Monday, August 28, 2006

Eighty-Eight takes center stage

We hosted a party for my Mother-in-law's birthday yesterday. My sister-in-law brought her eight-month-old nephew. She carried him to our backyard in his car seat and placed him down in the middle of the circle of relatives who had already gathered. The stage was set for Eighty-Eight Fingers to come over and investigate because, to that boy, nothing goes unnoticed, unpoked, or unprodded, including eight-month-old baby in a car seat.

First EEF leaned into the car seat to get in the poor boy’s face to talk to him. Then he rubbed his head a little. Boompas saw his brother messing with the cool new toy and came over for some of his own leaning over the baby and head rubbing. EEF, filled with all the wisdom of an energetic almost five-year-old, told his little brother, "Be gentle with him otherwise you will make him cry like you!" That set the gathered relatives to guffawing. It was very cute, but that statement was only Act I of the EEF Show.

Soon Boompas' short attention span kicked in and he tired of the new baby, leaving EEF alone with the baby in his car seat. It did not take EEF long to start rocking the car seat and fiddling with the handle, trying to figure the whole system out. After almost tipping the car seat almost all the way over and spilling the baby face first into the dirt (almost!), EEF queried the crowd, "Hey, how do you work him?"

Let me tell you, it is very difficult to scold the boy for almost dumping the baby face first in the dirt while laughing hysterically.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I mentioned in an earlier entry that I started running this summer. This entry really isn't about running, but about Envy. I had a comment yelled at me out a car window while I was on the homeward stretch yesterday that got the old motor running, and I have not been able to stop thinking about envy since.

What I will say about the running is it is going well, but it is very hard work. You have to be devoted, committed and willing/able to ignore some discomfort. I have researched and practiced and now I am up to a fairly strong (at least for me) run for half an hour at least four times a week. I am sure that will change as the kids and Hubz go back to school and I am at home with three boys and only a double jogging stroller and the weather starts getting cold. I guess if I am determined to keep up the running through the winter, I will have to devise a new system, if I want to do it bad enough. I haven't really lost any weight, but I have melted off some inches in the hips/butt area. But I have discovered that it is something I enjoy. I am committed to it. I will repeat that this has all been accomplished through Hard Work and tenacity to stick to it no matter what.

Back to yesterday: I was crossing the intersection of the one major street before the last three blocks of my run. A car pulled up to the intersection opposite me waiting at the light to cross. Because the street is not too terribly busy when I run (after morning rush hour) I ignore the lights and just cross when there is no traffic. So yesterday, when the road was clear, I crossed the street towards this car. I usually just ignore cars and trucks and other pedestrians because I am focused on my job and by the homeward stretch (and because some people are a little weird and give me the willies, so to be fair I ignore everyone--an equal opportunity running snob if you will) I need to focus harder because I am usually wearing out a little. As I put my foot down on the opposite sidewalk, (left foot, exhale, holding the side ache at bay, concentrate, focus, almost home...) a woman yelled out to me, startling me out of my stride, tripping me up a little.

The woman yelled, "I envy you, what your doing. I wish I had the motivation to do what your doing. I envy you!"

I just chuckled nervously, waved at her and wiped sweat from my eyes.

Envy? Me?

I have never considered myself worthy of envy. Especially since what I was doing was something anyone could do, right? I just did it, nothing special about that.

Those were my initial thoughts.

If I am being honest though, I have to admit I do work hard to achieve fitness. I have set it as a priority, I put in the time, I suffer the consequences (the pains and the discomfort), and I reap the rewards (fewer inches, toned legs, runners high--a blessed stress reliever).

As I was thinking about it I remembered an essay, Who Are You Calling Lucky? that I read recently on the about a SAHM who struggles with people's envy, "You are so lucky to be doing what you are, staying at home with your kids. You are lucky to have a husband who makes enough that you can do that." I have encountered that envy, too, as a SAHM. As she explained so much better than I can express, the experience of SAHM for her is one born of sacrifice. She and her husband do without and she stays at home because they don't want the kids growing up in daycare and they felt it is what is best for their family. So they do without: without cable, without Netflix, without dinners out, without many other luxuries. Sacrifice. I guess what I am saying, too, is that the reason she doesn't feel enviable is because what she has comes at a high cost to her and her husband. It was a decision that requires continuous commitment and fortitude and sacrifice. That essay really struck a cord with me because, while I am happy to stay at home and grow up my own kids, it is done with a cost.It was decision my husband and I made because it is what is best for us, but the costs are great. We do not live in luxury, and my husband works two (or more) jobs often to just barely make ends meet. We have no fancy furniture. Our kids wear hand-me-down (not the teens, but the designer stuff they have to buy themselves). So it does not often seem like a blessing to me as I take my threadworn 5-year-old bras out of the wash and mend up the holes where the underwires are poking out.

After reading that essay and my encounter with the woman in the car, I have been thinking a lot about envy. What do I envy? Why? Is the object (state of being) obtainable? If so, what is the cost? Is it a price I am willing and able to pay?

Are envialble objects always won through pain? If there is no pain, is the object worth the envy? Is the old cliche No Pain No Gain always true?

And what do I have that is worth envy?

The answer is surprising: Much more than I would ever have thought...

***Edited to add:

Sometimes we work so hard or sacrifice so much that we forget that we have set out to accomplish a goal and that goal, once accomplished, is indeed something envialble.

Friday, August 18, 2006

History Lesson

For those of you who haven't been following politics too closely the last few years, here is a short educational filmstrip to catch you up on all those fellas have been up to in that big white house in DC.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Love is a many splintered thing...

It is so quiet here. (Surprisingly) I can hardly stand it! The little guys, Fellers and Eighty-Eight Fingers are all asleep. Big J is, as ever, out with friends. The Girl is away this whole week camping with her best friend and family. And Hubz is away at work. The TV is off. I am not even playing any music. The only sounds I hear are the fan blowing, the cats whining for more food (it wouldn't be home without someone whining for something!), and my fingers clicking on the keyboard. I can actually hear myself think! What a novelty.

Time for some small notes on life at Abode MacBoudica...


Hubz and I had our one free night (well, not exactly free if you count up all the favors we had to cash in to get childcare arranged for all these kids and all the work that went into packing them up, etc...) of blissful and riotous adult time. It was perfect. We spent the whole day Sunday through Monday afternoon together talking, walking, eating, drinking, and feeding our senses with beautiful scenery, glorious music, soft caresses and a freakin’ amazing double whirlpool tub! Oh, gods, I think I died and went to heaven.

By two o'clock Monday, I knew I was home when Hubz immediately had to leave for the grocery store, take Big J somewhere, the crabby grandparent-spoiled-napless and sleep-deprived children attempted to burst my eardrums with ferocious cranky screams, the fruit fly population--unchecked and unswatted for 36 hours-- had soared (those bastards are impossible to annihilate!), the fat cat had stopped grooming herself and was stinking up the house (she seems to get depressed when we leave for any overnights and doesn't groom--weird), the cat litter needed immediate attention, laundry needed doing, and so on...


Who is ready for back to school? Not me, not me, not me. I am the Mom running to Walgreen’s at 10PM the night before stuffing every ransacked, dented-up notebook they have left into my basket and swearing up a blue streak about how the cheap bastards are out of everything. I am even more out of sorts with getting my shit together as we have one more kid entering (you know all about my dread over EEF's immanent schooling). And my GAWD the fees! Three kids in school and we are out over $400 in fees--not counting extracurricular and supplies. We are going to have to mortgage the house to send the twins to school.


On the subject of EEF (kind of), I need to mention how absolutely, amazingly wonderful Hubz is. On Tuesday the little boys, Fellers and EEF alike, were still recovering from their spoiling and sleep-depravedness. EEF had been sent to his room for something (I forget what, exactly--if I had a penny for every time...). I got involved in some laundry or cleaning task and kind of forgot he was in there (sorry EEF!). After a few minutes (he had been in there for maybe 15 minutes total) I checked on him. Shite! He had fallen asleep, which threw off the whole schedule/procedure. The correct procedure is for all the kids to nap at the same time giving me a few minutes of respite to regroup. This is especially necessary on days like that one where they are all crabby as heck. So Hubz, hearing me complain rather voluminously about EEF's untimely nap, offered to take him out on errands with him so I could have my quiet time. That was so cool, so wonderful, so nice, so sexy! And it worked. The Fellers went down for a nap, EEF was out with Daddy, Big J was socializing in typical teenaged fashion (that is--continuously), and I had a few minutes of peace. I was a much nicer Mommy the rest of the day.


I am looking forward to tomorrow. I am finally going to take EEF out for a Mommy and Me outing. I am taking him to see Monster House, which he has been dying to get to ever since he saw the first commercial for it.

He said the sweetest thing tonight when I told him we had a date for tomorrow (I didn't tell him what we were doing, only that it was a surprise). He said, "I don't want to leave everyone alone! I want the Fellers to go with me!" You would think he would be delighted to get away from those squirmy, attention-grabber, toy-hoggers from time to time. But, no, he does love his baby brothers after all.

Not five minutes later he was busted hoarding blocks from his brothers causing them to shriek.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

What a memory is worth

Sometimes I really hate, hate, hate! living in the city.

Sometimes I really hate not have a steel-trap memory.

I really, really hate having memory problems in the city. That is always a recipe for disaster.

Yesterday was a beautiful day. Not hotter than blazes, yet sunny and warm enough for an outing in the AC-less Ark. So I had an inspiration. We would take a longish trip in lieu of naptime and hope the Fellers get some shut-eye in the car. Since it was a gorgeous, mild day, we could get away with this in the no-AC Ark without sweating off our private parts. I called a friend of mine whom I haven't seen in ages (you know the story-she has kids, I have kids, life happens and suddenly it's been a year or two) and who lives about an hour's drive away. She said she had no plans and would be home all day. Perfect!

We only have one garage door clicker, and yesterday Hubz had it. So I unlocked the side door, pushed the garage up button and noticed the Ark needed refitting with car seats because all the others were of course in the other car. Naturally. Then I noticed the three spare car seats needed resizing. Those darn kids!--always growing. What an inconvenience. Of course, one of the spare car seats was one that required tools to resize to pry up the strap holder from its slot and then loosen the strap itself from its knot. As I was prying and pounding and cursing my way to a perfect fitting car seat, Hubz called to ask me to call the cell phone company to inquire if anyone had been using the lost cell phone and if we needed to worry it was not just lost but stolen. Okay, not a problem. Add that to my mental list which now included: adjusting car seats, loading car seats (and scratching the shit out of my arms in the process, I might add--you think the manufacturers could smooth down the plastic that you have to pass the car seat belt through!), retrieving the car seat from the front porch (No, I have no idea why it was on the front porch--it just was--don't ask) to install it into the car, then digging through the mountain of bills for the cell phone bill to get the customer service number, calling cell phone company, etc. Can you guess what my problem is here? Yes, somewhere along the line, CLOSING THE DAMN GARAGE DOOR was deleted from my mental list. In this neighborhood, that is perilous.

I completed the items that had made it to the ol' brain and loaded all the Fellers, the potty seat, juice boxes, extra underwear for the fellers, my purse and The Girl (okay, I did not have to load her, only call out that the bus was leaving the station about 20 times) and hit the road. We had a wonderful time. It was great to see my friend.

Fast forward to 8:00 PM after the long drive back. I parked the car in front (the garage is in back--we'll get to that momentarily), unloaded, three Fellers from car, begged The Girl to carry something in, draped and somehow fastened various bags and my purse to myself in some parody of a pack mule, grabbed some little hands and headed for the door, somehow fished out my key and got us all in the house where I turned on some cartoons for the Fellers. Then I went back out to move the car.

I stuck the key in the lock. Hmm. Oops. Not locked. That's funny. I guess I forgot to lock it. Open the door and to my surprise the F-in Garage Door is Wide F-in open. So I unleashed a string of curses at my faulty memory bank while surveying the damage. Sure enough, Hubz' and Big J's bikes, the most valuable things in the damn garage, were gone. Shit!

What a f-ing waste. I hate, hate, hate! f-ing thieves. It is not like this is Robin Hood here. We are not the rich (and even if we were, stealing is reprehensible, I don't care who is doing it and who it is from). Stealing our shit is going to really put us back. Our insurance deductible is so high, it isn't even worth reporting, but we have to have a bike for Big J. He uses it all the time to get to practices and friends houses, etc, when we are not available to drive him. So, Hubz basically was gone all week, worked all week to replace those two bikes, and I feel like an ass for daring to leave the house to visit a friend because just look what happened. Damn.

So ends a great day at Abode MacBoudica.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Oh, chocolate sauce!

Two Minutes to Feller Bedtime...

Why oh why
did I let out a cry
that curdled the 2% milk
when I opened the refrigerator door?

What to my horror
was oozing on the floor
in a sticky puddle of poo brown?

The chocolate sauce
had been given a careless toss
into the fridge door.

And that, my friends,
is where my patience ends
to see that poo brown puddle drown
all the bottles and tubs of food and condiments

Because I would now have to scrub
all the sticky poo brown grub
off all the bottles and tubs
while the children are screaming for milk

This mess will prolong their dreaming
and my wish to stop their screaming
And has started me screaming
new words for their growing lexicon


Actually, the whole chocolate syrup puddle in the fridge tonight wasn't that bad. Hubz helped clean up the mess, bedtime was dead on target, and all was well. Of course, neither of the big kids is fessing up. I don't blame them. Beware the wrath of Mom.


Sadly, Boompas has picked up on my favorite PMS phrase God Damn It. To be honest, I use it all times of the month. However, I do try try try to exercise caution, and most of the time I do alright unless sorely provoked (you know, I sneak out of the room to take a dump and return to find cereal carpeting the carpet, someone yanking the tail of a seriously PO'ed cat who is screaming in agony, the bookshelf overturned and books ripped to confetti, one little boy streaking past me with a bag of cookies in one hand and the half dull kitchen scissors in the other, toys whipping past my head, maniacal laughter ringing in my ears in surround sound, and basically overall Bedlam). However, during the wonderful pre-menstrual days, I have been known to roar my pet phrase at about 100 dB, drowning out the sound of the vacuum, planes flying overhead and the jackhammers of the construction crews working on the street.

So this last month, during a scene much like the parenthetical one described above, I let loose my pet phrase in a roar that shook the walls and shattered the crystal (haha like I have any crystal--with teens doing the dishes here--that's funny!). Ever since that, Boompas has been using it when I tell him it is bedtime and he doesn't want to go (so that is two times a day at least) and when his big teen brother hides the infamous toy Spider Man under his size 11s and won't give it back no matter what. Or when Eight-Eight Fingers or his twin brother Stink got the good idea to play with just the toy he wanted. So, really, it doesn't take much. Basically he is swearing like a true Irish lad deep in his cups these days. And it's all my fault! Oh, the humanity!

I mostly just ignore him. Of course, that whole unconditioning/reconditioning psychological mumbo jumbo is shot to hell when all three teens hear Boompas screeching out God Damn It and start laughing their damn fool heads off. Oh, well. He'll be a popular one with the principal when he finally starts kindergarten.

Friday, August 04, 2006

odds and ends

Summer is winding down. And I am coming to the realization that I have wasted most of this summer in kind of an emotional coma, a warped kind of paralysis because of this whole custody thing. Well, the hearing for that is over, and for now Big J is staying, but the battle is far from won because the hearing accomplished absolutely. The judge's decision was to do nothing and revisit the whole issue in six months. So there is another hearing hanging over our heads like a bloated thundercloud scheduled for February. Which means more latent stress. We can't really relax--not completely. We are still under the microscope over the whole thing and it is quite a bummer.


Now I can waste the rest of the summer worrying about Eighty-Eight Fingers starting kindergarten. He is not ready. He can't sit still. He blasts through the house in constant motion, often flapping his arms as if they were wings--subconsciously--he isn't playing. I worry he will be labeled. I dream of labels like ADHD and LD, I-teams, tests, and doctors that I fear are in our future. I worry he will be teased because he is different. Every time I drive to they grocery store, I pass the grade school with its big, bright play set and oceanic green lawn, and I am flooded again with worry. I never worried about The Girl starting school, not once. And she was my first one. Shouldn't that have made it more difficult for me?


Remember this? They offered me a job in the wall decor and paint division (I don't know why--I would have preferred the garden section but whatever) for when the new store opens in the fall. I went through the wringer: the application, the two interviews, the two sets of personality tests, and the oh-so-fun drug screen. But, after all is said and done, I turned them down, I wasted everyone's time. Hubz is still going to work his part time job which is much more lucrative--pays about three times what I would make as a Lowe's clerk (now that we don't have to worry about child support being hiked up because of Big J moving back) and I am still going to be the House Mommy. A part of me feels the loss of going out in public and interacting with adult strangers and coworkers on a regular basis. But another part of me, I think a larger part, is overwhelmed with relief. I have become so used to and dependent on this routine we have here, so comfortable in my role as the House Mom, that leaving that and joining the general public working class kind of terrifies me. Once I acknowledged the terror, I realized it was more than fear--the terror felt strange to me. It felt out of place. I mean, it is a job, billions of people have them, I have had several myself in the past. But I did not want to give up my time here with my family, not a minute of it. I am not ready to commit hours of my time to someone else’s' business when I still have my business here. My Fellers are still little, only 2 1/2. Eighty-Eight Fingers is still a handful, and I think that even though he will be in half-day kindergarten in the fall, he will still need me. I have a lot on my plate here and it exhausts me to think about giving up much of my time and energy to working for someone else right now. Maybe someday, but not yet. Looking back at the kid I once was, I never would have imagined myself as a housewife, and I never, ever would have imagined that I would have reveled in being a housewife.


My daughter and I had a Mommy and Me day Wednesday(is she too old to have a "Mommy" at thirteen?). We went shopping at the mall. She took me to stores filled with fashions straight out of my middle school/high school years. The colors, the prints, the leggings, and leg warmers. Ugh! I thought at first someone had slipped me something in my Gloria Jeans Cinnamon Hazelnut coffee and I was on a strange mental trip to hell. But no! The caffeine buzz soon abated and the stuff was still everywhere. Then she took me to her favorite place ever: Hot Topic. It was like entering some satanic cult hidden cave or something. Everything was red and black and skulls stared at me from the screen-printed fronts of thousands of t-shirts. Someone was screaming bloody murder over the sound system. Slowly, I became aware that that was supposed to be music. I thought I would be attacked by the fifty-facial-piercings apiece clerks with Mohawks and shitkickers and spiked dog collars. My daughter asked me if I would buy her some neon pink fishnets. I told her No and the music seemed to scream louder. My daughter sulked at me like the skull shirts. On the way home she told me she wanted to get a snakebite. I said Give me your arm. She said No, Mom. A snakebite is two lip piercings here and here (pointing to where the canine teeth or "fangs" would be. Maybe I was still in hell, after all. I was wondering if my trip would ever end.


I got to do something I haven't done in years Thursday. I slept in until 8:11 AM! The Fellers were all tuckered out from their day at Grandma's (they were there with Daddy while the Girl and I had the Mommy and Me Day) running around jacked up on sugar, playing with abandon, and taking no nap because there are No Rules at Grandma's. So they slept in. So I slept in. It was absolutely blissful!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Anniversary Get-Away

Hubz and I recently celebrated our anniversary. Actually, we went out to dinner and a walk along the lakefront. It was quiet and romantic and nice (and we got free cheesecake for two at the restaurant), and we enjoyed our couple of hours alone together, but when we came home, the house was full of children: our ears instantly bombarded with canned studio laughter as we opened the door to the big kids, our so-called built-in-babysitters, watching stupid sitcoms on TV in the family room; our bedroom was full of fellers, and we couldn't really get, er, frisky, if you know what I mean. We went to the rec room for some Adult Recreation. Within five minutes, one of the older children busted us out to describe in detail all of Eighty-Eight Fingers' super-naughty antics perpetrated while we were out. Big surprise there. I am reasonably sure that news flash could have waited.

So you can see the dilemma. (Very) Small house. Children coming out of the woodworks, as our German-American immigrant neighbor so blithely pointed out one day. No Privacy. Sometimes extremely frustrating--that way.

But, sometimes it works to our advantage, too!

For instance, I am like a kid at Christmas, bursting with anticipation, for our "Real" anniversary celebration. That is right! We will have one night of pure marital bliss, one whole night away from all the noise, bustle and tomfoolery of everyday life at Abode MacBoudica. The anticipation is intoxicating! Divine! In two weeks we are going to a special Romantic Themed Bed and Breakfast. We planned and sacrificed meticulously for this. Hubz worked extra shifts at his part time job. We begged and pleaded, bargained and brokered deals to find places for all five rascals for one night so we could Get Away. We are going to, um, Enjoy Each Other's Company (hey, my daughter reads this-I gotta keep it PG) all night long in the Double Jacuzzi Hot Tub and under the Starlight Canopy on the bed. YIPPEE!

Of course, I can't help seeing the irony in all this. As a young adult still living with one's parents, one has to sneak around and exhibit extreme creativity to find opportunities to be intimate with one's partners (cheap hotel rooms, cramped demonstrations of extortionist skills in backs of cars, quick furtive gropes under the bleachers--not that I ever did any of that!). Now as adults with a house brimming with the fruits of our lust, we must sneak around to find outlets for our undiminished libidos. Life has come full circle. *sigh* Sometimes I can't wait until all these "fruits" grow up and cirlce on out of here (not really, but it is nice to fantasize about loud--really loud--unabashed private time).