Sunday, October 30, 2011

A (Kind of) Survival Kit

My husband is addicted to The Walking Dead. He's been begging me for awhile to watch it with him, and of course my response has been a consistent "Hell no! You know that'll give me nightmares, Chris!" 

I don't do blood and I don't do apocalyptic survival scenarios. Blood makes me queasy; apocalypses give me anxiety. I try to avoid both whenever possible.

Anyway, I broke down and started watching the show with him (Aw...romantic...), and I actually like it.
  1. I'm only on the first season. If you watch it, don't spoil it for me.
  2. Yes, I cover my face with the pillow when it's on. A lot.
  3. I've put some thought into what should go into our zombie apocalypse survival kit.
I did a basic Google search for 'zombie survival kits'. Check this out - very informative. It seems that people should be seriously prepared in the event of an undead disaster: food/water, flashlights, a whistle to signal for help, tools, hygiene items, blankets & clothing, important documents in waterproof bags, etc. 

Basically, I'm all set if a zombie apocalypse happens though: I live in Missouri and I'm the queen of the tornado survival kit.  Everyone laughs...until they need to borrow one of the things I thoughtfully hauled down to the basement. "No, you may not borrow my Swiss Army knife. It's tornado season, damn it!You should've been prepared and packed your own."

Daily, something happens to signal the end of the world at our house. With that being said, I've compiled a list of things that we can't make it through a single day without, let alone a zombie invasion.

  • DRYER: I'm not going to iron before school/work: A) it takes too long, B) I always burn myself, C) the ironing board would never get put away. Spray with water, throw in dryer. Also, my dryer was made by HOTPOINT. I've never heard of that brand either, but it was here when I moved in and free is my favorite price. Pretty sure it's top of the line.
  • MARLEE'S SLEEP ESSENTIALS: I totally agree - she's 3 years old. It's time to retire the pacifiers and sippy cup at bedtime. I tell myself this every night, and every night I find myself frantically searching for them because if we don't find them...well... she's going to cry and I'm going to cuss. It's easy and this mama's still waaaaay cool with easy bedtimes.
  •  BABY-PROOFED KITCHEN: This is the extent of my baby-proofing. I don't have safety latches on any of the cabinets in the kitchen and usually let Miles drag out every pot & pan because it makes him happy. Occasionally though, we forget to batten down the hatches and an entire bulk size box of Goldfish crackers gets dumped onto the floor. The gate & striped ribbon are my preventative measures and they're in place roughly 20 hours each day.
  • REMOTES: You need these in multiples or it ends in mass hysteria. The idea of switching channels and adjusting volume on the same changer would be ridiculous. The stereo & DVD player are on the same remote, but I only know how to use the DVD part. No clue what the last one on the right goes to, and the batteries are always missing from the first one on the left.
  • WET WIPES: I don't care if you don't have kids or even if you don't want kids. Everyone needs wet wipes, plain and simple. They're the duct tape of cleaning.

  • PLUSH VIDEO GAME CHARACTERS: Right to left: Princess Peach, Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, Princess Zelda, Link. These are Mia's. At any given time, we have these 5 or more (many, many more) strung throughout the house. They go to bed with her, in the car with her, to her dad's every other weekend. And damn it, I'd better know exactly where each of them are at bedtime because they're on a random rotation that only Mia knows the schedule to.
  •  MY RETAINER: I personally like my smile better with the fake tooth as opposed to the big gap where my bottom tooth once was. Personal preference - everyone is different. *Toothless photos by Chris Palis

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dedicated To The One I Love

I woke up early this morning with the baby and let Daddy sleep in. Miles hasn't been sleeping well lately and when Miles doesn't sleep, Daddy doesn't sleep - he needed the rest today, so he got it. I'm a real giver when I want to be.

After I got my little guy back to sleep, I got to thinking about just how lucky I am that Chris usually gets up with Miles so I don't have to. In fact, and there's quite a bit that he does so that I don't have to. I'm a very lucky wife and trust me, I realize it and I love him for it.

This is Chris, my hubs. He's funny, smart, kind, generous, and sexy in a "What kind of computer are you in the market for, ma'am?" way. He's also a good sport when I make him do silly things for my own amusement...

The one I love: loves me despite my flaws. I'll be the first to admit, I'm a pain in the ass. I throw hissy fits. I spend too much money. I leave 4 pairs of shoes next to the front door, and complain when anyone else leaves a single pair out. I have no idea how to work the electronics in our house. I use all of the hot water every time I take a shower. My hubs? He suffers through my antics day in and day out. Without medication. He's close to a saint.

The one I love: is an amazing dad. Isn't it funny that as a wife, you sometimes incessantly gripe "I feel like I'm raising a 30 year old child sometimes! Grow up!", but the fact that your husband acts like a big kid is one of the things that makes him such a great father? He's somehow unlocked the secret to being the fun one and the disciplinarian. Bonus: the things that I don't enjoy (watching cartoons, playing sports, carnival rides, staying in your pajamas all day) are the things that he's always eager to do with the kids.

The one I love: helps around the house without being asked . Not just the typical man chores like mowing the lawn and taking out the trash, but actually cleans. Laundry! Dishes! Floors! Windows! Dusting! Of course his motive for this is two-fold:
  1. I prefer to get the whole house picked up, and then do the deep cleaning room by room - when I have time (when I say time, I really mean motivation). Also, I hate the following chores: laundry, dishes, floors, windows, dusting so they're not super high on the list of priorities. Chris is a fan of the deep clean method: top to bottom, one room at a time until it's done. It's pretty common that I'll pick up, and he'll deep clean on his days off because my cleaning drives him crazy.
  2. If he does something really shampoo the carpets? Good chance I'll let him touch my boob. Both boobs if he's done a really good job.

The one I love: balances me out. Where I prioritize and am high strung, he's a laid back procrastinator. If we lived in a 'pants optional' world, I'm pretty sure I'd have a lot more space in the dresser because he wouldn't own a single pair of pants. While I feel like I'm the responsible one, the truth is that Chris is the one who keeps things running smoothly. And you know what? He does it with a smile and very little complaining.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mommy + Bathroom + Kids= Zero Privacy

Besides the exterior doors to our house, do you know how many doors in our house have locks on them? One - the bathroom: because what you do in the bathroom is your business and no one else's. Right? WRONG!
Do you know how often I get to have 5 minutes of solo bathroom time? Not counting while I'm at work...I'm confident in saying that someone has interrupted my bathroom time roughly 85% of the last 6 years. I'm no mathematical genius, so it could likely be more than that.
Here are some mathematical equations that I know are accurate:
  • Mommy + Our small bathroom = "Maybe they won't notice I'm gone..."
  • Mommy + Our small bathroom + 1 Kid = "I swear by all that is holy, Miles, if you unroll that toilet paper one more time you won't be allowed in the bathroom ever again!"
  • Mommy + Our small bathroom + 2 Kids = "Marlee, stop trying to shut the door. You're going to smash Brother's fingers!" 
  • Mommy + Our small bathroom + 3 Kids = "Mia! Come on, Sis; I asked you to get your brother and sister out of here for me, not flood the sink washing your Barbie's hair with hand soap!"
  • Daddy + Our small bathroom = 0 interruptions from kids, only from Mommy saying "Jesus! You've been in there 45 minutes!"
Oh friends, words cannot do justice to the insanely high level of incorrect you just reached if you really thought you were entitled to privacy while doing your bathroom business. What's that? You live alone? Well I guess this doesn't apply to you then and I'm extremely envious. 
To the rest of you though, please nod your head if you feel my pain on this subject. Now rub your tummy clockwise. Now try to lick your elbow. Dance, Monkey, Dance!

At some point though, you stop thinking about the bizarre things that happen when the kids come into the bathroom with you and it becomes totally acceptable to braid someone's hair while you're peeing. Or to brush your teeth with one foot on the plunger so that the baby doesn't drag it into the hallway. Or to tell someone to wipe their hands on your bathrobe because you're in the shower and don't want peanut butter on the clean towel you're planning to dry off with.
When you have kids, you are lose all rights to privacy as you once knew it. In all rooms of the house, actually - nothing is sacred. "Maybe in YOUR house, lady. WE set boundaries in OUR house!" Really now? How many times in the last year have you opened your eyes from a deep sleep to see a child standing all creepy-like at the foot of your bed, staring you awake? When's the last time you had a little helper pull out your underwear on laundry day and tell you that they had a hole/spot/looked weird? Sounds like an invasion of privacy to me, despite your boundaries! 
If you come to visit, don't be surprised if one of my adorable children come barging in intent on telling you a story. Also, don't bother with that lock on the bathroom door. Like a lot of other things in our house, it's not fully functional. At some point it stopped working, and we decided it was easier to just let it be.

Locked doors + kids who NEED inside = tears = never a good thing

Notice there's no toilet paper on the holder. Intentionally removed by Mommy, not Miles.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

You're Smiling, You're Happy

This looks like fall:

And this smells like fall:

And this tastes like fall:

But to my kids, this is what signals that fall is here:

Because I'm trying to be a financially responsible adult, we bought our pumpkins at Walmart this year. Because I'm a complete sucker, I bought a family season pass to a local pumpkin patch. Not just one, but two so that the whole family could go have fun together. I'm a giver...and a sucker - did I mention I'm a sucker? Damn you, Groupon and your sweet half price deals.

So this last Saturday, we loaded up for what was supposed to be the most glorious of all pumpkin patch trips. When I say 'we', I mean me, my 3 angels, Granny, my brother & sister-in-law, and their 6 kids. Yep, all 13 of us - hence the 2 family passes. Oh, and guess who else took a trip to the pumpkin patch that day? Every other sucker in the KC area who bought the Groupon.

The place was absolutely packed. Parking was in a field. Have you ever unloaded 9 children from 2 separate vehicles and tried to wrangle them out of the path of oncoming traffic? It's tricky even with 4 adults, and that's why I missed Marlee scratching perfect little swirls into my driver's side door. What did she use to leave her mark? I'm not sure, but I think a safe guess would be that it was her cute little cloven hoof.

Then, we made our way to the admissions line, which was 20 families deep. Again, with 9 children all super pumped up on excitement and sugar. Suddenly, I notice a 4ft sign that reads 'FAMILY SEASON PASS EXPRESS ADMISSIONS' with an arrow to the next big red barn. Jackpot! 

And wouldn't you know it, this conversation takes place:
Teenage girl at counter: "Um... you're gonna have to um...go in to the little red barn to get in..."
All 4 adults: "There's a sign outside that says express admissions out there, we have the family pass."
Teenage girl at counter: "Um...there is? I've never seen that sign. Are you sure?"
All 4 adults: "Yes, it's right next to this building. It's huge."
Teenage girl at counter: "Um...I don't know anything about that. You're gonna have to go through the little red barn."
All 4 adults: random muttered cussing as we try to gather up the kids to get back in line.

Why even have a line at something like that? Just put a big gate in, like you're starting a marathon because to be honest, it's pretty much the same thing.

Here are my complaints about the events that followed once we passed through the little red barn:
1. Port-a-potties. If you've ever been in a port-a-potty, you feel my pain immediately, but have you ever taken a toddler in one? It's pretty much a given that they're going to attempt to steady themselves against the urinal as you button their pants. Yuck!
2. The place is filled with those wooden photo props where there's a hole for your child to stick their face in. I personally get testy when somebody else's child attempts to get in the picture with my kids or my nieces/nephews. I don't really care that your little Mikey or Suzie really likes them too, because I don't know Mikey or Suzie.
3. I'm sure the indoor petting zoo was lovely, but Marlee said it was stinky and wouldn't go in. Guess what she and I did instead? More wooden photo prop pictures. Hooray!
4. There was a slide - several slides actually. Kids love slides, parents love to see their kids enjoy the slides. I'd just like to know though, what is the geographical fault line that separates polite people with kids that take turns from a-hole parents who don't care that their child not only cut in line, but also almost knocked a boy down 3 flights of stairs to have another go at the slide?
5. We had to carry two screaming toddlers away from the playground area. Like we can't get enough of that at home. The playground AND the screaming when it's time to go.
6. Pig races. These were actually really fun, but my handsome nephew Emanuel was chosen to honk a horn while the pigs were running. This led to Mia with tears streaming down her little dirty cheeks. If only I hadn't taken that Oscar Meyer wiener whistle out of my purse last week, we might've been ok. Thankfully, one set of pigs had Star Wars names, and all wrongs were righted instantly.
7. The train. Oh have mercy, the train... A real train on tracks, with a train station and everything? It was so cute! Until you're all separated because there's not enough room for all 13 members of the family to stand together on the 4ft sidewalk with your two strollers and 7 other children under the age of 7. At one point, I turned around to Granny and announced that the train station was a cluster fuck. I want to think that the woman next to her wasn't appalled and totally understood my sentiment, and chose to convey her understanding by means of raised eyebrows. Her child was a baby. He didn't understand my sentiment, I can be sure of that.
8. We made another trip to the port-a-potties. Eew!

Here are the enjoyable events that followed once we passed through the little red barn:
1. There was a pumpkin princess. She was amazing with the kids. Held them, took photos with them, danced to Charlie Daniels Band with them. Loved her, and the smile on each of the girls' faces. Especially my niece, Lilly. It was adorable!
2. They had fudge in a million flavors. We bought some because I'm way too lazy to make it myself. Unless it's a gift for someone else, then I'll make fudge until my hands hurt. 

Post train ride, it was time to go. We loaded the kids back into the cars, passed out Lunchables, made a ridiculous request for no messes in the car, and then attempted to pull out of the parking field/lot. It would be entirely too simple to just leave a place that's filled your heart with contempt for an entire day - the traffic was all one way out of the lot and onto the road, until you finally caught a break in the traffic entering the pumpkin patch and pulled out with a prayer that you wouldn't get T-boned!

I happened to pull out behind a fine redneck gentleman who thought it was necessary to fishtail his big, tough Toyota pickup in front of me just enough to throw gravel at my big tough Mom SUV. After following him 1/4 mile down the road, I cheerfully asked the kids if they'd like to see me get out and punch the man in the truck when we got to the stop sign. I tell you, the unanimous excited squeals of "Yes! Do it! Punch him!" were near deafening. Mentally, I totally knocked his front teeth out, but realistically, I just called him a hillbilly a-hole and waited for my turn to pull onto the highway.

With each mile that was put between my family and the pumpkin patch, the quality of my mood improved. About halfway home, I glanced in my rearview mirror & notice a mural of sorts on Mia's window. A mural that looked like it'd been painted with cheese. Of course, she denied it was cheese - it was the HAM! Logical choice, dear.

At that point, all I could do was smile and shake my head. I was close to my breaking point, and that's what you do when you're on the verge of lunacy - you laugh like a maniac and smile so hard you think your face is going to break. The response of my oldest daughter? "You're smiling Mom, you're happy."
And you know, she was right. Happiness is about sharing something with the people you love, even if you're only sharing a day trip gone completely wrong.

Almost everyone has their eyes closed. Perfection.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Large 7 Acre Park

"At the edge of the city is a large seven acre park, always open to the public. You see on every side the evidence of intelligence, energy, thrift, and success." - excerpt on Garden City from History of Cass County Missouri by Allen Glenn, 1917

I took the kids to the park last night because they were about to get on my last nerve with all of their fighting. Marlee hit Mia. Mia hit Marlee back. Mia tattled on Marlee. Marlee kicked Mia, and then took her toy away. Mia tattled on Marlee again. After saying "Stop it with the fighting, girls!" for the millionth time, I decided that the laundry I was attempting to catch up on was going to be a lost cause. The only way to salvage my sanity was to get the kids out of the house. 

As we walked the two blocks to the park, I took in the sights, noticing just how much some things had changed over the course of twenty years. Part of the appeal of raising a family in my hometown is that some things never change, but on occasion, things do change and then begins a round of "When I Was a Kid" storytelling. It's fun at this age, because they still like my stories.
In the last twenty years, the park has evolved from a dark meadow at the end of a dead end drive to a sun-filled area with brightly colored playgrounds and a paved road cutting through to what was once the main highway.

Watching my kids play at the same park that I went to as a child, on swings and jungle gyms that weren't in place during my childhood, I couldn't help but think about the children that played there long before us. Nameless, faceless children came to mind and I lost myself for awhile. Did they beg to be pushed "really, really high" on the swings? Did they have far to walk when it was time to go back for supper? When they got home, were they scolded for their dirty clothes or hugged with loving arms? 

Even more though, I wondered how their versions of "When I Was a Kid" went, and what happened to those boys and girls as they grew into adults. Did they bring their children back to play where they'd once played? Did they take in the changes that time had brought? Most of all, was it hard for their little ones to imagine their mamas and daddies as children, or had they continued to play even as they aged?
I'm trying to remember to stop and play more often; to stop being such an adult all of the time. When I'm gone, I don't want my children to remember how much laundry I did. What I do want them to remember though is that I would stop everything that seemed important at the time, just to do something that made them happy. Just like my mama did for me, and just as I hope they'll someday do for their children - whether it's at home or at a large 7 acre park.