Friday, January 29, 2010

Our Tenth Anniversary: a TragiComedy in two parts

Yesterday, January 28th was our tenth anniversary. We had glorious plans...well, not glorious, but the kids were going to be at my brother's for the weekend, which is glorious enough. But as plans often do, they got a little, um, complicated as the nailing-down process got underway. So the children stayed put.

Plan B.

We took advantage of a friend's generous heart and three-hour availability and left the younger two with her, then went to lunch. Lunch and a movie or lunch and roller-blading. (Glamorous, no?) So we ended up eating at a tasty little Greek place, picking up a hand-dipped ice cream bar with almonds at the uber-chic Costco restaurant, and wandering the lovely wearhouse whilst we nibbled. Then we drove to the waterfront, gazed at the skyline over the lake and dozed. I'm kidding. Mostly. It sounds anti-climactic, but it was great to spend 3 hours together without crying, tattling, screaming, time-outs or other familiar interruptions.

The real fun was that evening.

After giving the children VERY clear instructions that this evening belonged to their father and me and that anyone out of bed would be flogged, I headed downstairs to join my sweetheart. We plopped on the couch and watched some dumb TV show.

About halfway through the 10:00 news we heard a really big crash upstairs, followed by Lee screaming bloody murder. If my legs were longer, I would've taken the stairs 3 at a time. As they are not, I settled for 2. I burst into the boys' bedroom--which had the light still on--and the first clue my Sherlockian eyes noticed was the large, white bunkbed headboard in the middle of the floor, not too far from where Lee was standing, shrieking, holding his finger.

"One! One screaming child, ah ah aah!"

His index finger was missing a few layers of skin and I expected it to start bleeding at any moment. One of the children had a wet cloth on the dresser (don't recall why), so I wrapped Lee's finger in it. It was already beginning to swell and had a distinct purple tone. Naturally, his wailing and shrieking woke up Cora in our room.

"Two! Two screaming children, ah ah aah"!

Lee's attempts to answer my questions were untelligible, so I had to procure from Abby and Alex what on earth had happened. It seems Abby wanted privacy from the boys, so had pulled the headboard out and leaned it against the corner of the dresser and the edge of Alex's bed to form a small triangular shaped hideaway. I didn't get this at all, because she's got plenty of privacy past the foot of Alex's bed. And the other weird thing is that she wasn't even in it! Lee was in it, and so was Alex. Alex was supposed to be in bed, but got into Lee's little fort because he was invited in. That makes total sense, you know? "I had to, Mom! He invited me!" What?

So at some point Lee was standing up and had stuck his finger in the hole on the top of the bedpost that's intended for a pretty little bedknob. The precariously-leaning headboard got bumped and it left, attempting to take Lee's finger with it. He could bend it, so I was satisfied.

Now before I go on, I need to explain something about Riah. He loves his family. He's also protective of us. When one of his children is hurt--really hurt, he has to supress the urge to go all King Kong and rip apart whatever caused his family pain. (Interesting, because I've never even seen him really lose his temper. Never.)

So I'm peeved that there was so much egregious disobedience. He's ticked that Lee is hurt. I'm irritated that Cora's awake. He's controlling his inner Hulk.

As we attend to the most pressing issue, Lee's finger, we interrogate the children: why is the light on? what happened? what did you see? why is this item of furniture in the middle of the room? You get the gyst. As the tale of misfortune unfolds, we see that Lee wasn't the only one making really dumb decisions. So we turned to corporal punishment.

Our current form of corporal punishment for the older three children is to do something so terrible it's genius: wall sits. Like the ones you had to do in junior high gym class. The kids hate it and we can administer the torture calmly and relatively devoid of emotion. It was Riah's idea, and though unconventional, it works for us...for now.

Anyhow. When the multiple dumb decisions were exposed, it was decided that the whole room was reeking with fault. So Abby and Alex were given wall sits. Now generally they whimper and whine, but due (I think) to the fact that it was after 10 freakin thirty, they wailed, too.

"Four!! Four screaming children, ah ah aah!!!! Four children screaming in the meeddle of the night!!! Ah ah aah!!!

As Lee cried in my lap, his older siblings cried near the door and Cora cried down the hall, I looked up at my dear, wonderful, 10-year husband. I gave him a grim half-smile and said with all the dryness within me,

"Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bucket List

In no particular order...
*learn Portuguese
*vacation in Brazil with my husband
*swim with dolphins or whales or something
*throw a party where my guests eat flowers...and enjoy it
*play the piano well
*snorkel in tropical waters
*learn to do things the Laura Ingalls way: raise chickens, make cheese, darn socks, etc.
*go skydiving
*have a wedding reception yard
*take a pottery class
*read the New Testament in Hebrew
*tour Europe
*ride in a hot air balloon
*take horseback riding lessons
*be a great photographer
*develop a tradition of giving at Christmas (adopt a family every year?)
*be a millionaire
*communicate with family members in American Sign Language
*take a family backpacking trip
--the tropical rain forest
--All 50 states
--All 7 continents. Well, maybe not Antarctica.
*go on an African safari
*have nights set aside in the house where we speak specific languages that evening
*ice skate backward and have it look like I'm doing it intentionally
*make my house the area's cool teenage hangout spot
*get paid to write
*volunteer regularly
*play my flute in a community orchestra
*learn to play the piccolo

What are yours?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Heavenly Insights

Today I was making lunch for a munchkin. An emaciated, near-death, starving Ethiopian munchkin. Maybe not, but from the whines and complaints, it sure sounded like it! After all it had been a whole 3 hours since his last sustenance.

As I was grating cheddar for a quick turkey/cheddar quesadilla, I said calmly, "Sweetheart, I am aware of your needs and am working on it right now."

A few moments passed and my husband noted, "I see a parallel there." I did, too. Even as I spoke the words I noticed and felt the parallel.

How often do I complain to my Maker that I'm at the end of my rope? It seems that I can't last another millisecond without the financial stability/house with a yard/etc that I've been asking and working for.

S. Michael Wilcox gave a really great talk entitled Fourth Watch. The basic gyst is that when Jesus Christ's disciples were being lambasted by the storm in the sea, Jesus was on the mountain praying, but didn't come to them until the fourth watch--or some time between 3am-6am. He knew what was going on. He knew their fears, He saw their struggles and decided to let them grow and learn before He walked across the water to them. But He came.

And now I see a little more clearly that He's up there responding patiently and lovingly, "I am aware of your needs and am working on it right now. Just let me finish cutting your quesadilla."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Fat Breath

So, Riah & I are eating pretty healthily right now. Like, really, really healthy. We're both pretty tired of the jiggle.

The other night he was complaining that he had bad breath. Mine, too tasted rather steamy & stale, like on days that I'm fasting. Normally when my mouth tastes like that my solution is to cleanse my palate with some sort of yumminess (which explains the jiggles), but lately my solution has been a bunch of cold water.

Something, however, was squirming from the back of his mind and he Googled 'fat burn + bad breath.' (And how cool are you if you invent a product that becomes a verb? I mean, really.) What he found was an article that explained that when you burn fat, you release ketones, which cause bad breath. So our untasty halitosis was a result of fat cells shrinking and melting like the Wicked Witch of the West. Well, not exactly like that, but it makes for a good visual.

So next time you're tasting stale, steamy and stinky, grab the gum and BRING ON THE FAT BREATH!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sleep, shmeep! (or "When It Rains, It Pours")

Last night I was Florence Nightingale reincarnate.

It started when I should have been in bed, but was blogging and watching an episode of The Office with my husband. (He’s trying to convert me.) Lee came downstairs wanting to snuggle—not unusual—but complained that I was too hot and left to the couch—unusual. Shortly thereafter he started crying that his ear hurt. Sure enough, when I palmed his forehead, it was warm.

Side note: I read about some findings that a Mom can gauge her child’s temperature by hand within a degree. I’ve tested it since, and I’m usually pretty on. How cool is that?

After convincing him that Tylenol is a good idea and warming up a rice bag for his ear, he went back to sleep. He was sleeping so well that we left him downstairs on the couch (with the bathroom light on).

I finally climbed into bed after midnight, but climbed right back out to prepare warm honey/lemon water for a croupy Alex and to bring pillows to prop him up.

Before I could get in bed, Cora woke up feeling icky. She joined us in our bed, but couldn’t get comfy. Especially after Lee came upstairs and they were sleepily vying for the coveted spot next to me.

The rest of the night is a blur: Lee waking Cora because she squirmed and pushed him; Cora fussing and waking Lee. Cora being moved back to her crib so she could get comfortable. Taking Lee downstairs so his intermittent crying wouldn’t wake Cora; sleeping on the couch toe-to-toe with him. Abby coming down to tell me that she couldn’t breathe; me dozing back off before she even turned on the nebulizer for her inhaled albuterol treatment. (I love that she’s old enough to do it herself!) Waking up to Cora crying upstairs; bringing her to bed and soothing her back to sleep. Did I nurse her? I don’t even remember. Lee rejoining us; Riah reheating his rice bag; rearranging so they both could be by me…

Awake, asleep. Awake, asleep. This morning Riah reported that he feels rather foggy. I can't imagine why.

When my alarm went off at 7:00 I stayed awake long enough to call the school attendance hotline. Then I went back to sleep…until the children woke me up to save them from imminent starvation.

I wonder when Ms. Nightingale slept.

(Postscript—this morning the pediatrician, Dr. Lampet, proclaimed that Lee has a “real ear infection, not a pretend one.” Good. Now we’ll give him some real

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Funny Man

Lee and I are different. Very different. We have our struggles because of it. But no matter how frustrated we can be at each other, he has one positive trait that is undeniable:

The boy is a crack up.

As parents we're not allowed to have favorites. But it's perfectly okay to prefer one of someone else's brood over their siblings. That's Lee. I've had people say, "Of all your kids, Lee's my favorite." I've also been told, "He makes me laugh. He doesn't even have to do anything! Whenever I look at him I want to laugh." Twice, actually, by two different people.

I've witnessed his gift a few times of late.

I took him to preschool and dropped him off at the door of his teacher's basement. He was hunched over doing his imitation of a robot, because that's the way all preschoolers walk into the classroom, isn't it? Wordlessly and sans eye contact, he had all 5 of the little girls there giggling and tittering because he's so funny. Amazing.

One day last week Riah & I took the younger two to run some errands before the older kids got off the bus. While I was being helped at the counter at Discount Tire I let Cora wander. Enclosed room, lots of windows, nothing to do but walk, touch smelly tires and look out the windows. As I was finishing up, I turned around to see Lee hauling his little sister to me because 'she needed to be by Mom.' I thanked him for being a good big brother and let him know that she was fine and to please put her down. He's a muscly brute, but he still has to lean back to counterbalance the fact that she weighs over half what he does. The lady behind me watched him trudge and stagger across the floor and laughed out loud.

On to Costco.

I've decided that future Costco trips will be during preschool. This time wasn't too bad thanks to the advantageous parent/child ratio. At the register, Riah took the kids & headed out to get a jump start on the car seat buckling. And to get the children out of the store. Mostly the latter. I ended up walking directly behind them out the door. I wish I had a camera.

Strong, broad-shouldered husband, carrying sweet baby with Cindy-Lou-Who hair in his left arm; holding hand of tow-headed 3.5 year-old son in his right. Said son happily walking hand-in-hand with his dad, too-big jeans bunching over too-big black galoshes; big red Spider-Man coat clutched in right arm, blue mittens-on-a-string dangling below, almost dragging on the floor. All the while he's musically moving his voice up and down as his tongue bobs quickly back and forth past the opening of his O-shaped lips, making a cute, typical, untypable sound. (Pretty sure you just tried it.)

The receipt-checker lady watched them walk out, then looked at me. I offered, "We're never bored at our house," which triggered a short conversation as she compared my cart with my receipt. Her end comment was uttered through a laugh: "He's hysterical."

He didn't do anything. He simply walked. And it was hysterical.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Aging awakening

Often when we arrive at the bus stop in the morning I take a moment to zip zippers, put up hoods and make sure that everyone is protected from the elements. It is January, after all. Just yesterday as Lee was running out the door to "go scootering," I intervened to remind him to wear a coat. He resisted strongly, insisting, "But if I wear it, I can't go speedy!!" After that I pulled Alex inside because he wasn't wearing one at all!

I remember wearing shorts on chilly, drizzly days in high school; begging to skip a coat on Halloween because it would cover my costume (blasted late-October nights); and going without a toque (hat) out in the snow because it would mess up my hair.

And that makes me wonder...when did I get old?
Now before I go to the bus stop I put on my scarf, ball cap, heavy coat and gloves. My only concern regarding my looks is yesterday's mascara.

I can't properly pinpoint when I shifted from "nonchalant and cute, but cold" to "who cares what I look like? I'm warm." And I'm not exactly sure what I feel about that.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cursed, blessed Sunday afternoon nap

I love Sunday afternoon naps. I took one today, and limited it to just under 2 hours. I forced myself not to doze back off too many times after I woke up so I wouldn't be up late, un-sleepy.

Didn't work.

I was so pleased with myself that I was getting into bed by 10, tomorrow being the first day back to school after Christmas break. Ah well. Too many things in my brain:

Mmm, bed. Warm. Comfortable. Sleep. Should I tackle Abby's room tomorrow? It'll take a couple of weeks to clean it up and get it rearranged to put Cora in it. No, better do the dining nook/game closet downstairs first.

Roll over

I need to advertise my vacancies first. But the last ads I posted got no hits. I need to visit other complexes to figure out how low I can drop my prices. Hm. Tomorrow would be a great time, because the kids will be in school and Riah's not working. I could go alone!

Snore from beside me.

We should take pictures of us at our 'before' state. How actively do I want to get this weight off? I hate jiggling. Gross. Slim Fast for the intense drop then eating right later? Unhealthy. I'll take the big plates out of my cupboard. Use only the salad plates and no seconds.


What to eat? Buy that program I saw online? No. Maybe just pull out all of the eating plans that we have already--SouthTurboHipHopBeachZone Diet, here we come! Wonder if I can find a Joel Fuhrman book at Half Price Books.


Exercise. Need to do that. Rollerblade tag was fun New Year's Day with the kids on scooters. Maybe I could use the kids' new jump ropes. If I don't get in better shape before I get pregnant again, how miserable will that be? And Riah's sure he'll kick up early if he doesn't decrease his gut.

Cough from down the hall.

Crap. I hope Lee's not getting sick. What bills are due before we get paid? Wonder which is righter: the checkbook or the bank? How long will the spare tire hold out on the van?


Rustling sounds from the crib at the foot of the bed, accompanied by light whimpers.

Snore, followed by a gentle-ish jostling from me.

Irritated "Why?"
"The baby's sleeping lightly and you're snoring loudly."

Deep breathing

Why am I not sleeping? This is annoying. I'm tired, why can't I sleep? Hope the baby doesn't wake up.


Jacob or Edward? Who would I choose if it were me? Edward's got dazzle, but Jacob's good to snuggle.


There are a lot of group camping sites in the state without running water. Wonder why that is. If there's a group of people doing actual tent camping, I'm pretty sure that they'll want water. The vault toilets last year at Fort Flagler were barely less icky than a sani-can, but I can live with that. Water, however, is a must.


Someone recently posted something about putting menthol on foot soles for coughing. I should look that up.


I love aubreyannie's blog. I really like the personalized touches she added. Chicklegirl just made some changes, too. How do I do that? I need to have aubrey over for an afternoon so she can tutor me. I'll bribe her with some sort of yumminess. And a play date for the boys.



I've heard that if you can't sleep that you should write down all the things in your brain and throw them in the garbage or burn them or something. Maybe I should just make a list of things to do. Or maybe just blog them...

So here I sit, 40 minutes later. Only time will tell if it worked. What do you do when your brain won't shut off?

Note about Abby's room:

Abby’s room has been a storage room for the last 5.5 years. Okay a junk drawer. Just last spring we rearranged it so we could fit a twin bed & some cute girl furniture in it. It’s never been her room, per se, but an oversized closet that she sleeps in. Not ideal, but hers. Partially. Before Thanksgiving I was looking for something in the closet that is still full of my stuff—mostly crafts & infrequently used items—and was pulling out photo boxes, projects, etc and putting them on the bed. Curious Cora got to them a few days later. Photo boxes of ordered, unlabeled pictures + Toddler – Lids + Floor = Ugh. It started there and has become my “I’m taking care of it later, so this can go here, too” spot. Ugh ugh. So it’s now the new year & Ab’s been sleeping on the boys’ floor since before Thanksgiving. The new plan is to do a major overhaul, move Cora in there so Abby’s not alone (she hates that) and make it a girl room. The storage stuff will move to my room. (One friend emphatically insisted that I not turn my bedroom into a storage room, which makes sense. Another quietly pointed out that boxes won’t wake me up in the middle of the night. Hello food storage!)