Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dieting Dilemmas

The last few days have been a bit stressful, but not due to children. Or missing husbands. No...the stress stems from a visit to the veterinarian, with our poor portly kitty who has gotten so big, she has been having issues. The issues aren't with her health, per say, although I'm sure that is effected as well...no, our poor kitty can't reach around her belly to clean properly. This creates issues for all of us. She is one of three cats that we own, so for the sake of simplicity, I shall refer to her here as "Fat Cat," and the others will be "Normal Cats."

They began by weighing her. Now, let me start by saying that Fat Cat used to be very skinny. She was tiny, and sleek, and could leap tall counters in a single bound. We coaxed her onto the scale, and it read just under 20-pounds. She is supposed to weigh around 10-pounds. Needless to say, the recommendation was to put her on a diet. This is all well and good, but when you have two other cats who do NOT need to go on a diet, the situation gets more complicated. My sister, who came along with me, struggled to carry my cat as I paid the bill. The woman at the counter looked at the sheet, and then looked at me.

"Your cat weighs twenty pounds??"


"Oh...wow...I was thinking maybe they made a mistake when they wrote that down..."

We brought Fat Cat home, whose bottom was now looking a bit like a baboon (they did a sani-shave...to help with the cleaning issue.) She was not happy.

I started separating the cats during feeding time. This did not go well. Fat Cat refused to eat the new food the first day. Instead, she desperately tried to get into the old food, which we have in a big plastic bin. She tried knocking it over. She tried prying the top open. She tried chewing a hole in the bin.

Dinnertime came. Connor ate most of his cheeseburger, but I wasn't quick enough to clean up what remained...I looked over and saw a black and white paw come up from under the table and begin to drag the burger over the edge. I caught it...and Fat Cat gave me an evil glare before waddling into the shadows.

Day two did not go much better. She did nibble at the new food a little bit, but mostly tried to find ways to steal other food. I also think she began plotting ways to kill me.

Day three slowly got better. I have gotten good about being on top of the kids to take care of their dishes, and Fat Cat is finally starting to eat some of her food. Normal Cats are just confused. They don't understand why there isn't food in their bowl 24/7, but happily eat whenever I feed them.

I also bought a cat tower (it isn't very big, as it turned out,) on clearance. The cats in the picture on the box all fit nicely on all three levels. So, either my cats are seriously huge, or they used kittens for the pictures. Poor Fat Cat...if she manages to lay on the top level, her sides spill over the edge and the whole thing kind of teeters back and forth. The oldest Normal Cat sits on top of it like a huge gargoyle. The young Normal Cat isn't interested in the slightest.

I especially feel bad when I sit there, while Fat Cat is shut in the other room with diet food, eating chocolate when I know that I could seriously stand to go on a diet myself. And then I think, "Fat Cat...you're LUCKY. I wish I had someone to force me to eat healthy." And then I go grab a beer, because seriously...diets are stressful.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Fire Bad, Beer Good

My husband has been on a business trip...for almost four weeks now. He has been able to come home on the weekends (arriving late Friday night/early Saturday morning and then leaving again on Sunday afternoon.) If you have read any of my past posts, you know that when Bruce leaves for more than a day it is the equivalent to what happens when the mogwai eat after midnight in the movie, "Gremlins"...everything turns ugly and chaos ensues. I also start monologuing about depressing stories from my past like Kate. Like the time I had to drive up north with all five kids without Bruce and...oh wait, I already told you that story. Did I tell you about the time I fed the kids after midnight?

While Bruce was home briefly for the weekend he did something crazy. Now, let me preface this by saying my husband NEVER does anything crazy. He is afraid of anything new or different...or new. He likes routine...and avoids change at all costs. This is why I had no concern with sending the boys with him to get haircuts. I'm not sure why he did what he did...maybe because the stylist was cool, decked out in tattoos and a rockin' beard. Maybe he figured, "what the hell, I'm out of here this afternoon, so I can't get in TOO much trouble." Maybe he just wanted to make sure the boys were happy before he had to leave again. Maybe he was drunk. Whatever the reason...he decided to let Owen get a mohawk. He did tell me that the stylist offered to fix it for free if I was upset. My baby boy, who had long, shaggy hair, came home looking like this:

Owen was so happy, I didn't have the heart to tell him that I don't know what we would do for school...because in Michigan right now we are going through a bit of a deep-freeze where you HAVE to wear a winter hat. So, unless we find some wrap-around ear muffs, the kid is going to have a floppy mohawk. After dropping off the boys (Connor also had a tiny faux hawk, but it could easily be a normal haircut once washed,) Bruce promptly left for Ohio.

Today the kids had no school. This is becoming the norm here, because with this crazy winter they have had eight snow days in the last month. Today was not a snow day, though, just a "Professional Development" day. What it really means is one MORE day that the kids are home and driving Mom crazy because they are bored and miss school. 

The morning began with me waking up to find poop...all over the bathroom. Owen tells me that he "tried" to make it to the bathroom, and didn't quite make it in time. He "finished" in the toilet, but had to clean up afterward. So...there were about fifty poop-smeared wipes in the trash...poop smeared on the seat of the toilet...and for some reason, poop smeared on the floor. This conjures up a mental image of my son doing the butt scoot on the floor to try and wipe off the poop...like a dog. I'm not sure that is an accurate interpretation of what happened...but it seems like the most probable explanation. 

Shortly after the massive bathroom clean-up, we discovered that a cat had vomited in the hallway. Luckily the dog helped clean some of it up, because what could be better than eating cat poop? Eating cat vomit. This is why I do not like it when dogs lick me. So, I cleaned up what Onyx didn't, and made sure my coffee was extra strong. 

Later, I sent the kids up to clean their bedrooms. Irelynn told me she needed a trash bag...so I went to get one from under the kitchen sink and realized they were all wet. The pipe was leaking, and everything was soaked. I sopped up the water, and promptly called someone to come take care of it, because we have dealt with this on and off for awhile now...and Bruce always temporarily fixes it and tells me NOT to call a plumber. Well...Bruce isn't here...and I need a working kitchen sink. Luckily someone came and it was fairly simple. This, as it turned out, was actually the least frustrating part of the day.

Remember the trash bag I sent up with Irelynn? I remembered later, too, and went upstairs to get it and gather up more trash to put in it from upstairs. Not too long after I was cleaning up, Irelynn came upstairs.

"Mom...I kind of dropped a tissue in the candle."


"Um...I dropped a tissue in the candle."


"Not anymore."

I ran downstairs to find a tissue...all black, laying in the center of a huge, round scorch mark on the carpet. Irelynn was fine, thank goodness, and needless to say we had a very lively discussion regarding fire safety. I asked her why she would have had a tissue near the candle to begin with (the tissue box is no where near the candle,) she replied, "um...I was trying to clean the black part off of the inside of the candle." While it was lit?? I'm guessing it was actually that she was curious about the flame and was messing around to see what would happen. My mom asked me if it was difficult to be angry knowing she was trying to "help." Actually, it was not difficult to be angry. Especially after seeing the carpet. I was thinking, "you're one of my 'smart' kids! Seriously???" I didn't say that, of course, but I really was shocked that of all the kids, she was the one who stuck a tissue in fire. The kid with the mohawk...I'd expect that from him.

I will say that I'm fairly proud of myself for surviving this long. I think it's because I actually lost my sanity a long time ago. At this point I kind of chalk it up to "just another day in the Sawdon household." I figure, bedtime will be soon, and I have some beer in the fridge. That reminds me, hopefully the kids won't have a snow day tomorrow, because I need to get to the store. We're almost out of milk, bread and beer.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Longest Business Trip

I believe it is Murphy's Law that states, "when your husband goes on a business trip leaving you alone with the kids, something will break, someone will get sick, or the dog will shit in the house." I could be wrong on that, but I'm pretty sure it is something to that effect.

This has been the longest business trip yet for Bruce...broken up by a brief return home on the weekends. Three weeks, total. I have, for the most part, been managing fairly well. I've kept up on the day to day activities...made sure the little ones have done their homework, planned out the dinner menu, and managed to actually bathe the children once in awhile. However, there is inevitably something that trips me up, sending me into that downward spiral of shame where I start using sarcasm on the five-year-old, feel my eye begin to twitch and find myself rationalizing that "it's 5pm somewhere." To my credit, I have waited until bedtime to actually crack open a beer...but it has taken a great deal of will-power.

Yesterday seemed to be the culmination of things that happen when Bruce is away on a trip. And they all seemed to happen within the span of about 15-minutes. We had just finished dinner, and needed to do the "Home Alone" rushing to the airport re-enactment of getting ready to go to Taekwondo.

"Where's my belt?"

"I don't have a white shirt...wait...yes I do."

"No, I will put the bo staffs in the car...stop before you poke someone's eye out!"

The boys were wild. When Connor gets wild, he does this little thing where he throws up. I don't know if it's due to those early years of horrible reflux, or if he gets motion sickness from his own motion...but he threw up. Then the dog decided to pee all over the floor (which he hasn't done in a very long time.) Then the washing machine decided not to washing machine anymore...which I decided I could deal with later. Except for the fact that it was Connor's bedding, which he had peed on the night before and kind of needed that night, so I was really hoping I could get it into the dryer before we left. No such luck.

After squishing all of the kids and gear into the vehicle, we managed to leave the house...and realize we were out of gas. I think a special shout out needs to go to the Polar Vortex for making my evening even more memorable as I stood outside pumping gas in my Taekwondo uniform.

Somehow we survived class, and made it home with almost all of our gear (I believe we left a board there.) The kids finally went to bed.

This morning wasn't too bad...other than Owen now waking up covered in his own pee, causing us to rush around after an impromptu shower, and a long discussion over the cutting of the toast into certain geometrical patterns that must be done with precision so as not to bring on Owen's Hulk-like personality disorder. He is a charming child, really...very amicable. But you do not want to see him angry.

We are only half-way through the second week. I think today I am going to have a long talk with the washing machine, and then go buy some lunch and surprise Irelynn at school (who has been asking for a lunch date for a week now.) Hopefully between that, and spending dinner with some good friends tonight, I can get back to feeling like I can handle this again. At least until the next incident involving bodily fluid or one of the kids singing "What Does the Fox Say."

At least I stocked up on beer.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Child's Perspective

I haven't updated my blog in awhile, and as I thought about different things I could write about, I realized that maybe a conversation my youngest children had the other day would be worth sharin. I wrote the following as a Facebook status, and received a lot of positive response:

The three younger ones were having a discussion this morning about Martin Luther King Jr. It was so cute and sad to hear history from a child's perspective.

Owen: "People with black skin even had to use different drinking fountains. And go to different schools. But it's okay, that's not a true story."

Me: "Owen, it IS a true story. Things really were like that at one time."

Connor: "That doesn't make any sense."

Me: "No, it doesn't."

They went on to talk about how Martin Luther King Jr. helped to change that...and how they can't even imagine having some of their friends go to a different school because of the color of their skin. They listed several names of friends who they never would have had the chance to meet. The whole conversation puts things into perspective...whether you are talking about race, sexual orientation, or beliefs...in a child's eyes, we are all human, and discrimination "doesn't make any sense." People aren't born with hate...we learn it. I wish everyone could see the world that way.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

That Creepy Elf...

I have been avoiding the Elf on the Shelf for the last few years. I see people posting pictures, and sometimes it seemed cute and funny...but mostly it just seemed creepy. The thought of a little doll that moves around at night and watches you to see if you've been naughty or nice would have given me nightmares as a child. I think it would have freaked out the older children, too. Marissa had a doll given to her by her grandmother one year...it was very...realistic. The doll terrified her. She asked me to remove it from her bedroom...so the doll ended up in the corner of the hallway, until it scared ME one night coming out of my bedroom. With much guilt, we finally decided the doll must go. I think we waited a few years before we admitted to Grandma that her loving gift had terrorized our family.

Irelynn is a different child. She thrives on magic...and everything has a life of its own. She encourages magic, and wonder...and at times, creepiness. She claims to have ghost friends who take her through magic portals at night. While part of me is in awe and loves her imagination...I'm not going to lie, part of me is a little freaked out at times. Needless to say, upon hearing about the Elf on the Shelf (and who hasn't?) she started asking for one. She wrote me letters. She won't let it go in my room. I can help name the elf. She will keep an eye on it for me. After her pleas did not work, she turned to the elf itself. Someone told her that if you write a letter to the elf, it will appear. My child is nothing if not determined.

We now have an elf.

He showed up this morning. I read the book to the three younger kids, explaining how the elf flies to the North Pole at night to report to Santa on their behavior. Then it was time to name the elf.

"I know...Chris!" Owen was proud of himself.

"No, it's a girl," said Irelynn, "I think it should be Elfie or Lollypop."

"How about Tiberius?" Bruce is never going to give up on that name. He WILL find a way to honor Captain James T. Kirk.

The kids glared at him.

Irelynn replied, "I doubt elves even watch Star Trek."

Connor, quiet this whole time, piped up.


I looked over at him and said, "do you mean 'Schnitzel?'"

Connor shook his head "no."


"Yes," he said, "Snitchel."

Irelynn looked at him, shocked, and said, "Connor! That's not very nice! He's an ELF...he has to report to Santa!"

Connor just smiled.

The final decision was Elfie Schnitzel (pronounced "Snitchel.") Now I have to start coming up with creative ideas on what to do with her (Irelynn assures me that Elfie is a girl.) The idea of an elf causing mischief and then reporting to Santa on the children's behavior seems a little wrong to me...so our elf will have to be silly without causing trouble.

I suppose I should enjoy these years where the magic is still alive in the home. I don't have much inside me...but Irelynn is finding a way to squeeze it out, little by little. Who knows...maybe by Christmas I'll think that Elfie is actually kind of cute. Doubtful...but stranger things have happened.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Destruction of Spyro

I do not normally spend much money on Halloween costumes. I have a difficult time justifying spending a good deal of money on something that will barely make it to Halloween, let alone past the holiday. Through the years we have used hand-me-downs, gotten creative, or *sometimes* bought particular costumes through Craigslist. This year I broke down and spent $30 on a Spyro costume. I'm not proud. However, if you could have seen Owen's eyes light up when he saw his favorite character hanging on the wall in between Batman and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle...I'm pretty sure you would have caved, too. You see...for some reason, Owen loves Spyro...and all the Skylanders. We do not own the game. He has never played it...nor has he seen the show (I hear there's a cartoon...I'm not even sure if that's true.) We are actually quite baffled as to how he KNOWS about Skylanders, let alone why he's obsessed with them. Spyro is his favorite, though...with his birthday money he bought a small stuffed Spyro...and sleeps with it every night.

Connor saw a pirate set that included a sword (I think the real reason he wanted it,) an eye patch, a gold hoop earring, and a hook. This was much cheaper, and we can get creative with the actual outfit, so I was okay with this choice.

Irelynn decided to be a fox. The costume, I have to admit, is pretty stinkin' cute. However...I'm also ashamed to say that I spent only *slightly* less money on the fox costume. The reason she wants to be a fox is because of this song:

She is also contemplating gathering some friends and creating a dance routine to this song and performing it at the school talent show later in the year. This is why I caved and bought my daughter a fox costume.

Back to Spyro. Owen was so excited to get this costume...he wanted to try it on right away. You see where this is going. Connor also had to try out his pirate stuff...and weapons in the hands of either boy always ends in disaster. The Spyro mask was on the couch...and I'm not sure what prompted the act of violence. Perhaps the boys were arguing? Or maybe Connor was just testing the strength of his sword, not thinking it would actually do damage? The sword came down...and the mask cracked...into several pieces.

I should have known better, and put the costumes up somewhere safe until Halloween. I just thought I would let them try them on for a few minutes...and a few minutes was all it took to ruin Halloween for Owen. We then began the search for a Spyro mask. Apparently, unless you order one online, you cannot buy just the mask anywhere. Luckily Bruce found a mask on Amazon, and ordered it promptly...which brought the total cost to just over $40 for a Halloween costume...for a five-year-old.

I'm pretty sure that Owen will be Spyro for Halloween for the next three years. If he doesn't want to be Spryo...that's okay...he can be a fox. (The fox costume is actually a dress with leggings...but it's okay...I'll convince him it's a Scottish fox.)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Super Glue, Duct Tape and Public Nudity

I was hoping over the summer I would have more time to update my blog. As it turns out, having five children around you every.waking.minute does not give you any real opportunity to sit down and write. Well, I could have written, but I don't think it would have been very coherent. My typical day anymore seems to involve breaking up arguments, cleaning up accidents (of all varieties,) watching the food disappear in the house at an alarming rate, and covering my ears with my hands while singing, "LA LA LA LA LA...I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" These are in my better moments.

I was actually starting to think, now that the kids are getting older, will there be much for me to blog about? The boys will be turning five in September...FIVE. They will be starting Kindergarten. No more babies. No more toddler antics. Just when I thought maybe I've run out of content...the SEVENTEEN-year-old managed to super glue Connor's Angry Birds piggy bank...to my kitchen counter. In his defense, he was trying to fix part of the piggy bank for his little brother that had broken off...but how he managed to get super glue all over the piggy bank, therefore cementing it to the counter...is beyond me.

The Angry Bird's butt now firmly a part of the counter.

The antics are not purely limited to teenagers. I think our entire family manages to entertain both the instructors and students at Tae Kwon Do. This cycle involves using a bo staff. During class, we were practicing our strikes on the bags, when suddenly a loud "crack" came from Bruce's direction. He literally snapped off the end of his bo staff. I did a face palm, shook my head, and proceeded to (more gently) strike my own bag. Suddenly..."CRACK." My bo staff split right in the middle. The instructor decided that perhaps the class should move on to the next segment of class. Bruce was able to get a replacement bo staff...mine has been fixed with duct tape. 

Our family also amuses Donatello.

Even getting ice cream is still an adventure with this family. We decided to take all of the kids down to the local ice cream stand. This was after I had driven my mom across the state to take her back home, so Bruce was responsible for taking the little ones to Irelynn's friend's birthday party. Apparently during the party, Owen had an accident, so he was going commando under his pants. I want to stop right here to say how lucky I am to have a husband willing to take three small children to a birthday party at the house of someone he doesn't even know. I can only imagine him trying, by himself, to gather the kids to leave...and then deal with Owen's accident. So, anyway, after the party, he picked up the teenagers from the mall, and met me back at the house (I had just gotten back.) We went down to the ice cream place and sat at the tables outside, enjoying our cones. Well, most of us sat at the tables. Inevitably, the younger ones get up and run around. Owen was the culprit this time...not only running around, but deciding to try and climb on the fence at the side. I turned to look, and there was my son...hanging from the fence...with his pants around his ankles. Facing traffic on a major street. Again...the kid was not wearing anything under the pants...so his pasty bottom was glaring in the sunlight. 

After attending to the child, he decided to run around some more, causing a few more episodes of public nudity...and then him tripping and landing, face first, into a wooden bench. We cleaned him up, with me going back and forth on whether it warranted a hospital trip (I was reassured that mouth injuries heal quickly and he was probably fine.) He did end up with a very fat lip, but I think the only real damage that took place was to his ego.

I see that my daughter keeps peering around the corner at me...through binoculars. I guess my writing time is up. Hopefully once school starts I will have more time to update my blog. The kids, for the first time, will all be in school all day. While the thought of that conjures up images of me dancing around the house, taking long naps, going to the bathroom in peace, and reading books that involve plot lines that don't rhyme or involve barnyard animals...I'm pretty sure that this will be a pivotal point in my life. I will have to figure out what it is that I actually want to do...like...enter the REAL WORLD. I'm pretty sure my dusty Communications degree will not be so significant now that I've been out of the workforce for ten years...and all of that great video technology I learned back in the day would be deemed archaic now. I suppose I have some time to figure things out. Now I guess I should focus on the child who just threw his bedtime Pull-Up at his brother.