Thursday, April 30, 2009

Day 12

We'll just skip day 11 and get right to the juicy details of day 12. It was "The Cleaning Ladies from Hell day." I decided, at my hubby's encouragement, to invest in a cleaning service. It was either a cleaning service now or therapy (perhaps hospitalization) later. I got a recommendation from a friend, called up the cleaning lady, and made the appointment for today.

I was so looking forward to a sparkling clean home. I happily bundled the kids and went off to my friend's house for the morning while two "nice" ladies cleaned my home. I came back four hours later thinking that surely they would be finished (I was paying them an hourly rate). I walked in and one of the ladies was dusting...but also talking on the phone...not very good work ethic. I went upstairs to take a shower and found that my bathroom vanity was ruined. The cleaning lady had used either a gritty cleaner (like comet) or a SOS pad on my vanity. I could tell immediately. The once smooth, shiny surface had been scoured--leaving thousands of tiny visible scratches.

What did I do? First, I cried. I don't have a very nice house to begin with. But my bathrooms were decent and relatively new.

Second, I got under control and nicely confronted the cleaning lady about the damage. She refused to take the blame, saying that all the scratches had been there before. LIAR!!

Third, it just so happened that Owen called in the middle of everything. He suggested that it was better to err on the side of forgiveness and said it was probably an honest mistake. I paid the ladies for their work and told them I would not be using them again.

I wish I could walk around my house and enjoy the cleanliness. But all I can think about is the ruined vanity.

Lessons learned: 1) Always go with a bonded, insured cleaning company - the extra cost, in this case, would have been worth it. 2) Don't leave while the house is being cleaned. 3) Be extremely specific about how the house should be cleaned. 4) Do it myself and set aside the money saved for therapy!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Day 8,9,&10

Sunday afternoon we went to Tranquility Creek. I might as well have dressed the kids in swimming suits because by the end of the first ten minutes, everyone was soaking wet. Madi and Meya were the only ones who completely submerged - Madi on purpose, Meya by accident. Baby-C and I barely dipped our toes, and we kept a safe distance from the splashing.

Yesterday, my tender mercy came in the form of our neighbor, Miss Mary. T-man has been struggling a lot. He's been cranky and ornery...and at times, down right miserable. Miss Mary was working in her garden while I was trying to have some positive interaction with T-man in our yard. I was having little success. Basically, I dug in the dirt and spread mulch, while T-man cried on the grass.

I'm guessing Miss Mary heard my frustration as she witnessed T-man's behavior. She invited the twins over in the afternoon to do projects. They made robots (as shown here), spool racers, and miniature cities. The one hour with Miss Mary turned T-man around. My pleasant, grinning, hard-working boy was back!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Days 6&7

Today, I better just write about the good stuff that's happened over the last two days (because who wants to read about throw up in the car, temper tantrums - mine - in the parking lot, mowing the lawn in 95 degree weather, and exhaustion?). So here goes my attempt at positive thinking...

We bought four water guns at Target today. The kids played outside for nearly 2 hours with minimal conflict. They had so much fun that T-man announced at dinner "I feel like my cup is half full today!" (That's a lot for him!)

Yesterday, my friend's 18 year-old son stopped by my house on his way to school. He handed me a tupperware of fresh salad made by his mom. I was so thrilled by the thoughtful gift from my friend that I did a happy dance right there on my lawn. It was a delicious salad with spinach, chickpeas, yellow and orange peppers, grape tomatoes, and almonds. I ate it for lunch and dinner.

Tonight as I review our first week, I am thankful for water guns, salad, and thoughtful friends.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day 5

When things get ugly...there's one person who always makes us smile. Baby-C has come to the rescue over the last five days again and again. She seems to know exactly when to make a zurbert noise or a cute coo to lighten the moment.

Successes: T-man played basketball at Karen's house today - he made 57 baskets, a new record! I mopped the floors. I ate salad at lunch and dinner (I've been living on kid-friendly food for the last few days). I received a card in the mail from my aunt which made my day.

Casualties: No circle time tonight. After soccer practice and bath times, I was exhausted. I did good just to sing everyone their lullabies.

Goodnight all!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day 4

Successes: T-man and I decided to do some...wait for it...GARDENING! We hacked (or hoed) at the cover crop until it was all nice and chopped. In a couple days, we'll start turning the soil with shovels. Our tiller is on the fritz - so shovels will have to work. Then if all goes well, we'll plant tomatoes on May 1st. Of course, this is all new to me. I am not the gardener in this family. But T-man kept encouraging me saying "You're doing it, Mom!"
T-man and I also finished mulching the front flower beds. I've heard all the sayings about getting your hands dirty (mine were) and working with the soil, how it's so good for the soul. Today, it was.

Casualties: None.

Day 4 was a great day!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Day 3

Has it really only been 3 days? Tonight I'm so dang tired I would swear it's been at least two weeks.

Successes: I did my best to hide my exhaustion from the kids. Madi's soccer practice got rained out - so we went to the library instead. I took the garbage and the recycle box to the curb in preparation for tomorrow (yucky job!). And Chocolate is still alive.

Casualties: I snapped at my dear friend when she came over to my house a half hour before I was expecting her. I opted for canned soup instead of the homemade chili I had planned. I had complete and utter writers block all day (I was trying to work--but ended up staring at the computer screen--on a new query letter).

As a mother of five, I'm accustomed to feeling like I'm treading water and doing my best to just stay afloat. What's different is that usually I know that help will arrive between 5 and 6PM. Today, the prospect of treading water with no rescue in sight was a bit overwhelming.

The best part of my day was watching Madi chip in without being asked - helping with bathtime and picking up around the house -- oh, and the raw chocolate chip cookie dough that I sneaked from the fridge was pretty great too.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day 2

We needed an extra driver - so Baby C volunteered.

Today's Successes: Elise and I hand fed Chocolate with a medicine dropper. It looked like she ate some of her food, so she may come out of this after all.

I had to take T-Man to the doctor for his ears. While I sat in the examination room with the three youngest children, we got a case of the giggles. T-Man and Meya were laughing so hard that the nurse came to check on us, wanting to "hear the good joke."

Madi and Leasie were huge helpers tonight. They helped put the twins to bed and then stayed up with me to finish cleaning up. We worked so fast that we had time to play a couple card games and watch our favorite scenes from "Fiddler on the Roof" before bedtime.

Casualties: While I was doing the morning dishes I looked outside to see that someone had left the car door open all night long. It had rained all night long! Yuck.

Madi and I had to make an executive decision to forgo the completion of her science fair project. She has done one every year since Kindergarten. But with everything else going on, it just got away from us. And instead of killing ourselves to complete it (i.e., staying up late tonight), we decided to just save all the materials and do it for next year.

My thoughts: I miss having a co-decision maker. I really miss being able to consult about Chocolate's diagnosis, about choosing the fixtures for the bathroom, about Madi's science project, and about T-Man's ears. The mantle of responsibility is heavy when it has to be carried solo. This was a surprising realization - I thought I was going to relish the indepedence and autonomy.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Day 1

This is us in Italy during spring break (okay - it's Busch Gardens' Italy). It is also the picture that all the kids requested to have printed so they could keep it beside their beds.

The success of the Day 1: getting all five children dressed, fed, and to 8:30AM church on time...with no tears!

The causalities: Meya wore pink winter tights with her spring yellow dress, but hey, at least she got dressed by herself. I had to leave the breakfast dishes out on the table which wasn't very pleasant to come home to.

Adventure of the day: Chocolate, Leasie's bunny, needed emergency vet services today. She hasn't consumed any food or water for a couple days. The vet confirmed my fear that Chocolate was extremely dehydrated. They intravenously rehydrated her. We will have to manually feed her water/juice with a plastic syringe for the next couple days. Hopefully she'll recover. Under the current circumstances, I can't think of a more terrible timing for a bunny fatality.

Just in the first day, I have felt an added measure of strength. I keep telling my kids that this experience is a test of our character--an opportunity for us to grow in faith, grow closer together, and do more than what we may think we're capable of.

Day 1 is done!

Friday, April 17, 2009

30 Second Melodrama

I was three years old the first time I performed on a stage. It was for a church function - a variety show, I think. I did a 30 second melodrama. I remember standing back stage in the the glow of a red light. I wore a long pink dress and used a kleenex, pinched in the middle for my bow/mustache/bowtie prop. I actually remember walking out on stage and looking at the crowd that filled the church gym.

Tonight, Meya (5yrs) did the exact same performance. It wasn't her stage debut, but it was her first solo performance. She was darling:

"I can't pay the rent."
"You must pay the rent!"
"I can't pay the rent."
"You must pay the rent!"
"I'll pay the rent"
"My hero"

This girl had zero stage fright. She walked up on the stage, did her thing, and curtsied with poise. And she LOVED it - loved the practicing, loved the performance, and LOVED the applause.

As a mom, I was secretly hoping at least one of my children would have the acting bug. Mostly because I enjoy it so much. Looks like Meya's the one! I hope she and I will get to do some shows together in the future.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I'm Back

Whew. It has been a hectic couple of weeks. We're getting ready for the big send off this Saturday. We've scrambled to make progress on house projects (it would be lovely to have a functional downstairs bathroom!) and continued the accumulation of equipment for packing.

We also enjoyed a three day vacation to Williamsburg, VA--I'll blog about it next.

But, the major hindrance of more frequent entries has been Baby C's teething. She went from angel baby to cry baby overnight. She cried non-stop, even when I held her! Nights were also a struggle. I felt like a walking zombie due to sleeplessness. Infancy was nothing compared to teething!

She's lethal now - in less than two weeks, she cut teeth on the top and bottom. Yikes.

Check back soon...there's more to come.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Cherish the Ladies

For the second time in three years, I met my friend, Corinne, at the Barns of Wolf Trap for a "Cherish the Ladies" concert. "Cherish the Ladies" is an all women Irish group. (I LOVE their Christmas CD).

They played feet stomping jigs and take-you-away-to-far-off-places ballads. During some of the songs, we were treated to Irish dancing by world champion dancers. The whole barn thundered with the combined clapping, stamping, and clicking of dancers on stage and the audience cheering them on. During the ballads, the singer's voice floated hauntingly, as only an Irish voice can do.

But the best part of the night for me--besides having a rare evening to myself sans children--was getting to catch up with Corinne. We've known each other for almost a decade. We had our first babies the same year when we were all poor grad students in College Park, Maryland. We went to library story times together, ate yummy meals at each other's homes, commiserated and celebrated together, and even took an escape-the-world trip down to Assateague Island one wonderful weekend. For three years, we lived a just a few short miles away from each other.

Miles apart and years later, we're still friends. Our commiserating seems to have grown as our families have increased--but so has our sense of humor. And our celebrating is all the more sweet. As the singer came back on stage for the final encore, I realized I have so much to "cherish." Especially the dear friend sitting next to me.