Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fruit Loops and Crotch Tags

* Names have been changed to protect myself.

My boys were lucky enough to be awarded a scholarship for preschool this year, which was the only way we could afford to send two kids to preschool at the same time.  They were very excited.

The preschool they are attending is a Cooperative preschool...which, for those who don't know, means that it is a joint effort between parents and staff to run the school...which means the parents are required to be put on rotation to help in the class on a monthly basis.  Their first full day happened to be my work day.

I have done the Cooperative thing before with Irelynn...but it was with slightly older children.  The difference, as it turns out, is quite significant between 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds.  Think Toy Story 3...the Caterpillar Room versus the Butterfly Room.  That is actually a pretty accurate depiction of preschoolers of the two age groups.  I was dealing with the Caterpillar Room.

The first thing the other helping parent and I were assigned to do was to man the project table.  At this table we were to take cardstock with the children's names written on them, put glue on the letters of their names, and let the children glue Fruit Loops to the paper.  Now, before I continue...does anyone see what problems might arise with this project and 3-year-olds? 

First I bring over *Anthony.  I excitedly tell him what we are doing.  He stares at me...smiles...and begins eating the Fruit Loops.  As it turns out...most of the children wanted to just eat the Fruit Loops.  Except my Connor.  Connor wanted to eat the Fruit Loops...and see what else he could glue to the paper...namely his arm.  We had to pry the paper off of him a few times. 

Owen came over and began attaching his Fruit Loops to the letters.  I am suddenly proud.  MY child is the only one who is not trying to eat the cereal...he GETS the project.  My smart little man is carefully following directions.  I smile, as the other parent is obviously noting the intelligence and creativity my child is exuding.  I look at the names we have left.  We still need *Billy to come do his name.  I set off in search of Billy.

I am glancing at name tags, and find one child who doesn't seem to have one.  Upon closer look...he does, in fact, have a name tag...hanging from his crotch.  Now,  at first glance, I am picturing this kid as being quite confident, naming his crotch and all, but as it turns out...Billy is very sensitive.  Billy cried at everything.  He cried when playtime was over.  He cried when the teacher read a Barney book (to be fair, I almost cried myself.)  He also cried at snack time when someone asked if he was going to eat his granola bar.  Right now, though, Billy wasn't crying, and followed me to the table.  There I found Owen...my bright child...with tears in his eyes. 


I look at him, his eyes watering, and his mouth pursed, like he just ate a lemon...or perhaps a jalepeno pepper.  I see the other parent smirking.  I look down at his paper...which now has no Fruit Loops.  My son did his project...and THEN ate the Fruit Loops...glue and all.  He began to cry. 

By the end of the day, the teacher had them (mostly) sitting on the carpet, repeating her song (with Billy in tears.)  The grown-ups came to collect the kids, and the teacher and working parents breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Needless to say, I am looking forward to dropping the boys off on Thursday and leaving them there...without me.  While it was quite entertaining at times, I deal with enough 3-year-olds on a normal basis here at home...where the cereal is left for eating...and the glue is hidden.

Monday, September 19, 2011

We Interrupt This Blog...

...to bring you a blatant plea for votes.  I normally hate to ask for votes...or for people to buy stuff from my children's fundraisers...but I'm really hoping that I can get a few more.  Parents.com is hosting a parenting blog contest, and this blog has been nominated.  So far the person in the lead in my category has over 600 votes.  If you click on the icon on the right of the screen, it will take you to where you need to vote...voting ends October 15th.  Thank you!

Spiderman and the Litterbox

"EW!  MOM!  EW!"

This is never a good thing to hear when you realize you have lost track of your children. 

I walked (quickly) back to the laundry room, where I found the two boys facing each other, looking down at a puddle on the floor between them.  The kitten, looking confused, was on the floor to the side, making movements to try and cover up the puddle with the small trail of cat litter that was on the floor.  Owen's pants also looked wet.

"Owen...what happened?  Who did that?"

"Maggie did it.  Ew, Maggie."

I stared for a minute, wondering why Maggie would have peed on the floor...she has never gone outside the litterbox before.  Then I glanced at Owen's pants again.

"Owen...did you pick Maggie up while she was in the litterbox?"


Commence the explanation of where kitties go potty and why you should not disturb them.  When I finished, I asked if he understood.

"Yeah.  Bad Maggie."

The thing that makes moments like this tolerable is the fact that they can also be quite cute and entertaining at times.  Such as their enthusiasm for Halloween...which I'm not even sure they completely understand, other than they get to dress up like their favorite super hero, Spiderman.  Both boys decided they want to be Spiderman this year.  I bought the costumes, and despite numerous attempts to explain to the boys that they should save them for the holiday, they broke me down.

"Pweeeeaaaase, Mom?   Pwease?  I Spiderman?" 

Those big eyes.  The use of the word, "please," (which is very rare.)  Mom...melting...

I didn't know what I had gotten myself into.  The boys refuse to take the costumes off.  They run around making web noises.  They only answer to "Spiderman."  They cry when I make them take them off for such things as leaving the house, bathtime, or bedtime.  I've created little mutant monsters.

They're pretty cute monsters, though.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Big Bang Theory

I have this theory about children.  I began pondering this strange phenomenon with the older children when they reached Middle School.  I would go to a parent/teacher conference, bracing myself for what would surely be a lecture on behavior, attitude and listening skills.  Instead, the teacher would make a comment like, "your child is very quiet and respectful."  I would then ask if we were, indeed, talking about my child...because this quiet, respectful child would come home and throw his or her school stuff on the table or floor or couch and commence making rude comments or arguing with his or her siblings.  I began wondering why my children obviously suffered from some sort of Jekyll and Hyde syndrome.

The twins have started preschool.  Yesterday was their first day without parents there.  Every time the phone rang, I was certain it was the school, calling to tell me they had destroyed something, scaled something and wouldn't come down, or knocked another child unconscious with a Thomas the Train engine.  There were no calls from the school, however, and when I went to pick them up they were both sitting quietly at the table looking...sweet.  The assistant teacher told me how well-behaved they were...how they cleaned up at clean-up time and were the first to sit down when instructed.  I looked down at my boys, who looked at me with wide, innocent eyes. 

Upon returning home, the pixie dust that teacher must have sprinkled on them wore off, and Owen was throwing a temper tantrum because he wanted to go anywhere but home.  He screamed.  He hit Connor.  He threw his beloved Iron Man action figure, which Connor then picked up and took off with, causing Owen to explode. 

Connor found much delight in this, and began terrorizing his brother, and his older sister upon her return home from Kindergarten, who suddenly had the attitude of a 16-year-old.  All chaos broke out.  Children were jumping on the couch...pillows were being flung across the room.  The noise level had me concerned about neighbors calling the cops.  I called my husband...or maybe he called me...I don't remember...but I do remember telling him that I was not making dinner that night.  While all of the chaos was going on, our oldest son had gone upstairs to take an hour-long crap.  Our oldest daughter was in her bedroom.  My husband, being the kind, understanding man that he is...brought home dinner.

I'm beginning to think that children have this strange ability to conceal their powers of badness...they squeeze it into some small, unused portion of their brains and hold it there while at school.  Perhaps it is because even at a young age, they are socially aware and realize that they do not want to draw attention to themselves.  Perhaps teachers have some strange voodoo that they perform, causing children to want to please them.  Whatever it is...this badness becomes bottled up during the day.  By the time they get home, they can no longer contain it....and BANG...they explode. 

I am currently in talks with the military on how we can use this powerful weapon against our enemies.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I'd like to think that if I assign each child a colored pen and meticulously write down every school activity, doctor's appointment, sports practice, open house, friend's birthday party and due dates for fundraisers that I will have an organized, orderly life.  The reality is that it is still chaos...it is just color-coded. 

This fall marks many new beginnings for the Sawdon household.  We put an offer in on a house, and are not so patiently waiting to hear any progress on the excruciating process of buying a home listed as a short sale (which, by the way, is totally deceiving...it is anything but short.)  Both teenagers are in high school this year, and shortly after the new year the oldest will turn sixteen.  Irelynn will be starting kindergarten, and my babies will be starting preschool.  The past couple of years have been spent anticipating the days when all of my kids were finally in school.  I am currently a mixed jumble of emotions:  relief (I'm not going to lie, getting a break from Captain Destructo and his sidekick, Chaos Boy, will be nice,) and sadness, reflecting on how quickly time has gone by and how my babies are no longer babies. 

This whirlwind of emotions and changes also bring an enormous amount of activity...I have already been bombarded with paperwork and fundraisers.  We have to squeeze in back-to-school shopping, soccer fees, the boys' 3rd birthday party, and all the things entailed with trying to buy a new home.  Our beer budget is dwindling. 

During all of this, I am still pulling the boys off of the top bunk, sweeping cat litter that they threw on the floor, explaining to Irelynn that we do not call the dog "that damn dog" when we are angry and begging Owen to watch something other than Dora.  Oh, and pulling poor Maggie out of the big plastic cat food bin after the boys have sealed her up in it. 

Okay...yes...I am definitely ready for school to start.  Even if it means colorful chaos...because at least that chaos is on paper, and not in my living room...kitchen...dining room...and bathroom.  Did I mention the boys are potty-training?  That adventure will have to wait for another blog entry...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dogs and Cats

I should probably take a lesson from the numerous plants I've killed over the years...I'm not good with living things.  Unfortunately, explaining the loss of a pet is much more difficult than a plant to a child.

Tiberius started to fit into the family...befriending Irelynn, and claiming his spot in our bed at night.  He had issues with his food, but other than that, he was a happy, affectionate dog.  When we drove across the state for Bruce's family reunion, we brought him with us to leave at my parents' house while we went to the reunion.  Unfortunately, Tiberius had other plans.  Soon after we left, the next time the door opened he shot out and ran off.  After weeks of searching, posting "missing" ads and posters, and pleas on Facebook to watch for him...we got a call from our vet, letting us know that he had been found.  He had been hit by a car, and had not survived.  To make matters worse, this followed in the wake of the death of our cat, Samson, who had a long battle with cancer.  I had to explain to a five-year-old not once, but twice, why she would not be seeing her pet again.  I don't know who's heart broke more...her's or mine.

On the last search for Tiberius, I had come home with a new family member:  Maggie.  Maggie was a barn kitten who latched on to me while I was out there (or perhaps it was me who latched onto her...I'm not sure.)  Jay, though he thought she was cute, was disappointed that I had come home with a kitten, and not a dog. 

We did find a new dog...an 8-month-old Lab/Boxer mix.  After a long debate over names, most of them Harry Potter-esque in nature, we finally decided on something entirely different:  Kenobi. 

Kenobi has settled right in, and the kids are in love.  Hopefully we will have better luck with our newest members of the family.  I think I'll avoid plants for awhile and just focus on the animals. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Announcing Our Newest Arrival

After a great deal of thought and consideration, we decided that five children were not enough.  Our family didn't quite feel "complete."  Perhaps it was the fact that two of the children were up north with their grandmother and we felt lonely.  Maybe it was the fact that the twins are no longer babies, and it saddened me to see them getting older.  I think that the main reason, though, was that a certain friend of mine kept putting irresistible pictures online of these sweet little ones that needed adoption.  Whatever the reason, I had made a decision:  we were getting a dog.

My husband, who initially thought that perhaps he had underestimated the extent that the children had driven me insane, decided to support my decision, but not without a good deal of research first.  So, we spent the next hour online looking up shelters and the available dogs, as well as what breeds were good for families.  He stumbled upon the American Eskimo.  I quickly found one online that someone was getting rid of because he was alone and needed to get a second job, therefore leaving the dog home alone all day and evening.  I called and he said we could come out to see him...in Hamtramck...that evening .

We loaded the three younger ones into the van, and set out on the nearly two-hour journey to go meet the dog.  Upon arrival, we realized the address I had was to a flower shop...in a neighborhood that was not one you would probably want to be in after dark.  I called the guy's number and asked if he lived in the apartment above the flower shop.

"Oh...you're there?  Um, do you see a BP gas station?"

"Uh...down the road?"

"Nevermind...how about I just meet you where you are?"

He hung up and we waited.  I started to wonder what I had gotten us into.  After a few minutes, a car drove up, and I was relieved to see a furry white dog in the back seat.  I got out, and the dog wagged his tail and I pet him...and with Bruce's approval, decided that this was our new dog.

We got him into the van (with a little help from his previous owner,) and set off for home.  He was not thrilled.  He whimpered.  He tried climbing on Bruce.  He got smudges all over the passenger window from rubbing his nose on the glass.  About halfway home, we decided that we had better see if Irelynn and the new dog needed to have a potty break.  Bruce pulled into a rest area. 

After the dog peed on every tree and bush he could find, we walked him back to the van.  Then, what happened next, was probably one of Bruce's less intelligent moments.  Before getting the dog into the van, he removed the leash.  The dog took off.

The next several minutes consisted of Bruce and I running after the dog.  He circled the rest area, doubling back and ran around the trees.  Irelynn was hot on my heels as I tried to sneak around the other side of the restrooms to confront him.  Bruce tried enticing him with leftover chicken nuggets that we still had in the car from the ride to Hamtramck.  No luck. 

As I chased the dog around the restrooms, again, feeling as though my lungs were going to burst, I envisioned the dog running off into the sunset.  I rounded the corner and a guy was standing outside the men's room, looking at me warily as I held the dog leash and doubled over, wheezing.

"He just ran into the men's room.  Do you want me to see if anyone is in there?"

I nodded, unable to speak yet.

He went in, and I had Irelynn stand next to me, blocking the exit.  The guy went in, which made the dog want to run out...and I finally caught him.  I attached the leash, and removed him from the men's room...but not before he took a giant crap on the floor.  Awesome.

The remainder of the trip was uneventful, and despite his initial hesitation, the dog has quickly become part of the family.  He has turned out to be very affectionate, and has decided that Irelynn is his best friend.

I also kept good on my promise to Bruce:  though I would not let him name one of our children Tiberius, if we ever got a dog, he could give that name to the dog. 

Welcome to the family, Tiberius...and good luck.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gotta Love Freecycle

As I was perusing the Freecycle ads for my area this morning, I stumbled upon this:

. OFFER: 2 FREE CATS Lansing

Posted by: "victoria48912" victoria48912@gmail.com victoria48912
Mon Jun 27, 2011 4:32 pm (PDT)

OFFER: 2 FREE CATS @ 1 year old. One is male, blonde fur and eyes to match, GORGEOUS and loving. named BABY SIMBA. One is female , CALICO, honestly ..VERY UGLY ..we named her UGGERS. but shes a NICE NICE KITTY , She has 2 extra PAWS ( not toes ) actual extra PAWS , and huge owl eyes and skinny tail , real ugly but a GREAT CAT..

we are moving and can not take them but do not want them to go to pound . They are indoor cats and only eat dry cat food, if you take both I will also include automatic cat box .please message me for photos or more info

Is it wrong that I want to take them just for the automatic cat box?  Poor ugly kitty. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

And I Thought the Kids Drove Me Batty

The night began with a grueling attempt to keep the boys in bed.  The teenagers were upstairs watching the much anticipated movie, "My Baby-Sitter is a Vampire." Irelynn was winding down, and we finally put the second boy down. 

We heard a scream upstairs...followed by more screams, and then the teenagers came running down the stairs.  Before I could say, "THE BOYS ARE SLEEPING," Marissa blurted out, "THERE IS A BAT UPSTAIRS!!!  It swooped down at us!" 

"A bat?"

"Yes...while we were watching a movie about VAMPIRES."

I looked at Bruce.  He looked at me.

He said, "what do you do about a bat??  Your family has dealt with bats before...what did they do?"

"I don't know...but I think it involved hitting them with blunt objects."

My family has had bats before.  It is well known throughout the family, because at almost every get-together the bat story inevitably comes up.  My mother does her bat impression to illustrate the story.  It involves curling her fingers, baring her teeth and making a strange hissing sound.  We love to bring up the bat story just for the impression:  "Mom...what did the bat look like again?"

Bruce stared at me, waiting for me to make a decision.  I told him to go find a box.  I cautiously walked up the stairs.  As I reached the landing I nearly had a bat in my face as it swooped down at me...I ducked just in time.  Irelynn was halfway up the stairs.

"I want to see!"

"No, Irelynn...you stay downstairs!"

I crouched down and entered the sitting room.  I saw an empty diaper box on the floor and picked it up.  The bat was gone.  I cautiously started checking the bedrooms.  I didn't see it in Jaylond's room...or his closet.  It wasn't in the bathroom.

"Where are you??"  Bruce had made it upstairs with a box.

I told him it wasn't in our room, the bathroom, or Jay's room.  That left Marissa's room.  I went in, nervously glancing around.  Bruce stayed by the doorway, clutching his box.  He was definitely going to let me take the lead on this one.  I glanced over at him...then above him.

"Well...I found the bat."

Bruce glanced around nervously.  "Where???"

"Above you."

He looked up.  Hanging upside down from Marissa's doorway, the bat looked...well, cute.  Bruce took a few steps back.

"Now what?"

I brought the box up and tried to catch it...but it flew back into the sitting room.


We followed the now swooping bat into the sitting room, swinging our boxes around...both as a defensive measure and an attempt to catch it mid-flight.  I made contact.  Unfortunately it was with the outside of the box, knocking the poor bat down in between the entertainment center and the desk. 

I glanced down.

"I'm sorry!  I didn't mean to hurt it!"  It was clutching the powerstrip on the floor.  Bruce handed me Marissa's lacrosse stick.  I tried to nudge it into the box.  Suddenly it opened it's mouth, showing tons of tiny, sharp teeth and then it made a horrible noise...and a vision of my mother came into my head.  She was right.  In fact, she did a damn good bat impression.  Bruce recognized the sound, too...but not because of my mother.

"That thing was in our room last night!!!  That is what the cat was chasing around...I think it landed on our bed at one point!" 

I remember him waking me up because of the sound.  I remember Dobby chasing something around...but I told him it was probably some weird bug, just go back to sleep.  My bad.

The bat did not like me nudging him.  And he would not pry loose from the power strip.  Finally he flew straight up and over me...and landed in the middle of the carpet.  I swung the box down and trapped him. 

"I got it!" 

"Now what?"

I told him to go find a piece of cardboard so I could slide it under the box.  Jay came up with a paper bag and I slid that under first...but it wasn't quite big enough.  Bruce found a better piece of cardboard, and I slid that under.  I picked it up and told everyone to get out of the way, I was going to take it outside.

Bruce shook his head at me.  "What are you, the f*cking Crocodile Hunter or something?"

I then did my best Steve Irwin impression.  It was terrible.

"Ain't she a beauty?  We have here the rare, elusive house bat." 

I walked outside and everyone gathered by the front door to watch as I walked out to the curb.  I removed the cardboard and saw...nothing. 

Bruce, standing safely by the door, said, "you DID catch it, didn't you??"

I heard a noise.  I opened up the paper bag, and the bat crawled to the outside.  He hung there, and I lifted the bag so that the kids could see.

"Can you see him, kids?  He's right here..."

The bat let go.  He flew...right toward the front door.  They stood there with their eyes wide.

"CLOSE THE DOOR!!!!" I yelled.

The kids screamed.  Bruce slammed the door.  Irelynn put her hands in the air, and ran, screaming into the living room.  The bat swooped up and disappeared into the trees. 

Needless to say, it took awhile to settle everyone back down and get the boys back to bed.  The older kids also expressed no further desire to watch the vampire movie. 

I wonder if I'll start doing bat impressions when people ask me about it? 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Twins Take On The Laundromat

I think I might be cursed.  Everytime my husband goes on a business trip, something inevitably goes wrong.  Very wrong.  The children react to this disturbance in the Force by momentarily going over to the Dark Side...and no amount of jedi mind tricks keep them under control.  Believe me...I've tried.

"This is not the toy you are looking for...you will leave your brother alone."

Bruce left on Saturday morning.  Saturday afternoon Jay tried to do his laundry...and realized the dryer was not working properly.  A burning smell filled the air when he opened the door.  The inside of the dryer had scorch marks in the back.  The teenagers needed laundry done.  So, I began Googling the nearest laundromats.  We found one in town...and upon arriving realized it was not, in fact, a laundromat...but a dry cleaner.  So, we sat in the parking lot...me and a van full of kids...in the rain...searching on the phone for nearby laundromats.  We found one with at decent review saying they had a kids' play area and free cookies.  That didn't sound too bad.  It was about 15-minutes away.

We arrived and unloaded the van.  We entered a somewhat dingy-looking laundromat...but it had a couple of arcade games.  And candy machines.  And it did, indeed, have cookies.  There were holes in the ceiling in various locations, where buckets had been placed underneath to catch the dripping water.  The "kids' play area" was actually just one child-sized chair and an old TV with a VHS player and assorted movies.  I contemplated the problems we would encounter with only one chair available...but we never ended up with one.  The children did not fight over the chair...mostly because none of them cared to sit in it and watch the movie.  They much preferred running around.

It was as though something had possessed my children that afternoon.  These were scary versions of my children...hellbent on terrorizing the laundromat.  They ran up and down the aisles, trying to push buttons and open doors on washers and dryers.  They kept trying to stick their hands in the door of the vending machine...and shake the candy machines.  They wanted to climb into the laundry carts on wheels...or push them down the aisle.  I received a very dirty look from one woman as I pried Owen off of a laundry cart, and then chased Connor down who was running toward the free cookies, with Owen screaming and smacking me the whole way.  They wanted to try to tip over the buckets that were catching the dripping water. 

I momentarily distracted Connor by letting him put the coins into the slots for the dryers, and had Jay let Owen pretend to play Ms. Pacman.  That was short-lived, however, as they then wanted to pretend to be cats...which entailed crawling on the dirty floor and meowing loudly at the people trying to fold their clothes. 

Everyone in the laundromat knew the names of my children...because I repeatedly said them...loudly...while chasing them. 

I finally decided that our clothes were dry enough, and instructed the older two to quickly put the laundry back into our baskets.  We would fold them at home.  As we were about to leave, with baskets and toddlers in hand, Irelynn decides that she wants to watch a movie.  She had found a Scooby-Doo Meets Batman tape.  After several attempts to tell her it was time to leave to no avail, I finally said in a voice that was on the edge of hysteria, "Irelynn Rose...NOW!!!"  She pouted, but put on her sweatshirt. 

It was now past 6:30pm...and I had decided long ago that I was not going to attempt to make dinner this evening.  We stopped to get pizza...and then, as we got within a few blocks from home we realize we are passing a building...with a sign...that says "Coin-Op Laundry."  Jay glances apprehensively at me.

"But...this one probably didn't have a children's play area..." he offered.


Then, as we tried to get everyone into the house, along with the pizza and the laundry, I realize that I had left our change jar on the floor in the living room when I had gone through it earlier searching for quarters.  I realize this as I hear the sound of change hitting something metal.  I look out and see Owen trying to insert coins into the slots of our brand new portable air conditioner.  Not sure if the extended warranty covers naughty toddlers, I yell out something I'm not proud of:

"What the Hell are you doing?!" 

Owen, shocked at the sudden noise, started crying...and thus refused to eat his dinner. 

He did concede to eat a breadstick before bedtime, and drank some milk.  I don't think I have ever been happier to have all the kids in bed. 

I wonder what Owen thought would happen when he inserted the coins into the air conditioner? 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Maureen is on the Job

I asked Irelynn what I should write about today, as I feel new pressure to update my blog.  I told her I should write about something funny.

"I know.  Bubbles."


"Bubbles are kind of foamy."

"Oh...no...not foamy...funny."

"Oh.  I know...clowns."

I'm not sure I'm educated enough on the topic of clowns to write a decent blog entry.  It probably doesn't really apply to my family life, either, unless I want to write a witty analogy about how my life is like a circus.  I did not realize I was out of coffee yesterday, so I am too caffeine-deficient to write a witty analogy.  Instead, I think I will mention my children's newest antic:  singing my theme song.

There is a song by the artist, Parry Gripp, entitled, "Maureen is on the Job."  It is sung in a high-pitched voice, and basically describes an ambitious woman named Maureen who will get the job done.  The chorus goes:

"Maureen...is on the job.
Maureen...is on the job, job, job."

The three younger ones will all sing this in unison when I drive somewhere...or clean something.  While it is flattering and somewhat motivating to have my own theme song sung in the background at all times, it can also get somewhat annoying.  Like when I'm about to make a phone call, and a high-pitched voice is singing in the background.  Or when I'm sitting on the toilet, and Connor serenades me. 

I try to keep a sense of humor about it when they sing it in the aisles of the grocery store as I put items in the cart.  It is difficult to explain to the cashier why my kids are singing my praises as I pay her in the checkout line...especially if her name also happens to be Maureen. 

I had always thought it would be cool to have my own theme song growing up...now I'm not so sure. 

I don't know if this post was as funny as clowns...but at least I know that whether I wrote it well or not, I was definitely on the job.  My kids told me so as I was typing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Despicable Silence

My children are all quiet at the moment.  To be fair, the older two are in school...but the remaining three have been near silent for the last hour...and not one of them is asleep.  To what do I owe this delicious hour of silence?  The movie, "Despicable Me," has been playing since shortly after 7:30am.  Outside of the random quotes delivered by the 5-year-old (usually mimicking one of the minions,) they have all sat, enthralled by the movie.  I think Owen might be drooling in his silent stupor.  Connor is slowly munching on crackers (as he is almost never without food,) and Irelynn is laying down, quoting lines from the movie as the characters say them. 

I think I might take a day off today.  I shall put this movie on "repeat," set out various snacks in case they get hungry...and read a book.  No...no...take a nap.  No, wait...catch up on Facebook...

Owen just removed his pants.  And now they are up...and...demanding to go outside.  Well, so much for that idea.  Owen is now trying to climb on the shelf.  I guess my time is up.  It was a good hour, anyway...

Monday, May 9, 2011

911 on Speed Dial

Owen is going to be the death of me.  He has always been fearless...he was the first twin to walk, climb and jump.  He is taking his daring feats to new heights, however...and I have to keep a constant watch over him.  He likes to leap off of the train table.  And couch.  And chair.  And the stairs.  And his brother's back.  He flips over the child-size rocking chair so that he can climb and then leap off of that.  He has also mastered the backflip off of the couch.  What kind of mother, you ask, would not stop this child before he leaps?  The mother who is distracted by the other boy...who is sneaking food out of the refridgerator. 

While Connor does enjoy physical means of entertainment...such as running and jumping...he is much more interested in how much food he can consume in short periods of time continually throughout the day.  I'm not sure if he is honestly that hungry all the time...or if it is a product of being one of the youngest of five children and he is making sure he gets his fair share before it is gone.  Survival of the fittest, so to speak.  This kid eats more food than my teenage son.  Not only does he consume mass quantities of food...but he does it quickly...forcing every morsel into his mouth, causing his cheeks to stick out further than I think cheeks are supposed to stretch.  I am constantly concerned about the choking risk.  He is in and out of the fridge several times a day, pulling out anything from cheese to pieces of bologna, usually when I am distracted by the other boy...who is stacking lego bins on top of the couch so he can have an even higher platform from which to perform his crazy mega death spiral leap of doom. 

One of these days I will end up with a boy in the ER due to either choking, or head injuries.  I'm not sure which will be first...perhaps it will happen simutaneously, which will at least save me gas money not having to make multiple trips. 

Owen is also a major flirt...stopping to talk to any girls that will listen.  Connor, though he gets many compliments from ladies about how adorable he is with his long eyelashes, couldn't care less.  Is it sad that I already have visions of them as young adults?  Owen will be an athletic, wreckless player, trying to impress the ladies with some grand act of male stupidity, and Connor will be inside programming a computer, wearing a t-shirt with a logo for some popular strategy game or Star Trek the Generation after the Next, and stuffing his face with Doritos. 

That is, of course, if they manage to survive their toddler years. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Our Ten-Year Anniversary

My husband and I don't get out very much.  In fact, well, we don't get out at all.  However...ten years together calls for something more than just a "Happy Anniversary" card and some flowers.  Ten years is a milestone...not only have we tolerated each other for an entire decade, but we have been together through job changes, moves, financial pitfalls, sending children off to kindergarten...and high school, complicated pregnancies, twins, and life with five children.  This was a moment worth celebrating.  We enlisted the help of my sister-in-law, who was kind enough to come out and spend the night at our house so that my husband and I could spend the night at a hotel.  And so the adventure began.

We dressed up for the evening.  I don't remember the last time I wore a dress...I think it might have been for someone's wedding.  I think that was also the last time I wore make-up.  The latter was confirmed by my 5-year-old's comment, "Mom...that lipstick makes it look like your skin is coming off."  I'm not exactly sure what that meant...did it look like my lip was bleeding?  Did I pick a color that only zombies wear?  I checked the bottom of my lipstick tube and after confirming that the color was not Flesh of the Undead, and my lips did not look bloody, I decided that my child was just not used to my lips being an actual color. 

We took off to find a movie (planners we are not.)  We reached the theater in enough time to catch the movie, Arthur.  I did not have high expectations...but when your choices are children's movies (I was determined to see an adult movie for once) and movies you have never heard of, you go with what looks vaguely familiar and has the potential for a few good laughs.  We were pleasantly surprised to find out that this movie was not only hilarious, but actually had some decent acting as well.  (Yes, I believe I just did a plug for that movie...but seriously...you should go see it.) 

We then consulted, you guessed it, the GPS, to locate the hotel.  This actually took less time than it did to find the theater, and I was not about to complain about the method of getting there...the important thing was that we were without children for an entire evening.  We checked in and went to the restaurant in the hotel.  This way we could have drinks with dinner and not have to drive anywhere.  As it turned out, the hotel restaurant was not very busy.  In fact, outside of one other couple...we were the only patrons.  Our waitress, with not much to do, was very attentive.  She encouraged us to have more drinks...it was our anniversary!  She made a very valid point...I mean, how often would we be able to let loose and not worry about the consequences?  We had some more drinks.  Bruce ordered a Long Island Iced Tea.  I stuck with my wine. 

Bruce, feeling the effects of his drinks, excused himself to find the restroom.  On the way there he ran into a group of Red Hat ladies.  Being the drunk gentleman he was, he complimented them on how nice they looked that evening.  One of the ladies quickly told him that he looked pretty good himself.  Another lady admonished the first, but the first replied, "well, he does!" 

I'm not sure how my husband felt about being hit on by a woman as old as his grandmother, but being slightly buzzed myself I thought it was the funniest thing I had ever heard.

After deciding that (even though we couldn't finish our abnormally large portioned dinners) we absolutely had to have dessert, we decided to head out because we were supposed to have a bottle of champagne waiting for us.  However, in our current state of happiness we were distracted by the escalator and the desire to explore what might be at the top.  There was a wedding reception going on...and by this time most of the guests were quite happy...and unaware of their surroundings.  There was an ice sculpture there...and one man walked up to it and licked it...turned to us...and told us it was, indeed, made of ice.  This is when we knew that no one would notice that we did not, in fact, belong there.  We got in line at the bar and ordered two Rum and Cokes.  The bartender filled the glass 3/4 full of Rum...and added a splash of Coke on the top, and handed them to us.  We walked over to the dance floor and watched the people trying to dance, commenting on each person's style of drunken dancing.  Then Bruce turned to me and said, "it's too bad we didn't just come here sooner...we could have had all of our drinks for free!" 

Needless to say, after the very strong wedding reception drink, and then half a bottle of champagne that was delivered to our room...we slept quite soundly that night.  My poor husband needed some assistance getting tucked into bed...and lifted up to drink water.  The following morning he groaned in a voice that sounded like the undead, "water....waaaater."  I half considered putting my lipstick on him and making him repeat it...but I was nice.

He surprised me that weekend by fixing my wedding ring that had been broken for over a year...it had been sitting in my jewelry box. 

While my weekend could probably be summed up by two movie titles, Wedding Crashers and The Hangover...I have to say it was quite enjoyable.  It also reminded me that while the last ten years have certainly made us older, wiser, and quite a bit more stressed...they have also made us realize just how much we do still love each other.  Hopefully in another ten years we will be just as much in love...and crazy enough to crash a wedding.  Who am I kidding...the chaos in this house times the rate of perceived stress multiplied by ten...we'll probably do something much more crazy. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Are We There Yet?

My husband has issues with his GPS.  I'm thinking about starting a support group called D.U.M.B.A.S.S.:  Directionally-challenged Unthinking Men Basing Actions on Subjective technological Systems.  The GPS is a wonderful little device that can be very helpful...but there are times when common sense should still kick in.  A good example is when an exit will be coming up for the town you wish to reach, but the device is telling you, albiet in the voice of Mr. T, to turn off on some unknown path that is not paved...or lit...at night.  I pity the fool who decides to follow the suggestion of the GPS. 

My husband does not usually deviate from the suggested path outlined by his technological wonder.  Sometimes I feel like we are re-enacting the scene from the movie "RV," where Robin William's character is torn between listening to "Lola" the GPS, or his wife, who has driven that route and knows the traffic patterns during that time of the day:  "Go straight."  "No, Lola says take a right."  Many of our driving expeditions include at least one child asking, "are we lost?" 

Unfortunately, today was the day he decided to follow road signs and ignore his GPS.  The exit was closed, so he followed the detour signs...which put him way out of his way, rendering him lost, and added a half hour to his commute home.  I am waiting to hear the words, "if I had only listened to my GPS..." 

Somehow I don't think he would have been home much sooner if he did.  We are still working on the first step of the program:  admitting you have a problem.  Once he does that, we will move on to step two:  admitting that your GPS is not actually the voice of God  (as played by Mr. T...or James Bond...or Homer Simpson.) 

We have a long road ahead of us...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

The day started out well.  My children were all donning green apparel.  The leprechauns had visited overnight, leaving chocolate gold coins for each child.  Owen even asked to go potty, and peed in the toilet.  Well, with the aim of a two-year-old boy, anyway, so some of it made it in the toilet.  In fact, the day was almost perfect...until it was time to pick Irelynn up from preschool.

I started putting Connor in his carseat.  I had barely managed to buckle him in, when I turned and saw Owen running...down the sidewalk.  I took off after him, amazed at my speed and agility...until I realized that he was faster.  I couldn't keep up with a two-year-old.  He laughed, realizing, as well, that he could outrun Mommy.  I yelled as he reached the corner, to no avail.

"OWEN!!!  STOP!!!" 

The sudden noise only slowed him for a minute...enough to allow me to catch up to him and grab him as he ran right out into the road.  His triumphant laugh quickly turned into primal screams of protest as I carried him, in a football hold, back to the van. 

His antics were not limited to escapology that day. 

Later, during dinner, he discovered a new skill.  I was focusing on my dinner, trying to block out the abnormal amount of whining that seemed to fill the air that evening.  There was a preschooler whose sensitivity level had reached new heights, causing everyone to nervously glance at each other before attempting to communicate with her.  There was a toddler who desperately wanted to cling to me, whose constant whining competed with the preschooler's constant wailing, creating a headache that rivaled the ones I get when the teenagers argue.  In the midst of the commotion, I hear Jay say something to Owen.


I look up to see Owen, with a pea between his thumb and forefinger, holding it dangerously close to his nostril.  I suddenly straighten in my seat.


He gives me an impish grin, moving the pea closer.  I start to stand up.


Too late.  The pea goes up the nose.  I run to the other side of the table just in time to witness him blow air as hard as he could out of his nose...and out shot the pea, bouncing across the table.  He laughes hysterically, as do the other children.  I set him down, declaring dinner to be finished. 

Unhappy with this negative reaction to what was probably one of the proudest moments of his life, Owen ran toward the kitchen, tripping and falling onto the floor.  Connor held out his hand and helped his brother up, and led him out to the kitchen.  In this moment of kindness, I relaxed my attention on the boys for a moment to focus on the commotion still happening in the dining room, in light of the pea incident.  Suddenly it occurred to my husband that the boys had been very quiet for a few minutes.  We walk back through the kitchen to find them in the laundry room...playing in the cat's litter box.  Connor had the scoop...Owen was using his bare hands...and they were taking turns dumping litter down the heating vent, while scattering it across the floor.

Bruce happily left the house to take the older girl to Lacrosse practice, leaving me to bathe the boys.  Somehow that managed to get done incident-free.  Then I put the preschooler in the bathtub.  She had a blister on the back of her foot which was part of the reason she was in such a horrible mood.  She had to take her bath with her foot held stubbornly in the air while I quickly tried to wash her hair.  As I went to kneel over, my foot slipped on something wet, and I tumbled forward...into the tub.  Luckily I somehow managed to avoid Irelynn, landing on my elbows behind her.  I look down to realize what I had slipped on...a remaining puddle of Owen pee.  I guess I missed a spot earlier.  Awesome. 

While the luck of the Irish was not with me that day...the Baileys was waiting patiently on the counter.  Upon getting all the children into bed, I celebrated all things green...including the pea, which thankfully did not get stuck in my toddler's nose. 

SlĂ inte!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sleep Training

I have a bit of a conundrum.  I have three children who share a room.  Two of the children do not have an issue going to bed at night.  One does.  Said child will not stay in his crib.  If I put the two tired children to bed, the other inevitably will climb out of his crib and into his brother's crib...waking and further tormenting his brother.  If I put said toddler to bed first...we go through an hour of directing him back to bed before he finally collapses from exhaustion.  By this time, the other two children are nearly passed out in the living room, waiting to be tucked into bed.  The process begins around 7pm.

We put on a quiet movie and start to settle the boys down.  Last night it was "The Princess and the Frog," one of Owen's favorites.  We were hoping Owen would calmly watch the movie while Connor, who isn't as interested, would go to bed.  Within 60-seconds of laying him down, he was out of the room.  We see the door creak open and his head peek out.  Bruce promptly puts him back in his crib. 

We repeated this process several times, growing more frustrated with each time.  Just as we would sit back down, he was out again...usually with a slow creak of the door, only coming far enough out to see the TV.  I was just about at my witts end, when the door creaked open one more time.  There was Connor...with a big grin...doing "jazz hands."  He started bouncing to the music from the movie, with his hands in the air, shaking them back and forth.  Mustering all of the acting skill I could, I kept my face straight and marched him back to his bed.  Even as he was placed back in his crib he grinned and did one last rendition of  "jazz hands."  Nice try, kid.

Meanwhile, poor Owen is falling asleep on the couch.  We hear a thud as he rolls off and hits the floor.  Slightly dazed, he looks around, climbs back on the couch and starts to fall back asleep. 

Eventually they all went down...but it was close to 9:30pm.  Two and a half hours after we started the bedtime ritual. 

Perhaps tonight we should play something with less music.  As much as I want to encourage my children's talents, I think Connor's Broadway ambitions will have to be limited to daytime hours. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thank Goodness for Microwaves and Beer

The last couple of weeks has been building up to this moment.  There have been ups and downs...exhausting moments...and while last night was not necessarily the worst of it...it did pretty much sum up the frustration throughout the duration of my husband being gone.

I attempted to make dinner.  That was my first mistake.  Why, as a single mother, was I going to try and cook something from scratch?  Perhaps it was the altruistic side of me that wanted to prove that I am capable of doing this...I do not need to resort to fast food or macaroni and cheese.  I am going to feed my kids a healthy, home-cooked meal.  I was going to make a healthy version of fish and chips...where I made my own breading from grinding toasted multigrain bread.  I made the chips out of sweet potatoes...which took me nearly an hour to peel and try to slice with the side of a cheese grater, because I did not have the proper appliance for slicing vegetables into paper-thin slices.  Connor watched for awhile.  The older boy had to be brought down to watch the other little ones so my mother could hold Connor. 

After stopping here and there to deal with issues with the teenagers, I finally got the sweet potato slices into the oven.  My oven has been acting up for awhile now, but I've managed to somehow make it work by adjusting the temperature and keeping a close eye on the food.  This was not a night I could make it work.  I opened the door to find smoke billowing out...the bottom tray of chips were charred...the top tray not cooked at all.  The smoke alarm went off...I still had to bake the fish.  I had now been in the kitchen for almost two hours.  My mother came in and fried the rest of the undercooked sweet potatoes in oil, while I started some macaroni and cheese, which I should have just done in the first place.  The fish didn't have the same issues...but we did end up microwaving some of them. By this time I was ready to snap if a child came in one more time asking if dinner was ready...or what that burnt smell was...

We sat around the table.  Owen squeezed some macaroni between his fingers and slid down from his seat.  Connor proceeded to switch seats and eat Owen's macaroni after I told him he needed to eat his fish (he had already shoveled down all of his macaroni.)  Irelynn asked how many bites she had to take.  The older two poked at their fish as though they were examining some sort of crime scene evidence. 

Needless to say, dinner was a bust.

Then came the frustrations of trying to get the teenagers to help clean up after dinner (I get the strong impression that doing dishes ruins their lives somehow.)

After a few attempts, we finally got Connor down to sleep.  Owen was getting tired, and tried to snuggle up to me...I bent down to kiss him, and he jumped up, making contact...hard...with my lip.  My teeth cut into the inside, and I could taste blood.  Brilliant.

My mother managed to find one lonely can of beer in the basement fridge.  Upon getting the last child to bed, we split the beer into two mugs.  The phone rang...and I thought it might be my husband, calling to wish me a good night and perhaps apologize for making fun of my predicament earlier.  No...it was the instant alert system for the public school system...due to inclement weather, the kids will have no school the next day.  They had already had a long weekend, because they had no school that day, either, due to President's Day.  Awesome.

We ended the night with a toast to endurance.  

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Camel and the Business Trip

Men do not understand the phrase, "the straw that broke the camel's back."  If they did, they would understand that the real reason we had a mental breakdown when the glass of milk spilled was not because of the milk, in and of itself.  We are not crazy, overly-sensitive, highly emotional beings that cry over spilled milk.  In fact...it is quite the opposite:  if a man had to endure what a woman does on a daily basis, he would have several mental breakdowns before 8am.  However, a man does not "get it."  Unfortunately, when explaining the process of one of my meltdowns, I turn into Bill Cosby, circa 1983.  My eyebrows raise.  The corners of my mouth turn down.  My voice becomes much more animated...much like Bill's descriptions of his own wife, when dealing with his children.  I begin to time-stamp the events of my day.

"6:02am:  I wake up with the boys."

"6:35am:  I break up a fight over a wooden choo-choo train and a dinosaur, after the choo-choo train makes contact with Connor's head."

My voice starts to get higher.

"6:46am:  I argue with the oldest girl as to whether or not a jacket is necessary in 18-degree weather and remind her that the younger girl is still sleeping so take the headphones out of her ears and stop yelling."

"6:59am:  I drag the teenage boy out of bed and remind him he has fifteen minutes to get ready and get to the bus stop."

I pause to note his reaction.

"7:45am:  I wipe yogurt off of the walls, the floor, and both boys."

I could go on, but you get the point.

Now, this is a typical day.  My meltdown usually occurs somewhere between the older children arriving home from school and post-dinner chaos. 

Currently my husband is away on a business trip.  This has been the longest one yet, spread over two weeks and three states.  Luckily my mother has been here to help with the children, and offer emotional support.  I do not have to time-stamp the day for my mother.  We have this understanding...woman to woman...mother to mother.  All it takes is a nod...a hug...and one of us breaks out a couple bottles of beer. 

Over the course of two weeks we have gone through rounds of sickness.  I lost my voice.  The oldest girl had episodes of dizzyness so bad that she nearly passed out.  Connor got an ear infection.  Both my mother and I managed to throw our backs out (at different times.)  The boys have not slept through the night since my husband has been gone.  Our patience is wearing thin. 

Everyday I am juggling children's medications, figuring out meals, breaking up fights, deflecting teenagers' snarky comments, and using my mad almost Kung Fu-like defense skills on two toddler boys who do not have a father to wrestle with right now.  I have numerous bruises on my arms and legs.  The older kids have been quite underwhelming when it comes to helping out while he has been gone.  It is amazing how quickly they can disappear and hide when things get messy or chaotic downstairs. 

When my husband comes home...Owen will inevitably throw his dinner on the floor...and I will say something clever, like, "that's it.  I'm joining the circus.  Don't call me, I'll call you," and my husband will then ask me, "what's your problem?"

I will calmly look at him and say, "do you remember me talking about the straw that broke the camel's back?  Well, the camel's back broke about a week ago, when she tried to remove a jumping boy off of his sister's bed.  She also lost her voice, and didn't get any sleep.  Then that camel had to carry around two 25lb boys, juggle doctor's visits with screaming children, make sure the little camels got all their medication at the proper time, and make last-minute runs to the store for posterboard and printer ink because someone forgot to mention they had a project due the next day.  There are only two things that can cure this poor, beaten animal that is foaming from the mouth (which may or may not be a direct result of being bitten by a toddler):  put it out of it's misery...or let it have a vacation.  Even one night would be good.  A full night's sleep can do wonders."

If my husband is wise, he will not upset the camel.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Can I Get Double the Xanax?

I have been afraid to update my blog. 

Updating my blog means that I have to actually take the time to sit down, compose something worth reading, and do it in the amount of time it would normally take to check my Facebook newsfeed before extracting Owen from the cat's water dish and then figure out how Connor changed everything to Spanish on the cable box.

Life with the twins has been a struggle lately.  The "Terrible Two's" has a whole new meaning with them...because the ripe old age of two would be much easier to deal with if there wasn't two of them going through this marvelous developmental stage at the same time.  Owen might not manage to scale the shelf in the living room if Connor didn't get down on his hands and knees to allow him to step on his back first.  Connor might not have the time to change the settings on the Wii if Owen didn't distract me by stripping down and peeing on the carpet.  And I'm sure that on their own they would not be able to construct a tower out of chairs, plastic bins and stuffed animals so that they could reach their sister's CD's on a high shelf. 

They would also not have the fights that only children of the same age could conjure up.  A certain toy can cause an eruption that might involve throwing things, smacking, or hiding said toy down one's diaper (or DVD, in Connor's case.)  We are trying to gather digital copies of their favorite DVD's as the boys get very possessive...apparently licking a DVD and stuffing it down the front of your diaper is a clear declaration of ownership. 

I see the dark circles forming under my eyes...and the lines on my forehead that used to only appear when I raised my eyebrows, but are now permanently etched into my skin.  I do not see the gray hairs, however, because I did find time late one night to dye my hair. 

The older kids are definitely stressing me out as well, with the usual teen issues, some more prominent than others...but, for better or worse, the twins have made it so that I do not have long to sit and stress about those issues.  I'm too busy wiping applesauce off of the wall...and the cat.

I see Owen is naked, and Connor has found a fruit snack.  We haven't had fruit snacks in the house for over a month...so I suppose I should go take care of that.