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2007 May

When etch-a-sketches go bad

May 21, 2007

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you decided to take your etch-a-sketch outside and smash it open with a rock?

No? Me neither. I was always content to turn the little dials and try in vain to make something other than a staircase. I did not need to understand the mysterious inner workings of the etch-a-sketch.

But my sons did.

And so a couple of them smashed one open and then proceeded to smear the silver dust all over each other, the swingset, and the yard. Oh what fun! What joy! What merriment!

Until I snapped them out of their revelry with my spastic yelling.

I sent them inside to wash up, stomping loudly behind them, with explicit instructions not to touch anything, which whoa boy is so funny. “How can we turn on the water if we can’t touch anything? ” Har har har. Not funny.

There was much snickering at the kitchen sink. I made a valiant effort to maintain my angry facade while looking at my silver coated children. I would have been successful too had Rob not come into the kitchen to see what was going on.

“Look! Just look!” I said, gesturing wildly to the children solemnly standing at the kitchen sink. Solemn now that Daddy was in the room.

“Just look at this one! He looks like the godforsaken TIN MAN!” I said as I spun my 8yr old around to face him.

ever wonder what would happen...

Rob started laughing.

The children started laughing.

And in spite of myself, I was laughing too.

I grabbed my camera off the counter and snapped a few pictures for the ‘One day this will be funny’ category.

Though I doubt it will be any funnier than it was today. Unless they reenact me running through the backyard with my arms flailing around, yelling like a crazy person, while they ran away from me.

Oh wait, they have already done this. Twice.

Posted by Chris @ 12:35 am | 44 Comments  

simple pleasures

May 20, 2007

throwing rocks

Hope your weekend was equally as nice.

Posted by Chris @ 10:35 am | 14 Comments  

and sometimes I have no answers

May 18, 2007

My daughter has recently decided to run away from me in stores, or hide behind racks of clothing only to emerge when my voice gets loud and panic has set in. Since she is only four years old she thinks she is completely in control of the situation.

So over the past few weeks I have been telling her that if she hides like that someone else might see her, decide that she is cute, and take her home with them to keep for her very own. She has had numerous explanations of what she would do if someone tried to take her. Most of them firmly delusional, unless she does actually develop super powers that enable her to fly or scale buildings.

I have gently explained that an adult could pick her up and run away. Or at least I thought I was being gentle. But maybe I have become so used to all the bad things that happen in this world that my idea of gentle isn’t really gentle at all. Having an adult grab you and run away with you is gentle compared to what actually happens to many kidnapped children, but she doesn’t know that.

For the past week she has been up every night, coming into our bed. She rarely wakes in the middle of the night and does this anymore. At this point she is far more likely to get up very early in the morning and come into our bed.

Last night at bedtime she was very upset. Finally she said through her tears that she didn’t like having the window open in her bedroom. She was afraid someone was going to come in her room at night and steal her. Every one of the reasons I gave her for why this wouldn’t happen were met with explanations from her as to why it could. And all of them were possible. In theory, someone really could get a ladder and push it under her window and climb into her room. It could happen I suppose. It has happened to other people before.

And so I gathered her up from her bed and settled her into my bed, where she felt safe.

And as I left the room and saw her so tiny laying in the middle of this immense bed, my heart broke a little. Knowing that something as simple as my “big bed” will not be able to keep her safe forever.

Edited to add a clarification:

I do not believe in scaring children. I don’t think that telling my children someone might take them home is damaging. My daughter wanted to know why she can’t hide from me. “Why would you get scared, Mommy? I am right here!”

This post was really more about me and my fears, than about her. She thought up the ladder thing by herself. She knows nothing about any of the kidnap cases, even the one that is currently being talked about. I think her fears are probably appropriate for her age.

Posted by Chris @ 9:51 am | 65 Comments  

a proud moment, for sure

May 16, 2007

I am writing this story out so that one day when my children are all grown and come back to me enumerating the ways that I wronged them and damaged their precious little psyches, I’ll have my side of the story already written.

Tonight we were driving home and my younger children were misbehaving so terribly in the car that I contemplated just driving headlong into a tree to stop the screaming, bickering, and wailing that was coming from the back of the van. (My older children were not with me.)

I tried reasoning, “We will be home soon. Fighting with each other isn’t going to make the drive go by any faster!”

I tried bribing, “If you all knock it off when I stop to get gas I’ll buy everyone a loillipop.”

I tried threatening, “Don’t make me pull over!”

I tried shouting, “For the love of all things, KNOCK IT OFF and BEHAVE!”

But nothing worked. No one cared about anything other than the fact that someone was breathing on them, or looking at them, or thinking of looking at them. No matter how loud I turned up the music I could not drown them out.

I pulled into the gas station that is about 10 minutes from our house.

“Yay! LOLLIPOPS!!!” someone screamed from the back seat.

“Oh, I don’t think so. You did NOT behave on the drive here.” I retorted.

Oh the horror. Oh how they were wronged. They wailed and screamed and let me, and every other person within a five mile radius, know their displeasure with every fiber of their being. As I stood outside of the van and pumped the gas, they felt compelled to open the windows and shout how they were being good. Couldn’t I see that they were going to be good now, starting at this moment.

Or in the words of my daughter, “I am BEing HAVE!”

When I went into the gas station to pay I saw the lollipops sitting there, and I was tempted. Because then they would be quiet for the rest of the drive home. I could have ten minutes of quiet. But at what price.

But, mmmmm candy.

I reached into the display.

As I got into the van the kids noticed I had a lollipop in my mouth.

“Yay! She bought candy!” they rejoiced.

“Gimmee. Gimmee.” they shouted.

“Oh, I am sorry. I only bought lollipops for people who were ‘being have.’ And that would be just me.”

They were stunned into silence.

As for me, I enjoyed the lollipop more than I thought possible.

Posted by Chris @ 9:03 pm | 133 Comments  

her teeth are now sparkling, like her shoes

May 15, 2007

first visit to the dentist

Her very first visit to the dentist. Of course I brought my camera along to fully document the event.

demonstrating her flossing technique

Showing off her stellar flossing technique.

which toothbrush should she pick...

Here she faced the challenge of deciding which toothbrush to chose. There were the four Disney princesses, a Power Ranger, and two Toy Story people. She had gone to the appointment saying she wanted a Power Ranger toothbrush. Though she has no idea who the Power Rangers are. Perhaps she thought they were more pink and sparkling, with better fashion sense. Who knows. It was a tough decision. But in the end, the lure of the Little Mermaid was too much for her to ignore.

After she had her teeth cleaned, and my 11 yr old son had his teeth cleaned (which I did not photograph because 11 yr olds are embarrassed enough already), we left to go to the bike store, where my son picked out a mountain bike and bought it with his own money that he had saved. He was so proud of himself and absolutely thrilled with his bike.

While we were waiting for the bike to be assembled, he suddenly had a coughing jag. He has had a cough for a couple weeks, occasionally having spells where he coughs and can’t stop. So since we were in the Big Town, we popped over to the Emergency Room, hoping the doctor there would hear his coughing and have some answers. Or some medicine. Yes, I became one of those people that I always bitch about who use the emergency room instead of going to their regular doctor.

When we checked in the nurse doing triage noticed my camera and asked, “Were you out taking photos when this coughing spell happened?”

“Oh no,” I replied,”We were just at the dentist.”

It wasn’t until a while later that I realized how odd that sounded.

chest xray...FUN

Caution Radiation Area!

He had a chest xray, which came back normal. Had everything listened to. Finally the doctor said he suspects it is allergy related. Told me to give him some Claritin D for a few days. If it doesn’t get better to go see my own doctor. Emphasis on my own doctor.

waiting for the x ray results

And they made sure to touch everything in the room. So I am sure we will have some sort of really fun virus coming soon. I can hardly wait.

Posted by Chris @ 11:35 pm | 23 Comments  

Weekends are for…

home improvement projects.

The latest one that we have completed (notice I say completed and not started, or started and abandoned half way through, or ignored for the past 6 months in hopes it will complete itself) is the screened sunporch floor. We had this screened in porch added to the back of our house three years ago.

Having a contractor in my house is something I hope to never ever repeat again. Turns out I am not as comfortable as playing the bitch role as one might think. It got really old, really quickly and as a result there are several things that we are not happy with, some minor, some pretty major, all because I just didn’t feel like fighting any more. Did I mention I was pregnant while it was all going on?

Two weeks ago Rob sanded the porch floor and then I sealed it. Finally.


sunporch floor before


sunporch after

And I find myself thinking, like I always do, what took us so long?

Here is my desk where I work, in theory, while my children frolic nicely in the backyard, in theory.

Sunporch after

The reality is not quite so harmonious. And I bet my neighbors often wish we would all just go back inside the house.

Posted by Chris @ 9:07 am | 40 Comments  

the wistful longers club meets again

May 14, 2007

The notes from the last meeting are here.

This past weekend I stopped at a road side tag sale. I rarely do that anymore. I think this is mostly because I already have a house filled with too much stuff. I don’t really need more clutter. Also unbuckling and rebuckling several children just to get out and look though other people’s junk just isn’t as appealing as it once was. We can go home and take a stroll though our own house.

But, I am currently looking for a dresser for my daughter’s bedroom and I have something fairly specific in mind. Also, I don’t want to spend a lot of money on it. Why is it that when I didn’t need one I saw them everywhere?

This tag sale had a bunch of vintage bicycles. There were a couple of bicycles built for two, which I always tell Rob I want so that I can sit in back and relax while he pedals. And a couple that would be fun with a basket in front and maybe some streamers from the handle bars.

But the one that really caught my eye. It was a triwheel bike, sort of like a tricycle for grow-ups, with a huge basket in the back. It was in rough shape, covered with rust. It needed a new seat, a paint job, a new chain. (It looked very similar to this one.)

But I could see how lovely it would be.

I imagined myself riding it around a town, wearing a long flowing floral skirt, my hair blowing gracefully in the breeze, not once getting tangled in my mouth or whipping into my face.

In the rear basket are several baquettes fresh from the local bakery and a bunch of freshly cut flowers, their stems wrapped in a damp embroidered handkerchief. I ride along waving at the old men in berets who are sitting on the park benches which line my route. “Bon jour!” I call, as I give them a friendly wave.

I imagined myself into a fantasy which has no base in reality. I felt that wistful longing which is such a prominent feature of my existence that I don’t often even recognize it a such anymore.

I stroked the handle bar long enough for my almost 10 yr old son to come up to me.

“Are you going to get it, Mom?” he asked, jolting me out of my fantasy life.

One in which I am young, beautiful, French, and able to EAT BREAD. Not to mention friendly. My life is better suited to a mountain bike, or something motorized if I ever want a hope of keeping up with my children.

In reality, I’d have to put several children in that basket to go anywhere. They would inevitably fight and shove each other out of the basket, tempting me to just leave them laying there crying on the side of the road and ride off. (Hey, fantasy within a fantasy) I would be swearing in French, my loaves of perfectly crusty baquettes would be flattened beyond recognition, and the freshly picked flowers would be nothing but flower heads that had been plucked off their stems by the roadside.

“Nah. It isn’t very practical for my life, is it?” I replied.

“Well, I was thinking you could just ride behind us. And then after awhile we would wait up for you,” he said.

My heart warmed, what an ingrate I felt like at the moment. My son would wait up for me. And though that made me feel positively geriatric, it also made me feel good.

He continued, “You could carry a big cooler in that basket with our lunch and snacks.”

That made me laugh.

But I did get another bike. $2.

Radio Flyer

Replaced with a new fantasy… a little blonde boy on a vintage red Radio Flyer bicycle. With a bell.

And I think I could attach a wagon to the back and he could pull the cooler of snacks behind him.

Next year.

sitting on his new chair

Better start exercising those little legs now, baby.

Posted by Chris @ 1:31 pm | 34 Comments  

Happy Mother’s Day

May 13, 2007

to everyone.

Happy Mother's Day

Posted by Chris @ 2:03 pm | 51 Comments  

Look who came for a visit yesterday evening

May 12, 2007

Look who came back for a visit

What? Can’t make it out in the photo?


This was right before she pressed her nose up against the window to get a better look at us.

The she walked around the side of the house and sniffed where we used to keep the garbage and scratched at the ground where we used to keep the bird feeders. I think she was disappointed that there were no dirty diapers to snack on.

Trolling for more dirty diapers and dropped food

Then she slowly ambled through our backyard and disappeared into the woods behind our house.

Leaving the yard

My 8 yr old came up with a suggestion for handling the bear situation. He said we should all build huge cages around our houses.

“You mean like a zoo, except we are the ones who are in the cages and the animals roam free?”


To answer the questions people have asked:

1) Animal control will not take them away. I don’t live in a city. There are hundreds upon hundreds of acres of wooded areas behind my house. Our next door neighbor owns over 100 acres. The properties are narrow, but deep. I know all of you who live on farms and such are laughing at the thought of 100 acres being a lot, but here it is. We only own 2.

2) They are protected animals and can not be harmed in any way.

3) While I am somewhat nervous about the kids being outside, realistically these bears are not predators who are going to go after my children like Cujo (again with the Cujo reference, note to self find a new metaphor) They are easily scared away by noise. And if there is one thing that seven children are, it is noisy.

4) I have no idea what my fourth point was, but I had one.

Posted by Chris @ 3:22 pm | 49 Comments  

I’m sorry

May 10, 2007

I hate little girls. There I said it.

Why are they so mean and catty? Boys just aren’t like that. I hate that I am embracing this stereotype, but having 6 boys and seeing all their friends and acquaintances I feel pretty confident making this proclamation.

Today we were at baseball and the non ball playing kids were running around playing, rolling down this big grassy hill. My daughter spied a group of three girls all wearing bright pink shirts, like some sort of gang. They were several years older at least.

And they were mean. They asked her questions just to make fun of her. They told her to roll down the hill and then teased her that they saw her underwear and ran away from her. They called her a scaredy cat and made fun of her cute babyish voice. I didn’t realize they were being so mean as it was happening. I stupidly thought her older brothers who were playing alongside her would have stepped in and said something.

But when I did find out I gave them my evil eye. Which did not seem to phase them at all. What is up with kids nowadays, I say as I shake my cane. I would have been scared by a grown-up throwing me the evil eye.

It broke my heart that kids would be mean to a little girl who just turned four, a baby still who wanted nothing more than to run around the field with them.

I wanted to run up to the ring leader of the group, a chubby girl in a bright pink shirt and matching bright pink elastic waist shorts and yank her shorts down and yell, “I see your underwear.” But I didn’t. Aside from the fact that it would be all sorts of wrong, it probably is against the law. I can see the news story now:

Mother of Seven De-pants Girl

Witnesses say she must have had a break in her sanity, probably caused by all those children. She was clearly delusional chanting that she could see foreign countries, specifically London and France. Witnesses were not sure if any other countries were mentioned. ‘She always seemed so calm and put together. It is shocking.’

As much as I know deep down that my level of sadness is irrational given the incident, I can’t help but feel a bit heartbroken for my daughter. Or is it for myself? This whole letting them grow up shit stinks. I don’t want to cut the cord yet, thankyouverymuch. And while I also realize that it is my own personal baggage coloring this, that knowledge doesn’t make me feel any better.

I want to cry and apologize to her. For all the hurts she is ever going to feel. For all the times when people will treat her unkindly. For all of the times I won’t be able to make it right. For the times I won’t understand. For all the ways that I will inevitably fail her.

For all of it.

my treasure

Posted by Chris @ 11:22 pm | 124 Comments