Sunday, June 29, 2008


I haven't quite graduated to Sleep Deprivation Stage 5, or Hallucination Stage, yet. Child Six has improved greatly. Either the teeth aren't quite ready to come in or he wasn't teething at all.
On the other hand, Oldest Child seems to have Strep Throat again (I'm not diagnosing, but that's what it looks like). That would be the second time in three months. She has some seriously big tonsils, so if this keeps up she might need them removed. Poor thing.

Saturday was fun, despite the illnesses. We went yard sale-ing in the morning, avoiding all the necessary cleanup in the house, and then went swimming at the neighborhood pool in the evening. That was my first time to the pool this summer. It was great, even carrying Child Six, who was much less terrified of the water than I thought he would be. He screams when I put him in the bath, but he loved kicking the water with his feet in the kid's pool. Child Four, whose injuries and leg brace prevent swimming, got a dollar to spend at the snack bar. She was happy.

After the pool closed it was time to put together a picnic for the fireworks. Our city was having a celebration and we'd rather attend those fireworks than the big July 4th fireworks. It's less crowded, we can get home within minutes rather than sitting for hours in a parking lot or on congested city streets, and the fireworks are still really big. Oldest Child was feeling really ill by that point, though, and Six was just so tired he was on the verge of melting down. We decided I would stay home with Oldest and Six, and Husband took the rest of the kids to the park for the fireworks and picnic.

After they left I put Six down for bed and Oldest went to watch a movie in her room. I spent a glorious two hours alone watching a British period drama and eating what I could find out of the fridge for dinner. It's so rare that I have time like that with no interruptions, no pressing responsibilites (because even if I slack off and don't do what I need to I still have all the pressing responsibilites, like dinner, laundry, etc., that just can't be ignored). The kids were being fed at the park and would just go to bed when they got home. It was nice.

Husband, on the other hand, lugged the cooler full of dinner and all the kids to the park, found a spot, and then missed half the fireworks because the show started minutes after they sat down. He was trying to dole out sandwiches and chips so the kids would have something to eat before they went to bed. Child Five, who had fallen asleep on the way to the park, was cranky and obstinate. Husband bribed him with a light saber, which helped restore Five's good will and happiness. Then, after the show, he lugged them all back to the car and found a less-crowded street to travel. They got home at 11:30, the kids asleep. He carried Five in and we took off his shoes and put him in his bed. The girls crawled gratefully into bed and were asleep in seconds. Then Husband put all the food in the cooler away and we went to bed.

In the night, Child Three woke with a terribly sore throat. I opened my eyes long enough to measure some medicine for her, then sent her to the couch to read because she couldn't sleep. She slept there until 10 this morning. I just kept everyone home from church because I didn't know who was sick and who wasn't, but Child Two decided to go after the first hour. I'm really proud of her. I just wish she'd remembered to brush her hair before she took off.
I've got no funny in me. I'm just too tired. I'm signing off.

Today's Six Word Memoir: Happy smiling baby makes me grateful.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Six Word Memoirs and Sleep Deprivation

I write this through a fog of sleep deprivation. I'm usually in some layer or other of sleep deprivation (I even have names for the different stages; I'm in Stage 4, or Fuzzy Whatsit stage right now. I was recently in Stage 3, or Nervous Energy stage), but last night Child Six kept me up alllll night. If he was sleeping, it was only for 20 minutes, then he would wiggle around and start crying, so I would have to groan and help him as much as I could. He allowed me nearly two hours of sleep around 5:30 am. I really was not ready for the kids to be up when they were. Husband, who had to banish himself to the couch to get any rest for work (I gave up constantly going into Six's room and just brought him into mine), wisely didn't wake me up for scripture study, and I am ashamed that I didn't manage to hold it with the kids on my own after he left for work.
Child Six is teething again (collective groan from all parents in the reading audience). 'Nuff said.

A recently found long-ago friend of mine who writes a blog ( flattered me by asking me to write my Six Word Memoir. I have been stewing and thinking about that ever since, and keep composing and discarding ideas. It's supposed to kind of sum up your life philosophy in six words, which is an exciting challenge. It's hard for me to edit, as any of you who have read my posts (read: novellas) know, so choosing just six words is good practice. I'll post my winning SWM (Six Word Memoir, not Single White Male) when I figure it out. In the meantime, I'll keep composing.

Since Husband cleaned out the garage and we found we have a floor (surprise!), he went and bought a used, slightly felt-challenged pool table from a yard sale. The kids are really happy about that. It would be nice to convert the garage into some other living space than the dumping spot for all junk (park the cars? Hah!), and when we had a pool table before, the garage was a popular place to hang out. A few fans would make it less sweat-inducing.

The next sleep deprivation stage is Stage 5, or Hallucination stage. It sounds worse than it is, but I do keep jumping because I see spiders and crawly things that aren't there. I'm not having full-blown hallucinations or anything, not like I took LSD in the 60's sort of thing (which I never did because I wasn't alive in the 60's anyway). Just a little "yip" and a jump every once in a while. That will happen if I don't get any sleep tonight. It might make for some interesting writing, so stay posted.

Not getting sleep; still being Mom.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Stitches and Stories

I have tried to post a couple times, only to be foiled when my post was inexplicably erased with no chance of retrieval.

First of all, Child Four is doing just fine, and thank you to all who expressed concern and sent their best wishes. She gets the stitches out in about six days. They are looking good and I don't see any signs of infection. Although she doesn't want to go through that sort of ordeal again, she found it nice when people would give her treats and cards just for getting hurt. She's up and running around as well as she can with a straight leg, but when I ask her to do something or get her chores done (if she is going to run around, I figure she can get her chore done) her leg suddenly hurts. It's weird how that happens...

Husband and I started reading the series by Stephanie Meyer (first book entitled Twilight) because it's become all the rage with young teenage girls, Oldest Child being in that number of enamored readers. It's well written and compelling. I'm waiting for Oldest to finish the third book so I can read it. I'm hooked now. It's amazing how many really great books end up being shelved in the Young Adult section at the library, missed by most adult readers. The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer is another example. Of course the books in that section tend to be about children or teens, but many times the writing is excellent.

I can't really think of anything interesting to write today. I've been reading too much to think about anything except the absolute necessities: what to make for dinner, do I really really have to go and put another load of laundry in, are the kids killing each other, that kind of thing. I will try to think of something better tomorrow, gentle reader.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Terror in the Grass

The good news is that Child Five does not have the measles and Child Four did not cut any tendons or ligaments.
It's been a busy week, hence my failure to get a post out in a timely fashion. For all those out there (my one loyal reader) who may be worried about what has happened, I'll explain now that I am not as frantic and flustered as I was.
Wednesday started out like a normal day. We had scripture study and breakfast, got chores done. Around 11 am we went to the park for lunch. The kids played after eating, Child Four and her friend running and sliding down a grassy hill near where we were sitting in the grass. Suddenly, Four's friend came running up and told me that Four had a cut and was crying. Thinking that it was just a little scrape, I sauntered casually over to comfort her, but when I got closer I realized something was dreadfully wrong with the cut. It was HUGE, the wound gaping open, blood seeping out of a deep slice that ran from her calf up around her knee, about seven inches. "You need to get to the hospital!" I cried as I picked her up and ran back to our picnic blanket. Setting her down, I ran over to the pavilion where many other families were eating their lunches. It was hard not to burst into tears and just lose it, but I yelled that I needed something -- a scarf, a string -- because my little girl was hurt. All the moms looked confused because I didn't say why I needed a string, but one mom handed me a toy dog leash and I grabbed it and ran back to Four, who was holding her knee and whimpering. I tied the leash around Four's thigh to stop the blood flow, which was not spurting, thank goodness.
Then my mind kind of shut off.
The woman who had lent me the leash ran after me and followed me to the van where I was carrying Four, intent on getting her to the hospital. She gently convinced me to let her call 9-1-1 rather than me driving Four to the emergency room. I looked at the wound again and shuddered as we waited for the paramedics to show up. Children Two, Five and Six were also with me, Two crying softly in agitation, Five worried but not old enough to be really scared, and Six (with some of Four's blood smeared on his forehead from my arm) was upset about being in a non-moving car.
The paramedics arrived and took over; three of them worked on bandaging Four's cuts (they found another, shorter gash on her thigh) and stop the bleeding and one trying to find what had cut her. Four's friend led him to the area where Four had been playing. After a very long time of searching (which finished after we had left the park for the hospital), the paramedic and some helpers found two pieces of glass, one quite large, embedded in the grass of the hill. They were both embedded in the ground so that enough of the glass stuck out at a 90 degree angle to cause serious damage but they were not easily visible. They only were found because of a lucky glint of the sun. I don't know if someone buried that glass deliberately. I sincerely hope not because the vengeful thoughts I have about someone who could do that are pretty vicious. What if it had been her belly or her neck, her face, her back? It could have killed her.
As it was, Four was extremely lucky. The cuts, though they are deep and long, were not deep enough to damage any tendons or ligaments. She did not lose a dangerous amount of blood, and she was a trooper through the whole hospital ordeal, which, like most emergency room visits, was long and boring with some really painful moments when the wounds were cleaned and she was stitched up. 34 stitches and a leg brace later, she is home and doing fine, except for having to endure her skin itching under the brace. That kept her up much of the night last night. It's hard to make her keep still and not move around a lot. She just wants to go about life as usual. But she is very angry at the thought that someone could have planted the glass. She keeps saying she wants to sue them, although I'm not sure she really understands what that means. Her dad said that if he ever found the person who put the glass there he would make sure they got plenty of stitches themselves.
I can't think about it too much. All the "what-ifs" march through my head, along with visuals, and I have to distract myself with something before I start hyperventilating. We've had crises before: asthma attacks, broken bones, food poisoning. They didn't seem as life-threatening, probably because I couldn't see them so well (except for when Oldest Child broke her arm. Ooog. That was hard to see. She didn't get a whole lot of joy out of it, either.) and I felt reasonably confident that we could deal with the problem satisfactorily. Even when Husband collapsed because of food poisoning, I didn't really feel worried that nothing could be done. He was okay after a trip to the hospital and some rehydrating (we don't eat at that restaurant anymore, though).
I don't need to explain to any mothers what it feels like to watch a child go through pain or terror. You want to take it away, take it on yourself if necessary, so your beautiful baby can be okay. I am so blessed. I have not lost any of my beautiful babies and their pains have been of the kind that are healed eventually. What a gaping hole in your life it must be to lose a child, a hole that never quite closes with time, and maybe not even with perspective. I know there is life after death, that I will see all my family again and that gives me great comfort and peace. But I am also so grateful that I have not had to rely on that knowledge to get me through a day or an hour, a moment, when all I want is that little hand in mine, that sweet voice calling me "Mommy."
Now I have myself in tears and am going to switch gears.
We went to the park for lunch yesterday (yes, we went back. I don't want any of us to be afraid of going there again, though we aren't running or playing on those hills anymore) and Five ate, but then he kind of flopped around languidly. Usually he wants to play on the playground, but yesterday he just put his head on my leg, then lay in the grass. When we got home he whined and complained and I noticed he had a fever. A friend called to see if he could play with her daughter and then hoped he didn't have measles. I thought that was kind of odd, to associate a fever with measles right away. This morning, however, I noticed Five had small red spots on his face, a runny nose and watery eyes, all symptoms of the measles. He also doesn't have all his vaccinations (a story I won't go into right now, but suffice to say that I'm not convinced that vaccinations are all that safe and harmless), so it was a legitimate concern.
All right, long story short (I can go on sometimes) I realized he is allergic to grass and he always gets spots from lying in the grass. His fever is gone, he's feeling much better. No measles.
Four gets her stitches out in 12 days and won't be taking swimming lessons this summer, most likely. She has to keep her leg out of the sun for a year to keep the scar from darkening badly, and I don't want her swimming too soon in case she splits the cut again.
How grateful I am that Heavenly Father was looking out for her, that her wounds are superficial and that I have my baby here with me.
My friend just got back from Girls' Camp and offered to "aromicate" my house for me (her word. I think it's quite elegant, really), but I declined. Thanks all the same. Sweat, smoke and dirt odors are good for outdoors. So, thanks, Friend, but I hope you enjoyed your shower!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Back to Reality

The dog days of summer have set in. I never complained about the nice, cool, wet spring we had because I was saving my complaining for the face-meltingly hot summer I knew was coming. This is when I believe in global warming. And it's just warming up, so to speak. At least it's a DRY heat (ha ha. A little Utah humor there. But seriously, at least it IS dry. I spent many summers in the North and the humidity just about kills a body.)
The kids spend much of their days at the pool keeping cool and getting sunburned. Their sunburns turn into tans, which Husband and I think is really unusual because he and I have fair skin that only burns and peels. Child Four had a tan 3 seconds after she stepped into the sun, it seemed. Where did that come from? When I was younger and we took vacations in California, I did get severely burnt a couple times, but never did it turn into a tan. All my friends back at home in the North would say, "You just spent two weeks in California and you're not tanned??" I am still glow-in-the-dark to this day. Of course, I don't spend a lot of time sunbathing or swimming. I could fix the swimming part but trying on bathing suits is simply too depressing.

Speaking of hating to try on swimming suits, I rowed 2300 meters on Monday morning, early. It took me 20 minutes because I was taking it nice and easy. The new rowing machine is great. Even after all these years my body remembered the rhythm of pulling the port-side oar -- the stretch in your back, the little dip of the handle, the controlled glide back up the slide. I imagined being in the water, the birds crying, the sound of the little waves slapping against the side of the boat, the creak of the oarlock. It was so nice.
And then, three minutes later, the first child showed up. Two minutes after that, another. Then another. You get the picture. I reminded myself that a good workout means you can still carry on a conversation, which is what I was fated to do for the next 17 minutes. Oldest Child was kind enough to take Child Six for a walk in his stroller, which he absolutely loves to do, so at least I wasn't listening to him scream with rage about being relegated to his new playpen.

After about ten minutes I also remembered the burning sensation in my muscles, the raspy feeling in my lungs, the heat in my face.
I still loved it.

I fixed the vacuum cleaner.
I mention it because I am so proud to have accomplished it, although, in the end, it wasn't a hard thing to do. I usually save those kinds of things for Husband to do as I have such strong faith in his ability to fix anything or find a solution to any problem. He is extemely clever like that. But this time he wasn't here and the vacuum wouldn't suck. The kids, of course, did what they were supposed to do and didn't care that all the little bits were just falling back out of the vacuum when they turned it off. That really bothered me, so I had a little look-see and found that someone had vacuumed up a sock, which was balled up and wedged in the hose. Of course it wasn't within reach of either end.
Never throw away wire hangers. You don't have to use them for clothes, but just don't throw them away. They solve so many problems. I used one as a hook to carefully and slowly pull the sock out. It took a while, but now the vacuum cleaner sucks again. It's strange that I felt so good about such a little thing.

Husband is down to the last two weeks of teaching his class. Soon those sixth graders will graduate to become seventh graders and he will hope that he did everything possible to prepare them for the rigors of junior high. (Let's all release a collective shudder at the memories of those years.) Then he has three weeks off, although one week will be spent in the school preparing for the new class.
Husband has decided to take an Extended Contract, which means that he will teach two different tracks at the same time. His is a year-round school with four different tracks of students. (We're in Utah; we have too many kids in these buildings to teach them all at once.) So next year he will have to keep track of which group of kids has learned what and make sure they are all taught all the things they need, which will take massive organizational skills and lots of work on curriculum. Plus, he's moving down to fifth grade, so he can't rely on the lessons he used for his last classes. He will get paid more but will be really busy. What teacher isn't busy, I wonder? There's always work to do.
We decided to take our first official family vacation during his first week off and rent a cabin. It's a reasonable price and far enough away to feel like a vacation. The kids are soooo excited. We decided to stay for four nights and five days. I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Fathers' Day!

Happy Fathers' Day! I am so lucky to have a great Husband, who is also a great Dad. He loves the kids and teaches them so much about what it takes to be a good person. I am also lucky to have a wonderful father. He's a quiet, unassuming man, but he's so intelligent and has always been willing to share his knowledge with me. You should hear the new and funky music he composed called "Seattle Machine." Maybe I can figure out how to put it on this blog.
And I am also lucky to have a great father-in-law, a man I can admire, who has always been accepting and kind to me. All of these men hold the Priesthood. I can't imagine life without that blessing in my home. Thank you, dads, for your strength and righteousness. They mean more than I can ever say.

I haven't posted in a couple days, but you didn't miss anything major -- just the usual swimming, park lunches, chores, the usual. We did go thrift store and yard sale searching for a used playpen on Saturday for Child Six so I can put him in it while I exercise. By the time the search ended we had a playpen, a bike for Child Five (it's purple and it's a girl's bike, but it works and it has training wheels), a new VCR with two LCD screens for the car ($10! The kids want to drive around constantly just so they can watch stuff in the car), some new videos for the car VCR, and some miscellaneous Tupperware and things that I found. (I make it a policy to always buy used Tupperware with lids wherever I find it. That stuff lasts forever, and if it doesn't you can either get a free replacement or a discount.) Oldest Child and Child Two had a birthday party to attend in the afternoon, so we took Children Four, Five and Six with us. Child Three didn't want to come, but she kept calling Husband's cell phone. "When are you coming back? It's been an hour."

Today we all made it to church (whoo-hoo!) and Child Five went to Primary without so much as a stubborn, "NO!" Five's Primary teachers were just released and now that class is going to have to get used to another teacher, which is hard for that age group. Hopefully there won't be a huge problem. I don't want to have to re-train Five.
I missed half of Sacrament Meeting as I had to take a loud Child Six (and, by default, Child Five) out into the foyer. Six happily crawled around the hall and into some empty classrooms while I chatted with the other parents who had to remove children from the chapel. I also didn't make it to Relief Society. Six was okay until the meeting actually started; then he decided that it was time to go to the Mothers' Room, which is where we spent the rest of the hour. I started preparing my lesson for Gospel Doctrine. I was very flattered to be asked to be a guest teacher for the third week in July. I love teaching Gospel Doctrine. I learn so much.
The Sunday School president asked me to pick a month to teach and gave me a manual so I could preview the lessons. The lesson for July just hit me: Alma 30-31, entitled "All Things Denote There Is a God," and I knew that was the one I wanted to teach. It's about Korihor going amongst the Nephites and teaching that there is no God, that no one could prophecy of any Christ, the atonement is false and that men should live by their own genius and strength. The people bring Korihor before Alma, who asks Korihor if he really believes that. I will probably post my notes on the lesson at a later date.
My Relief Society lesson for next week is based on Elder Wirthlin's talk from the last General Conference entitled, "Concern for the One."

I was thinking the other day about those moments when your life changes. Sometimes those moments are so small and ordinary you don't recognize them until later, when you look back and pinpoint the decision or action that started a new series of events. Sometimes they are reactions to a major event in your life -- a birth, a death, a big change in status. Sometimes they come about as a result of a spiritual revelation; and sometimes it's because of an epiphany. Suddenly your mindset changes so radically you can never go back to the way you were. Everything looks different, feels different. You can't understand why you didn't see it that way before.
I'm not saying I've had any of those moments in the last few days. I was just thinking about them. Most of my moments are the quiet and ordinary choices I make. I choose one thing over another and my life heads in a particular direction, mostly good. I've had a great life. I've been blessed to have the Spirit there when those moments happened. I can't imagine life without that guidance. It would be like a bleak and unending desert, devoid of any direction or purpose to me.

Random thoughts not very well edited. Sorry.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Shopping + Children = AAAARGH!

I spent some of my day helping out a friend, which I was happy to do, especially as it involved some shopping. We even got to shop without hauling around all the kiddies. I love my children dearly, but shopping with them is one of my least favorite activities, unless we are shopping for them specifically, and then only one at a time. Grocery shopping always ends with me vowing never again to take whatever particular child or children I brought along. Before we leave the car I give them The Instructions For Grocery Shopping: a) Stay with me; b) Do not leave my side; c) Refrain from running up and down the aisles; d) No spinning around insanely, arms flailing out to the sides in front of other innocent shoppers who just want to get past us without harm; e) Do not beg me for anything; f)Ask for nothing; g) Have I made myself clear?
There is usually a resounding chorus of "Yes, Mom's" followed by a shopping experience where they ignore all the Instructions and cause me to invent new ones. If you pass me in the aisles you'll probably hear me importuning them in the same whining voice I abhor when they use it, "Could you all just stop talking for a minute and let me think?!"
But I do love them, even so. Just because I don't want to shop with them doesn't mean I don't find them adorable much of the time.
Case in point: Child Four is always telling me how much she loves me. She is very soft-hearted, despite her almost constant teasing of her little brother. She praises my meals and tells me frequently that I'm the best mom in the world. Am I taken in? Sure. Why not? When she's misbehaving it helps to remember that she is a wonderful kid underneath her stubbornness (where did she get that?). What is better than a big hug from one of your favorite little people? I defy anyone to invent something that beats that.

Child Four quote: "I hate picking up trash. It took the best years of my life."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What really "bugs" me

I just sent a bunch of you, family and friends, a copy of an email sent to me about food shortages already happening in the world and possible food shortages in the U.S. I also read a lot of economic websites and am worried about that area, as well. It doesn't look good, folks. I don't trust politicians to tell me everything is all right because they want to get elected, and you don't get elected by spreading bad news, whether or not it's true. Just look at some of the candidates the media has made fun of in the past who have tried to tell Americans that things are not going the way they should in the economy and our nation's policies. I don't want to beat a dead horse. Some of you I've bugged about this a couple times already. I'm worried for my own family because we are trying to be prepared but we just aren't quite there yet.

As an effort to be more fully prepared in case something should happen that prevents us from getting food, I bought a book and just received it in the mail yesterday. It's called The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook by David George Gordon. The first reaction I got from my family was predictable. "EEEEEEEEEW!" Husband said, "You're not going to make us eat any of that, are you?" Oldest Child slapped her hand over her mouth and made vomiting noises. It was great.
All right, I didn't just buy it for the shock value. I have read the cookbook now and Gordon makes a good case for eating insects. No, really! Edible bugs are high in nutrients and protein, they are plentiful and they take less space than beef cattle, sheep, pigs, etc. They are more efficient in turning food into edible parts, unlike beef and sheep, which are really inefficient. And people have been eating bugs for millenia. We, in the U.S., are pretty sqeamish about it because we have always been taught that bugs are dirty and nasty and should be squashed or choked with pesticides.
I admit, as intriguing as the idea is, eating things like "Spin-akopita" (which is made with wolf spiders) or "Giant Water Bug on Watercress" kind of makes me gulp. I think I could handle fried crickets or chocolate-covered grasshoppers, maybe even wax worms if they're dead and mushed or otherwise disguised. I could graduate to deep-fried scorpions; but I draw the line at "Baked Bird-Eating Spider," which is a spider the size if a dinner plate. No, thanks. Honk if you agree.

Still, it's a fun book to read, even if you never intend to ingest our exoskeleton friends. Think about it, though: if you could eat bugs without puking and there was a huge swarm of locusts in your town, you'd be set. Roasted locusts, fried locusts, frozen locusts you could grind into flour, the possibilities are endless. Sure, you'd get tired of locust ("Aw, Mom, not locust casserole AGAIN!), but it would be cheaper than beef. Way cheaper than wheat or corn are going to be in the near future, that's for sure. Grow some sprouts, juice some wheatgrass, eat a vegetable from your garden and you've got a full meal.Yum.

In other news, I relaxed the no-TV rule just for today. It's been going really well, much to my surprise. No one has been complaining too much about it and the kids are entertaining themselves pretty well. But today was very cold and rainy and I thought, what the heck. I got two movies from the Redbox ("27 Dresses" and "Shrek the Third") and told the kids they could watch them a couple times each. I should have vetted "27 Dresses" first. Oops. They haven't even watched Shrek, and they didn't bother whining about wanting to watch TV as well. They were happy with what they got. Weird.

Just for fun, go to and watch Gordon cook up some buggy grub. Don't throw up.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Am I an optimist if I'm half-awake instead of half-asleep?

I woke up feeling like I had only slept half the night. You know the feeling: headache, tired eyes, bad vision, grouchiness. I couldn't focus on anything, and so all day I only completed half of anything I started -- half the patio swept, the laundry put in the washer but not the dryer, the dishwasher unloaded but not re-loaded, half a thought to cleaning the bathroom. The kids did their chores in the morning but by bedtime it looked like a herd of wild pigs had rampaged through the house. Blankets were up in the living room to make clubs and forts, the dishes were dirty and all over the counters, the dining room carpet covered in crumbs and the table littered with dishes and papers. It was one of those days where you just shut your eyes to the mess and go to bed, too tired to care.
I attempted to pump up the tire on my bike so I could put the little boys in the bike car and take them to the park for lunch. After futilely working the hand pump for a very long time (during which the catfood-stealing birds got used to me and continued their thievery right under my nose) I gave up and we drove to the park.
I have never seen the park that crowded before. Sure, the school district gives out free lunches to anyone up to the age of 18 and so it's always crowded at lunchtime, but I couldn't even find a parking spot. I joined the stuck car waltz with a few other frustrated moms, trying to get around each other and also spot an elusive empty space. I finally found one, waited with my blinker on for the departing car to move out of the way, and just as I was about to park, these two teenage kids glided in smooth as you please. I'm afraid I leaned on the horn and shouted long and loud. Fortunately, the window was up and I didn't swear. Unfortunately, when I stopped yelling, the kids were all silently looking at me with big eyes. Oops. I apologized for that little display of temper. It isn't like they aren't used to me yelling; they just aren't used to me yelling at perfect strangers. Had I been yelling, "Get ready for bed right now or you're in big dog doo-doo!" or "If one more person yells my name like it's my fault, I will scream!" they would have been in more familiar territory.
I told the kids that I have changed my name. Now if they are going to yell for me in order to tattle on a sibling, my name is,"I was teasing him/her so it's my fault!" and if I don't answer right away they can then yell, "I deserve the whacking I got, I apologize and I won't do it again!" Those are the only two names I'll answer to. They are a little unconventional in their length, but I'm willing to buck convention in this instance.
Anyway, I finally did find a parking space, we had lunch, and Child Six crawled around to his heart's content. Child Five rolled down a grassy hill and had wonderful time, but when we got home I noticed that his eczema had spread up his legs to his trunk, arms and even his cheeks. I had forgotten he's allergic to grass, too. Still, even with the weather suddenly changing and blowing in a cold storm, we had fun.
I read an entire book in the afternoon. That's how motivated I was to get housework done.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Tales From the Baby's Mouth

In the bright, cool morning I went briskly outside to mow the lawn. After retrieving the mower from the garage (no easy feat as anyone who has seen the garage can attest) I checked the lawn for stones, pine cones and toys, and then proceeded to turn on the mower, pulling the cord powerfully and with great force.
I tried again.
Still nothing. Not even a little.
I checked the directions and kept at it. It was kind of embarrassing, as I spent one summer as a maintainence worker for a family camp in the mountains, mowing the huge lawns with tractors and driving all kinds of large and heavy equipment, but I couldn't start the lawn mower today. Then I checked the gas tank. Ah.

The weather is lovely. It's still not swimming weather, unless you don't mind a really cool breeze as soon as you step out of the pool, but if you aren't wet it's a glorious day. The cats are happy. The birds who eat all the cat food are happy. Child Six was eager to get outside and explore. Child Four asked me to help her get the stroller out of the back of the van, and while I was coming outside to help her, Six, who was sitting on the driveway, inserted something in his mouth. "Are you getting a taste of nature, little one?" I asked and then stuck my finger in his mouth to remove whatever tasty treat he had found. Out popped...a SNAIL! All covered in slime and saliva. Eeeew! He coughed and choked a little so I stuck my finger back in and removed some snail flesh and a bit of shell. Eeeew! He's the first of all of us to try escargot and, judging from the way he squinched up his big blue eyes and snorted, I don't think he especially liked it. I'm sure the snail was pretty offended, too. When we got back from our walk the snail was gone, so it must have survived it's first adventure in a human mouth. (I am, of course, assuming that was the first time Mr. Snail was in someone's mouth. Maybe there are stories untold that would astound and shock us from the snail world.)

The girls excitedly showed me a patch of wheatgrass they had accidentally grown. It's a long story, but there was a bunch of old wheat in the back room we call the "spa." A lot of it made its way to the patio, where some of it was carried to a little round planter in the back yard. Lo and behold, it grew lush and thick. I can now juice it. I have a wheatgrass juicer and the kids know I juice the stuff, so they were very pleased to show me such a nice bunch of it.

Oldest Child saw me crocheting and wanted me to teach her. I have taught her the basic chain so I taught her the single crochet. All the girls are left-handed (what are the odds of that?) and I am right-handed, so teaching them to crochet is an awkward thing for me. Needless to say, though I tried my best, Oldest got frustrated and decided to never do it again. Kind of how I feel about sewing. We'll try again when she's less upset about it.

Child Five's joke: "There were three Nemo's in the water and a guy shoots two. How many are left?"
Me: "One?"
Five: "Nope. None. You know why?"
Me: "Why?"
Five: "Because the other Nemo swimmed away because he didn't want to get shooted. Shot."

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Quiet Sunday

This is a short one today, for your relief and comfort. I have a baby waiting to be put to bed and he's starting to rub his eyes in a major way.
Today I sent most of the girls off to church with my mom (my dad and Husband, who is the bishop of our ward) were already gone. I stayed home with Child Three, who had a bad stomach ache. I figured sending Child Five with his sisters would be cruel and unusual punishment for them. He doesn't exactly sit around quietly and reverently, waiting for his turn to be called upon. Obviously, Child Six stayed with me.
Husband got home early today, around 3:30, only 1 1/2 hours after church got out. That's pretty good. Sometimes he isn't home until much later.
My brother came to dinner and played charades with the kids in the living room while I cooked dinner (I had bought skirt steak on sale, so we had beef and broccoli, mashed potatoes and gravy and mashed sweet potatoes. Not really a theme, but it fed them.). I also made dessert, which I hardly ever do. Brownies and lemon squares. Husband was in heaven. So were the kids.
We had a brief walk after dinner and then to bed.
That is all.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Rain, blue hair and violent creativity

Yet another rainy day and our ward social at the neighborhood pool was cancelled. I guess that means I have to think of what to make for dinner tonight. There was much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth at the prospect of not getting to swim AGAIN, but they all soon settled down when Husband announced we'd take the Oldest Child, Child Two, Child Four and a friend of Two's to the dollar theater to see "Horton Hears a Who." Child Three was with her "other family." She's attached at the hip to her best friend, Tina (all real names have been changed), and after spending the night at Tina's house last night, she went fishing with Tina's family today.
Child Three also dyed her hair blue last night. She had our permission, so it wasn't a shock, and I loved it. I have always wanted to dye my hair blue. Three has dark brown hair so the blue isn't really apparent, but in the light you can tell.
Child Two and her friend got good and lost today. I had anticipated the possibility, so Two had my cell phone just in case. They ended up a couple miles from home, not sure of where they were. After grilling them about landmarks, I found them and brought them home, but I won't let them go so far next time. They didn't panic (cell phones sure do bring security sometimes), but I think Husband was shocked to find I'd let them go like that. I also let Child Four go to the pool alone (yes, it was freezing but the pool was still open and she was determined). She's a pretty good swimmer, she promised to stay in the shallow end, and she was driving me crazy. When she's bored she loves to tease Child Five, who reacts with a lot of screaming and hitting. When Husband found out she'd gone by herself AND that Child Two and friend were lost, I don't think he knew exactly what to say. Still, he helped me with Google Maps to locate lost children and I explained my reasons for Four going to the pool alone and he was okay.
Child Five told me the other day what he wants for his birthday: "Clothes, music and shiny things." Exact quote. He'll be four. He has also invented a store called Dreams that he always wants to visit. He says, "It's a place that sells dreams you've never heard of." When he gets really mad that we aren't going, I tell him I don't know where to find it. "That's easy," he says. "You go west, then you turn and there you are!" So far we haven't visited, but I hope to in the future.
Oldest Child is sick and tired of being a teenager. The mood swings, the annoying siblings, paint fumes from painting flowers on her wall that made her stomach hurt (we told her to sleep on the couch). I told her there are good things about being a teen, like a healthy, strong body, lots of energy, fun with your friends and no huge responsibilities, but she wasn't in the mood to see the bright side today. I'll check back in five minutes. Maybe her mood will have changed.
I indulged this violent urge to crochet something. Normally violence isn't associated with the quieter domestic arts, but I think it's appropriate when speaking of sewing and counted cross stitch in particular. Case in point: I had terrible sewing machine. It was always unthreading itself and jamming up. Sure, I made some Halloween costumes and such, but I always vowed never, ever to sew ever again, after ripping out thread snarls and ripping out seams (the seams weren't the machine's fault. I must sew at least one seam that wasn't supposed to be there.). The other day I was "helping" my friend sew a banner for her wards' Girls Camp. Snarls, jams, all the usual shenanigans ensued. The phone rang and it was for my dad. I unthinkingly got up to get him, leaving the machine on, when Child Six, crawling on the floor under the table, happily pushed the foot pedal. CHUNKA-CHUNKA, CHUNKA-CHUNKA went the machine, as fast as it could go, rattling itself toward the edge of the table. My friend and I dove for the machine, but she was closer and managed to unplug the machine in a few seconds. The damage was done, however. Parts rattled loose that I cannot by any sheer muscle power or will get to go back in their proper places.

Violence associated with counted cross stitch is just self explanatory.

But, to get back to crocheting. I just needed to create something that doesn't immediately get undone, like housework does. I have now completed five squares of a new afghan, and I may even complete it when I find my hook that Child Five buried in one of the skeins of yarn.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Row, row, row your boat

If all it took to make it rain almost continually in this desert was my buying a family membership to the neighborhood pool, I suppose it's a good deal. If we'd done it years ago we'd be living in a...wet desert.
The kids tried swimming today. I got a phone call. "M-m-mom? C-c-can you pick us u-up? We're f-freezing!" I drove the three blocks and got them. Child Five was elated because He got to spend some of his pennies at the snack bar.
So much rain (or "moisture" as the natives call it) for such a dry place. The new lilac bush, which was a Mother's Day present from my sister, loves it.
I think the weather has encouraged a cold in Child Six, however. He's wheezing with congestion, his nose is stopped up or running, and I think he has a slight fever. His meter is also set on "hold me constantly." Poor kid. I have to keep handing him to one of his sisters to get anything done and he's not amused. They do their best, but they're back in 30 seconds, shoving him into me while he cries and tries to get into my arms. "Here, Mom. He wants you."
Child Six is also beginning to walk now. He's taking up to 10 or so steps at a time now. He also says, "Daddy," "baby," "tree," and "kitty." Does he say "Mommy"? He does not. That's gratitude.
Husband put in a bid on eBay and won a rowing machine. Since the seller lives in Utah he figured no one else would bid because of the horrific shipping charges, and he was right. Today he took the back two seats out of the van and drove the 50 miles or so to pick it up. I envy him the time in the car, quietly thinking a thought or even listening to the radio with his full attention. (I sometimes try to listen to talk radio. It's mostly a futile effort. Kids in the car = constant questions, comments, complaints, etc. It's not conducive to quiet contemplation of current issues. Maybe that's good. Current issues are mostly stress-inducing anyway. Thanks, kids.) The thought is that he and I will use said rowing machine for exercise and weight reduction. It could happen.
Husband thought a rowing machine in particular would be nice because I was, long ago in a different century, a crew rower. Yes, I, lean and fit, arrived at the boat house at 5:30am each day in the summer months and enjoyed the quiet beauty of nature on a smooth-as-glass harbor, the sun rising in the east and causing the water to shine liquid orange, the gulls and other birds crying welcome to a new day. Nothing marred that bucolic scene except the jarring sound of "Stroke! Stroke! Six, [that would be me], get your eyes in the boat!" and the sweat dripping into my eyes. Sometimes I viewed that glorious scene from the coxswain's seat on a men's boat and I was the one happily yelling, "Stroke, stroke! C'mon, only one more mile!" but inside I was really crying. The coxswain's seat was not meant for human behinds, even in my slim days. I would arrive back at the dock with such a case of butt-cramp.
That being said, rowing machines are a good way to exercise the whole body at once. I'm excited to try it. When I wean Child Six in September I am, once again, going to lose the baby fat. It will be hard. It will take long. The incentive is that I gave away my "skinny" wardrobe, so if I lose the weight I get to buy a whole new set of clothes.
Oldest Child wanted to spruce up her new room (she got her own room for her birthday as there was a vacancy. My brother moved out to a different city), so today she bought some craft paint and plans to paint big flowers on all her walls. She finished one wall today and will continue tomorrow. It looks pretty cool.
We also took a trip to the library today for some much-needed reading material. I signed up the kids for the summer reading program, but with my normal memory problems, they will be lucky if I remember to mark off, sign and bring back their papers for monthly prizes, much less make sure they read every day. At night we have been reading A Little Princess, which the girls really like. Child Five is less than impressed, however. His tastes run more toward Thomas the Tank Engine and Curious George, so I make sure he gets some of his favorites read to him.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Well, all the children are officially out of school for the summer. Since we designated June as a “no TV or video game” month, I am eagerly (read: wincingly) awaiting the inevitable “I’m bored!” and the fighting.
Oldest Child finished school yesterday and immediately went on a sleep-over with her best friend, Lisa (names have been changed to protect the innocent).
Last night Husband and I, my parents, and the children remaining at home went to watch the elementary school’s production of Sadoko and the 1000 Paper Cranes. Child Two and Child Three have been practicing for weeks with the Chimes Club and performed the music for the production, which went as well as an elementary school play can go, i.e. mumbled lines, lines spoken too quickly and a sound system that didn’t allow for any actual hearing. What I got from the play was sketchy, at best, but what I really enjoyed was hearing my children play the chimes. The club played a complicated Japanese melody called “A Boat on the Lake,” and for a bunch of third, fourth, and fifth graders, it sounded good enough to be performed in other venues.
After the play we got to look at the chimes. They are hollow, square metal tubes with a handle on one end. When the player flicks her wrist, a hinged, padded knocker strikes the tube, and then the player stops the resonation by gently placing the end of the tube against her shoulder or chest. They sound like hand bells but are apparently a lot less expensive.
Child Six, the baby of nearly 10 months, was up all night, it seemed. Around 2:30 in the morning I woke Husband up by shining my key light and shuffling around next to my side of the bed looking for the saline nose spray, which Child Six had previously managed to thoroughly lose. His wee nose was all stuffed up and he hates that. I didn’t find the nose spray, but eventually Six calmed down and fell back asleep. It’s been a while since I slept more than an hour at a time. If it isn’t one kid, it’s another. I just tell myself I’m on active duty 12 hours a day and on-call the other 12. Boy, do they call sometimes. “Mom. Mom! MOOOOM!!” Nightmares (especially when we have to use the albuterol for asthma attacks), wet beds, drinks of water, you name it. I wish I could say I’m a patient parent all through the night, but I’m not. They aren’t always reasonable children, and I get less patient the more tired I am. Have you ever watched the PBS cartoon, Caillou, and noticed how constantly patient, understanding and long-suffering the parents are? They never raise their voices, they always have time to indulge in Caillou’s whims, and they apparently never need Rosy and Caillou to just leave them alone for five minutes, quit fighting, and quit tattling on each other. I am not like that.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Rampant Plagiarism Exposed

Yes, I borrowed the title for my blog from one of my all-time favorite books by Gerry Durrell, so while giving all due credit to him for his creative genius, I also flatter him by using words he penned that are just so apt.
This blog is mainly for my family and friends, should they want to read the minutiae of my daily rounds with six great (if sometimes infuriating) children, one wonderful husband (no qualifiers here as he may look at this), my mom, my dad, various siblings and in-laws, nieces, nephews and three cats. (The cats may not figure into this as much as some would like. They're good cats but they're just not all that interesting -- not like a pet puma or alligator would be. Now those are animals you'd want to write something about. Our cats are pretty typical: sleep, eat, demand fuzz therapy, repeat.)
If you don't know me, welcome to my blog. Read at your own risk.
As the baby is currently asleep and I desperately need to sweep and mop a very sticky kitchen floor (child #5 dropped and broke a jar of jelly), that's it for now. Stay posted. I love to write.