Saturday, April 30, 2011

Boys & Girls are Almost Exactly the Same


Two nights ago, my nine-year-old Lexi had her friend, Ally sleep over. The girls spent a lot of time in Lexi’s room, listening to music, putting on make-up, dancing, and making up pretend games. That’s the kind of stuff Lexi always does with her friends. They paint their nails and do each other’s hair. They put on shows where they sing and dance for me. Then they put on their jammies, brush their teeth, and drag all their blankets, sleeping bags, pillows, and dolls into the family room where they set up camp, taking time to arrange their belongings just so. They settle into their sleeping bags and watch a movie until they fall asleep.

Last night, my twelve-year-old son, Jackson had a friend sleep over. The boys did almost exactly the same things that the girls did.

Last night, my twelve-year-old son, Jackson had a friend sleep over.  The boys did almost exactly the same things that the girls did. 

The girls played with dolls.  The boys played a video game where they raced cars and smashed them into firey balls of twisted metal. 

The girls made up pretend games and played “royal wedding”, taking turns being William and Kate.  The boys also made up a game.  It was called “let’s smash each other’s skulls with a baseball bat” “fencing”, as they took turns hitting each other with plastic baseball bats.

The girls applied eyeshadow and lipstick to themselves.  The boys applied mud to themselves.  Lots and lots of mud.  

The girls listened to songs and made up dances and cheer routines to go with the music.  The boys made their own, ah, um, sort of music.  They burped.  They laughed.  They tried to outburp each other.  They laughed some more.  Then, when Austin got off the couch, Jackson’s friend, John called squatter’s rights and claimed the open space on the couch.  Austin, not accepting the rule of squatter’s rights, bent over and farted on John’s head.  This caused uproarious laughter.  John’s face turned red and he almost pooped in his pants as he strained to return the ah, favor to Austin.  I used an entire bottle of Febreeze trying to destinkify my house. 

The girls put on a show, demonstrating the cheer routine they’d made up and practiced all evening.  The boys ran through the house, whipping pillows at each other.

After getting ready for bed, the girls made camp in the family room, snuggling into their carefully arranged blankets.  The boys passed out, draped across the couches, muddy limbs, stinky clothes, unbrushed teeth and all.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Want $500 and Death to Creepy Crawlies?

Janice and Susan from 5 Minutes for Mom are running a contest sponsored by Raid and they're giving away TWO $500 Walmart gift cards!

To get in the draw, head over to
5 Minutes for Mom and share a funny or creepy bug story that happened to you.

You can blog your #RaidBugStory and share the link in a comment or tell the whole story in a comment. But make sure you leave your comments over at
5 Minutes for Mom and not here. And do it now because the contest ends this Tuesday and you don't want to miss out! I mean, you can buy a whole lotta Raid with $500, right?!

The giveaway details are included below, but first here's one of my MANY bug stories.


After lying around sick and dying for days, I should have gone to bed early last night and gotten some much needed sleep. But that wasn't to be. Savannah had begged me to let her go to the midnight showing of Twilight when it first came out. I was a mean mom and didn't let her go. Then she begged me to let her go to the midnight showing of New Moon when it first came out, but again, I was mean and wouldn't let her go. Last night, Savannah begged me to let her see the midnight showing of Eclipse, and knowing how important it is to be firm and consistent in all parenting matters, I said, "Sure, whatever, knock yourself out. Just please tell me you have a ride home because I may be dead from this sore throat by 2:00 AM."

She gave me that look. Not the look that says, "But Moooom, I have to go! All my friends are going! I'll just die if I don't get to go!" Nope, I'm immune to that look. When I receive that look from one of my kids, I just respond with, "Hey, we didn't have CELL PHONES when I was your age! Do you really wanna tell me how your life will end if you don't get this?" That usually shuts them up.

But no, she didn't give me that look. She gave me the sad, resigned, "I know you work hard and you're tired and you really try to do everything for us, Mom" look. Ugh. I'm not immune to that look. I hate that look! I hate feeling like I've let someone down. If she'd just fought me and talked back, I would've been okay, but noooo, she had to accept that I was too tired and too sick to pick her up so late. And I couldn't accept that.

Sooo, being the total pushover dedicated parent I am, I stayed awake until it was time to pick her up at 2:15 AM. You know who stays up until 2:00AM when they're running a fever and feeling like the stuff floating in my fire pit of soot-water (aka Ye Ole Fishing Hole)? Crazy people, that's who! Well, and vampires and werewolves, of course. And the undead. And every mother of a newborn. And that "Time to Make the Donuts" guy. But mostly crazy people. Like me.

When 2:15 rolled around, I hadn't died of a sore throat or achy back yet, so I got Savannah and her friend and dropped everyone off at the correct house and didn't fall asleep at the wheel. I returned home, locked up, and shuffled back into my bedroom where I felt something brush my arm. Since I shed approximately 350,000 hairs a day (I have no idea how I'm not bald) and since I learned my lesson after my spider freak-out, I naturally thought a hair was tickling my arm. I brushed at it and it flew. IT FLEW! Hair doesn't fly! What the??? It was a bat! Holy cow, there was a stinking BAT in my bedroom!

Okay, it might have possibly just been a moth. But it looked like a bat. I'm pretty sure it had fangs and it was the size of a Buick. So, I did what any sane, rational, quick-thinking person would do. I grabbed my bottle of Philosophy Inner Grace perfume and I sprayed it to death! Except it didn't work. I didn't, in fact, spray it to death. I only got it drunk on the fumes. And then it started flitting around in a crazed pattern, circling me. I saw him give me the evil eye right before he dive-bombed my head. I did the classic, evasive, Duck-and-Cover maneuver as I ran screaming from the room like a little girl. It's okay. I can do that. I am a girl.

Clearly, this is an alien bat programmed to destroy me. This calls for Plan B. I grabbed a paper towel and a shoe. The plan was to throw the shoe at him, knock him unconscious, then pick him up with several layers of paper towel so I couldn't feel him through the paper, then stomp him to death with the shoe. It's fool-proof! It's brilliant! It's...okay, it's late and I'm sick and this is an alien bat, so even while I was certain Plan B would work, in the back of my mind I was toying with Plan C wherein I'd wake up Clayton, give him some hairspray and a lighter and let him go to town with a homemade blowtorch. Did I mention I was feverish?

Anyway, I returned to my room only to find the moth killer zombie bat gone. Missing. Totally vanished. I was seriously freaking out at this point. I stood there with eighteen feet of paper towels dangling from my hand. I spun around, eyes darting here and there, scoping every corner of my bedroom. He's got to be in here somewhere! All ninja-like, I quietly tiptoed a couple steps to the side, then whirled around to face death head-on! He wasn't there. I sneaked over to my curtains and quick-as-a-whip, ripped them back from the window! Nothing. "Ohhhh, he's good," I thought to myself. This went on for a good half hour while I made little surprise attacks on unsuspecting pieces of furniture, bedding, and stacks of laundry around my room. Nothing.

I decided that perhaps my fever was getting the best of me, so I decided to take a shower to cool off while I turned off all the lights in my room, and turned on all the lights in the kitchen. That'll draw him out, I convinced myself as I showered.
When I got out of the bathroom, I made my way to the kitchen, positive I'd see the moth flitting around the light. Nope. Which just solidified my belief that it was indeed a bat. He was perfectly content staying in my darkened room. By this time it was 4:00 AM and extreme tiredness had overcome me, so I finally gave up. I quickly dove under the covers and pulled them up over my head. In my sleep deprived state, I was somehow okay about dying from lack of oxygen under the covers all night, but I really didn't want guano in my hair. It made sense to me at the time.

Thankfully, I woke up this morning and the bat had not eaten my face off, so I think my burrowing under the covers worked. Either that or he's just making me wait. He's making me sweat it out. And just when I forget about him, that's when he'll attack!



How To Win One of Two $500 Walmart Gift Cards
To enter to win just tell the wonderful twins, Janet and Susan, over at 5 Minutes for Mom a funny or creepy bug story that happened to you. You can blog your story and share the link in a comment or tell the whole story in a comment.

For additional entries, you can tweet, post on Facebook and/or post on your Blog telling your friends about this bug inspired giveaway. Just leave additional comments with the links to your tweet, facebook post and/or blog post. Tweets should include hashtag #RaidBugStory

Each comment will be included as an entry in their random draw.

QUICK… This ends soon…

They’ll accept entries through Tuesday, May 3rd and they’ll announce the lucky winners on Wednesday, May 4th.

5 Minutes for Mom

* This contest is sponsored by Raid Max® Bug Barrier. Raid Max Bug Barrier creates a barricade around your home preventing 8 different types of insects from coming indoors.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Knee Bone's Connected to the Leg Bone


My almost-fifteen-year-old daughter, Savannah had surgery on her knee last May. She has a fairly rare joint disorder called osteochondritis dissecans. Basically, a piece of her femur was peeling away. 
The doctor went in, drilled up into her bone so it would bleed down into this piece that had peeled away because of a loss of bloodflow, and he put some screws in it. It took a long time to heal, but she finally got the green light for sports in October, at which point the xray showed that the fragment of bone had adhered and was healing well.


For the past couple months, however, she’s been having pain again. Her knee sometimes just gives out on her while she’s walking. I have not-so-wonderful state insurance, but I called to make an appointment with this doctor who doesn’t take not-so-wonderful state insurance anyway. I had to make the appointment with him because I really like him and because he’s the one who did her surgery and knows what’s going on. I told the office staff that I’d just self-pay. So, we saw him today. After listening to Savannah’s complaints and examining her knee, he told us she’d need an MRI, but in the meantime, he got an xray of her knee just to see what that showed.

The bone is peeling away again. This means another surgery to hopefully reattach this fragment. If that’s not a possibility (and he won’t know until he gets in there and sees how bad it is), he’ll remove the piece altogether. That will do away with her pain, however, she’ll need another surgery in the future to replace some cartilage. The doctor explained that sometimes they take tiny bits of cartilage from another area of the knee and sometimes they use cadaver cartilage. Savannah took that well. “Dead people cartilage?! I have to have dead people cartilage in my knee?!!!”

I freaked out a little myself and explained my situation a bit (state insurance, moving to FL, ex who doesn’t feel the need to work and pay court ordered child support). I said that I couldn’t afford to pay for the surgery on my own and I wouldn’t have insurance until August at which point I’d be in FL. I was going to ask him if Savannah could wait that long to get her knee fixed and if he knew of a good orthopedic surgeon in Orlando, or if she needed it fixed now. I figured I’d have to work out some sort of payment plan and with any luck, she’d own her new knee free and clear by the time she was my age.

Instead, this doctor said, “You have enough on your plate. My next meal is not coming from this surgery. I’ve got you covered. Let’s take care of Savannah and do not worry about insurance. I don’t take new patients with AllKids, but you’re not a new patient. That’s the last thing you need to worry about, okay?”

I cried.

I loved this doctor before. With six kids, he’s taken care of many broken bones in this family. He did Savannah’s surgery and took care of Brooklyn when the pediatrician thought she had hip dysplasia. He took care of Lexi’s and Jackson’s broken arms. He’s seen Lexi for her intoeing. He’s great! He’s the kind of doctor who takes the time to talk to you, jokes around with the kids, listens to your concerns, explains things thoroughly in terms you can understand, and is just likeable. But now I totally LOVE him!

Soooo, poor Savannah has to have more surgery. And she’s going to miss softball and volleyball for a second year. She cried last year when she found out she was going to miss softball season. This time, she took it really well. I was very proud of her. She looked bummed out, but said, “I guess I’ll be the scorekeeper again this year.”

I feel horrible that Savannah has to go through another surgery and I worry that she’ll always have problems with that knee.  But let’s face it, the real concern here is that I’ve lost one of my best movers!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wanted: Someone to Clean up Puke



A couple nights ago, my kids and I went out to dinner with good friends to celebrate their son, Brandon’s birthday. Brandon is my godson. His mom, Jen is my best friend. I’ve known her since our freshman year in high school when I’d get in trouble for making her laugh in class. Jen’s husband, Chris was her high school sweetheart so I’ve known him almost as long as I’ve known Jen. We’ve gone camping with Jen, Chris, and their four kids more times than should be allowed by law. We’ve broken bread and shared bottles of wine together a zillion times over the years. And we’ve enjoyed more laughs than I could ever begin to count. Our children have grown up together and my kids call their kids cousins.


As I sat there at our little table for thirteen, I talked about my upcoming move, the latest insanity of my ex, and how kids shouldn’t put broken zippers, that were found on the floor, in their mouths. (Yes, that last one was courtesy of Clayton.) But all the while I was thinking, I’m going to miss this. I’m going to miss watching the kids interact. I’m going to miss laughing until I wet my pants. (Hey, I’ve had six kids. It happens!) I love these friends as if they were family. How do you leave the people you love without breaking down?

In the light of day, I’m happy and excited about the move. Things have fallen into place so well that it just seems meant to be. I feel confident that this is the best thing I can do for my family. There are so many advantages to it, and it’ll be a fresh start for all of us. It’s a good thing.

But come nightfall, I lie in bed, my mind racing with thoughts of how much I’ll miss my friends, how much my kids will miss their friends, and how long it’s going to take me to unload the moving van! I second-guess myself even though I know I’m making the right decisions. I worry that I’ll never make new friends, that I’ll stink at a regular job, and ohmygosh, what if one of my kids throws up?! I won’t have any friends to clean it up and I’ll have to close the door to the barf-room and never set foot in there again. And if it happens in the kitchen, I’ll have to order take-out for the rest of my life. Wait, that’s not really a drawback. Hmmm, still, I worry about stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t keep me up all night. Soon after the “what ifs” start, I get a calm, soothing “It’s going to be okay” feeling. There’s something freeing in letting go. If things work out, my house sells quickly, and I find a new place in Florida, then great! If it doesn’t work out that way, then it wasn’t meant to be and something new will come along. I do believe God has a plan and it may not be the same as my plan. (I often try to tell Him how He should do things my way, but it never works.) So, I’m relaxing (mostly) in my knowledge that things will work out as things always do. But if you know anyone in the Orlando area who is capable of cleaning up puke without vomiting herself, send her my way! Oh yeah, and if all my friends could move to Florida with me so I don’t miss them, that would be great!

Clean Sweep - Bedroom Episode

I still need to paint the ceiling (YUCK!), and get the garage roof fixed, but other than that, I finally have my house the way I want it. It officially goes on the market today. Eek! Say a prayer for a quick sale. And don't tell me to bury a statue upside down in my yard. I refuse to do something as ludicrous as that out of principle.


Unfortunately, I didn't think to take "before" pictures of most of the rooms. Here are "before" and "after" shots of my room though.


BEFORE











AFTER





Sunday, April 24, 2011

Get in Bed!



“Ni-night, girls. Sweet dreams.  Get some sleep. School tomorrow. I love you. Kiss kiss!”

“Night, Mommy,” my youngest girls said as they threw their arms around me and kissed me goodnight.

I left their room, walked out to the living room, and collapsed on the couch. After getting about four hours of sleep last night, waking up early to find eggs, cooking a big brunch, and cleaning and organizing my garage in preparation for my garage sale, I was pooped. I sat down and and started reading email. No sooner had I opened my laptop when Lexi walked into the living room.


“Um Mom?”  (They always have to begin with, “Mom?” even though I’m sitting right there, looking at them. That isn’t good enough. I must assure them I’m paying 100% attention by answering in the affirmative.)

“Yes?”

“Um, I um. . .”  She trailed off as that universal kid ADD kicked in and she became glued to the TV.

“Hello?” I prompted, bringing her back to her reason for getting out of bed.

“Oh yeah!  Um, you know what my five favorite smells are?”

blink blink

“Chicken pot pie, ham, baby lotion, Suave shampoo, um, and, um, hmmm, I can’t remember the other one.”

“Lexi?”  I said, using her technique of attention-getting.

“Yeah, Mom?”

“GO TO BED!”

Why, oh why, do these most important things pop up when the kids are supposed to be sleeping? It doesn’t matter if I’ve taken time to create a relaxing bedtime routine: snacks, teeth-brushing, story time, snuggling, or if I’ve had a hectic evening and just told them to get in bed. No matter what, they inevitably come up with some very important, life-or-death matter they must discuss after being tucked in.

“Mom, I um, Mom?”

“Yes?”


“Um, Mom, look at me.  This is my super happy face!”  major cheesy smile


“Charming.  Good night.”


“Mom?”

“Yes?”


“Do I have school tomorrow?”


“Yes.”


“Mom?”

“Yes?”


“Um, I forgot.  Oh yeah!  Mom?”


“Still yes.”


“Um, I can’t sleep.”


“That’s because you’re standing here.  Now get in bed!”


“Mom?”

“Yes?”


“How many more days until my birthday?”


“You’re not going to make it to your birthday if you don’t get your butt in bed.  I mean, three hundred and thirty-some days.”


“Mom?”

“Yes?”


“Um, I have to do my project for school.”


“Isn’t it due in two weeks?”


“Yeah.”


“Go to bed!”


“Mom?”

“Yes?”


“Can I have a hamster? Where do rhinos live? Do whales sleep? I think there’s a spider in my room. My jammies are itchy. I need to go to the bathroom. I know what I want to be for Halloween now. Where’s my blanket? Can I wear my black shoes tomorrow? Can I get a drink of water?”


This is the point when I give up, walk to the fridge, pour myself a glass of wine, and simply tune them out until their mouths get too dry to talk anymore and they fall asleep.  Kids have no clue. If someone told me, “Go to bed and get some sleep while I do some work and clean up the house,” I’d be asleep before my head hit the pillow. Sleep is totally wasted on the young!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hot Lava!

I sat in the lobby with Brooklyn yesterday while I was waiting for the mechanic to look over my car and give me an estimate. I was content just sitting on my butt, alternately playing Words with Friends on my phone and glancing up at the freaks contestants on The Price is Right. Did you all know that Drew Carey is the host now? I had no idea. Although, I supposed Bob Barker has to be about a hundred years old, huh? 

 Anyway, I was fine just sitting there, playing with my phone and looking at the TV now and then. Brooklyn, on the other hand. . .

The repair shop had one of those Hinckley and Schmidt water coolers. You’d think they dispensed rum with the way my kids are addicted to these things. The minute my kids walk into a waiting room that features one of these coolers, they make a bee line toward it. They proceed to guzzle down water like a tribe of desert wanderers. It was my kids who taught me that a human’s stomach can expand to hold four and a half gallons of water. Of course, all this water has to go somewhere. Thus begins the bathroom fun.

Brooklyn’s little bathroom trip took approximately fifteen minutes. Two minutes to pee, wipe, and zip up, and thirteen minutes to play in the sink. Then she came out and headed right back to the water dispenser. But this time, there was an added twist. “I can only walk on the rug. I can’t touch the floor,” Brooklyn announced as she leapt from carpet runner to carpet runner, carefully avoiding the tiled area. 

“Why do you have to stay on the carpet, Brooklyn?” I inquired.

“Because,” she explained with the hint of an eye roll, “the floor is hot lava.” 

Ahhh, yes, hot lava. All kids know about the dangers of hot lava on the floor. I wonder why this is since most kids have never actually seen hot lava. But ask any child and they’ll tell you that you must stay on the carpet, or the green tiles, or the white squares, etc. to avoid falling into hot lava. Hot lava is universal. 

She carefully hopped back and forth to the water cooler, avoiding the hot lava, several times. Then she switched things up a bit. The hot lava became a lake with alligators and snakes. She had to leap onto her chair so an alligator wouldn’t take a bite out of her way-too-small shoes that she insisted still fit her. This game went on for a while until she decided she needed to run across the carpet runner maze. 

“Mom, mom, mom! Say 'ready, set, go!'", Brooklyn instructed as she crouched down, ready to sprint across the room. This was followed by, “Mom, time me! How fast am I?” I let her run around for a while, hoping the mechanics would get sick of seeing her bounce around the waiting room like a ping pong ball, and they’d quickly finish up my car. When that didn’t work, I tried to get her to sit down and play a game on my phone. When that didn’t work, I gave up and joined her. All I can say is, it’s a good thing the floor wasn’t really hot lava.

When Your Brakes Break


I had to get the brakes fixed on my car today. Ordinarily, when the brakes start to go, it happens so gradually that I’m not even aware they’re getting bad at first. Then, one day, I realize I’m employing the Fred Flintstone method of stopping. It’s really not the best idea to put your foot through the floor in order to stop though, so I take the first step in getting my brakes repaired – I think about doing it. This step can last weeks. But when my car, angry that I haven’t taken it to a mechanic yet, rebels and starts making that metal grinding against metal sound, I figure it’s time to actually take it in to a mechanic. At least sometime in the next few weeks.


This time, however, I skipped the whole Fred Flintstone stage and went directly to the metal grinding stage overnight. In the matter of a couple miles, my attitude went from, Hmmm, I think my brakes are sounding bad, to Oh my gosh, I won’t be able to stop and I’m gonna crash and die!

So I took my car to the shop today. I was thankful that my brakes were consistently making that horrid metal grinding noise. Not because I like that sound or anything, but so I wouldn’t have to explain a mysterious non-existent noise because everyone knows the mysterious sound disappears the minute you take your vehicle to the mechanic.

“Well, ma’am, we drove it around, but didn’t hear any noise.”

“It was making a noise! I swear! It went like this Eeeeahhhscreeeeeahhhhshwooshwoosh! Honest. It did. Ahem.”

So, the guy drove my van around, then put it on the stick thingy that raises it up in the air and did important stuff like count the tires, point to miscellaneous parts under the van, and write a list of all the things wrong with my car. When he was finished, he presented me with his estimate.

Here’s the thing though, average folks (especially women) have no clue what the mechanic is talking about. A mechanic could tell me anything and I’d have no choice but to take his word for it. I’m convinced they make up stuff just to mess with customers. I bet they make wagers with each other on whether the clueless customer will believe them and agree to the repairs.

“Yes, ma’am, the halogen fluid in the headlights is low, it needs new muffler bearings, the spare transmission isn’t working, the anti-lock brakes won’t unlock, and the flux capacitor isn’t fluxing. These are definite safety issues and you should get them fixed immediately. It’ll cost you $3400.”

I like being able to stop my van without running into buildings so I told them to go ahead and fix my brakes. After paying them an amount so obscene I think I’ll have to move into my van to live, I took my keys and headed toward my car. Before I left, the mechanic had these parting words, “The brakes need a breaking in period for about two weeks so don’t floor it to the red lights and then slam on the brakes, okay.”

Darn! Now I have to wait two weeks before I can play pole position while weaving in and out of traffic and slamming on my brakes frequently while running the car pool in my “church van”.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

You Can Run, But You Can't Hide


The other night, I went downtown for a blogger event.  I was totally looking forward to this, not because it was going to be such a grand soirĂ©e, but because I’d have a couple hours to relax and be responsible for no one but myself.  I gave my parents last-minute instructions and cruised to the train station in traffic.  I was running late because apparently I’m incapable of getting anywhere on time, but I pulled into the station with like a whole three minutes to spare before the train arrived.  Stressed out and feeling guilty that I had dropped the ball on making dinner for my kids ahead of time, I joined my friend Michelle and sunk into the seat she’d saved me on the train.  I took a deep breath.  ”Okay,” I told myself, “I’m off duty now.  Just for the next few hours,  I can do what I want.  I won’t have to break up any arguments.  I won’t have to tell anyone to go to bed 50,000 times.  I won’t have to. . . ”  brrring


I glanced down at my phone to see a text from Austin.  What’s the password for your old laptop so Clay can play a game on it?

I texted the password to Austin, then turned to Michelle.  ”Ahhh, it feels nice to sit down.  So, hey, what are you doing tomorrow around lunchtime?  I was just wondering because I have a friend coming over to tape. . .”  brrring

I looked at my phone againA text from Jackson read, Can I go over to John’s?

Before I even had a chance to text my well-thought out, considerate reply of, I’m off duty!  Ask your grandparents!, my phone rang.

“Mom, can I go over to John’s?”

“Sigh.  Yes, Jackson.  As long as it’s okay with Yia Yia and Papa, you can go, but you’d better be back by 6:00 because you’re getting picked up for hockey then.”

I hung up and turned, apologetically, back toward Michelle when my phone beeped.  This time it was a text from Savannah.  Hey Mom.  Can I have like $20?  Pweeeease?

I looked at Michelle and explained.  ”My daughter is hitting me up for money long distance.”

I texted back. Sure!  You know where Yia Yia’s purse is.

Instantly, another text came through.  This time, from Jackson. 

Forget it.  I can’t go to John’s after all because his sister is sick.

Before I’d even finished reading that one, another came in.

Can I please have $20?  I’ll love you forever and ever.

John’s mom changed her mind.  I can go over there now.  Is that okay?

Hey Mom, it hurts when I breathe deeply.  I think I might have a fever.

So, can I have some money please?

Can I go to John’s?

Is it bad if you can’t breathe?

Money?

John’s?

Fever!

I shook my head and looked at Michelle.  ”Just a minute,” I apologized.  Then I got up and walked to the end of the car while the train came to a halt.  As the doors opened, I whipped my phone out onto the track.

You can get out for a couple hours, but you can never get away.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Walking to School

My Little Chatterbox

As I walked Brooklyn to school today, she informed me, “Mom, Ashley doesn’t talk much at school.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yep. She’s quiet.”

“Well, some people are quiet. That’s okay,” I explained. “And then, other people are chatterboxes,” I continued.

I looked at Brooklyn and asked, “So what do you think you are – quiet or a chatterbox?”

She glanced up at me with a decidedly guilty look on her face. “I’m a chatterbox,” she admitted under her breath.

I threw my head back and laughed uproariously. Let me explain. This is how the rest of our walk went. . .


“Oh look, Mom! This is where me and Clay and Lexi had a picnic. We sat over there. We had chips. You know those kind of chips that have those crunchy things? And we took juice. But we were out of juice boxes. We just poured some juice in a bottle. But we only had two bottles so we shared. Oh look, pinecones! Remember when I was at Clayton’s baseball game? Remember we were at that park with that boy? He took my pinecones. Is that the park where kids pee under the tree? Nettie said she isn’t my friend anymore. Can we go to the park at my school? Jackson went sledding with me there before. Not now. When it was snowy. In the wintertime. Which way do we go? Is this my left, Mom? You have to check for cars, right Mom? You have to look this way and that way. Do you know what you do if your clothes catch on fire? The fireman told us when we went to the fire station. There was a cat there. Oh look, the sidewalk is bumpy here.  Why is the sidewalk bumpy?  Are they going to fix it?  What’s that?  Why is it there?  Are we late for school?  Do I have music today?”

Then she took a breath and started her second sentence.

Every night, the kids and I take turns going around the dinner table, sharing the best and worst parts of our days.  This evening, Brooklyn announced that the best part of her day was walking to school with me.  I don’t think I said more than two words on our walk.  I guess sometimes all it takes is an open ear.  Funny how those moments that seem so insignificant to us can mean so much to someone else.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Games Kids Play

When my kids are getting along, you can rest assured it's because they're coming up with stupid things to do together.

While getting ready to move, I’ve been ruthless in my decluttering efforts. I’ve tossed garbage, set aside outgrown clothes and other items for a garage sale, and boxed up those things we want to keep, but don’t need for the next few months. I stacked the boxes and several pieces of superfluous furniture in the garage. No problem, right? All neat and organized, boxed up, and out of the way, just ready for moving day. Except for the fact that I have six children who like to destroy things.


Yesterday it was 80-something here and the kids played outside all day. At one point, I took a break from packing, plopped my butt down in a lawn chair, and watched my kids come up with stupid ideas that were sure to end in broken bones games to play with each other.  They played games like Let’s Break These Thick Foam Insulation Boards With Our Heads Until We Pass Out, and Dunk The Baby In The Basketball Hoop, and Hey, Lightbulbs Make A Cool Sound When You Whip Them On The Ground.  At some point during my ulcer-inducing nice, relaxing break, I noticed that the rows of neatly stacked boxes in my garage had been scattered about all over the place.  There was water on the floor of the garage.  Items had been taken out of boxes and were haphazardly thrown here and there.  After my head exploded, I decided to order a pod so I could lock my kids in it.  Did I say that out loud?  I meant, so I could safely store my belongings while I’m showing my house.

So the guy who came to drop off the pod looked like Chris Rock.  That actually has nothing to do with my story.  But it did make me think of a zebra saying, “cracka-lackin” every time I looked at him.  Anyway, I asked him if he could put the pod on my driveway alongside my house.  He looked at it, made a face as if he was weighing whether or not that was possible, and finally said he’d give it a try.

So, he backed up the truck and stopped on my driveway exactly where I wanted the pod dropped off.  He hopped down from the truck to take a look at the placement.  I clapped and said, “Yay, you did it!”

He furrowed his brow, looked at me, and said, “I wasn’t worried about backing up, but I need a lot more room on either side of the truck to unload the pod.”

I felt like an idiot.  I laughed nervously and said, “Ohhhh.  Heh heh, it takes me twenty minutes to back my van into a parking space, so I was impressed with the whole backing the truck up the long driveway thing.”  Then I stepped back out of the way and shut my mouth.

The driver pushed a button and lo and behold, his truck was a transformer!  It turned into a giant mechanical spider-like thing.
tarantbig The Games Kids Play
The giant spider carefully lifted the pod off the truck, gently placed it on my driveway, then took a walk around the neighborhood, crushing cars and pedestrians in its path.  Okay, that last part was a lie.  It turned into a helicopter and flew off.  It was very cool.
Now I have to load up the pod and make sure all the loud, obnoxious toys accidentally fall out during the move.  It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Sound Out

From Chicago, the town that, the town that, the town... Waaaaaahhhhhh! Sniff sniff. I just realized I'm only going to have a few more of these before I have to start writing, "From Orlando!" Anyway, it's your host, the woman who painted her kitchen and even got a little paint on the walls, Dawn Damalas Meehan!

And now for answers to this week's questions.

I got a lot of comments like these - YAY! I am so happy you will be in Florida. You are gonna love it, I dont actually live in FL, I live in TX. But the weather is the same. Now...you do understand its very very hot and high in humidity? Cause I dont wanna hear no complaining, bc you sure did hate the snow :-)

Already mentioned above the heat and humidity, but the BUGS are HUGE!!! Seriously so big. My aunt lives in Gainesville...home of the Florida Gators and it was creepy visiting there with all the bugs, and also ALWAYS thinking there was a gator in the pool. However VERY cool for you.


What? No one mentioned hurricanes? It's supposed to go like this. "That's fabulous that you're moving to Florida. How wonderful. And I'm sure the heat, humidity, ginormous bugs, and hurricanes won't be that bad, dear."

I'm so happy for you that you have job lined up already! Is this something that a reader helped you with?
One of my best friends from high school mentioned that she knew of a job down there that would be perfect for me. It worked out well!

beware the kids may want to bring in the lizards they find on the backyard. mine 3 try to all the time and have named them "buddy".
They might want to? Uh yeah, Jackson spent every spare minute in Florida doing just that.


I am so happy for you for your job!!! That's awesome. What will you be teaching? Have you taught (other than your own kids) before?
It's not a teaching position, but I will be working with kids who need a little extra help and encouragement.

So happy to hear the news of the new job!! Hopefully the older kids do understand it's for the better in the long run :)
Austin's the only one who isn't thrilled about moving and it's just because he doesn't want to leave his girlfriend. I understand. It stinks. I don't blame him one little bit. I would've been MAD if I'd had to leave my boyfriend and switch schools before my junior year. But, he's been absolutely awesome about it! I couldn't be more proud. We talked and he told me that he wasn't mad at me for making him move; he understands why we're moving. He's upset, but he's being really mature about it. The other kids are pretty excited about the move.

Does Brooklyn start school (kindergarten) next school year?
Yep! And there's all-day kindergarten where I'm moving. She'd only go half a day here and I'd have to arrange day care for her so I could work. Another plus for moving to Florida.

Dawn, you have done an amazing job! I know you got rid of a lot of stuff, but did you put some in storage, too?
I was ruthless in throwing out junk and boxing up stuff for a garage sale. Whatever doesn't sell is getting donated to Wings. And yes, I did pack up a few boxes of things we want to keep, but won't be needing in the next few months.

Where on earth are you going to keep the kids so it doesn't revert? I rented a Pod for them.

What about your room, Dawn? You've never shown us pictures of that
My room is in desperate need of paint first.

Was Clay's nose broken?
I'm not sure. I didn't take him to the hospital. Since I took Jackson there for a broken nose a few months ago, I learned they don't do anything unless it's grossly misshapen and in his case it isn't. It's swollen and bruised. He can't breathe out of one side very well because of the swelling, but it really doesn't look too bad.

That’s Lexi? How can you tell her & Brooklyn’s baby photos apart?
I have to look at background clues to figure out who's who in baby pictures because they all looked a lot alike as babies. But Lexi has crossed eyes in a lot of her baby pictures. I thought it was just a stupid human trick she did. I mean, she'd passed the vision tests at preschool. But I opted to take her to an eye doctor "just to be sure" when she was five. Turns out she couldn't see and needed glasses. I had no idea. So here's a public service announcement: take your kids to an eye doctor because those school vision screenings do NOT catch everything.

You can my most recent post over at Babble here!

Now I have a date with some bubble wrap. Have a great week and remember, hugging's very different from leaning. Hugging involves arms and hands; and leaning is whole bodies moving in. Leaning involves wanting... and accepting. Leaning. . .

Saturday, April 9, 2011

House For Sale

I cannot believe how much time it takes to pack and declutter and paint and clean everything. It's especially time consuming when I'm spending several hours every Saturday and a couple hours most nights at hockey, softball, and baseball practice. But I'm getting there. I'm hoping to have the rest of it finished by next weekend.

Doesn't this look like a house you'd want to buy? Doesn't it make you want to move to Chicagoland just so you can get my house? Seriously, does it look nice? I haven't gone house-shopping for nineteen years so I'm not sure how this compares to other homes. And since this is my house, I don't think I'm objective, but I think it will show well. What do you think?

The Boys' Room


The Girls' Room



Bathroom One





Bathroom Two


Friday, April 8, 2011

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff


The number one question people ask me is, “How do you do it?”  That question is closely followed by, “Are you crazy?” and oftentimes, “Is that your son holding a squirrel by its tail?”  People want to know what it’s like to raise six kids, especially now that I’m a single mom.  Well, I’ll tell you how I do it.  Rum.  Lots and lots of rum.  Kidding, just kidding.  Mostly kidding.  Actually, my number one, most important ingredient for raising kids is humor.  You need to realize that kids are goofy and you must have a sense of humor about said goofiness.

Kids do crazy things.  I bet if you took an honest look at your childhood, you’d admit that you did crazy things back in the day as well.  Kids are a little nuts.  It’s how they’re supposed to be.  Once you wrap your brain around the fact that kids are kids (and therefore nuts); and not smaller versions of rational adults, you’re halfway there. 
If you expect children to know everything you know, and behave in ways that make sense, and do things like blow their noses on tissues instead of their shirt sleeves, you’re going to be disappointed and frustrated.  If, on the other hand, you understand that kids are goofy, and they simply don’t know everything you know, and it’s your job to teach them those things, then hooray, you’re ready to be a parent.
I learned a long time ago that children’s brains only hold so much information.  I mean, they have important stuff stored in their noggins; stuff like the names of all the Pokemon in the universe, lines to every SpongeBob episode ever made, the exact ratio of dirt, soap, toothpaste, and water and to make really cool squishy goo.  They can’t be expected to remember that markers are for paper only, or that they need to hang up their coats after school, or make their beds every morning.  Teens’ brains are so filled with texting abbreviations that they can’t possibly remember to take out the garbage or replace the empty roll of toilet paper with a new one.
This is why it’s important to focus on the important stuff – don’t lie, don’t steal, treat others the way you want to be treated, use manners, be polite, don’t wake mom up before 9:00 on Saturday.  And this is why it’s okay to let the little stuff slide.  Because it’s little stuff.  When a kid does some goofy kid thing, ask yourself, “Is this going to matter in a year?  Will I even remember it?  Is it really a big deal?”  Most of the time, those little things we flip out about fall into the No Big Deal category.  I’ll give you some examples. . .
When your toddler sticks an orange Tic Tac up his nose, it’s no big deal. Plug the other nostril and have him blow. Let him enjoy his orange flavored snot and next time buy Nerds; they’re smaller.
0013 300x200 Dont Sweat the Small Stuff
When your daughter colors her face like this, take a picture and send it to Stephen King as inspiration for a new novel. Maybe he’ll give you a cut of his royalties.
036 200x300 Dont Sweat the Small Stuff
When your child does this to your TV, relax.  I promise you that one day in the future (and it’ll be here before you know it), you’ll spot that little drawing and it will make you smile.  Pinky swear!
0014 300x200 Dont Sweat the Small Stuff
When your son drops a plate and it explodes into 50 trillion pieces, just shout, “Opa!” and pour yourself a glass of wine.
004 300x200 Dont Sweat the Small Stuff
When you find a sandwich that looks like this in your son’s bed, use it to treat your child’s next ear infection.
005 300x200 Dont Sweat the Small Stuff
And when you find your baby happily playing in the toilet, just be thankful you don’t need to give her a bath tonight.
0061 225x300 Dont Sweat the Small Stuff
In other words, don’t sweat the small stuff (and most of it is small stuff in the whole scheme of things).  Focus on what’s important and don’t stress over the little things that pass by in the blink of an eye.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Wicker's Gotta Go!

I begged my friend, Eric to come with me to Home Depot today. I hate that store. The huge ceilings and aisles of foreign looking stuff make me hyperventilate. It smells like guy stuff. And did you know, they don’t sell any shoes or makeup in the entire store?! But I bit the bullet and went because apparently, when you sell your house, you need to fix all those little annoying things that weren’t important enough to fix while you were living there. But for the complete strangers who are going to move in – well, it’s important to have things “just so” for them.  The thing is, it’s hard to move out of ‘What Would I Like In My House’ mode and move into ‘How Can I Make It Look Nice As Quickly And Inexpensively As Possible” mode.


I replaced the ceiling fan that was above my dining room table. It was dark brown and had snazzy wicker inserts in the blades. It was lovely. But since it’s no longer 1970 and I don’t have a macrame owl, or a giant spoon and fork hung on the wall to complement it, I figured it should be replaced. Plus, two of the glass globes were broken because my kids never saw that episode of The Brady Bunch where mom always says, “Don’t play ball in the house.”  Now, I have a nice little white fan/light that blends in and looks really nice. I mean the new people who get my house have a nice little white fan/light that blends in and looks really nice.

I got a couple new floor register vent thingies. That’s what they’re called. Really. Go look at the label on the shelf at Home Depot. I don’t make this stuff up. Okay, yeah, I do. I have no idea what they’re called, but you know what I’m talking about. My old ones were nasty, rust colored metal with God only knows what encrusted on them. The new ones are fresh and clean and white.  I got a new glass plate thingy to hang over the bare lightbulbs in Austin’s room.  His old one broke years ago.  Yep, I’m right on top of these little maintenance projects.

Everytime a door broke in the house, my ex replaced it with a nice, white, six panel door, however there are still a couple old, plain, brown, original, circa 1950 doors left in the house.  I got new white six panel replacements so everything looks uniform.  I’m going to love the way the news doors look!  I mean, the new people will like the new doors.

I need to put a fresh coat of paint on every surface of the house because I don’t think the new owners want to see my kids’ artistic drawings displayed on their walls or the dirty little footprints on the ceiling (don’t ask). So we stopped by the paint department to look around. This is how the conversation went.

The nice lady at Home Depot asked, “Can I help you?”

“Yes, I’m selling my house and I just want a buttload of your cheapest paint so my house will look nice and clean and neutral.”
Then Eric asked her, “Do you have five gallon buckets of antique white?”

She answered while walking down the aisle, “No, not antique white.  But we do have five gallon buckets of paint here.  It’s ceiling paint, but you can get it in any sheen and use it on the walls.”  She indicated the buckets of paint stacked down the aisle.
Eric wasn’t sure about the color.  “But that’s going to be really white-white,” he protested.

I interjected.  “Who cares?  It’s not my house, remember?  I’m selling it.”

Getting back to ‘Help My Friend Sell Her House’ mode, he asked me, “Okay, where do you want to paint?”

“The kitchen/dining area, the hallways and the ceilings throughout the house.”

“How about your bedroom?” he reminded me.

“Oh gosh yes!  I forgot about that.  I definitely need to paint my bedroom and the family room.  I was thinking maybe a nice tan.  Kinda like what I just put in the bathroom, but not quite that dark.  And I don’t want to use flat paint because it’s not scrubbable.  I’d rather it be so glossy that the light reflects off it and blinds you.  That way I can wash the potato people drawings off the wall.”
Eric raised an eyebrow.  “I thought you didn’t care because it’s not your house.”

Pouting because I hate being wrong, I said dejectedly, “Oh yeah.”  Then to the Home Depot lady, ” A five gallon bucket of plain ole white, please.”

It’s really hard to remember that everything I do to improve my house is for another family’s benefit now.  I mean, it could help me to possibly sell my house more quickly, but in the end, it’s not for me; it’s for someone else.  Someone who will probably come in and take out my new ceiling fan because it doesn’t go with their wicker dining room set.  Someone who will probably paint over every wall in the house.  Someone who will mark their own growth chart on the back of the door.  It’s a weird feeling knowing you’re going to be leaving the house you’ve lived in for nineteen years.  The only house your kids have ever known.

On the bright side, I don’t think I need to go back to the hardware store!  The only thing I forgot while I was there, was a shower curtain rod to replace the one my kids somehow managed to pull down.  But thankfully I can get that at Target tomorrow (along with makeup and shoes, I might add).

It's Another Edition of I Spy

Otherwise entitled, Why is the Play Doh hairy?

I've been cleaning my house in preparation for moving. I've gotten the boys' room spotless. I've gotten the bathrooms decluttered and cleaned. Apparently I have ADD because I keep getting distracted every time I start working on another room. Every other room in the house is half-done. This week, I'll finish cleaning and decluttering every other room. That's the plan anyway.

Yesterday, I took out the entertainment center. By "I took out the entertainment center", of course I mean that I stood there, telling everyone what do and complaining when they didn't do it the right way while Austin, Savannah and my friend Eric took it apart and moved it out of the house. This piece of furniture is 100 inches long X 75 inches tall X 20 deep. Obviously it's not something that can be moved away from the wall in order to clean behind it. This is what I found. . .

CONTINUE READING HERE!

Monday, April 4, 2011

With Great Responsibility, Comes Great Joy

Yesterday, I had a little breakdown. The responsibility of raising my six kids, taking care of the house, writing articles, paying bills, driving here and there, attending sports practice, making dinner, and now packing and getting ready to move on top of everything else just got to me. I broke down crying and repeatedly said, "I can't do it all. I just can't do it. I can't do everything. No matter how hard I try, I just can't do it." I felt hopeless. I felt like I was drowning. I felt like I would never ever get caught up and have everything taken care of when it needed to be taken care of.

My little breakdown continued this morning. I have so unbelievably much to do. So much so, in fact, that I didn't know where to start. I just looked around at the empty boxes and the piles of belongings to be packed. I glanced at my long "to do" lists. I gazed, completely devoid of emotion at the stack of papers on my desk. Then I lay down with Brooklyn to watch a movie. Sometimes, when I feel overwhelmed, I just shut down. I don't know where to start, so I don't do anything.

I'm happy to say that after 24 hours of a lovely little pity party, I picked myself up, did some cleaning, and made a dent in my "to do" list. I always feel weak when I break down and feel sorry for myself. I hate feeling like that. There's no reason for it. I'm stronger than that. I have too many blessings and good things in my life to wallow in self pity. But despite that, now and then, I do lose control and cry. I have a very hard time remembering that it's okay to feel overwhelmed and it's okay to cry sometimes.

When I look back on different situations in my life and see how they worked out so well despite my tears, aggravation, frustration and fear that things would never turn around, I feel foolish. I love being able to look back and see how God knits everything together for good. I think that's how I keep going and how I can enjoy my kids without stressing out too much over the little things. Because I know, those little things just don't matter in the long run.

This is what I wrote over at Babble today. . .


I’m raising my six children without any help from their father.  That’s not the way I wanted it when we were going through the divorce process.  In fact, the first thing I said to my lawyer is that I wanted my soon-to-be ex involved in the kids lives as much as possible.   But, unfortunately, he couldn’t deal with everything and chose to remove himself entirely.  

Although it’s hard and demanding and takes every minute of every day and then some, I wouldn’t trade places with him for all the money in the world.  At the end of the day, I can look myself in the mirror and (aside from the wrinkles and bags under my eyes) like what I see.  I can go to bed confident in the knowledge that I’m doing everything I can for my family. And not only am I doing the right thing, but I love being a mom. It’s my dream job! It’s my favorite thing in the world! I couldn’t even begin to fathom walking away from it!


My kids’ father showed up for Lexi’s softball practice on Saturday.  Well, for about half an hour of practice anyway.  I can count on one hand the number of times he’s seen any of my kids in the last year and a half (other than the few times he ran into them while he was still working for the school district).  And yet there he was without a care in the world, acting like nothing was amiss; the distant uncle who stops by when he’s in town and says “hi” and then leaves.  No responsibilities.  Just a moment of fun with the kids a couple times a year.  And really, it’s not even “the kids”.  It’s Lexi and Brooklyn and rarely Clayton.  The older three want nothing to do with him.

I bite my tongue and grit my teeth for my kids’ sake, but I can’t even bring myself to look at his selfish face.  The fake niceties from him make me want to throw up.  The fact that he owes me about $8000 in child support and yet shows off the tattoo he just got makes me shake my head in amazement. But beyond the anger and disbelief in his actions, is a degree of pity. I mostly feel sorry for him because he’s the one missing out. He’s the one choosing the lonely path that leads to wasted years and regret.

In a way, it makes me thankful that I’m on my own with my kids.  I mean, it would have been nice if my ex hadn’t gone off the deep end and we were able to effectively coparent, but since that isn’t an option, I’m kind of glad I don’t really have to deal with him.  I can only imagine how difficult it must be to coparent with a less-than-cooperative ex-spouse.  In that way, even though I don’t get a break and all the responsibility is on my shoulders, I have it much easier than those divorced parents who have to manage to get along with each other even though they couldn’t get along in marriage.

So, I’ll be the one arranging to get everyone to practice and I’ll be the one outside in the stinking cold for five and a half hours, watching them and cheering them on.  I’ll be the one buying all their equipment and taking them to the ER when they break an arm (just thinking ahead.  I mean, it’s bound to happen sooner or later.).  I’ll be the one paying their regsitration fees and pitching in for the coach’s gift.  I’ll be the one consoling them when they lose a game and I’ll be the one taking them out for ice cream to celebrate a job well done. 

I’ll be the one enjoying every minute of their lives.  :)

And guess what!  I’ll be the one they thank when they win the Superbowl, World Series, Olympics (again, just thinking ahead here).

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday Sound Out

From Chicago, where the Cubs actually won a game, it's your host, the woman who found a pistachio behind the TV (It's been ten years since I've had pistachios in the house. Yeah.), Dawn Damalas Meehan!

Okay, about 50,000 of you have asked me something along these lines - I must have missed something. I thought you were not moving b/c of the housing market being so bad and the loan and what it would sell for didn't match up? Did that change and I missed that post?

I never said I wasn't moving. I said, "Because the economy sucks and the housing market sucks and life sucks, I'm not going to be able to sell my house since I owe more than what it will sell for. Not to mention the fact that houses are on the market for a good year or more around here. My options are limited now and it just sucks."

It doesn't look too promising that I'll be able to sell, but unfortunately that has precious little to do with the fact that I still have to move someplace cheaper. I'm talking to experts about my options - try to sell, rent my house, short sale, deed in lieu of foreclosure, foreclosure, etc. But in the end, yes, we're moving this summer.

I can barely squeak by with child support, but there's no way I can continue living here without it. I'm not counting on my ex to stand up, get a job, and help support his children. (In fact, he told me yesterday that he's had TWO whole interviews since losing his job mid-January. I know, right! Impressive!) Anyway, I'm not waiting around for him.

I was offered a job at a middle school in Orange County, FL that I've excitedly accepted. I'll have a steady paycheck as well as health insurance, and the same hours as my kids. I'm happy to leave winter behind! It looks like I'll be able to cut my housing costs in half by moving there. There are many, many benefits of moving to Florida and no drawbacks that I can see (other than the drawbacks of moving in general which just can't be avoided). I already had it put into my divorce agreement that I can move the kids out of state because I just knew something like this would happen. I remember telling my lawyer a year ago that I was sure he would stop working and abandon the kids. I guess you really get to know someone after living with them for nearly twenty years, huh?

The kids are actually excited about the move. I know all that might change after the novelty wears off and they start missing their friends, but for now, they're looking forward to it. Well, all the kids except Austin, that is. He understandably doesn't want to leave his girlfriend.

So, there ya go. I hope that clears up any confusion.

The surprise with which they greet a daily announcement is starting to get to me. Why is “Make your bed!” (repeated each and every morning) always a brand new concept?
My theory is that they believe we're old and inept. They keep thinking that maybe today will be the day that we lose our minds and forget to tell them to make their beds, brush their teeth, hang up their coats, etc. When we don't, in fact, forget, they're flabbergasted that we've maintained our sanity for yet another day. Either that, or like Bill Cosby says, children are brain damaged.

It looks great! But how long will the boys keep it looking that way?
If they value their lives, they'll keep it that way until we move. Oh, who am I kidding? I doubt it'll last a week.

What did you do with the IKEA shelving unit?
I shoved it in the dishwasher until we move.

Wait a minute! I just realized something. You have THREE boys. Where does boy #3 sleep? And did you buy new comforters and valances? And hang them yourself? I wouldn't have the first idea how to do that. Very impressive!!!
Austin has his own room. I haven't set foot in there to clear out clutter yet, but his room is usually pretty neat and clean so it should only take an hour or so. They've had the comforters for many years. What, you couldn't spot them in the "before" pictures??? They had the valances too, but they were removed years ago when we replaced the windows and they were never hung back up. With Savannah's help, I was able to drill holes and install the hardware to hang them. In case I haven't mentioned it lately, I HATE doing stuff like that! I could live happily without ever touching another power tool. Ever.

why is he [Austin] wearing a ring on a significant finger?
Yes, my sixteen-year-old got married and is wearing a dollar bill wrapped around his finger as a ring. All the elite, famous celebrities are doing that these days. William and Kate will be doing it too. Except they'll be exchanging British pound rings instead of American dollars. You know, because they're English and all.

where exactly in the minivan did that swedish fish land? was it really wasted?
It didn't even make it in the window! I love Swedish fish, but I wasn't about to create a traffic jam so I could stop my van, get out, and search the pavement for a piece of candy.

Have a great week filled with fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, and miracles!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Flying Fish


Tonight, I was sitting on the couch, reading a backlog of email, and wondering why we never have any chocolate in the house. I jokingly told Austin, “Go to 7-11 and get me some chocolate.”

Now, Austin doesn’t drive and I didn’t really expect to him to walk to 7-11 or anything. I was joking and I’m pretty sure he knew it.
Still, he hopped up, grabbed his shoes and said he’d run to the store. I told him, “I was just kidding, but if you want something, I’ll drive and you can grab me some chocolate too.”

I got my shoes and keys and started out the door when he ran past me.

“Austin, I said I’d drive!” I called after him. “Get in the car!”

But he was already a block away. I hopped in the car and drove toward the store. As I passed Austin, I rolled down my window and called, “Really, Austin? Get in the car!”

He insisted he wanted to run. Okay then. I drove on to the store. I got to 7-11, grabbed a pack of peanut butter cups and a Coke Zero (to balance out the Reese’s, of course) and put my items on the counter. The cashier asked me if I was ready to check out.

“Uh no. No, I’m um, waiting for my son. He’s jogging here.”
The cashier stared at me, not fully understanding what I was saying.

“He thought I wanted him to run. But I was kidding. Um, he wanted to jog. I was too lazy to jog. I drove.”

He continued to look at me, wondering just how drunk I was.

“Um, I’ll just wait, thanks.”

I stood there playing Words With Friends on my phone while waiting for Austin. The cashier kept looking at me, wondering if he should call the police, as he stocked shelves. Finally, Austin came through the door.

“Nice, Mom!” he said. “You tell me to go to the store for you so I do and then you fly by me in the car!”

“Whaaat? I told you, but you said you, but I said, I tried to get you in the car!” I sputtered.

He smirked a little. Punk.

“Do you want anything?” I asked. He grabbed a snack and we went to pay for our purchases. As the cashier rung up my health food, Austin piped up and said, “This is separate.”

“No, it’s not,” I insisted. “I’ll pay for your stuff, Austin.”

He refused. What kind of teenager refuses money from their parent??? But Austin has always been super-conscious of money. He knows we’re moving because I need to cut my housing costs and he would never ask for a thing from me. I glanced up at my son, mixed emotions playing through my head when he leaned forward and put some money in a jar marked “Japanese Relief Fund”. I just love that kid. I’m so proud of him for so many reasons.

We walked out of the store and he insisted he wanted to jog home. I sighed.

“Fine, Austin. I’ll see you at home.”

As I passed Austin, on the way home, he whipped a Swedish fish at the open window of my van. And in that moment, I realized he’s not quite as smart and awesome as I thought. I mean, hello? He just wasted a perfectly good, red, chewy glob of deliciousness by throwing it at my van!

"AFTER"

Tada! I still need to do a little patching and painting, but THIS doesn't look like a house with six kids living in it, does it?







Friday, April 1, 2011

"BEFORE"

I've decided that this will be my first move AND my last move. Going through and packing up seven people's belongings is a lot of work! I am rocking on this packing thing though! I keep forgetting to take before and after pictures of each room so you can see the difference. I remembered to take pictures while working on the boys' room though.

This was the state of the boys' room yesterday. Warning: The following pictures are intended for mature audiences only. Some viewers may find the following scenes disturbing. This is not for the squeamish or faint of heart.












Tomorrow, I'll post the "after" pictures. You won't believe it's the same room! I still can't believe it!

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