Monthly Archives: June 2012

Cleaning on a Budget

I may be the only one who wastes enough time to see and read articles such as this, but apparently, a new kind of vacuum cleaner has just been manufactured for those of us on a serious budget.

Read the article here:

Okay, the part where I said it is budget friendly is, well, a huge, fat lie.  One to laugh at, cry at, wherever your emotional response takes you. Just in case you cannot or do not open the link, this is for a one million dollar, 24k gold vacuum cleaner. Yes, you read that right and no, it is not beautiul like one might imagine a gold vacuum should be.

So I’m thinking the same thing as the writer of the story: would it really make cleaning more fun?  But as a mom who struggles to get her kids to clean up their fair shares, would it make them more interested in cleaning?  Do they even know what a gold vacuum cleaner is?  No… not possible.  They don’t know what a million dollars is.  Thirteen bucks to the 11-year old makes him feel rich.

And then there is the issue of the wall banging (which I still believe is an act of deliberate defiance).  Would the 7-year old still bang walls with a real gold vacuum?  And does this gold plating chip off?  Because then we would have the issue of 14k gold flecks in our walls and the carpet (which, of course, would just get vacuumed up the next time he cleaned).  I wonder if this is something we could later have appraised… yes, Mr. Realtor… there is signficant lower wall damage… BUT, we have filled these cracks with GOLD!!!

Just some thoughts as I save up one million to buy one of those.  I was definitely not thinking of the long-term investment potential when I purchased the $30 battery operated one a year ago.

The Black Widow… Part Two

I have blogged before about my extreme loathing of spiders, big and small, and I still stand by this feeling.


I have a confession to make…

This morning my 11-year old was standing over my shoulder while I aimlessly surfed the internet.  After a few moments he announced, “Well, off to go on a black widow hunt!”  And I was secretly excited.  Why?  Because I knew he would find one.  And it would probably be huge and disgustingly terrifying and hopefully still alive!

Maybe there is something perverse about me… maybe that’s another thing I need to get off my back.  But I waited inside rather anxiously until he called me out to see it.  It took him less than 10 minutes to find another Texas-sized black widow.  As a side note, I should really start taking pictures of these things.  They are impressive!

But my secret, perverse excitement did not last too long… she was already dying.  Pest control had beat us to it.  How could they steal my joy?!  They were only supposed to spray the nests of flying things!  You know, the bugs that aren’t near as deadly but are equally wicked because of their dive-bombing capabilities?

But wait!!!!  He is calling me back!  Another black widow has been spotted.  I am only half excited this time, because he says it is tiny.  They are no fun when they are smaller than the size of my grown-out thumb nail.  Oh well… maybe it will still be alive so we can kill it.  Hehehehehehe.

So we went out and studied the smaller widow together.  He told me that I am not allowed to kill it because he wants to keep it.  I  firmly reminded him that spiders may not be kept as pets.  But what does he tell me?  He doesn’t want to keep it… he wants to transport it in our car all the way to Grandma and Grandpa’s house!!!  I bet they will LOVE that!

Cleaning and the Secret Plot of Children

Some people are going to gasp when I say this.  Some will shake their heads in sad disappointment.  Others may curse me through the screen.  But a few may actually know and agree with this truth:  Children have a secret plot to drive their parents crazy.

Let’s take a look at cleaning.  In my house, because I am a mean mom, cleaning is a group effort.  I would like to say we are an organized family and set aside a certain day for all the cleaning to get done, but that would be a lie.  It usually happens when I can’t stand looking at the bathrooms anymore.  Gross, I know.

Now I would just like to take a moment to say, I try to make things as easy on myself as possible.  So, awhile back I bought a little battery-operated vacuum cleaner for my 7-year old to use, and expensive packages of window cleaning wipes and disinfecting wipes for the 10-year old.  I even bought dusting wipes for the 4-year old and (now) 3-year old.  And yes, this is supposed to make things easier on me, not them.  Otherwise I would be worried about them squirting themselves and each other in the eyes with chemicals (green or non green, both would probably sting).  And they would probably trip over cords and break things with a real vacuum.

So… life made easy, right?  Give the 10-year old his wipes and send him to the bathrooms to clean.  I’ll scrub the toilets, I’ll spray down the bathtub for him to scrub later… just take the packages and go.  Give the 7-year old his vacuum cleaner and have him do the stairs and the upstairs.  But that’s where all hell breaks loose.

The 10-year old goes upstairs and yells down to me what is he supposed to do first?  I yell back up, “Same as always!!!”  He yells down that he doesn’t remember.  I yell back up that he DOES remember!  We go back and forth until my throat starts to hurt and I go up there and tell him what to do while actually doing most of it for him.  For awhile, he is quiet.

The 7-year old starts with the stairs.  He makes sure to bang the edge of the vacuum cleaner into every square inch of wall as he goes.  Then he does the upstairs.  Again, with the banging into the walls.  I go up there, annoyed, and show him how to vacuum in a nice little line, back and forth and WITHOUT hitting the walls.  I mostly do it for him.  Please note, this is probably the 50th time I have “shown” him.  As soon as I go downstairs, he turns on the vacuum for one minute before telling me the battery is dead.  How convenient… it has to charge for about 10 hours before he can do any real vacuuming now.

Meanwhile, the 4-year old and 3-year old actually are asking to help clean!  They are jumping up and down begging me to clean!!  I give them the dusting wipes and show them where to clean.  After the entire package has been used, I cannot tell any dusting has been done.  So I salvage the little piles of crumpled wipes and dust everything myself.

At this time, the 10-year old is back at it with the questions.  Does he have to do the toilets?  It’s gross.  I know… that’s why we are cleaning.  He doesn’t want to.  Do it anyway.  The 7-year old skips in and says since he is done, what can he do now?  I tell him to scrub one of the bathtubs that I have already sprayed down.  I give him a sponge and off he goes.  But one second later, I hear water running.  I run up there and ask him why is he running the water and washing away all the cleaning stuff before he scrubbed it?!?  He said he already did.  I point to the ring around the tub and say NO he has not.  Then I do it for him while he watches.

The 10-year old is screaming now and rolling on the floor about how he is tired and hates cleaning and blah blah blah.

The 7-year old is whining that he got water all over the bathroom floors and “accidentally” peed in the toilet with the blue stuff in it before it was scrubbed.

My throat hurts from screaming.  I am sweating because I just cleaned the whole house instead of the kids.

The 4 and 3-year old are running around asking for everything under the sun.

So… the older two successfully completed their mission and barely cleaned anything.  The 4 and 3-year-old are happy because I am too tired to argue and just shove at them whatever it was they are asking for.

I HATE cleaning days.  Good thing it won’t happen again for a while.

Goodbye Two

I tucked you in tight, sang you a song, said “goodnight,”

You curled up in your bed, in the corner just the same,

Hugged your Blankie, thumb in mouth and closed your sweet eyes.

Tonight I say good-bye, Little Two, tomorrow you are Three.

When you turned two, you were Youngest Brother,

But baby came and now you are a Bigger Brother!

And how sweet and amazing you are at your new role.

Tonight I say good-bye, Little Two, tomorrow you are Three.

You grew more teeth, but had too many and knocked one out.

You decided this was best done after bluebonnet pictures

But before Baby’s baptism… he got all the attention that day, anyway!

Tonight I say good-bye, Little Two, tomorrow you are Three.

You loved Blankie from early on in your life,

But tonight you share that love with a host of new ones:

Cars, trucks, trains and planes – anything that’s on the go like you!

Tonight I say good-bye, Little Two, tomorrow you are Three.

It’s sad to kiss a day that’s past,

Hard sometimes to watch you grow from in my arms to oh so big.

But I can’t wait to see what Three brings, sweet boy,

So good-bye and goodnight, Precious Little Two…

The Art of Eating a Gummy Bear

Supposedly, there are many ways to eat an Oreo, a vast difference in the amount of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop, but who knew there was more than one way to eat a gummy bear?

In my house, there are at least four ways… and counting.

The 10-year old holds each gummy bear to the light, examining it carefully for who knows what.  Then, suddenly, his silence erupts with “NO!  Don’t eat me!!!  I don’t want to die!!!”  And then the bear is eaten.  He does this with every. single. one.  It does not matter how few or how many he has… they all have to beg not to die, then say goodbye to their other gummy bear friends, and then be eaten.

The 7-year old’s gummy bears are actually Ewoks, bravely dying in the fight against the  Dark Side.  And yes, there is monologuing that goes on with the death/consumption of each bear he has, too.  His process is quicker than the 10-year old’s only because he does not feel the strange need to examine each one first.

The 4-year old eats her gummy bears with two fingers, pinky finger slightly raised as though she is sipping tea.  Just like a little lady.

The 2-year old crams the entire handful of gummies into his mouth.  5, 10, 15, 20, doesn’t matter how many… they are all going in there at once.  I guess when you are the little one on the bottom, you must ensure that YOU are the one eating all of your gummy bears, and not a thieving older sibling.  And the only way to do that, apparently, is to shovel them all in at once.

Now, I said there were four ways.  I too have a way of eating gummy bears, but it cannot be considered a fifth way, for it mimics the process of the 2-year old.  I am not afraid of my kids stealing one because I’m not eating them quickly enough, I am just selfish and don’t want to share.  And if I don’t stuff them all in my mouth at once, you can be sure that four little people will be asking for more before I’ve eaten even one…

The Glad Game, aka Murphy’s Law

I take a dark sense of humor to most things in life, childrearing included. This does not mean that I do not love my life or my children, because I very much do!

If you have ever seen the classic movie, “Pollyanna,” then you probably remember a little game she plays called the “glad game.” I have actually been told by a particular adult that this is a very good mentality to adopt in life. Instead of looking at all the bad things around us, think of a way to find the positive.

Example: “Why do you kids keep following me up and down the stairs, into the bathroom… Everywhere I go?!” The positive alternative can be a number of things, including but not limited to: “I am so glad I have kids… How lonely would I be without them all around all the time?” or “My kids must love me SO MUCH they are willing and wanting to stand in the bathroom while I conduct business.”

So I have decided to make this a lighter post with the “glad game” in mind.

* When I have $13 in my bank account, I say, “Crap! I only have $13 in my bank account!” But one day as we were in the car, my oldest son counted his allowance he had been saving for several weeks to buy a new fish, and said, “Wow, I am rich! I have $13!! Mommy, is that a lot of money?”  I suppose many things are a matter of perspective. If you have no money, any amount is a lot… And for a kid who diligently saved his allowance for two months, yes, he is rich and that $13 is EVERYTHING he has (aka A LOT!).

* When I see a puddle, I also see dirty clothes and feet and dirty carpets or car interiors. When a kid sees a puddle, they see FUN! You would be amazed how long water can hold a child’s attention, be it in puddles, sprinklers or hoses.

* When we approach downtown, I grumble to myself about the butt-head drivers I am about to encounter, the mess of one-way streets and traffic jams. But to my two and four year olds, they are glad to see downtown and say in their most excited voice: “Buildings!!!”

* But today as I lay frustrated at my parents’ house trying unsuccessfully to get my little three to take a nap, I had the best “glad game” moment in a long time.  The baby was not happy for whatever reason, and was not making sleepy time come easy for his already resistant brother and sister.  So I took him out of the room and out of the house to the back patio.  All around the neighborhood is a huge, bustling city.  I sat down, still bustling myself and frustrated that this sweet baby wouldn’t sleep so that I could have my own nap time, too.  But then something happened.  He immediately was quiet.  He was intently looking at all the wildlife around him.  And then found myself just staring at it all, too.  I watched a chameleon slowly walk up a very tall, tree, pausing every few moments to call for its mate.  Several chameleons did this, and I watched them all until they were out of sight.  A bunny was by the creek below me, foraging for food, undisturbed.  Beautiful butterflies darted about, and I watched them, too, until they were out of sight.  I was glad that I had been forced to bring my baby outside so that I could enjoy these precious moments with him and the beauty that surrounded us.

After 15 or 20 minutes, I decided I would give naptime with the baby another go.  The 4 and 2 year olds were now fast asleep.  Ahh… hopefully baby would join them soon.  I laid him down.  He immediately was unhappy.  Naturally!  So I decided to take him back outside to the hanging balcony and nurse him there where he had been so peaceful and happy moments before.  SUCCESS!  In about 3 minutes, baby was OUT.  I stood up very carefully, went to the door and attempted to open it.  LOCKED.  I jiggled it.  Then I TUGGED at it.  YOU… HAVE… GOT… TO… BE… KIDDING… ME…  It was only then, of course, that I remember my mom or dad mentioning something about that door having its quirks and not always working.  Great.  Fantastic.  Glad I remembered this once I was ALREADY LOCKED OUT!!!!

So, the older boys were 5 hours away with Grandpa and Grandma.  Of course, the 4 and 2 year old had decided to fall asleep, so no amount of banging was going to help.   No one else was home and who knows when they would be.  My sisters are busy little girls!  I did not have on shoes.  I did not have a phone.  What I did have, was a now awake baby.  But he was not upset.  He was glad to be outside again!

My parents’ balcony overlooks the bayou.  There is no way to climb around and out of the mess of trees, leaves, treacherous rocks and what have you with an infant.   I could do it despite the no shoes thing, but not with a baby.

I hiked around where I could (with the baby) looking for a way out or through or something.  No luck.  I felt around the grill for a spare key.  No luck.

Finally, I decided that I would have to just wait in the 95 degree humid outdoors until someone came home.  There were some patio chairs and I was glad about this.  There were also two fans.  I was glad for those, too.   I laid baby on the chair and directed the fans at him.  Still, he was happy as could be outside with Mommy.  And Mommy was glad he was not screaming.

After nearly two hours, my dear Uncle came over… he was coming to visit, as he had said.  YAY!!!  I was saved!!!!  I was SICK AND TIRED of playing the glad game and I just wanted to be inside.

Once inside the cool interior, I heard a cry.  It was the 4-year old.  She had just awoken and was sad I was not sleeping next to her, as I had promised to do once I got baby calmed down.  Sigh… where to even begin on that one.

The next day my dad and mom came back and listened to my adventure.  When I was done, my mom casually replied, “If this ever happens again, there is a spare key in the grill.”

OF COURSE THERE IS!!!!  Just not where I had been looking.


Bunny Catching 101

Together, a 10-year old, 7-year old and 4-year old can come up with some great ideas when boredom strikes and their little brothers are napping and Mommy is doing yard work (i.e. not paying attention).

Lately, they have been very excited about all the bunnies they have seen.  They have taken notice of their favorite spots, and even staked them out.  But today was the day they were going to actually catch a bunny.   Here is their fool-proof master plan on how to catch a little rabbit.

Step One: Make sure Mommy is busy and occupied and not paying attention.

Step Two: Find the cat carrier by climbing up tall heights on wobbly stools, sifting through tools and other dangerous objects that are supposed to be hidden and out of reach.

Step Three: Find the cat.

* Now here is what I pieced together from their messy evidence scene: Since capturing the bunny themselves was impossible, they had devised a plan to get our cat to chase the bunny for them.  One would set the cat loose where the bunny had been spotted, one would hold open the pet carrier with firm instructions to only let the bunny be closed inside, not the bunny and cat together.  That could get messy.  The other child would chase the cat in the direction of the cat carrier while the cat chased the bunny (hopefully, also in the direction of the carrier).

** That plan was shut down by Mean Mom because getting the cat meant going in my bedroom, and that was not allowed while baby was sleeping.

Step Four: 7-year old asked me if he could get his bee-bee gun.

“What?!  You want to shoot the bunny???!!  NO!!”

“But Mom, it won’t hurt the bunny.  Please?”

* Now here is what I pieced together from that plan.  They would just wound the bunny so that he couldn’t get away from them as easily.  Then they could catch him and SUCCESS!

**  That plan was also shut down by Mean Mom.  I continued mowing the lawn…

After a little while, I didn’t see the kids or hear them, so I became worried and thought I should check on them and make sure no other resourceful plans had been devised.  I went inside to the cool air conditioning…

* Tip for other moms:  Don’t check on your kids if they are inside when it’s 100 degrees outside and you’ve been doing manual labor for an hour.  You won’t want to go back out.  You will rationalize this by, “Hey, the yard is at least half mowed… better half than none at all!”


AC (After Children)

* I don’t have a “job,” but I wake up earlier than most people commuting to a faraway land where adults gather together, discuss important adult-ish things, and then get a paycheck for it.

* Instead of having a boss who went to some fancy college with lots of important, framed pieces of paper hanging in their office, I have five little people who are very demanding, impatient and not understanding to scheduling conflicts.  These conflicts range in severity from their own nap times to parental illnesses.  They do, however, have framed handprints and scribbles, I mean, masterpieces, hanging on their walls… and the fridge… and sometimes applied directly to the walls.

* I do not go to a lunch cafe with a crowd of other business suits and discuss important adult-ish things.  Rather, I make and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner within a few hours of each other and discuss the necessity to eat all one’s veggies before dessert, finishing one’s milk, and the personal aggravation of whining and complaining over one’s meal.

* I do not rush out of an office building 15 times a day to inhale a cigarette in five seconds, hoping to relieve a little bit of stress.  I take kids to the park and let them relieve their stress, while I expend all my energy making sure they don’t kill themselves in the process.

* I do not go to important meetings and discuss important adult-ish things.  Instead, I ensure the nutritional and educational well-being of my children by going to grocery stores and libraries.

* When my work day should be done because the kids are in bed asleep, I am too tired to do anything with the other adult in the house, or to have my first adult-ish conversation of the day.  Instead, I go to bed, too, sleeping while somehow still awake, just in case I am called into overtime by a child who screams or cries or decides they need to go to the bathroom or have the water they refused to drink earlier in the day.

* Weeks are not five days long and do not begin on a Monday and end with a Friday afternoon on a golf course.  They are seven days in length and follow a continuous loop pattern.

BC (Before Children)

I can’t remember anything from this time period.  There is little evidence to support that it even existed.

Love and Marriage… According to the 7-Year Old

My 7-year old son is very concerned that one of his aunts is not married.  Now there are two important facts here before anyone jumps to conclusions.  First, he has seven aunts, four on one side, three on the other.  Three of the four on the one side are married, and all three on the other are also married.  So, this particular aunt is the only one he has that is unwed.  Secondly, she is not “old,” although, for a 7-year old, I can see how someone in their mid-20’s could be considered so.

On several occasions, my son has asked her why she is not married and when she plans to find a husband.   He is not a rude child and means no disrespect when he asks.   Apparently, it is a genuine concern of his and he loves his aunt and wants to see her happily married off to a nice man.  Can’t argue with that, right?

A few months back, my sister (Aunt X) was at my house and my son asked her about her hubby situation.  Still the same.  So he said, “I know who you can marry!  Uncle Z is not married either… you can marry him!”  Uncle Z is Aunt X’s uncle, so we had to have a little chat about how people can not marry their uncles, etc.

The next chance for my son to have “The Talk” face to face was a few days ago.  I was talking casually with Aunt X and my boy was sitting in the same room, building an impressive city out of Legos.  Out of the blue (which is characteristic for this child) and without looking up from his construction, he asked bluntly, “Aunt X, when are you going to find a husband?”  We laughed.  I don’t remember the response, but she gave him one.  The 7-year old said nothing else and continued building.  She didn’t have a good enough answer for him, so he had nothing else to say.

The following morning, Aunt X was excited to tell her nephew that she has now been on several dates with a guy she really likes.  Now normally, I wouldn’t find date-sharing details to be an appropriate conversation for children of this age.  But he has been concerned with her marital status, and she was apparently trying to excite him that nuptials very well could be in her future.  So I let the conversation continue.

“Great,” he said, “So you’ve found a husband then?”

“Well, no,” she answered, “but I like him and I went on a few dates with him.”  My son had no response.  He doesn’t even know what a “date” is!  But she decided to prod a little into his mind.

“So what kind of person do you think I should marry?”

“Well,” he began, “he should have a beard and a mustache and dark hair.  Not white.”  Good… he obviously doesn’t think Aunt X is old enough to be looking in the gray/white-haired age group!

“And he should have a lot of money and be a lawyer,” he continued.  “He should be like Tony Stark, except not sell weapons.”

This morning, Aunt X had a brunch date.  She sent me a text message with a picture of her holding a very large bouquet of flowers and said “please show this to your son… these are the flowers that Tony Stark gave me today.”  I showed my son the picture.  He had no expression and simply said,

“Where is the picture of him?

This kid is a tough cookie… but in his defense, he just wants the best for his aunt, right?

Why Pre-Nuptiual Agreements are Crucial

I hate spiders and snakes. My kids have asked if I like little, tiny, barely-visible-to-the-naked-eye dust spiders. NO. What about spiders that don’t hurt you? Hate them, too. The bottom line is, nothing should have eight legs and eight eyes. And for my smart-ass 10-year-old son, and anyone else who will point out that brown recluses only have six eyes… THEY STILL HAVE EIGHT LEGS! And they do wicked damage to their victims. Hate, hate, HATE them all.

Similarly, nothing should have no legs and eerily slither around. Yes, dear children, that goes for non-venomous snakes, too!

When my dear husband and I were still engaged, it came to my attention that he was once a snake and spider owner. Meaning, he willingly caged both a python and a tarantula, kept them in his room and fed them LIVE creatures!  A few times, the snake escaped and was found coiled up in the laundry basket by his mother (ahhhhhhh!!) and once slithering down the hallway for his parents’ bedroom (clearly, the snake had it out for the poor mom).  His mother also told me there were a few occasions when dear hubby would FORGET to put away the nasty spider before falling asleep and she would have to do it for him.

There are a few comments I would like to make before continuing with the meat of the story (hahaha I made a pun!). First: in the laundry basket…. Are you freaking kidding for me? Secondly: who plays with a spider?!  They are not cute.  They cannot play catch or roll over.   Thirdly: how can one go to sleep with a giant spider on the loose??  Something is wrong with my husband…

So I heard these stories with great horror, but the wedding invitations had already been sent out…  But truth be told , I was quite disturbed! So I made him promise and swear in blood to me that no matter how many boys we have, we would never EVER let them have a pet snake or spider.  Of course he agreed.  The wedding invitations had already been sent out.

We now have four boys.

A few days ago, the oldest boy came inside with 3 baby orb weavers. These grow into the huge spiders commonly called banana spiders. He actually tried to run upstairs with them!  He then thought I was naive enough to buy into his story that he was putting them into an escape-proof bug jar for observation purposes.  HA!

But the day I knew would come finally did yesterday.

Out of the blue, the 7-year-old asked, “Mommy, can I have a pet tarantula?”


“Why, because you hate spiders?”

“Yep.”   The 10-year-old then said,

“Yeah, and if you get one, she will just kill it anyway.”  Hahaha!  I didn’t try to defend myself.  He was right.

“You would kill it??”  I felt not one ounce of pity for the boy when I nodded my head.  After a few minutes,

“Well, can I get one when I’m a man?”

“Sure, kid.  When you are a man and NOT living in my house, you can have whatever pet you want.”

To which the 10-year-old replied, “but she won’t come to your house for a visit.”  I didn’t try to defend myself. He was right.