Monthly Archives: August 2009

Drugs That Make the Sun Stand Still

Took my oldest three children shopping Saturday. Out of town and far away–well, duh, you might say: we do live in shopping purgatory here in Moses Lake. 

So anyway, off we go. Remember, I've been on three doses of Albuterol per day for about four days at this point. I duly took my two prescribed lunchtime puffs right after Applebees and before we went into the mall where, inexplicably, I kept losing my long-legged children. It was like one of those sci-fi movies where time slows down for everybody save one, and that person runs all over town, weaving in and out of cars and pedestrians who are either frozen in place or are moving in slow motion. 
I was the only one unaffected by the time-freeze that occurred in the Tri-cities on Saturday. I'm going through the mall, weaving my way through the fairly thick, last-weekend-before-school-starts mall traffic, and when I'd turn to point something out to my children they were nowhere to be seen. Eventually they'd lumber up, red-faced and panting. "Mom, you're running."  Might I point out they are all taller and larger than me.

I finally offered to carry their shopping bags. Anything to get the lead out of their veins. It didn't help much. They were still lagging behind and when we got home they were full of tales about Mom dancing to the PA music while waiting in lines–which, by the way, I catagorically deny. Twitching, maybe. Bouncing on my toes, yes, but that's only because the lines were insanely long and the checkers slow and I didn't want to get leg cramps. (Wait, were they losing me intentionally? Hmmm…)
And on the drive home some kind of wormhole occurred; our wheels were turning and scenery was going past, but I swear to you we were on some kind of asphalt treadmill; the sage brush and the irrigation ditches were on a loop, same ones, over and over, and we were going nowhere. I could have gotten out and run faster than we were driving. I may have been dancing at that point to pass the time, but in my defense our tunes are significantly better than anything stores like Old Navy or Sears pipe in.
When all was said and done (and we escaped the wormhole out there on highway 17)  we spent eleven hours, twelve hundred dollars, and half a tank of gas, but I think we came away fully clothed and supplied for six children for the school year. (Yes, even for the ones who remained at home and who have no say, whatsoever, in how I dress them. Or their older sister dresses them. I really couldn't tell the difference between the cool hoodies and the ones she'd shrink in horror from.) We'd better be done–I thought we already were two weeks ago and if the budget wasn't shot then, it certainly is now. 
Oh my goodness! I just realized there are eleven children asleep on my floor. At the same time. Whatever shall I do? 

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Brothers’ Keepers

Surely the most ironic thing that has ever crossed the lips of a parent dropping their school-aged child off at daycare with a younger sibling are these: "Thanks for taking him today–actually, he's really very helpful with the little ones."
Newsflash: Older siblings are rarely, if ever, helpful with the little ones. Maybe at your house, but not here. 
Inevitably they will spy their drooling sibling sitting in a sunbeam catching dust-motes, heft him up under the arms and drag him across the room to me, announcing, "My brother is bored. You need to hold him." At which point the baby is no longer just "bored" but shrieking in agony because his arms are being yanked out of their sockets. 
They will take the spatula away from the teether in the highchair, and bring it to me–"That baby was chewing on your spatula!"
Me: "Yeah, and now look–he's screaming. Why do you think that is?"
Or my favorite: "Hey, my sister is hungry."
Me: "Really? I just finished feeding her."
"She wants ice cream."
And lo and behold, the formally content two-year-old sibling begins whining and, with a little more goading from the sibling, shrieking for ice cream. Or whatever else the older child has decided they want. 
Today a five-year-old girl picked up a five-year-old boy's lego project and it broke. He started crying, and grabbed it from her, catching a piece of her hair in the process. Now they are both crying. "He pulled my hair!" "She broke my rocket!" It might have ended there, except almost eleven-year-old brother comes barreling across the room and shoves the other boy. "Leave my sister alone!" The other brother sees what biggest brother is doing and comes running. He tears into his sister's "attacker" too, all limbs flailing.  And of course, the "attacker" becomes just that. He starts defending himself in earnest, provoking more familial loyalty and further reprecussions. 
All this in about ten seconds. Just long enough for me to set down the stew pot and cross the room. I put all four of them in separate corners, invited everyone else to the table where they ate everyone's favorite meal of all time, while the four in the corners looked on. Unfortunately, they had to wait until everyone else was done eating for their turn to come around and by then the melon was no longer truly ice cold and the chicken fingers weren't very warm. If you can't get along with other children, you can't eat with other children, right? And if you're old enough to actually care about the temperature of your chicken fingers, well, you should be old enough to stay out of arguments that have nothing to do with you, correct?
Two more days until school starts. 
Not that I'm counting down, or anything . . . 

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Explosives in My Kitchen

This morning I came down at six o'clock to find a bomb had gone off in my kitchen. Presumably one that had been housed inside a watermelon. And I'm going to have to consult the USGS about this, but I'm thinking the aftershocks from the blast had a destabilizing effect on the tectonic plates underlying Easy Street, causing a sudden shift and a small earthquake–just enough to shake every cook book, dish and eating utensil free of my cabinets and dishwasher. Really. How else do you explain the food splattered equidistantly on every surface in the entire room, vertical and horizontal? How to account for my empty pantry and refridgerator? 
Unless you want to blame my children. Unless you are ready to believe that even collectively six of them could perpetrate such chaos in the middle of the night. That they decided, all on their own to make themselves blueberry muffins, biscuits and gravy, some burgers and from the looks of things, several packages of hot dogs. If so, I applaud their self-sufficiency. Really. Who am I to discourage such budding ingenuity?
They had piled most of their dishes in and around the sink. I'm not sure how the pile lasted the night without teetering into submission to gravity and call of the kitchen floor but maybe the pile hadn't been teetering there for very long–after all, creating a mess of that magnitude takes a respectable amount of planning and execution. And surely if they had started before I was sound asleep I would have noticed something was up. Sniffed out the explosives or heard the whine of the drill as they embedded the M-80 in the poor, vanquished melon.

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Consumer Reports (Or, Seatbelts on the Sofa)

After fifteen years of making do with Grandma's hand-me-downs because, well, the kids are going to trash it anyway, so let's wait until they're older, we finally bought some furniture. 
We've lived with it for three months now; here's what you should know:
Easy to clean? Yes. Hypo-allergenic? Yes. Nice looking? Depends on what you buy and your personal preference, but yes. We found a perfect color.
No. A creaky, squeaky, rustling, resounding NO!
If you plan on watching a movie with anyone under the age of say, fifteen–or anyone else with severe ADHD, anticipate turning the volume up really loud. Or, if you plan on holding a conversation in the vicinity of said couches, ban all children from the room. Because the spinning and fidgeting that children must do if they are even semi-conscious is really loud on leather. I wouldn't have believed it until I heard it. 
Oh, and think twice about the reclining models. They are way too much fun to, well, recline. And unrecline. And recline. You get the picture. And actually, unless the whole couch reclines, the section in between the two recliners looks really weird when they are reclined and it isn't. And anyone sitting there feels strange, too–the people next to you disappear behind your back. 
Consumer Report #2: Rubber Playground Bark
The idea is that rubber is softer to land on than any other outdoor surface, it never decomposes or needs replacing, and it doesn't breed insects or rot. All true. And probably good for the environment too, since it's made from recycled tires. 
Caveats: it turns the children black. Even the colored stuff. Think really black feet and hands, not just kind of grayish. Also, it clings–to everything. You may never have to replace it like wood because of decay, but a fair amount  of it will walk off in the folds of children's clothing. Oh. And they LOVE to throw it, because it bounces. So anything within launching distance, will eventually see its fair share of rubber bark rain down. 
I still think it's better than wood, even so.
(Ironic, I think, that I cannot have anything in my house smaller than child's fist, but I am required to have six inches of loose fill out on my playground, where all children are lawfully required to spend at least thirty minutes of every day, choking hazards galore, or not.) 
Consumer Report #3: Honda Odyssey
Yes, we also bought a van. After driving a beast of a Ford Econoline forever that didn't even have proper seatbelts (not to mention various fan belts and who knows what else) we bought an Odyssey–because it seats eight, mainly. Oh, and the Ford couldn't make it up the hill out of our neighborhood without going into massive, sputtering fits before we reached the top, and then finally ominous silence as we rolled back down the hill in reverse. 
The Odyssey? LOVE IT. Only thing I'd do different would be to go for the fully decked out version. I declined the super-duper model, because I figured I could add a DVD player cheaper on my own. Although I did opt for leather (think ease of cleaning up vomit). And no, noisy leather isn't an issue on the road (maybe because all small children are securely strapped in, so there is no spinning about). 
What I didn't realize is that the super-duper touring model also comes with a power tailgate–and now I'm convinced that would have been worth, if not its weight in gold, at least as much as they were asking. Probably more. 
Writing this, I'm seized with a brilliant idea: the leather couches in my living room should come with child restraints at least as secure as the ones in my motor vehicle. YES!! And why not, I ask you? 

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You know that feeling right after you step off the most frightening rollercoaster ride of your life? Or the way you feel right after you narrowly miss a head-on collision with a semi-truck? The jittery, lightheaded, heart-racing, I'm not really sure which, but I'm definitely going to either laugh or cry or maybe both, and boy you better watch out and not get in my way because I'm probably going to choose the fight, rather than the flight option? You know the feeling. 
That's albuterol.
Dr. says I need to take it three times a day, minimum, to get this thing under control. I actually yelled at three different kids yesterday. Yes, three. One after each dose. It took me that long to figure out what was going on. I didn't seriously chew anybody out, but when the kid got on the cupboard and was reaching for the scissors I keep on the top of the fridge I skipped my usual, "Hey you monkey, what do you think you're doing?" routine, and went straight to "NO!!! GET DOWN!!!" before I snapped my mouth shut and stood there trembling and talking myself down from an overwhelming urge to vault the table. 
So today I took the first dose an hour before anyone was supposed to arrive, and the second after I got everyone settled down for a nap. I am standing here, typing, resisting the urge to run around the block a few times. I don't know what albuterol is, exactly, but it feels like a massive shot of pure adrenaline. I timed my pulse before and after a dose and it went from 60ish beats/minute to over 100. Yeah. Crazy stuff.  Good to know that I'm just experiencing a drug-induced rush of psychosis, and not actually losing my mind, though. How do children on albuterol deal with this? I'm willing to bet there are asthmatic children out there who have been unfairly labelled "troublemakers." 

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Boycotting Kellogs

I am now officially an non-buyer of commercial breakfast cereal. I have sworn off even the "healthy" varieties. I've tried and tested the theory for almost three weeks now and it's true: Hungry children will all eat oatmeal and cream of wheat without a fuss. So why am I shelling out for three boxes of cold cereal to be inhaled at one sitting? I can buy oatmeal for about $0.30/pound–before it's cooked. And it comes in 25 pound bags. 
Imagine all the packaging I'm keeping out of the landfill.
I'm not even tempted by the corn flakes which are a dollar a box at Safeway this week–which, you have to admit, is a really good deal.
Bread, however, I'm leaning toward the purchased stuff, I don't know. I made six loaves on Monday and six loaves on Wednesday and Tuesday and Thursday we had to go without because six was not enough to last two days, apparently. That's a lot of bread. They don't like the store bought bread–therefore they go through significantly less of it. Hmmmmm. Haven't done a cost analysis on that one yet. It's basically free to make–I bought the wheat for ten cents a pound.  But the time, that's the thing, isn't it?

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Had one of those nightmares last night from which you wake up seething at some poor individual totally undeserving of your ire and oblivious to their heinous actions in said nightmare. 

Left the poor soul alone and vented by scrubbing everything in my house . . . and okay, the cement outside my house, too. Didn't get too far with that though–there is a lot of cement out there. Took laundry soap and a scrub brush and a hose and lots of elbow grease and I'm maybe 1/5 of the way down the porch. 
Contemplating a paint job, too. Or six. Everything looks grubby this morning. 
I think my Spray 'n wash/detergent mixture has soaked long enough–off to test out another googled theory about how to clean cement. What is nap time for if not the random mixing and application of various household chemicals?

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Amen, Brother

While preparing a lesson on service for the girls yesterday, I came across an address given by Dieter F. Uchtdorf about the powerful influence women can be as they serve and teach and love in this world. A gentle reminder:

"Sisters,  you are endowed with a divine birthright. You are the real builders of nations wherever you live. As you live up to this mission, in whatever life circumstance you find yourself–as a wife, as a mother, as a single mother, as a divorced woman, as a widowed or single woman–the Lord our God will open up responsibilities and blessings far beyond your ability to imagine.
RIse to the potential within you, but don't feel guilty or dwell on thoughts of failure. Don't compare yourself with others. Do the best you can and the Lord will provide the rest. Have faith and confidence in Him, and you will see miracles happen in your life and the lives of your loved ones."

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Squatting in the Bushes

On the way to the doctor yesterday I saw a lanky fellow squatting in the junipers by the crosswalk. Hmmm, some part of my brain mused, what's a grown man doing, squatting in the bushes?

When the walk signal changed he jumped to his feet, yanked up his trousers and continued on his sauntering way zipping and buckling as he went. I guess . . . when you gotta go, you gotta go.
I think this is the same fellow who walked around town for years barefoot. A friend of mine once bought him some shoes but he didn't wear them. He seems to have found a pair he likes now, though. 
He doesn't look disturbed; he doesn't moan or drool or throw things at the cars. If it weren't for his really dirty clothes, you'd never guess he was anything other than a fairly nice looking, middle-aged man, on his way somewhere of consequence.
Anyway, true to my promise, and unable to fetch my own pickles let alone cross the room without going blue, I was on my way to the clinic where I was introduced to the miracle of albuterol. I could do without the resulting jitters and ravenous appetite, but one treatment took me from ten feet under the ocean to breathing free and clear in less than a minute. That's a side effect I can live with. 

No pneumonia, no bronchitis, no infection of any sort–just severely obstructed airways. An allergic reaction. To what? No clue. But with a few rounds of inhaled albuterol sulfate I slept for a collective eight hours last night. Seems like eons since I've slept like that. Ahhhhh. I will never take breathing for granted again.

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Rogue Pumpkins

The lone, surviving pumpkin of the ones we planted in May:

And despite what you may think, yes, we watered it. 
The pumpkin growing in the vacant lot next door (without water) where we dumped our Jack-o-latern guts last year:
This one plant contains at least twelve basketball-sized:
What can I say? 

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