Irritation

It’s a day for venting minor, and some not so minor, irritations. Please indulge me because if I don’t get some of these out in the open someone is likely to be hurt.

Bridget asked to sit on the potty today, which was a first, and told me she needed to poop. I got very excited and was telling her how proud I was and that I would open the Olivia doll that has been sitting in the kitchen for weeks waiting for a poop in the potty. She sat there for about 2 minutes, playing with the strawberries on her shirt, then hopped down and pulled her pants up without even attempting to poop. She then walked directly to her brothers’ room, fished through Sam’s dresser to find a belt, pooped in her pull-up, then hollered that she needed help putting the belt on. For real? And she wasn’t even ashamed, just laid down and asked Daddy to change her butt.

Blair and I typically watch TV while eating supper, after the kids are in bed. I know, it is a horrible habit but he gets home just in time for prime time, what’s a girl to do? Very often we agree on programming but on the evenings that we don’t, I usually cede the decision to him, especially now that we have DVR. This is where the irritation comes in. He will choose a show that I am not interested in, such as the evolution of steel, and sit through the boring numbers portion of the program until it just starts to get interesting to me and then change the channel. Every freaking time he waits until the steel worker is crying because he’s away from his family so much or the beetles start to shed their skin and suddenly the Guide Menu pops up and he is searching again. I’m a little tense right now just thinking about it.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, clean clothes in the laundry basket drives me bonkers. Yesterday I noticed that the boys’ hamper was overflowing, like stacked 2 feet above the rim. It shocked me because I had just washed a load of their clothes over the weekend so I took a closer look. For some reason, Sam had thrown 3 clean shirts, one that he has never even worn, into the hamper. He had to have taken them off the hanger for no reason other than to put them in the hamper to annoy me. Ggrrr.

Toys and clothes on a bed will also about do me in. Drew is the biggest culprit of this; I will find a church shirt, a light saber, a bouncy ball, and 2 books on his bed every time I go in to change the sheets. I’m already a little pissy about doing laundry and now I have to put things away that I know you weren’t even playing with?  Then I get up to Sam’s bed and have to throw 89 stuffed animals down from the top bunk before removing his sheets. Maybe I’ll box up all their toys today.

Stupid people irritate me…a lot. All the different species of stupid bother me: uneducated, inappropriate behavior or dress, delusional, non-filtered speaking, manipulative, and then my favorite inappropriately dressed, crazy, crass and mean people. I also love the brand of stupid that allows people to believe they have never made a mistake, that every rotten thing that happens is the fault of someone else and should therefore be fixed by someone else. I get very irritated by people who can’t accept that consequences are a direct result of choices, both good and bad. Lord I hope my children don’t grow up to be those people.

Smokers who get very defensive if you even glance at them while they are smoking bother me. I’m not judging you, I’m just trying to turn the corner without hitting you, Mr. Water Main repair man standing in the middle of the street taking a smoke break.

Whining is my least favorite sound in the world and I have some world class whiners in my house. I have tried all the Super Nanny tricks to curb it, with minimal success. Some kids are just born that way, I guess, and I will just have to hope he grows out of it. In actuality, Drew has gotten much better about whining and tantrum throwing but he reverted a bit yesterday and almost got his first spanking. I resorted to kicking a soccer ball at him repeatedly until he got it together. In my defense, we were already playing soccer, I didn’t take him outside and start pelting him with balls just for fun.

People who over-enunciate all the time rub me the wrong way. I feel like they are speaking to me as if I am deaf or dumb, and that’s before they even know me. The only exceptions to my hatred of this habit are Niles Crane and Tim Gunn, because let’s face it, he can do no wrong.

I think if you’re going to use a word in a sentence, you should know how to pronounce it. For instance, I have a father-in-law who says skenario (scenario) and irregardless a lot, which isn’t a real word. I also know many people who insert an x into words that do not, in fact, contain the letter x, words like especially and ask. My sister heard this sentence on the radio this morning, “…to make the competition between schools more fairly.” Come on people, engage the brain and remember what your first grade teacher taught you.

While we’re on the subject, poor grammar literally makes my skin crawl. I have tried to cure Blair of the few phrases he uses incorrectly but some are so ingrained that I can’t seem to break him. For instance, when discussing a sick person he will often say, “Did she go off feed?” This might be correct terminology when discussing livestock, but is certainly not appropriate when discussing a person. If his offenses were more along the lines of “I seen him the other day” we would not have gotten married and I am totally serious. Horrible grammar was and is where I draw the line; if I am friends with you, you have decent grammar.

There are many more things that irritate me but I have to stop now because I’m irritating myself with all this negative thinking. Aren’t pessimists so depressing? On the bright side, I wore a tummy shirt to Sam’s school today and I seen that he had on a dirty shirt. I axed him why didn’t he put it in the hamper, irregardless of the fullity of the basket but he says it weren’t his fault….goodness, I can’t even finish that sentence, it seriously hurts but you get the point. What irritates you?

Cart Judging

Have you ever looked at your grocery cart and thought, I would so be judging me right now? I judged my own cart today and I blame the people who design Walmart stores (and yes, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I buy groceries at Walmart and not from local, farm fresh vendors).

The problem is that my shopping route starts with some semi-healthy things such as wheat bread and dye and allergen free detergent, moving quickly into the Sun Chips in the bio-degradable, loudest bag ever.  My cart isn’t looking too bad until all that good stuff gets covered up when we hit the soda aisle followed by all the processed, boxed food…crap. My almost full cart looks exactly the table Dr. Oz uncovers with a flourish and announces this is why you’re fat and unhealthy.

The frozen food section helps me out a little bit with frozen vegetables and potatoes but the 8 frozen pizzas moved me back down the judgment train to sit with the people who believe that fruit snacks count as a serving of fruit. I always try to cover my sins before approaching the checkout line by placing my fresh produce carefully across the entire towering cart so that the most offensive processed foods are hidden by bags of grapes or oranges.

Why do I care what other shoppers think? Because I am totally judging them by their cart and I assume they are doing the same. And as I’ve previously blogged, I make up entire stories based on the contents of carts.

For instance, there were 2 middle-age women shopping together. At first, I assumed they were a lesbian couple but after watching for a few minutes, I deduced that they were just friends shopping together. But I couldn’t figure out what they were shopping for and it was driving me nuts! They were keeping their purchases separate in the cart and were debating the necessity of certain items. Judging from the contents of the cart, they were obviously not just doing their weekly grocery shopping but it didn’t look like party supplies either.

I ran into them in almost every aisle and I kept surreptitiously glancing into their cart to try and figure out what in the world they were shopping for. My imaginary scenarios included everything from sisters spending a weekend together to buying some food for a friend recovering from an accident. I ended up behind them in the checkout line and learned that were going camping this weekend. Aha! I should have guessed and was a little disappointed in myself.

Before I could feel too badly for myself, however, I noticed a cute woman pushing a cart overflowing with…kids. She had to have been at least 8 months pregnant, holding the hand of a 3-4 year old while 2 children sat in the cart, both under 2. I sort of wanted to go help her but she looked totally calm and under control, I think she was maybe medicated because I would have been a stressed-out freak in that situation. All the time, not just at the grocery store, because holy crap that is a lot of kids and lot of work.

I didn’t see the newly single guy today but his cart is a perennial favorite, along with the new college roommates trying to figure out what to buy and how to share food. Hilarious!

As you might have guessed, I was not chasing my own children around the store today but was blissfully alone and in no need to hurry. It was amazing and wonderful and I may have actually purchased some real dinner ingredients.

I thought that once I was staying home full time, I would be planning lunches and suppers well ahead of time and have a home-cooked meal on the table every night at a decent time. Apparently you don’t just magically start doing that when you stay home, you have to actually plan ahead and prepare things before 5:00. Someone could have told me that! Hence the plethora of processed foods in my cart for those nights when I glance up from homework help and realize its 5:15 and I haven’t started supper. The good news is, the apples and bananas I precariously perched on top of the frozen chicken nuggets will be a great addition to the meal!

Head Squishing and Tough Girls

A recent conversation in my house:

Sam  “Who wants to see the most painful thing in the world?”

Drew & Devon “I do!”

Demonstration ensues.

Sam “Now who wants to do it with me?”

Drew & Devon “Me! Me!”

Craziness I tell you. When I recorded that conversation, I intended to write a blog all about the difference between boys and girls and how little girls would never be involved in anything like that. Then I watched Bridget for an afternoon and really paid attention to my young nieces at play and realized I couldn’t write that blog. It is not a gender difference, it is an environmental difference.

When all the farm cousins were younger, I assumed that my boys would learn some “empathy” play from the abundance of nieces I’ve been blessed with. I thought they would have to learn about playing house and Barbies but that has not been the case. I have a couple of nieces who are also interested in typically girly things but for the most part, they would rather wrestle, get muddy, or perform crazy stunts on the trampoline. I love it! These girls are tough and dirty and I hope they continue to believe that they can beat anyone at anything because right now they can kick my sons’ butts. There is a lot of roughhousing when they are all together and each matchup is tough.

Sam & Drew will literally try to wrestle anyone, it’s a habit I’m working to break but so far I haven’t accomplished much other than they don’t tackle the elderly or anyone at school. Their godfather was here this weekend and it was like a steel cage match for a while, with jammie pants flying and watches in danger. At one point, Sam’s knee was bleeding but he simply didn’t care, just dove back in for more. Drew is so tenacious once he gets ahold of your leg that he almost had to leave with Uncle Mer.

I know adult men who can’t resist a little wrestling when they get together (see godfather above) and engaged in challenge matches almost every weekend in college. I don’t know if boys choose to roughhouse because they feel too old or embarrassed to hug but crave the physical contact or if they just really enjoy trying to hurt each other and others. I really hope it is the former.

Bridget wasn’t too keen on wrestling with a godfather she hadn’t seen in a few months but she is certainly no shrinking violet. For instance, I was lying in bed this morning nursing a sore back when Bridget came in to cheer me up. She was toting along 3 Little People: a girl, boy and baby that she had christened Mommy, Daddy, and My Baby. She was playing out a merry little scene on my bed when all of a sudden the Mommy sat on the Daddy’s head and she said, “Sit Daddy’s head, squish him. Daddy dead, see Mom?” It was horrible but not unprecedented, especially considering the game Sam taught her last week.

As Sam & Drew try to teach Bridget how to wrestle with them, some strange lessons have arisen. I think they are trying to get her involved without hurting her so they encourage her to jump on them while they lay prone on the ground. It looks very painful but they giggle maniacally while she pounces on them.

She tries to just jump up and stand on their back, tummies or sometimes their heads but they have also taught her to “butt bounce” as they do on the trampoline. Last week, Bridget accidentally butt bounced on Sam’s head and he thought it was hilarious so she continued to squat and land on his head while smashing his cute little nose into the carpet. He did mention that he was glad she hadn’t pooped in her diaper….

Now that Bridget has gotten a laugh from this move, she tries it on every unsuspecting person silly enough to lay on the floor when she is around. My poor nephew Gavin was her most recent victim as he innocently laid near Grandma this weekend until Bridget came by and casually sat on his face. To his credit, he didn’t retaliate, just stared at her like “What the hell, man?” She told him she was sorry but I don’t think anyone believed it.

Bridget has also been seen pushing her one-year-old cousin down for the grave offense of not wanting a kiss, of tackling her 3-year-old cousin for daring to play with her own toys, and attempting to slap the smile right off one of Sam’s friends faces. Now, Sam’s friend literally asks for it but still, it is embarrassing when she starts smacking people in church.

Perhaps I should ramp up the restraint education, start working more on impulse control….

Watching all of these kids get stronger and inventive with their crazy stunts, I get a little nervous for their safety but I love the fearlessness. They aren’t bound by our societal notions of gender, at least not yet, and I hope they never feel compelled to change who they are to make someone else happy. I do, however, hope they are all smart enough to check diapers before asking a child to squish their face.

Lovey

My daughter crawled into the dryer today to save a cow. Not a sentence I ever thought I’d hear, let alone write, but it is true. To be fair, the cow in question is her lovey animal but still, to actually crawl into the dryer?

All 3 of my kids have had an almost unnatural attachment to their loveys. It started with Sam, obviously. My boss got him the softest little frog head/blanket thing and I chose to make it his comfort toy. I put it in his car seat and bed with him all the time because I wanted him to have something that comforted him if I couldn’t be with him. It worked but almost too well.

Sam started sucking on one of froggy’s flippers; just one and never the other. Thankfully, I had the foresight (and smart advice from my mom)  to order a spare frog just in case of loss or theft. I ended up swapping out the froggies frequently, however, because I had to wash the stinky thing about every 3 days. It smelled like rotten, standing water, sort of  swampy. You almost had to remind yourself that it wasn’t a real frog it was so pungent.

If he’d had his way, Sam would have taken his froggy with him everywhere he went. In fact, I have many pictures and videos of him crawling with his frog hanging out of his mouth. (Due to the crappiness of my computer, I am unable to access photos taken before 2008 right now…ggrrr…) I eventually consigned it to nap and bedtime only but would very often find him in there smuggling it out.

When Drew was born, I bought him the same kind of blanket but chose a duck this time around. His yellow ducky soon became his lovey as well and I was so happy when he didn’t chew on ducky’s bill or feet, just snuggled it into his neck.  Soon, I couldn’t help but notice that ducky had the same swampy smell as frggy!  Because I’m a smarty-pants, I had ordered 2 ducks as well so I replaced ducky and examined it for the cause of the stench. The little stinker was sucking on a corner of the blanket rather than the head; he’s such a sneaky little devil.

So the duck joined the frog in the bi-weekly wash cycle and the replacement program worked beautifully….until they figured it out.  Each of the boys began telling me that I had given them the wrong animal and they wanted their “real one.” Grr….I had to plan the washing of those loveys like a general going to war, taking into account nap time, bed time, and the possibility of extreme crankiness that could only be assuaged by a quick snuggle with the lovey.

Though I complained mightily about the odor and didn’t allow froggy or ducky in my bed or in my lap for snuggle time, I was so happy that they provided comfort to my equally smelly boys. When they spent the night at Grandma’s or had a babysitter at bedtime, I knew that they would snuggle up with froggy or ducky and feel secure until I could get there to administer magic hugs and kisses.

So, when Bridget was born I had no choice but to get her a lovey; against my better judgment she currently loves a cow. And even though I knew better, I only bought one and they have since disappeared from the market so we take extra precautions with this valuable lovey cow.

I was a little disappointed when Bridget started sucking her thumb until Blair pointed out that if she sucked her thumb she would be less likely to suck on her cow. In turn, she would be less stinky than the boys and I could eventually stop being embarrassed by my children’s disgusting sleeping smell, hooray!

To that end, I had convinced her this morning that her cow and blanket needed a bath and she helped me put them in the washing machine with her sheets and such. She then spent the next 20 minutes asking if we could check on her cow. I tried to distract her with a dollhouse, putting away clothes, playing with other animals, but she was very concerned about the well-being of the cow.

When I heard the washing machine stop, I told her we needed to put her cow in the dryer to get all warm and soft and cuddly. Sounded like a good plan until she realized that we weren’t just putting cow-y in the dryer for 2 seconds but for her foreseeable future. Oh dear.

I decided that we had better leave the house to try to take her mind off of the dizzy cow tumbling in the dryer so we ran some errands. After each stop she asked if we could “check on cow-y.” Even a skid loader ride with Daddy didn’t deter her from questioning me about the status of the cow!

When we arrived home, I stuck my head in the door to see if the dryer was done. Alas, it was still running so we worked on some tasks in the garage before I let her in the door. Once I allowed her inside, she stepped carefully down the basement steps (they are treacherous) and hurried to the dryer. I opened the door and started pulling out sheets and blankets while she yanked on them, trying to get a visual on the cow. Once she spotted cow-y she literally climbed on to the door of the dryer and right on in to save it. So cute and so dangerous!

Bridget and her warm blanket snuggled up on the couch with cow-y happily perched on her head while one hand lazily petted him and the other thumb stuck firmly in her mouth. At least she didn’t smell.

FFF……

Why are flies so freaking frustrating! I can honestly say that I hate them…a lot. I am trying to get some work done but these two flies have apparently decided that my time would be better spend plotting their deaths.

I find myself getting dizzy trying to keep my focus on the stupid tiny thing flying in circles over my desk, waiting for it to land. If it lands on something I can actually whack it on, I don’t have the fly swatter in my hand and no matter how slowly and casually I reach for it the fly is off on another head swirling adventure before I can hit it. If I do happen to have the fly swatter in my hand, holding it very still to as not to alarm the little pest, it will inevitably land on the finger holding the swatter. It’s like they are stupid little evil geniuses and I wish I could rid the world of them.

I’m sure some you smarty-pants out there are just itching to tell me about the circle of life and how flies have a purpose and I would miss them if they were gone because the gnats or worms or wolves or something would suffer if the food chain was broken but right this minute, I don’t care. At all. I just want these 2 flies to die.

Typically, I offer the boys a nickel per fly, even if there is only one in the house. They race for the fly swatter and race maniacally around the house, swatting at everything and claiming they hate killed flies. I now make them show me the disgusting proof because they are sneaky and greedy.

Ugh, stupid fly just did a Top Gun fly by, it must have known I was writing about its imminent death.

Unfortunately, my sweet little assassins rode the bus to the farm today, where they are probably killing millions of flies in the farm shop. Sam’s favorite pastime is swatting flies feasting on dribbled ice cream on the tour tables in the shop. His record is 5 per swat and he claims he has killed more than 100 in a half hour. As I mentioned, he is a liar but he does kill his fair share of insects.  Oh how I wish he were here.

I know you’re wondering how many fly-swatting injuries we have had in our house and there have been more than I care to count but sometimes it is worth it. If Bridget were awake I would even hand her a swatter and let her go crazy…and believe me, she would  It would be worth the injuries and broken lamps if she managed to get even one of these 2 annoying, buzzing, hateful creatures.

Ok, now I must get back to work….as soon as I kill one….

Conversations That Don’t Mean Anything

Some of my favorite conversations don’t consist of much conversating at all but are mostly fragmented phrases, chortles and giggles with the occasional cackling outburst. To the outside listener it amounts to a bunch of nothing; but to those on the inside it is rich with memory, innuendo, and sometimes even love.

For example, I called one of my sisters last night and was rewarded with both sisters on speaker phone, it was perfect. They were berating me for calling them out on the whole chin hair thing, which had honestly never occurred to me, but the conversation soon veered away from embarrassing facial hair and into the realm of the absurd. We laughed out partial sentences and memories of awkward moments almost incoherently but the three of us knew exactly what we were talking about and could even imagine the look on my nieces and nephew’s faces as we touched on each story.  Dangit, Bridget needs a sister.

Our family has so many sentence fragments that elicit either a groan or an immediate cackling laugh that you would think we grew up with Clark W. Griswald (and we sort of did). Right now, my sisters and mother are laughing as they read these words grapes in a small cabin; miniature golf; and the hotel pull-out bed. Probably not very funny to the rest of you but bear with me as I wait for my mom and sisters to wipe their tears, sigh loudly twice while attempting to stop laughing, and continue reading…..

Friends both old and new have the same types of meaningless conversations with me. In fact, every talk I have with my friend Kim is almost completely unintelligible to anyone else and includes movie quotes (Martha Washington was one bad chick, dude) and references to high school football jersey numbers and incidents from 20 years ago (I can’t believe you made me go to the grocery store like that).

My oldest friend, whom I don’t talk to nearly as often as I should, has the same effect on me. Suddenly we are discussing events in shorthand that only make sense to the two of us and are probably fairly annoying to others at the table and may have something to do with Clear Lake. I’ve heard that any reunion of my high school and college friends is terribly annoying to Blair and those unlucky enough to be seated near us at restaurants but I don’t really care. The roars of laughter and knowing looks keep you honest and young-at-heart and there is nothing better than that.

With our new set of friends, I just have to mention flannel shirts or swimming pools and they know exactly what I’m talking about. We are creating the basis for our future conversations with the silly antics and talks we are having now and I love it. Friends develop code words over the lifespan of the friendship that can be used to recall specific moments in time without wasting time explaining the entire story, its really the genius of evolution and why long-term friendships are so important to me.

I have a tendency to take this friendship shorthand a bit further sometimes because I don’t always know when to stop. I can make one brief comment into an entire day’s worth of entertainment if necessary and may start giggling uncontrollably any time I recall those fabulous comments.

The first that comes to mind was an innocuous comment my oldest nephew made about packing for college, “I have most of my clothes in Tupperware already.” His less-favorite aunt and I looked at him and asked, “Really, in Tupperware?” He tried to explain that he meant Rubbermaid containers but it was too late, we were already giggling and expanding on his packing solutions. We envisioned t-shirts rolled up to fit in tiny food storage containers. One sock in each compartment of a lunch box, underwear tossed in the largest Tupperware bowl…and on and on and on…probably ad nauseum but hilarious to me even today. Thank goodness I have friends and sisters who play along with the conversations in my head.

I love the stories that bind friendships but more than that I love the shorthand that evolves and allows you to relive the best, and sometimes worst, moments with just a few words. And even more than that? I love the way those stories get enhanced and become more epic with each retelling until you have a sort of friendship (or sistership) lore that could almost become a book. Am I on to something here? Maybe you all should send me your greatest friendship stories, complete with the shorthand that helps you recapture it, and we’ll see where it goes!

Rogue Hairs

My sister Michelle examines my chin almost every time I see her and is not very subtle about it. Sometimes she will get right up close and tilt my head to get a better angle. What is she looking for? Ever been sitting at your computer or watching TV and noticed a rogue hair, something long and wiry and growing where it shouldn’t be? Our family is prone to growing one giant, thick black hair on the bottom right side of our chin. Just one and always in the same spot and I thank Michelle for always drawing it to my attention.

I’ve become so self-conscious about it that I am constantly checking in the mirror for it. I sit at my computer and casually feel my chin in case it has sprouted up since I last looked. It is a crazy rogue hair that grows much faster than regular hair so you have to constantly be on alert. It grows almost as fast as leg hair when you are surprised by a pool outing later in the day and hadn’t shaved that morning.

I would like to thank Grandma Shirley for passing on this random hair problem. I love her and am truly grateful for many of the traits and habits that she has given and taught us but she really could have kept this one to herself. I wonder if the new designer baby craze will allow us to find the rogue hair gene and squash it out. I will feel horrible when Bridget angrily confronts me with her first plucked chin hair and I will totally throw Grandma under the bus. Not literally, of course.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can blame it all on Grandma Shirley because this morning I discovered how true the anecdote is about how spouses start to look alike after a number of years. Yep, I blame Blair for the crazy long hair I found in my eyebrow today and I will tell you why.

Blair has a ridiculously long eyebrow hair, all the time, over his right eye. It is long and black with a white tip; it looks suspiciously like our former dog’s hair but I happen to know for a fact that it isn’t glued on. This rogue hair has magical powers that allow it to grow and grow and never fall out. It has been known to curl up over a stocking cap, down over his glasses, or stick straight out of his head like an antenna. Sometimes I can’t even concentrate on what he is saying because I am so distracted by the position of the hair. It is my mortal enemy and I dream about plucking it.

I’m not devious enough to pluck it while he sleeps because, let’s face it, that’s just mean. I have tried to sneak up on him with the tweezers but he is too quick for me. I have tried begging and negotiating but he thinks the eyebrow hair is the source of all his power. Like Samson’s long hair or Luke’s Force, he is strangely afraid to lose this one strand. I think he secretly grooms it to annoy me. It is working because I spend an inordinate amount of time plotting the plucking of one hair. Did I mention how distracting it is?

I have to admit that I’m a little concerned about what this eyebrow hair battle means for our future. Will his face eventually be covered by long, wiry hair that obscures his vision and impedes breathing and eating but he will refuse to pluck simply because I want him to? Will I spend the rest of my days obsessing over one hair on my chin and one hair in his eyebrow?

I am picturing getting the kids ready for big dates with a magnifying glass and tweezers, making sure there are no rogue hairs waiting to distract their dates from the intelligent and charming things they are saying. One more reason that I should never allow them to date.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I feel a hair on my chin.