Monday, October 20, 2014

Who Knew?

This was delivered in my Super Mail today (slipped under my bedroom door) while I was away at class by Super Girl (also known as Little Bean).

It says:

If you are in the age of 13-20 there are 2 jobs open at the super office.

Attention! Super Tuna's mother has passed away. You are invited to her funeral Nov. 5 at [the] family room. 

So apparently, I have died.

Who knew?

It's a good thing I got the Super News or I would have missed my own funeral.

Monday, October 6, 2014

September In Numbers

I offer you September in Numbers: A Snapshot of a Family Schedule

Color Guard/Marching Band Rehearsal  Drop-offs and Pick-ups: 18

Doctor/Dentist/Therapy/Ophthalmology/Lab Appointments:  20

Back-to-School Orientations and Parent Events: 2

Work Related Drop-Off/Pick Ups for Kid: 20

Volunteer Activity Drop-Off/Pick Ups for Kids: 9

Marching Band Performance/Parade/Football Games: 2

In addition, we tackled a yard clean-up day, a garage sale, and sent two girls to the homecoming dance.  I also went back to school and took six credit hours in college this semester (two classes each week), leaving the Big Guy to manage even more of this mess on his own. (Which he did, like the rock he is.)

The comment I hear most often is that people don’t know how we do it. The truth is, we’re crazy. And we cut a lot of corners. We cook enormous pots of chili on a Thursday and then offer it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for three days.  We call the kids the wrong names and then get mad when they don’t respond. We turn in three pages of homework for our college course when we only needed to turn in one because we can no longer comprehend simple instructions. We occasionally wear our clothes inside out. We get so sleep-deprived and exhausted that we actually hit ourselves in the face with a chair we’re carrying and bust our own lip open.  We are walking comedians.

The how we do it is simple really. We just do it. We make a lot of lists and schedules. We rely heavily on the iPhone calendar app. We tag-team, reminding each other who needs to be where when and helping each other get out the door with every thing (and every kid) that we need.   

What’s more important is the why

We do it so we can stand up and salute the flag on the football field at the Friday night homecoming game as the marching band plays the Star Spangled Banner and our daughter takes the field in full show makeup spinning her flag like a boss.

We do it so we can look on with pride as our oldest daughter walks into work in full uniform, becoming ever more independent.

We do it so we can celebrate the joy of our middle school-aged daughter getting a reduced prescription for her glasses, knowing all those years of eye patching and an eye surgery were well worth it and turned out okay.

We do it so we can watch in awe as our two oldest daughters are transformed from snarky pajama-bottom-wearing, pony-tailed teens into stunningly beautiful young ladies for the homecoming dance.

Well, there might be just a little bit of snark still there. 

We do it so we can watch our son spread his wings and fly as he moves into his very own apartment.

There are things that simply cannot be measured in numbers.  Now (yawn) if you’ll excuse us, we are going to collapse and sleep.  The schedule has whooped our butts.           

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Case of the Mid-Term Crazies

I was in week six of an eight week semester in college when our house succumbed to fire three years ago. Like the Little Engine That Could, I kept moving on the track determined to succeed. I took extensions on the two courses I was in because I was just sure that when the fog cleared and I'd had some sleep, the memories of what I'd learned in those courses would return. I enrolled in the next semester because I was sure I could handle it. Nothing was stopping me. I thought I could do all things.

I was wrong. Very, very wrong. By November I was crying all the time. I couldn't remember anything I had learned in those two courses. I refer to them as "those two courses" because to this day, I don't remember what they were. I was several weeks behind on the courses I was currently enrolled in. I was constantly begging for "just a little more time" to complete an assignment. I was also learning a new job and spending every free moment shopping for replacement clothes and household items, meeting with insurance adjusters, fire restoration crews, and trying to make our temporary rental house a home. I was exhausted and I was a mess.

The tears finally got the best of me. I realized I wasn't having an isolated tantrum, I was having a breakdown. I knew that I needed to stop and take care of myself so I could take care of my family. I dropped out of college, with two Fs. It felt fabulous at the time. I was free of all of that workload. The weight was off my shoulders and I could set about healing and helping my family heal. I was free to run about in the fall air and spend time with the kids. It was awesome.

...for about a year.

By the next fall I was getting anxious and moody. I wanted my house put back together. I wanted to move back home. I wanted my life back. I wanted to go back to school. I missed the reading. I missed the lectures. I missed the class discussions. I missed knowing that I was learning and growing, moving forward.

Fast forward...

Three years later, I finally got to go back. The house is pretty much complete. The family is as healed as we'll ever be. The insurance case...well, it's still ongoing, but it is what it is. It was time. I signed the student loans in blood and agreed to be bound to Stafford loan payments until death do us part. I dusted off my backpack and bought new books. I. Could. Not. Wait.

That was five short weeks ago, which brings us to today.

I spent 17 hours yesterday slumped over my laptop. I'm still wearing the same clothes, and hooboy! They are some purty clothes. I'm wearing my husband's olive green t-shirt, old gray sweatpants, bright green fuzzy socks, and purple reading glasses. I've completed the look with wild, unstyled hair, no makeup, and dark circles under both eyes. I've consumed a steady diet of peanuts, chocolate-covered raisins and iced tea. I cannot recall simple words, but I can recite to you the top expenditures of my 130-page city budget and relate them to the class text.

I am a certifiable mess. And I wanted this.  

I want to go outside and walk in the September air. I want to watch the leaves turn. I want to have dinner with my family and sit on the living room floor with my kids. I want to sleep. And I will...

In three weeks when the semester ends.

And then, I will have six more credits checked off my degree audit and I will feel like I rule the world and I will want to do it all again.

Because I'm batshit crazy like that.      

Monday, August 25, 2014

Remember That One Time?

The Boy: Remember how you told me I was going to Monterey that one time?

Me: No. How?

The Boy: With the glass bottle? Remember?

Me: (blank stare)

The Boy: We were at the corner restaurant having dinner, and I took my little sister to the bathroom or something, and when I came back to the table the waitress brought me a message in a bottle. It said "pack your bags, you're flying to Monterey for the youth leadership conference!"

Me: I did that?

The Boy: Yeah! You don't remember?

Me: Huh. Dang. You've got a really cool mom!

I think I need a new memory stick installed. I've run out of space or something.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Sweet 12th Birthday

Here it is, our 69th birthday party. Rough Stuff loves candy. She magically acquires a steady stream of suckers. So it was no surprise when I asked her what her party theme would be this year and she replied "candy!"

We started by making fake candy. Lots, and lots of fake candy. We used foam pool noodles, paper plates, toilet paper tubes, pretty much anything remotely candy shaped and disposable. We covered our collection in tissue paper and then with cellophane. A roll of cellophane cost us $9.99. This may have been one of the most cash-friendly parties we've ever planned.

I painstakingly covered bouncy balls with cellophane to put in the party favor bags and then the Big Guy insisted that middle school-aged children would try to eat them so they became additional decor. I might be harboring some resentment. Those suckers, er, um...gumballs, took a long time to wrap.

I failed to take a single photo of our fake-candy decorated home because I was exhausted and that's how I roll. You'll just have to settle for this bad photo of the table. 

My lovely daughter, Fish assembled this cute little lollipop tree. 

My beautiful girl, Tuna created these adorable lollipop cookies.

And I, rolled ham and cheese and pimento cheese pinwheels.

That's teamwork. I'm tellin' ya...if you're hosting a birthday party, you really need to have a couple of teenagers on hand. I have a few I can loan out. Just holler. 

I  created this candy-themed bingo game and then my two lovely bingo callers, Tuna and Fish, donned fake mustaches and took this game to a level I had never dreamed possible. They put on a 20-minute comedy show that had everyone laughing. The game was crafted in a simple table in a Word document and laminated for good measure- the bingo markers were Reese's Pieces. The prizes were all candy-themed but non-edible- Laffy Taffy-flavored lip gloss, candy-themed puzzles, etc.

Before the kids left the table, we gave everyone a miniature Hershey's bar and the kids raced to see who could unwrap and eat their candy bar first- using only their mouths with both hands clasped behind their backs. I'm quite sure I enjoyed watching that game more than any of them enjoyed playing it.  

We also played a relay game in which players took turns sucking a Skittle onto a straw and then running across the room to drop it in a bucket before it fell off the straw. Amazingly, no one hyperventilated or had an asthma attack. There were plenty of laughs and a few defective Skittles that couldn't be sucked to the straws. (That's their story and they're sticking to it.)   

We made party favors with...what else? Candy! (And a toothbrush for good measure.) Rough Stuff learned to make a candy shape on her Rainbow Loom and we tied one to each toothbrush. I absolutely love that all of the kids are old enough to help plan and create things for the birthday parties. With 69 of them under our belt, they've had some experience, yo.

No birthday party is complete without cake. This was definitely one of my favorite cakes. What kid wouldn't love a cake with giant lollipops plopped on top? A kid whose mother accidentally loaded it with relighting candles. True story. 

It was an accident, I swear. I found these adorable little lollipop-shaped candles and they were $3.99 for 4 candles. I was not spending 12 bucks for candles, so I bought one package and filled in the rest with color coordinated striped candles at 99 cents a package. Yup. Go me. I did not read the package. I swear I did not. I am terrified of fire. I would never intentionally buy a candle you cannot blow out. The actual suckers were melting by the time we had extinguished the cake.  

But that Rough Stuff? Well...she's a forgiving girl. (I might have placated her with candy.) 


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

It Happens (To Us)

Heads up: there is a graphic photo at the end of this post

The past seven days have been absolutely ridiculous. I mean, even for our herd. We're talking high level ridiculousness. It started when Rough Stuff gave us a scare with a very appendicitis-like belly pain that landed us in the ER until 3 am. The friendly, if overzealous, doctors gave her a dose of Fentanyl for pain and some Zofran for nausea and sent us on our way. She tied her head and glasses to the ceiling of the mini-van with a headband via the clothing hook (don't ask me, I was baffled), bit her sister 3 times, and asked for a donut a total of 3,075 times between the hospital and home. It was highly entertaining and incredibly exhausting. I will remember to ask for lower levels of pain medication should she ever need it again.

I opted for several hours of sleep and decided I would start work around noon, but that was not to be. I woke at noon and found a chilling message on my phone. My dad had been admitted to the hospital and was moving to the ICU. I packed my bags for the five-hour drive to the hospital. I spent one night in the ICU and then went to a friend's house to get some sleep. I woke to a series of cell phone messages.

It seems that Rough Stuff's pain had returned and she was not eating which surely must signal some level of crisis because she does not turn away food. Reference the donut incident above. The Big Guy had taken her back to the hospital and she was getting a full work up to rule out appendicitis and pancreatitis.

-Heads up: this is a totally anticlimactic tale- 

On the way to the hospital, the truck broke down and just coasted into the parking garage. Grand total on that unexpected repair: $1,200. Ouch. I was afraid Rough Stuff would be admitted because she'd been in the ER for hours and they'd run so many, many tests. I wanted to come home and be in that hospital, with her, instead of the one I was in. But...the storm clouds cut loose and the severe storm warnings rolled and it didn't make sense to drive in that kind of mess so I stayed. She was discharged late that night with absolutely no clue as to what was causing the pain or appetite loss. See? No dramatic ending.
Heads up: that graphic photo is coming. It may or may not contain bones.

So, I stayed at the hospital another night with my dad. That night was the worst hospital experience I've ever had. There was 1 tech assigned to 20 patients so you can imagine the level of care that entailed. I learned to change bed sheets that night, but I'm not sure I ever mastered hospital corners. One lovely tech gave me instruction on how to change the trash bags and set the trash out as I stood by speechless. When she explained later how to wash a bedpan, I found my voice and what I had to say was not very pleasant. I may refer to myself as Limitless Lisa, but that is an outright lie.Well, it's more of a hope really. Like a battle cry. Anyway, I have my limits.

The next night I drove home because my little Rough Stuff had turned 12 and we had a birthday party to prepare for. I'll post pics soon. It was lovely. I spent most of it in a fog. Turns out I'm not so good at switching my days and nights around. I'm blaming it on age.

Anyhoo, crappy week. High level of ridiculousness. Yada, yada.

And then this happened...

Owl pellet, up close and way too personal

An owl yakked on my deck. I mean, why not? It was so symbolic really. This whole week just kind of vomited on us. Every undigested thing just sort of spewed into existence. I am so seriously disgusted by this mess. 

So, it's time to just wash this whole mess away. All of it. It's a new week. It's time for fresh challenges. And a clean deck. 

Grossed out? I warned you. My kids think owl upchuck is beyond awesome. Perspective I tell ya.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sneak Attack

My beloved daughter, Tuna is plagued by a bully. This bully, Gravity, has been picking on her since she first started walking. Gravity just can't let her be, always planning a sneak attack and dropping her to the ground without mercy or compassion. I try not to laugh. I mean, no one wants to encourage a bully...but sometimes I'm just overcome with laughter in spite of myself.

Sunday was one such time. We were shopping in the local party store and we had stopped to drool over all of the candy-themed trinkets we could use at Rough Stuff's upcoming birthday party. Tuna, Fish, and I were just standing at the end of an aisle looking up and down the display, when apropos of nothing, Tuna made a surprised face and just crashed to the ground. One minute she was standing beside us, and the next she was tumbling toward the carpet.

She collapsed suddenly to her knees and lurched forward sending her face perilously close to the rough carpet. Fortunately, her upper half is er...well developed...and acts as a system of dual airbags to cushion her many Gravity attacks. With mock airbags employed, she rocked back and missed hitting much more than her chin on the floor but the carpet did do a number on the airbag system and her knees.

I was as shocked as she was that Gravity had stalked her into this store and assaulted her without warning. I wanted with every fiber of my being to get hold of this Gravity and give it a good what-for, but for all my good intentions, I was completely immobilized by my own sudden need to pee. I stood completely still, legs crossed, tears forming in my eyes, overcome by hysterical laughter. Fish just looked on, completely dumbfounded. She had no idea what had happened.

Tuna got up, put on a smile, and gracefully recovered. I suspect she wanted to run after Gravity and give her a good smackdown as well, but her shoe was untied. Maybe next time.