Friday, October 29, 2010


I got an idea for a Halloween treat, and needed white chocolate oreos to do it.
I knew Kroger sold them, and I'd seen them at walmart. I went to Kroger first. I couldn't find them on the endcap where they usually were located. Instead, there were seasonal Halloween colored ones. I assumed they were in the regular cookie aisle, so I walked back to that.
Golden Oreos, Reduced Fat, Double-Stuffed, Mint, Breast Cancer Awareness pink ones, Oblong ones, Mini Oreos, Cakesters, Peanut Butter, Fudge Covered.... but no white chocolate ones!

I was forced to drive to Walmart, and knew exactly where to find them.
Once inside the store, I walked directly to the cookies aisle. There, I found all the above mentioned types, plus a new seasonal variety- Candy Cane Flavored- right where the white chocolate ones should be!
I was beside myself. Making my own white chocolate oreos would add three hours to my prep time!
I couldn't keep running all over town, so I put the items I'd need to make my own into the cart.
Resigned, I trudged toward the register. At the register, I scanned the tabloid headlines and then saw an entire endcap full of White Chocolate Oreos! I bought five boxes!
Once home, I grabbed the bottle of red cookie icing, and added a toothpick of green color, shaking well. I then drizzled the red icing all over the white cookies, and left them to set up, and headed out to Fairmont.

I threatened many lives if they were touched before I got back.
I returned a couple hours later and put the cookies into small plastic bags, and sealed them with "evidence" stickers.

Tune in tomorrow to see Jello Brains!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Morgantown's Best-Kept Secret

This is the perfect place to watch thunderstorms roll in, to watch the sun come up (so I'm told), or to just sit and think about everything in one's busy, busy head.

On this night, I captured the Hunter's Moon over the Coliseum.

Family Portrait 2010

After going around and around on themes, I made an executive decision and called it,
"Show up and look nice or so help me".
(Coming soon, "Show Up and Look Nice or So Help Me" the musical.)

Ron set the camera up to take five shots in succession, in the likely event that someone's eyes were closed. He pressed the shutter, ran into position, click-click-click-click-click, would run back and press it again.
As we were losing the light, Ron announced that it would be easier to pose all five cats and have them look at the camera than our five children. We'd had enough, so we came inside to upload all the pics. What we saw on the monitor was a surprise. The camera went out of focus and we inadvertently took several series of very blurry pictures. Another thing I discovered was that one of the children (not naming names, here) was making a face, in every shot, reminiscent of Calvin & Hobbes.

In some of the shots, Harrison was holding Oy in such a way that Oy's testicles look gigundous in the pictures.
The kids, thinking we were done, went on an ice cream run. I thought we were done and changed out of my clothes into my Mr Potato Head pants. After seeing 62 unusable pics (out of 64), I declared it "Round Two"... also known as, "Get Your Butt in Here, Shut Up and Smile or So Help Me".
Obviously, there were a few grumbles. And more than one kid flat-out refused and begged to be photo-shopped in. Another kid started crying, ruining her makeup.
I was immune to it all. I screamed, cursed, turned red in the face, and finally announced I was taking laptops and car keys if they did not obey.
Even then, we had a trouble-maker on our hands.

The Family Portrait would have been perfect
if Arden hadn't been making that face!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Clothes Call

Much of my parenting is "by the book", in that, when I'm done, I'll want you to "Buy the book".
This is because having five kids has shown me that things happen on a daily basis that no parenting book has ever warned me about.
Sure, they tell you useless stuff like how to get your baby to sleep through the night (Ha!), or how to 'sneak' vegetables into their diet (here's an idea- serve vegetables cooked properly, and not cooked to mush, and they'll clean you out of broccoli every time), that it's okay to dump sugar into your child's milk to get him to drink it (in our house, if you are busted drinking a glass of milk, you are in serious trouble. Hey, milk's expensive, and they'd go through a gallon a day, if I let them drink it.)
But no one tells you what to do when your toddler eats a quart of blueberries and then squirts out a trail of dark green blueberry poop all over the beige carpet, just seconds before your in-laws knock on the door.
They don't tell you how to get 9lbs of peanut butter out of carpet, much less how to carry the culprit to her bath without dropping her.
The books don't tell you that pulling toilets will become a regular event, and you'll get excited when they come out with a 'contractor pack' of wax rings.
No one will warn you that the simple act of being buckled into a car seat makes many potty-training children suddenly have to poop, so that you'll have to haul everybody back inside and sing Barney songs until the deed is done.
They don't tell you how you will reach for your hairbrush every day, and have it missing, and have to bellow for its return, only to be missing it again the next day. I tried smacking the guilty party with the brush, I tried buying her the identical brush for herself, I tried hiding it the night before. I don't know why she takes it. I think it's a form of separation anxiety, much like how a dog pees on your bed while you're away at work. Maybe my brush is a security object. Maybe she's using the hair in it to make a voodoo doll. All I know is that I've left the house on more than one occasion with my hair tangly, because my brush was MIA.

Everyone knows that when you have kids, laundry is part of the gig. I was prepared for an extra load or two per day. After all, kids' clothes are tiny. Ron once went to work with a baby sock inside his shirt sleeve, and never even noticed it! (This probably attests more to how sleep-deprived new parents are...)
In our house, once you are six you do your own laundry. My reasoning has always been if they can figure out the remote control by then, "Regular Wash, Cold Rinse" won't be over their heads.
The kids bring their hampers in to the laundry room, queue them, and wash as their turn comes up.
I was down to one small load

when Tess brought out her hamper and put it in line with the other hampers.
I asked, "Is this all the dirty clothes from your room?" she nodded yes, and ran off to play.
I went into her room to collect out-grown clothes, to bag up and offer to other families. What I saw when I opened the door boggled my mind.
Tess acted as my sherpa as we trekked through a room that needed a rowboat, a mountain goat, a shaman and first aid kit to cross.

This pile of clothes and blankets is over four feet high.

"Are the clothes in this basket clean or dirty?"
"Well, dirty... but the ones on the bottom are clean!"

In addition, she had several what I call "Mystery Bags", where in an effort to clean her room, she crammed clothes both clean and dirty, as well as used tissues, cookie wrappers, books, papers, toys, and apple cores into industrial-sized trash bags, and hid them in her closet.

Harris, helping to sort through a 'Mystery Bag'.

How did this happen? How did it get this bad? In all honesty, it's not completely her fault. Tess has three older sisters constantly offering her their cast-offs. She also has two grandmothers that enjoy shopping and feel bad for Tess because "all she gets are hand-me-downs".
People hit sales racks and say, "At only a dollar a piece, they were too cheap to leave in the store. I figure they'll fit someone." That someone is usually Tess, or Tess might eventually grow into the clothes, so into her room they go.
People offer Tess clothes that fit her, but are not her style. When she tries to refuse them, she's admonished, "It may not be your style, but it would be good to have in a pinch. You'd better hang on to it." The problem is that she has eight drawers, two closets, and under the bed stuffed with in a pinch clothes.
When she tries to gather some up, to send to Goodwill, folks exclaim, "Doesn't this still fit you?" or "Grandma bought you that- it still has the tags on it!"
Anytime people have old curtains, or blankets, or sheet sets, they offer them to Tess to play dress up, or to "make things" out of. It got to the point where Tess was afraid to say she liked someone's bedspread, because it would likely wind up in her room next year when the person changed the look of their room.
It's no wonder Tessa's room became a dumping ground for all things textile.

So I played Tom Silva, "This all has to come out!", and had her haul baskets, bags, hampers, and cardboard boxes from the depths of her room.

The pile grew...

and grew...

While reaching into a hamper, my hand was run through by a sewing needle that was stuck in a bra.
I stepped on a robe that had a lightbulb under it. I was wearing my boots, so I was unharmed. But we now had broken glass in the carpet.
While backing away from the broken lightbulb, I nearly stepped on a large mirror that was lying flat on the floor, hidden beneath a damp towel.

I found an odd toy...
WTF is this? Too big to be a bracelet, too small to be a necklace...

The underside reads, "WARNING! DO NOT THROW OUT OF WATER"

I was rooting through the massive pile in the laundry room and found...
The microscope!

These bags are clothes to be donated. Since I am halfway through the job, I figure there will be many more before I am finished.

By the end of the night, all the trashed was picked up and Ron could help vacuum.

Tess is getting her room back, to the point where she will be able to play in it, invite friends over, and walk safely from one side to the other.

In the meantime, you can find me in the laundry room, sorting through panties and pageant dresses, wearing chainmail and Kevlar.