Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Tale of the Grapes and Trucks

My kids are starting a raisin factory. And it's all my fault. Here is what you can do to insure that you never have this happen at your home:

Do not serve grapes at the same time that you give your kids small semi trucks and trailers.

You don't think that would happen at your house? Don't fool yourself: I thought the same thing until it happened to me. You know, it's one of those things that you think always happens to the other guy. And then it happens to you and you understand at last what it feels like to be the "other guy."

One delightful day, I found two of the cutest little matchbox semi trucks at a thrift store. I decided to buy them and use them as a prize for the kids.

After helping and obeying cheerfully while preparing for supper and picking up the house, I set the little trucks next to the kids' plates. Within inches of their plates sat a bowl of juicy, purple grapes.

Landon and Janae both were tickled pink: the trucks were a big hit. So were the grapes -- my kids LOVE grapes and we seem to rarely have them.

Unfortunately, over the next few days, the semi trailers were opened and the contents were revealed. Each trailer could fit about 3-4 grapes comfortably but I can imagine that if the grape paid well, they could fit close to 9 or 10 fugitive refugee grapes.

These foreign little grapes were then trucked all over the house and examined and ate at random times in random places. The rest of the grapes... well, I have yet to find those.

The funny thing is: my kids have always disliked raisins. Why they embarked on their own entrepreneur raisin factory, is beyond me.

The moral of the story: do a content check on all small vehicles, all closed compartments and tally all food coming into your home. And never say, "that couldn't happen to me."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Keeping Perspective on Motherhood

So much of my day, my life, my world, revolves around mundane busy-ness. Like unfinished laundry, messy house, smelly messes, naughty kids, tiredness, unfinished projects, etc.

But, when I think about the family who's blog I visited that had just lost their second child a few months ago and are now close to losing their first daughter due to pregnancy complications, I really don't have it bad. I mean, I'm living the dream that expecting mom has: to be a busy wife and happy mother of children.

I read stories about families who have genetic problems. All their future children are at a high risk of developing health problems that will likely not allow them to survive infancy. I know that mom would give anything to have toys strewn all over her house, thanks to the fact that she has a house full of healthy children. Instead, she brings flowers to a grave while I bring a hungry baby to a high chair.

What about the mom just down the street that lost her son a couple months ago to a tragic car accident? She worked hard to bring him through infancy and then childhood and he was just working on getting his driver's license. Now he's dead. She would give anything to have extra laundry, a full school schedule and the opportunity to wrap her entire existence around her boy. But, it's over because he's gone.

Does it really matter that I have a never ending pile of laundry? That my house never stays clean? That I no longer get one meal done and it's time to plan another? That I have lists of shopping to do but no way to get out of the house because of my kids? No. It doesn't matter. As long as I keep my perspective and remember that I will experience this season in my life and my children's lives for a very short time.

And then it'll be over and I'd give all the world to have them little again. To have that messy house again. To wash the dirty jeans of that kid who was told to stay out of the mud. To wash the sticky face of the girl that was told to stay out of the candy. To vacuum handfuls of cracker crumbs from the van. To comfort that wailing baby. I'll wonder how I ever lost perspective while living the life I always dreamed of living.

But, it's not over. I am living that life. And I'm going to enjoy the reality of each one of those dreams. Crumbs, mud and tears will never daunt me. They are only the dross of the gold hidden deep within each one of the children I call my own.

And those are little things compared to the reality of the dream I'm living called, motherhood. When I look back in time, I don't want to see the distractions of life; I want to see a happy child, a joyful mom and a loving home. Yet in the busy-ness of life, I never want to lose focus on the fact that we're making those memories today.

"Time doth softly sweetly glide, when there's love at home!"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

An Engaging Story

Once again, it is that time of year. Our engagement anniversary is tomorrow and since I tend to be a remember-significant-dates type of person, tomorrow is a significant date I remember.

A couple years ago, I collected our thoughts and "story" here. Since it all has stayed the same, I guess I figured utilizing the hyperlink system on blogger is probably the most efficient. Plus, none of those details have changed. Our story is timeless, of course.

Adding to the nostalgia this time of year brings, we just happen to be heading (for Thankgiving) to the place where we met. Loveland, Colorado is definitely the place to be when you fall in love.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Questions I Should Probaby Only Ask My Therapist

Please take notes while reading the following post. I need all the advice I can get.

I understand that children typically survive childhood but do their moms survive it too?

How do moms with more than one child learn how to take individual time with just one child at a time and not cause sibling rivalry?

Sometimes, we have a girls go with girls policy and a boys go with boys (just ask Janae). But, doing a little bit of mixing takes creativity and effort that sometimes is lost and forgotten in the shuffle of car seats, diaper bags, potty stops and crying. How do you learn how to manage bonding times better without going crazy?

Is it normal for moms to distract their kids and then sneak to the bathroom for 20 seconds?

Is it normal to run into the bathroom like a mad man is chasing you and then lock it fast behind you? Of course it's only 6 little feet trying to catch your apron strings but still, am I a bad mom?

Can the world really fall apart in the 20 seconds Mom is using the bathroom?

If a child is happy with the yogurt he is smearing in his hair, on his face, in his clothes, on the wall and all over the high chair, is it safe to let him do that for as long as he's happy? Not that it ever happens or anything, I was just wondering.

When kids won't stop fighting and the baby is crying and dad is late coming home from work, is it commendable defensible excusable ideal okay to put them in the van, strap them in their car seats and drive around your itty bitty small town for like an hour? (I do realize you'd have to go down some of the same streets twice in order to drive for a whole hour but really, there's nothing illegal strange about that, is there?)

Even though my dream has always been to have lots of cute kids and a warm house in which to raise them, why do I feel like I'm going crazy now that I have both?

If your kids have it in their heads that they must go outside and play and they honestly have no desire to put on a coat even though it is 40 degrees out, is it okay for them to do that? I would hate to see this happen at our house but in case it does, I just want to know if it's okay. Will my kids survive?

What if you see your little girl digging dog poop out of her sandal and she's using her finger. Should I de-worm her? Disinfect her? Or is washing hands with hand soap enough to get rid of any toxic waste?

What about wearing underwear for more than one day. Is my child going to catch a weird illness if I realize that his favorite pair of underwear have been worn, re-worn and worn again without washings in between? I've heard of kids doing this and I just wonder if it's okay.

When my child seems to enjoy the taste of baking powder, should I assume she has an aluminum deficiency?

How do you teach your kids not to assume that every time they see a police officer, the COP is not about ready to pull his gun out and shoot? What if your daughter is anxiously waiting for the shoot out? Should I give her a warm bath, read to her some gentle bed time stories and have her sip chamomile tea until she forgets about how badly she wanted to see the COP pull a gun out and start shooting? I mean, she is only 3. Is this normal?

If you look outside on a cold, autumn day and you see your children playing with the hose and spraying water on the dog, themselves and each other, should I just call the vet or should I contact our pediatrician too? Is it that easy to contract pneumonia?

Is it ever my husband's fault that my kids are so naughty are so cute?

Should I assume that having reoccurring bladder infections just might be related to the fact that I put off going to the bathroom because everything falls apart when I'm in the bathroom? Is this perhaps a health issue I should address above and beyond the risk it might be to my child to climb the pantry shelves while I'm in the bathroom?

Is my voice really that quiet that I must repeat things several times in order to be heard?

How normal is it to put a kid in the bathtub just so you can load the dishwasher without them taking everything out that you just put in?

Why do kids always find everything you hide? Is their sense of smell that great?

If your 3-year-old daughter catches crickets and gently plays with them, does that bother you? Does it bother you when she smears their guts with her own fingers 20 minutes later simply because she was "done playing with them?"

What about a 4-year-old that slices the couch open with a utility knife. Should he be expected and required to go out and get a job in order to replace the couch? If a kid thinks he's big enough to play with a knife, isn't he big enough to have a job then?

Not all of these questions are hyperbole and yet not all of them are serious either. Unfortunately, all have happened at least once several times. If you have had experience in any way, shape or form, you are qualified to give advice.

Please use the comment box and feel free to give personal experience. Our moderator is waiting to moderate your unmoderated comments involving a blog post lacking in moderation.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Technicalization of Civilization

I'm beginning to think that with all the mumble jumble computer talk, my toddlers really aren't that far off from reaching the success of having learned the English language.

Take Google for instance. What a funny name. It's like what you say to a baby, "Goo-goo-ga-ga..." (or maybe that's supposed to be what they say to you.)

Or a nano. I don't have one of these. I have never downloaded one of these. I don't listen to one of these. I have never seen one of these. What is a nano?

Or Blog, even. When I first heard the word 'blog' I thought it referred to some marshy styled website that computer savvy people had.

Or Widget. That is so far from anything English, I can't compare it's sound to anything familiar. Except for a witch crossed with a gadget maybe.

Or Digsby. What a name. And how do you pronounce it? Dig-z-by or Dig-z-bee?? And how on earth does it's name indicate at all what it's definition might be?

Or Digg This. What is this?? Some universal gang-banger-street-talk-made-trendy because a guy in a suit and tie certified the term 'digg it' and made it into a universal hyperlink found on pretty much every web page. If you say it fast, it sounds like a bad word. I just don't dig 'digg it.'

Then there's the iPod. The problem I see with the iPod is that it's spelled funny. When I was a kid in school, we were taught to capitalize the FIRST letter of every word, not the second letter. It should really be spelled Ipod. There.

Or Facebook??? The very thing I teach my kids NOT to do... "Don't throw that book in your brother's face!" But Mom! YOU have a 'Facebook.' (Okay, that was lame...)

Really, Facebook has more weird terms than a person could ever come up with. It's like they must've taken a whole basket full of goodies to a little kid and said, "Kiddo, what do you call this thing?" and then the first sounds that came out of the kid's mouth, were made into Facebook lingo.

Okay, so you can 'poke' people. You can throw sheep at them. You can wrap them in bubble wrap. You can send them 'flair.' You can 'tag' them in pictures. You can comment on their status message. Try explaining to someone that doesn't have Facebook what a status message is and why anyone would need to comment on it. Getting updates on your news feed (on Facebook, of course) that your friends who had a wedding 10 years ago are "now married" is a huge relief. I guess because Facebook makes it look "official" after all these years, it's somewhat of a comic relief.

And the best thing about Facebook is that you can even write on people's wall. It's like a whole society committing themselves to the greatest form of illegal communication: graffiti. But, it's all legal of course.

Moving out of the topic of Facebook, the internet (and just the computer in general) still has tons of things to consider. Even simple things like 'docking a page.' Is that the same as docking a boat? Or are they referring to a medical type of thing as in "doctoring?" Or maybe it's something entirely different.

And does anybody know what AIM actually stands for? Even though I can't remember what it stands for, the letters AIM automatically make me think of "aiming" an instant message at a friend. And of course that is the purpose of AIM: instant messaging people. But the acronyms I don't know their definition for sure. Does the "A" stand for "automated," the "I" for "instant" and the "M" for "message?"

Oh and 'Google Talk' does not mean you sit and talk googly. It's a phone system connected via internet and you use your computer's built in speakers and microphone in which to communicate with people. It's like a computer based speaker phone system. And you can talk about whatever you want, not just goo-goo-ga-ga stuff.

Same goes for 'Google Chat' but of course you must not forget that in the twenty-first-century, "chat" indicates a type of communication done with typing, not an audible voice type of communication. Thankfully, you CAN chat about anything, not just goo-goo stuff... though I know the name is confusing: Google Chat.

Blogger has it's own unique terms as well. Does anybody know what all a blogger "Dashboard" is capable of? One little tip: it does not have a steering wheel so don't be disappointed when you can't find one.

Then there's blogger "Feeds" but don't expect it to ever have chili. Or anything else pertaining to physical sustenance.

About the time you think you have a basic grasp on modern internet lingo, terminology and other such technical details, don't get too comfy: in our day and age, a thing like a tinyurl can definitely shorten a link but man, how on earth does that make sense? What is the point?

I think there can come a point where we technicalize (how's that for a techy-made-up word?) everything to the point that we must simplify in order to retain pertinent information. But then when we do that, it only complicates the situation even more because ultimately, we must add more information in order to keep what we have and yet change it to something more "simple."

Seriously, I shouldn't be talking. Do you know how many times I have had to look up my blog address just to make sure I was spelling "Coeur d' Court" right?

Yeah, all I can say is that I'm thankful for my favorites list and a hard drive that works as long as my computer is on.

Oh, and the reason I'm not replacing my new made up word "technicalize" to something more technically accurate in spelling is because the following words were also not accepted by my spell check:

Tiny Url.

How pathetic is it when my internet based spell check doesn't even know it's own component's correct spelling? So, maybe technicalize really IS a word...?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Poisionous Barbs, Asthma and Honeymoons

So far, the Otterson girls have a 100% guarantee that they will become unusually and extraordinarily ill or injured on their honeymoons. Brittney had 24 barbs jabbed into her foot by some cranky sea creature and Courtney had an asthma attack.

That was Britt's first dip into the ocean and Court's first experience with asthma.

Britt's new husband spent 3 hours poking and pulling 2 of the barbs out -- hours they were supposed to be spending snorkeling.

Court's new husband spent 3 hours bent over a gasping, dying woman he had just pledged his life to 4 days earlier.

I'm not sure if men just have that effect on these girls or if it has to do with being on a honeymoon. Either way, I'm thinking that any man that attempts marriage with the other 2 sisters, should be forewarned of the impending tradition that the Ott girls follow for their honeymoons.

It's like they like to live their vows to the hilt ... "In sickness and in health..." and they get that 'in sickness' part over with right up front so we all know for sure the guy is in this for the long haul.

And so far, the guys are sticking with them and proving they're committed to this whole marriage thing for life not only in sickness but also in health. That's a really good thing.

It's also quite reassuring because life always has a pretty even balance of both sickness and health. And sickness and health is seen simply as the salt and pepper of marriage: it adds spice and flavor.

I guess it shouldn't ever be a surprise when marrying the one you love, usually leads to loving the one you marry. And ironically enough, that is what happened when these two couples fell in love: they got married.

Now they live happily ever after enjoying sickness and health over and over and over.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When a Bathroom Lock Is All You Need

Some people need a vacation. Or a walk in the park. Or even a cruise. Just give me a bathroom door lock and I'll be good for the rest of the day.

It only takes 2 minutes too. Or even less if catastrophe happens on the other side of the Lock and Door but truly, the mere seconds to breath without talking is like breathing a breath of fresh air.

There's the times too when you're taking a shower and while the children sit at the breakfast table, you hear a screech that you can't quite decipher. It was either, "The house is on fire." Or it's, "Alex has a pacifier."

And then when you ask for clarification, you find out the real question was, "Are there more muffins than this?" and you know that life is never quite as serious as a 4-year-old makes it out to be.

Certainly, it can be intimidating to be in a bathroom and have the door locked only to hear picking and prying on the other side. Seriously guys, your mom is only "gone" for two minutes, what emergency can't wait two minutes?

But, when you go out the door you learn quite quickly that the only thing the child needed was to have his tool pouch tied back on to his waist. And you wonder as you tie it what it must be like to have the whole world revolved around you, your life, your tools and your tool pouch now wrapped snugly around your waist.

As you go about your day and chase kids, make meals and wash laundry, a quick dash to the RESTroom is always a welcomed reprieve. Unless of course, the kids jam every piece of metal imaginable into the door lock and your bathroom doorknob takes on an "antique" look.

But hey, at least they haven't learned how to actually pick the lock, release the spring that keeps you sane and enter into the habitation of your brief oasis.

Of course when you come out all of two minutes later, don't be surprised if you find the kids got into the hidden Christmas gifts, laid a large mirror on the top of your bed and then walked on your feet with cowboy boots as you intervened in their exploration of a new discovery.

I'm not saying that ever happened or anything, just thought I'd warn you because I have a pretty good idea it could happen.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

When Desperation Overtakes Dignity

You know your having a chaotic day busy day when your 4-year-old tries out your new hammer on the edge of the kitchen counter while your 17-month-old runs out of the kitchen with your knife he just grabbed off of the out-of-reach counter and your 3-year-old is dumping rearranging combining organizing her entire collection of shoes all over her bedroom floor that is supposed to be clean.

And then one of the kids attempts to lock themselves in the fridge while the baby dumps most of the contents of a kitchen drawer all over the freshly swept kitchen floor.

To top it off, a child that is rather hesitant resistant stubborn disliking the idea of cleaning their room, has become perpetually disturbed about a sibling that was helping them clean their room. So, being the fair and generous mother I am and not wanting to give a vengeful child opportunity to avenge wrath upon a sibling that was kindly and thoughtfully assisting in a task that was not their own, I removed the kind child from the angry child's room. The angry child suddenly became quite upset lonely.

And then the home became a habitation of distress and alarm, thanks to a pile of toys on the floor that simply needed to be put in the toy box.

About that time, somebody used the bathroom, left the lid up and forgot to shut the bathroom door. I came around the corner just in time to see the baby shaking pee off his hands, thanks to a negligent bathroom participant.

Reality is, I was only trying to make lunch and then chaos ensued. Seriously, it was just left overs too. Nothing fancy. I mean, my family has to eat, right? So making lunch is entirely necessary, right? But, considering how it seemed to change the entire course of the day as soon as I was in the kitchen long enough to put left overs in a pan, maybe lunch IS a bad idea.

I think a time of fasting, sack cloth and ashes will eliminate meal preparation chaos, over abundance of laundry and the eternal fighting over who has to clean up a mealtime/playtime mess.

Don't worry; I won't impart upon the children of my youth an Old Testament practice used to bring about repentance and change but I think I finally understand why it was used so often. And if I ever succumb to such a ritual, you'll know why.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Monster in the House

So it's that time of year month week to do the unthinkable. To just get it done. To write it on a list and cross it off. To just set your mind to it and do it. Even if you don't feel like it. Even if it just doesn't seem right. Even if you want to do something else instead but you don't know what that something else is. Still, it's time to just do it.

I'm not talking about blogging either. Although, that is something that needs to get done soon. *goes to jot that down on imaginary to-do list.*

As I was saying, it was time to do it.

And it looked like it too. Although, I think a few more weeks days hours probably would've been okay to wait, it was likely to not be okay. That risk was too great to take.

See, I was noticing a huge monster growing in the middle of my house. And my house is much too small to allow growing monsters to inhabit it. The brainy-let's-figure-out-how-to-resolve-this-issue-me came up with a great idea: I stuffed the monster in an out-of-site-out-of-mind place. Brilliant plan, wouldn't you say?

Unfortunately, that place soon had begun to expand since the monster continued to grow. So, I opened the top, allowing for more space. Eventually the opened top was not helping at all helping minimally so I began a pyramid technique that Egyptians used eons ago. Basically, you start it out wide at the bottom and peak it at the top. Kinda like a triangle. Gradually I was shaping my monster like an ancient Egyptian used to shape things. I felt adventurous, ancient and arrogant able bodied.

I was envisioning selling tickets so people could see my Pyramid Monster and thought getting a parka would be a good way to help advertise for my monster.

Unfortunately, floor space allowed for minimal width at the base so our monster had assumed a rather freaky tower shape. And by freaky it looked like it was liable to tumble at the slightest vibration. So much for the pyramid.

I then became desperate virtuous and came up with an ingenious plan of Disectation (is that a word?) of the Monster. But, not wanting to have Monster entrails all over my house, I knew I had to get rid of the kids first. So, I stuffed some of them away, put some others up on shelves and gave the rest away put them to bed. Then, I got to work.

Slowly the Monster took shape of something entirely different and my eyes were completely opened to a whole new concept. The concept I speak of is quite disturbing: I had laundry that when stacked and piled just right, was taller than me. A monster in my house bigger than me.

As I sit here blogging instead of laundering I must ask myself the question that I know you all must be asking: If I have laundry so bad why am I blogging?

The only answer I can come up with that makes a lot of sense is that I must be scared of monsters.

(Shhhh, don't tell my kids.)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

When a 'Working Sign' Would Be Nice

Yesterday I was driving down a vacant gravel road and while going through a vacant gravel intersection, I noticed down another vacant gravel road, a sign.

Yes, a sign.

It wasn't a sign from God either but an actual, literal sign.

I saw no people. Or trucks. Or any other signs. Basically, that vacant gravel road seemed every bit as empty as vacant can be and every bit as gravelly as gravel can be.

But the sign indicated otherwise.

The sign said: Men Working.

Now, I never know what to do when I see a sign like that.

Instinctively I look to see what kind of work the men are doing. And then when I look beyond the sign and see men working, I want to say, "Well duh, even a woman can see he's working without the sign informing her of that."

Then I look at the sign and wonder if I'm supposed to stand reverently, put my hand over my heart and sing the National Anthem.

Or do I say a prayer?

Do I stop my vehicle and observe a moment of silence?

Do I tread reverently past the working men with a look of admiration on my face?

Am I supposed to honk and cheer and wave out my open window while praising the working men.... "Good job! Keep it up! It's lookin' great!!"

Maybe the sign is actually printed in braille as well so that blind people driving by that can't see the men working, will know they actually are because the sign will tell them that.

Or maybe the sign is indicating that the men are indeed working and summarizes this message:

In case there is any doubt in any one person's mind about the piles of dirt, large construction equipment, and the dirty orange hard hats bobbing around the vicinity of the construction site, these men are in deed and in fact WORKING; they aren't just playing with dirt.

Or better yet, maybe it's because men have such a one track mind that they can't work AND watch for traffic at the same time. So basically a "Men Working" sign is similar to a "Children at Play" sign. It's your responsibility not to run over any of the Men Working.

Perhaps because the men took so long to get to the job, they put the sign up so that anyone that was pressuring them to get the job done will see they don't need to say anymore. The Men are Working. Finally. And the sign says that.

Maybe yesterday was actually an indication that the men were working on getting the work done but hadn't shown up yet. Kinda like a yeah-we'll-be-right-on-it-so-here's-a-sign-to-prove-that and then you can quit bugging them and wondering if that road will ever be completed.

And then I had to count how many times I've seen a "Women Working" sign. I couldn't even use one finger and I had 10 waiting to be counted. Is it because women never work? That men are doing all the work? That would be pathetic to make the men do all our work, even if they did get to use a sign while they worked.

It suddenly dawned on me that women work too. It's not that they work harder than men or that men work harder then the women either. They both just do their jobs.

So, I decided to patten a "Women Working" sign for all the hard working women I know. Next time you wash dishes, do laundry, clean your house, sweep the front porch, paint a room, make a meal or fill the van with gas, you can set out your sign.

Because I mean really, men are supposed to build roads and do their work; women are supposed to do all their jobs too. But, why don't women get any signs?

If you tell me it's because men use dangerous equipment and powerful tools, I'll ask * you what a women does that isn't dangerous.

To prove my point, the little * above indicates the exact time that my baby dropped a stack of Corelle bowls on his bare little feet and had shattered glass spread in a vicinity 5 feet around him. His mother (a woman) bravely dove barefoot into the midst of the shards and rescued the curious little boy from the slivers of pain intending to inject their sharpness into the fatness of his tender feet.

Tell me what isn't dangerous about that.

And the worse part is, the whole time that mother cleaned up the mess and used loud equipment to suck up the barbed needles embedded in the carpet, she also made sure the other children were safe. Not only was she doing a disaster relief project but she was also protecting the citizens in the destruction zone. While enforcing the law, she also defended the innocent that had actually caused the predicament of the day.

And, of course, there were no signs. No tangible pieces of proof that decreed loud and clear that "Women Working" was going on.

Then again, women are usually too busy and too distracted too responsible to make a point to get a sign out, set it up and let everyone read it while they work. They usually just get the job done and wish they had a sign that proved they were working and actually don't even think about a sign. Because, in the time it would take to get a sign out and set it up where everyone could read it, she'd first have to teach the kids what the letters "W-o-m-e-n-W-o-r-k-i-n-g" sounds like and how to read it and give the proper definition of what it means. By the time that was done, it would be time to clean up another disaster start another project.

So, if men have time to set up "Men Working" signs, then maybe they aren't quite as busy as women? And maybe they know that but they don't want the women to feel unequal with them so they compensate for the uneven balance by putting up a sign.

Then again, maybe OSHA mandates it and the reason they don't mandate it in my house is because this still is the land of the free and the home of the brave mothers who walk on shards of glass in order to rescue innocent children.

But, I'm still thinking of making that sign...