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Sunday, October 31, 2004

And Because I Had Nothing Else Better To Do

I spent some time last night at the Emergency Room.

We went out to eat at a Chinese buffet restaurant. We have eaten at this restaurant numerous times over the past years,and I have never given it a second thought.

But oddly enough as we pulled up to the restaurant I found myself wondering how careful they are in handling their food and preventing cross contamination of foods. I should have heeded my intuition. You see, I have a deadly shellfish allergy, but I have not had a reaction in probably 30 years. I stopped carrying my epi pens around with me quite some time ago and the ones I have at home have expired. I have always been careful of what I ate, but not overly vigilant as far as cross contamination. I guess I have just been lucky all these past years.

But my luck came to an end last night. We ate at the buffet and I remarked that there was more shellfish in the buffet than anything else. The only things I ate were the General Tsao's chicken and friend rice.

By the time we finished eating and went out to our van I was having trouble breathing and feeling nauseous. I sent Rob into the neighboring K-Mart for Benadryl and by the time he came back my mouth and throat were itching. I took the Benadryl and after a few minutes in the parking lot we made the decision to go to the Emergency Room.

There I was hooked up to all the monitors and they used the doppler to check the baby's heartrate just as a precaution. The Benadryl had begun to help some and so the doctor asked if I wanted to start with prednisone and hold off getting the the epi shot. So I took the prednisone and sat around being "observed". After a couple hours, I got to leave, new epi pen and prednisone in hand.

I collected Rob and the kids from the petri dish known as the waiting room. As soon as we got back to the van I wiped them all down with antibacterial wipes I had in my pocketbook.

Today I feel totally wiped out. And not sure how long it will be before I can get excited about Chinese food again.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Better Than Sex

I came across a recipe site today and was browsing through it, because I love to cook so much. Quit laughing. Okay I can't even say it with a straight face.

If someone would come to my house and prep all the food, measure it, and put it out on the counter in those cute little ramikins and then clean it all up afterward I might like to cook. Maybe.

But I was browsing through the dessert section. And I came across a cake that had several different versions, but they all had the same name: Better Than Sex.

Not Almost As Good As.

Not Goes Well With.

But... Better Than Sex.

My interest was piqued. Imagine a cake that is so good one would feel confident giving the name Better Than Sex. I couldn't wait to read these recipes and see what the ingredients were that made these cakes so special.

And I briefly wondered if this was food fit for children. I am pretty sure that I never had an orgasmic food experience as a child.

I read the first recipe and I was disappointed. Not only did it not sound Better Than Sex, it sounded pretty gross and contained things like canned pineapple and chopped coconut. And there wasn't even chocolate in it.

C'mon... no chocolate??? I wondered about the poor soul who had named this cake Better Than Sex. Clearly they were lacking in their sheltered life.

But there were others, so I still had hope. I read the Better Than Sex II recipe. It was sent in by a woman named Ginger, which I can only hope is a pseudonym, for her sake.

1 box French Vanilla Cake Mix
1 carton Frozen Strawberries
1 box French Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix
Cool Whip

Oh Ginger, honey, you really need to get out more.

Then I moved on to recipes III, IV, and V.

At least these three contained chocolate.

The IV one showed promise for a few moments when I read:

While hot, poke all over with meat fork ... and drizzle with
condensed milk... Spread carefully with 1/2 jar of Mrs.
topping. Spread with whipped topping. Sprinkle top with crushed
toffee bars.

Until I realized that the author of the recipe meant I was supposed to spread these things on the cake.

I am wondering what Rob's reaction would be if I greeted him with one of these cakes when he returns home from his trip in a few hours.

'But honey, it's Better Than Sex! Really. I found it on the internet and you know you can believe everything you read online.'

My Life In Numbers

11 the number of "extra" tupperware lids I have

34 the number of socks with no mates I threw away

34 the number of mateless socks I will find next week

2 the number of pair of slip-on shoes that it takes to save my sanity

6 the number of pair of pajamas that are in my 3 yr olds hamper

1 the number of pair of pajamas that he has really worn

0 the number of bags of candy I have bought for Halloween

0 the number of pumpkins we have carved

573 the number of times I have questioned why we began the tradition of allowing each child to carve their own HUGE pumpkin

1 the number of people who do the actual carving

45 the number of times I have said in the past half-hour that firemen do not carry swords dripping with blood

45 the same number of times I have said that bumblebees do not wear "scream" masks

8000 the number of times I have told my eldest that he will not be dressing as a serial killer for Halloween

8000 the number of times I have been told I am the meanest mother in the entire history of motherdom

1oo the percentage of chance I have for not winning the mother of the year award, according to same son

9 the total number of years my eldest son may live

55 number of days left until my due date

55 number of shopping days until Christmas

0 the number of presents I have bought

0 the number of presents I would have left to buy if I stuck to my buy ahead while it's on sale and don't procrastinate because there is a baby coming plan

55 the number of days realistically until I finish Christmas shopping

5 the number of hours until Rob returns home from his trip

2 the number of times I have had to retype this post after blogger lost it

Thursday, October 28, 2004

32 Weeks

Even though I have done this before, I am still amazed at how a body can stretch and change shape to accommodate a growing baby.

And even though I know my belly will get much larger than this in the coming weeks, I can't fathom it right now.

I had my prenatal appointment on Tuesday and all is going well. Gained 4 pounds in the past 3 weeks, bringing me to a grand total of 26 lbs so far. Typical for me is a 45 lb weight gain, but I am so hoping not to get there.

Though, I willingly admit, not hoping quite enough to prevent me from scarfing down brownies recently, as evidenced by the increasing size of the counter weight known as my big fat butt.

If I have this baby on the same timetable as my others I have about 6 weeks left. The only time I have made it to 38 weeks was with my last baby, and coincidentally only girl. I have nothing ready yet, but then again since my first baby I haven't done anything in advance.

I do need to go buy the baby book. Can't stop that family tradition now ;-)

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Please Kill Me Now

Today my older boys had their art class. I am wondering if the teacher isn't quite as enthused as she used to be about all the "boy energy" because she shortened the class to only one hour and 15 minutes, down from 2 hours. I needed to go to Home Depot and had planned to go during their class so that I didn't have to take everyone. But, the shortened class made that plan impossible.

So we dropped them off and came back home to play outside in yard for a bit. Then it was on to Home Depot, at 4:00 in the afternoon. A time which any parent knows is the beginning of the witching hour. It is so NOT the time to begin running errands.

Rob was supposed to pick the window up this past weekend, but didn't feel like waiting around forever while they brought it from the storage area to the front desk. Oooookay, sounds like a much better idea for *me* to wait around forever with children. Not like they will act up and get into things and knock over displays or anything.

They bring the window up to the front desk and I marvel at the sheer size of this window. It is HUGE. I knew how big it was going to be since I measured and ordered it, but I have no firm grasp of spatial relationships. I went to Home Depot with no doubt in my mind that this window would fit into the back of my van. Afterall, the van is enormous, we know people in NYC who live in apartments that have less square footage.

But standing there looking at the window in person I realize that this most likely will not fit into our van. I should have aborted the mission right there, but I was still hopeful.

And so I waited for someone to help me bring this window to the van. And waited. And waited. After 15 minutes I asked again when the man was going to come and put the window in my van only to be told that the lot boy would be in to work in 10 more minutes. Clearly customer service is not a high priority at this Home Depot, since there was a group of orange aproned men standing around talking and laughing while I stood there. I pointed over to them and asked if any of those able-bodied men could help only to be told that they worked in the departments and were here to assist customers inside the store. Yes, it did appear they were doing that.

After an eternity had passed and my children had earned and been given their awards as the poster children for birth control, an actual employee of the store came to bring the window to my van.

To make a long painful story short, it would not fit. No way. No how. Even if I strapped a few kids to the roof.

So back into the store with the window we go. Oh the fun just never ends.

Rob will have to go get the window himself this weekend afterall. Poor guy. I hope they don't make him wait long. (yes, that is sarcasm)

And because I have obvious masochistic tendencies, we headed over to Wal-Mart. My 3 yr old decided today to be a fireman for Halloween. I already had the costume in our big bin of costumes, but the hat that came with it was way too small. I never thought he had a freakishly large head for his size, but the hat looked like a doll hat perched atop his big melon head.

I would have laughed over it, but he was very upset and screaming that we needed to buy a new one that fit him. I thought for sure Wal-mart would have a plastic one.

Strike two for me today.

Not only did they not have one, I had to deal with a 3 yr old tantruming through the store that he needed a fireman hat. I tried to convince him that another costume might be nice, like the nice red dragon one. But he is stubborn and three years old, and therefore devoid of any reasoning ability.

I put it in the cart anyway as a back-up costume since it was pretty cute and cheap enough. And as we walked through the store, in search of item number three we needed, he kept grabbing it and throwing it on the ground and stomping on it.

I just kept pushing my cart, smiling, trying to appear composed and in control. Most likely though I looked like some sort of lunatic.

And item number 3 was a bust as well. There were no more pumpkin carving kits to be found. Sigh. So now it will be me, my kitchen knife, and my pitiful imagination.

Strike 3. I know when to go home.

But not before I drop $100 on stuff I didn't know I needed. It's like a cover charge. Only instead of paying to get in like a bar, you have to pay to leave.

And now I am sitting watching baseball with my boys, trying hard to be properly enthused, cheering and high-fiving since Rob is away. But boy I find it hard to get excited about sporting events when I'd much rather be in bed reading, yes even if it is the Red Sox.

The Best Part Of Baking

We like to live on the edge, salmonella and e-coli be damned.

We will eat our uncooked batter off of the beaters, the spatulas, and scrape every last bit out of the bowl with our fingers.

And then I will commence licking my baby. Because she is just so sweet.

And if I can't control myself I might just eat her right up. Starting at her chocolately cheeks and continuing right down to her chubby toes.

My 7 yr old loves this poem and recites it whenever I say that the baby is so cute I want to bite her.

Someone ate the baby.
It's rather sad to say.
Someone ate the baby
So she won't be out to play.
We'll never hear her whiney cry
Or have to feel if she is dry.
We'll never hear her asking "Why?"
Someone ate the baby.

by Shel Silverstein

(And as a side note to Annalise, the book A Light In the Attic, which contains this poem, is on the top 100 banned books list for reasons including that it promotes cannibalism. I know it gave me the idea to gobble up my baby ;-))

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Laundry Large Family Style

This is about a weeks worth of laundry for my children. My clothes are in the washing machine and Rob washes his own clothes, which is what happens when you are anal retentive and complain one too many times about the way your clothing was laundered ;-)

In the picture you can see the smaller than normal laundry baskets that each of my children have, minus the baby. They are all labeled with their names. In a perfect world I wash their clothes and fold them right out of the dryer and into their respective baskets. Of course, more often than not, the stars are not perfectly aligned and the laundry piles up on the counter before I get around to folding it. I have found that this system makes it easy for the kids to put away their clothing by themselves.

On the counter is the white wire basket where I put all the kids socks. It is a wire drawer thing that I keep in our mudroom closet. Keeping the socks near the shoes makes the most sense to me since my kids only wear them when they are going out somewhere. They would all rather die a gruesome and painful death than walk around the house in stocking feet. And they are not allowed to wear shoes in the house, yup I am mean like that.

My huge pile of mismatched towels is also perched on the countertop waiting to be put away. I have been wanting to get the kids monogramed towels for a few years now so that we could cut down on the number of times I have to wash towels in a given week. They are just so darn expensive that I find it hard to justify buying towels when I have perfectly good ones in the linen closet to use.

I am considering buying them as Christmas presents this year. I can just imagine their joy and the gleam in their eyes when they open those up on Christmas morning.

"What a towel? As a present?"

"What's in the next package? Underwear?"

"It's just so... so... useful"

"Useful? Stupid is more like it."

"I don't even like towels."

"Maybe it transforms into something?"

"Maybe Santa ran out of coal."

Ah yes, the perfect gift it would be.

Try to ignore the blue painters tape in the picture. Sigh... I am still trying to finish up with all the painting that needs to be done. Now if I had a friend like this, maybe it would be done already ;-)

You can admire the slate tile floor I installed myself though. I know I have already talked about it ad nauseum. But there is just so little in my life at this point where I have any tangible results to show for work I have done.

Friday, October 22, 2004

To Wash A Floor

You would think that with several college degrees between us and being above average in the handiness department, or so we like to think, that installing a new mop head onto the mop would be no big deal. In fact, you would think that using the word "install" would be a bit of an exaggeration. Most people simply "put" the new one on.

But no, not us. We wrestled with the mop and the sponge head for almost an hour. We took turns trying to get the thing on, because it looks so easy to do when the other person is struggling with it.

I even dug the wrapper the sponge head came in out of the garbage to read the instructions. Who knew that instructions would even be needed for such a simple task. I wiped it off and we huddled over it on table, trying to figure out what we could possibly be doing wrong. According to the 3-step instructions and diagram, we were doing exactly what we should be, yet it still would not slide into place.

After about 30 minutes I gave up on the mop. The amount of time it had already taken had far exceeded my interest in having a clean kitchen floor. The floor is so ugly anyway that having it clean does little to improve the way it looks.

But not so for my husband. He was a man on a mission to have a clean kitchen floor. And finally, after an hour of pinched fingers and intermittent swearing... success.

And as he began mopping the floor I sat down to watch him holding my baby daughter. And I said to her, 'Take notes. When it comes time for you to get married make sure you get one who will do housework.'

And without missing a beat, Rob spoke up, 'And make sure that he has a much lower threshold for dirt than you do, so that when faced with the choice of having heart palpitations or mopping, he will chose to mop your floor.'

And because I can't stand to not have the last word I said, 'And, baby girl, if your husband ever makes such an egregious error as calling it your floor, when you are 8 months pregnant and exhausted from schlepping his children around all day, it would be grounds for justifiable homicide.'

Thursday, October 21, 2004


Scene: Five year old banging on the piano

Five year old: Do you recognize this song that I am playing?

Three year old: Give me a hint.

Five year old: It is by Ti-coffee.

Three year old: Try coffee?

Five year old: Noooo, Ti-coffee.

Three year old: Mom likes coffee.

Five year old: No, no, no that's the name of the composer. He wrote this music a long time ago before he died.

Three year old: Did he die from drinking too much coffee?

Five year old: I don't think so, but I am sure he liked it. All old people do.

More unrecognizable banging on the piano.

Five year old: This is called the Nutcracker.

Three year old: not crackers? (uncontrollable giggling)

Five year old: (sighs and turns to look at him) Your just three, when you are five like me you will understand.

Three year old: Yeah. (long pause) I like crackers, don't you?

A Trip To An Art Museum

The three monkeys:

I have brought my children to many museums over the years, but never to a museum dedicated to just artwork. Yesterday we kicked off our homeschool art class with a field trip to a museum of American art. The woman who will be teaching the art class works at the museum so she arranged a tour and art project. The children all loved it and she was able to discuss the artwork with them in a way which brought the dialogue down to their level, but still treated them as though they had brains and real thoughts.

They toured the museum for about an hour and a half, I wandered off after about 15 minutes with my younger children who couldn't grasp the concept that it was not a hands-on museum. We walked through the rest of the museum in record time, since 3 and 1 yr olds don't want to linger anywhere. Luckily there was a children's art corner set up with books and craft supplies so we were able to kill most of the time in there.

We took a lunch break and picnicked at a park across the street. The children all ran off their excess energy. Actually I should say *boys* ran off their excess energy as there were 9 boys signed up for the class and NO girls. There was a completely different feel to the class than the pottery class my 9 yr old takes where he is the only boy with 8 girls.

After the lunch break we went back inside the museum and the children made their own art projects in the style of a local artist who uses found objects and items from nature for his pieces. They were all quite pleased with their projects which involved working with various types of wire.

Now to find a place to hang all these wire creations.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

New England

I took this photo of my street while standing in front of my house this morning. It seems to be typical glimpse of what the area I live in looks like. Very old growth trees that hang over the road like a canopy, old stone walls, white picket fences... in fact the house across the street from us, that the picket fence belongs to, is some kind of historical landmark from the early 1800's.

I'd guess that about half of the leaves have turned color and fallen by now. The weather has been quite cold the past few days. And today it is raining and cold.

The kids have a soccer game tonight and I am really, really hoping it will be cancelled. I so do not want to stand out there in this with all the non-soccer playing kids. And to make it worse the sun is setting earlier and earlier. Last night it was already quite dark when I picked them up from practice at 6:15. I am not looking forward to changing our clocks back. I find darkness at 4:30 quite depressing. I guess that scratches Alaska off as a place I would consider living.

Update: Well the soccer game was cancelled, though no one bothered to call and tell us this, or return our phone call. Instead we found out after I had warmly dressed all the kids, found the soccer players some thermals, gloves and acceptable hats to wear with those paper thin t-shirts and shorts, and loaded them all up into the van.

Then we drove to the soccer field where we sat in our van waiting for others to arrive. I was pretty sure upon arrival that the game must have been cancelled since we are never the first people anywhere, but the children insisted we wait until 15 minutes past the official start of the game. They kept saying, but maybe everyone is running late. Yes, that is likely, 30 or so other families all simultaneously, coincidently running late.

Somehow the whole thing was my fault. What a thankless job this motherhood gig is sometimes.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

True Love

Tonight I put the kids to bed, got myself a snack, and sat down on the couch with my laptop. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something. I was pretty sure it was a mouse, but since I didn't get a good look at it I was still able to convince myself it was something else... a toy, a ball, a shadow.

It doesn't really matter to me that those things cannot move all on their own accord. I'd rather live in the Poltergeist house than have to deal with a mouse.

But then the damn mouse had to run back across the room and I actually saw him. My fantasy was ruined.

And so I screamed.

I know I have mentioned my wimpiness before here. Yes, I am the sort of mother who would jump over her child while fleeing a room with a flying rodent. But, in my defense my husband was right there and I really thought he was a more able-bodied hero than I. Honestly. No really, I did think that as I vaulted furniture and jumped over her small head screaming. That's the story I am sticking to.

But back to my blood curdling scream. My 8 yr old son came running downstairs to see what was the matter. Did I mention that he is my favorite son?

When I told him I had seen a mouse he sprang into action. He gathered up mouse traps and baited them with me. He even promised to get up early in the morning and dispose of the traps for me, providing that I give him rubber gloves, a face mask, and some tongs. What for you ask? I asked too.

To protect him from the deadly diseases and germs that the mouse might be carrying, of course. I guess I may have gone a bit overboard while explaining to my children why we couldn't just let the mice live in our house like pets.

My heart about melted.

I looked at him and thought, this is my reward for all the wet toilet seats, potty humor, burping contests, dirt, and enough energy to power a small third world country.

I have heard that boys go and marry girls like their mothers. I hope mine don't. They deserve so much better.

And then I told my son that I didn't know if I had rubber gloves or a face mask, and that I didn't really want to use my nice salad tongs to pick up dead mice. He looked me right in the eye and in a very serious voice said, 'Then you'll have to get rid of them yourself.'

Did I mention I am in the market for a new favorite son?


If you had a double sink in your kitchen would it be wrong to bathe the baby in one half while washing dishes in the other half?

Or would it be an example of a mother who has learned the art of multi tasking?

Hypothetically speaking, of course ;-)

Saturday, October 16, 2004

This Is My Life

This afternoon I was playing on the floor with the kids. I really had to get up and go pee, but in deference to my inner 5 year old child, I put it off until it was almost an emergency.

I ran to the bathroom, shut the door, pulled down my pants, dancing around the entire time.

And then I realized that one (or possibly more) of my boys had peed all over the seat.

I was faced with a decision to either dance around and clean up the toilet seat, hoping that I had enough bladder control left, or to hover over the seat. I chose to hover. Being 7 mos pregnant and having given birth to several children, the bladder control situation seemed iffy.

And as I squatted there I simultaneously came to the realizations that 1) I had sunk to an all new low by having a toilet in my house that was not fit for using, and 2) this is my life.

I didn't know whether I should laugh or cry.

But before I got a chance to decide I lost my balance and my big butt flopped right down on the wet toilet seat.

I sat there for a few moments in disbelief. Now this was an all time new low.

And I did the only thing I could do. I laughed, because really it was funny.

Friday, October 15, 2004


Rob is away for a long weekend, flyfishing in northern Wisconsin.

Where it is snowing.

Where he will hike several miles through the woods from the last dirt road, the last outpost of civilization, where the car is parked, carrying his gear. Did I mention the frigid temperatures?

Where he will be standing in freezing cold rivers up to his chest.

Where he will most likely be fighting frostbite and hypothermia.

Furthermore, no one is forcing him to do this. He is doing this willingly

This is his idea of fun.

What exactly is fun about this?

This greatly differs from anything remotely related to my idea of fun. My idea of fun does not involve fish, being cold, being wet and cold, or risking losing body parts I am rather accustom to having, to the cold.

In general, my idea of a fun get-away involves sleeping, sunshine, sleeping in the sunshine, and as little physical exertion as possible. Throw in alcoholic beverages served by a tan cabana boy, a good book, and planned activities for all the kids...well that would be perfection.

Rob and his best friend go away on these fun-filled trips a couple times a year. I never mind when he goes simply because it sounds like pure torture. You really could not pay me enough money to endure such torture.

Then this morning he mentioned that he wasn't looking forward to being cold and that maybe for their next trip they would go somewhere tropical instead.

Now that idea I may have a problem with. That sounds like it could actually be fun. Can't be letting that happen now can I?

And so I said, 'I think you are getting soft in your old age.'

And in doing so I have ensured that he will keep up these trips of frigid torture at least a few more years, just to prove me wrong.

Yeah, I am mean.

71 Days Until Christmas

And the reason that I know this is today I have 70 days left until my due date.

It is so soon and an eternity all at once.

Anyone who has ever been pregnant knows exactly what I mean.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Like Shoveling During A Snowstorm

When I was out running errands on Sunday, euphemism for hiding from my family, my husband and kids raked the leaves in the front of the house. They loaded up several tarp fulls of leaves and dragged them to the way back of our property. Please keep in mind that 90% of the leaves have not even turned color yet, much less fallen to the ground.

So when I came home about three hours later the first thing I was asked was how did the front yard look. I honestly had no idea why they were asking me this other than I *did* notice that all the toys were put away. I didn't have to swerve a single time to miss scooters, skateboards, Cozy Coupes, bikes, balls etc. There was not one piece of neon colored Little Tykes apparatus to be found.

So I answered, 'You guys did an AWESOME job cleaning up all the toys. Wow!'

They looked at me puzzled and asked, 'But what about the leaves???'

'Uh, they look really nice too. All those colors...'. Though I sensed this was not where they wanted me to go with this.

Then the story poured out of them...the rakes, the tarps, the multiple leaf blowers, the enforced child labor ;-)

Even Rob was incredulous. 'We worked so hard on the yard, can't you tell at all?'

Uh, not really, because in the amount of time that they had been finished and gone inside the lawn was again covered with leaves.

I wanted to remind him that it was the same thing as when he comes home from work and I tell him I am exhausted from taking care of the house and kids all day. And he looks around the house with that look of what the heck did you actually do all day. Not that he would ever say it aloud. He isn't that brave ... or stupid ;-) But the 'hmmm' along with the raised eyebrows and head nod is clear enough.

But I have to admit that I sometimes wonder also. There are days where I literally never sit down and I go from thing to thing to thing, and then at the end of the day I look around and it looks just the same as when I began in the morning.

It is a mind numbing exercise in futility.

It is different laundry waiting to be put away, different dishes waiting to be unloaded from the dishwasher, different toys littering every corner of the house, different muddy footprints leading from the mudroom through the house, different pee all over the toliet seat, different crumbs waiting to be swept from under the table.

And like the leaves, unless you were the one who experienced it, you can not explain the amount of work you did because there is literally nothing to show for it.

Today there was one of my 3 yr old son's Rescue Heroes that I kept putting away. I have no idea how he kept getting out of the container he lives in because I never actually saw anyone playing with him. But after stepping on him and tripping over him for the gazillionth time, I opened the front door and threw him outside. Clearly he was trying to escape the insanity.

I screamed, 'Save yourself, Billy Blazes. Run, Run!'

I shut the door to see my 3 yr old looking me. My kids better never come to me and say I didn't scar their delicate psyches equally.

And to prove my theory once again that only those children who are not old enough to do a chore effectively are willing to help, here are some pictures of my younger children raking, using the leaf blower, and in general spreading the leaves around the yard. Note the lack of any children old enough to actually be helpful.


Here is a picture of my one year old daughter standing in the shade, trying to cool off from the warm sunshine after a morning of strenuous raking.


You can't see her?

Where's the baby?

Oh there she is peeking up at me.

Yup. Huge just about sums it up.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


This week for science we are study volcanoes. The kids have been wanting to build a "real erupting volcano" for a long time and for some reason I have been putting it on the back burner.

Well, not just some reason. Truth be told, I dislike projects that make a huge amount of mess. Paper mache is just a bit too messy for my liking and I have visions of a volcano exploding ala Brady Bunch style, although inside of my house.

But this weekend I was at TJ Maxx and I spotted an all inclusive make-your-own volcano kit. It contains a paper mache like substance that just requires you to add warm water, knead it up like bread dough, and then shape it into a volcano shape. Let dry, paint it up if desired (which of course it is), and then put the stuff in to make it "explode". Now this is a volcano for me, or rather my kids.

So yesterday the kids made the volcano.

Afterward we watched our Eyewitness: Volcano video. My 3 yr old then became very concerned that we had a volcano in our house. He kept asking me if it was a "real" one and would it burn him and knock our house down. Unfortunately for him, the sarcasm of his older brothers is lost on him and he believed their joking around. I reassured him that the one we made was a pretend one, but I am not sure if he believes me fully since he kept eyeing it suspiciously through out dinner.

We have several books to read about volcanoes, the structure of the earth and it's shifting plates, as well as a documentary of Mt St Helens. I also printed off some worksheets I found online.

I am thinking, however, that we will refrain from reading the book on Pompeii in front of the 3 yr old. Poor kid has enough to worry about already.

Monday, October 11, 2004

I Have A... Ceiling

Only those who are living in houses that are being renovated or restored can appreciate what a BIG deal this is. Not only is there sheetrock, but there is sound proofing insulation between the ceiling and the floor above. Now we can have loud all night long wild parties without waking up the children.

Not that we ever *do* have wild parties. But that's not the point, we *could* now if we want to. And that makes life so much less stifling, just knowing you have options ;-)

Rob spent most of Saturday hanging sheetrock on a ceiling 10 feet high in the air. Not a fun job by anyones estimation. He also ran new electrical wiring for the two bedrooms above the family room. We are glad to be rid of the extension cords that were hardwired in and then stapled along the outside of the walls. That's not a fire hazard now is it?

He also put the heating duct work inside of the ceiling joists, where it had previously been running along outside of the walls. No idea why it was like that since they had at some point installed one of those really lovely drop ceilings, you know the kind you see in poorly done offices where white acoustical panels fit into a suspended metal frame, so clearly there was enough room in that gap. Maybe they just liked seeing the galvanized metal pipes?

I went to order a picture window for the room. There is one really long wall...maybe 20ft?... that has no windows on it, but really should. It looks odd and dark on that side of the room.

Obviously the previous owners thought so also because they hung a HUGE wall sized wall paper mural of a forest/waterfall scene. I guess they thought it was a better view than the one actually outside the house. Everyone who has come to our house and seen it has been speechless. It is one of those things for which there are no words.

In looking at the windows, I realized that there were so may options I was confused and had to come home to decide. I took out the blue painters tape and taped up the size window I think will look good. Now I just need to make it back to the store to order it.

On Sunday night we stood out there in the room and I said to Rob, 'It almost looks like a room now... you know if I squint and jump up and down on one foot I can see the room it wants to be.'

And here at our house, that is quite a compliment.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

It's Tough To Be One

My one year old is very vocal. She talks, talks, talks constantly. Unfortunately, most of what she says we can't understand. So, we nod at her a lot and narrate whatever we think she may be talking about. Sometimes I think we get it right, but then there are other times when she looks at us with utter contempt.

Tonight we had the following conversation:

Her: Wan ba-ba

Me: You want your bottle?

Her: Nooo. Wan ba-ba.

Me (checking again): You want your bottle?

Her: NOOOOO. Ba-ba!

Me: You want a water bottle?

Her: Nooooooo. ba-ba.

Me: You want your blanket?

Her: Nooooooooo. ba-ba.

Me: Barney?

Her: No

Me: (trying again) Bottle?

Her: (looking at me like I am the dumbest person in the world) NoooooNooooooNoooooo.

Me: Baseball? Do you want to play ball?

Her: (pausing briefly, giving me false hope) Nooooo.

At this point I was desperately trying to think of all words that had a "B" in them that she would know and would possibly want so desperately at that moment.

I threw all the words out to her and she began screaming No, No, No over and over and over again. All the while she was giving me a look like good God woman can't you understand anything I am saying.

I enlisted the help of the not-so-helpful others.

With them it was determined she did not want a bath, barbeque, brush, beanie baby, baseball bat, or baby.

No trip to Bermuda, Bahamas, Belgium, or Alabama, though the same cannot be said for the rest of us.

She did not want to listen to Bach, Beethoven, or the Beatles.

She didn't want a bug, bag, bb gun, billy goat, barnyard, or bubble gum.

No butterflies, Barbies, bean bag chairs, bagels, or baked beans.

And most definitely she did not want a bottle, and how dare we keep suggesting it to her.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity playing baby charades with a screaming baby. I spotted the fruit bowl.

Me: Banana?

Her: (frantically nodding her head) Shah-shah.

I gave her the banana and there was much rejoicing all around. The screeching had ended. Mostly we were all hoping that the blood oozing from our ears would now subside and our hearing loss restored.

I wiped away her little tears and was so happy that I was able to figure out what she wanted. She took one bite of her banana, looked at me with her big beautiful brown eyes and said, "All done"

Me: You've got to be kidding.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Feeding The Masses

Annalise posted a picture on her blog yesterday of her dinner on the table ready to be eaten by her family. It looked so yummy that I have been thinking of roasted vegetables ever since (along with the lemon meringue pie Sue mentioned a week or so ago)

But my first reaction on seeing the food, was that it looked like an appetizer for my family. ;-)Having a large family I guess I have just slowly become accustom to cooking huge quantities of food. I have forgotten what a "normal" sized family meal looks like.

So tonight I took a photo of one of our normal meals: a 6QT crockpot full of beef stew, salad made with 2 heads of Romaine lettuce, and two loaves of garlic bread. I don't have nearly as nice a presentation as Annalise, because I am lazy. Just kidding. Truthfully, most of my children are not old enough to serve themselves anyway. Salad and bread they can do, but anything hot I generally prefer to keep off the table lest someone burn themself, or someone else.

The children thought that it was very funny I was taking a picture of our food, especially when they all grabbed bread off the plate as I was trying to take the photo. In the words of my 7 yr old, 'What did you put the food on the table for if you didn't want us to eat it?'

Animals I tell you. I live with a pack of wild animals.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Counting The Days

The weather has already begun to turn cooler here and the heat has turned itself on quite a few mornings. The number of days we have left to lounge about outside in the sunshine are numbered. Sigh.

Today was one of those days. I had the older kids do a bit of their semi-independent schoolwork in the morning and then we spent the rest of the day outdoors, not doing much of anything special, just enjoying the day and living in the moment.

Overall, it was a great day. One of the ones you just want to bottle up and save on a shelf somewhere, and take it down on a freezing winter afternoon when you haven't been able to go outside and play in 3 weeks and everyone is ansty and fighting with each other.

The children rode bikes, rollerskated, rode their skateboards and practiced "tricks" on them, while I cringed at the prospect of them getting injured. Every once in awhile I would throw out, "I am not going to the Emergency Room today... I mean it". Because I am mean like that, and I do mean it ;-) I counted how many times they could bouce basketballs without stopping, how many times they could jump on the pogo stick without falling, how many times they could hop on one foot. I timed races and measured long jumps. It was like our own track and field olympic event.

Thankfully after a few hours of that they got tired and began doing more sedate things that didn't require so much counting on my part. I have found that when you are counting you can't really do much else like read, hold a conversation, or even walk away to use the bathroom.

My younger boys got out their watercolors and painted many reams of paper. This is a photo of my 3 yr old practicing the first letter of his name. It is an "F" in case you can't tell ;-)

The 3 yr old also timed me going to use the bathroom. Apparently it took me eleventy-sixty minutes.

The bench he is painting on is the one we got out of the trash a few weekends ago. A perfectly wonderfully, already broken in, wooden bench that I have been using as a somewhat coffee table on our front porch. My 9 yr old was horrified at the very idea of us bringing it home. He kept saying 'It is garbage! Someone had it and thought it was yucky. So they threw it away, not gave it away. That means it is garbage!' We tried to explain to him the idea of one persons trash being another persons treasure, but that only incensed him more, since this clearly was NOT treasure. Sheesh, treasure is gold afterall <insert eyerolling at stupid parents who know nothing>

I am sure this has already made it to his spreadsheet. I can read it now: Not only did my parents get stuff out of the garbage, they put it right out on the front porch for everyone to see.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The Picky Eater Strikes Again

Last night for dinner I made Rachel's peanut butter chicken. My kids LOVE it, even the picky one. As he was eating it he told me that I should just put peanut butter on everything I make, because it is really good at hiding the disgusting taste of the rest of the food. LOL

Then this morning for breakfast I made rice pudding. He had eaten about three-fourths of his bowl when he realized that it had rice in it. (Um, there is a reason it is called rice pudding.) he threw his spoon down and screamed, 'I hate rice'. I reminded him that he loved the pudding a few moments ago and had happily eaten most of it in his bowl. And he looked at me and said, 'But now I know the rice is in there. I can't like it anymore because I HATE rice! I can't just forget it is there!'

There's kid logic for you.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

You Are Huge!

Got my first one of those today. I was shopping with my three youngest children, the others were in their weekly pottery class, and the saleswoman asked me when I was due. When I answered around Christmas, she screamed, "Oh my, you are HUGE!!! And you still have so far to go."

I really had no idea how to respond to it. LOL, it doesn't seem like a compliment though. In the past week or two I have seemed to grown a disproportionate amount. I left behind that oh-so-brief point in pregnancy when you look like you are just hiding a ball under your shirt, and have rapidly approached the beached-whale-I-think-she's-going-to-blow-up point.

What was funny though was when she asked me if all *three* of the kids were mine. When I said yes, I was hit with, "OMG you are going to have four children. Are you crazy? Four Kids?!?!" I didn't mention the other kids that weren't with me for fear she would have died of a heart attack right there behind the counter and then who would have rung up my purchases.

I had my prenatal appointment today and all is going well. I did have to deal with the annoying nurse who is on a power trip yet again. This time she yelled at me, yes actually raised her voice and reprimanded me, because I left my urine sample in the "wrong" bathroom. She told me that if I was going to use that bathroom "way over on the other side of the office" I should have carried the sample over with me.

Nevermind the fact that I had to sit in the waiting room waiting for my appointment for a good 15 minutes after I used the bathroom. I guess I should have sat there holding the cup of pee. Wouldn't that have delighted my fellow waitees.

Also had to take off my really heavy shoes again before I got weighed. I wonder what she would do if I told her I couldn't untie them myself, due to my extreme hugeness you know.

Soccer, Soccer, and More Soccer

Last night my two oldest sons had a soccer game, the first of four scheduled for this week, seems slightly excessive for 8 and 9 yr olds but ...whatever. Even more excessive is that the team we were playing against is 45 minutes away. Doesn't that seem just a bit far away? None of us parents can figure out exactly when the kids are supposed be eating dinner. The games start at 5:30, so it is too early to eat before and by the time you arrive home after the games, they are half crazed with hunger. Luckily we don't have to worry about fitting in the hour or so worth of homework that the school kids have.

My boys did really well. I was proud of them, especially my 8 yr old. Things come extremely easy for my 9yr old. He is very smart, extremely athletic, and quite cute looking. Personality wise he is tough (for lack of an another word that would be remotely nice ;-)), I am hoping that he is going through some sort of pre-puberty angst that will soon pass, but he has always been quite selfish and completely lacking in empathy. It is just that now it seems magnified. This is the same child who when we arrived home from Florida and I was UNPACKING THE VAN presented me with a tally sheet of money I *owed* him and wanted to know when I would being him to a store to spend it.

My 8 yr old, on the other hand, has all of the same wonderful qualities, but he suffers from ADHD and extreme anxiety. And yes, suffers is truly the right word. His anxiety can be debilitating for him at times, even on medication. When he feels anxious about things he rages, displacing his anger onto anyone who might be near by. It is difficult to parent him.

I was saying to my husband last night, that of all of our children I lose my patience with the 8 yr old the most. He, of all the children, would have reason to come back to us as an adult and tell us what crappy parents we were. But he won't do that. Underneath it all, he is a sweet caring person who forgives and moves on easily. On the other hand, my 9 yr old probably has a speadsheet he is already working on of all the trangressions he feels we have committed against him.

Anyway, last night my 8 yr old did awesome at the soccer game. He was playing a defensive position and he did a great job not letting the other team by him and getting the ball away from them. He didn't get upset once, which is a big deal for him.

After the game he ran over to me with a huge grin on his face. I could tell how pleased he was with himself.

I wanted to say Yes, your older brother might be the "star" of the team, running all over the field and scoring the winning goal, hi-fiving all his team mates, but your achievements in this game were no less spectacular. Not all achievements can be measured in such concrete terms as goals scored. Most things we accomplish in our lives are not met with thunderous applause and cheers, and often times no one else knows we are achieving anything but us.

But I didn't say any of that.

Instead I simply said, 'You are awesome.'

Sunday, October 03, 2004

A Weekend of Fall Activities

Yesterday I did my monthly run to BJ's. I was good and shopped with a list and a menu plan in my head. I didn't deviate much from the list and ended up spending about $250, which is about what I expected for 2-3 weeks of food. Today I went to the grocery store to buy the rest of the things we need and spent about $140. All totalled I probably have enough food for meals for us for the next 3 weeks, with additional runs to the store for produce and milk, eggs, bread stuff. I am hoping to stay under $700 for the month.

I also had to get the older boys new sneakers and soccer shorts, and popped into Stride Rite to get the baby some new shoes. I felt like the worst mother when they measured her feet and I realized she was wearing shoes that were a full size too small. Guess that's why she didn't like them much ;-)

Today we were supposed to go apple picking. The orchard that we usually go to does not have any more picking this season, so we were going to venture to one that is much farther away from us. Rob decided this morning that he'd rather not, to put it mildly. I think his reasons involved the words "rather be hog-tied and dragged along behind the van". Yes, our 3yr old has been *very* three lately.

Instead we went out to breakfast and then to a local pumpkin patch for a hayride and to pick out our halloween pumpkins. Seventy dollars later we had pumpkins. I almost died when she told me how much they were going to cost. But I really felt like dying later on when I saw equally wonderfully pumpkins for sale at the grocery store at 3 for $10.

We came home and did some of the fall chores around the house and yard. I have found a really good rule of thumb for determining if your children are old enough to help do a particular chore. As soon as they are old enough to effectively do the job, they no longer have any interest in doing it all. What this means is that I have lots of willing eager helpers who are under the age of 5.

I hate to admit it, but it really tries my patience to have people "helping" me, who are really making even more work. I try hard to keep in mind that it the big scheme of things it really isn't important that it be done perfectly. But if my 9 yr old, who was using the leaf blower, blew dirt and leaves onto the front porch I was cleaning with my 1yr old and 3 yr old "helpers" one more time, I was going to explode.

Rob took the everyone but the baby for a late afternoon hike. The hike was deemed too difficult for me by my 3 yr old. LOL. That was fine with me. I got in the quick run to the grocery store for the last items that I needed and had food ready for dinner by the time they got home. All in all it was a fun and productive weekend, a balance that seems difficult to achieve most weekends.

Friday, October 01, 2004

And How Could I Forget...

the most aggravating of all the change of season rituals.

The dreaded seasonal clothing switch-a-roo.

And trying to go through all the bins of clothes and decide what sizes everyone will be wearing for the season, who needs new clothes and winter coats and boots, and trying to figure out *why* clothing that looked perfectly nice when packed away 6 mos ago now looks horribly worn and stained. I ended up filling two large trashbags with clothes to bring to the Goodwill. I am just so darn tired of looking at the same clothes year after year on yet another one of my boys.

I only need to buy three winter coats, although I may just let the baby wear the snowsuit as her winter coat this year, two new pair of snow boots, two new pair of snowpants, and new shoes all around. (I don't hand-me-down shoes) Land's End has my beloved Squall Parkas on clearance for about half price so I went through all the things a bit earlier than usual, hoping to get them on sale.

See what you people living in terminally warm climates miss out on ;-)

Fall Rituals

Every season seems to have it own rituals that mark the passage from one season to the next. For us, fall is marked by the fun things like picking apples, going on a hay ride, picking our own pumpkins at the pumpkin patch, and also the not-so-fun things like cleaning up the yard and getting it ready for winter, emptying out all the flower boxes and flower pots and putting them away until spring, emptying pool, and doing some house maintenance, which this year means me painting another coat of paint on the new sunporch addition.

Also it is the time of year when we pre-buy our heating oil for the season. UGH. $1.59 does NOT seem like such a great bargain. It is .50 a gallon more than we paid last year. We are looking into buying a pellet heating stove for our familyroom which would supplement the heat to the back portion of the house. I am hoping that we could keep the thermostat set lower for the rest of the house, although we do keep the house pretty cool to begin with.

So this morning I am going down to our oil company and hand over my first born in exchange for heat this winter. Well, at least I would if they would take him, but surly know-it-all 9yr olds are not such a hot commodity ;-)