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Showing posts from 2006

More Toilet Tales

Why not? I have nothing else to do....

Our plumber came by on Wednesday and installed yet another new toilet (to replace the new toilet he installed in October). And not just any new toilet - this toilet has a jet-propelled flush which, he claimed, could swallow 8 golfballs without a problem. I told him to keep his voice down - we simply do not need to give Rachel any new ideas. In fact, the device struck me as sounding rather dangerous, but he solicitously reassured me that this was just the toilet for us. He said, and I quote, "When the salesman came to our shop last month and showed us this new model, I thought of you." I guess I'll take that as a compliment. Some people have an interior designer; I have a personal plumber.

So that was Wednesday. Thursday night I had the rather dubious pleasure of calling him up and informing him that his indestructible toilet had been laid low (on the first try) by my 4-year-old. Atta girl, Rachel! I'm so proud. It seems…

Holiday Spirits

Ahh...the holiday season...wrapping presents, baking cookies, looking for our missing cellphones...yes, Rachel is still on a rampage. I don't really want to talk about her much right now. We're hoping the (loud) motion sensor Larry installed in her room has some diminishing effect on her activities. You can't blame him, he's still mad about all that beer she poured into the VCR.

I'm just trying to decide - what does one get for one's plumber for Christmas? He feels like a member of the family already. Of course, maybe he should get us something instead. I mean, he has all our money. He just got back from a trip to Aruba. Must have been nice.

Maybe the child psychologist will know what to buy him - we get to meet her on Friday. I bet she begs us not to come back. I don't think she's the right person to see, anyway. We're not dealing with a child here - we're dealing with an adult career criminal in a 4-year-old's body.

Enough already…

Of Teens and Tots

Well, we've had a little bit of improvement on the teenage front around here. We told Anna that she was grounded until she did everything expected of her without being told and started acting like a human being again. The turnaround has been amazing. I guess she realized that 5 years could be a very long time. Of course, she still hates us; but we're past caring.

Theo and Larry are escaping on a weekend bike trip tomorrow morning. That leaves me as chief prison warden, making sure that Rachel doesn't get her hands on anything that she could possibly do mischief with. Which is, uh, everything you can imagine. She scares me. I don't want to be left alone with her. Preschool isn't helping. The teachers there pride themselves on teaching the children to improve their fine motor skills and to become more independent. Just what we need. Thanks a lot.

Oh, and Rachel knows how to drive. She told me so. We don't doubt it for a minute. Larry and I are assidu…

Total Craziness

Wow - I haven't bothered you guys in almost 3 weeks. You must have been hoping I'd gone away. No such luck. I've just been waiting for things to settle down a bit here so I could write and say that everything's all right, Rachel is behaving, Anna loves us, and all that. Unfortunately, I can't write that. Our house is looking a bit bizarre at this point, I must say. Sliding bolts on the outside of all the bathroom and bedroom doors (and the closets); a 4-year-old happily playing at the kitchen table while strapped to her chair with 2 velcro cargo straps; bathrooms stripped bare of any item that could conceivably be flushed down a toilet. Sort of an Addams Family feel, really. We have to lock Rachel into her room at night, as we discovered that she was getting up in the middle of the night and working on her "projects" in the boys' walk-in closet. Mounted stuffed animal heads, pillow-casing Halloween ghosts, you name it. And plugging up the pow…

Playing With Scissors

Well, Rachel seems to have put her toilet-stuffing phase behind her. Maybe we can just forget all those unhappy episodes, at least after Larry patches up the holes in the livingroom ceiling. The house is still habitable, after all; fortunately, my teenagers know where to find the shut-off valve for the upstairs toilet. I'm just glad we didn't have to call the plumber. It would have been hard to explain to him exactly why there were 3 large towels shoved into the toilet. As a matter of fact, we're having a hard time understanding it ourselves.

Unfortunately, Rachel has instead become obsessed with scissors. And, yes, we've hidden all of them, and, yes, I am watching her constantly. It's getting to the point where Larry dreads coming home from work, as he doesn't want to hear the latest Rachel exploit when what he really needs is a beer and some peace and quiet. I'm living some bad I Love Lucy episode - just picture Larry as Desi Arnaz, waving his al…

Bad Craziness

I've lost track of the time, I've been so busy unstuffing toilets and pulling scissors out of Rachel's hands. What a little monster - she sneaked into Anna's room and tore the covers off 3 of her textbooks and hid the innards in Theo's bureau drawer. In case you're wondering why she did that, please think - could there possibly be any reasonable answer to that question? Of course not. And yes, she's been getting plenty of positive attention (in between punishments for her various misdemeanors) and yes, she still loves Susie. So you can all quit your amateur psychoanalyzing and accept the basic chaotic nature of the universe, all right? Sheesh.

Well, the basic chaotic nature of my universe, anyway.

In between all the craziness, I'm expected to start dreaming up Halloween costumes for everyone. The boys have informed me that they don't want to be pirates for the 4th year in a row. So we're going to make scarecrow costumes for them. That wil…
Well, I just can't seem to stop, can I? I'm going to make a serious effort not to mention toilets even once in this missive. I need the challenge.

We're hoping that Rachel has turned over a new leaf, but we're not counting on it. She was confined to her room at various times this past week and made to repeat ad nauseam the 3 rules: obey Mommy and Daddy, always tell the truth, and don't put things in the potty (darn, I blew it already); this approach only yielded mixed success, unfortunately. Part of the problem is that she may not have perceived it as the punishment it was meant to be. Seems I forgot that I had hidden the Halloween candy in her bedroom closet. That kid was having a party up there.

Anna is still in school, but the road seems a bit rockier. She tried out for the school play (Stuart Little) and wasn't accepted. I explained to her it was a compliment that she wasn't picked to be a mouse, or a bird, or a cat. She didn't fall for that.…
There are some weeks that defy description, that simultaneously beg to be written about and overwhelm the would-be writer with too much material. And,yes, this was one of those weeks. Where to start? Anna's first day of "real" school? Her best friend's advanced case of head lice? The eggshells in the basement bathroom toilet? I just don't know....

Anna fairly leapt onto the school bus for her first day of 8th grade, made several dozen friends, learned how to sit around and wait, and missed the bus on the way home. I graciously picked her up and, instead of inquiring as to how her day went, bluntly informed her that we were going home to "treat" her hair and hopefully not have to shave it off. I don't mess around. I hate insects. Hopefully, if she had caught it, we nipped it in the bud. All I can say is I really didn't need the 10 extra loads of laundry to do this week.

And speaking of bugs....how about those ants? Any time I wasn't…
Well, I can't let a week go by without bothering you folks. Actually, it's been pretty eventful around here. Larry and I came to the startling realization that if we sent Anna to school this year, she wouldn't be able to glare at all of us all day. She has expressed interest; so we figured she may as well see what it's like in 8th grade, so she can make an informed decision for high school. We checked out the school website for information on how to register her; unfortunately, it was full of indecipherable jargon along the lines of "actualizing your child's educational experience" and "areas of interaction," which is not helpful when you are simply trying to figure out who to talk to in an office full of bureaucrats. These people make Soviet apparatchniks look customer-driven. Actually, I'm not sure they are real people. What are those things called, avatars? I think the avatars just sit in for the real people - the real staff is …

Toilet Stuffing Redux

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One week later....a new wrinkle in the toilet-stuffing saga....we discovered, once again, legos and toy trains in and on the toilet. Upon closer examination, we realized that the deed couldn't have been perpetrated by a 1-year-old (cue in Chariots of the Gods? music here)....there was an entire tableau being enacted; the potty was but a stage. A train track was perched precariously across the open seat, with a 3-car train apparently in the middle of a perilous journey across a watery chasm. Tragedy had occurred, in the shape of a lego person afloat below, in the jaws of a lego alligator. It was quite the stirring drama, really. Brian and Rachel swore up and down that they weren't guilty (they tried pinning it on the baby, little lying weasels). Larry had them clean it up and explained quite clearly that no one was to go in there at all. So, of course, a few days later, another little scenario of impending disaster appeared in and on the same toilet, apparently the work…
Apparently, it is a lot of fun to drop things into toilets and hear them plop. Larry discovered that the basement toilet was chock full of Duplos. Upon realizing that Susie was using the toilet as a receptacle for any and all items she could carry, Larry and I told the kids to keep that bathroom door closed at all times, etc, etc. Our pleas fell on deaf ears; yesterday we found a jumprope trailing out of the same abused toilet. Maybe Susie was fishing for the phone she had left in there. Yup, that's where we finally found it. Apparently, aggressive interrogation techniques don't always yield accurate information - at least, not from 4-year-olds. So we aren't even bothering to ask Rachel where the new phone, the phone that I bought to replace the phone in the toilet, is. In fact, she's not even a suspect this time. Everyone but Theo and Anna was out of the house at the time of the disappearance. Which leads me to believe that my eldest 2 children are trying …

Of Getaways and Birthdays

Larry and I got tired of sitting around this humid, boring burb while everyone else got the heck out of town; so, in a fit of heat-induced insanity, we decided that it would make sense to drive 3 full hours to the beach (with the kids - though we did consider leaving them home), pay 16 dollars for the privilege of parking at the state park seashore, play in the sand for several hours, and then pile back in the car and drive home. We implemented our plan before the delusion could wear off and - remarkably - survived relatively unscathed. Let's see - $100 in gas for 5 hours at the beach. That's 20 dollars an hour; but we need to divide that by 8, so it cost us only $2.50 an hour per person. What a deal! Of course, it was sort of drizzling part of the time, and pretty cloudy; but , hey, we saved on sunscreen. So, all in all, the trip was a success. And the kids are scared to ask about going to the beach again.

Rachel turned 4 today. She was very excited, naturally. Having…
All right - after one month of gardening, here is what I have learned:

Weed barrier...isn't.
Compost...doesn't.
Seed packets lie.

Gardening isn't some pleasant, pastoral, Sunday afternoon activity for little old ladies in funny hats. Gardening is war. Gardening is the ultimate battle for survival. And the weeds always win. Particularly the nasty weeds, the ones straight out of some sci-fi flick, complete with saber-like hard-to-see thorns growing all over their stems and leaves. Those plants are vicious. They are evil. Throwing a weed barrier over them is akin to wearing a raincoat to ward off radioactive fallout. I spent my birthday money on that (expletive deleted) weed barrier, and those weeds are eating it for breakfast.

I've got to calm down. Take it easy. Like my compost pile. It's just sitting there. I chop up what I throw in, I stir it every day; but those little pieces of celery leaves and onion skins and zucchini ends refuse to meld into anything e…
Larry and Theo have returned, at last, from their New Mexico adventure. They were starting to regale me with tales of the hardships they endured, but I upstaged them with graphic descriptions of the stomach virus we contracted while they were gone. Yes, another one. Unless it was food poisoning. I don't know. All I know is that I was left alone here with clean-up detail and Larry owes me big. On the bright side, all our bedding and slipcovers are now freshly laundered.

Our neighbors have a big For Sale sign in their front yard. I try not to take it personally, but I can hardly blame them. They're probably worried that the fertility is catching.

In case anyone is wondering just how long it takes me to kill a thriving parsley plant, the answer seems to be approximately 2 weeks. The basil plants refuse to die, despite my tender ministrations. The cucumber seeds and zucchini seeds and radish seeds I planted are all optimistically sprouting - they don't know they're…

"But It's Summer!"

It's a little soon for another newsletter; but I'm stuck sitting up with Rachel, who has an earache (we, uh, had another bout of cough/cold sickness here, wouldn't you know). Larry could sit up with her, but he's not here. He's in Oklahoma. Clever of him, wasn't it? This time he took Theo (aka my personal chef and pest exterminator) with him. They're headed for New Mexico to enjoy 6 glorious(?) days of hiking in summer heat with no showers or other 21st century conveniences. That man will do anything to get away from me, won't he? I glanced at the little booklet the Boy Scout reservation/camp puts out. It was filled with useful tidbits of info about hanta virus and rabies and (get this) bubonic plague. Considering the sort of year we have had, healthwise, I figure the chances are pretty good that Larry and Theo bring home some version of the Black Death.

So - this may be my last newsletter. I'll try to cram everything in here. Larry and …

Beware The Madness

Well, the madness has struck again. Every few years I get this inane idea that I can manage a small garden - you know, in my spare time. After all, with only 6 children, I'm sitting around twiddling my thumbs a lot. I've read my square-foot gardening book (new and improved), I'm next in line (finally) for one of those organic gardening plots down the road from my house, I've got 6 hungry children to feed. I can do it! Think Victory gardens, think Little House on the Prairie, think about anything but the fact that every other time we've tried this, we've suffered abysmal failures (not to mention that I seem to wind up pregnant each summer we're responsible for one of those plots). This will be the year that we troop down the road, a merry little band of fresh-faced children with their indefatigable(?) matriarch, to pick green beans and lettuce and tomatoes and bring it all home for our supper. Never mind that year that the vine-borers destroyed our pro…

Chicken Pox and Birthday Wishes

Okay - mid June - how the heck did that happen? I don't even know where to start. Maybe I won't even bother - I don't really want to remember it, anyway. So skip it. Here we are, and it is finally summer - as in, hot and humid and smelling yucky. But, hey, the mosquitoes aren't too bad yet. And our airconditioning is working (unlike, oh, about 3 weeks ago during a brief heat wave that happened to coincide with Brian's and Rachel's cases of chicken pox). But, no - I'm not going to talk about it. And what's 275 dollars between friends, anyway? Because that's what that airconditioning repairman is - he's my friend. Even if it did take him 4 days to show up, and Brian and Rachel were both prostrate on the couch, each in front of his/her own fan. Fans only move that humid air around, by the way. They make you think you can breathe, but it's an illusion. And they make your sweat feel a little cooler. But that's it. So I love the…

More of the Same

I'm thinking of renaming this sporadic blog "My Journal of the Plague Year." That has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? Since I last wrote, we've managed to contract both the real flu and the stomach flu. Any time now, the CDC should be sending men up here in hazmat suits to officially declare our house a hot zone. Currently, having run out of viruses to catch, I am suffering from a bacterial infection on one side of my face (very attractive). "Cellulitis," I heard the doctor mutter, with a look in her eyes I didn't quite like. So I went home and looked up cellulitis. A piece of advice - never scroll to the bottom of these disease pages and check out the "Possible Complications"; it's a hypochondriac's nightmare. Despite the obvious danger, Grandma C and Auntie Kate showed up for their annual week-long visit on Tuesday. Maybe those CDC guys should leave a couple of complimentary hazmat suits for them. We're enjoying our …

Sick, Sick, Sick

That's right, it's been a while - we've been mighty busy the past month or so catching every cold and flu virus available in our geographical area. We hate to miss out on anything. I feel like a nurse on a hospital ward, walking around every evening dispensing decongestants, painkillers, and/or cough medicine to people in various stages of sickness. I've purchased so much Sudafed in the past 2 months that I expect the local narcotics squad to come busting down our door any time now in search of the methamphetamine lab I am obviously supplying. Every once in a while we stagger out to the library, pay all our overdue fines, and stagger back home with a pile of books to last through the next illness. Larry seems to have ducked a lot of it, somehow; I guess it pays to sleep at the office.Brian lost his first tooth. I mean, really lost it - apparently he swallowed it and didn't even notice it was missing for hours. We had to write a note to the Tooth Fairy reques…

January Blues

Well, the post-vacation euphoria has worn off, to be replaced by the winter sickness blues. We seem to have 2 versions of the plague moving (slowly) through our house. You know your weekend isn't going to go as planned when you're informed in the middle of your leisurely Saturday morning shower that someone has thrown up outside the bathroom door. I was able to duck that one by staying in the shower until Larry had cleaned up the mess (hey, I had conditioner in my hair, all right?); but I had to handle the next episode, because Larry was hiding in the basement again. On top of it all, the baby is teething; she may also be sick, but we can't tell, as she still doesn't know how to talk.We're excited because the Verizon guys are coming tomorrow (once we take the QUARANTINE sign off our door and hide it) to install an Internet connection that is faster than, say, 2 horsepower per kilobit, or whatever it is that we have now over our phone line. Actually, these Veri…