Procrastinate? No, Not Me

I don’t consider myself a procrastinator but an activity-replacer. There are certain chores that will always need to be done but since I’m the Mom in this house, no one is telling me I have to do them right now.

On Sunday, for example, the bathroom was in desperate need of cleaning so I reorganized Bridget’s room.  Right now the breakfast dishes are calling to me to be put in the dishwasher but I am writing this blog. And there are random portions of my yard begging to be mowed but I have accomplished so many other things outside, like picking pumpkins and watering the tomatoes.

You may call that procrastination but I call it replacing a hated activity with one that is more enjoyable and isn’t that was life is all about? I am prioritizing, not procrastinating. Who doesn’t think that reading a book is more important than mopping the kitchen floor? And I can tell you why.

That’s right, I am a master rationalizer and I would challenge anyone to give me a task that I can’t replace and give a rational explanation. Remember the dirty bathroom? The kids don’t want to help me clean the bathroom but they are more than happy to help me organize toys so I chose to spend time with them rather than soap scum. And aren’t you glad I chose to write this brilliant piece of material while milk coagulates on my counter? I told you there were only portions of my yard that needed to be mowed and it would have been a waste of time to only mow the long grass but I might have killed the short grass had I mowed the entire thing.  And the health benefits of pumpkins and tomatoes totally outweigh the health benefits of grass.

Do you see my genius? You are probably thinking that I certainly can’t have a good reason to read a book rather than mop the kitchen floor It must be laziness, right? Wrong. If I don’t enrich my mind, either by learning more about other cultures or lifestyles or increasing my vocabulary, how can I teach my kids? If I encourage them to read and hope that they enjoy reading, shouldn’t I set a good example? And honestly, I live with a dairy farmer and 3 dirty kids, the floor is going to be dirty again within minutes.

Now, off to play a game with Bridget because I would much rather have her learn her letters then how to rinse out cereal bowls.

The Poor Itchy, Sweaty Guy

Ever notice how the best intentions very often lead to the worst times? All too often, that is Blair’s story and it was true last weekend. I felt so awful for him and there was literally nothing I could do to help. Poor guy.

It started on Friday night when he wanted to watch a preseason Eagles game because he is mildly obsessed with Eagles football. He was pretty sure the game started at 7 and was hoping to be home by then. He called around 7 with the sad news that he wouldn’t be home in time and asked me to DVR the game. I checked the guide and informed him that there were no Eagles games scheduled. He sounded like Drew when I tell him he can’t go to the farm, dejected and sulky.

He got home around 8:30 and checked the schedule for himself and discovered that the game would be aired at 10:00 (I hadn’t checked that far, oops.) He was exhausted but made the decision to stay up and watch at least the first half and would DVR the rest; he didn’t make it past the first quarter. Thankfully he managed to set the DVR before he fell asleep but that was just about the last thing that went right this weekend.

On Saturday he hurried through feeding the cows, fixing a broken silo, and all his other farm tasks so that he could help a friend mow some crazy rampant weeds at his new acreage. He made time to stop and watch the kids swim for a few minutes, fed some more cows, then drove his big, green tractor out to mow weeds.

When he got home late Saturday night he was wearing just his shorts, socks and shoes, which isn’t all that unusual. Typically he walks through the house in various stages of undress no matter how many guests we have or even if we’re having a party. The strange part was that after shoveling some delicious cheesy bacon French fries into his mouth, he went to shower and came out and still didn’t have a shirt on because “it hurts to put it on.”  I tentatively asked if he had cut all the weeds by hand and was too sore to raise his arms to put a shirt on.“No, it itches, I can’t even lean back on the couch.”

Apparently, he was allergic to something in the weeds he was mowing and his entire body felt “on fire and itchy.” He did enjoy standing in the middle of the living room and rubbing a towel across his back and at one point was lying on the floor like a puppy trying to scratch a back itch. His eyes were all red and puffy, his contacts were so irritated that he couldn’t get them out fast enough, and he couldn’t sit back and relax. It was miserable and even a back scratch wasn’t enough to control the crazy itchy feeling.

Thankfully he was able to sleep and we were hopeful that Sunday would be better. Ah, again the best of intentions. He wasn’t able to put his contacts in to go milk the stupid cows at 4 am, but thankfully was able to clothe himself properly. After breakfast, he napped while the kids and I played until we woke him up to talk about going on a bike ride. Why oh why did I suggest a bike ride?

Sad, sad tears from Bridget when “myyyy daaaaaaady” left her again to finish some things at the farm and bring a truck home to transport bikes to a trail in Cedar Falls. We ate lunch then began to prepare the bikes for the long 10 mile trek to Cedar Falls. I had tied water bottle holders to the kids’ bikes on our previous trail ride and Blair was not impressed with my ingenuity. I came out of the house when I heard the drill and found him drilling holes in their bikes to screw the holders on.  The boys thought that was way cooler than my twine and shoestring apparatus…whatever.

Finally got the bikes loaded in the truck, everyone’s water bottles and helmets, and started driving. On the way, Blair mentioned that the gas tank in the truck was acting goofy (this is foreshadowing at its finest, by the way) and to remind him to get gas on the way home.  The bike ride itself went rather smoothly except for the sunscreen in Bridget’s eye that had her crying in Daddy’s ear most of the ride. Being the gentleman that he is, he offered to ride with Bridget so he didn’t have to listen to me whining about it.

We loaded bikes and kids back into the truck and Blair had the most genius idea ever; let’s get them ice cream before we go home. I am not being sarcastic, it was brilliant because tired, sweaty kids are bad enough without adding hungry and stuck on the side of the road to the mix. That’s right, the truck ran out of gas on the highway exit ramp and there we sat. Thank God we had fed them.

We had a couple of options at this point: call Blair’s parents to come pick us up, take another family bike ride down a ridiculously long, steep, curved exit ramp to the gas station at the bottom, or have one adult sit with the kids while the other rode to the gas station. I vetoed option 2 as too dangerous and Blair vetoed option 1 so he grabbed a bike and took off…for one pedal rotation before the chain fell off.

Honestly, I could hardly even laugh it was so awful. He fixed the chain and took off at breakneck speed….until his hat blew off. I could see him swearing from 100 feet away and just tried to occupy the kids so they didn’t see him stomping in the weeds to retrieve it. The boys thoroughly enjoyed watching Daddy speed down the exit ramp once he got that far while Bridget called “my daddy come back get me?”

In the meantime, I called his parents and asked them to pick him up at the gas station because I had just realized that he would have to ride back up the giant hill while carrying a gas can. I called to tell him the cavalry was coming and he said he would wait for them.  So, the kids and I sat in the hot truck with ice cream moustaches while I continually asked them to keep their heads inside the truck.

Suddenly Drew yelled, “There’s Dad!” Hard to contain two excited kids trying to climb out the truck windows because they hadn’t seen Daddy for a total of 15 minutes. No one is that excited when I come home…but I digress. Blair had decided it would take too long to wait for his parents and just rode back up the ramp to save us. I should have known he wouldn’t wait. Thankfully, the truck started right back up and we made it home without any further catastrophes

The poor guy, he just wanted to help his friend and spend some time with his kids and how was he rewarded?  And bless his heart, he would do it all again tomorrow.

The Force is Expensive

My children have recently become obsessed with all things Star Wars and I blame myself….and Gavin.

My nephew has loved the Star Wars movies since he was 3 or so and since he is an only child, his parents were able to get him many of the Star Wars toys and accessories. My boys would play along and listen to Gavin’s convoluted explanations of each character and the value of their light saber but I was starting to feel bad about Sam’s lack of Star Wars knowledge.

I had vowed that I wouldn’t let my kids watch the movies until they were 7 or 8, so when Sam turned 7 and started pestering me, I gave in.. I am a Star Wars purist so I bought Episodes 4, 5, and 6 (the original and real Star Wars movies) and set up a surprise movie night. Since I am a poor and hypocritical mother, I allowed Drew & Bridget to watch the movie with us as well because I simply didn’t want to fight with them about it and couldn’t think of a good excuse to get them out of the house. And our Star Wars obsession began.

The boys spent the entire movie (which is a long time, by the way) asking me question after question about who each character was, even the most minor rebel fighter or crazy-looking bar monster, how big the Death Star is, when we would see Anakin, and why Darth Vader sounds like that. I had to really stretch my brain to remember some of the details of the story and ended up just making some stuff up. By night 3, during the fist viewing of Return of the Jedi, I had given up and just answered, “I don’t know, we’ll have to ask Gavin.”

My dearth of answers to the endless questions brought us to our first Star Wars-related expense; I bought a kids’ book detailing how Anakin becomes Darth Vader. This is an amazing book that I highly recommend to anyone with even a passing interest in Star Wars or who has young children who might someday need to know all about Sith, Jedi and the Dark Side. Sam read the book more than once the first day we brought it home and has loaned it to his friends as well but we still have a lot of questions, more each time we watch one of the movies which is more often than I like to admit.

Both Sam & Drew’s questions are getting more detailed and intuitive and therefore harder to answer: Do Jedis really die? Because their bodies disappear and then we can still hear their voices. Why can’t Darth Vader feel that Leia is his daughter when they’re on the ship together?  Wish I had the Force to give me wisdom.

During or immediately after each viewing, Drew gets out his light saber, a toy he’d had for months but didn’t really know what to do with. Now he makes the realistic noise (where do little boys learn to do that?) and swings it around a lot. We have at least one light saber fight per day but miraculously few injuries.

Bridget has also become a little Star Wars baby and has paid more attention to the movies than I expected. She knows all of the main characters on sight and talks about them incessantly; in the car the other day she informed us “Chewy hold me.”  This statement was completely out of the blue and I worried that she was hallucinating or choking or something. I asked for more clarification and she repeated, “Chewy hold me.” I asked if Chewy was tall and she responded with, “Chewy hold me up high.” Then the boys started asking her more questions and everyone started giggling and pretty soon they had an entire scenario envisioned, it was great.

We all have new names in our house, courtesy of Bridget and George Lucas. When she isn’t referring to me as Suzi, she is calling me Princess Leia, which I love. Daddy is now “Luuuuke Kywalker” and the boys are various Ewoks, rebel fighters, or Darth Vader. Darth Vader Grandpa was even called into service to try and convince her to poop on the potty!

Bridget also started the most expensive portion of our travels to Tatooine and all the other planets I can’t pronounce. Every time Yoda enters the scene, she rushes to the TV, points to him and laughs and says, “Me like Yoda.” Yes, she sounds a lot like the iconic character without trying. Eventually someone suggested that she be Yoda for Halloween and the craziness began.

The costume craze has extended to Mom and Dad, Gavin and Aunt Shel, and beyond. I started looking online for costumes and was almost personally offended at the price of “authentic, officially licensed Star Wars costumes.” An adult Chewbacca costume runs around $450.00….seriously, who is buying that? I have found cheaper costumes for each of the kids, if they would just make a final decision on who they want to be, but the final total will still be painful. And the genius costume-makers don’t include accessories with the costumes and have made replicas of each character’s blaster, light saber, or gloves so that you can’t just buy one gun or saber and use if for multiple characters. Especially when you have my kids who watch the movies as if they will be tested on them later.

The good news is, this too shall pass….I hope, and in the meantime I get to reminisce about watching the movies when I was young, laugh at my own kids’ reenactments of pivotal scenes and pure enjoyment of Yoda and the Ewoks, and chuckle when Blair suggests I wear the Princess Leia bikini costume.  Because that is seriously funny.

Vacuum Bag Breeding Grounds

Are vacuum bags good breeding grounds? If so, I may soon be creating a new hybrid earwig-spider monster that will probably invade and take over my basement. Here’s the story….

A couple of weeks ago, the kids and I were cleaning up the basement. We have a basically unfinished basement that I am trying to encourage the kids to play in. The Wii is down there along with the sectional couch that many of you would remember on site from my parents’ old living room. We have road map and color-block rugs on the floor and a variety of toys down there but I am still having trouble convincing the kids to play more than 5 feet away from me.

To that end, we were rearranging the toys and furniture in the basement in the hope that they would feel some ownership and choose to spend more time playing subterranean. As we moved the couch and some rubbermaids filled with even more toys, we discovered some earwigs and what Sam told me were earwig eggs.

I immediately resorted to my favorite cleaning tool, the vacuum, and quickly sucked up the offending bugs and their gross little eggs. Feeling very proud of my scream-less disposal of the yuck, we finished organizing the basement and waited for Daddy to come home so we could show him the fruits of our hard labor.

Again, Blair dispelled any notion I had that I was a quick-thinking bug destroyer and asked if I thought I had killed the bugs and eggs by sucking them into a warm, dry place where they wouldn’t get stepped on. Jerk. But since he didn’t go empty the vacuum bag, neither did I…which brings us to this morning.

Bridget and I went to workout in the basement and I noticed a large spiderweb that had cropped up since my last workout (don’t judge me) with even larger eggs suspended in it. Without giving it much thought, I grabbed my trusty vacuum hose and waved it frantically in a circle around my head to make sure I got every last strand of web. As I holstered my weapon I had a horrible thought. What if the earwig babies and the spider babies mate in the vacuum bag and hatch a hideous cross-breed with armor and horns and poisonous spider venom? Would we be attacked and killed by these hybrid creatures or would we suddenly wake up with insect super powers?

I had to cut my workout short to stop my mind from going to crazier and crazier places and inventing alternately scary and hilarious scenarios in which giant bugs erupted from my vacuum.  But I still didn’t empty the vacuum bag.

Apology to My Mom

Mom, I’m sorry for putting clean clothes back in the hamper because I was too lazy or busy or preoccupied to bother putting them away. I now realize the fist-clenching frustration you must have felt when encountering  nicely folded shirts or balled-together socks when putting clothes in the washing machine.

I apologize for answering “Fine” when you asked how school was today. I should have given you details about the subjects I learned about, my conversations with friends, what we played at recess and ate for lunch. I should not have made you ask leading questions and drag the important things out of me, I should have spilled my guts when you were offering snacks.

I don’t know how you survived walking past my bedroom 10-12 times a day and not screaming your brains out about all of the nice clothes on my floor, toys haphazardly thrown about, and shudder wallets lying on the floor with money you generously gave me sliding out. Did I really need to keep 4 water cups near my bed? Why couldn’t I bring them to the kitchen in the morning?

All those shoes and coats dropped inside the front door? I’m sorry for those too. I know you spent a lot of money on those coats and shoes and provided a place for me to put them away. I realize that you held in swear words every time you tripped over a shoe while trying to enter your house and I appreciate your restraint.

I also apologize for leaving my backpack and its contents strewn about the house. I wonder how many forms you had to call the school about or how many library books you had to pay for. Why did I feel the need to clean out my backpack on the kitchen table and then leave it all right where we ate supper so that you had to scoop it all off and take care of it for me? I should have emptied my backpack immediately after school, placed any important papers on your desk or in the designated folder you so generously bought me for my school papers, completed any assigned homework and put it neatly into my backpack before hanging it on the child-sized hooks you so thoughtfully placed near the back door.

While we’re at it, thank you for all of the nutritious and delicious meals you prepared and cleaned up. I now appreciate all of the clothes, shoes, sports equipment, toys, books, educational necessities, and snacks you purchased, washed, put away, made sure I had when I needed, and then gave to charity so my room didn’t get so cluttered that I couldn’t move.

Thank you for playing endless games of cards, Candy Land, checkers and Connect 4. Thank you for reading SpongeBob books when you wouldn’t let me watch the show itself and for suffering through Boxcar Children books before bed every night and for attempting to update the language so I understood it better.  Thank you for bike rides in the sweltering August heat, for sledding in the frigid January wind, and for picnics throughout the year.

Love,

Sam, Drew & Bridget of the future

P.S. This goes out to my grandma as well, mom thanks you too!

Twas The Night Before the First Day of School or Why I Love my Husband

I was a little mad that Blair wasn’t home before the kids went to bed last night since Drew was a little scared about his first day of kindergarten. But when he came in and sat down next to me and read this poem, that he had written while feeding cows, I lost all my resentment. The boys giggled their little brains out at breakfast this morning as I read it aloud.

Twas the night before the first day of school

And all through the house

Everyone felt crappy, even the mouse.

Dad still at the farm and mom in the shower,

I’d been laying in bed for over an hour.

Hoping and praying I’d fall right to sleep,

It never did work, that counting those sheep.

Then all of a sudden I heard such a clatter,

I sprang up from my bed to see what was the matter.

Finally, I made it to my window at last

Only to see a donkey eating my grass.

I looked a bit closer and saw something close to a stick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

I was very surprised when my eyes did see,

A red-coated fat man peeing on my tree.

I went to the front door and opened it up,

I scared him so bad he peed on himself.

Then he whipped around fast and peed on his elf.

As he jumped on his donkey and drove away fast,

I didn’t know quite what to think,

But I do know that the donkey’s poop sure did stink.

Fresh Starts and New Shoes

I bought my new school shoes this weekend and can’t wait for the weather to change so I can wear them as they are meant to be worn, with jeans. No, I’m not going back to school this fall but so what? I love this time of year, not only for the school supplies but for the feeling of getting organized, getting started on new and exciting things, and getting new Nikes!

I read an article last week about making resolutions in September rather than in January and the author made a great point about having trouble getting excited about new possibilities and promises when it is freezing outside and you don’t want to leave your house. No wonder so few of us actually keep working out in January.

The start of a new school year has always seemed to be the perfect time to make resolutions and start new adventures. When you’re a student, each new school year offers a chance to reinvent yourself and start with a clean slate. It’s a chance to change your image, your grades, even your friends as you start new classes. But it can be a time of reinvention for adults as well, if you choose to make it so.

What could be more motivating to get your home organized than all of the notebooks, binders, shelving and drawer systems and planners plastered all over every ad and in every store. I get a weird heady feeling as I stroll through the school supply aisles, imagining how organized and calm and beautiful my life would be if I could just purchase every trapper keeper (remember those? my favorite had 2 puppies on it…), planner, and file folder in the store.

I have also imagined redecorating my college dorm room more than 100 times because the dorm stuff out right now is so much cooler than what was available when I was in college!

Such a great feeling to model your new clothes that will magically make you cooler or more responsible or taken more seriously at work.  A powerful feeling to look at your new organizational supplies and realize that you now have the tools to get great grades, start a new business, or earn that promotion.

I realize that every organizational system is only as good as the person using it but don’t we all con ourselves into believing that if we just had the right tools we could accomplish anything? That is what I love about September, the mass merchandisers of the world offer us the tools to organize and get started on new adventures for the low price of $.25 for a box of crayons or $19.99 for a storage ottoman (I got two!) so that we can delude ourselves into believing that anything is possible.

At least until January when we have to make our resolutions all over again.