Friday, October 31, 2008

November is upon me...

.. and I might just pee my pants.

So, starting tomorrow, I have 30 days to 1) write a 50,000 word novel (NaNoWriMo) and 2) post something on my blog every day (NaBloPoMo). Honestly? I think the latter of the two will be more challenging.. I have to come up with like almost 30 things to post about! I may have to join in on this Wordless Wednesday deal.. and I'm liking my 10 Things Tuesday (seriously people, you should try it..). Oh, to have a reliable internet connection on my laptop.. *sigh*... Soon.. I hope.

So, I apologize in advance for not keeping up with reading and commenting through the month of November.. Except, those of you who'd actually care? I'll probably still be reading and commenting with y'all cause.. y'know.. you acknowledge my existence and stuff.

Perhaps I should go make a little list of random blog post ideas to refer back to when my brain stops functioning and my fingers go numb and rebel.. right after I do our school time for today (with children who are currently stuffing their face with Halloween candy.. that will make them work faster, right?) and make my Target shopping list.. The Target list sounds more fun.


Sitemeter makes me giggle: I had a page view from someone who Google'd 'breasts stroked mermaid moan'.. um.. wow.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

On Our Way... (Part 4)

We returned to the house to find everyone dressed and waiting. All our belongings were packed up and the backpacks were grouped together in front of the couch.

"Ok, let's get to work on the hair cuts and we can do the dye later, we need to hurry up." said Baby. "I got ahold of my friend Steve, and he said he could pick us up at AR at 1:30."
"American River College?" I asked.
"My dad works there."
"... Will he be there then?"
"Um.. I think his class is at 2."
"Ok, we'll be gone by then."

We went back in the bedrooms to find hair cutting supplies. The shears were in Herb's room, so Patty and I followed Baby in there after collecting combs and towels. Baby opened a drawer on the dresser to rummage through in pursuit of scissors and I glanced about the room. The mattress and box spring rested on the floor with no frame. There were some worn out sheets that were half on the bed and half on the floor, rumpled and dirty.. And there was a hole in the mattress. At first I was just confused as to how someone would end up with a hole in the middle of their mattress like that.. It looked as though someone had taken a toilet paper roll sized corer and shoved it into the center of the bed. Then it hit me... Oh.

I couldn't wait to leave that house.

One by one, the girls went in the back bathroom and gave their requests as Baby started snipping away. She said she had some experience cutting hair, so she handled the shears. I'd always worn my hair long (ever since that hair cut my mom had done in 4th grade that I HATED), so I figured short would be good for disguising purposes. I asked her to do it short, with some layering.. she said she could do layering. It turned out.. um.. interesting.

Once we were done with the hair cutting, we quickly cleaned up the mess and grabbed our bags on our way out the door. It didn't take long to walk over to the college - maybe 20 minutes or so. It was then that I realized just how far we'd walked the day before. We'd spent the night in a dingy little apartment only a little more than a mile from my dad's work place.. Somewhere that took more like 30-45 minutes to drive to. And we had not exactly taken the straightest route either.

We decided to take turns with the hair dying. The other three girls went to the ladies room on campus and got to work. I hung out with the boys and we all talked a little more about our less than perfect home lives and how creepy Uncle Herb was.

After about 15 minutes, the girls came back looking slightly wetter and a bit frustrated. I saw that Patty and Missy's hair were the same color as when they had gone in the bathroom.. and so was Baby's.

"They weren't gone long enough." Devon said under his breath as they approached.

"I don't know what's wrong with this dye. It didn't work.. Did you guys get permanent dye?"
"Yes." Devon answered.
"Well.. we followed the directions and it didn't work." Baby replied indignantly.
"You didn't let it set long enough." Devon pointed out, matter of factly.
"We followed the directions."
"Whatever." said Devon. "It's almost 1:30, we don't have time to worry about it anymore."

We waited. And we waited some more... I started to get uncomfortable. I knew that my dad should be arriving soon and we were waiting near a driveway. I had no idea where he might enter the parking lot..

"Steve said his truck has some stuff in the back. We should leave behind anything we don't need to lighten our load and reduce our amount of stuff." Baby informed us.
"Truck?" I asked. (How are the 7 of us fitting in a truck?.. or any vehicle for that matter..)
"Don't worry, it has a shell on the back."

Those of us who had any school books or other unnecessary things in our bags purged it and left it under a bush near the long driveway.

At about 1:45, Steve rolled up the drive in a beat up old white pick-up with a camper shell on the back. He looked to be about 17 with dark hair and a typical teenage attempt at a mustache, probably grown to make his fake ID seem more convincing. He was near 6' and skinny, looked like many of the guys I'd seen my friends buy drugs from.

"I can fit two up front. Girls. The rest of you can get in the back. Stay down, I don't want to get pulled over."

Baby and Patty sat up in the front seat and the rest of us did our best to squeeze into the bed of the truck on top of the random blankets and trash and lay low.

We were on our way. The plan? He'd point his vehicle north on I-5 and drive until he didn't feel like it anymore. Then, we were on our own.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

10 Things Tuesday

10 reasons I'm NUTS for attempting NaNoWriMo...
  1. I have 5 kids under the age of ten.
  2. I home school.
  3. I have a nursing baby who still gets up at night.
  4. My husband works..... A LOT.
  5. I'm already a terrible housekeeper..
  6. I have a hard enough time finishing short stories, how can I manage a novel?
  7. I'm behind on.. well.. everything. (laundry, house work, home school, etc)
  8. We're starting new curriculum in November.
  9. I'm still not entirely sure what I will write about and it starts in 4 days!
  10. Did I mention I have 5 little kids? and I home school? and I'm on my own with them and the house work most of the time??? yeah, that.



Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sticky Fingers (Part 3)

We walked along the banks of the American River, taking breaks under the bridges and huddling together for warmth. Nightfall neared and we headed off the unlit trail back into town in Rancho Cordova. There was a grocery store near the trail and we decided to stop there and see what we could beg borrow or steal. We asked around the people who were in front of the store to see if any of them would donate to a not so worthy cause, enabling us to get something to eat. We even tried proposing we sing for our supper. The only offer we received was a couple pesos from a Mexican guy who was leaving the store after a beer run. (I still have one of them.) It was cold. We were ready to find somewhere warm to sleep for the night.

A young couple came out of the store on their way to their car and noticed us. Baby walked over to them and struck up a conversation. They only had a sedan, but were willing to stuff us all in and get us the last few miles to where we needed to go. The warmth of the car felt good as we all piled in onto each other's laps and squeezed anywhere we could fit. They drove us to Baby's Uncle Herb's house and wished us luck as we all unloaded in front of a small row of apartments on a rundown road behind a gas station.

I think it was around 10pm by that time and we stood in a tight little circle on the sidewalk as Baby knocked on the door and waited for the man inside to answer. After a few minutes she looked carefully around the parking lot to try and spot his vehicle, wondering if he was home.. She spotted a light blue truck in the corner of the lot and decided that it was his, she knocked again a little harder.

After a good 10 minutes or so, he finally came to the door. If I've ever seen a stereotypical man that one would assume to be a pervert or pedophile.. this was him. He was older, probably a great uncle (if they were even related) and hygiene was obviously not at the top of his priority list. He was short and heavyset, his leering gaze fell on each of us, one at a time, lingering a bit longer on Patty and I.. just long enough to make me a little uncomfortable. He didn't hold his head up and look at our faces, but rather kept his chin close to his chest and kind of looked at us up out of the corner of his eyes. He had very thin greasy white hair that was just long enough to need combing, but had not received it, and some stubble on his face and neck. He wore a dingy wife-beater tank top and some rather worn out gray sweat pants. Certainly not clothing appropriate for such a cold evening.

"What's all the racket about?" he grumbled in a raspy and barely coherent voice.
"You took a while coming, I was starting to worry you weren't home.." replied Baby.
"These yer friends??" he asked, tossing a thumb in our direction.
"Yeah.. can we stay for a night or two?"
"One night. I don't want yer mama callin' here again."

We all walked slowly into the small dwelling, it smelled of smoke and alcohol and there were pornographic magazines and videos strewn about the living room. But it was warm.

"I don't got a buncha beds er nothin'.. So you'll hafta just sleep where ever you'll fit." it was almost as if he was talking to himself, the way he mumbled half under his breath. "There's a couple of couches out here and one bed in the back room... What time can y'all be outa here tomorrow?"
"I don't know Herb.. depends on when we can get a ride. Can we say, 3? Hopefully earlier..?"
"Make it 1."

He waddled off down the dark hallway and we heard his door shut.

"He's harmless, really. He's just a sweet, lonely, old man." Baby told us, as she fidgeted and scratched her head. I don't think any of us were buying it.. "I'll sleep back in the bedroom, if anyone wants to join me, there's room for two."

Patty went back to the bedroom with Baby and the rest of us hunkered down about the living room. There were a few blankets on the backs of the couches and some throw pillows. We used those and our jackets and backpacks and made ourselves as comfortable as possible.

I didn't sleep much.

I lay awake in the dark thinking about the fact that my family most certainly knew I was gone. The afternoon had passed so quickly that I hadn't had much time to think about 'now we'd be out of school', 'now I'd be getting home', 'now Mom would be home from work'... I wondered what they were thinking. I knew they'd be worried and probably angry.. I knew they'd be disappointed, but that I was accustomed to. The future seemed so uncertain and frightening that I chose to focus on just one step at a time.. The plan for tomorrow was relatively simple: get up and ready to go, walk to the nearest store and get some hair dye, get back to Herb's and do some haircuts, then dye our hair while arranging a ride.

Dawn seemed an eternity away, but it eventually arrived. I woke in the early morning darkness to the sound of Herb scuttling about the place as he prepared to leave.

"There's some cereal.. I think." he mumbled to Baby who was up and standing at the entry to the hallway.
"Ok. Don't worry. We'll be fine. We'll be gone before you get back."
"Jus.. Just stay outa trouble." the exasperation was heavy in his voice.

I closed my eyes and tried to fall back asleep but just as I started to doze off, I heard the others around me start to stir. Honestly, I was a little relieved to begin the process of leaving.

No one had any desire to linger about, so we got ready to leave quickly. Devon and I were the first who were ready to go, so we figured we'd head to the store.

"Any requests on hair color?"
"Well, why don't you just get some of everything.. black, brown, red... and we'll figure out what everyone wants to use when you get back."
"Sounds good.."

We got some basic directions on how to locate the nearest grocery store and headed off on our way. We were walking along and suddenly Devon stooped and snatched up something off the sidewalk.

"What are you doing?" I asked.
He flashed a $10 bill at me and grinned. It was always this way with him. What he lacked in luck with his home life and family, he made up for in the smaller things. Devon was incredibly bright. He was intelligent and articulate and had an incredibly deep soul. He masked this with his off the wall wacky outbursts and feigned stupidity, but I could easily see through his facade. I liked him and we were fast friends, as they say. It was on this walk to the store that I first heard some of his stories about how he'd come to live with his aunt. How his much older brothers would terrorize him and hang him upside down from the iron railing outside their second floor apartment, and how how father would send him to buy his drugs when his mother was away driving her semi. It was an odd life, but it was all he'd really known. He had no idea how to fit into his aunt's suburban single family home and way of life.. It was almost as if he couldn't stand the stability of it, it also felt so fleeting to him. He knew they were frustrated by his presence and he quickly began to feel as if he'd be better off on his own. His story made me feel so petty and out of place. He was so much worse off than I was.

We got to the store and found the aisle with the hair dye. I had no idea what I was doing. I had no experience with this sort of thing.. luckily, Devon's aunt was a professional hair dresser. He knew how to decipher the labels and such. We looked at each other in dismay when we saw the size of the boxes. Neither of us were very big and didn't have much in the way of bulky clothing for concealing anything.. but we were happy for the winter coats. Devon's eyes lit up.

"Cover me." he said. He crouched down in the aisle, close to the shelf.. but not too close as to not look suspicious, and started opening the boxes and removing their contents..

"Come here.. quickly."

I looked up and down the aisle quickly and then knelt down beside him. I casually took what he handed me and put it into any pocket I could find room in. Once we had all we needed, we headed to the front of the store. I grabbed a Cherry Coke, a Jolt Cola, a bag of chips, and a bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms and we got in line. Devon had that 'you're clever.. I'm impressed. I never thought of that' look on his face and I smiled back. I could tell that he was more than a little taken with me and my shoplifting prowess and was definitely revved up from pulling off the stunt. I informed him as we walked down the street on the way back, enjoying our snacks that it is always better to purchase something when you're shoplifting so that you look less suspicious when you leave the store. To this day, I feel incredibly awkward walking out of a store without buying something.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Jimmy Dean is my boyfriend..

Last night J was multi-tasking (meaning working on two computers at once because they don't have enough power to do all that he needs to do on just one..) and I was reading a book with Gizmo in my lap. I was still shivering a little from the pistachio gelato I'd just scarfed down.. accept for my lap, which was toasty warm.

"You know, people who live in cold places, and don't own cats, are stupid.. It's like having your own personal hot water bottle that you don't even have to prepare.. just sit down and there it is. And they're snuggly too."
"Yeah, but they aren't very comfortable when you stick them up your butt."
"Uh... What? Why would you be sticking a hot water bottle up your butt?"
"Huh? I didn't say anything.."


And then, of course, he said something that was really hilarious that neither of us could remember this morning..

I woke up and stumbled my way to the bathroom to get in the shower, not realizing that it was already 8:30 (cause if you wake up after 8am you automatically smell better and don't need a shower.. and all my kids get up after 8, so they never need to be washed.. score.), this only mattered because it's Friday and I needed to take J to work so I could keep the van for Aidan's dance class this afternoon (and, you know, that other reason I mentioned just now). So I took a shower and got dressed and blah blah blah... (stop imagining me naked, you sickos)

Everyone was dressed, except Jo because she was wearing a blanket sleeper, and we made fun of the kids whining like they were going to melt because it was raining as we loaded into the car.

We drove through our lovely little college neighborhood and headed downtown.. I refrained from jumping up and down in my seat (J hates it when we do that when he's driving..) because, well, it's Friday and it was after 9 by now which meant.. GARBAGE TRUCKS EVERYWHERE. I love watching garbage trucks. I know. I'm such a 3 year old boy sometimes. (I was so bummed when I was at my parents' house on garbage day.. they do it the old fashioned way with some guy driving around in a big pick-up and dumping trashcans in the back by hand.. where's the fun in that??) Seriously, between the huge construction equipment and garbage trucks and stuff, it's a miracle I haven't totaled the van driving down town.

"Mom, Dad.. It looks like when we get home we'll need to take our garbage cans out." I swear, my kids are such geniuses. To figure that out all by themselves, that the garbage trucks are out and our cans are not.. Amazing.
"Nope. Sorry dude. Today is not our garbage day." These are not the droids you are looking for...
"Besides guys," J informs them, "when you get home, you get to have breakfast with Jimmy Dean."
Stunned silence... 'Who is Jimmy Dean??'
"You know? Your mom's boyfriend.."

"Do you remember what you said last night?.. After you talked about sticking cats up your butt?"
"Uh... What?.. I have no idea what you're talking about. I'd never say something like that.. and no, I don't remember what I said next.... Why?"
"No reason.. It was just really funny.. and I can't remember what it was. I wish I had Twittered it like I thought of last night, then I wouldn't have to remember.."
"Hm. Ok. In that case, I can think of some other things you should Twitter too."

Though, honeslty? whatever it was he said, as funny as it was, paled in comparison to the email he got from his grandpa in which he accused J of being a possibly gay Jewish rabbi.

see that guy on the right? it's his birthday today.. tell him happy birthday.. NOW!

and for those of you who were actually reading it, I promise I'll do the next part of my runaway story this weekend..

Thursday, October 23, 2008

MxPx - Responsibility

Sorry, I can't blog today... I have other responsibilites...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Birthday Tinkle..

And so begins the last year of my 20's...

This morning, my husband ran to the store before work to pick up a few things.. Not only because he loves me and wanted to get me a treat for my birthday breakfast, but also because I'm lame and didn't go grocery shopping last weekend. Oops.

He promptly returned with milk, frozen pizza (for lunch, of course), egg nog (woot!!), a cake ring (coffee cake), and donuts! I handed out some of the cake donuts with chocolate frosting and sprinkles and such to the kids in an attempt to distract them from the rest of the bag while I brewed myself some Dunkin Donuts Cinnamon Spice coffee (new favorite? perhaps.. I've been doing things the old fashioned way - boil water and use a 1 cup dripper - all week and haven't touched the Tassimo since Sunday..).

Of course, my little Princess argued with me over what kind of donut she would be willing to consume (smear on herself, crumble on the table, stuff up her nose, rub in her hair..) - um, look kid, chocolate with sprinkles, chocolate with M&Ms and chocolate chips, plain chocolate, or chocolate with walnuts.. can't be that hard. She settled (rather hesitantly..) on the plain chocolate.

"Yes, Princess.."
"I no wan dat one.. I wan udder one.." she says.. gazing at the bag on the table unable to resist the question of 'what's behind door #2'.
"You can have one of the other ones when you finish that one." This is nothing new folks, standard rule in our house. Finish your firsts before you get seconds. It greatly reduces the food wastage in our residence.
"No. Mommyyyy.. I wan udder one."
Ugh.. I wasn't in the mood to argue with her.. I want some coffee, dangit.
"Ok. I'll put this other one next to yours. You can eat them together. If you decide you don't want anymore before you're finished, let me know, maybe I can give it to someone else." This of course produced the look from Ellie.. 'Um.. excuse me? give it to someone else?? I don't think so.'

Coffee. I'm standing there waiting for the drip and inhaling the tantalizing aroma of this magnificent brew.. and I think, 'Maybe Jo would like some milk with her donut.' So I open the fridge. And Eliana hears it. Great.

I'm pouring Jo a little sippy cup of milk and Ellie walks in.. "You want some milk too, baby?"

She ponders this a moment as I reassemble her Dora cup.

"No... I wan seweaww.." as she digs in the dishwasher for a bowl..
"Um. Did you notice that no one else is eating 2 breakfasts? We're having donuts, you've already begun eating yours, We're not having cereal." Heh, that went over well..
"I no wan donut. I wan seweaww.." Right.

I grabbed my coffee, collected my chocolate-covered-cream-filled-powdered-sugar-dusted sugar for breakfast and went somewhere my darling 2yo couldn't see me. Out of sight? out of asking range.

For some reason, Jo thought it wise to smear the cream from her piece of cream-filled powdered donut.. well.. everywhere. Then as I'm trying to clean it off of her, she smears it more: I wipe her face, she smears more onto her face with her hand; I wipe her hands, she smears more onto her hands from her face.. so on and so forth.. Definitely going to rethink the cream filled donut thing with the baby in the future.. Hm.

So I need to dress her, cause you know.. the donut filling.. everywhere. I pull her out of the high chair and yank off her jammies. I check for poo (we also refer to her as Poop Ninja, cause seriously.. this kid has an uncanny ability to hide things.. too many times I've removed a diaper, having smelled nothing, only to be greeted by a gooey brown mess) and, seeing we're in the clear, remove her diaper. I then grab another wipe to clean up some more donut gunk off her chest and cheeks and hair and between her fingers and toes and in her ears.. and then wrap up the diaper, grab the jammies.. she looks at me with her 'Uh-oh' face and I look down to see her making a lovely little puddle on the floor.

"Awe, did you make a tinkle?" Big grins. I swear, she could break my great-grandmother's antique china and it wouldn't matter at all as long as she gives me that 'Uh-ohh'.. Ridiculously cute. And she knows it.


Other tantrum worthy events thus far this morning for Eliana..
  1. Mom refuses to open the egg nog.
  2. Mom still won't give up the cereal.
  3. Torrin tickled her.
  4. Mom didn't let her lick the spoon after stirring the chocolate milk.
  5. Mom made the chocolate milk in the wrong cup.
  6. Aidan farted.
  7. Mom wouldn't let her put the plastic sealing ring back around the milk bottle cap.
  8. Mom wouldn't let her wipe her own butt when changing her diaper.
  9. Jo wouldn't let her play with the baby swing.
  10. KJ took her seat.
  11. Someone breathed.
  12. Jo touched her dolly.
  13. Mom didn't want Ellie's baby on her head.
  14. Jo didn't want to wear her hood.
  15. Mom wouldn't let her cut her clothes.
  16. Dad went to work.
  17. Mom won't take pictures of her doll.
I love 2 year olds.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

10 Things Tuesday

10 things about the day I was born...
October 22, 1979

  1. it was 359 days after the birth of my brother (we're Irish Twins)
  2. it was one day shy of 11 months before my husband was born
  3. I proved my grandmother wrong.. 'Babies are always born in the middle of the night..' she'd say.. I was born at noon.
  4. and it happened during a blizzard in Rochester, MN
  5. my mother had to push me out with no contractions, because her labor had stopped.. again
  6. were she not 'experienced', her doctor would have headed straight for the forceps (actually had them in hand before saying 'just push')
  7. once my head was born, the doctor said 'It's a girl!' my mother didn't believe him and said 'How can you know that? It's just the head!.. and besides, I don't make girls..' 'Because I know a girl's face when I see it.' the nurse said 'He's usually right..'
  8. and then, when it was all over, my mom got really freaked out.. the doctor said she could take her legs down out of the stirrups, but she couldn't move them! no one had told her that that would happen with the epidural (yep, she pushed me out with no contractions AND no feeling.. how's that for hardcore? hey, good things don't come easy..)
  9. and then she bawled.. a lot. she called my grandma and bawled on the phone.. 'What's wrong??' 'Nothing.. I, I.. had a giiiirrrlll...' cause I was that special.
  10. my parents had NO idea what they were in for...


Monday, October 20, 2008

The Boy's a Time Bomb!

In honor of 'Dress like J day'...


all he needs is a Cadillac...

My husband wears the same thing to work everyday. Black coat, black shoes, black hat... and black pants, black tie, white shirt. I get to see my hubby spiffed up everyday. And he's HOT.

Graphic Novel always sounded like some secret code for 'porno' to me..

Cause you know.. porn is pretty graphic after all..

So Saturday night was Date Night. When I use the term 'date night' that way I don't just mean we got a sitter and went out, but rather that our church provided free babysitting and we took advantage of it so that we could do.. well.. nothing. Because our church ROCKS, and after 9 years of marriage, we just don't know what to do with ourselves on the rare occasion that we get out without children in tow.

We fed the kids before kicking them out of the van as we drove past the front door of the church.. I mean, dropping them off with hugs and kisses all around.. and grabbed a slice or two of their pizza for ourselves so that we could skip dinner and have more time to.. you know.. do whatever.

"What do you want to do?"
"I dunno.." feet on the dashboard because there are no short people behind me watching and waiting for their opportunity to copy my misbehavior.. "What do YOU want to do?"

Wow.. our date nights always seem to start off like that scene from Jungle Book.. You know the one. No? Oh. Oh well. Anyway..

"Was Andrew working tonight?"
"Yep... You want to go to Starbucks?"
"Sure, why not."


So off we went to our favorite local Starbucks.. The one in West Des Moines, where my husband is commonly referred to as 'Hi-5 Guy'. And yes, I said West Des Moines. As in the part of Des Moines that is farther west than the Des Moines we live in.. the part where all the rich yuppie types live.. (totally kidding) It just made us snicker when we watched the Olympics and everytime they'd talk about Shawn Johnson they'd say 'from West Des Moines, Iowa..' Cause, you know.. too good for just plain old Des Moines... (again.. just kidding, they really are their own entity over there).

We walk in and everyone in the joint (always a big crowd on Saturday nights..) jump up and say 'Hey! It's Hi-5 Guy!!'... no wait.. It was just Andrew (on break) and Oana (his fiance.. lucky girl).. and a couple more of our favorite baristas behind the counter. So we sat around and chatted for a bit about gay guys in public restrooms, raunchy comedy filled with profanity and how it makes a GREAT birthday gift, and pot, and of course we complained about how the church should have totally done an overnighter cause that way we could have gone to the Showbread concert in Iowa City.. They kind of looked at us cross-eyed at the mention of Showbread and we gave up at that point and moved on (after all.. we went over who Showbread was on one of our previous date night visits to Starbucks to see Andrew and Oana.. if they don't get it by now..).

"So where you guys headed?"
"The comic book store."
"Comic book store??.. Where's that?"
"Around the corner."
"Yeah.. Really. You read comics?"
"Well.. not since I was like.. 9. You mean like Marvel and stuff?"
"Yeah. And DC.. and Image."

Ok.. so off we take our geeky selves to Mayhem.. our local comic book store to purchase some graphic novels. Because the more sophisticated comic connoisseur (did I spell that right?? cause it totally looks wrong..) prefer to call them graphic novels not comic books. After all, comics are for.. like 9 year olds and stuff.. right?

J picks up the newest issue of Teen Titans (ok.. that one really was just a comic book.. after all it was an issue.. complete with bag and board..) and I get the next book in the Catwoman series that I've been reading. I love Catwoman. I like me some Batman too, but Catwoman? She's my home girl, yo. Sadly, the next issue of Suburban Glamour is still not out, so it was a one book night. Goods in hand, we were on our way.


To where? We had NO clue. And by this time we only had about an hour and a half left. Honestly, it wasn't too big of a deal.. Kind of reminisce of the days when we were dating/engaged. We'd hop in the car and just drive. No destination in mind, no where to go and nothing to do, we'd just point the car and go. We drove around a bit aimlessly, contemplating what things there are to do here. A lot of Iowans will tell you that there's little to nothing to do around here and assume that we must be SO bored here after living in California. Um. No. There's all the same stuff here, plus some other really cool stuff that we didn't have there. AND everything here is closer and cheaper, and thus more accessible. Plus, between the driving, the gas, the admission, the blah blah blah.. with all there was to do in California? we never really got to do much of it (and there wasn't that much to do either..).

Eventually, we decided to go to Gateway Market and Cafe and pick up some dessert to bring home. We meandered through the aisles (since I've been to the Cafe part twice, but never had a chance to look around), checked out the booze.. I mean beer and wine.. selection, and gave the nifty 'wine chiller' a test drive. Sweet. Wine? Not so good.. I smelled it before tasting and it kind of reminded me of Eliana's diaper in the morning.. eeeew..


more the engrish!

Once we'd racked up a decent bill of goodies, we wrapped up our evening of coffee, comics, and cake.. and headed back to church to pick up the hoodlums.

Lesson? We're going to keep a running list of Things to Do on Date Night.. so that we have some ideas at the ready in the future.. Still, we enjoy just being out without kids when given the chance and it's great 'getting to know you' time.. Seriously, after 9 years of being married with 5 kids under foot.. there's always plenty of 'getting to know you' to be done.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

On the loose... (Part 2)

We headed down the street away from the schools, talking about which way we'd go and what our target destination would be. We snapped a few pictures and said good bye to our friends who barely made it back to school in time for the bell.

We contemplated how long it would take them to all realize we were gone, for them to think something was amiss, as we wandered through residential streets ducking behind cars and around bushes whenever a car would pass.. cause you know, people would actually notice us. We were on our way to the bike trail. We figured following the trail would be longer and slower, but would keep us a bit more out of site. I think we all reveled a bit in the drama and danger of it all.. Obviously we each had our own thrill-seeking streak, and if anything, had a desire for attention.

"So how much money do we have?"
Everyone checked pockets and wallets and such..
"That makes about what.. $10?.... Great."
"I have about $80 at home."
"Where do you live?"
"Over off Main."
"Naw.. that's too far. It's the opposite way we're going."
"Yeah, but wouldn't it be good to have the money?"
"I'm sure we could find other ways to get some money.."

I tried not to think too hard about that one.

I had $2.25 with me. I'd brought it to get a snack after band. Band. I almost wished that I'd brought my clarinet with me.. but playing on my own just wasn't the same. Strange how I missed it already. Aside from my poetry/song notebooks that I'd started writing, playing music was my only escape. I felt like I could lose myself a little. Let go and get lost in the music. I'd feel as if I was floating away, life didn't matter.. it was just me and the music.. Some pieces would bring me to the verge of tears and I'd have a hard time holding back the emotion that would well up inside me - I was so relieved that the other kids had their eyes on the music and the band director and not on me. I thought of the piano in the living room at home. Thought of quiet afternoons, when my brothers were off at sports and work and my parents working.. and I could sit at the piano and plunk out some Beethoven, Moonlight Sonata and Romeo and Juliet.. make up my own little tunes to go with the songs I'd write. Megan and Patty and I had talked about starting a band together.. I laughed a little to myself.

"What's so funny?"
"Nothing." I pulled my walkman out of my backpack and plopped in my Temple of the Dog cassette. I turned it on and within 5 minutes my batteries started to die.

"Anyone have any AA's?"
"Why don't you just sing, Megan." Patty asked.

I kept us all amused by belting out anything that sounded decent a capella, while they kept busy thinking up songs and helping me out by giving me the first line. I lost count of how many times they asked me to sing No Rain from Blind Melon. I can't think of any other songs that I so easily related to at that time and just felt all through me (side from, perhaps, I Wonder.. see previous post).

We walked along the bike trail and they discussed how they would ration cigarettes and tried to think of people who had cars that we could get rides from. Baby, the most experienced runaway of the group, seemed to have the most connections and the most ideas. She had an uncle that we'd stay the night with and some older guy 'friend' that had a covered pick-up that we could call in the morning and arrange a ride... and perhaps some weed.

The plan began to unfold...

Apparently we were heading for Canada. Canada?? Since, word has it, you can work at 15 in Canada.. and since Baby was already 15 and a couple others were nearly 15, they could get jobs. Of course, hair cuts and hair dye were in order.. and the idea of splitting up came up as well. It was quickly thrown out.

"Well, they'll be looking for 7 kids.. that's pretty conspicuous. We could split up and figure out somewhere to reconnect.."
"I agree. No. We need to stick together.."

That was settled.

We came to the first bridge along the bike trail and squatted under it for a while, resting our feet and talking plans. We shared what small bits of food and drink we had on us and talked about which way we needed to go next. Cigarettes were shared and it became pretty obvious who was going to 'hook up'. Naturally, the subject of 'who's a virgin' came up. Nearly all of us were. It was becoming quite obvious that I was going to end up the '5th wheel' in the group.. I was actually ok with it for once. Alika and I had already 'dated' (in the 8th grader sense of hanging out behind the locker rooms kissing after class but not actually going on dates since no one had a car.. or drove for that matter), and while I would have been more than happy to get back with him, I knew he had NO interest. He'd lost that when he realized he couldn't get in my pants. I'd had the reputation of being the 'good girl' for quite some time already, not in the goody-two-shoes sense, just more straight and narrow than the others. Sure, I was practically a professional when it came to shoplifting (a skill they looked forward to putting to 'good' use), but they all knew I was Christian, they all knew I didn't smoke or do drugs, and while they knew it wasn't for fear of getting in trouble but more out of respect for my body, they just saw me as 'the good one'. I anticipated a long and lonely relationship with this group.

"We better hit the trail if we want to make it to Uncle Herb's before dark.."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Did I ever tell you about the time I...? (Part 1)

I ran away from home when I was 14.

I wish I could say it was one of those 'rite of passage' kid moments where you go to your friends house with a knapsack and hide out in their tree house for a few hours.. parents knowing where you are the whole time and just letting you come home when you've figured things out for yourself. Hm.. not so much.

That's not to say I didn't have that experience.. I did. But that's not what I did when I was 14.

We talked about it for probably a good 2 weeks or so before we pulled it off. My friends and I that is. It seemed the more we talked about it, the bigger the group got. It's a good thing we left when we did, otherwise we might have had the whole 8th grade class go with us. I think our count the night before was 10. At departure, we had 7. 4 girls and 3 boys.

I remember packing my backpack the night before. I stacked my school books on my chair next to my desk and tossed in a change of clothes, some random snacks, a few personal items, and about $80 of allowance/lunch money that I had saved up. I wrote letters to my family - one to my parents and middle brother, and a separate one for my oldest brother. (I'd tell you what they said, but then I'd have to kill you..) Everything was set.

But the next morning, I chickened out. I unloaded all the stuff from my backpack and shoved it under my bed, put back my school books, tossed in half a bagel and a bottle of water, put my money away, and threw away the letters. As I zipped up my bag, I glanced at the clock.. 7:10. The bus would be there any second. I peeked out the window at the bus stop across the street and could hear the sound of the bus coming down my street. Crap. Grabbing my bag and pulling on a jacket over my flannel shirt, I laced up my wanna-be Doc Martens and headed quickly out the door.

The bus pulled into the parking lot at the junior high school at about 7:50. I could see my friends gathered in a corner of the parking lot and I headed their way to inform them that I'd changed my mind.

But I thought about it.. with every step I took on my way over there.. I felt regret sinking in. I wanted to go.. I wanted to go so bad. The only thing stopping me was fear. Fear of what? Well-founded fear of failure. Who wants to be some homeless 14 year old kid wandering the streets? But my friends had a plan.. a plan I didn't entirely understand and wasn't so sure I trusted. But they ensured me they had a plan. It would be fine. By the time I reached them.. I was decidedly.. undecided.

"Are you ready?"
"Ready?.. No."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I decided last night not to go.. but I'm starting to reconsider again.."
"Well, come with us and you can decide before we leave campus."

We walked across the back field to meet up with Devon. He rode his bike to school with Alika and they'd be arriving in the back of the school. Patty would be walking up that way too. So Baby (I think her real name was Christina), and Megan (my best friend), and Katya, and John, and Danny and I headed off to meet them. I analyzed my clothing as we walked.. I'd dressed pretty well for walking around outside, since it was January.. I could live with the jeans, thermal, Pearl Jam shirt, flannel, boots, and coat.

We found the rest of our crew waiting by the back entrance to the school.

"Shall we head over to Will Rogers and take it from there?"
"Sounds like a plan."

So, off campus we went, to go see the runaways off on their adventure. Megan had her camera with her to take some pictures.. obviously upset at the idea of possibly never seeing us again. She had more sense than I gave her credit for. My parents tended to see her as 'not so bright' at times, but she was certainly far more intelligent at that moment than I was. Here we were telling her 'Don't worry, we'll be fine. We'll see each other again - it'll be great. You'll see.' All while she was pondering the very real risk we were taking and recognizing very clearly the danger we placed ourselves in.

"So are you going? or not?"
"Yeah... Yes. I'll go."

We stood there in a group. Danny, Patty, Devon, Baby, Alika, Missy, and myself.. along with Megan, Katya, and John who'd come to see us off. Megan pulled out a cigarette and Patty lit it for her - there were others smoking, but this was significant to me..

"I didn't know you smoked."
"Well.. I knew you wouldn't approve. Now? It just doesn't seem to matter so much."

I wasn't sure what stung more - the fact that she'd hide it from me, the fact that she'd think I'd be so 'disapproving', or that she no longer cared?

"You said you weren't ready.. will that be a problem?"
"No. I mean, if we could swing by my house, it would be great - I have money - but if we can't, that's ok.."
"We'll see.."

I felt a lump rising up in me. Anticipation. Excitement. Fear. Elation. I wanted to get away and escape SO bad.. it was finally happening.

I felt like a dog at the pound. I'd watched all these people file past me for so long. Stopping to notice, to say how cute I was, to offer comfort and condolences.. a scratch behind the ears.. 'Oh, the poor thing..' but never opening the door. Never taking me home. Finally, someone had the key and was slipping it into the lock. My heart pounded and the air caught in my throat as I waited for the door to open. I wanted out.. SO BAD.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

10 Things Tuesday

10 Things I love about Fall

  1. Watching the leaves change
  2. Cooler weather
  3. Brisk mornings with hot coffee
  4. Stepping on crunchy leaves
  5. The smell of smoke from my neighbor's chimney (since, sadly, I don't have a fireplace)
  6. The colors!
  7. Apple cider
  8. Pumpkin patches
  9. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin lattes..
  10. Snuggling under a blanket on the couch with my husband


Monday, October 13, 2008

Back to normal..

The husband and I had the pleasure of missing out on the vomiting.

Friday night brought only one incident as Aidan ran to the bathroom, chugged water, tried to go back to bed, went back and chugged more water, and then went back to bed only to throw up all over his bed and floor. I hate puking as much as the next guy (probably more), but to hold it back to the point of never making it where it's supposed to go (he had a bucket right beside his bed still from the night before!).. it gets old.

We had a lovely visit with one of our dearest friends over the weekend. J's best friend since high school flew out from California all spur of the moment like and graced us with his presence for the whole weekend! It was awesome.

We checked out our local history museum and the botanical center, some local eateries, and introduced him to taco pizza (midwest style). He brought some California heat with him and (thank goodness) took it home with him as well. It was near 80 degrees both Saturday and Sunday which made for agreeable weather for wandering around downtown, meandering through the food festival, and hanging out in the park.

Ok, I lied. We had one other hurling incident. But it didn't have to do with the sickness. We decided to grab a quick lunch at McDonald's on Sunday afternoon. Taking up two tables (one for the midget ruffians and one for the more dignified folk), we spread out Happy Meals galore and gladly turned our back to the short people as we enjoyed some overprocessed crap-food and perused our Monopoly game sheet.

As J was pondering a way to figure out the pattern in the codes for the Monopoly game pieces so that he could cheat and win a million dollars, I hear Booger start choking behind me. He had apparently forgotten how to use a straw and had sucked some Sprite down the wrong pipe. I suppose the thought did not occur to his 4 year old mind that attempting to eat a chicken nugget was perhaps not such a good idea while his body was rather forcefully trying to expel soda from his wind pipe.. or perhaps he was just that hungry. At any rate, the coughing and choking increased in strength.

"Oh crap.." I muttered under my breath.
"What?" J turns around and sees what's about to happen. He stands up and tries to reach around Torrin to grab the empty Happy Meal bag so he could shove it in his face as Torrin grips his mouth with his hands and tries to stop coughing with a mouth full of half chewed quasi-food. And then? His face exploded. The look on Baby Jo's face (who was the unfortunate sibling sitting beside him and, at the moment, facing him) was classic.. shock and disgust. What the heck just happened? But J.. he was far worse off. While Jo had only a minor spray across her and her high chair, poor J took a much worse hit. Or, I should say, The Beard took a far worse hit. Little chunks dangling about all over his lovely locks of facial forest. What a sight.

To top it all off? They had those stupid air dryers in the bathroom = no paper towels. Yay napkins.

I sat back down across from our childless comrade after the clean up. "How's that for making you want to have kids?"

Yeah.. so glad things are back to normal!



Friday, October 10, 2008

'He started it!!'

If there's one reason I look forward to my kids growing up, it's vomit. (Yeah, it's a really LONG post about barf.. you may want to skip this one..)

Seriously, anyone who's been through an illness that involves regurgitation with a child too young to make it to the toilet/bucket/whatever will understand that. Yuck.

So Tuesday... We had our meeting with our teacher from the homeschool assistance program and not long after, Monkey starts complaining that his stomach hurts.

"Do you mean you feel like you're going to throw up? or does it just hurt?"
"It just huuurrrts."

A few trips to the bathroom and light snacks later, he finally hurls. In the toilet. YAY!! God bless you, my boy. You can get a stomach virus any time you want. He laid around on the couch for the rest of the day and just rested, having nothing but the occasional sip of water as prescribed by doctor mom. He was up and bouncing off the walls and eating everything in sight by Wednesday morning. And everyone else seemed good too..

Then Thursday came. J was feeling nasty and decided to stay home, knowing that if he went to work, he'd likely end up just coming back.. and get asked 'If you're not feeling well, why did you come in?' Cause I guess people in Iowa like.. don't go to work when they're sick or something.. hm. Weird.

J camps out in the office for the day, feeling crappy and wishing he could just yak and get it over with. No success. The kids and I head off to gymnastics, nearly missing Torrin's class thanks to some poorly marked detours - because if it's not winter, there's construction EVERYWHERE here and one intersection about a block before the gym creates an extra 20 minute detour.

We go home after gymnastics and J makes eggs and bacon for dinner. We're hanging out in the living room, enjoying our newly reinstated digital cable, and Punkin starts whining and grunting. I inform him that if he needs to puke, he better get his butt in the bathroom. He runs back and forth a couple times and then finally blows chunks while standing in the bathroom with his hand on the toilet lid. Nice. I hand him some paper towels and remind him again that it needs to go in the toilet. I then have the audacity to inform him that I don't want him eating dinner. He throws a fit and I propose a compromise of allowing him some toast. He sits on the couch and nibbles his toast... and then sneaks a piece of bacon. Which soon reappears on the couch cushions (again, so happy I have pleather couches) and in his hands. Yuck. He then agrees to not eating anymore.


Torrin walks up the stairs, informing all who are listening that "I kept barfing and barfing and barfing..."

The boys are tucked in, the train tracks are pushed aside to clear a path to the door for anyone who may need to run to the bathroom, and a bucket is placed next to the head of Torrin's bed. As we're setting everything up and waiting for them to go potty and get into bed, my sweet little Cupcake looses her lunch (er.. dinner) on the boys floor. Oh, goody. Eggs, bacon, toast, and breastmilk on the carpet. I put her in the bathtub and grab a towel to clean up the mess. Mess is wiped up and boys are in bed. Good night.

I take the girls to their room and get them ready for bed. Princess is tucked into bed and I stand in the middle of the room rocking the baby to sleep.. Begging her big sister to stop talking to me and asking me questions and just GO TO SLEEP. Baby Jo is just barely nodding off and I feel her stomach start to lurch. Sheesh.

I inform Ellie that I'm taking Jo downstairs to rock her to sleep and I'll be back up to check on her. Once Jo is finally asleep, I put her in the crib and sit with Ellie until she falls asleep. I then go curl up under a blanket on the couch to watch some John Stewart. It's not long though, before my baby is up again.. pukes a little more and then insists on nursing. I let her nurse and she's out like a light. Once she's back in her crib, I decide I better get some sleep.. anticipating a LONG night ahead.

Boy, was I right.

Shortly after midnight, Princess barfs all over herself and her bed and starts crying.. J comes downstairs from the office to tend to her and of course little Cupcake is woken by her crying. I take her to bed with me to let her nurse a little more in hopes that she'll just go back to sleep. J gets Ellie into the shower and starts stripping her bed. J got her cleaned up and back to bed and then offered to rock the baby back to sleep so I could get some rest. Jo's response, of course, is to wretch all over the floor and his shoe. As he's busy cleaning that up, I hear Aidan head to the bathroom for his turn. Again.. missed the toilet. All over the lid, back of the toilet, and floor. (By the way, they'd all had red kool aid and their puke was a nice shade of pink.. thought you'd like to know that.) So we get him into the shower and then Ellie is up for round two. More in her hair, since she decided to just let it out while laying on her back in bed. Nice. Back to the shower. We change the bed again, get them cleaned up and back to bed, and I head downstairs to sit with J while he gets the baby to sleep. He puts her to bed and we soon drag ourselves up to our own bed as well.. sometime around 1am.

Through the night, Booger vomited a few more times.. some in the bucket, some in the bed. He'd just go back to sleep and end up rolling in it.. Once I think between 2 and 3am he woke up enough for us to take him in the bathroom, get his nasty jammies off, and give him a little washcloth bath.

Later Princess threw up in her sleep again, waking the baby.. again.. and then just fell back asleep when I went in to take Jo. Who, thank heavens, just nursed back to sleep and slept next to me in bed.

I think I slept a little last night.. I'm not sure though. I don't really remember.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

10 Things Tuesday

10 Things I Love about being a Stay At Home Mom.

  1. I don't have to be anywhere at 8am.
  2. I get all the hugs and kisses I could want, anytime.
  3. I don't have to make excuses, people make them for me ('Well, with all those kids..')
  4. I can act as stupid as I want and know that there will still be someone acting stupider.
  5. I can shock, gross people out, impress, and incite sympathy in people just by telling them how any of my children were born.
  6. I don't have to worry about how many piercings or tattoos I have, my kids don't care.
  7. I don't have deadlines.
  8. I am my own boss.
  9. I get to eat fruit snacks in the shape of whatever cartoon character I want without looking like a dork.
  10. Being the first one they run to when they're hurt, scared, happy, sad, mad, lost, or lonely..


Thursday, October 2, 2008

knocked up


So MamaCat got out again a couple days ago... She's in heat and was stalking the back door like it was a portal to kittytopia. It never takes long for her to figure out that all she has to do is wait for the right child to come in or out of the door and she can easily slip out.

The kids were enjoying our lovely fall weather and on Princess's second or third trip through the doorway, MamaCat made a run for it. Ninja like reflexes, blink and you'll miss it... she's GONE.

But the cat came back, the very next day.

"Mom! Livvy's home!!" the Boss announces as he leads the way for Monkey to return her to the kitchen floor.

"Great. Put her back out. She's probably knocked up."

"Like you? You always get knocked up." I should have known that Monkey would sooner or later make the connection..


"Uh. Thanks. But no, not like me. I'm NOT knocked up."

"But you have been.. A lot."

Ugh.. who's kids are these anyway? And when is their mother coming to pick them up??

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