Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I can't choose between these photos, so you are getting a lot.  The common theme is that my boys enjoy being sprayed in the face with the sprinkler.



Return from Whence You Came

Daily disaster update:  Rob may have thrown the tree back into the neighbor's yard.  It DID come from there, so I only feel a little bad.

Daily Disaster

The Bible says "Love thy neighbor."  It says nothing about loving their trees. Sigh.

The thing that stinks is that if it falls from their yard onto our property, we're the ones who get to clean it up.  Blerg.  Rob, get out that chainsaw!

Please Ignore the Screams from the Family Restroom

Yesterday the boys and I had a super fun time hanging out with Kelly and her boys.  We played at their house, then headed to the All Star Family Grill, which is almost in Fulshear.  They have two playgrounds and $1 kid meals on Monday, so totally worth the drive!  Everyone ate and played really well--miraculous when you have five boys combined.

And then I tried to wash my boys up in the family restroom.

If you've never been in the family restroom, it's basically like a one-person bathroom: one toilet, one sink, no stalls.  One locking door that goes directly back out into the establishment.  There are always choices you have to make if you have small kids and need to pee.  The reality is that your children WILL be in there with you.  You have more space and privacy if you're in the family restroom, but they also have more room to run around out of reach and might fling the door open while you're on the toilet, and then you can forget the privacy part.

So I'm going to the bathroom and the boys are washing up in the sink, and they have some kind of altercation, which basically means I'm shuffling over with my pants around my ankles trying to keep Linc from biting Sawyer, who is in turn pushing Lincoln.  They are still covered in food, so I separate them and tell them to keep washing while I again attempt to go to the bathroom.

Then there is the water throwing and soap throwing and someone starts crying and then someone tries to open the door and I still have my pants around my ankles and am trying to get Sawyer to stand in the corner while getting the soap off Lincoln's face.  That's when Sawyer begins to scream.

I mean, SCREAM. Those kinds of high-pitched shrieks that generally alert people that someone is, in fact, dying.  He hadn't been in a bad mood or seemed tired, and the bathroom conflict was relatively small, so I'm not sure where this came from, but I'm trying to quiet him and Linc is trying to open the door again and I'm pretty sure I still don't have my pants on.

Meanwhile, out in the restaurant, I know it sounds like I'm beating my kids.

I'm trying to get my pants on with one hand while keeping Linc away from the door handle and also trying to convince Sawyer to PLEASE stop making it sound like I'm killing him.  Eventually, he stops screaming, I have my pants on, their faces are clean and we are heading out into the restaurant.  Where it's very clear that everyone heard the ruckus in there.  I get a lot of brief glances and then really intentionally looks to the floor, like everyone is doing their best NOT to stare at the woman who was beating her children in the family restroom.

I tried to deflect by talking really loudly to Sawyer about how he doesn't need to scream like that and especially when nothing's really wrong, but I don't think I convinced anyone.  It may be a while before we head back to the All Star Family Grill.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Working from Home with Kids [Insert Laughter]

I always tell Sawyer that his rest time is my work time.  Generally I blog during nap time, catch up on emails, and other sundry duties in front of the computer.  I try not to write at this time because it becomes extremely frustrating.  Why, you ask?  Because it looks something like this.

12:35- Put the boys in their respective rooms.

12:36- Turn on coffee, sit in front of computer, open Blogger. 

12:37- I have to pee.

12:38- Hear screaming while in the bathroom. Boys wrestling in hall.  Put them back in rooms.

12:39- Dog whining to go out. Put him out. Get cup of coffee.  Sit in front of computer.

12:42- Lincoln is out of bed.  Put him back to bed. 

12:43- Back in front of computer.

12:45- Sawyer: "Mommy? I have to poopy."  Me: "So go poopy."

12:48- Lincoln is out of bed.  Put him back to bed.

12:49- Back in front of computer.

12:53- Sawyer:  "I need a wiiiiippe."  Go wipe bottom.

12:54- Back in front of computer.

12:55- Dog barks to come back inside.  Get dog.  Sawyer: "Can you play with me?"  Me:  "This is your rest time and Mommy's work time.  Back in your room."  Sawyer: "I'm wearing three underwear's."  Me: "....."

True story. Except I think it was actually longer, because now it's 1:20 and I'm writing my first blog post. I'm not sure what else happened, but it's been exciting.  If I'm blogging or answering emails, it's frustrating to have to pop up and down.  If I'm working on a novel and making headway that I don't want interrupted, I get INSANE.  So for me, I work only when I'm not going to be interrupted by little people. Sometimes nights.  Mostly days they are in school, or when I can get out of the house and someone else is sitting.  

Lately, my favorite "office" has been Beans Cafe on Eldridge.  I'm not a huge fan of Starbucks in terms of sitting for hours working--it's too sterile and expensive and I don't like their chairs.  Also: I don't like their actual coffee.  Espresso drinks are fine--you can't beat their consistency.  But if you ask me, their beans are over roasted and bitter.

Now that Borders is closed (moment of silence), if I can find a locally owned (or, simply not Starbucks) place to go, I will.  Beans Cafe used to be another place, which I also liked, but it is now superior. They brew local coffee (Katz--not to be confused with the restaurant) and by my third day there, knew my name. And one of the employees had even visited my blog.  What!

They also have a $3 endless cup of coffee.  'Nuff said.

 Me using my terrible old laptop.  Pro: internet is too slow to distract.  Con: battery is dead so must have a plug.
 Great ambiance with real local artwork on the walls.  And armchairs!!  I sit in one while writing and it's lovely.  They have something like 18 armchairs.  I swear.

 A sampling of the menu.  Food too!

 Great ideas in the decor--this is a map table that I'd love to try sometime. I think this is Munich.

Succulent coffee?  Great idea!

In short, my biggest tip for moms working at home--don't work at home.  It simply doesn't work very well for me if I want to also like my kids and not blow my lid.  I don't always have this luxury, and wish I could pay them like monthly dues for coffee, but still--whenever I get a chance, this will be my new office.

Any other working from home moms have tips?  I'd love to know your secrets.  

Target Toy Insanity

This week I wasted a lot of time but saved a lot of money.  Twice a year, Target has unadvertised markdowns where they clearance a bunch of the store.  Very specifically, the toy section.  I had heard about this, but never been, and decided this year to do Christmas (shopping) in July.  My friend Kelly and coupon blogs gave me the heads up, so I was at my local Target at 8:30 this Thursday morning.  (For whatever reason, it's always on Thursday.)

Sadly, the markdowns were happening as I was there, which meant that they were not yet to the toys.  The scanner people go from area to area in the store, changing out stickers.  I had breakfast with my Dad, so I hit Target before, then after.  Still not marked down.  I went to another Target a mile or so away, but they had apparently done their clearance a few days early and there was nothing at all in the toy section.  Frustrated that I had wasted that much time, I decided to head back after spending time writing.

I knew that I was on time by the fact that I saw women walking out of the store with carts piled higher than their heads.  I raced back only to find the aisles pretty barren.  I didn't want a ton, so I was able to get some really nice gifts for a good price.  I spent $40 on what should have totaled...[drumroll]...$186.77.  Insane!  I even got Rob a Settlers of Catan expansion game.  Fabulous!  Now the trick is hiding these toys so the boys don't find them.
The best was the conversation I had while forcing the Target ladies to scan items that somehow should have been but hadn't yet been clearanced. (Like the Smart Tablet thing, which I had set aside on one of my early trips, but had been snatched by another shopper. This one wasn't marked at all, but should have been, so they scanned and printed me a sticker.  Woot!)  The conversation went like this.

Me:  I'm sure you love these days and all the crazies you get.
Target Lady:  Usually we just ignore them.
Me:  Except for when they follow you around like me, making you scan stuff. [laughs]
Target Lady:  [gives me the stink eye] Pretty much.
Me:  Oh. Um. I'll just be going now.

Here's my loot!  Minus Rob's Catan game, which has already been played.  In total, we have here three action figures, one action figure + helicopter, 2 game pads, 2 types of play-doh sets, and a learning smart pad thingy. Not shabby!  Merry Christmas, boys.  Good thing you don't read my blog.

If you're curious about this sale, plug into a coupon site like Passion for Savings and you can keep up. I think that Target generally does this in January and July.  I'd do it again, but hopefully won't have to make four trips to Target.

The Neverending Coughing

La la la, la la la, la la la...

In case you aren't hearing the music in your head, "Bastian!  Say.  My.  Name."  That's right, I'm trying to make the ridiculous amount of coughing that will not stop in my house better by signing about it to the tune of The Neverending Story theme song.

I'm seriously questioning our health.  I have been the sickest I've been maybe ever this year, at least in terms of frequency.  At least one stomach flu and two or more respiratory things.  I used an inhaler almost daily for two full weeks-- a lifetime record.  And my boys can't seem to shake the cough.  They get better.  They get worse.  They seem fine. They suddenly are hacking up a lung.  They are normal.  They have a fever that lasts 12 hours.

I spent Friday night listening to Linc hack away in his room, wishing that I could do something to fix it.  Honey.  Medicine.  A steamer.  Prayer.  Still, he coughs.  And coughs and coughs.

On the plus side, I am totally thankful when we have days without runny noses and coughs.  I knock on wood and say "Praise Jesus!"

This time it was a quick sick.  But I would prefer a NO sick. If anyone has suggestions to survive these days of never-ending sickness, let me know.  PLEASE.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Linc and the Olympics

Last night, Linc woke up with a coughing fit and I let him sit with me to watching some swimming and gymnastics. He LOVED it. He kept talking about doing it when he was older and Sawyer doing it. He clapped and cheered for USA. While he won't remember it, I will. I will. (Arrested Development fans: think Gob Bluth and the forget-me-now.) I took this little video on Rob's computer. The only thing Linc liked more than the Olympics? Seeing his face as I took this video via webcam.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Astute Olympic Observations

While watching some of the interviews leading up to the Olympic Opening Ceremony yesterday, we saw two female gymnasts from the USA.  Here's what Sawyer had to say.

S: Hey!  It's Kiki Mojo.  Cool.
M:  That's not me.  I'm right here.
S: Yes it is Kiki.  Look.  It's a couple of Mojo's.

Car Alarms, Cops, and Coughing Kids

It's all about alliteration!  (See what I did there?)

Last night was a night of much excitement and little sleep.  Pretty much none of it was good.  Rob has flown the coop with the youth group, so I'm on my own with the boys.  They crashed after we got back from the Olympic Opening Ceremony watch at my parents, and so I was enjoying a night of movies, blogging, and maybe a glass (read: red plastic cup, because I'm classy) of wine.  Then, at 10:30 or so, my car alarm started going off in the driveway.

It's only ever gone off if I've messed with it when it was locked, and NEVER for no reason, so I clicked it off and sent my ferocious dog out onto the fenced back patio, goading him into crazy-mad-guard-dog by asking, "Who's out there?"  Tex went bananas, jumping and lunging at the fence at my command, but I didn't hear anything and he clearly didn't see anything because he got bored a few seconds later.  I wasn't particularly thrilled by this incident, but figured maybe it was some kind of glitch.

When I was at the climax of my movie (Primal Fear, an oldie but goodie), out of nowhere, Lincoln started hacking up his lungs.  Every five seconds he was coughing. Which then turned to crying and him climbing out of bed.  I got him medicine, water, honey, and prayed for him, but for the next hour, he was up and down, crying and coughing.  I finally got him asleep, finished the movie, and headed to bed, where Linc joined me like 20 minutes later, definitely feverish.

Sick kids--again?  Man, I just don't feel like we can shake this.  He didn't sleep well with me, and kept waking me up and finally asked to go back to his crib.  I put him back, about the time Sawyer was waking up wanting to climb in my bed.  We played musical beds for a while, but finally everyone was asleep.

Until the car alarm started going off again.

At this point, we are at 3am and I'm sure my neighbors love me.  I again clicked it off and sent our attack dog out to the patio.  I didn't see or hear anything, but felt like at this point, I should do something.  So I did what any other Texas woman would have.  I pulled out Rob's shotgun and fired a warning blast into the air outside our door.

Just kidding!  I called the cops.

I always feel dumb calling for reasons like this (no, this is not the first time), but cops generally seem very understanding as long as you act reasonable and not insane.  (In fact, the 911 operator asked if there was anyone mentally unstable at the house, which I thought was a really odd question.  Do they know us?  Or do they ask everyone that question?)  The swarthy gentleman they dispatched was very polite and happy to check around the car (which showed no signs of being messed with) and our entire property.

I would have felt totally reassured had he not said, just before leaving, "I didn't see anyone or anything, but when I got out of the car here, I definitely heard a sound like a door shutting or something.  Bye now!  Sleep well."  

He may not have said those last two things.  But he did seem certain that he'd heard something, which only made me more certain that this was SCARY.  I don't like it.  I have dogs and guns, but the thought of someone messing with my car just a few feet from my back door more than one time a few hours apart is pretty much terrifying.

Hopefully the insane dog and the cop visit was enough to end this little incident.  I'd love to say that my car alarm has gone off a few more times today, so I could blame it on a malfunction.  But nope.  So...someone or something was messing with my car last night.  Maybe tonight I SHOULD fire that warning blast out the back door.

Or, I could go all Data and set booby traps along the perimeter of my property, which sounds like a lot more fun.  Slick shoes!  Pinchers of power!  It worked with the Fratellis, so why not here?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tweets That Should Have Gone Viral

I tweet.  I twitter.  I twine.

The last is a word I made up, which means I'm whining about not having like 8,000 followers on Twitter.  I kind of feel like I'm on the pulse of humanity here.  I'm giving you a sample.  See if you disagree.

How am I not famous again?  You can follow me and retweet my brilliance HERE.  You know you're intrigued now by my muddle of pop culture, parenting, and self-deprecation.  Oh, and my brilliance.

The Olympic Torch Burns Out

It was a good idea.

That's something I think most parents can say at one point or another after a child has crushed, ruined, destroyed, ignored, laughed at, or run away from a plan set in motion.  I've learned over the years to have very low expectations with my plans.  If we set up to paint, assume it will all become brown.  And get all over EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE.  Including, but not limited to, eyeballs.  If I plan a game or activity, I assume it might last two minutes, on a good day.  Or it may never happen because who has time to plan a game or activity with a two and four year old?

Anyway.  I had this grand idea of making the boys torches for tonight and then watching the Olympic Opening Ceremony while they waved them from their seated positions on the couch where they would raptly stare at the television.

Yeah.  I didn't REALLY think it would work that way.  That's why I spent little money on the torches (like $2 for poster board and tissue paper, tape borrowed from my parents) and didn't stop the boys when they torches quickly became swords and then quickly dismembered.  I told them up front that I would fix them one time, and then they were stuck with what they had.
 Of course they don't have shirts on.  You've seen my husband.  They have his genes.

 Classy hand inside the bathing suit.  Wow.

 This is more what I had in mind.  Also, does Linc have a six-pack under that baby gut??

 Gum in the mouth--also classy.

This also happened:  diaper under too-big bathing suit.

Now that you know just how classy and also reverent we are, I hope you enjoyed the Olympic Opening Ceremony in London!  We left after twenty minutes watching at my parents due to over-tired, over-sunned boys who couldn't stop crying/fighting/destroying my parents' house.

Tramping Around

Last night at Boss practice, we did some land drills and some...air drills.  Clearly, I was not meant to be a cheerleader.

The Tone of Your Face

Yesterday, I was in Target.  (I actually was in Target 4 times yesterday--more on that later.)  While in my aisle, I could hear a man a few aisle down, talking to himself.  It sounded like this.

Man:  NOW where is she? Unbelievable.  [mutters]  Oh, great, now she's not answering her phone.  I'm leaving.  I'M LEAVING YOU IF YOU CAN HEAR ME.  Ridiculous.

He got louder and more irate by the moment, and I had a sudden fight or flight impulse that almost made me hide behind the stuffed animals.  Instead I froze, hoping to go unnoticed. Then the woman he had been talking about showed up and it sounded like this.

Woman:  I'm right here.  Jeez.
Man:  I was about to walk out of the store without you.  Why didn't you answer your PHONE.  I've been calling you.  You just wandered off again.
Woman:  SORRY.  My phone is on silent.  Shh.
Man: [louder] Well, you always hate it when I don't answer my phone. You never answer your phone. It's ridiculous.
Woman:  Sorry.  Let's just go.
Man:  That's what I've been wanting to do.  We came in for this one car seat and now look at all this stuff we have.  It's stupid.
Woman: Shut up.
Man:  You shut up.
Woman: Shut up.

This is pretty much verbatim. I think I may have lost a few lines and left out some cussing, but otherwise, this is it.  This couple looked to be around my age, and based on that conversation, I feel really terrible for whatever kid is sitting in that car seat.

Do you ever hear the tone in your own voice?

I remember before I was married, watching the couples around me to try and gain some insight into what made marriages work.  One thing I noticed that disturbed me: often people talk in a better tone of voice to their dog than they do their spouse.  That sweet little baby-voice disappears when someone wants to know why the trash wasn't taken out or who is responsible for cleaning up the mess in the kitchen.

As a parent, I remember being a lot more even-keeled and having a much calmer tone of voice when it was just Sawyer, AND before Saw hit the terrible twos.  In general, I still feel like I'm pretty much okay, but sometimes I will catch myself talking in a way that I can't even believe.  Mostly when I'm tired or the kids have been awful, or we're in a hurry or I'm trying to get things done.  Sometimes I'll even hear my kids say things in a tone that I KNOW is an echo of my own.

It's horrific.  It's embarrassing.  It's not how I EVER want to talk to my children or anyone.

But I think once the flood gate has been loosed in speaking in an irritated or unkind way, it's hard to turn it off.  That doesn't mean you'll do it all the time, but it's much easier to fall back on once you've introduced or allowed yourself that tone.

We've been working with Lincoln on not whining.  When he asks for something in a whiny tone of voice, we tell him we can't understand him or won't do what he asks until he asks in a cheerful tone. Then I demonstrate a cheerful tone, and he'll ask with a smile on his face.  Because tone affects more than just the sound--your whole body reflects it as well.  The fighting couple was banging their cart all around and stomping feet.  The tone of voice was also the tone of face and body.

I am really trying to work on my tone of voice.  There are times when I think a yell is necessary with kids, but that doesn't mean it has to be anger.  Sometimes a shout is necessary to get attention (such as when my kid is trying to open the oven) or if in a loud space.  But whether loud or soft, tone can convey irritation, anger, annoyance, or just anything opposite of love.  That tone carries through your whole body as well, and I personally don't want my kids to have memories of me speaking in anger or irritation, or looking annoyed with them.

How's the tone of your face?  I wonder what we would think if we all tried (like Tobias from Arrested Development) to record ourselves for a whole day of speaking.  Yikes.  Which means, I think, it's time for a change of tone.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Laughing Boys

Today, the boys had a blast with Rob in the morning.  He pretended that they were musical instruments he was playing, like a guitar or bagpipes or drums.  Saw kept asking him to play the "simple."  Cymbal?  We weren't sure.



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