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2006 June

Don’t Mess With Chris

June 9, 2006

We recently discovered that someone is stealing stones off of our stone wall, as well as that of our next door neighbor. This person is coming into our yard several yards up our driveway to take these stones.

Coincidentally, another neighbor a few houses away is building a new stone wall. Hmmmm. Not accusing anyone, but what a coinky-dink.

This is a huge problem here in our area of the country where there are numerous old stone walls and the price of building new ones is cost prohibitive.

In any event I am really mad. It takes a special sort of brazen asshole to come up someone else’s driveway and steal their wall away under the veil of darkness.

So I have made some signs that I am going to post out in my yard, if my husband will let me.


To be alternated with this one:


So if you don’t hear from me for a few days, it is because I have built one of those deer stands high up in a tree and am just waiting silently, biding my time for the thief to reappear.

Posted by Chris @ 1:00 am | 46 Comments  

How I Plant A Tree, With Children and a Husband

June 8, 2006

  • Tree we transplanted last year doesn’t make it through the winter
  • Decide we need a new tree
  • Go to nursery and pick out a large tree
  • Realize it can’t fit into any vehicle we own and arrange for shipping
  • Find out the price for having them dig and plant the tree
  • Decide that we can dig the hole ourselves
  • Because I am stupid frugal
  • 36″x 30″ deep doesn’t sound very big at all
  • We own shovels
  • I have children who like to dig
  • Arrange for tree to be delivered on Wednesday
  • Ignore digging the hole for an entire week
  • Realize Tuesday that hole has to be dug today
  • Organize a digging party with children
  • Hand out the shovels
  • Children act like they have never seen, much less used a shovel, before
  • Spend the time asking children to get their shovel out of the way
  • Get their heads out of the way
  • To stop dueling with the shovels
  • Ask children to stop jumping in the hole
  • Inform children that there is no treasure buried in our yard
  • or corpses
  • or dinosaur bones
  • or anything worth diving into the hole in front of my shovel
  • Get hit in face with shovel handle
  • over
  • and over
  • and over again
  • Take a break when 7yr old gets hit in the eye
  • and scratches his cornea
  • get out eye injury supplies
  • Doesn’t everyone have an eye injury kit?
  • You would if you had six sons.
  • Patch up his eye
  • Continue digging
  • At 26″ hit a huge rock with the shovel
  • Decide to raise the level of the yard 4″
  • Try unsuccessfully to keep small children out of the hole
  • Planting A Toddler
  • Rain for next 24 hours
  • Yard is a slippery mud pit
  • with a mud pool in the center
  • Crew arrive to deliver tree in the pouring rain
  • Delivering the Tree
  • Realize that the tree looks much much larger when not surrounded by other trees
  • Thankful that they will plant it
  • Three Men and a Tree
  • Crew inform me that the hole is too deep
  • But it isn’t wide enough
  • They drop the tree NEXT to the hole
  • Did I mention the pouring rain?
  • And the mud?
  • The Tree Waiting to be Planted
  • Stand on the porch shocked
  • Wonder how I will get the tree into the hole
  • Realize too late that I should have cried
  • Told them about the surgery
  • And the sad story of my husband’s thumblessness
  • Offered them cash, the great motivator
  • Instead I say bad words.
  • Wait until afternoon, hoping against hope for sunshine
  • Resign self to plant tree in pouring rain
  • begin the shovelling, again
  • Am joined by helpful children
  • Who enjoy the mud more than I want them to
  • I feel like I am in a Tide commercial
  • Except I am not smiling and happy about my laundry situation
  • Husband who has his arm in a sling “helps” by giving instructions
  • Until he can take it no longer
  • Then he helps us lift the tree with his one good arm
  • It was much more of an ordeal than it sounds
  • All the twisting, lifting, turning, straightening
  • Backfill the hole
  • Stake the tree with the wire and stakes provided
  • Tell children to stay away from the tree
  • Stand back near the road to admire tree
  • Pose for photo lest we forget the fun
  • Victorious in the Pouring Rain
  • Collect shovels laying around the yard
  • Trip over the wire securing the tree
  • Fall in the mud
  • While laying there glance up at flowers
  • The drought resistant flowers
  • the heat tolerant flowers
  • that could withstand the unrelenting summer sun
  • and me never remembering to water them
  • the flowers are now drowning and cold
Posted by Chris @ 9:13 am | 23 Comments  

A New Project

I am involved in a new website called Larger Families. From the website:

largerfamilies.com is the site dedicated to parents raising the modern larger family! We strive to be a source of ideas, resources, entertainment and inspiration by and for moms with more than the “average” number of kids. We’ll keep you entertained, informed, and inspired with a daily blog written by over a dozen moms with between four and eleven kids, an advice column, links, resources, articles and interviews.

I am writing the advice column, called Advice from the Trenches, where I answer questions from poor, unsuspecting souls people. I will also periodically be interviewing other mothers to see their personal takes on raising a large a family in a world designed for two kids, as well as doing the occasional book review.

I’ll have a link up in my sidebar as soon as I get around to it. And my new blog home should be up and running soon, unless my blog designer shoots herself or finds me and shoots me for my incredible pickiness and unrelenting idea changes.

Posted by Chris @ 7:26 am | 10 Comments  

Tying Your Shoes, Typing, Washing the Dishes, Squeezing the Toothpaste Tube

June 7, 2006

What are things that are difficult to do with a huge bandage on your half missing thumb.

This is a picture of the built-in benches that cost Rob his thumb. They turned out really nice and were totally worth sacrificing a finger, that wasn’t mine.

Banquet seats

Rob is in surgery as I type this, having his thumb repaired. He sent me this email yesterday afternoon:

She told me to be sure to where a very roomy shirt, as my dressing will be quite bulky and may not fit in a normal shirt.. Excuse me….! Uhm.. What exactly do you think this surgery is for? A heart transfer or a damn thumb??!! Too bulky?? Just how much dressing are they expecting to put on one hand? There is just so much wrapping they can do.. Am I supposed to wear this roomy shirt for the next two weeks too? Should I go shop at the big and tall shop to outfit myself to accommodate my “dressing”..?

In case it isn’t clear from the email he was also told that he would have to leave the bandages on for two weeks without having them removed. If his hand can’t fit inside a regular shirt, what is he supposed to do for wearing clothing to work. He is also traveling for business next week and part of the trip is going to Universal Studios in Orlando. I can’t figure out exactly how that is business related either, so don’t ask me.

I joked to him this morning that I half expect to pick him up from the surgery center and find him in a apparatus like this:


with one of those dog cones around his neck for good measure.

Posted by Chris @ 10:55 am | 25 Comments  

What Did We Do Before Google?

June 6, 2006

Today I am third in this google search:

what did the trenches look like?

In an effort to be helpful, here is the answer:

In The Hole

Posted by Chris @ 3:34 pm | 19 Comments  

I Used To Be Perfect

Remember my motivational speech to my children that I wrote about in my last post?

My oldest son hit his first homerun last night. He was thrilled. And I was $20 poorer.

The night before my 10 year old hit two doubles and a single. And I was $5 lighter in the wallet.

I’d like to think it was my incredibly motivating and inspirational talk with my sons, and not the lure of cold hard cash.

It’s funny, before I had children I though I would be one of those parents who didn’t bribe or punish. I strongly felt that the intrinsic value of doing something would be lost if I put an outside motivator on it. But my children were also going to be perfect and want to learn their multiplication tables for fun and spend their spare time composing original violin concertos to play on their weekly visits to the elderly. They would self discipline!

Before I had children, I was the perfect mother.

And so the other night after my motivational speech, when my 10 yr old asked, will you give me something if I hit the ball into the outfield? After negotiating we decided on $1 for a single, $2 for a double, etc. The kids has the best game of his short little life, probably because he was too busy mentally calculating his newly acquired cash and what he would buy with it,than feeling anxious.

The 11 yr old said, “That’s not fair.”

I answered, “Welcome to my life, dear.”

“What if I hit a homerun? Like out of the ballpark homerun? Will you give me $20?” he pressed on.

I calculated the odds of that happening. He has never hit a homerun. I figured my money was safe.

So under the guise of being magnanimous I answered, “Sure. Why not.”

At 8:00 pm last night I got a phone call from him on his father’s cell phone. He hit that homerun.
I wasn’t there.

“I wish you had seen it, Mom.”

I think I may have died a little.

He came home with the ball. A dirty, smudged ball, that someone had dug out of the woods and given it to him. He held it up proudly, for all of us to gaze upon it’s magnificence. He wanted me to write the date on it so he could save it.

I pulled out my trusted Sharpie, asked him to verify the date on the calendar, took a deep breath to steady my hand, and proceeded to write the wrong date. The wrong freaking date.

He cried. I scrubbed the little spot on the ball trying to get the marker off. In the end I was able to “fix” it in a way that was acceptable to him, and if you didn’t know any better you wouldn’t even notice. But you’ll always be able to see that little clean spot, where I tried to fix my mistake.

Every time I look at that little ball sitting on his shelf, I’ll remember this night, and my woefully inadequate self.

My kids might not be perfect, but I love them just the way they are. I hope they think the same about me.

$20 should buy a little forgiveness… right? right?

Posted by Chris @ 10:49 am | 26 Comments  

Baseball is a metaphor for everything

June 4, 2006

A few nights ago I was talking to my two oldest sons about the power of positive thinking and the self fulfilling power of negative thoughts. Of course this was all in relation to baseball, because aside from Legos their thoughts are consumed with little else.

One of them has been having a lot of trouble at bat during games. At the pitching machine… he hits everything beautifully. When the coach is pitching, or during practices, the same.

But put him up at bat during a game and it is like looking at a different kid. There is no explanation for it, other than the negative self speak. The coaches come up to us, privately, and say that he should be the best on the team. That is what all the evidence during practice would suggest. And yet, time after time, in a game situation he fails to come through.

So I began this conversation telling them both that I wanted them to think positive thoughts when they got up to bat. I gave them a little mantra to say when they got up at home plate. “I am a hitter. I can do it. I can hit a homerun. I can do it.” They looked at me like I had lost my mind.

“I’m not saying that,” my ten year old protested.

“You don’t have to go up to there and shout it, though maybe that would scare everyone else away from you. No, you say it in your head.”

From the way they protested you would think I had suggested they go up to bat naked.


A few days ago I got an “opportunity” to get paid for some writing. If we use the word “opportunity” to mean “lay down while we run you over with a steam roller to extract every last ounce of your soul from your body and then pay you a pittance”. I don’t want to get into details because it seems as though they could be a particularly litigious club group. But suffice it to say that the offer was insulting. And not just insulting to me, because I am sitting on some sort of high horse, just plain old insulting to writers everywhere ( imagine my sweeping arm gesture which encompasses all of you)

As I said to the person offering the job, if I accept this sort of job I am basically saying that what I do has no value. That my writing and the writing of other women and mothers (not to exclude men out there, but this offer was a mom thing) is worth nothing. And I don’t believe that. I can’t believe that.

I told the person offering the job that I hoped no one accepts this job under these terms. But I know someone will. I know someone will believe the lie that we have been collectively fed, that mothering, and the writing about mothering, has no value, that you should be happy for a little pat on your head. Now go sit in the corner, fiddle with your pearls, and look pretty.

Writing about being in the trenches of motherhood is revolutionary. Our mothers didn’t have this outlet. Being able to write honestly about all facets of our lives is freeing. Finding out that other women feel like an outcast from the “perfect mother” club is comforting.

I seethed over it for days, and a wise friend told me I needed to let it go, and I have. Or rather will after I write this. She also asked what I was going to do about it. Do? Isn’t my outrage enough.

And as I began to hem and haw she said, well you have a safety net I have kids to feed, that’s the difference. No, it’s more than a safety net I had said. I couldn’t think of what it really was. Safety net implies that you are doing something, but what will be caught if you fall. No, I have been treating my life as a crutch.

Have I worked on my book at all in the past few months? No.

Why not? Oh the reasons I could give are numerous and varied. With seven kids people don’t expect much of you. If my shoes match and my shirt is buttoned correctly, people are impressed. The world is my enabler. But, if I have time for this I have time to do writing that will pay me.

In the end though it comes down to the negative self talk. My own reluctance to step up to the plate and claim the title of writer, lest some one slap me down. My life long pattern of giving up, so that I don’t have to fail.

‘Tis easier to stand motionless at homeplate, ostensibly waiting for the perfect pitch, blaming the pitcher for lousy throws, blaming the umpire for bad calls, than it is to claim the game as your own, to swing with all you heart, all your strength, and strike out.

Old habits are hard to change, the negative self talk even harder.

So now it is my turn up at the plate. I understand fully the protests of my sons. I feel naked.

“I am a writer. I can do it.”

Posted by Chris @ 7:39 am | 45 Comments  

Way Back Weekend

June 3, 2006

Posted by Chris @ 7:17 am | 10 Comments  

Planting with Children

June 2, 2006

This is when you get to practice that deep Lamaze breathing that was completely worthless during labor.

Boots, essential flower planting footwear

And anyone with the slightest bit of perfectionism, will need some drugs. Or at the very least to put the camera down and help. By help I mean take over and yell, mumble expletives about how expensive the plants were, gently guide the small angels. Gosh, that is hard to type with a straight face.

Trying to give the porch floor that outdoor feel

And just to prove how over protective I am, here is a picture of my daughter playing t-ball.

Safety equipment for t ball

It’s a dangerous sport. You never know when you might hit yourself in the head with your bat, or drop the ball on your toes. Better to be vigilant and prepared.

Posted by Chris @ 11:38 am | 21 Comments  

Tying Up Loose Ends

June 1, 2006

1) Rob went back to work today, thankfully. The man does not sit down. It can be maddening. He has to go to the doctor all week for “whirlpool” treatments for his thumb that somehow help in the healing process. Then on Monday, he will have surgery. The doctor now thinks he will be able to save the length of his thumb and not cut down the fingernail. So, his hitch hiking days are not over. (kidding, he doesn’t really hitch hike.)

2) People, they send me stuff.

A few weeks ago, maybe more who can remember, I received and email from someone asking if I would like to try their Milk Tray. It was developed by two breastfeeding mothers and is designed to be a freezing container for pumped breasting. It has single ounce compartments to cut down on wasting, because nothing sucks more that defrosting an 8 ounce bag of breasting, knowing that your baby is only going to drink five ounces. They freeze in slim lines… hence the name of the product, so that they can slip into the opening on the bottle. Am I sounding like an info-mercial yet? I didn’t try it, but I think that a few frozen milk sticks would fit right into an Advent sized bottle still frozen so one could defrost them inside the bottle in the refrigerator. Since I am no longer breastfeeding, I filled the container with water and then used the ice sticks to put in the kids water bottles, they liked that. If you are a nursing mother check it out. Also, if you are a nursing mother and would like the sample tray I received, I’ll send it along to you free of charge to test out and you could write your own review on your blog if you like.

I also got some Clorox Everywhere Sanitizer. Eh. I like my disinfecting products to smell like chemicals so that I know they are working. This one smells nice… like febreezy nice. I am just not convinced that it works as well as my trusty Lysol.

I’d really like someone to send me a Scooba to test out. I think the iRobot people should send me one. I have a huge house with wood and tile floors, including seven bathrooms. Two are not functional right now, but the other five are. If I didn’t have to clean them all, theoretcially, perhaps the other two would be functional as well. My seven children think that it is their God given mission to bring as much of the outdoors inside of our home. Also, I am lazy and hate no task more than mopping my floors. You can ask my husband. If he ever divorces me, that will definitely be one of the things he would write down as a reason. So iRobot, I eagerly await my Scooba in the mail.

3) Today I finally do not look like I am storing nuts inside my cheek for winter.

4) If you have emailed me and I have not responded yet, I will. Soon. Hopefully. The only exception to this is all you people who emailed me to tell me that I am an overprotective nut who is raising my children to be overly dependent upon me and that I am destined to have them all still living at home when they 45 years old, their only love interest a couple of mangy cats. You people I am not going to email back. Because you obviously don’t know me well at all. I am allergic to cats.

5) Today I am planting my flower boxes. Thus begins my first attempt at Operation Don’t Kill the Flowers, that is on my forty before forty list. I’d really like to keep these flowers alive this year. I bought flowers that the garden center told me like lots of sun and drought like conditions. That is perfect for me and my inability to remember to water my flowers.

6) I know that there were more things I wanted to say, but they have all slipped out of my head.

Posted by Chris @ 8:04 am | 40 Comments