Sunday, May 29, 2011

Such a Pain in the Neck!

Arrr! What happens when your stressed-out, rock hard shoulders meet a sudden leaping out of bed in the early morning to turn off the high decibel house alarm system set off by a three-year-old trying to get into the garage to find a popsicle in the freezer?

Pain happens.

Fortunately, it was a bad enough pain in my neck to warrant a day of rest Saturday (and since it was too rainy to work in the yard, no residual guilt), during which I watched several movies. Sian wanted to have a Pirates of the Caribbean marathon movie night for her birthday, so we had rented the first three movies for Friday night, but no one but Gabrielle and I made it through the first movie. That left us with some serious movie watching to do on Saturday. No writing, no heavy labor -- nothing but couch.

But the pain wasn't enough to keep me down for too long. I was feeling much better in time to go to choir practice last night. Husband was concerned, but I told him I would come home if I couldn't handle it. The endorphins released during practice prevented me from feeling much pain until it was over, when I kept dropping my keys on the floor for some reason. I suspect the key dropping was due to latent frustration at not being able to consistently nail that interval between "cares" and "I" in Star Wars: A Tribute to the Music of John Williams, although that might be overthinking it a bit.

Little Gary is fully potty trained. Yes, as long as he's completely and utterly naked, he never has an accident. The trouble happens when he starts wearing any sort of clothing on his lower half. Sigh. A friend of mine says that potty training isn't so much about training the kid as training yourself. Little Gary trains me all the time, though. He'll say, "Mommy, I say 'I love you,' and then you say 'I love you, too,' and I say 'I love you, too.'" Today, he climbed up onto the headboard of my bed and instructed me, "Mommy, say 'be careful, my darling!'"

After potty training five other children, I wonder why I still feel completely new to the situation every single time?

Well, me hearties! I'm getting up early tomorrow to get me some exercise before the little landlubbers begin awakin' and demandin' food and attention. That means I'll be needin' to get to bed at a reasonable and decent hour o' the night. And I'll need to lay off the pie (is that possible?).

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Don't Look Up With Your Mouth Open, and Sweet 16 Already??

There must be a mathematical law for the multiplication of seagulls. Clearly, it's a function of available food, so if S is seagull and F is food,

S = F(ST)+ sMD
Or, to put it plainly, the number of seagulls equals available food multiplied by seagull telepathy added to the seagull multiple dimension theory (because it's just common sense that seagulls couldn't multiply that fast at an outdoor BBQ without coming from some near dimension).

Pigeons might operate on the same mathematical principle, but seagulls are uncanny. I've lived around seagulls or herring gulls nearly my whole life, and I believe my study of them warrants some publication. Maybe a book deal. Any takers? I'll call it Bold and Hungry: the sharp beaks behind the plaintive cry. Oprah will read it and weep, and it will become an instant best seller.

Ooh, I can't wait!

While I'm holding out for the millions coming my way, I have been attending end-of-year school functions that include dancing and grilled hot dogs (and thus, seagulls), and singing. Elannah had her gymnastics recital, after which the manager told her that she would love to have her on the competition team. Sian has finished her final round of tests and homework assignments just in time for her 16th birthday (today!). Gabrielle pulled up some low grades and turned them into high grades at her dad's urging by slogging through missing homework assignments and completing all the extra credit she could get. Sophia received a certificate signed by the President of the United States for achieving perfect straight As throughout her entire elementary school career. Joseph is mentally done with school and getting him to go this last week has been a Herculean exercise, but since the first grade had more homework than any other grade this year, I can understand his mental exhaustion. And Little Gary had a test for preschool.

And now, a note about my beloved first daughter, who has reached the tender and frightening age of 16.

She is a lovely child and she was born knowing right from wrong. When she was little, perfect strangers used to stop me on the street or in the supermarket aisles and tell me she was just like a porcelain doll with her fair skin, bluest of blue eyes, and darkest brown corkscrew curls. She's all grown up now, and she's beautiful inside and out. She loves goodness and doesn't understand badness. Her stack of books to read is taller than mine. She tries hard to push herself and achieve so many things.

I'm not sure where she came from, frankly.

I credit both her grandmothers when I see Sian's manifesting genes, and she is certainly her maternal grandfather's willing disciple, listening intently as he shares his knowledge and wisdom with her.

Happy birthday, my darling girl. You are precious to me, and I am so proud of you for what you are becoming and have accomplished already.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Didn't Think I Would Mind Being Worshipped. Turns Out, It's Much More Uncomfortable Than I Realized.

Yup. I'm definitely a cat person.

I have a friend who has an adorable little toy shihtzu named Jazzee (after the Utah Jazz basketball team), and every day I bring Jazzee over to our house to get some exercise and attention, as my friend is home-bound and not able to get down on the floor for serious tug-of-war. For some reason, when she's here, I am Jazzee's preferred person. Even though the girls are the ones who generally take her on walks, if I'm around, all others rate only a quick, uninterested glance. I rate cuddles and kisses and constant companionship. She follows me everywhere I go.

Somewhat like a certain three-year-old I know.

As cute as Jazzee is -- and she's adorable, with a face like an Ewok! -- that kind of attention is exhausting. I was contrasting her devoted and glue-like loyalty to a moment when I stooped down and gave Lincoln a thorough and very purr intensive scratch around the neck and ears. When he had had enough, I went off to put the laundry in the dryer, and Lincoln resumed his interrupted nap, not in the least concerned about my current plans or whereabouts. Jazzee, however, followed me closely, not taking her eyes off me for a second so that I would not give her the slip and dash off to the bathroom and lock the door, or something equally heinous.

I promised my friend that should anything happen to her, Jazzee has a loving home with us. In fact, Jazzee had a sleep-over one night just for fun. It was more tiring than that last sleep-over Elannah had with a billion little friends running up and down the stairs all night long and leaving the milk out on the counter. Jazzee wouldn't sleep anywhere but on my bed where I was, and Husband was not having a dog on the bed. For half the night, I tried to pawn the dog off on the girls, only to have her click-click her little nails on the wooden floor and bound back up the stairs to my room again. If I left her on the floor, she sat and stared at me (I could feel it through my closed eyelids). When she felt she had waited too long, she gave her signature single bark. After a couple more minutes, another bark. Repeat cycle of pawning and returning and barking.

Finally, longing for sleep, I plopped Jazzee up on the bed at my feet, where she happily lay down and proceeded to make loud smacking noises for about five minutes before her final, tired sigh, when she settled into slumber at last. Any time Husband or I moved and jostled her, Jazzee would repeat her smacking routine and loud sigh before falling back asleep. Although Husband slept in between those times, he woke up with the impression that Jazzee had been smacking her tongue just about constantly through seven or so hours.

How do people deal with dogs? Aside from the whole training issue, how does one put up with that kind of attention? I guess I could get used to it in the daytime, but nights would drive me crazy. Compound her need to be around me with her incessant nocturnal smacking and the fact that Myles the Cat, king and chief ruler of our household, took an instant and violent dislike to the ball of fluff that entered his domain (and Myles is the one who sleeps on our bed), and there would possibly be some sort of civil war -- and not just between the animals.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Let's Get Naked!

Little Gary keeps coming up to me and saying, "Great catch!" and then swatting me on the behind.

A week ago, he said to me in sepulchral tones, "Food...water...atmosphere!"

And while we stood in the checkout line at the store, I was holding him to keep him from running freely and happily out the exit without me. He kissed me on the cheek and shouted, "Let's get naked!" Let's just say I didn't get the "good parenting approval glance" from anyone behind us.

I know where he gets a lot of the phrases he repeats, and it's my fault. He gets them from Spongebob Squarepants, which is his absolute favorite show of choice now that Dora the Explorer has dropped to second place in his personal ranking system. As my youngest son gets older, it's increasingly more difficult for me to get my work done while his siblings are at school. I cringe that he watches so many episodes of Spongebob, but one of his favorite things is for us to cuddle up together and watch a show. I've seen so much Spongebob I can tell you that in the "let's get naked" episode, Spongebob and Patrick are trying to sell chocolate without much success. Discussing possible sales approaches, Patrick says, "Let's get naked!" and Spongebob replies in perfect deadpan, "Nah, let's save that for when we're selling real estate." Maybe Little Gary remembers that scene so embarrassingly well because I laugh every time I see it.

Usually, I'm feeling a complex mixture of emotions, ranging from joy that I can spend time with my son (even if it means some Spongebob viewing, which is still WAY better than watching Dora episodes. YAWN!) and stress that I have so much to do and can't get it done. Oddly enough, I have to be able to think in order to write what I write, and it's hard to think when Little Gary is demanding attention. And, really, he has every right to my undivided attention -- at least for a while. He's only going to be three once. The problem is that when the older girls get home, they're tired from school and don't feel all that excited to take him on a bug hunt or play Indiana Jones on the PS3. Then, when the younger three get home, there's the constant knocking on my door, the phone ringing, the problems that need resolving, lessons or appointments they need to be driven to, and complaints about there being no snacks in any part of the house. Frankly, as a stay-at-home mother, there is just no good time to sit for hours and think up clever sentences for my articles. Something and someone gets neglected. If I had an office outside the house, things would still get neglected but I would be able to ignore it better.

Last night, I asked Husband to make dinner so I could finish some articles. I didn't have any plans, and I hadn't been to the store, so he had to get creative. He rose to the task admirably, and when dinner was ready, we feasted on scrambled eggs, petite pois, hot dogs with hamburger buns, fries, and canned chili beans.

The obvious solution to my dilemma is to never sleep. I could get a lot done in those dark, silent hours of the night. That just doesn't seem to work, however, so I struggle along. I wouldn't work if I didn't have to, but on the other hand, it's nice to know I'm improving my writing skills and being creative (as creative as you can be when the article you're writing is about cement foundations)while bringing in some much-needed cash. If I've got my A game going on, I make a lot of money per hour. My fingers fly, my bank account says ca-ching!

(Just so you don't think I'm making the BIG bucks, "ca-ching" is pretty relative. I make way more per hour than working at Wal-Mart, but I don't work eight hours a day. At least, I don't work eight hours a day writing.)

I'm thinking of applying for Little Gary to get into pre-school. If he gets in, he'll get a chance to play with other children during the week, since I never think to schedule play dates for him. That would cut down on the Spongebob consumption, and maybe he wouldn't spout sudden and inappropriate exclamations at the store. (I'm not sure where the "Good catch!" butt-swatting thing came from, however.) For now, I have decided to spend time with him during the morning and early afternoon and then just grit my teeth and get my writing done as well as possible in the late afternoon and evening, despite the constant interruptions. It would certainly help if I just sat down and made a meal plan and did the shopping, because then the girls and Husband can cook dinner while I finish up. I sometimes get up early to write in peace and quiet, but Little Gary has taken to early risings, as well. He's uncanny.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Blurb. Fun Word.

I landed myself a somewhat permanent assignment with my work, but it is not without pain. The nice thing, of course, is that I can count on earning a certain amount of money each month, which is nice for a freelance writer. The hard thing is that the assignment -- writing 60 blurbs a month about LAP-BAND (registration symbol) and this type of bariatric surgery -- just about kills me. It's enough to make me cry, really, but I like the money. Fortunately, I can take all month to write 60 blurbs, which equals about 3 per each work day. That's much better than when I had to write all 60 in a week. I nearly had a mental breakdown.

Speaking of work, my talented and strangely single brother, Aaron, got promoted. He's now doing SEO work, which is fancy talk for getting stuff the company writes for clients to be seen by web crawlers and put on the first pages of searches. It's why I have to include keywords in the blurbs, articles, web text, and blog posts I write.

Did you know that the most often viewed post I have written is by far was entitled "Amateur Black and White Photography"? It's not saying much to state it is the most oft-viewed post, because I don't get more than a handful of viewers anyway (which is fine with me). Another popular one is about storing wheat in buckets. If I wanted to start another blog and make it specifically informative, I would have an idea of where to take it. That's SEO working. Search Engine Optimization.

I had to catch up on my Lap Band blurbs tonight, and my brain is done. I almost got a picture of the kitchen back splash, but I forgot when the remembering was crucial. If that doesn't make sense, too bad.