Friday, July 27, 2007

Comic Book Supervillain

Monster Truck(2) has, for the longest time, not been able to pronounce the beginning of any word. Even if he can say both parts of a word separately he will not put them together. (e.g.- "tay" and "bull" but not "table", just "ble".) So today, when I told him to go find his shoes and he happened to notice a shoebox from Bubba's(6) soccer cleats sitting on the floor, I was delighted when he declared (in what for him was almost perfect clarity), "No. Hocker ooze." Now, those of you readers with no children are doubtless sitting there shaking your heads at what you perceive to be an unduly-proud-and-ridiculously-overreactionary-parent-moment that I'm having here. No, you don't get it. He said "Hocker". Isn't that amazing? The fact that I can see your tortured face at this very moment, even across cyberspace, is compensation enough. Yes. Parents of young children are ridiculous. I'm going to embrace it. So my GENIUS toddler, Monster Truck(2)- (doesn't the very name ring Ivy League in your ears?) had the mental faculty to inform me very matter-of-factly that today he would be wearing soccer shoes (that are twice the length of his feet). When I suggested his own shoes, he just looked at me like I must be some kind of a simpleton not to understand the phrase "hocker ooze", and proceeded with an air of grandeur, to put the cleats on. With a satisfied expression he faced me with a look that said, "There, mother. Now do you see? These hocker ooze are exactly what I am going to wear today and you can't stop me. Now, let's be off. Oh wait, what happened to the ooze? CRAP! I hope mom didn't notice these things keep falling off when I try to walk. Quick, Brother! Distract her! I've got to get rid of these things and run barefoot to the car before she has a chance to think...." Brilliant, I tell you.

So the reason I was distracted enough for him to ditch the cleats without my taking full mental note of it, was because I was busy. Now I wish I could say that I was busy doing very efficient mom-like things such as juggling my phone, the baby carseat, the keys, a water bottle, my wallet, the diaper bag, and kicking one child gently in the direction of the car while multi-tasking by making a grocery list in my head. But alas, I was actually busy because I was comtemplating Hocker Ooze, the comic book supervillain. He would of course, wear a light green spandex suit with maybe a yellowish color panel down the sides. I couldn't decide about headgear or not. His power obviously has something to do with hocking huge super-loogies at his victims. I was trying to decide exactly what this would do. Is is really sticky mucus that holds them? Does it grow after he spits it? Or is it more like acid loogies that can burn through concrete so he is able to rob banks and stuff? I am such a nerd. Clearly, I have seen one too many super-hero movies lately. I like them. But this has got to stop.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Virginity and Death: the Rules

[It's o.k., Jason. Keep reading. :0) ]
When you have a family of eight, there necessarily needs be a system of rules to manage the inevitable chaos. Some of these rules are important. Some aren't.

Max lost her virginity a long time ago. Max is my car. I believe in the tradition of naming cars and houses. Actually I should say I believe in this with a few limitations. If your house sits on less than 3/4 of an acre of land and is not a charming old beach house with a weathered wood fence, it does not deserve a name. All cars should have names though. Max is short for Maxime. Maxime is an 8 passenger Honda Odyssey that holds so much stuff I am amazed every time we pack for a trip what fits in her. I named her after the Harry Potter character when she was brand new because she was so beautiful and graceful and yet, so stinkin' HUGE. When Max was on her way home from the car dealership, Hubby declared the edict:


Now, this is one of those rules that in no way manages any chaos of our day-to-day routine. I sat there quietly plotting all the way home exactly how long I would have to wait before ignoring this rule completely. See, it's not that I love to eat in the car. I don't cherish the moments when wrappers (which have been left earlier that week) and my children come spilling out of the car simultaneously at the grocery store and I have to go chasing trash in the wind because I'm trying to teach the kids that we don't litter. They are "some pigs". I don't love the crumbs in the seats or the way french-fry-smell seems to hang in your ride for like 10 days. No. We don't choose to eat in the car. Soccer moms have their kids eat in the car for just one reason. We're on our way. On our way to where is really immaterial. It could be dance or karate or sports or church meetings or the store or any number of other places. The location can vary. What stays the same are two things: we are in a hurry, and the toddler's right shoe is missing. Again. And we just spent 25 minutes we didn't have looking for that shoe and this is why we are eating in the car on the way to swimming lessons for the third time this month.

So the other day my kids were asking for ice cream and I said no, but I'll get you chicken nuggets if you are hungry. This suggestion was in no way an acceptable alternative and promted the demure response from Little Mommy(8), "We're not allowed to eat in the car." To which I could only roll my eyes because, as I stated at the beginning of this, Max lost her viriginity a long time ago. (Not to mention the big ol' road trip we just got back from.) Puh-lease.

Another rule we have is about books and movies. In an effort to expose my children to the finer things in life (art, music, scientific discovery, creative thinking, and literature)- I have imposed the rule that we don't watch movies until we've read the book they were made from if they are an adaptation. For some inexplicable reason it is important to me that their imaginations come up with their own beautiful images before their minds are imprinted with Hollywood's. To that effect, we just finished reading Charlotte's Web.

We tried to finish in time to see it in the theater but didn't quite make it. All's well that ends well however, because their Grandma bought the DVD for them which we watched the other day. Hubby and I had the happy satisfaction of discussing with the children the book and the lessons which can be learned from it. The children had the happy satisfaction of both storytime every night and getting to watch their movie on our road trip. Win-win. So today when I happened to notice the largest spider I have ever seen in Utah sitting quietly on the front door-frame, holding- I'm not making this up- her peach colored egg sac between her front legs, I could not help calling the kids to come see Charlotte! And I stood there with the front door standing wide open so as not to scare her and her bazillion soon-to-be-babies right into my house and tried to hold back the full-body shudder at the possibility that at any moment she might make a run for it. I waited as long as I could possibly stand it as all my children and all of the neighbor kids admired Charlotte- they were convinced it really was her. Then, when I couldn't stand it for one more second, with Babyloo in my arms I rushed through the doorway back into the house, slammed the door, and hollered to Little Mommy(8) who was armed with an umbrella to KILL IT!!! I let the shudder go and waited until the sounds of umbrella smacking different parts of the door and porch ceased, and then I walked away. Mom of the year award, right there. All that reading and learning, and for what? I declared the death sentence for the most beloved creepy-crawly thing in the neighborhood and I let my kids do battle with the spider I swear was the size of a sedan. Oh well. Not my shiningest moment.

Now right off, any man is going to tell you that my priorities are way out of whack. Of course "no food in the car" is WAY more important than reading "Charlotte's Web" before watching it- that is what they would say. And most women would tell them they are wrong. That's why we're the moms. And THEY are the spider killers.

A day in 1847- almost

My children just don't always like to do their chores. This is the sort of sentence that makes my friend Rebecca burst out laughing. She says that I am mistaken in my belief that there are kids out there somewhere in the world who do their chores and obey their parents without a fight. Well, whether or not that is true, our family has spent the month of July learning about the pioneers in an effort to gain an appreciation for hard work and also to illustrate in no uncertain terms the fact that my kids lead charmed lives in which they are required to lift only the tiniest little finger most days. Yesterday was Pioneer Day which meant a lot of parades and also that Weight Watchers was closed because there aren't fat people on Pioneer Day. My children and I spent the day as all pioneers would.

We started the day by doing all of our chores before breakfast. Nobody got to eat until all the work was done. This forced them to help each other for a change instead of fighting about who is making whose job harder. When the chores were finished we got dressed in our pioneer outfits. The Pinkiest(4) looked the best. She could have been taken from a painting. The rest of the kids tried hard. Little Mommy(8) had nothing but jeans to wear. Bubba(6) dressed in suit pants, a white button-down shirt, a suit vest, cowboy boots and a cowboy hat. He looked pretty cute. Maybe not too pioneer-ish but definitely like someone out for a fancy dinner in Nashville. Mr. Yuke(3) and Monster Truck(2) both wore random printed t-shirts, shorts, and suit vests, buttoned up. Mr. Yuke(3) had asked me what kind of pants pioneer boys wore. When I told him brown ones he decided that since he couldn't find his brown pants he had better change to his brownish camoflauge Jurrasic Park t-shirt with the suit vest that has pictures of firetrucks and dalmations on it. He put on his tevas and was convinced that he was the most authentic-looking member of the pioneer family. Then, in true pioneer fashion, we hopped into our Honda Odyssey minivan and drove down the valley to Krispy Kreme doughnuts where we went through the drive-thru and ordered our pioneer breakfast of doughnuts with sugar. (I could have made these from scratch from wheat, but I already did that once this month and we were in a hurry. Besides, you can't tell me that the pioneers would not have done exactly what I did if there was a Krispy Kreme next to the Great Salt Lake when they got there.) After eating our doughnuts in the cool air conditioned car, we went to the fabric store to buy some calico to make a pioneer skirt for Little Mommy(8). I chatted with Cute Sister on my cell phone as we stood in an interminably long line waiting to get our fabric cut. We stopped at the grocery store on the way home to buy bottled drinking water, prepackaged, boneless, skinless chicken breasts and a bottle of prepared marinade for our dinner at the neighborhood bring-your-own-meat barbeque. It was my intention to leave the car at the store and walk like pioneers the three miles home with the stroller and groceries. The kids found reprieve in the form of a massive thunder storm that hit just as we were paying for our purchase with a plastic debit card. We drove home where we ate beef jerky and a slice of bread for lunch. (Probably the most authentic thing we did all day, actually.) By this time the kids were getting very thirsty. I left Bubba(6) to guard the family while The Pinkiest(4) and I walked down to the "river" to fetch some water. (We took a plastic pitcher and three water bottles, walked in the rain to the end of the street, checked for imaginary animals upstream, and pretended to fill our pitcher from the imaginary river. (water bottles) ) Then I had The Pinkiest(4) carry the pitcher back to the house being careful not to spill because water is so precious. Once we got the pitcher home, everyone had a drink from a ladle. We microwaved some popcorn and took it up to the playroom where the kids watched a movie about the Mormon pioneers on their VCR and shook whipping cream in a jar to make butter while I sewed a skirt for Little Mommy(8) downstairs on my electric sewing machine. The Pinkiest(4) tended Babyloo and Little Mommy(8) started to cook Cornmeal Mush to take as our sidedish to the previously mentioned barbeque. The kids thought the fetching water/drinking from a ladle was so cool that they repeated the process about 4 times. I don't think they've been so well hydrated in weeks. I finished the skirt with some lace on the bottom hem, finished the cornmeal mush which had lost Little Mommy's interest, and we walked to the barbeque where they had cotton candy and ultimate frisbee. We grilled our chicken which was delicious (Use Lawry's Lemon Pepper marinade- it's SO GOOD!) and played with our friends. When it was almost dark we walked home and watched the neighbors set off fireworks.

The kids begged me to have another pioneer day this week. They thought it would be especially funny to see the looks on people's faces when we went out in public dressed like pioneers on some other day. I reminded them that they had to get all their work done before breakfast on Pioneer Days. (Read- I don't want to.) They all said, "YAYYYYYY!!!!!" Huh? I guess we should have come up with costumes for doing chores a long time ago.

So maybe we didn't do everything exactly like the pioneers did, but we tried. It still helped me to realize what a great many things in our day there are to be grateful for. And those pioneers were amazing people.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bears, Celebrity Death Match, and Dominoes

We just got back from a family reunion. It was what all family reunions are. Fun, all in all, but fun with a backdrop of the up-close and personal look at exactly what you were escaping when you took that plunge and, risking life, jumped from the nest. It was far too short, actually. The reunion, not the jump. The time FLEW by. Let me tell you about some of the stuff I was NOT escaping when I left home.

We spent two of the days out camping. This was a bit of a worry for my kids, especially The Pinkiest (4). It did not help that a bear actually ate a kid near where we live one week before we left for the reunion. In spite of my trying to shield them from this information, my kids found out about it from their friends. Shielding kids from stuff never works. They will still come face to face with whatever it is eventually. Someone should inform the Jehovah's Witnesses of this. Teacher actually had one student this year whose parents wanted Teacher to pretend that Martin Luther King is not celebrated on his birthday but that it is just a day on which we happen to honor him. Like that child is somehow never going to find out that Martin Luther King Day is the date of his birth. As if. These are the same people who somehow believe that if they insist entire school districts bend to their way of doing things their (I can only assume SLOW) children will somehow be protected from knowledge of the evil practice of holiday observance. Does calling it a "winter party" instead of a Christmas party and using no decorations that might or might not be traditionally used to decorate for said holiday change the fact that Christmas is being celebrated by a large segment of the population and these same prohibited decorations are in every store, post office, bank, and street for at least two months. Who do they think they are fooling? Are their kids really that dumb? Or do they keep them in their houses for those five months until Jim Bob finally takes his Christmas lights down in March? It should be called "Politcal Buncha Crap". There is nothing correct about it. But I digress. Shielding kids from stuff never works. Learning about child-eating animals "in the woods" meant that The Pinkiest was not going to be able to sleep "in the woods" until her Father promised to bring his guns with him. Which meant I was not able to sleep, knowing there were weapons around not locked up. Ok. That is an exaggeration. I sleep no matter what. Typhoon, earthquake, crying baby, midterm. But I was concerned. Granted, they weren't loaded, and the kids didn't know where they were, but it still worried me.

My Cute Sister bought the kids bug catching nets and houses which were such a hit that they are still talking about them. (This is a long time in kid years. Attention spans for these sorts of things usually maxes out around 2 days.) The bug catching kept them busy and Bubba (6) still hasn't forgiven me for not allowing him to bring a bug home and feed it. The fun really got going when Brother taught the kids how to host a celebrity death match bug-style and put a red ant and a spider into a magnifying jar together. (Interestingly enough, we all thought that ant was toast. In actuallity, the ant killed the spider in about 5 minutes. I'm sharing this scientific discovery to assauge the guilt I feel over watching it happen.)

The campfire was lovely. The second day Teacher thought we didn't have enough firewood so she bought two more bundles from the campground host. Brother, who believed we were all up too late the night before, decided that he was going to burn through that wood in the same amount of time that it would have taken without it, and built a fire that we could have fired ceramics on. I swear we sat so far away from it that we could just sort of see it in the distance and don't even get me started on how painful roasting marshmallows was. I think I nearly cooked my face. (Just kidding, Brother! It was a good fire.) Well anyway, when the firewood was gone all us girls were not ready to be done with fire, so Cute Sister and I went looking for sticks. We came back and threw them on the dying embers in a fashion that would have made any boyscout ashamed to admit to knowing us. The fire brightened back up and we sat and enjoyed it for two whole minutes before we needed more sticks. We repeated this process a number of times all the while being mocked by those less enthusiastic than ourselves. (Hey, it was dark.) Then Teacher lugged an uprooted tree stump over to the fire and we were able to sit and enjoy the fire until it died out. I would describe how the stump was too big for the fire-ring and was sort of precariously balanced on the metal part and how we prayed we weren't going to start a forest fire, but I couldn't do it justice.

We managed to make it home without poison oak, forest fire, or death by man-eating bear so the camping trip was a success. We did not however, make it home without either pee all over the tent or the flu. Mr.Yuke (3) recently learned the joy of peeing out of doors at the father-and-sons campout. I think Dad may have left out some of the finer points in the instruction stage. Like don't pee uphill from the tent, don't pee from the tent, don't pee toward the tent, etc. What a mess. It was not fun to clean up but luckily only one of us was sick at that point. Poor hubby had to help me take down tents inbetween bouts of throwing up. What fun. The rest of us went like dominoes over the next several days. In spite of all the sickness, the reunion was great. Cute Sister did a wonderful job planning it. We'll go again. But maybe next time we'll be a little more prepared- with a target. Think about it.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

A Devil of a Time

I was recently informed that blogging is of the devil. Apparently it is a monumental waste of time and it is the negative, bastardized version of legitimate journal keeping. I thought this over for a while and have come to the following conclusions: Blogging is better than NOT keeping a journal at all. Blogging does tempt the writer to gripe or to pontificate on pointless chatter. If you are careful not to be too negative, blogging can be a positive thing- even with the pointless chatter. When my brother discovered I blog he thought I was extremely weird. Then he started one. And since then, he has had much more contact with me than he used to. I think this is an extremely positive outcome of the use of my time here. Also, I have the added bonus of a fair warning against Cajun fries. Trust me, they're disgusting.

Let me tell you what I think is of the devil. Mopping. Talk about your monumental waste of time. I have mopped occasionally in the past. Usually when company is coming (and they have had the courtesy to inform me ahead of time.) But when nobody is on the threshold I just don't see the point. Let me tell you why every family with more than one child should have a dog. It is called "crumbs-don't-really-come-from-bread-stuffs-they-are-manufactured-somewhere-inside-of-kids-and-jelly-must-randomly-ooze-out-of-the-floor-because-none-of-my-kids-ever-got-it-anywhere-but-on-their-plate". Now I know those of you who have had dogs will insist that they come with their own messes, but I contend their messes are less messy than jelly-bleeding linoleum. Mopping. It's of the devil.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Theme music

Yesterday I took my brood to an art museum. And a bookstore and the hot air balloons. But the funny story takes place at the museum. We were downstairs admiring the Impressionist paintings. When we finished browsing, (and by browsing I mean getting way too close to the centuries old paintings in their original frames, touching the artwork, and actually crawling THROUGH a sculpture, all of which resulted in the security guards actually tailing us the rest of the time we were there)- we got back into the elevator to come upstairs. The Pinkiest (4) pressed the button as she said "Lobby." Mr. Yuke (3) heard her and answered by saying, "Lobby? Well Lah-Bee damned!". Since "Well I'll be damned" is not a phrase either my hubby or I has ever used, I turned to Mr. Yuke stunned and burst out laughing.

I love this country. Yes, the government sometimes does things the least efficient way possible and wastes collosal amounts of money. And yes, sometimes the leaders of this country do stupid things. (If you don't vote you forfeit your right to find fault with them.) (If you voted for the loser, sorry. Lucky for you, the more stupid things the winner does, the less likely it is that person will get re-elected.) But all in all, this is a great land we live in. We live in a country where I can say the government sometimes does things the least efficient way. That is an amazing privelage. The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. Some years I like it even better than Christmas. Today was one of those years. It was a great day.

It started out pretty sucky actually. I had planned and been looking forward to going to the local fireworks display/concert and at the last minute (one week ago) discovered our plans had changed and we would be missing it. I was disappointed. A lot. I don't handle disappointment very well. But I thought at least we could go to the parade. Then last night my overly tired and fairly cranky hubby said that we weren't going to the parade. Normally if I want something badly enough I argue with edicts like that and then we go. He was however so tired that I just let it go. So this morning when I woke up I thought why get up? We aren't going to the parade. What is there to do? I struggled with this for a while. Finally I managed to haul my sorry self out of bed. I said a prayer that I could get over it and have a fun day. Boy did we.

My top 4 all went out and played in the pool with the neighbor kids. First they build a water slide into the pool by leaning the slide from the play structure against the porch with the bottom in the pool. Later they started playing water frisbee baseball, using the snow sledding disks filled with water as the bases. While they did this, Monster Truck (2) and I made homemade ice cream together. When it was ready, I made buffalo burgers from an animal my hubby actually shot his very own self and we all sat on the porch in the shade and ate Americana food. We ate ice cream and then started a soccer game in our front yard. Before we knew it, all the neighbor kids on our street ages 4-15 had joined in the game. Then my next-door neighbor came out in his driveway with his accoustic guitar and started playing while he watched our match. (He's talented so this was a good thing.) It was kind of surreal but my 4th of July actually had a soundtrack. I love that when I look back at this day I will have theme music as a backdrop to my memories. I went to find our 5 gallon bucket to fill with water for our fireworks display and discovered it was filled with like 50 squirtguns. So everyone got a water gun and started shooting each other. Then we did fireworks and gave out glow necklaces to all the kids in the neighborhood. It was a good day.