Saturday, August 26, 2006

Toilet Stuffing Redux

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 of a Duplo Poltergeist, as yet again no one around here would claim credit for it. Anna was considered briefly to be a possible perpetrator, as her 8th-grade English book (which had been missing) turned up at the scene of the crime (no, we don't know why, can't even begin to imagine why); but that notion was quickly dismissed as being too gross an activity for a 13-year-old girl. Theo was busy taking pictures. David was laughing too hard to be guilty. Brian and Rachel were both sent to bed without books and Brian, proclaiming his innocence, cried himself to sleep. I hope to God he didn't do it; if he did, he is the world's best and most brazen liar. Our temporary conclusion is that Rachel acted alone, but conspiracy theories still abound.

Who says life with kids isn't exciting? We just thank goodness no one tried to flush.

Okay, time to get my mind out of the toilet and come up for air. We took another day trip to the beach, and it wasn't even raining this time. It was fun, though it was so crowded in the water that it was hard to avoid bumping into someone. Anna didn't go this time (she had sewing camp), so we all actually got to ride in one vehicle. This was good, as I didn't have to drive; bad, because by the time we got there, Larry and I were already getting on each other's nerves. Marriage is for better or for worse, but not for 3 hours in the car discussing money and kids and not much else. I spent the next day trying to get all the sand out of the house and making our weekly pilgrimage to the library. Today, we did nothing. And it felt good.

Basil and zucchini are doing well in my garden. Cucumbers are trying to grow, I can tell, but nothing much has happened there yet. The tomato plants finally decided to grow instead of die, so we may get a tomato or two before first frost. The basil is almost ridiculous. I feel like the sorcerer's apprentice - those leaves just won't stop coming. I trim off a few branches and by the next day there are double the number in their place. The zucchini is also a bit eerie. One day there aren't any; the next, there's a zucchini the size of a baseball bat lying under all those leaves. The weeds are everywhere - it's only a matter of time before they take over. The situation reminds me of Napoleon trying to conquer Russia - a race between the invader and winter.

Susie is now walking, and she is enjoying it very much. She is also waking up several times a night and I have no idea how to make her stop, short of dosing her with sedatives every evening. I just discovered the emoticons function on my e-mail. Ever wonder what the Declaration of Independence would have looked like if Thomas Jefferson had used emoticons?

Wishing you life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

Saturday, August 19, 2006

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 to make me insane. Anyway, we all get to go to Target tomorrow morning and buy yet another telephone. I'm getting pretty good at this. Everyone needs a hobby.

Garden? Don't ask.

Larry and Theo are off white-water rafting this weekend. And I'm here. Someday I hope to write that Larry is home with all the kids for a couple of weeks while I bicycle around the country with my friends. I assure you, we will be intelligent enough to have overnight accommodations that include chocolates on one's pillow and, of course, indoor plumbing.

Our pool season is officially over - the pool we frequent closes tomorrow, and there is no other pool nearby where I can successfully keep an eye on all the children and still relax. I have no idea what to do with the children for the rest of the summer. Eating ice pops is fun, but it is not a full-time activity. Nor is visiting Target. It seems that, after 14 years of taking care of young children, I am finished - I just cannot think of one single entertaining/educational/amusing activity with which to divert the little darlings from the fact that it is hot, humid, and boring around here. The thought of Anne Frank and her family hiding from the Gestapo in that attic for 2 years keeps popping into my head. We wouldn't have lasted a month. Maybe I'll just let the kids watch TV non-stop for 2 weeks. Or, better yet, someone should give us our own reality show - something akin to Survivor would be appropriate, don't you think?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

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 been perfectly potty-trained for months, she celebrated her last day of being 3 by kicking over the traces, as it were, and pooping in her pants not once, but twice, and then peeing in the Chick-Fil-A indoor playground. We will never know why, and we accept that. Larry and I spent all of 10 dollars on her presents, and she thought they were great. I told Larry not to try that on my birthday.

Anna's birthday was also this week (she turned 13), but she refrained from pooping in her pants, thanks be to God. Larry took her and a few friends to a local water park (for the uninitiated, a huge pool with fun slides, etc. that costs a mint and is constantly overcrowded with screaming, shrieking children and their screaming, shrieking parents), along with 2 of her brothers. She claimed that the day would be ruined by the presence of her male siblings, and we said, and I quote, "Tough." Sometimes, you just gotta take a stand. She's very good at being 13, as she has been practicing all year.

Theo is being his usual problem-child self, looking disappointed if we don't get him to Chess club on time and forgetting to wipe down the stove properly after he cooks us all dinner. Kids these days.....

Our garden is going as well as can be expected, considering that I don't know what I am doing and that we seem to be living in a subtropical region that spawns gigantic life forms in the shape of weeds. All those cute little gardening tools I bought in July are basically useless - what I need is an honest-to-God machete. The zucchini are still thriving; unless, of course, those are weeds that I have only mistaken for zucchini. I can't tell.

Well, I've got to go tell Larry that our brand-new computer monitor is acting funny. Unless, of course, there are supposed to be those bright pink stripes running down the right-hand side of the screen. Maybe it's an expensive new feature....

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

All right - after one month of gardening, here is what I have learned:

Weed barrier...isn'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 even resembling rich, healthy soil. Perhaps I need more patience, but it seems to me that those flower seeds I tossed into one of my boxes and watered diligently aren't doing much of anything either. An entire packet of cutting-flower mix, and I've got 2 lousy sprouts to show for it. Nothing like the picture on the front of the packet. I see those bunches of beautiful flowers at the Farmers' Market and think, "I can't afford to spend 4 dollars every week on something I could grow myself." Well, I can't grow them myself; and I'm starting to think 4 dollars isn't a bad deal.

Zucchini, apparently, is easy to grow. That and the basil plants I bought from the farm are the only things that are thriving in my plot. The zucchini even survived a transplant, which is more than I can say of the cherry tomato plants that a pitying neighbor gave to me. They keeled over almost before I got them in the ground. They know when they're in the hands of an amateur.

I don't know - maybe it's the heat. I'm a tad discouraged.

On the homefront, things are going fairly well. We seem to be avoiding cabin fever by our trips to the pool and to Target; and when we are home, the children manage to amuse themselves in ways that (usually) don't involve whining. Today we whiled away our leisure hours looking for our cordless phone (which is different from a cell phone, but I don't know why). We noticed it missing yesterday evening, but our usual suspect was sound asleep and we weren't able to question her until morning. At first Rachel led us to believe that she had nothing to do with its disappearance; but after we got a little more aggressive with our interrogation tactics, we were able to pull the truth out of her. Unfortunately, by that time, the trash men had already come and gone; and I don't think I could have paid our kids enough to paw through the trashcans in 99-degree heat, anyway. I really liked that phone. Rachel claims she thought it was broken. So, we went to Target (again), where I bought a really cheap phone to replace it (hey, if they're going to be disposable, I'm not going to spend a lot of money). When we came home, I discovered that there was a flashlight and several pieces of chalk in the powder room toilet, a situation which I could have handled with more equanimity if Brian had only remembered to flush the last time he had been in there. So, we're keeping busy.

Oh, and Larry came home from work today with the killer stomach virus that he thought he had ducked by being in New Mexico while we all suffered. Just when you thought it might be safe to visit....