Friday, July 27, 2012

A Perfectly Normal "Honey-Do" List

You know how sometimes you just get completely overwhelmed by life in general and things start to spin out of control and you feel like your brain is melting and you start checking your shoulders to make sure it's not oozing out your ears?

Come on, now.  I know it's not just me.

I had one of those days a couple weeks ago.  I don't even really remember what was so overwhelming about that day- it was probably just grocery day or something.  Something about hauling three small children around three different stores trying to get everything on the list, not losing the list itself, trying to get the best possible price for everything, and keeping those same children from burning down the store sometimes makes my pulse pound in my ears and sets off an adorable little tic under my left eye.

I'm pretty sure this was one of those days.

Toward the end of this particular day, I went out to check out our vegetable garden.  Last year, Derek's mom helped me build a fence around a small section of the backyard that's a good 3 1/2 feet tall, and also extends underground several inches to keep out those adorable, fuzzy-wuzzy little heathens that I have fantasies about burning on a homemade pyre set up over our fire pit (you may know them as rabbits).  Shortly after erecting this fence last summer, I planted zucchini and pumpkins and watermelons and basil and I don't remember what else.

I got a lot of nice basil.  I also got about a dozen little pumpkins, a few zucchini, and zero watermelons.  All because of the squash bugs.

Rabbits make me see red and feel like I should be on blood pressure medication.  Squash bugs wither my soul and make me want to curl up in the fetal position and suck my thumb.

I'm not sure which I hate more: rabbits, squash bugs, or Japanese beetles.

There's just something so discouraging about putting all this time and effort into a garden, then seeing it eaten away by insects.

So this year, I decided I wasn't even going to bother with the garden.  I had given it love and affection last year, and it had given me so little in return.  If it wanted to be that way, I would shun it.  I would paint a scarlet "A" on its breast and turn my face away.  I would plant nothing.

Except some watermelon.  And a few tomato plants.  I had to give it one last, tiny chance.

After I planted those seeds and seedlings, however, I made good on my promised neglect.  I did no weeding.  I did not thin the watermelon seedlings.  I did not water.  I did not stake the tomato plants, but let them sprawl along the ground.  I let the other 2/3 of the fenced vegetable patch go wild, so that it looked like I was growing a crop of creeping Charlie and grass.

On the brain-melting day, I went to go check out the little garden I'd been so studiously ignoring.  And guess what?  Those little plants were thriving.  (As were the grass and creeping Charlie, in case you were wondering.)

Then I made the mistake of counting all the under-ripe fruit in there.

I counted seven watermelons.  Then I started counting the tomatoes.  When I got to thirty, I started freaking out.

I'm not really sure what was going on in my head.  I somehow took that whole crazy day and put it onto the garden.  And guess what?  Things were going well in the garden.  And that was not good.

I don't know why, but when things are going really well, I panic a little bit.  If I can't find anything wrong with a situation or a day or whatever, I become all gloom and doom.  Here we go, I think.  Things are too perfect, which means there's a tornado coming.  Or someone's about to die.  Or that tree is going to spontaneously fall onto our house.  

It's like I take the whole "calm before the storm" cliche too far and apply it to my entire way of thinking.  There's probably a fancy psychological term for this, but I don't know what it is.  All I know is, I don't like it when everything is just right.  Something needs to be just a little bit off, or you're just begging for some calamity to befall you.

Anyway.  I'm in the backyard, muttering about counting chickens before they hatch and tomatoes before they're ripe when I hear Derek's car pull into the drive.  The kiddos and I race into the house in time for him to come in the front door and me to announce, "YOU NEED TO GO PEE IN THE BACKYARD.  RIGHT NOW."

He was a little bewildered and made me repeat myself like ten times (possibly hoping he was just mis-hearing me), but I finally explained that I had recently read something about human urine helping keep vermin away from your plants, and that he had better equipment for aiming right around the perimeter of the garden, and then I tried to explain my little meltdown, but the entire time I'm talking my voice is getting higher and higher and I'm talking faster and faster and I'm starting to sound a teensy bit manic.

This whole post has gone on way longer than I intended, so let me just tell you that I did eventually calm down, Derek did not relieve himself in our yard (something about  laws on indecent exposure and not feeling the need to "go"), and Derek's mom told me about a delightful little insecticide that keeps squash bugs away- which is thus far working.

I have ventured into the garden one time since then- to pick our first, perfect tomato- and managed to keep the crazies at bay.

For now.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Eight Years Ago... Yesterday

Eight years ago, Derek and I got married.  We had a beautiful wedding at the Marland mansion on a Friday evening.  A few dedicated family members helped set things up for the ceremony upstairs (we had the ceremony in the ballroom, and the reception in the two lounges, where they used to gather for fox hunts- because we've always been a bit backwards).

One of the popular wedding trends at the time involved placing disposable cameras on each table at the reception so that your guests could take pictures and you could have some unexpected candid shots.  We thought this was a fun idea, and went ahead and put some cameras down along with the centerpieces.

You know how no wedding day is perfect?  Something is bound to go wrong, because no matter how much precise and extensive planning you do, we live in an imperfect world, and imperfect things are bound to happen.  I knew and reminded myself of this while planning the big day, and vowed not to freak out, no matter what happened.

At this old mansion where we were married, they have tours that go through on a regular basis, along with other people who pay the price of admission but opt just to float around the property on their own timetable.  We knew this.  What we didn't know was that many of these people would feel no compunction about stealing the cameras we had set out.

When someone approached me, getting all dressed up and ready for photos, and told me what was going on, I was kind of astonished.  I'd been through the mansion lots of times.  It's not at all unusual to see people setting up for a special event while you're there; it's a popular wedding venue- beautiful surroundings with the benefit of being very reasonably priced to rent for an evening.  (And no, the Marland Estate is not compensating me for this- I'm just really enthusiastic about strange things.) It had never, ever occurred to me to try and make off with any of the wedding decorations I'd seen people putting up.  Who would?

Fortunately, my grandma offered to run out and buy a few replacement cameras, and that took care of that.

Then a friend drove the 40 minutes back to my mom's house to get the marriage license I'd forgotten.

And my sister, the maid of honor, bravely got an injection in a very uncomfortable location just so that she could make it through the day- she was incredibly sick.

Many of our guests staggered into the building soaking wet because the skies opened up and it poured right before the ceremony.  We had many of the photos taken beforehand, and it's kind of fun to look at the sky in each progressive picture as it gets darker and more ominous-looking.  Turns out there was a tornado warning, but it didn't stop anybody from showing up.  I guess that's just one of the risks that comes with getting married in Oklahoma in July.

So, yeah.  A few things went wrong.  But I have say, I handled everything really well.  That's pretty much how I operate:  I'm pretty good in a crisis, and freak out a lot in my everyday life.  (I know, I know, poor Derek, poor kiddos, poor everybody in my family.)

Yesterday, to celebrate our anniversary, Derek brought home a dozen purple and yellow roses and a lovely card, because he knows I appreciate such trappings.

I went to Wal-Mart and dropped off what I'm hoping is the last of those disposable cameras from our wedding.  You'd think after moving five times we'd have found them all, but every once in a while one will turn up.  I had to ask an employee to help me find the container where I could drop it off.  It was in a poorly lit, shameful little corner of the store.

Roses and a card... eight-year-old disposable camera.  Seems kind of uneven.  But then, Derek's used to that.

Happy Anniversary... Yesterday, Derek!

(That's right.   I couldn't even get a post written on our anniversary. That's how thoughtful I am.)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Oh My Goodness, I Love You

Yesterday, Adelaide and I got to go on a Mommy-Daughter Date.

I don't know if it's because I'm usually busy corralling her brothers or I just can't hear her when she does talk, but it's been awhile since I spent a day really focusing just on Adelaide and paying sole attention to what she has to say.

I had forgotten how funny she is, and just how delighted I am with half the stuff that comes out of her mouth.

We started at Chili's for lunch.

"Mom, I highly recommend the quesadillas, but you can get whatever you want.  But you should probably get the quesadillas.  And you should probably go ahead and look over the menu before we start talking so that you can pick what you want to eat.  Then I'll tell you why I think they named this restaurant 'Chili's'."

"Oh, my goodness, Adelaide.  I just love you."

After lunch we went to a couple stores, browsing and looking around.  Upon entering a clothing store, Adelaide picked up the sleeve of a shirt hanging next to her and asked, "Mom, what is this?"

"It's a peasant blouse."

"Well, it looks like a peasant blouse exploded all over the inside of this store."

And it did.  Everywhere you looked, peasant-hippy-wear.

"Oh my goodness, Adelaide.  I love you."

Right before we went to the theater, we went to a gas station to pick up some sweet contraband.  Adelaide spent nearly ten minutes perusing the candy aisle before finally choosing a giant, swirled, multi-colored lollipop.  As we exited the store, she happily told me, "I chose this one because it will make me feel really old-fashioned while I'm eating it and I can pretend to be Laura Ingalls Wilder while watching a movie.  This is pretty much the best day ever."

"Oh my goodness, I love you, Adelaide."

Then we went to see the movie "Brave."  We got there a little early, and Adelaide was inspecting the curtains covering the screen in the theater while we waited for the previews to start.  When the lights dimmed and the curtain began to rise, she scrunched down in her seat next to me and whispered, "I'm a little bit frightened of those curtains because I keep thinking something scary is hiding behind them.  I thought the same thing with the curtains at The Nutcracker, but I didn't say anything because I didn't want to alarm anyone."

"Oh my goodness, I love you.  Also, I'm sorry."

"What are you sorry for?"

"Genetic paranoia."

Monday, July 16, 2012

Secret Ingredient(s)

Yesterday afternoon, Caedmon was down for his nap, Derek and Atticus had just left to go play a round of golf, and Adelaide was sulking because she didn't get to go with them.  In an attempt to cheer her up while simultaneously fulfilling a promise to bring dessert to a friend's house that evening, I suggested we make cookies.  She agreed with enthusiasm.

We were working together quite merrily, watching our mixer cream the butter and peanut butter together, when I opened the drawer that contains our large utensils.

The interior and its contents were crawling with hundreds of tiny ants.

I recoiled, squealed, then paused, debating what to do.  I was on a bit of a schedule, knowing I needed to get these cookies made and ready to go before Caedmon woke up.  Surely our friends wouldn't notice a stray ant or two in their cookies, right?

Before I go any further, just let me say I have been faced with this kind of quandary before.  A little over a year ago, I was once again making cookies for a little get-together a friend was having.  I had a little baby Caedmon perched on my left hip, and was mixing with my right.  Suddenly, Caedmon-- who had been leaning over the bowl to see what was going on and was coincidentally one of the spit-upping-est babies you've ever met-- ejected a remarkable amount of spit-up, right into the mixing bowl, on top of the almost-completed cookie dough.

I'm not gonna lie- I was tired and really didn't feel like starting over again from scratch with a second batch of cookies.  Surely my friends wouldn't notice a little regurgitated breast milk in their cookies?

Then I remembered that Friends Don't Let Friends Eat Cookies That Contain The Ingredient "My Baby's Vomit."  I tossed the bowl in the sink and started over.

With this in mind, I realized that Friends Also Don't Let Friends Eat Cookies That Contain Insects.  I sighed, tossed the contents of the drawer into a sink of steaming, soapy water, treated the kitchen with insect spray, cleaned and disinfected the kitchen until it was immaculate, and started over.

I am such a good friend.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Long Live McDonald's

I'm not really a big fast food person.  I'll eat it every once in a while, but if I start eating it with any kind of regularity, I start feeling gross and worn down and just all-around not good.

That being said, I love the McDonald's in Olathe, Kansas.

The food is okay.  I mean it always comes out hot and as tasty as fast food gets, but, you know.  It's still fast food.

No, what I really love about this particular eating establishment are the people.  Specifically, the employees.

We generally stop there in Olathe when traveling to visit family because it's a little over halfway in terms of driving time, it has an indoor playground, and I know the kiddos will eat the food.

Last Thursday our three children and I arrived at this McDonald's around mid-afternoon.  We jumped in line to order our food first before going to play, and at that point I was a little frazzled.  I had just discovered that Caedmon's shoes had somehow not made it into the van, so I was carrying somewhere around 30 to 40 pounds there on my left hip, Atticus was running around like a lunatic after having been cooped up for 4 hours, and Adelaide just could not decide whether she wanted chicken nuggets or a cheeseburger.  We made it to the cashier, I ordered our food (earning an evil glare from Adelaide, but I just did not have an extra thirty minutes to stand there while she waffled), then began rummaging around with my free hand in my cavernous bag, looking for my wallet.  Finally I glimpsed a flash of green in its depths; there was the wallet.  I pulled it out, telling Atticus to please leave the scary clown alone and opened my wallet.

Then I stood there, staring stupidly at the counter, trying to figure out why I was having trouble making some form of payment come out of the wallet.

Please keep in mind that my intellect is sadly sensitive to the whims of... well, pretty much everything.  Two hours of sleep?  I brush my teeth with A&D ointment.  Sunburn?  I become unable to make simple decisions.  Multitasking?  Something inevitably ends up on fire.

So with Adelaide desperately whispering that she wanted the burger, not the chicken, Atticus doing his level best to topple ol' Ronald, and Caedmon getting heavier by the second, I was having trouble with the simple task of extracting payment from my wallet and handing it to the cashier.

 To make matters worse, she was also staring at my wallet, and I was getting flustered.

After several seconds of this, she finally looked up and quietly said to me, "Um, that's a package of baby wipes."

Ah.  No wonder I couldn't find my debit card.

With this lovely employee's help, I put the wipes away, got out my actual wallet (which is, in fact, the same color as the package of baby wipes), and paid her.  We received our food promptly, and she was very nice and very patient throughout the whole debacle.

We ate our food.  The children romped and played.  We walked back by the registers to exit the store.

At that point, I heard a voice.  "Excuse me, ma'am?"

Crap.  What had I done now?

"Would your children like this ice cream?  We have one chocolate, one vanilla, and one strawberry shake here that you're welcome to have."

I looked at our children's pleading faces, debated for approximately two seconds, took the shakes, thanked the lady profusely, and we all waved good-bye to what looked like the entire McDonald's staff that was smiling at us and waving back.

And that, my children, is how you earn loyal customers.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Coming Up With Clever Titles Is Stressful. Also, a List.

Caedmon and I returned home yesterday evening after spending five days down south with family.  I'm still trying to unpack and get back into some kind of routine.

I haven't been so great at updating you all with our family's activities lately, so here's a little recap of what we've been up to so far this summer, which gives me a great excuse to make a bullet list, because you know how much I love those.  If I were ever to write up one of those weird descriptions of myself, it would read something like, "Kristy likes sunsets, long walks on the beach, and bullet lists."  Basically I'm about as much fun as a wicked case of the hiccups.

Anyway.  To the list!

  • We went to Adventureland.  Derek's dad came with us to help corral the kids, because Derek and I aren't quite brave/foolish enough to face an amusement park with three little kids on our own.  The weather was overcast and in the low 70's when we first got there, so of course we went swimming first.  We stoppped when I realized Caedmon was covered in goose bumps and his entire body was shaking because he was shivering so violently.  Derek-the-Iowa-native seemed to think it was the perfect weather for water park fun.

When Caedmon and Adelaide rode on the ladybugs, it was the closest I've ever felt to going back in time.  Say, about two years to our trip where Atticus and Adelaide rode those same ladybugs.  Our brave, brave boys.  (Hey, I just noticed they even have on the same shirt!)

  • Adelaide and I spent a couple hours one Saturday morning picking wild raspberries on a trail near our house.  They're currently in our freezer, but we have grand plans to make a syrup out of them, pour them over chocolate ice cream, and then pour chocolate Magic Shell over the whole thing- basically a direct ripoff of one of Hickory Park's sundaes.

  • One of the reasons for our trip over the weekend was so that I could attend my sweet little love muffin of a niece's baptism.  Charlotte is now four months old and is getting more adorable by the day.  Who knew thumb-sucking could be so cute?                                                           When my sister Kelli was explaining to Adelaide that I was going to be Charlotte's godmother and thus needed to be at the baptism, Adelaide flatly informed her, "There's no such thing as godmothers."  Pretty sure she was thinking of fairy godmothers, but her no-nonsense, business-like tone convinced me that she may, in fact, grow up to be the librarian that is her current career aspiration.

  • Another reason we headed south was so that I could spend the day with our newest niece, Vada.  It's funny that even though she and Charlotte are double cousins (remember, my two sisters married two brothers, so their children share both maternal and paternal genetic material), they look nothing alike.  Vada is beautiful in a completely different way- each of her features is so tiny and petite and perfectly formed, and she has none of the crazy baby blemishes our children were plagued with- red bumps and rashes and whiteheads and cradle cap.  Basically, she's perfect.

  • Caedmon got to meet several grandparents yesterday that I haven't seen in a long time.  We visited my great-grandma-- that would be Caedmon's great-great-grandma--one of the very best and sweetest people on this earth.  I swear to you her hugs feel like love itself.  We also got to go see my grandparents- that would be my great-grandma's daughter and her husband (are you lost yet?), and Caedmon decided to pull out all the stops for them.  He was cute and bubbly and affectionate and silly.  Basically, he was himself.  I felt like kind of a criminal for taking so long to bring all these grandparents to him.

  • This was one of the planters on our front porch about a month and a half ago.  It now looks like a mere shadow of its former self; the Japanese beetles have eaten nearly everything in my yard.  I am thisclose to declaring the same jihad I swore against the rabbits two years ago.  

Let's see, what else?  I've been doing my best to keep up with our Fruits of the Spirit summer lessons, although I got a little off track when I went straight from Love into Peace and Patience.  Apparently "Joy" was stuck in there when I wasn't looking.  I always knew Paul was a sneaky little devil.  And that may not have been the wisest choice of words.

Atticus and Adelaide are spending most of this week with their grandparents.  Which means Caedmon is an only child for a few days.  Which means you should brace yourself for a vicious onslaught of photos here in a few days.  Consider yourself warned.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

This Is a Public Service Announcement

I need to get something off my chest.

I've been thinking about it for awhile, and considering the possibility of writing a post on this specific subject, but have been holding off, not wanting to offend anyone.

Then, just a few days ago, it happened to me again.

I decided to write a post about my feelings rather than stabbing the lady at the pool in the eyeballs.  Isn't that healthy of me?

I have three young children.  I also have a personality that sometimes verges on hermit-like (hermitish?).  These two facts together mean that I try to stay at home as much as possible.  Yes, we go to the library a lot, we sometimes go to friends' houses for playdates, and I'll venture to the grocery store when it becomes clear that my family does not like to survive on a steady diet of barbecue sauce and saltines, but if at all possible, we stay home.  We're at a point where errands are stressful for me, so I do my best to have several days every week where we go nowhere that involves a motorized vehicle.

You see, when we do go out in public, our children behave like... well, children.  They usually do their best to behave, but sometimes Caedmon just can't resist the lure of the conveyor belt at the grocery store and the sight of the produce section sends Atticus into a state involving donkey brays, running, and what I'm assuming is some kind of rare tribal dancing.  They have lots of energy, which I appreciate, but sometimes I just want to get my yogurt and toilet paper and get the heck out of the store without feeling like I've run ten miles.

Enter The Lady.

If you have children, you know her.  She can take on many forms, but she is always female, and she never has children with her.  Her defining characteristic is the utterance of the phrase, "You should really cherish these years- they just fly by!"

I want to kill The Lady.

Now, to be fair, it's not really The Lady's fault I want to end her.  Sometimes I really need to hear what she has to say.  Actually, I probably usually need to hear it.  I do need to be cherishing these years, because she's absolutely right:  they are racing past.

The problem is, The Lady always picks the most inopportune times to say this.  She sees the chaos surrounding me and rather than helping or encouraging me, she offers a useless platitude that drives me to homicidal thoughts.

So if you suspect you are The Lady, here's a helpful checklist for you.  Should you see a mother with her children out in public, please do not offer the whole cherish-these-years bit if:

  • One of her children is crying, another is bleeding, and another is deliberately disobeying.  
  • She herself is obviously on the verge of tears.
  • She has human excrement anywhere on her person.
  • She is busy fashioning a toddler's teething toy into a shiv.

These may seem a tad obvious, but just like McDonald's having to print a "This drink is HOT, which means IT COULD BURN YOU, MORON," on the lids of their coffee cups, I have to say these things because I have actually been approached by The Lady when all of those things were happening.  Except for the toddler-toy-shiv thing.  That was just a heinous trip to Wal-Mart-inspired fantasy.

Instead of being The Lady, try being like an incredibly nice lady (NICE lady, not THE Lady) at my church who can often be found holding the door open for families entering the children's area at our church.  When she sees a mom struggling, she offers an encouraging word, or wonder of wonders, tries to help the family doing their best to make it through the door.  I once heard her say, "You're doing a great job," to a young mom with four little kids in tow, and the mom burst into tears, thanking this nice lady.  

So if you really feel you must, go ahead: tell that parent how much they should be cherishing this time.  You're right, they should.  But say it after you've offered a word of encouragement or a helping hand.  Lest you wind up with a teething toy in your eyeball one of these days.

This has been a public service announcement.