Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
My cell phone rang, and Sadie answered it because I was driving.
All I heard her say was, "We're on our way to Walmart. Oh... Okay, well I hope you feel better soon." and she hung up.
I asked her what was going on and she said, "Oh, Daddy fell off a ladder and on the way down grabbed on to something sharp, and it sliced his finger pretty bad."
(Ron had been working at the Songbird House, up on a ladder. Turns out he fell, and reached out instinctively... He says he landed on his feet, but he also has a nasty bruise on his hip, and a scratch/ bruise on his arm. He drove himself to Urgent Care, where he received six stitches.)
Poor guy- he's right-handed, too!
It's a spiral cut, going around his finger.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Or ... The Staubly Kids' Last Ditch Effort to Get on Santa's Naughty List.
Watching a movie used to be a simple thing. You pop in the tape, or the dvd, and kick back and enjoy the movie.
What the parenting books never tell you is that past the age of two, watching a movie is never the same. First, unless you are watching Barney Goes to Camp 3, you need to wait until the kids are in bed.
The kids will know something's up and come out every five minutes, forcing you to pause the movie to frog march them back into their rooms.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was hard enough to follow, without pausing it every five minutes for bedtime identification. You end up either turning the movie off, or making threats along the lines of, "If you come out of that room one more time, I'm selling you to the gypsies!"
As the kids get older, you get the bright idea to set up a movie for the kids in another part of the house, often on the home computer. You will discover that the kids get bored with their movie shortly after the lion roars, or by the end of the Pixar short, and will begin bickering.
This will cause you to pause your movie 682 times to shout, "Stop that bickering!"
"But she started it!"
"Do I have to come in there?!"
It gets even better once the kids learn to very quietly sneak into the kitchen during the movie to make new and exciting taste sensations such as "chocolate tuna surprise".
You are actually enjoying The Spy Who Shagged Me, until you hear a loud thump and a voice cry, "Hurry! I think they're coming!"
You look at each other, and one fumbles with the remote to pause the movie while the other goes upstairs to discover an entire gallon of milk hit the floor, and glug-glug-glugged under the fridge and stove.
The cost of two theatre tickets, popcorn, soda, and a babysitter is insignificant compared to the actual cost of trying to watch the same movie at home on dvd for a dollar.
Ron asks me why I won't watch movies downstairs with him in the evenings, and why I choose to sit at the kitchen table on my laptop. It's not that I don't enjoy watching movies, but that the price is just too high.
By the time I have paused the movie several times in order to kill the children for fighting, and chase them out of the kitchen, I return to the movie only to have it paused three minutes later because Ron has to pee. Ron, who has a bladder of steel when at work, has a bladder the size of a walnut while watching a movie. Even after I insist that he pee before we start the movie, he will pause the movie twice during the 90 minutes of movie time, to pee. One might think he could use one of the bickering breaks to pee, but apparently his bladder wants a time all to itself. But I digress.
I stay in the kitchen to guard the food, and prevent the messes. It preserves my sanity.
So... Sadie is finally old enough to watch Love Actually with me, so the plan today was for us to watch it downstairs during the day, while the younger kids stayed upstairs and ate sandwiches, checked their facebooks, went outside to play in the snow, talked on the phone, played with their gazillions of toys, or (gasp!) played a board game. Ron was home, and working out in the garage, right off the kitchen, if the kids needed anything.
Twice during the movie I had to pause it to threaten them for standing near the stairs and shouting to each other and singing obnoxiously, and loudly enough that we couldn't hear the movie. I was pretty pissed about that kind of disrespect, because they knew how I felt about this moment... but nothing could have prepared me for what I would find when I returned upstairs 135 minutes later.
The kids had gone through a gallon of eggnog. They had also gotten into the institutional-size container of hot cocoa mix and used every mug in the house to make themselves several mugs of cocoa each, complete with all the sloshing and dripping. Then they'd gotten the brilliant idea to put marshmallow fluff into the mugs of cocoa, but managed to get it on the counters, the fronts of the drawers and cabinets, all over the table, on the chairs and dripping off the chair legs, onto the floor, and then tracked all over the floor.
Tessa saw my face and began trying to clean up the marshmallow fluff mess with a dry paper towel.
There are no pictures of the Marshmallow Fluff Mess, because I was not able to properly handle a camera at that point because my hands would have been shaking.
However, I had left the kitchen 135 minutes earlier with the dishes done up...
The sugar container full...
And had told Paige to empty the trash...
I threw all the kids out of the kitchen, and confiscated their computer.
After that, I cleaned. I scrubbed with the hottest water I could stand. I mopped twice. I loaded the dishwasher, ran it, and washed the rest by hand. I wiped down every fluff-engooed, cocoa-dripped, and eggnog-filmed surface I could see.
While I was scrubbing the kitchen, Sadie approached me and asked if could drive her to her boyfriend's house, so she could spend Christmas Eve with his family (!).
My grip tightened on the soapy rag. Using the heel of my hand, I pushed my hair off my sweaty forehead and unleashed a torrent of christmas cheer that could melt the snow right off our metal roof.
Some of you might be asking why I did not make the children clean up this mess. You are asking this because 1. you do not have children (and it is my hope this story helps keep it that way), 2. you do have children, but your children are age 3 or under, or 3. your children are grown and gone from the home.
Because a mom with real kids actively living in the home would know that I would spend two hours of my life standing over the children, cracking the whip, while the children would each begin proclaiming their innocence and the unfairness of forcing them clean a mess they did not make.
They would then begin fighting while cleaning, ending with one of them shooting another with 409, point blank in the face.
15 minutes into it, one or more would be on the floor, whining about how tired they were from 'all that work'.
Enter the disability: the sore back, the bum leg, the bellyache, the headache, the elbow that can mysteriously not bend...
Forcing them to work with their 'disability' will cause them to 'accidentally' knock over the bucket of water, all over the hardwood.
When that happens, my instinct is to start spanking, but I know if I do, I won't stop until I'm not mad anymore. It's better to send them to their rooms and remove the computer, until I'm not mad anymore.
And ultimately, instead of cleaning up the 'sticky', they would just smear it around, and I'd still have to clean it up.
I hope Sadie enjoyed the movie. I probably won't have the energy to watch another one any time soon.
Monday, December 21, 2009
A year ago, a friend casually handed me a book, The Truest Pleasure, by Robert Morgan.
I was told, "Read it, or just pass it on. I don't want it back."
I started the book that night. The story is about Ginny, a woman who loves attending Pentecostal worship. She inherits land from her aging father. Tom wants land to call his own, so he marries Ginny. He is obsessed with working the farm. He thinks that Ginny's obsession with the Pentecostal church is a disgrace.
The book drags on (and on) in a repetitive way, the same dance of back-breaking, dawn to dusk labor amidst the practical marriage between a woman who wants to go to church, and her husband who doesn't 'get' it.
As the book went on, I would frequently lie it upon my lap and vent to my husband about how irritating it was, and how I didn't even want to finish it.
I was angry, because something as important as a person's commitment to a particular faith should be well-understood before marriage is considered.
If Tom didn't want to be married to a devout Pentecostal woman, then he shouldn't have chosen one!
Tom should have married another woman, one who was a better match, but haha, Ginny was the one that had inherited the land that Tom wanted so badly.
"Tom should suck it up! And I want to wring Ginny's neck!" I would wail to my husband, as I trudged through page after page.
Finally, I made it to the end- (spoiler warning)- Tom gets sick, and Ginny has to take care of him. After taking care of him for the entire illness, Ginny has an epiphany that she actually does love her husband. She runs in to tell him this great news, to find him dead. The end.
The book remained on my nightstand for months.
If I had touched it, I would have thrown it out the window.
So when a friend invited us to her Book Exchange/ Open House, I knew exactly which book I needed to pass along.
The kids had picked out a few of their own books, as well, and we put them all in the pile.
The party was lovely and a great time was had by all.
As the party was drawing to a close, my husband remarked that he had not yet gone through the books and chosen one to take home.
"Well, get to it! There are tons in there!"
"You watch", I joked quietly to my friend, "He'll come back with the same book we brought. Haha."
After about 15 minutes, he re-emerged from the book pile with The Truest Pleasure in hand.
"Ack! No!! NO!!"
"What?" he flipped the book to the back cover, and scanned it again. "It looks good!"
Saturday, December 12, 2009
How wrong is this?
Monday, December 7, 2009
When we were eleven, we learned about menstruation, and we all looked around and wondered who would get theirs first. The first in our group was Sharon, an impossibly shy pre-teen. She got it over the weekend, and even without the internet, the word spread like crazy. We all surrounded her Monday morning and asked, "What's it like? Does it hurt? Do you feel any different?"
Fast-forward a few years and everyone is thinking about sex. How far to go? What do all the bases mean? How far do the other girls go? What will it be like?
When the first in our group went 'all the way', we hosted a slumber party the next night so we could ask all of our questions. "What's it like? Does it hurt? Do you feel any different?"
A few years later, one by one, we got married.
(Living with someone and being married to them are two different things. When you just live together and he doesn't come home for dinner three nights in a row, you need only to sort your cd's from his, and pack your suitcase.
When you are married, you need to find a lawyer, get a trial of separation, go to couples therapy, file for divorce...)
Before long, the first baby was born.
Once again, we all crowded around the bed and asked "What's it like?"
Breastfeeding... "What's it like?"
Returning to work.... "What's it like?"
Single parenting... "What's it like?"
Blended families... "What's it like?"
Getting a mammogram... "What's it like?"
Finding a lump... getting through chemo... "What's it like?"
Menopause... hot flashes, mood swings... Manopause... mood swings, convertibles... "What's it like?"
Empty nesting... finally! ... "What's it like?"
Caring for aging parents... "What's it like?"
So it goes... as we've passed into the stages of grown-up-hood... the first one to find themselves going through the next stage is the one we all look to, to tell us what to expect, and how these changes might affect us.
When the first one lost her husband after an illness, it seemed insensitive to gather 'round and ask, "What's it like? Does it hurt? Do you feel any different?"
We often love so much, so deeply, in a marriage, that we sometimes refuse to believe that one day, one of us will have to walk alone.
Another friend recently lost her spouse, and I'm extremely curious about it. I want to sit down with her over coffee and ask, "What's it like?"
I want to know what it means for the other side of the bed to be suddenly empty. I want to know if some days it's just enough to breathe in and out. I want someone to explain to me what it feels like to walk alone without the person who, it seems, has always been there.
Do you come across an old photo and shout, "Hey, come look at this!" a mere second before you realize they are not just in the next room reading?
Do you still buy their favorite foods at the grocery store, and then get home and wonder who will eat them?
What's the hardest thing about widowhood? What has been most surprising? Is there an upside?
Since humor springs from adversity, what parts of widowhood are funny?
What's it like?