Monday, December 28, 2009

Hoarders.

I'm hooked on this A&E series called Hoarders. It's like watching a train wreck happening in slow motion. I'm absolutely riveted. Fascinated. Absolutely gobsmacked.

I watch Hoarders to feel better. And to sympathize. Personally, I'm not much of a hoarder. I'm a first class, grade A, top of the line PITCHER. Even some things with mild sentimental value. Trash. I do like to digitally archive things, and I love to organize, but I hate, hate, hate, (no, I really don't feel like HATE is too strong of a word) to have shit piled from stem to stern in a house. Last week, I was watching an episode where the lady hoarded trash. Seriously, trash. As in, garbage. The stuff those nice men in the big red truck come to get every Friday. Fuzzballs and wrappers and papers and containers. Cups and pizza boxes and old toasters. Trash. The Hoarders hired crew removed, literally, thousands of pounds of garbage from her house. In the rubble, they found not ONE (that would be only mildly HORRIFYING) but TWO . . . DEAD . . . CATS! What? Two dead cats. Yes, and her response from the doorway, "Huh, I don't have cats?!?!"

Okay, rewind my life.

I was a young mother and a young wife. Big was only about 12 weeks old when duty called from my dad's home. He had fallen. He was hurt. Living alone, he became stuck on the floor, unable to get up to find help for at least three days. He nearly died. Through God's grace, the neighbor heard his dog yowling and came to see what the ruckus was about. He summoned an ambulance and me. In the weeks that followed, I was charged with cleaning his home, prepping it for sale and moving him into nursing home care.

His home . . . was just like Hoarders. He had hot dogs in his fridge from days gone by. He collected syrup containers from McDonald's, sugar packets from every restaurant, toothpicks, tiny creamers, food, trash, dog treats, newspapers . . and, my personal favorite, fish. He fished. Alot. On good days, he'd bring home his limit. On really good days, he'd bring home his limit on every license he purchased. He'd clean the fish in the back yard (party on, neighborhood cats), chop their heads off, and freeze their whole fishy bodies in a block of ice formed by floating the fish in a loaf pan. When frozen, he'd pop the block of ice-fish out and stack it in the freezer, thus repurposing the pan for the next fish-block. He had a three bedroom home. In it, was a fridge/freezer. The freezer was full of fish. In the basement, a tiny turn around of a space, was a second freezer. Full of fish blocks. He had a garage. Two freezers. With fish blocks. He had a shop. One huge ice chest and a vertical freezer. Fish. His freezers were so full of frozen fish that the doors wouldn't shut. Their tails stuck up out of the ice and were freezer burned. Cleaning it was nothing short of disgusting.

He also collected tin cans. I don't know where he got his tin cans, but I know he valued them. Highly. In 1997, MOTH and I announced to my father that we were engaged. At that time, he had NO money. Literally, not a pot to piss in. As our wedding day drew near, he offered us his tin can collection as a wedding gift. I hear you laughing, and to be honest, we chuckled too, but knowing what it's worth was, TO HIM, we gratefully accepted. Little did we know that cashing in our "gift" would be two days work, transporting full truckloads of aluminum cans to the recycle center. He had a two bay garage with a full rafter-attic system. He pulled so many friggin cans out of that garage! I can still remember looking at my soon to be husband from the back of the bed of a little white Nissan, thinking, "He MUST love me." My dad's ass was bent over in the darkest depths of that garage, and he kept throwing tin cans out for us to put in the truck. When it was all said and done, the check we received from the recycle center went straight to my aunt, the florist who did our flowers. Wedding flowers. Completely covered. With, I'm guessing, two decades of tin can collecting.

Anyway, Hoarders. It's fascinating. When we cleaned out my dad's house, "hoarding" wasn't a diagnosable disorder. He was just messy. Mostly, because of his age and bachelor status. He was given a huge "get out of jail" excuse card, just for having a penis. "Men", they would say, "don't know how to keep a home." And, that, in and of itself, is somewhat fascinating. I can't wait for the new series. Like I said, I'm riveted.

Three Christmases

December 2009.
Three Christmases. Done.
Three kids birthdays. Done.
Two adult birthdays. One down and one to go.

Presents were a hit. The kids were up early. The adults were well behaved. The ham was decent. The mashed potatoes were smooth. The cook's back hurt before she got started. Big scored a blue nano, which has been attached to her for three days straight. Middle has been busy with games, toys & an obsessive compulsion to save all the bows. Little cleaned up in the world of bakugan and legos. MOTH and Little have been lego-ing for their fourth day straight. Wii family game night is fun. I like the puzzle with the ferris wheel. It reminds me of Balboa Island. MOTH found the set of blue kitchen knives I've been searching for & surprised me with a sweet jacket. Perfect for dog walking. Mimi still has a few gifts under the tree. She doesn't unwrap for the sake of getting the gift out. She plays with each thing as she goes. Even slippers. She put them on, straighaway. Cute.

Little's birthday was a good time, too. Good cake, good presents. The girls LOVE his shiny new stilts. Really, I have cleared a path through the paper and padded the hallway walls. That will have to do!

Second Christmas at my mom's house was good. I confess. I taught the kids how to play a little poker. What's the harm, right? We weren't drinking Jack & Coke or smokin' stogies. Just a little five card draw.

Third Christmas at MIL's house was good, too. Pretty table, beautiful decor . . . . a few more gifts.

There were no outright fights and on the scale of happiness vs. disappointment . . . happiness certainly prevailed. Whew. Leaving MIL's house, my car wouldn't start, so I've been dealing with a borrowed car, a jump start, warranty stuff, a rental, the shuttle, and oh, I MUST pick up Middle from Winter Camp at noon. My mental list has slowed, but is still steadily streaming in . . . . kids dentist appointments, well child checks, payroll, I'd like to write a book, is this my year to finally be a skinny bitch?, resolutions, goals, hopes, dreams, desires . . . . I'm finishing 2009 in a wistful state . . . . Well, wistful with possible carpal tunnel from too much Guitar Hero . . .

Thursday, December 24, 2009

This is my new parenting tactic:

1. Tell the kids what I'm about to tell them.
2. Tell them what I want to tell them.
3. Tell them what I just told them.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

To Think About ...

This is from a fathering newsletter that I recieve as a result of a position that I am in . . . . such good information!

"Your kids' perspective is much different from yours.

They aren't thinking about the stresses and conflicts that we see -- at least not nearly to the same degree. For them, there's really no such thing as "in laws"; it's just different sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. And they live more day-to-day, so they aren't likely to worry about finances or busy schedules. Of course, if you're overstressed, they will surely notice and be affected. You can help spare them from that by staying positive yourself.

It's not about you.

Sometimes the best remedy is simply a mental adjustment on your part -- looking more toward serving and blessing others instead of seeking what you want. Make it your goal to find joy and fulfillment in facilitating activities that will bring everybody else Christmas joy. With extended family members, look for common ground and seek to better understand their perspective. That's what dads do, and it's a great way to express your commitment to your family.

Traditions should enhance the holidays, not add stress.

As a family, re-evaluate which ones are truly worth the effort, and hold on to those. Carry them out with enthusiasm. Often, kids are a good measure for whether you should keep specific traditions. Will they notice or care if you don't do a particular activity this year? If not -- and if you and Mom have no strong ties to it -- then maybe it's something you can skip."

Crazy

Christmas break is always a little crazy. Everyone is home, for one. Lots of people in a space that is MINE by the light of day. That can make for crazy. I love having everyone home, I do. The last two days have been one thing after his mother. Some of the last few days keeps running through my mind in snip-its or one-liners.

Scrambled eggs for breakfast . . . . Little said, "can I be the cracker, can I be the cracker?" Followed by, "sure" . . . put these eggs on the counter with the bowl . . . I'm running to the garage for two more eggs . . . be right back . . . and when I walked in, literally 30 seconds later, suddenly Mimi is the cracker. Note: she's not a very good cracker. She bangs the bowl too hard, the bowl tips, eggs run out . . . or she doesn't get a good enough start & then squeezes with a single fist just a little too tight. Eggs on the floor. Shells in the eggs that manage to get into the bowl.

This morning, "Mom, can you help? Moose has a bone frozen to his lip." Sure thing. Picture to come.

I kept smelling poop. Checked everywhere. Dogs outside, no visible poop anywhere. Nothing rotting, nothing gross . . toilets are flushed . . all's well. Dogs in. I keep smelling poop. I have nasal senses like a werewolf, so when I smell poop . . . I know THERE . . .IS . . . POOP . .. SOME . . . WHERE. Dogs in. Ah, now there's poop. On the bottom of a dog foot. Easily contained, small. Done. But, I still smell poop. Little's on the downstairs potty. Done. But I S-T-I-L-L smell poop. Did poop patrol in the backyard. Still, I smell poop. Serioulsy, it took me a good 30 minutes to realize that the poopy culprit was right under my nose. Blame it on a dog, but really, tis Mimi and the droopy diaper extraordinaire.

Middle and Little are sleeping bag sledding. Yes, this is normal. We have great stairs for sleeping bag sledding. One has to stand watch so Mimi doesn't get slammed. After a few times, they always pad the bags with pillows. Still, yes, I let them.

Yesterday, I shooed them all outside for some fresh winter air. And poop patrol. One is "the spocker". That means they walk in front and spock the piles. The other is the sitter. That's the babysitter of Mimi, who is wholly unhelpful in the world of poop picking. One is "the bagger". This just means they hang onto the empty bags so the wind doesn't wisk them into the neighbor's yard. The spocker said, "there, mom, on the patio." And I went to it. And though it was Moose-poop-sized, it was really a mouse. Expired, of course. Still wet with slobber, from being, er, um played with. Hmm, I thought to myself, I wondered what she was throwing in the air out here.

:) :) :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas

The only holiday where you sit around a dead tree and eat candy out of your socks.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mmm-hmmm. One of the hardest parts of being a mom is witnessing heartbreak.

Big didn't make the traveling basketball team. Three tryouts. She gave it 110%. Every tryout.

I think in her heart of hearts, way down deep, she may have known. There were 37 girls trying to land 10 spots.

The worst part, I think . . . is this: At the end of the final day, the coach stood before the girls and said, "we were hoping for more. You guys look flat today & we can tell that many of you don't want this bad enough."

And, I think, that's a really shitty generalization to make. Maybe there are a few girls out there who are flat. Maybe they are going through the motions. Maybe their dad is on the sidelines, and he's the one wanting to rebound and box out. But that kind of comment falls on the wrong ears. Only the girls like MY girl, that did WANT to make it, that WASN'T flat, that gave it all that she had PLUS some, really heard that comment. The wrong girls took that to heart.

That's the bummer of it. Really, big bummer.
I'm kind of in the bitter barn today. Edgy. Mimi is challenging me. This morning, our routine sucked eggs. I ran a few errands, but couldn't get this resounding thought out of my noggin:

Sometimes, don't you just want to say what you think?

Sometimes, don't you just want to let folks have it with a verbal lashing? I might practice a little.

As much as we give thanks and use humor to cope with the great things in our lives, I really think it's very appropriate to use a little humor to cope with things that just plain piss you off. Here is what is on my mind today, perhaps given the spirit of Christmas cards and reconnecting with people that don't really know you anymore. Maybe that is for a reason.

One of my Christmas letter deletions went like this:

Dear Friends,
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Here's a picture of us. Yes, we have a friggin' huge dog. Yes, I know . . you wouldn't do that. Oh, you counted! Yes, we had another baby. She just turned two. You didn't know? Ah, it's because we didn't tell you. Probably, because we didn't want to deal with your response. Yes, we know how it happens. Yes, we know how to fix it. No, we're not mormons. No, we're not Catholic. We know, four is alot.

Dear Self: you can't send this shit. Press backspace and start again.

Dear Friends,
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Here's a picture of us. Yes, we have a friggin' huge dog. You haven't heard from us in a while? We know, it's busy. We're busy . . . . between kids activities and work, and keeping a household running, well, you know. Just imagine the laundry. Somedays, it feels like I'm running a laundromat. How do the Duggers do it??

Dear Self: you can't send this shit. Do you really want to send a letter?

No. So I sealed the enveloped and put them in the mail. F-mother-of-flower-child made my card list for me. I had 50 cards. Well, 49 really, becasue I wanted to save one. My initial list had 8 people on it. Her version ballooned to 45. Then, I found a few more people (thanks, mom).

At the final go, some of you didn't make the cut. Think of it this way: you see us, therefore know what we look like, and don't need a card to remind you. Or, I know you'll throw it away, so you can't have one.

And that, friends, is how things are in the bitter barn today.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Every week in our home has victories and landmarks. Some times, they are small & we have to look really hard.

This week: 3 of 4 children appreciate the beauty of Chinese takeout.

Hooray.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

M U R D E R E R

True, but I prefer, E U T H A N I Z E R.

Middle's mice have been looking really bad. Nearly 3 months ago, one of them started losing hair. It's been eating and grooming itself and been very active. But the hairless spot now spans its entire head and down it's back. It's pink and skinny under there. And apparently, very itchy. Because she's been scratching a hole in the back of her neck. Last weekend, the last straw. It scratched a true, bloody gash in the back of it's neck and sprinkled blood droplets all over the inside of the cage. Ewww. I know.

Several weeks ago, the other one (there is no delicate way to put this) grew a tumor. It started out small. About the size of a marble. But quickly grew to nearly match the actual size of the mouse. It split like a cell dividing in the center. It turned blackish-purple and lost all of the hair surrounding the tumor. It began to bleed and became too large for the mouse to navigate the tunnels and fun things in its cage.

Weeks ago, I began talking with Middle about the end of their lives. About the good times, the humane way, being a responsible pet owner. Yadda, yadda, yadda. She concluded that when the time came, we should take them to the vet, like we did with Zeeke & have them "go to heaven" that way. I agreed.

Only (I see you all nodding your heads) . . . you don't REALLY take mice to the vet for euthanasia. Imagine my shock when she came to me with tears in her eyes this morning and said, "They both look really bad, momma. Can you take them today?" I was planning to watch a little HGTV today, do some billing, bundle up and pick up dog poop in the back yard. Instead, I'm google-ing "humane ways to kill a mouse." It's surprising, and somewhat disturbing . . . the number of websites and step-by-step instruction guides on how to whack a mouse. Really. Disturbing.

MOTH laughed on the phone, as I ranted. Clearly, MAN work. See, this is what I get for breaking my "no caged animals" rule. Poetic justice, if you will. I opted for a modified version of suffocation and hypothermia. Coffee can. Snow bank. Yes, I put them outside. Why? Because outside today, it was -12 with the wind chill blowing around the northern-most and shady corner of our house. That's way colder than the inside of my freezer, as google suggested. Plus, I just kind of get the heebie-jeebies thinking about hypothermic cancer mouse laying frozen stiff and dead next to my spring veggies and all white meat chicken nuggets. Ewww.

MOTH and I had, perhaps, one of the largest marital arguments on record today. Because he found it necessary to open the double plastic bag wrapped, frozen coffee can to ensure their deadness. Seriously. Why? My arguement. No way in hell they could have survived that. They've been in a friggin' snow bank for HOURS. They are mouse-sicles of the highest order. Plus, what's the PLAN. If, by chance, they are not dead . . what's he gonna do? Warm them, feed them and rehabilitate them so I can try to RE-KILL them tomorrow? But, oh, the sick one of us just . . had . . . to . . . open . . the . . . can. And he just had to describe to me what happened to their eyes. Now, I'm scarred for life. Scarred. For. Life.

As if being a mouse killer wasn't a traumatic enough day.

Dear Middle, I'm sorry. Love, Mom

Dear Middle,

I'm really sorry. I hope that you don't read this until you are 25 or 27 or 31. Perhaps by then, you'll understand some of the "umph" behind why parents lie to their children. By then, you'll know about Santa, the Toothfairy, our Pacifairy, Father Time, Mother Nature & Old Man Winter. You'll have a keen understanding of fairy, fact & fiction. With any luck, you'll understand money and when you put parents and money in the same equation, you'll be able to undertand that saving some money actually allows YOU to do fun things.

Love,
Mom

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

She's a rock star and it's okay to hate what you love.

It's the time for tinsel and shoppers rushing around with fantastic packages. Shopping bags at the holiday time really are marvelous. I love the handled ones. And the carrying bridge if you have a big-ass bag from Crate and Barrel.

I went to The Container Store last week. It was like an organization orgasm. I have no doubt I could spend the better part of a day in there. I'd like to walk in every row and see everything. It was fabulous.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the title. She's a rock star. That's right. She's a rock star. Middle moved up again. Up another level in gymnastics. She was nervous and full of knots today all day long. She showed up at her first practice. She's the itty tiniest one. Which makes my breath catch in my throat just . . . a . . . . little . . . bit. She's the youngest. There are 8 or 9 girls in her team/class. The oldest is, I'm guessing, about 12. She's my height (which, I know, smartass . . . doesnt' say much . . . but it's my guess.) And she did GREAT. She belongs in that class, although, my prediction is . . . not for long.

And, it's okay to sometimes hate what you love. When our late doggie Zeeke was alive, I hated that he was always underfoot. He liked to be right with me and was always vacuuming the floor around me for scraps and snacks. I frequently tripped on him and was always saying, "scootch, buddy . . . look out, Long Dog." Now, the floor is dirty and I have to sweep. I miss him being under my feet and vacuuming the kitchen floor. I could train Moose to vaccum, but watching him stoop his neck down to get something off of the floor is like watching a giraffe drink from a water hole. It takes a few minutes, and it's a sight to see.

I also love computers. I love the internet. I love digital scrapbooking. I love speed, email, blogging, cyber communication. I hate that I had the payroll file all squared away and looking pretty. And it got lost or file-un-saved, or some sort of bullshit snaffu . . . and everyone got a duplicate paystub of last month's check. Shit. So I re-worked it. And cursed the whole time. And was just a wee bit bitter to have a to pay a babysitter so I could work from home.

Up side. Down side. Dog under foot all the time but a clean floor. Computers keep us in touch, but sometimes create a hell of alot more work. Working from home . . sometimes not the tight piece of cherry pie that it seems. And I suppose that is all okay. To sometimes hate what you love . . . and sometimes love what you hate.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

24 shopping days left . .. . and the status is . .. .

24 shopping days left. The lists are in.

Santa:
for Big: A Nano
for Middle: An easel, new acrylic paints & paintbrushes. Her letter is so cute. "Real live big girl paints in tiny tubes."
for Little: A Ben 10 Watch, Bakugans & a Star Wars Helmet Head
for Mimi: Tent Tunnels & _______________ (something else??)

Mom & Dad:
for all of them: guitar hero & a game for each
for Big: assorted stuff from Aero
for Middle: a manatee, art paper without lines, writing paper with lines & a balance beam
for Little: Legos, TAG & a new Jedi Reading Leapster Cartridge
for Mimi: little people and a homemade bowling set

Sibling to Sibling: They are done shopping and are working on wrapping . . . . this is a JOB, but I think they all did a great job!
for Big: fingerless gloves from Little, a scarf from Middle and ??? from Mimi
for Middle: an art trunk from Little, I can't remember from Big (It will drive me nuts all day) & ?? from Mimi
for Little: a bumblebee costume from Big, Bakugans from Middle & ?? from Mimi
for Mimi: a puzzle from Middle, balls from Little & something from Big that I also can't remember . . . DAMN, I'm getting old (yea, Happy Birthday to me & Mimi today)

Tier 3 gifts:
Everyone has at least one package from the UF. That's the underwear fairy here. And new jammies for Christmas Eve. Well, everyone except me . . . but I'm getting mine today . . . .

Mimi's birthday is today. She's getting a laundry basket. It has balls in it -- from Middle & Big. Little chose a tea set for her. I have a set of sensory balls.

Middle's birthday is around the corner. She has a leotard & hot pants from me.

Little's birthday is on Christmas. He has legos and bakugans. He's crazy, by the way . . . about legos and bakugans.

Whew.