Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pears, pears, pears!

I opened my eyes this morning to see Henry jumping up and down on my bed, exclaiming, "'Ake up! 'Ake up! 'Ake up!"  I couldn't help but smile.  He was so very excited and glad to see me!  He then started counting, "Wee, two, dee, wwww, bye, socks, seggy, eet, why, tie, GO!" and began running back and forth in the hallway.  [As I type this, I am seated at the dining table supervising Henry's snack and Rowan's breakfast, and all of us are taking turns saying, "Chugga chugga CHOO CHOO!"]

Yesterday we canned pears.  I mean, we canned pears.  We had a System this time, and it definitely helped ease the burden of canning.  I came up with the Plan (mental back pat here) which consisted of this:  Peel and slice pears into 5-gallon food-grade buckets (filled with iced salt water for preservation) at my house, then transport to Annetta's for putting in jars and processing.

This plan initially had some setbacks, since I forgot to stop at the store and buy food-grade buckets.  I called the local grocery store and they said they didn't have any.  So then my genius mother-in-law, Carol, suggested that I call Dairy Queen.  Stars above!  They had five, and said they sell such buckets for $1 each!  Haha!  I zoomed over and bought three.  I figured that was all I needed, which turned out to be correct.  In hindsight, I wish I had gotten all five, since I'm sure I could find uses for them.   Oh well.

So I took them home and scrubbed them out.  Before I went to Dairy Queen I had parked Rowan on the toilet (yes, with adult supervision staying at home), and while Savanna and I scrubbed in the basement, we heard Rowan start yelling loudly for Mommy.  Savanna went up to see if she could help, but returned saying that ONLY MOMMY was acceptable.  So up I went with the clean buckets, which Savanna took over, and I went into the bathroom.  Rowan was still on the toilet.  I went closer and he said, "Mommy, I peed in my hair."

Me:  "You did what?"
Rowan:  "I peed in my hair."
Me:  "However did you do that?"
Rowan:  "Well, it just went--"  His finger described an arc from his lap to his hair.

Sigh.  At least he'd pooped in the toilet, which is good.  I wiped his bottom and asked Carol if she would be willing to shower him.  (Mother-in-law of the Year!)  Henry tried to run in and supervise, so Savanna took over managing him while I plunged the toilet and mopped the bathroom floor.  Then finally, finally, we were able to get to the pears and implement The Plan.

It worked remarkably well.  Savanna and I set ourselves up with a cutting board each, knives, peelers, and waste containers, and the bucket of ice water between us.  We each had a box of pears on our other sides.  Peel, slice, dump, repeat, without having to pause for packing or processing.  When our waste containers got full we dumped them into another 5-gallon bucket, which at the end was poured into our garden composter.  Nothing wasted!

It took us longer than anticipated; that is, about three hours.  Dinner was ready by the time we finished with those pears, but we didn't want to take the time when it was already so late.  We loaded up the pears and Rowan and set out for Annetta's.  Rowan did eat dinner at home, since he wasn't helping with the pears.  Matthew kept Henry, thankfully!  The two buckets of pears fit perfectly inside a clean laundry basket and we buckled it into the seat beside Rowan so it wouldn't slide around.  We're geniuses, I tell you!

We got to Annetta's after 7:00 p.m.  She had the jars already washed and ready and the syrup prepared (1 part sugar to 4 parts water), so it was a simple matter to pack the jars and put them on the canner.  Then the calling began.

"Mom, how hot should we have the canner?"
"Mom, it's not steaming yet.  Should it be steaming?  Do you think it's boiled dry?"
"Mom, it's steaming now, but not from the hole, just from around the edges of the lid.  Is it going to explode?  --Okay, we pushed the lid down and now the steaming is coming out the hole."
"Mom, how long are we supposed to let it steam?"
"Mom, do we just take the lid off when we think they're done?  --How long do we let them cool down?"

We eventually declared her to be The Canning Doctor, and Annetta said she should have her own radio show.  My mom got a good giggle out of that.  Eventually we did get those pears canned, 18 jars.  Combined with the 11 from Saturday, that means we have canned 29 jars of pears!  We have another large box to go through tomorrow, and I'm contemplating picking more.  We'll see what my fellow cohorts think.

Next month I think I'll can apple pie filling again.  Mmm, I can hardly wait!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Pears and Makeup

Yesterday I got up much too early, took Matthew to work, then drove back home to meet Savanna.  She drove out from her house and we planned to go over to Annetta's right afterward.  Except.. my children were still asleep and I didn't want to wake them.  And then Annetta texted and said she wouldn't be ready until at least 11.  And then, between one thing and another, we didn't actually get to her house until about 12:30.


We had a long, drawn-out lunch, Neta made us coffeecoffeecoffee, we dawdled a bit more, and then--OHMYGOSH IT'S 2:30 IN THE AFTERNOON!!!!  Uh, and Matthew was due to be done with work by 5:00.  So Annetta, Savanna, Robin, my mom, and I set to work.  Sav, my mom, and I were peeling and slicing the pears, Robin packed the pears into jars, and Neta (wo)manned the canner.

Then, catastrophe.  Mom had Annetta arrange the jars on the canner, then told her to put the dome on top.  Annetta asserted that she couldn't find any dome.  Mom started panicking, wondering if it had been left at her house.  Annetta continued to insist that there was no dome.  Then, suddenly:  "Hey, do I have this upside down?  It kind of looks like a dome."

Oh, we giggled.  My mom laughed so hard she almost toppled over.  Eventually it got sorted out and the dome was put right-way-up on the canning base.

When Savanna, the kidlings, and I had to leave to pick up Matt from work, we had six jars of pears canned (plus one broken), several peeled & sliced pears waiting to go into jars, and lots of green pears that needed to sit for a few more days.  Not the most productive, you might say, but it was a start.  We plan to continue on Tuesday.

This morning Savanna and I started jogging.  That is, she jogged near her house and I jogged near my house, but at the same time.  Then I grabbed Rowan and Lili and headed over to her house to pick more pears.  We got A LOT.  Lili made instant friends with Jax and Bailey, Savanna's dogs.  We brought the pears home and had lunch, then Savanna and I headed for Salem to get her a cosplay costume.

That adventure was certainly interesting, but we discovered the really funny thing when we got home.  Carol asked if we'd seen Rowan.  I said no, and headed up the stairs to the bathroom.  I found my makeup bag open, powder all over the counter, the mirror of my eyeshadow case broken, and creamy cheek glaze all over my brushes.  Oh my!  I went out to the train yard to find Rowan and found him with very read eyelids and eyebrows.  Such a funny boy!

He's sleeping now, and I suppose I should be, too....

Saturday, August 23, 2014

New Faces, Old Friends

The pears are picked!  Tomorrow we'll be canning them!

Today my brother Eric and his wife Heather hosted a dinner for her sister Judy, who is visiting from Norway right now along with her husband and stunningly gorgeous baby.  Nearly all of my family attended, along with practically-sister Andrea and her husband, and our friend Ben.  I actually got there on time, which is a huge accomplishment.  I was even five minutes early, with two children in tow.  I think I deserve an award, particularly since we were the very first to arrive.

I asked Heather what I could do to help and she sent me to the store.  Gotta have cups and ice, people!  By the time I got back most of the others had arrived, and Rowan, along with Ken and Elliott, was on the tire swing circling around Ben, who stood as still as stone.  It didn't take Rowan long to panic and ask to be let down.  I think he was afraid of crashing into Ben.

Since Eric and Heather's children are now teenagers (!!!), they have no child-appropriate toys, so I brought a small bag from our house.  Oh me oh my!  How can one small bag of toys explode in such a way that they cover every available walking surface?  Just in the den, though, so that's something.  Henry spent a lot of time zooming cars around in there, until he and Brent collaborated to run into the path of the tire swing.  Thankfully there were many watchful people around to keep them from harm!

The food was positively scrumptious, although my children refused to eat in favor of playing.  This happens at nearly all family get-togethers.  Henry did enjoy the blackberry pie my mom made, so much that he smeared the front of my t-shirt with berries.  (Bernd later pointed and laughed and said, "You look like a mom!"  Well, yes, Bernd, I do.  And yes, I laughed.)

Ken and Ben took it in turns to keep the tire swing going almost the entire time, much to the delight of Rowan, Elliott, and Eiley.  I think Rowan might have two new heroes!  (And afterward Ben thanked ME for letting him play with my children!  I say, sure, take them!  No, really, go right ahead and entertain them for several more hours!  Maybe I'll get something done around this house!)

Darling little Mira pulled herself all the way to standing for the first time tonight, and we got to witness it.  So precious!  She also tried to eat Rowan's light-up crocodile.  She's already so adorable!

I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and I just might take Heather up on her offer to come over more often, so her yard & house will get cleaned up more often.  Maybe I should start having people over here, if it magically gets the house clean.  ;)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fruit of the Harvest

Tuesday we picked pears.  We have two pear trees in our backyard, and while they're not as full as we'd like them to be, we did get an overflowing crate full from one of the trees.  The other tree we plan to pick today.
This picture taken before we made it overflow.

Rowan and Henry were delighted to help us in this task.  Rowan climbed the ladder in search of pears.  Henry climbed just because he likes climbing.  I took him up with me once and showed him how to pick, but he wasn't interested.  Oh, and yes, three of us were still in pajamas.  Also we hadn't had breakfast yet.

Daddy and the boys tried using the ladder all at the same time.
We had lots of fun and I took way too many pictures.

Next time I think I'll write the whole blog first, before putting the pictures in.  Otherwise I get lost and take up too much space.

The rest of my day was fun, too, since I got to go to Annetta's for my weekly writers' group (nameless thus far).  We didn't do any actual writing this time, but we did record a song!  My parents and Melody took turns watching my small children, for which I am extremely thankful.  Savanna turned up at Annetta's just as I had to leave to get Matthew from work; I'm glad she made it!  When she came back to my house we stayed up *ahem* a bit later than we should have, gabbing and plotting, as all good Slytherins do.  I really should stop staying up too late, but it was nice to have uninterrupted conversation for once.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Poop, and Other Matters of Significance

Today Rowan pooped in the toilet.  He requests that I share this information with Savanna especially, since he got a roll of Necco candies for it.  I would assume he wanted to share the Necco with her, but he's eaten them all.

I blew up the wading pool again today.  It needs to be done daily, if it's going to be used, since it's a few years old and apparently has a leak or five.  It's always thrilling to try to blow something up while two excited children are trampling it underfoot.  I've developed an art of kicking the pool out of the way with my foot just before four small feet land on it.

Henry has developed the art of standing on the edge of the pool and watching the water gush out.  When we stop him from doing that, he uses his hands to press the edge down.  He finds it delightful and entertaining.  The yard and I find it soggy.  I tried putting him in time out when he would do that, but it didn't help.

This evening Grandpa took matters into his own hands.  He sat in a lawn chair holding the hose, to which was attached a sprayer nozzle.  When Henry gleefully stepped once more onto the pool edge, he was greeted with a blast of water from Grandpa.

Oh my.  Poor Henry didn't know what to think.  He ran across the yard and sheltered beneath our pear tree (which reminds me, I really, really need to pick pears in the morning), giving Grandpa the Glare O' Death, which is absolutely hilarious coming from a two-year-old.  After a few minutes he ran back to the pool and stepped on the edge again, and was once more given a blast of water.  Back to the pear tree he ran, and we were treated to The Glare again.

It took three or four times before Henry figured it out.  He stepped cautiously to the pool, looked around at Grandpa, then lifted his foot carefully over the side and set it in the pool.  He waited.  The other foot followed slowly, until he was standing fully in the little wading pool.  He stood there with his back to us, still as a three-foot-tall statue, for a minute.  Then he turned his head and peeked over his shoulder at Grandpa.  When he saw that Grandpa sat smiling, and was not brandishing the hose, he laughed and started splashing in the water again--without pushing the edge down.  Such a great lesson to learn!

Carol made roast beef hash for dinner tonight.  Both Rowan and Henry ate it, despite Rowan saying that he doesn't like potatoes.  He even said, "I'm full, but I can't stop eating!"  Haha!

I suppose at some point I should fold the laundry that's been sitting in baskets at the end of our bed for three days....

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Trees, and Other Unrelated Topics

Henry fell out of a tree today.

Yes, that's right, I let my children climb trees.  They need it.  They need to climb, to explore, to discover, to leave the ground behind and reach for the sky.  That being said, it was a very short tree and he fell only about three feet to the grass and bark dust.

He cried, of course, more from the terror of falling than an actual injury.  I held him and cuddled him and stroked his hair, and within a few minutes he was running to a much larger tree, wanting me to help him up.  I do draw the line at tall trees for Henry right now, although Rowan likes to climb them.  For the rest of our time in the park, I kept wondering if someone would call CPS on me.

They didn't, or at least no one's showed up yet, but I could see the headline in my mind's eye:  "Crazy Mother Lets Children Frolic In Dangerous Trees."  I let my children have experiences that might hurt them.  I let them explore and discover that some things are really not good ideas.  I obviously try to keep them from anything that might be fatal or permanently injurious.

I really don't think that sheltering children from everything that could hurt them is a good idea.  "The burned hand learns best," as Gandalf said.  It's far better for them to learn their strengths and limitations while still in our care, rather than going crazy at age 18 and trying to stuff in all the cool child things they never got to do.

Jumping topic, someone messaged me today and said that she's having a very hard time dealing with an illness.  An atrociously bad time, in fact.  This person does not live close to me, so I'm feeling very lost about how to help her.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Do you ever feel like the world is moving too fast to comprehend, and think if you could just slow down one day, you'd be fine?  That's how I feel.  I keep thinking, if Matthew and I could just have one day off together with no children, we might actually be able to relax for a few hours.  That doesn't seem feasible with Sunday being the only day Matthew doesn't work.

I'm tired, and I can't think of what else to write, so I'm giving you this lame ending:

Good night; sleep well.
May naught disturb your slumbers.
In quietness take your rest
And let gentle night surround you.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Birthdays and Hard Decisions

It's always amusing when my dreams have my normally-intelligent sister making a glaring error.  Last night I dreamed that for reasons unknown to me, I had to translate the phrase "waiting room" into Spanish.  I was convinced that it was "el cuarto de descansar."  In daylight, of course, I can see that it is obviously not right.  Perhaps more terrible, though, I dreamed that Annetta was trying to persuade me that it was really "el cuarto de descues."  For some absurd reason, she was trying to conjugate "descansar" as "descues."  I woke up very confused.  Note:  She would never do this in real life!

My dad turned 70 on the 4th of July this year.  We had a small celebration for him that morning, but the big event was reserved for the last week of July, when our entire family (parents, 8 children, including 2 pregnant ladies, 5 spouses, and 10 grandchildren) went up to Leavenworth, Washington.  It was absolutely beautiful up there.  I wouldn't mind moving there, if I had a source of income not tied to a specific location.  Time for a best-selling novel!

Unfortunately Matthew and I were only able to stay for two nights, since the dates were not settled until after he had already planned his vacation time.  Once vacation is scheduled with UPS, there's no going back.  Still, we had a blast hanging out with the family and going to Lake Wenatchee.

Tuesday this week, while meeting with my writers group, I received a text from my sister asking if I would be attending the church feast for my dad's 70th birthday, set for Friday.  I had no previous knowledge of this event, but said I would like to go.  About a minute later I got a text from another sister, saying she had written a family song and we were all expected Wednesday evening to practice.  I scrambled to find babysitting for those two evenings, which was graciously provided by Savanna on Wednesday and Paul and Carol on Friday.

So Wednesday I went out to my sister's cabin and had dinner with my family, then we set to work learning the song.  We tweaked a few lines to sound better.  I was getting ready to head home again when my sister suddenly said, "I'm not sure if you'll be allowed to sing."  This was not entirely unexpected, due to reasons I won't go into here, but extremely disappointing.  My sister texted the person in charge and the answer came back:  I would be permitted to attend, but not to sing.  She was extremely apologetic, and said it had never crossed her mind to think of it before then.

Well, I put on my brave face and went home, but it rankled.  Carol listened for the sleeping children so Savanna could come with me to pick up Matt from work, and I vented to her the whole way there.  She was very upset and offended on my behalf.  Matthew was also not pleased.

I thought and thought about it all day Thursday, then Friday morning I sent an e-mail to my sister and listed why I thought that decision was not right.  She forwarded my e-mail to the person in charge, who once again replied that I could attend, but not sing.  I very nearly chose not to go at all.  Indeed, up until the moment I got in the van to go there, I considered just calling Savanna and Jenaia and having a girls' night instead.

But I went.  I fully intended to come home and write a sorrowful piece about how terrible it was to be among people who really didn't want me there, and how noble I was for squashing my pride and going for the sake of my dad.  That's what I planned to write, but I can't, because--

I had a marvelous time.  The dinner started at 6:00.  I got there ten minutes late, and before I could even get through the doors several people had greeted me.  My family was seated at two tables near the front, and I went and sat with them.  I had a blast chatting with Dorcas, Annetta, Heather, and Justin, who were seated around me.  During the fifteen minute break at 7:00 more people found me and said hello.  I found myself quite happy to see these people that I hadn't seen in quite a while and talk to them.

I also made a break for the van at 7:00 to get my Benadryl.  I've had to take it nearly every day this summer, but I forgot to before the feast.  I did not want to go into a sneezing fit in the middle of things!  I drank three cups of coffee during the time afterward to counter the sleepy effects.

After the break several people spoke and said wonderful things about my dad, interspersed with awesome songs written especially for the occasion.  There was a slide show which included pictures I'd never seen before, and a video as well.  Everything was extremely well-done.  The tech crew kept everything running smoothly, although so many people wanted to speak that the feast ran way over the time set.  It was supposed to end shortly before 10:00; it went on until 11:00.

And then there were more people to see and greet.  I was asked by one person why I hadn't gotten up and shared anything about my dad, and I replied that I had been asked not to.  I wondered how many people thought I just didn't care enough to get up.  No matter--when surrounded by such wonderful, caring, loving people it's impossible to be angry.  I simply can't manage it.

So, although I was disappointed in one respect, I was wonderfully blessed in all other ways to be surrounded by such an amazing group of people.  It was incredible to see them, and I miss them already.

I got home exactly at midnight and thought, "It's pumpkin time!" which reminded me of my brother and sister-in-law and made me smile.  My husband sat up at the table waiting for me, which made me happy.  I am blessed.

P.S.  I also found out that one of my childhood friends and two siblings cried so much upon being told there was no time to visit us, that their dad turned the car around and brought them over anyway.  I had no idea we were so popular!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Leaps and Bounds!

My children are growing faster than I can keep up.  It seems like every time I turn around, they're stronger, taller, and more capable.  Henry can drink from a regular sippy cup now, and even a plastic tumbler with no lid.  Rowan is reading books with no help from me.  I just keep thinking, Wow!  What happened??

Yesterday we cut Henry's hair.  This is a Big Deal.  Henry is two, stretching for three in November, and for a long, long time he has not let scissors near his hair.  He would quite literally scream and thrash like we were cutting his legs off--even when we tried cutting it in his sleep.  I loved his long hair, but the ends were poking his eyes and obviously making him very uncomfortable, so we knew it was time.  Matthew held the sobbing Henry down while I sheared.

It was brutal, thankless work.  I held him and snuggled when it was done, and he clung to me.  I put him in the shower to rinse away the loose hairs and he sobbed some more.  Dried and dressed, I took him downstairs for chocolate, a cup of milk, a blanket, and Mickey Mouse.  That seemed to do the trick.  It's difficult to cry with chocolate in your mouth.  Sadly, I had to leave ten minutes later and head for Salem.  My good friend/almost sister/godmother to my children Savanna took care of Henry for the evening.

When I got home around 7:30 Savanna was rocking Henry, who hovered on the brink of sleep.  I left them to it, and soon Savanna joined me downstairs, having laid a sleeping Henry on my bed.  We put on a movie and I snuggled with Rowan, who fell asleep within forty minutes.  Hurray!

Today my boys have been wild and silly, running and jumping and playing.  Rowan helped Grandma Carol pick a cucumber from the garden for dinner.  Rowan and Henry have chased each other all over the house, giggling madly.  I took advantage of them playing upstairs this afternoon to crash for a short while on my bed.  I've been living on Benadryl the last several weeks and my eyes don't always want to stay open.

They both ate dinner around 6:00.  Let me reiterate so you really understand:  They ate dinner.  As in, the planned menu, not a PBJ fixed up last-minute.  This almost never happens.  Well, that is, Rowan usually eats a smidget of the menu, then frequently asks for a poached egg in addition "for protein."  He won't touch anything with tomato sauce, including pizza and spaghetti.  Henry also shies away from tomato sauce. 

Tonight, though, we had leftover "fajita macaroni," as Carol called it.  Essentially it's macaroni, tomatoes/tomato sauce, ground beef, and veggies.  For Henry, who has recently become a fruitarian (with exceptions made for all starchy foods), this meal could have been pulled straight from Things I Won't Touch Ever.  Rowan asked what it was and I said, "Noodles with meat, and we'll put cheese on top."  He was satisfied, and he actually ate nearly all that was on his plate.  Ha ha!

Henry resisted.  I put a plate of food on his high chair tray; he ignored it.  Then he tried to dump it quietly.  I put it back.  He sat there for a long, long time, eating nothing.  Finally he reached out and tentatively picked up a noodle.  He examined it closely, flicking off anything that looked suspicious.  (This included the shredded cheese.)  He took a bite.  I won't say he gained any enthusiasm for the dish, but he ate it.  He ate.  I am thrilled!

Upstairs again, I decided to continue the furniture rearranging I've been working on for the last two months or so.  Things get done slowly around here.  I was busily vacuuming a patch of carpet that hadn't seen the light of day in years when Rowan called out, "Mommy, look at me!"  I looked up and there was my 5-year-old child, feet and hands braced on either side of the frame, perched at the top of the doorway to my bedroom.

I don't know why I was so surprised; I did the same thing as a child.  Maybe it's just that he's so young.  Anyway, he was clearly very pleased with himself.  "Rowan, where did you learn how to do that?" I asked.  "I've always known how to do this," he replied in a lofty voice.  "Always, huh?" I asked.  He replied, "Mommy, I've known how to do this since before you were born."  I laughed and congratulated him, and he announced his intention to climb from there to the loft.

Maybe I should explain.  Upstairs there are two good-sized bedrooms and a bathroom.  The bedrooms each have a large loft, but there is only one ladder, which is kept in the boys' bedroom.  We haven't been in our own loft in quite some time, and it's rather dusty and cobwebby.  I really, really don't relish the idea of my small child going up there.  But I can't tell him not to strive, not to accomplish!  I told him he could try, but I hoped he was too short.

He hadn't made it by bath time, which lessened my anxiety considerably.  Henry tried desperately to copy Rowan, putting his little hands and feet on one side of the frame.  He did manage to pull himself up one pace, but I think (I hope!) it'll be a few years before he's scaling it.  In the short space of time that it took me to hang up Rowan's towel after his bath, however, he had managed to get his chest over the top of the door.  I took hold of his legs and told him firmly that he was not allowed to climb naked.

We went downstairs and had snacks, then the two boys raced back up the stairs.  By the time I made it up, Rowan sat waving at me from atop my bedroom door.  I told him to come down, and promised that he could try to climb to the loft in the morning.  Oh, help!  I don't think Matthew will be too pleased with me!

Well, I always have said that Rowan reminds me of my brother Ken....

Saturday, August 9, 2014

"Trooooooooooll in the dungeon!"

Today started off grand.  With mild weather and happy children, we contemplated going to the Polk County Fair.  I wasn't sure if we had enough money for that, so I decided to do the weekly grocery shopping first.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to get out of the house as soon as I planned, so I only made it back to the house maybe twenty minutes before Matthew had to leave for work.  Alright, I thought, maybe we can make it there tomorrow.

So then Carol and I started to put away the groceries.  I had bought some bulk cashews and peanuts for the first time in a long time, and I went to retrieve the plastic container we use for storing them from its place on the bottom shelf of the pantry.  Then--O horror of horrors!--I saw mouse droppings.  In our pantry.

I know we have at least one mouse.  I've been hearing it in the attic on the other side of my bedroom wall for about a month now.  We've set traps, and so far we've caught nothing but air.  Up until now, the pantry has been safe from their contamination.  No more.

That pretty much settled the afternoon for Carol and me.  We pulled on our long rubber gloves (oh so thankful for those!) and set to work taking everything out of the pantry, wiping each item down with bleach water, then vacuuming and bleaching the shelves.  We actually didn't see any mouse evidence on any food items, but we threw away a lot of things that either were open or had just been sitting in there without being used.

Our pantry consists of four heavily-laden shelves.  We started on the bottom shelf, where I found the droppings, and worked our way up.  Thankfully we only found them on the one shelf, but of course we couldn't know that until we had cleaned off all the other shelves.  We had gotten the lower three shelves washed when Rowan came tearing in from the day room, where I had set the children to watch Mickey Mouse.

"Mommy, Henry took off his diaper and I think he's poopy!"

Well, that's enough to get me running.  I went hastily to the day room and found a very naked Henry dancing atop the coffee table, on which lay his discarded diaper.  It was, indeed, poopy.  There were also smatterings of poop on the table itself.  I grabbed Henry under the arms to keep him from sitting down and smearing more brown everywhere (no, I did not pick him up) and told Rowan, "Go get Grandma and tell her to come help me right away!"

Rowan left in a hurry and reappeared a minute later.  Carol came around the corner, clearly baffled, and asked what was going on.  Then she saw me holding the struggling Henry, and the diaper on the table.

Oh, I am thankful for trooper grandmothers!  She came over and immediately started wiping the child, as I attempted to keep him still.  She also removed the diaper and cleaned the table while I lay Henry on the couch to put a new diaper on him.  I spotted a blob on the couch and groaned.  I find myself very, very thankful for Lysol wipes these days.

On the plus side, it suddenly occurred to me that my rubber gloves, which were already out, would be perfect to wear while I scrubbed the diaper.  That's right; I've been cloth diapering since February and I only just now thought of wearing gloves.  I feel so brilliant.

With cleanliness restored and the children reapplied to Mickey Mouse, Carol and I went to tackle the last shelf.  We removed the items and I wiped it out; by this time I was feeling a little silly from the bleach and had a strong urge to run around the house bellowing, "Moooooooouse in the pantry!" and collapsing dramatically.  Maybe it's time to invest in a turban.

As we worked, Carol suddenly remembered that she and Paul had plans to go out for dinner.  This worked out well for them, but I struggled to figure out what I would feed my children, since we didn't finish the pantry until around 5:30 and the kitchen was in shambles from our work.  I wound up giving them nuts, chocolate pudding, and oranges.  They seemed to enjoy it.

Matthew called a little after 6:00 to say that he was done with work.  Hurray for Fridays!  And hurray for a husband who said he'd bring home Muchas Gracias!  I always love my husband, but there are some days I really, really appreciate him.

While I waited for Matthew to get home, I called Savanna to see if she could come over and write this evening.  (She couldn't, but oh well.)  As I sat chatting in the comfy armchair in my room, Rowan came in.  "Mommy, I just peed in the hallway."  Sigh.  I went downstairs and there it was, on the carpet in front of Lili's food dishes.  A towel thrown over the spot--I've got a few of those now, so put in the washer tomorrow--and I sent Rowan up to take a shower.  I'm glad he's able to shower himself now.  If I were less exhausted I might have supervised, because he tends to use half the bottle of body wash, but at that particular moment I didn't care.

The rest of the evening was fairly uneventful.  Matthew and I had dinner together <3 and the children went to bed fairly easily, snuggled in our bed with me.  I woke up around 12:30 and put them in their own beds, then remembered that I still needed to scrub the hallway.  Sigh.  That's done now, and I am snuggled in bed next to my sleeping husband.  I suppose I should go to sleep myself.  It has certainly been a Long Day.

I still want a turban.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

But, Mommy....

"But Mommy, I want to be with you."

I sighed and tried to explain again.  "Rowan, I'm just going to the basement to change the laundry.  That's it.  I just want a few minutes all by myself while I change the laundry, then I'll be right back up to be with you."

"But Mommy," he said again, nearly crying despite the fact that we had been together nearly every minute of the entire day, "I don't want you to be alone."

I shut the child gate with him on the other side and descended the basement steps.  Thankfully, within a minute I could hear him laughing and running with Henry again.  It had been a long, long day.

It began with a vicious alarm clock at 5:00 a.m.  Matthew hit snooze, which I welcomed gladly, but at that point I discovered that Rowan, all of five and still having some potty troubles, had peed through his diaper (something he usually doesn't even need or wear) on our bed.  Including my pillow.  I crawled out of bed and got another diaper, and managed to change him without waking him.  A towel thrown over the wet spot and a substitute pillow brought in seemed reasonable at the time, and I lay down for a few minutes more sleep.

Sadly, sleep rarely goes on as long as I'd like it to, and at 5:30-ish I struggled out of bed.  Matthew was already up and dressed.  Noah and Titus's flight was due to leave at 10:30, and what with our distance from the airport and the need to be there at least two hours early, we had to leave the house by 6:30.  Or--Titus is expecting you to make crepes for breakfast, Marilyn--somewhere around 7:00.  Or maybe yes we're finally out of the house, please no one say they need anything else at least by 7:30.

Bless her heart, Grandma Carol said she would watch 2-year-old Henry for us.  Rowan, on the other hand, came with us.  He was so, So, SO excited to finally be going to the airport, because wow.  Rowan is actually lots of fun to take on road trips because he rocks out to our favorite music and even sings along.  The teens went to sleep in the back.

If you've never taken a 5-year-old to the airport, you should know that it is very intense.  There's lots of hold my hand, please and no, seriously, hold my hand and I will take you back to the van this instant if you keep pulling away from Mommy or dropping on the ground or trying to run away from me, young man!  We got family passes to accompany Noah and Titus to their gates, which is the one advantage to having legally blind children.

The teens got on their flight successfully and we headed out to find some food.  There was lots more of, I want to go to a park, and I want to sit at this table in Subway; what do you mean we're not staying?  I want a park, Mom.  If Grandma is tired of watching Henry then Savanna can.

 Home several days later, or so it felt, Matthew retreated to our air-conditioned bedroom and left me with both children.  I get it.  He has MS, and the only way he would make it to work in the evening was if he took a good long break out of the heat.  I understand, really.  But golly, I just wanted to veg out.  So I figured, stick the kids in the wading pool out back and I could sit there in a comfy chair with my laptop.  Easy-peasy, right?

I really should have known better.  Rowan ran out first.  I gathered up Henry and followed; we went outside and--Oh, dear Lord, no, Rowan had the Look.  The one that says he's about to poop his pants.  There was nothing for it but to order him inside to the bathroom immediately.  And telling Henry, who had just gone outside with Mommy for the first time All Day (although he had spent time out with Grandma), that we were walking straight back in was not pretty.  A high chair, ice cream cone, and Grandma's computer games temporarily took care of Henry while I took Rowan to the toilet.  Why, yes, Rowan, you may certainly have your ice cream cone while sitting on the toilet.  Hey, it kept him happy.

Ten minutes yielded no results, so I let him off the toilet but informed him that there would be no pool until he pooped.  I have no desire to scrub poop out of that thing.  Let's see:  Option 1, take both kids to the park for two minutes until Rowan feels the urge to poop again, then order them back inside and have screaming tantrums.  Or Option 2, sit and watch TV while staying close to the restroom.  I chose Option 2.

The kids watched a couple shows before starting to chase each other all over the house.  I let them.  I love it when they play together, and Henry's giggles are so completely adorable.  Off to the living room, back to the day room, behind the big armchair, and--

"Mommy, I just peed my pants."

I closed my eyes and breathed out slowly.  I opened my eyes again.  "Okay," I said, trying to sound unfazed, "stay right there and I'll get a towel."  We keep a stock of rag towels in our hot tub room (which sadly does not have a functioning hot tub at the moment) and I had one on the wet spot within two minutes.  I took Rowan back upstairs to the toilet and plunked him down.

Downstairs, Henry busied himself with climbing into his high chair.  Since it was pretty darn close to dinner time, I put his tray on and gave him some rosemary french bread.  Then, from upstairs, the welcome cry:  "Mommy, it went in!  I need Neccos!"  Oh, my dear child, I said in my mind.  I would happily give you 1000 Neccos if you would only make it to the toilet every single time.  I cleaned him up, left the results soaking in the toilet for a while--almost always necessary if it's going to flush--and put fresh clothes on him.  

Downstairs again, Rowan began running once more.  Henry started nodding in his high chair, then fell fast asleep.  I glanced at the clock--was it really 6:30 already?--and decided to just take Henry up for the night.  I washed him and gathered him up, all without waking him, and started up the stairs.

I was followed.

"Rowan, go back downstairs."

"But Mommy, I want to be with you."

"Rowan, I'm just putting Henry in his bed, then I'll be right back."

"No, Mommy, I'm coming with you.  I'll be quiet."

"Rowan, please, I need to put Henry in his bed.  I'll be right back and then we can play together.  Please go."

"Mommy, I just want to play with you always."

"Rowan, go.  Now."  He finally went, and I took Henry to his bed.  Funny thing--he was no longer asleep, but awake and bright and perky.  Dash it all, I thought.  Instead of my youngest going to bed two hours early, and being able to spend quality time with Rowan, I would now have to continue focusing my tired brain on both small children.  I nearly cried.

I went downstairs and had a conversation with Rowan about this.  "Don't you see, because you insisted on following Mommy and didn't listen when I said to go back downstairs, Henry woke up.  I was going to do fun things with you this evening, maybe play Scrabble or Candyland.  Now I can't, because when Henry's awake he takes all the pieces and loses them.  Because you didn't listen to Mommy, you've lost the special time I was going to spend with you."

Rowan nearly cried, too.  "But Mommy, Henry can go to bed now, and then we can play together."

"No, sweetie, it doesn't work like that.  Henry is awake now, and probably won't go to sleep again until it's your bedtime, too.  When Mommy and Daddy tell you to do things, it's because we want things to be good for you.  When you don't obey right away, sometimes those good things go away.  That's why it is so important for you to obey The First Time we tell you to do something."

I don't know how many times I had that conversation last night.  He disobeyed and disobeyed and disobeyed.  I tried to be patient.  Sometimes I yelled, then felt terrible about it.  The adults finally sat down for dinner (the children had already eaten, and were running madly throughout the house), and then I smelled that Henry was poopy.  I left my dinner to go change him.

In the middle of changing him Rowan poked his head around the corner.  "Mommy, I just peed in the hallway."  Deep breaths, Marilyn.  Deep breaths.  "Okay, let me finish changing Henry, then I'll come help you."  I got a towel and covered the second wet spot--oh yeah, I hadn't cleaned up the first one yet--and had Rowan strip.  Then the terrible bit:  calling Grandma away from her dinner, the first in a long time where she and Paul had actually been able to sit down together.

"Mom, would you please shower Rowan so I can scrub this poopy diaper?"  (Yes, we use cloth diapers.)  She agreed, thankfully.  Words cannot express how much I am thankful for my mother-in-law.  I went to the laundry tub in the basement and, feeling a headache settling in behind my eyes, decided to fend it off and improve my attitude by singing a song of praise to God while I scrubbed.  It helped.  I felt so relieved, but oh heaven preserve us, beware of complacency!

I went back up and Carol was struggling to Keep Rowan Still while toweling him off.  I sent him upstairs to get underwear.  "But Mommy, you go get it for me."  I reminded him that I had to scrub two pee spots in the carpet.  "Mommy, I don't want to get my underwear.  You can."  So on and so forth until finally:  "ROWAN, I AM CLEANING UP YOUR PEE OUT OF THE CARPET, AND SO HELP ME, IF YOU ARE STILL NAKED WHEN I GET UPSTAIRS I WILL PUT YOU DIRECTLY IN BED AND YOU WILL NOT BE GETTING OUT OF IT."  Within one minute he had reappeared downstairs, sporting not only underwear, but sweats and a t-shirt as well.  Thank the Lord for small mercies.

Then Grandma asked him to clear his plate from the table.  He collapsed on the stairs, closed his eyes, and pretended to be asleep.  I tried making it a game.  No go.  I finally said I would count to 10 and if he hadn't summoned enough energy to clear his plate, he obviously didn't have enough energy for a nighttime cup of milk or cuddling or stories.  Rowan:  "But Mommy, clearing my plate takes 100 energy and I only have 50."  (I admit to a stifled giggle here.)  I counted to 10 and he just sat there.  When he saw me actually putting his cup back in the fridge, he finally got up and sauntered to the table to begin clearing his place.  I told him it was too late, but that since he was actually clearing it he could have his cup back.  He would still have to go to sleep in his own bed with no stories.

Cue tears.  "But Mommy, I want to snuggle on your bed."

He finally did go to sleep, and then Henry did also, thankfully.  And then I had laundry to fold and my bed still wasn't re-made from being peed on (I had stripped the wet bedding).  Good golly, we actually slept on an unmade bed last night, because Matt came home and collapsed before I could put the sheets on, and then he wasn't budging.

Conclusion:  I am very thankful that my children love to be with me, but sometimes I just want to scream, "LEAVE ME ALONE FOR JUST FIVE MINUTES, PLEASE!"  You?

P.S.  I am also thankful that I made it through the day without injuring or killing anyone.