch anyone else. They would have to fashion a poking stick in order to bother their neighbor. As it is, I rarely make it to our destination without witnessing WWF in the rear view mirror. If you are ever driving along and see a mini-van pulled over with children sitting or screaming on the side of the road, it's probably me. You can't have time-out in a van in which your neighbor is easily accessible.

The cleanliness of my vehicle has never been top priority, but this fall with the introduction of three or four children in sports, it's a virtual nightmare in there. I think there's a secret stash of sippies buried in the mess. The milk in them has likely turned to cheese. I'm only guessing at their location, I haven't actually spotted them. I just know they have been disappearing and we are down to about three sippies in the drawer. And no matter how often I tell the children not to take toys in the car, it seems there's at least a toy box worth of toys in the van.

Of course it doesn't help that I pack things in there that I never take out. I like to think of it as being prepared for any possible situation. There's a picnic blanket and a camping chair, just in case. There are almost always extra shoes. There's also a first aid kit that slides back and forth across the floor as I drive. See, it's really preparation, not 'lazy mom who doesn't want to clean out the filthy van'.

And this taxi driver will only listen to 'Mary had a little lamb' once a week. The rest of the time it's Rob Thomas or the radio. If the small people I call my children are going to torture me in the car, then I at least get the satisfaction of listening to Rob Thomas. He makes even a screaming toddler bearable!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I bark at my children

I know that makes me strange, but it's woefully true. I bark at my children. Sometimes the mood strikes me and I just have to bark. And yes, I mean like a dog. They think it's funny. Or at least they laugh. They probably just think I'm weird. Which I am. But if you can't bark at your children, who can you bark at?

I make other strange noises too. I don't limit myself to barking. I do a pretty darn good horse, but mostly just the galloping part. I think that's why O climbs on me and declares 'horsey' on a regular basis. I squeal at the baby and blow raspberries. I've perfected both of those skills. I can quack like a duck, but I don't waddle. At least not right now. A few months ago, I was most likely waddling.

I realize that I must sound like some kind of Old MacDonald freak, but I'm ok with that.

I spent my teenage years trying to be 'oh so serious'. Sure, I had friends that I let loose with, but I was always worried that people would think I was weird. Well, now that I'm all grown up, I could care less. I am weird! Other people don't have to live with me. And those that do? Well, they get what they get and they don't get to throw a fit. (Thank you preschool teachers for that lovely saying!) And if they throw a fit? Time out for you!

And now you know the truth about me: I bark at my children and I'm proud of it!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A toddler obsessed

"Penny pockey", I hear O yell for the one millionth time. O has an obsession. She loves pennies. She holds them all day and wants them in either her pockets or mine. But she can't say pocket, so it comes out pockey.

If she finds one on the floor, it's like discovering gold. She squeals with delight, jumps up and down and grins from ear to ear. And it doesn't matter what size, or nationality the coin is, they are all pennies to her. She doesn't discriminate.

From time to time, she puts them in her mouth. But with many stern warnings that they will be taken away, she's gotten better. She no longer brings them to me in her mouth to spit out.(See this post.)

She insists on wearing pants with 'pockeys' so that she has somewhere to store her many pennies. And if there aren't any clean pocket pants, I had better be equipped with 'pockeys' or there will be hell to pay!

Because of this new obsession, there are pennies littering the floor of my home. She's emptied the coin jar on my desk and throws gargantuan fits if you happen upon a penny and don't immediately return it to her. It doesn't matter if it's not her penny. They are ALL hers. I have a toddler obsessed. Obsessed with pennies.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I swore I'd never...

I swore I'd never get married young like my mom. So, I got married at 20 1/2 instead of 19.

I swore I'd never be a stay-at-home mom. It looked so boring. I've been a stay-at-home mom for ten years and I'm not sure where the time went.

I swore I'd never drive a minivan. I wanted to be a cool mom and drive an SUV. We bought our first minivan when I was 25.

I swore I'd never have more than four kids. We have six.

I swore I'd never count at my children. We count to three on a regular basis.

I swore I'd never yell at my children. I wish I could say that I don't. But I do.

I swore I'd never be a mean mom and make my kids wash dishes. They have a dish chore every night after dinner.

I swore I'd never use the television as a babysitter. A little TV never killed anyone, right?

I swore I'd never be a runner. I ran three miles yesterday and am seriously contemplating running a half-marathon in the spring.

I swore I'd never give birth without an epidural. I've done it twice. By choice.

The moral of the story? Never say never.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Contents atop the dryer

Today is laundry day. Ok, every day is laundry day. But today I start the week o'laundry. As I loaded in the first load of laundry this morning, I found myself staring at the contents atop the dryer. I was fascinated by what I found, yet utterly unwilling to clean it off.

Here is what I found:

1. A giant flashlight with no battery.
2. The spray and wash
3. Contact solution
4. Conditioner
5. A screwdriver
6. Ink pads for the stamps I rarely use
7. 1 diaper
8. 3 pairs of baby legs
9. A notepad for making to-do lists (a little irony here)
10. Another flashlight
11. A cereal bowl used for collecting all the change I find in the washer (I made a dollar last week!)
12. Odessa's skirt
13. Doll clothes
14. A plastic yellow spider
15. A green sticky hand
16. Rose and flower care
17. Sunscreen
18. Silver acrylic spray paint
19. A Magic Treehouse book
20. Michael's white church shirt
21. A nightlight with accompanying bulbs
22. A giant ziploc baggie with wetwipes in it
23. A white wide-brimmed hat
24. A water bottle

What's atop your dryer today?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ten things that scream "We have children!"

If you didn't know me and you came to my house and wandered through it, you'd say to yourself, 'children live here'. Here's ten reasons why.

1.The bottom pole on the banister has been taped together with scotchtape. And retaped. And retaped.

2.In the bathroom there is a little potty next to the big potty. And soap all over the counter. And bandaid garbage on the floor.

3.The fort that has taken up residence in my front formal room.

4.Baby paraphernalia is a dead give-away. The swing, bouncer, bumbo, floor mat. Babies take up a lot of space!

5.Socks and shoes of all sizes scattered hither and yon.

6.The kitchen table that has a princess coloring book cover permanently adhered to it.

7.The toddler hiding in the pantry snitching chips. Ok, so if we weren't home, she wouldn't be either!

8.Crumbs, crumbs and more crumbs.

9.Sticky or dirty doorknobs.

10.Toys everywhere. They multiply in the night I tell you.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Laundry will be the death of me. I'm certain of it. I can wash it. I can dry it. But for some reason, folding it and putting it away eludes me. It does happen, but it takes a near act of God, or hosting playgroup. That will do it too.

Folding laundry is often a family event and this is how this week's event went:

I sat down on the floor and put the baby on her blanket next to me. The kids each found a spot on the floor and I started chucking their laundry at them. (It's more fun if you throw it at them and attempt to make it land on their heads.) We then endured a few rounds of children chanting, "(Name)likes to wear, dirty underwear." There were variations and much protesting by the person named that they do NOT like to wear dirty underwear. Then there was O declaring loudly when she found an item of clothing that was hers. There was gnashing and whaling of teeth by K when I informed her she had to put her clothes away.

At one point I stopped and looked up and realized all six of my children were joyously, rambunctiously and loudly enjoying the weekly laundry folding. I think it could best be described as organized chaos. The boys were throwing a pair of shorts back and forth, each declaring that they didn't own them. L was on her head, as usual, and E was intrigued by all the noise.

I have to say that for about five minutes, I didn't mind folding laundry. But don't worry, I got over it quickly and am officially back to not liking it again. Blasted laundry!!