Bad news and good news, according to the 5-year old

I still rock my 5-year old every night before I put her to bed. This particular night, she snuggled close to me.

“Mom,” she said, “Dad is going to die first, right?”

“Well, maybe. He is the oldest, but no one knows exactly when they’ll die.” (My husband tried to reassure her once, when she was distraught about dying, by explaining that usually older people die first. He is the oldest in our family. Thus, she concluded, he will die first.)

“And then you’ll die, too, right?”

“Maybe. No one really knows when they’ll die.”

She bit her lip, thinking about being orphaned. “When you and Daddy both die, then us kids will be able to stay up as late as we want!” She blue eyes sparkled and she grinned. “That will be awesome!”

Anyone need to hide a corpse?

Because the boys’ hole is now big enough. 

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Added to answer some questions:

When I asked one son awhile back, “Why?” he said, “Because we’re boys.”  That’s the clearest explanation they can give.  They have been unearthing big rocks, which seems to be the goal of the moment.

My husband couldn’t care less.  Our backyard is quite untamed and dominated by a giant Rainbow play structure and edged by overgrown laurel hedges.  (They kids play inside the hedges which are just beyond the hole.) 

The dirt has been spread down the little slope just below the hole and mounds up now on the sides of the hole.

I’m hoping they lose interest soon so I can refill it . . . but I can’t see a reason to make them stop.

Also, the in the picture, only one of those boys belongs to me.  The others are neighbors.

Yes, I watch “The Real World.”

So, when you feel completely overwhelmed and so tired that you think that a nap at 7:00 p.m. is a good idea, you might be getting sick.

That partly explains my previous post about motherhood making me tired.  As it turns out, being sick also makes me tired and thus, for the past two days, I’ve been slogging through my life with a head full of wet cement. 

No Retreat, No Surrender the movie But it’s only a cold.  And I’ll feel better soon.

I do have to say that watching MTV’s “Real World” cheered me considerably tonight.  Brooke, one of the young women on the show, completely lost her mind and went berserk with crazed grief and anger because her roommate, a cute boy whose name escapes me, insulted her behind her back. 

She finally confronts him (in a bar, where all confrontations ought to take place for maximum drama, I guess) and he repeats the insult to her face.

She storms home, locks herself in the bathroom and weeps.  Her sobs turn into screams and soon, she’s marching through the house, scrawling a note on three separate pieces of paper (“You are the nastiest human being ever.  I will never trust you again.  Rot in hell.  Love, Brooke.”)  Then she strips his bed of sheets, strategically places the notes on the bed, knocks over a lamp and collapses in her closet, arms flung over her head, face blotchy with tears, her head on a stray plastic hanger. 

She’s gasping and crying when her friend, Colie, comes in and asks, “Are you okay?”

Brooke says, “No!”

Then Colie asks what happened and Brooke says that she had a conversation with the boy roommate.  She sits up, runs her hands through her hair and blurts out, “He said I have a double chin!” 

Blink.  Blink.  Blink.  (That’s me.)  Cry.  Cry.  Cry.  (That’s her.)  

“I will never trust him again!  Why does this always happen to me?”  And she sobs into her hands.

And I burst into laughter. 

Perhaps this means I’m cruel, but it also means I’m old and I know that a double chin is nothing to cry about.  In fact, in the grand scheme of things, a double chin is the equivalent of stepping on a pebble with your bare feet–you might flinch but you don’t limp or break your stride.  I only wish that having someone notice my double chin were the worst thing to ever happen to me.

What hilarity.

Brains or Hearts?

Four-year old Grace and her friend, a boy her age, sat at the kitchen table, snacking and chatting.  I stood at the sink, washing dishes.  I heard her say, “I don’t have a brain!”

I looked over and said, “Yes, you do!  Everyone has a brain!”

“No,” she said, matter of fact.  “Girls do not have brains.”

Taken aback, I said, “Girls do not have brains?”

“No,” she continued.  “Girls have hearts.  Boys have brains.”

“Do boys have hearts?” I asked.

“No,” she said.

I chided, “Well, really, everyone has a heart and everyone has a brain.”

“No,” she insisted.  “Girls have hearts.  Boys have brains.”

My girl is working to set back the feminist movement one hundred years.

This startles me because I have always viewed myself as a Smart Girl.  I’ve never ever considered myself beautiful or kooky or adventurous.  I found my niche in life early on, possibly when I wrote and illustrated my own books about seals when I was a first grader.  Or maybe when I won all the classroom spelling bees as a fifth grader.  Or maybe when I was the first girl “to the moon,” when I learned my multiplication tables before everyone else in third grade.

My most-loved joke in college was when I called myself an airhead because I knew I was anything but.  My friend, Lisa, and I wore neon pink sweatshirts that proclaimed, “Airhead Alert!” which never failed to crack me up.  It was the ultimate sarcastic joke.

If I were cast in a movie, I’d be the sidekick, the smart friend in sensible shoes with good ideas.  That’s just who I am.  A smart girl.  The girls with brains.

And now, I have this funny daughter who has proclaimed that girls don’t have brains.  Girls have hearts.  I can’t even imagine how she came up with this bit of whimsy.  I do know better than to argue with her because you can’t argue with someone who has no brain.

Hodge-podge

Thick fog greeted us Friday morning when I took the children–my own four, plus two extras, to the pumpkin patch again.  My 8-year old missed our first outing and wanted to pick out a pumpkin.  And I knew all the kids would love seeing the baby animals again.  The farm has six kittens, a lamb, two baby goats (kids?), two piglets, a calf, ducklings and two ponies.  The children are allowed to enter each enclosure and pet the animals. 

So, off we went, leaving at 9:30 a.m. and arriving before the farm even opened.  The sun shone at the farm but the ground was damp and moisture hung in the air.  We sneaked in anyway, blending in with a preschool co-op that arrived before we did.  My 8-year old picked out a 57 pound pumpkin and one of my twins picked out a 31 pound pumpkin.  I picked out half a dozen Granny Smith apples and the 2-year old picked out a baby pumpkin.  My daughter begged for a bag of potato chips.

We returned home at about 11:00 a.m. and I launched into full panic-attack cleaning mode because at 11:45 a.m., a local (very small) newspaper reporter was due to arrive.  She’d already interviewed my husband about our participation in our state’s virtual academy (Washington Virtual Academy) and she wanted to ask me a few questions, talk to the boys and take their pictures.

The boys were not happy about three things:

1)  I ordered them around, like hired help.

2)  I insisted that they comb their hair.

3)  I requested that they change into decent shirts.

I was shoving dishes into the dishwasher and relocating the paper-piles from my desk and sweating lightly when I asked one of my 13-year old boys to sweep.  He did so, but with an exasperated sigh.  “Why do we have to do this?”

I said, “Because that lady is coming.”

He squinted at me, held the broom aloft and said, “This is just like dad’s sermon.  You know, where he talked about people cleaning up before they have people over . . . how they pretend, you know.  This is just like that.  This is just a big charade!  No one lives like this!”

(I thought he was talking about hypocrisy, pure and simple, but my husband told me he’d been talking about hospitality in his sermon and about how people shouldn’t feel that they couldn’t invite guests over unless their homes were perfect.)

I told my son that some people do indeed have clean houses, but he was unconvinced.

My house looked pretty good by the time they lady arrived.  Unfortunately, I was only halfway through a hurried make-up routine and had to appear downstairs (where she sat on the sagging couch in the living room where I hadn’t intended to invite her) without eyeliner or mascara.  Hello, no eyes! 

She was very friendly, though, and I had flashbacks of the long-ago interview gone awry that I gave once to a reporter at the Charlotte Observer while I worked as a college intern at Heritage USA.  I mention this only because on that particular occasion, I was chosen as an interviewee by my bosses at Heritage USA . . . and during the interview with the reporter, I yapped on and on, saying things that made Heritage USA look bad, in an era when the Charlotte Observer was intent on finding dirt in Jim Bakker’s ministry.  (Within two years, the whole empire collapsed, but I promise, it was not me who started the dominoes falling.)  I was told my by boss later (when I was gently reprimanded) that upon reading the article, Jim Bakker said, “Who is that intern?!” 

The only other time in my life that I had been as full of mortification and horror was in seventh grade when my homeroom teacher sent me to the principal’s office because of my impudence.  Me!  Saucy, indolent, mouthy!  Imagine! 

(I had mentioned to the reporter how I worked 70 hours my first week at Heritage–I’d been on the grounds crew until I wised up and unwittingly used my family connections to get a transfer to a different department.  The focus of the interview was their college intern program and it didn’t look so good for me to talk about the overtime, blah-blah-blah.  Oops.)

Anyway, so I worried I would say something stupid, but I thought she seemed very favorable to the virtual academy, so I’m sure the slant will be positive.  And it’s an extremely small newspaper.

And as soon as she left, I returned the three-level desk organizer to my desk, along with the pile of stuff that needs my attention and my tower of Post-It notes.  The dust will take longer to reappear.  

*  *  * 

Saturday, my dear husband opened the gates and let me out into the world.  I had a glorious time, saw a very violent but well-done movie (any guesses?) and returned home to so many dirty dishes that I had to run two full dishwasher loads to clean them all.

*  *  *

My husband woke me at 6:42 a.m. to ask me to look at something in the bathroom.  The bathroom light blinded me, but when I could finally open my eyes enough to look, I peered into the grossest bloody eyeball I’ve ever seen.  Too bad it’s not Halloween yet.  He could scare a lot of people!  He said it didn’t hurt, so I said maybe he burst a blood vessel coughing or sneezing (his cold lasted almost two weeks) and I went back to bed where I fretted until I had to get up.

Our friend at church who is a practicing family doctor assured him that, indeed, it looks like a blood vessel burst probably from coughing or sneezing.  (I’m telling you.  I should have gone to medical school.  I have excellent instincts.)

*  *  * 

Our church is having an All Saints’ Harvest Party . . . we all have to dress as a character (or animal) from the Bible.  I was thinking about going as Eve, dressed in a big leaf, or maybe as Jael, holding a tent peg and a hammer.  Or maybe as Gomer or Jezebel . . . high heels, fishnet stockings, red lipstick, big hair, small skirt . . .

Okay, just kidding!  The party is for kids, after all, and these things would be tough to explain.  (I’m going as Deborah who was a judge in the Bible.)  My husband and I keep coming up with implausible Bible characters we could portray . . . this is funny to me because the party planners insist on Bible characters because they want to keep the party wholesome.  But Bible characters, so many of them, were involved directly in an epic struggle between good and evil . . . if anything, they are way scarier than a vampire ever could be. 

And that’s how my weekend was.  How was yours?

Random

The sliding door opens.  My 4-year old daughter plops down and begins taking off her shoes. 

“What are you doing?  Are you staying in?” I ask.

“I’m a dog.”

“Oh.  Why are you taking off your clothes?”

“Dogs don’t wear clothes.”

She stripped off her jeans and her shirt, adjusted her pink underpants and went back outside wearing only socks on her feet.

*  *  *

Guess what showed up on my living room floor two nights ago?  The remote control.  And it didn’t even bring me back a t-shirt as a souvenir!

No More Pencils! No More Books!

Yesterday, we celebrated the last day of school by going to a movie.  (“Cars.”)  Tickets for five children and me cost somewhere around $40.00.  (I could buy two DVDs at that price! I said to myself as we hurried toward the theater.)   

I have recently become devoted to Fandango.com so I purchased my tickets online before we left for the theater.  No line to wait in!  I had no idea if the theater would be crowded at 1:30 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, so we arrived at 1:00 p.m. 

Lucky us!  The concession stand had no line, so we bellied up to the bar and I ordered:  a combo (large popcorn/large drink), a small Sprite (for the two little ones to share) and a second large popcorn.  My twin 13-year olds ordered and paid for their own drinks.  (They love to spend their money.)

Large popcorns come with one free refill, so after paying, we traipsed over to the salt and butter-dispenser.  I pulled out five brown lunchbags from my purse and divided the popcorn five ways.  Then I sent one of my boys back to get the empty popcorn bag refilled. 

I smuggled a bottle of water into the theater for my 8-year old who prefers water to pop.  So now, everyone had a snack and a drink–and I only spent $18.00 on snacks, which was something of a thrifty miracle.

Unfortunately, we had to wait a solid fifteen minutes before the movie started.  My three boys sat three rows ahead of me–one of the boy’s glasses were destroyed by a dog and he can’t see that well, so they wanted to be very close to the screen.  I sat between two almost-four year olds; my daughter, who has never been to a movie, other than “Finding Nemo” when she was a year old, but that doesn’t count because I spent almost the whole movie chasing her as she toddled in the hallways outside the darkened theater and freaking out about germs.

The other three and a half year old is a movie-veteran, having seen pretty much every kid’s movie as it was released in theaters over the past two years.  He sat entranced, methodically placing popcorn in his mouth and chewing without moving his eyes from the screen.

My daughter said, “I don’t want that,” and gave me her popcorn bag.  She scooted back in the theater-seat and due to her small size, the bottom of the seat flipped up, bending her in half.  This became her primary occupation during the whole movie.  She appeared to be doing some type of weird ab exercise, the kind you see on late-night informercials. Open, closed, open, closed, open, closed, the seat flipped and flapped, back and forth, up, down, up, down.

Five minutes before the movie started, she leaned over and said, “I want to go home.”  Flip, flap, flip, flap, flip, flap went her legs.

When the movie finally started, so did a baby two rows behind us.  The baby squalled and I turned and scanned the rows, but didn’t spot the baby.  The crying continued and I turned again and this time, I stared straight into the grim eyes of the screamer’s mother.  She had a hand clamped over the unhappy baby’s hollering mouth.

My annoyance instantly turned into sympathy.  I felt sorry that I had turned to shoot her a look.  (My look said, “Hey, I paid fifty-eight bucks for this–get that crying kid out of here!”)

A few minutes later, I heard the weeping recede into the distance at that mother left the theater.  I have no idea if she came back.

My daughter did watch the movie with interest, though her legs only sporadically stopped flapping the seat bottom up and down.  She ate popcorn, she laughed at funny parts.  Then, finally, she grew bored and said, “I have to pee.”  I said, “No, wait.”  She insisted, so I had to gather my purse and the hands of both three-year olds and crawl over two people.

She did pee and so did the little boy.  We washed hands and returned to the theater, crawled over two people and settled into our seats.  Then she wanted to switch seats with her little buddy.  Then she wanted to sit on the other side of him.  Flip, flap, flip, flap, flip.  Whisper, whisper.

“I want to go home.”

She called the name of her friend over and over.  He didn’t hear her, completely engrossed in the movie.  I can see why his parents take him to movies all the time.  He, the boy who cannot walk without leaping and kicking, sat immobile, except for one hand bringing popcorn to his mouth.  I think he blinked, too.   

Finally, she got his attention and had nothing to say.  Flip, flap, flip.

“Mommy!  I need to poop.” 

I told her she did NOT, and she gave up asking.  She has realized that declaring her need to vacate her bowels is a Get Out of Anywhere Free card.  For instance, when she whispers that in a stage-whisper at church, I hurry her out of the pew.  Because . . . well, just because.  But in the movies?

I really did like the movie.  I did not particularly like my movie-companion, however!  She will not go to another movie anytime soon.  This is a child who can barely be convinced to watch an entire television show.  I won’t be paying five bucks again for her to fidget and exercise her already taut abs.

*  *  * 

Today my 8-year old played in the final baseball tournament of the season.  (Hooray!)  His team took third place.  This was the first game I’d seen this year–my husband normally takes him, but today, my husband took my older boys to a Mariner’s game at Safeco Field.  (My husband tried to make me feel guilty about missing all the other games by launching into a chorus of “The Cat’s in the Cradle,” but I am not easily guilted.)

The funny thing is that my 8-year old could have gone to the Mariner’s game, too, but he was invited to a birthday party and he chose the party.  So, I went to his baseball game and took my daughter with me.

They won the first game, and played in a second one, so he was at the field from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  When he went to the birthday party at 3:30 p.m., I took my daughter to Costco to drop off film and shop (mainly for a roast for dinner tomorrow).

She had been begging to go to “the dolly store” to get another dolly (because you can never have enough dollies when you are almost four years old).  I took her to Goodwill where the doll bins were stuffed full of rejected and neglected dolls.  She picked out two, played in the toy aisle as long as I could stand it and then finally, we returned home.

And that, my friends, is about as much fun as I can stand to have in one weekend.  (And it’s not over yet!) 

(Oh, and we aren’t quite finished with school yet–we have to wrap up History and my Reluctant Student managed to leave himself a generous helping of Spelling over the summer.)

Because I Have Spare Time Somewhere And A Special Message To Spammers

I know.  You were thinking, that Mel . . . such a slacker . . . can’t she fit more into her barren excuse for a life? 

So, I’ll also be writing for Largerfamilies.com–I’m sure you noticed that logo over on the left.  Click on it and you’ll find a bunch of resources, including a blog, for those who are raising larger-than-average families or those who are curious about those who are raising larger-the-average families.  I’ll be one of about a dozen bloggers contributing weekly.

So, click.  Enjoy.  Let us know what you think.  See you over there.  (And, of course, don’t forget to check my ClubMom blog every day because really, don’t you need a second daily dose of me?)

*  *  *  

Dear Spammers,

I hate you.  I hope you fall off your computer chair and bruise your butt.  I hope your keyboard electrocutes you.  I hope you stub your toe really hard and break it.  I hope flying staples scratch your eyeballs. 

I hope you get a paper cut in your most sensitive area.  I hope your hair falls out right in the front where everyone looks.  I hope your knee caps dissolve.  I hope your spine snaps in two.  I hope your eardrums burst and pus fills your nasal cavities. 

I hope your elbow gets stuck in the open and locked position.  I hope fleas infest your hair, all of it.  I hope a fork accidentally impales you.  I hope fire singes off your eyebrows and your nose-hairs.  I hope a giant pimple grows right in the center of your nose. 

I hope barking dogs disturb your sleep and attack you when you walk to your mailbox.  I hope lightening strikes you.  I hope you walk in your sleep and fall off a cliff.  I hope you drown in snake-infested water.  I hope an alligator eats you, head first. 

I hope your skin gets caught in a zipper.  I hope you get hangnails on all ten fingers.  I hope your fingers get frostbite and fall off.  I hope a collapsing building crushes you.  I hope you fall into an erupting volcano.  I hope a shark bites off your arms. 

I hope you rely on a food-bank and are only given Spam Luncheon Meat to eat, you rotten scummy loser.

Sincerely,

Mel