Friday, August 31, 2007

Starvation, American Style

Had a slight crisis with Brian last night - he came down after bedtime, crying that he was hungry, but he was too full to eat. Go figure, right? It took me a while, but I finally realized that he had noticed as he was lying in bed that he could feel his ribs. From that, he deduced that he must not be eating enough. And if he wasn't eating enough, he must be hungry. Got it?

And believe me, this kid eats enough.

I think he's going into an anxiety stage here - today he came up to me (with that scared, worried look kids get when they think they have something fatal) and told me he could feel something, right here, in his chest. I explained to him that that was his heart beating and that that particular symptom had been going on since before he was born. He looked only partly relieved. I don't think he trusts me. Maybe because I laughed at him about the starvation thing. Poor guy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Another Day at the Beach

Larry and I, in one of those lapses of sound judgment for which we are reknowned (can't remember how to spell that), decided to take the kids on another day trip to the beach. I even dragged myself out of bed at 6:30 to ensure an early start, which was very difficult, as I am still trying (after 4 months) to acclimate myself to Daylight Savings Time. Anyway, we actually had the car loaded with all our gear (no mean feat) and everyone had just gotten buckled in and Larry was just about to sit himself in the driver's seat when Brian announced that his stomach felt funny. Being seasoned parents, we took him inside and told him to hurry up and vomit, because we had to get going. Boy, is that kid going to have a lot to tell his therapist someday. 20 minutes and no puke later, we deposited him back in the car with his very own plastic bag to vomit into, if necessary. And we refused to feed him. So he arrived at the beach a very traumatized little kid. And Larry and I had a not-so-relaxing ride ourselves, listening to him whimper and waiting for him to blow, so to speak. But he didn't.

It just occurred to me that I have reset my theoretical vomit-counter-widget back to zero again. Darn.

We left Anna at home, because for some reason she had no desire to sit in a car with all of her detested siblings for 3 hours just to watch them frolic at the beach. Boy - you can just feel that love, can't you? We don't mind - that way we didn't have to take 2 vans. Though I think I will opt to take 2 vans next time anyway - Brian and Rachel and David bickered in the back seat most of the way home, to the point where I would have knocked all their heads together if I just could have reached them.

But it was fun - really. The weather was good, the beach wasn't too crowded, and I only spent about half the time worrying about rip tides. The other half I spent protecting Susie from some very hungry seagulls. One of them snatched a sandwich out of Theo's hand. I didn't even know that seagulls liked salami. As an added bonus, we were able to get some kite-flying in. To understand kite-flying in our family, you have to think back to Charlie Brown trying, year after sorry year, to kick that football without Lucy pulling it away from him at the last minute. Well, with Larry, this will be the year that we actually get the kite aloft for more than, say, 15 seconds. It wasn't, of course. Larry blames the kite. Luckily, the kids don't seem to notice this pattern and are always willing to give it another go. They are so sweet and trusting. Or stupid, maybe.

Now was that a nice thing to say about my own children? It's just that, sometimes, you just gotta wonder.

The ride home was blessedly uneventful, aside from the aforementioned constant bickering from the back row. And even that served its purpose - it made me glad to get home.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Summer Burnout

You know, after a summer spent incarcerated with 4 children and one angry teenager (the other, non-angry, teenager having been smart enough to get himself the heck out of here for the summer), I'm beginning to think that the joys of family togetherness are vastly overrated. June was fun (even with moving and all), but since then we've had approximately 60 days of temps in the 90's, humidity ditto; we've done 6 (count them, 6) jigsaw puzzles, eaten around 16 gazillion popsicles, celebrated about 15 "special" lemonade days, went to the pool so much that even the kids begged not to go again, and got absolutely nowhere on renovating/painting/cleaning up this house. In other words, we're in a rut. I think I'll go tell Larry that we need to take a cross-country trip, just to liven things up. He looks like he needs a vacation, anyway. And I've developed a strange hankering to see the Great Lakes.

I'd would like to point out (with a certain sense of pride) that I have not written about vomit for over a week. If I were just a bit more computer-savvy, I'd figure out how to put one of those widgets(?) on the side of my blog that would proclaim "This blog puke-free for (fill in the blank) days." Of course, I would have reset the counter to zero with this paragraph, I suppose.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tomato Follies

Well, we just finished canning some more tomato sauce here. I got a good deal on a half bushel at the farmers' market and, for some reason, decided it would be a good idea to spend a hot summer day in the kitchen with a steaming canning kettle. I wish I could justify this activity on economic grounds, but I figure it's costing us about 3 dollars a quart to make our own sauce - that is, about twice as much as it would cost me in the store. The peach jam I'm going to make tomorrow (good deal on those, too, wouldn't you know?) is even pricier - it comes out to 2 dollars a pint (that's 4 dollars a quart for you mathematics-phobes out there). I have to fall back on the educational justification - the kids need to learn how people made their food before the advent of supermarkets and year-round fresh produce. And let me tell you, my teenage daughter is really appreciating this lesson. About as much as she appreciates the lessons on how to clean a bathroom.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Potty Animal

Summer's back - it went away for a few days and we were teased with sweatshirt weather and beautiful gray skies, but now it is back with a vengeance. That's okay - I like being miserable.

Potty training is going along swimmingly here, as usual (ahem). I decided that waiting far too long to train the other kids had caused all the problems we've had in the potty department; so I confiscated Susie's diapers months ago (before she turned 2). As a result, she pees on the floor and yells, "Towel!" and I run and bring towels to clean it all up. She's trained me pretty well, don't you think?

What I should have done is paper-trained her. And smacked her (gently) on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper every time she messed up. Too bad there is no #7 on the horizon to try that out on.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

One of Those Days

One of those days, unfortunately. By 5 o'clock I was reduced to sending the younger ones to their rooms and telling them not to bother me. My Rachel's voice seems particularly high-pitched lately. She and Brian have spent the day bickering with each other in an attempt to drive me right over the edge.

I am bored out of my skull. All jobs have their boring moments, I know; but my particular job seems to have more than its fair share. I need to take up a physically demanding form of exercise - long-distance running, say, or bicycling - to distract my mind from the fact that most of my days are filled with pointless tedium. Eating chocolate does not do the trick anymore. I can't believe that most folks feel that solitary confinement is some sort of punishment. It would seem like heaven to me right now. A nice quiet room, with a pile of books and maybe an exercise bike - that's not asking much right now, is it?

It doesn't help that at Target today (yes, I was there again - what of it?), I noticed an elderly woman sweeping the floors and emptying the trash cans. That will be me, 25 years from now. That's what happens when you are stupid with your finances - we've taken money that should go towards our retirement and are sinking it all into this money pit of a house we bought last spring. It cost us 700 dollars yesterday just to have our new kitchen sink hooked up (yes, for a day or so there, we had everything but the kitchen sink). Seems that the handyman who installed the last sink here was pretty damn creative and glued all sorts of things together, so everything had to be ripped out and replaced. Which took a lot of time. 500 dollars worth of time, to be exact. The hell with college - I'm apprenticing all my kids to plumbers and electricians. Eighty dollars or more an hour doesn't look too bad to me. And then maybe they could support me in my old age so that I wouldn't have to sweep the floors at Target. That is, if they manage to forgive me for locking them in their rooms every afternoon at 5:00.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Regurgitation, revisited

Larry and I managed to sneak away after dinner last night to take a walk at the Town Center and listen to the live music they have there in the summers. We enjoyed our date for almost 10 full minutes before Theo called to inform us that Rachel needed to throw up; we sped home so we wouldn't miss any of the excitement. I don't know what's with that kid. I just know that there is yet another dinner that I won't ever be able to eat again. There's quite a list now - the delicious sausage chowder a friend made us last summer, the great salisbury steak recipe we tried out this past winter, the spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce that we enjoyed last night - just a few of the many dishes that have been ruined for me by the sight of their regurgitated versions. Thanks, kids!

It's difficult to sleep well when the odds are good that your kid is going to throw up again during the night. At half past midnight both Larry and I heard a child cry out for us and leaped out of bed like firemen hearing an alarm bell. Wrong kid, though - psych! - just Susie coming in to share our bed for the rest of the night. Rachel waited another hour - you know, just long enough for Larry and I to get back into a comfortable slumber - to wake us up. Obviously feeling quite chipper, she wanted her comforter back (we had confiscated anything we didn't want to wash the vomit off of) and her stuffed bunny and a few other things. We staggered back to bed, relieved that we weren't cleaning up more vomit, and knew no more until daybreak. This pattern of interrupted sleep (16 years of it, dammit) is getting to me. I believe the sleep deprivation is eating away at my brain cells.

Which may explain why I can no longer figure out how to operate a simple appliance such as my new dishwasher. Reading the manual is too overwhelming, so I just push random buttons until it lights up and starts making those gurgling sounds. But I love my dishwasher. And it only costs us 77 dollars a year to operate! I figured that out all by myself, thank you. You see, the tag said it only cost 22 dollars to operate; but that refers to normal use (defined as 4 loads a week). 4 loads a week! If that's all I had to do, I wouldn't need an automatic dishwasher. So I managed to extrapolate to 14 loads a week. It took me a while. Probably used up my last few remaining brain cells to do it, too.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I Love Automatic Dishwashers

Library, Pool. Pool. Target. Pool. Library, pool. Target.

Things are getting a bit repetitive around here.

The good news is, the new dishwasher is coming today! Glory, hallelujah! I don't know how those big 19th-century farm families managed to wash all their dishes while milking the cows and feeding the horses and making all their own clothes. I feel as though I am already spending half the day just washing and drying dishes. And that's with the kids' help. (Although, maybe it would go faster without all that bickering and whining...)

One wonders how it is possible that I managed yesterday to forget not once but twice to put a diaper on Susie when she fell asleep. The upshot being that I woke up in the middle of the night to find myself soaking in a puddle of pee. Apparently, creeping senility and baby-raising do not mix - a powerful argument to have your kids while you are still young enough to take competent care of them. I sprang out of bed upon discovering my predicament, peeled off my disgustingly wet pajamas, diapered a still-slumbering Susie (a prime example, I believe, of locking the barn after the horse is stolen), piled (absorbent) cotton towels over the wet spot (because, of course, the other set of sheets is still waiting to be washed), and attempted (unsuccessfully) to get back to sleep. So much for my plan of waking all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning and getting a zillion things done.

I would like to note here that Larry managed to sleep through this whole scene.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Danger on the Playground

Rachel managed to almost break her nose today by somehow slamming a heavy-duty tire swing into it. I was a little bummed it was self-inflicted; I was half-hoping that the neighbor kid (the one whose head was almost cracked open by Brian) had done it. Then we and our neighbors would be even. But no such luck. Rachel was sobbing hysterically until she realized that she'd get a popsicle; then she turned the waterworks off like that (picture a snapping finger, okay?). Susie of course required a sympathy popsicle or two; girls are empathetic like that, you know? I think they take turns injuring themselves, just to get popsicles.

Anna still hates me. And I still don't care. I garnished part of her allowance to pay for ice cream treats for her little siblings, because she wrecked their Duplo creations during one of her hissy fits. Yes, I am the meanest mother ever. It was good ice cream, too. McDonald's has these little sundaes on their dollar menu - what a deal! That wasn't a paid promo, by the way. With 6 kids, I'm just very enthusiastic about Dollar Menus.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Still Summer

No rain. Hot. What else is there to say? The little kids, God bless 'em, are still excited about going to the pool. But what choice do they have? There's nothing else going on. Unless you count the new (the fifth one this summer) jigsaw puzzle we've started on the dining room table. How come the activities that would be considered pointless time wasters if I were an adult living alone become totally worthwhile just because I have young children? Maybe that's why I keep having babies - to justify my willingness to spend my summers doing jigsaw puzzles, making lemonade, and hanging out at the pool. A real adult couldn't get away with that. I've got it made. I think.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Dishwasher Suicide and Other Problems

Most amusing sight this week around our household - Larry lying on the couch, ignoring all the boxes and miscellany crowded into our family room and reading a book titled Get It Done. All I can say is, it wasn't working.

Theo has returned home from his summer job to a hero's welcome. I won't say it wasn't an emotional reunion at times, particularly when he opened the refrigerator door with tears in his eyes. He looks to have lost about 15 pounds over the summer. At least I've now got one kid who truly appreciates a full fridge and central air conditioning.

It's only been 2 months in our new abode, and we've already managed to kill the dishwasher. Actually, I think it committed suicide. After 20 years of being used only once or twice a week by the former owner, it just couldn't hack our 2-times-a-day-sometimes-3 regimen. Larry and I moseyed on over to Best Buy (anything to get away from the children, you know) to purchase a new one (because we are made of money); and we were surprised to realize that dishwashers (at least, ones sturdy enough to withstand our not-so-typical use) are costing upwards of 600 dollars these days. We were also surprised (well, not really) to realize that, out of approximately 20 display models, there was only one model that we managed to agree on. And it didn't come in white. So we came home dishwasherless, much to the dismay of Anna, who wants to know "what do you mean wash the dishes by hand?" and who is feeling much put upon lately. Anna is no longer 13, by the way, thanks be to God; we're hoping that her being 14 may bring us some relief from the hell that she has been putting us through for the past year.

We are even more relieved that Rachel is turning 5 tomorrow, which means that she will no longer be 4 and that maybe, just maybe, we can put the events of last year behind us. Not that we were traumatized by all the plumbing incidents, stuffed-animal beheadings, and whatever else she inflicted upon us over the past 12 months; we are just hoping for a teeny little respite from not being able to trust our own children. Age 5 is still too young for boarding school - I checked. Of course, she doesn't endear herself to me any further by her habit of voicing her thoughts out loud to herself. The other day, as I was getting dressed, I heard her commenting, "Mommies have big bottoms. Not cute little bottoms like mine." I guess it's time to get back to those Weight Watcher meetings.

David, Brian, and Susie are enjoying all the festivities and cake which are attendant on having 2 family birthdays within one week. And we are all enjoying (with the exception of Anna, who does not enjoy anything involving us) having Theo back home to cook us gourmet meals (hey, I do do most of the shopping and food prep). At least all the good food has helped to distract us from the fact that it has been in the 90's here for approximately forever, and it will remain that way for the foreseeable future. I think we need to move to Canada. Larry doesn't seem receptive to that idea, however. I think he's lost his sense of adventure somewhere. That's what happens as you age, I guess. He's got only 2 more months until he turns 40; and he's turning grayer by the minute. Though that may not all be due to the aging process, now that I think about it.

Well, time to be getting to bed - I've got 1/2 a bushel of peaches to turn into preserves in the morning, if they don't manage to rot overnight. Yet another over-enthusiastic purchase of mine at the local farmer's market, I'm afraid. At least they didn't cost as much as the 40 quarts of strawberries the kids brought home in June. I think we buy more produce in one summer than most people used to see in their entire lives.

Enough, already!