Friday, February 23, 2007

Keep The Home Fires Burning

Well, that was a close one. Our oven caught fire again and for a few minutes I was debating evacuating everyone. The heating element is definitely ruined. I remember replacing it 5 years ago for a similar reason. Maybe I should just buy extra and have them on hand. Or maybe I should clean my oven so gunk on the bottom wouldn't catch fire. Nah. Life is more exciting this way.

I'm in the throes of a knitting obsession. There are little bags of yarn and needles all over the house, and tangled skeins that the children have gotten into are scattered willy-nilly all over the floor. I don't know why I'm obsessed; perhaps because I can knit something and it stays knit. Well, unless Susie gets hold of it before I bind off. Anyway, I've promised Brian a red hat, and David a variegated hat, and I've got my eye on a feathery blue scarf for Anna. And I've promised myself a pair of knitted socks. I've never knit socks. I don't know why I think I can knit socks. But I bought the yarn and I bought the special needles and, by Jove, I'm going to figure it out.

I think I'm trying to bury my problems in yarn. Or I'm just trying to keep busy and ignore Larry. Larry thinks we need a bigger house. I have no problem with this idea, except it would involve moving and moving involves packing all our crap. A friend of mine has the right idea. She burned her house down (a homeschooling science experiment run amok, would you believe it?) and so she gets to move without packing anything. Because it's all gone. Larry thinks this approach is a little drastic, however; so I'm not going to get a chance to try it out (oven fires aside).

I probably shouldn't worry about moving - there's no money for it, unless Larry is planning to print some of his own. Hey, or I could knit some! Cool!

Anna spent 45 minutes sulking in preparation for 30 minutes worth of work this evening. Highly inefficient. And then she blamed us for her getting to bed late. Speaking of which, I should get to bed. Although, what's the point? Either Susie will be waking me up or Larry will start snoring or, if I do get to sleep, Brian will wake up and need the bathroom and he'll need my help because we are still keeping the bathroom doors locked because we are never ever going to rest easy in our beds again,at least not until Rachel goes to college, which is in, oh, 14 years. (Of course, by then Brian will be able to reach the lock.) So I think I should just stay up all night and learn how to knit a sock.

I told you - knitting on the brain. I even like the way the word "knit" looks. So much yarn, so little time....

The snow is rapidly melting away, which is fine with me. I hate old snow. It's dirty and crunchy and not much fun. Time to wash the skipants and put away the snowboots and start looking at the seed catalogs for a change. Because hope springs eternal in this hapless gardener's breast. This may be the year that I manage to grow something. You never know. I think the law of averages may be with me by now.

Here's to an early spring!

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Snow! Hallelujah! The Winter That Almost Wasn't has finally redeemed itself. The past 5 days have been a veritable orgy of snowboots, skipants, sledding, and hot cocoa. And Theo managed to make a cool 100 dollars (no pun intended) by digging desperate neighbors' cars out of solid ice. Even grown-up Anna deigned to sled with us for a bit - nothing like a sheet of ice to make those cheap plastic sleds fly through the air like magic carpets. Not realizing quite how slick it was at first, I let Rachel go down our sledding hill solo. She veered drastically off course and disappeared over the bank of a (thankfully) shallow creek as we all gawked in horror from the top of the hill. When we finally got to her, she was sitting on the bottom, furious at the traitorous sled and at the huge rocks which she had apparently bounced off of (headfirst) as she landed. And, yes, of course she wanted to go again. That's one tough little chick, you know. If the same thing had happened to me, I would have needed an ambulance.

Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Matt came to visit this weekend. We coaxed Uncle Matt onto a sled, and he almost got the hang of it after several runs down the slope. Grandpa decided his weekend wasn't interesting enough, so he chose to check out the local hospital facilities. Important health tip - don't set out on a car trip while experiencing pain in the kidney area. Kidney stones don't make for a pleasant weekend with the grandkids. On the other hand, I had a great excuse to desert Larry and the kiddies for most of Sunday and get a lot of knitting done - someone had to sit with Grandpa in the hospital while the doctors decided what to do with him.

Once again I am the meanest mommy in the world. I told Anna that she had to practice her flute 20 minutes each day in order to make it worth our while to continue to shell out the big bucks for private lessons. She haughtily told me that I did not understand music at all. Be that as it may, I do understand money, unlike a certain 13-year-old that I know. This disagreement has not improved our relationship, of course. Anna keeps informing me that she hates me. She forgot to ask if I care.

Susie doesn't hate me. In fact, she loves me so much she wakes up several times a night just to make sure I'm there. And Rachel keeps saying, "I love you, Mommy"; but that just makes me nervous. She always used to say that after committing a particularly nasty prank. David definitely loves me; I shared my Valentine's candy with him. I should give some to Brian also. I'm just trying to make sure that some of these kids stay on my side.

No toilet stories, folks - sorry (not)! We hardly dare believe that Rachel has put her, um, prankster stage behind her; but miracles do happen. All I can say is, her reformation has had absolutely nothing to do with us. We meted out any and all punishment we could think of (that was legal), and it never had one bit of a corrective effect on our demon child's behavior. I don't know when we'll ever trust her again. And she does keep talking about driving. It makes us a tad nervous, you know?

David is assiduously training Brian in all the household chores. Apparently, he doesn't want to be stuck with extra work when Theo flies the coop for the summer. Brian, for reasons unknown to me, actually cooperates with the instruction. David will probably start teaching Rachel next, which might actually be a good way to channel her extra energy and, um, creativity.

Preschool is going well, but this Tuesday is "Family Day." It seems that either Larry or I are expected to go with Rachel that day in order to enjoy the preschool experience with her. The people in charge don't seem to understand that I am already thoroughly enjoying the preschool experience - the only reason we are paying them over 200 dollars a month is so that we can get a much-needed break from this kid for 9 hours a week.

I don't think I'll tell them that, though. The teachers already look at me funny when I frisk Rachel for hidden scissors at the end of the school day.

It's getting too cold in the house to sit up any longer. I've figured out that we may be finished paying for college by my 65th birthday, at which point Larry might just buy me real windows - you know, ones that you can stand next to without a coat on and that don't try to guillotine your wrists as you mess with the storms and the screens. Definitely something to look forward to....

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Veni, Vici, Regurgitati

Well, Larry, apparently desperate for some R and R, hightailed it out of here last week to go to some sort of "working retreat." Yeah, of these days I'm going to go on a working retreat...with all my girlfriends. We'll get together at some nice hotel and talk about our favorite brand of diapers and where to get the cheapest toilet paper and how does one get vomit stains out of comforters, for all of 5 minutes, maybe...and then we'll goof off for the next 3 days.

All I can say is thank heaven for teenage boys. While Larry was gone, Theo managed to catch no less than 3 mice (and one, um, extra(?) tail...yuck), including the obviously stupid mouse that decided to run around our livingroom one evening. That incident only exacerbated my feelings of spousal abandonment, of course. But we got Larry back for his desertion - Rachel started throwing up almost the minute he walked in the door. (Warning: non-parents may want to exit now - graphic descriptions follow) For some reason, despite my battle-hardened attitude to all forms of vomit, this incident was particularly gross. I don't think we'll ever have salisbury steak again. Rachel threw up again later, in her sleep, while we were downstairs watching a movie (we were rather desperately searching for some comic relief). The movie was Ghostbusters, as a matter of fact. Theo and Anna had never seen it, so it was fun watching it again with them. Of course, Larry and I found ourselves explaining a lot of items that were rendered confusing by the passage of 20-plus years. Remember the opening scene, where the librarian is spooked by the cards flying from the card catalogs? We had to explain what those were. We also noted, among other things, an "old-fashioned" computer on the secretary's desk, an old-fashioned phone (touchtone with a cord), and the weirdness of the protagonists' lack of cellphones. I thought I would end up reliving my youth by watching the movie; instead, I went to bed feeling a hundred years old.

Where was I? Oh, yes - Rachel threw up in her sleep. I went upstairs to check on her and found her slumbering soundly in a pool of vomit. It was so disgusting (how disgusting was it, Karen?) was so disgusting that I had to get a pair of scissors and cut her out of her pajama shirt, rather than pull it over her head. Isn't that nice? Just what she needed - more scissor ideas...anyway, I stripped her, stripped her bed, showered the puke out of her hair, remade the bed, dressed her in fresh jammies, tucked her in, gave her a few sips of flat ginger ale (all the while thinking, you know, that you can't pay anyone enough to do these things), and then...she threw up again. As I said, you can't pay anyone enough....

Susie barfed all over our bed soon after we finally got to sleep. By this point, Larry was looking so miserable that he was dismissed to go to bed wherever he could find a vomit-free place to lay his head. Misery loves company, but he did have to get up in the morning and go to his Naval Reserve drill. I sat up and held the baby by the computer until she fell asleep. Just when it looked safe to try to put her in her crib (no way she was going in my bed again), she woke up and threw up all over me. By this time, for those of you keeping track, I had approximately 16000 loads of puke-soaked bed linens and clothes stacked up in front of the washer, no clean pajamas left for me or baby and no spare clean blankets. The weekend wasn't shaping up too well, it was clear. I spent all of Saturday just trying to catch up on the laundry - and need I mention that by then I was also suffering from this lovely ailment? And can you believe Larry didn't even call me during the day to check up on us? Coward.

So - Larry got home from work Saturday evening and I convinced him that we needed to go out for a short, refreshing date (obviously, a trademark of parents of large families is irrational optimism). We told Anna to watch the baby for an hour and a half, and she immediately blew up and said she had too much to do and we had no right to make her babysit. Opting for a tactical retreat, we took the baby with us and fed her french fries (this was a dumb idea) and tried to pretend we were not too tired to enjoy each other's company. Then baby threw up and we had to beat a hasty retreat (a lot of retreating that evening); I vaguely remember Larry throwing a bunch of money at the waiter and grabbing the puke-covered baby and dashing out the door, while I was still messing around trying to soak up the vomit on the table with a stack of paper napkins.

We didn't let Anna get away with her mutiny, of course. She actually told Theo after we left, "See? Mom knew I was right," and then she sat down and played a computer game for a while. Funny how the next morning, when she wanted to go out and get away from us, she couldn't find her shoes. It's my version of house arrest, that missing-shoes trick. She threatened to stay in bed all day and I told her to go ahead. At least I don't have to see her glaring at me all day that way.

There! I'm sure by now I've convinced any of you who are childless (and still reading) to remain happily unblessed by offspring. See? Even though I have six children, I'm still doing my part to keep the total world population from skyrocketing out of control. So you can stop begrudging me that $6,000 child tax credit, all right? I've earned it, dammit.

You know, maybe it's time to get to bed before someone else gets sick - that way, I can pretend to be asleep and Larry will have to deal with it. Yes, an excellent idea - good night!