Monday, August 31, 2009

Ramblings: Warning--this house will self destruct in 7 years.

Is there some cosmic force that causes a house to self-destruct right around the time it reaches 7 years old? I remember learning at some point that most of the divorces that occur happen by the 7th year of marriage. There must be something evil about the number. 7. Lately everything in our house seems to be falling apart right around the time it turns 7 years old. I mean, we spent a TON on Alex's hip replacement last year! Just kidding. It's the actual STUFF in the house falling apart, not the people.

Our garage door finally bit the big one (again) a week ago Saturday. Instead of spending more money to fix the piece of junk, we've been researching getting a new one. I hope it finally happens soon because I can't use the garage door and it stinks having to drag groceries from the driveway through the front door to the kitchen. I use to have to do it from alot farther and through the snow in Boston, but I've gotten lazier and spoiled since then I guess. Plus I have two more kids to keep focused on getting loaded in and out of the car. When I can't keep them penned in the garage, it makes the task alot harder. Avery made it halfway down the street on his plasma car by the time I got Aidan loaded this morning for our trek to Costco to stock up on stuff for all the kid lunches I'm packing now.

We had a romantic date night last Saturday picking out different styles, colors, windows etc. We shelled out some cash to hire a babysitter (greatly offending our Manny Joel, but we gotta do what we gotta do) so we could go to dinner and then door shopping.

We picked out and ordered one that was was supposedly "in stock," explaining that we don't have use of our garage right now because our spring broke and we can't get the door open. Translation--we don't give a tiny rat's hiney what it even looks like, as long as it can be ordered and installed SOON. I don't enjoy hauling garbage across the house, through the garage, through the obstacle course known as our 3rd car garage, and then back to the side of the house by the garbage bins. It's not a pretty picture, and I DON'T LIKE DOING IT! (Name that movie and I'll send you a prize.)

And we had the guy come out and do the mandatory preliminary check up a few days later--making sure we ordered the right size and there wasn't anything weird like rotting termite infested wood in the door opening or anything. "Okay. Looks good. They'll call you when they get my report!" Or so he said.

Well anyway, to make a long story short, they called this Saturday, and said it would be at least 3 weeks to get the doors in that we had picked out in taupe. But less than 2 weeks if we would switch to a different style and pick white or almond. So much for the "in stock" claim. They kept trying to convince us how much faster and greater it would be if we'd switch to white or almond. WE CAN'T HAVE WHITE OR ALMOND, MR. GARAGE DOOR SALESPERSON, or we obviously would have picked those initially. According to our HOA and common design sense, our garage door has to match our trim, and our trim is TAUPE not WHITE or ALMOND. But thanks for asking.

So I'm garage-door less for the next three-five weeks. Grrr. And I continue to have to chase the boys up and down the street each and every time I have to load them in the car. And groceries get hauled an extra mile before they end up in the kitchen. But the good news is that hopefully in 3 weeks we'll have a spankin' new set of insulated TAUPE garage doors and a new superpowered, superquiet garage door opener. Our current one makes the entire upstairs shake and rattle every time it's opened and I've forbidden Jeremy from using it for the past five years when he leaves early or comes home late. And we even shelled out the cash for one that comes with the keypads outside, so hopefully we won't have anymore incidents like that one horrible day when we were locked out for hours.

But I'll leave you with a sight that had us giggling during our shopping trip. It was about 9:30 at night and we kept running into this guy around the store. I finally had to take a picture. He was REALLY bringing sexy back. If you got it, flaunt it. Watch out Justin Timberlake.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ramblings: Won't you be my neighbor?

I'm starting to take offense people. Seriously. I didn't think we were THAT bad of neighbors...but maybe so. Currently about 3 of the 5 houses nearest to us are for sale. The neighbors are fleeing in a mass exodus, apparently to get away from us.

First, the neighbors to our right took off one night--they packed up their stuff and abandoned the house to move back to California. They just disappeared. Nice. And the house is still sitting there, sad and empty and oh so cute. Then, the house diagonally across from us went up for sale. We see car after car stop by with the realtor, but not much other activity. Then last week, the house directly across from us suddenly had a For Sale sign in the front yard. Come on, what is going on?

We did some hard-hitting investigating, Dateline-style, to find out why they were moving (actually, we ran into the guy while he was getting his mail and casually asked him why they were selling). HIS story is that he got transferred to San Antonio for his job. MY theory is that all the 100,000 decibel squeals, wrestling matches, dance parties, and the general noises from our carrying-on travels through our brick walls, across the street, and through his brick walls. He's had enough.

But I really, really, want some cool peeps to move into one of these houses. They are cute houses and have huge, awesome backyards. If you are fabulous and want to be my neighbor, I promise to 1) control my hooligans and keep them off your property at all times; 2) bring you baked goods at least once a week; 3) get your mail and newspaper for you when you go out of town; 4) give your kids TONS of good chocolate candy on Halloween for you to steal; 5) finally attach the trampoline stakes that I ordered two years ago, so that our trampoline doesn't take flight again and find its way over the fence and into your backyard; and the final and most important thing-- 6) I will never be sneaky and take pictures of you to make fun of on the blog.

I've resisted this all these years with our neighbors across the street-- and he runs hilarious looking sprints back and forth in front of his house in teeny-tiny little running shorts. But not until after doing a set of ridiculous stretching activities against his brick mailbox, showing off WAY more of his 50 year old white legs than I ever cared to see. So just imagine how difficult it was for me to resist capturing that image on camera. Oh, and the first time we met him, he shared way T.M.I. about catching his teenage son with marijuana and another time "catching" him with his girlfriend upstairs. It was definitely an awkward transition in the same conversation from "Hi. Nice to meet you, we're your new neighbors" to "oh my, well, uh, hope everything works out with that weed situation. Maybe, uh, you could train your dog to sniff for illegal drugs and naked teenage girls..."

But now, since they're moving, I may just have to whip out my camera and document some of that craziness. But if YOU were my new neighbor, I would NEVER mention you or your tiny running shorts and/or drug habit. Unless of course you wanted me to, but that sounds like an altogether different issue...

So please, please, WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? I don't bite...hard.
(Jeremy will be so proud that I just quoted from Austin Powers.)

Man, I never thought I'd ever have a post with pictures of both Austin Powers and Mr. Rogers on the same page. It's making me kind of uncomfortable. Sorry Mr. Rogers.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ramblings: First Day Whoopee

So I spent the morning crying and crying after the two biggest crazies went off to school. Tears of joy, that is. My hopes are that the amount of screaming, fighting, name calling, tattling and general craziness will decrease around least during the hours of 8 and 3.

We went up to the school Friday night for their ice cream social and meet the teacher party. Maddie was SUPER excited to be heading to first grade, even though she discovered that her best kindergarten buds got put in different classes.

Alex was SUPER unhappy about having to return to the daily grind of school and homework. But luckily he found his desk and was so excited that it was two away from his super good friend Ben. Jeremy and I made bets on how long he actually stays there. I think last year he was off alone and his desk was like a deserted island away from the rest of the desks after 4 days. The kid likes to chat. And he's easily distracted. And likes to distract others. And he thinks he's hilarious so he's always trying to crack jokes...THAT entire description probably sounds like every parent-teacher conference that Jeremy's mother had for his entire scholastic experience.

The little boys are VERY aware that they are starting preschool this year. But what they have had a hard time grasping is why they didn't get to start today, too. They had their new little backpacks ready and wanted to know when their school bus was coming to pick them up. I had to break it to them that 1) they have to wait one more week to go to school, and 2) they have to be taken into their class each time by their mom and not a big, cool school bus. I'm pretty sure they're worried that because I'm such a total nerd, I'll cramp their style. Get used to it boys! My job is to cramp your style for the next 15 or so years.

Aidan wouldn't be stopped from posing next to Maddie, but she's nice to him and decided to roll with it. Which will work out nice for him in the future when she's got cute teenage girls hanging out here all the time that he'll be trying to impress.

While I was typing this, the kids got off the bus from school.

"How was it?" I asked.
Maddie: "Awesome. Can I have some chips?"
Alex: "I have the best teacher ever. She let us eat IN the classroom. We can bring snacks. Even sugary ones." (At which point I assured him that I would never be sending him with sugary snacks because he has enough energy for 24 people. And I was pretty sure he was trying to slip one by me regarding the sugar-allowance. ) "And she didn't give us homework...and she's probably not going to this whole year." Hahahahahaha. Yeah, right. He may be getting this week off, but I think by next week he'll be griping and moaning about having to do it just like old times.

So--if you want to be the coolest teacher ever, all you gotta do is let your kids eat in forbidden territory, I guess. And assign all the homework on the first day to the moms. I've got two huge stacks of paperwork, permission slips, behavior sheets, information handouts, and bus forms that I get to spend my evening filling out. Twice. You'd think they would figure out a way to conserve paper and energy and only give one set per family because most of the stuff is the same for both kids. But I won't complain because I'm not volunteering for the job of revamping the school-form distribution procedures...

And now, I'm off to harass Alex to get a few more minutes of piano practice in before his lesson, while at the same time trying to figure out something I can fix for dinner that can be cooking while I'm driving back and forth so it'll be done when we get back at 6. The school year grind begins again!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ramblings: Sticky Situation

I know I should probably be mortified by this...but honestly, it made me laugh. And laugh. And laugh.

Click here if you've ever felt like getting a little revenge...

That'll teach him.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ramblings: Nervous Nelly

Avery has a bit of OCD regarding the weather. Anything and everything weather related freaks the kid out--he asks about it all day long. He wants to check the weather channel on the computer constantly and he demands to see the satellite radar about 10 times a day. If he sees any clouds in the sky, he starts babbling about "big storms" and rain and how we need to "go home and check the 'puter" because "we have to see the map!"

He knows that the colored areas mean "big storms!" and that there's a button you can push to make the satellite show the path of the storms, making the colors move across the map. He loves that part. "See! It's coming! It's 'bout to rain!" he'll scream as they move in the total opposite direction from us. If the computer doesn't satisfy his weather worries, he wants the tv turned on to the news to hear what they have to say. It's hard to explain to a 3 year old that the weather portion of the news broadcast is not on at all times during the day and night. (I can't freak him out by showing him the national weather maps on the weather channel. People, you have no idea what kind of chaos would ensue.)

It started back about two months ago when we had a few weeks of severe thunderstorms off and on, complete with the typical Texas tornado warnings. He was convinced, and still is, that every time it rains, a "nado" is coming. He's sure that our trampoline and all his toys will blow away. (To be fair, our old trampoline did take flight about 2 years ago during a big storm. It flew across our yard, over our wrought iron fence, across our neighbor's yard, and slammed into one of their big trees. It was toast.) But when I try to convince him that there are no storms or tornadoes anywhere near us, he accuses me of lying, being an ignoramus, and then he insults my mother. The kid is serious about the weather.

So today when it got cloudy outside, I knew it would spark an episode. Sure enough, he came in and dragged me from my room to the computer to see the weather on the map. He clammed up a bit when I started recording him because he could see not only the weather map, but also himself right next to it. He was torn between watching his two favorite things on the computer.

So I'm wondering if this means an anxiety-ridden life is in his future, or perhaps he'll just interview in a few years to replace Troy Dungan, our favorite retired local weatherman. He used to wear bowties everyday. So I guess the question is, should I be encouraging this weather fascination and go ahead and start a bowtie collection, or should I submit his application to that new A & E show "Obsessed" and hope to get him some free therapy?

Ramblings: It's been confirmed--I'm getting old

Yesterday we continued the relatively new summer tradition of taking the kids out on the lake for a boating trip--unless Jeremy called in sick for work, and in that case, I took the kids out on a boat with Jeremy's identical twin brother, Fleremy, while Jere was at home with the flu or whatever. We convinced my brother and his wife, Greg and Brooke, to come along so we could try to convince them they need to buy a boat for us to borrow next year.
We had much happier little campers yesterday than last year. Last year they cried for pretty much the first two hours until they got their own Sunkists. Then they'd grumble and whine in between slurps. But yesterday they were all VERY excited and much braver on the tube and loved jumping in to swim. I packed alot of food and treats and we all pigged out and took turns soaking in the sun and then getting pummeled by the water after flipping off the tube. Note all the blue mouths due to massive amounts of blue raspberry airheads.

Brooke and Maddie opted for the senior citizen's version of tubing--I don't think we topped 10 mph. Weenies. Alex was so annoyed whenever he had to go with one of the little boys because they didn't want to go very fast. Avery was so excited in this picture but they hadn't even started moving yet.
So riding the tube--that's how it was confirmed that I'm getting old. I am seriously sore today and I don't really feel like I did that much yesterday. But my creaky bones and achy muscles are trying to tell me something. Something like, "hey, next time you think about climbing on a tube and flinging around over crashing waves while hanging on for dear life, THINK AGAIN. You should know better--your body is not made for that stuff anymore, I mean, you've birthed four kids, what are you thinking?" Something like that. I'm pretty sure it was this ride with Greg that did me in--Jeremy was trying really hard to knock one or both of us unconscious with a tumble.Too bad we didn't get any shots of the full moon that came out pretty much anytime Greg rode the tube in his too-elasticized swim trunks. FYI--wear swim trunks that you can adequately tighten when tubing else the whole boatload gets to see your bum. No, not really. We just kept seeing him trying to yank them up with a free hand every now and then.

But we had a fun time regardless of our aging bods and everyone was plum tuckered out (that sounds like I'm back in Little House on the Prairie days) by the end of the afternoon. And it was getting hot--even on the boat with water spraying us every so often. Greg resorted to using an extra floaty jacket as a hat.
Avery even curled up on my lap and fell asleep for the last 20 minutes on the ride back to the boat dock. The other three fell asleep within 10 minutes of the car ride home. Sah-weet.

My camera battery was almost dead so I didn't take very many pictures, but supposedly Brooke did and supposedly she's going to give them to me, but we'll see. I'll add some more exciting ones if she ever downloads 'em--like when Alex and Jeremy stood up with no hands on the tube thing, when Jeremy tried to yank me off the tube with him when he lost his grip and went flying, or when I did a triple backflip off the boat and scored a perfect 10. (Maybe that last part was a dream...?)

Ok. I got the extra pictures. I really do have documentation that Jeremy was trying to drag me down with him. (He was totally yanking on my legs--like I was going to be able to pull him back out of the water and onto the tube with my leg?!) And when he climbed back on, I threatened to bite his hand so he couldn't hold on.

And I had forgotten that I taught the kids about synchronized swimming and we worked on a short routine involving using our toes to make a star. We're awesome--look for us in the next Olympics. We'll be the ones with blue mouths. Except--do the professionals get to wear the life jackets? Cuz we might have a problem if not...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rave: We got BABY

No, calm down. Not me and not MY baby. But a new little niece joined the world yesterday morning and finally gave her mom's exhausted womb a much needed vacancy. I'll be up close and squeezeable with that newbornness tonight, and if I can remember my camera, I may even blind her a few times for a picture.

And if I notice the hospital's nursery is slightly understaffed or unattended for a split second, I may bring home more than just pictures. It's so much easier than going through all that pregnancy mumbo-jumbo.

Welcome to the world little Emily.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ramblings: A lovely shade of Red

While perusing the makeup counter at the store with the boys in tow, I thought it would be a good idea to corral them by putting each of them in the makeover chairs positioned right next to the counter. That way they wouldn't be running around wildly and sneaking into the drawers and cupboards everywhere. So I'm looking... looking...looking a bit longer for the color of lipstick I needed, when I happened to look over at a suspiciously quiet Avery. He's sitting there with a sheepish look on his face, like "please don't notice. please don't notice. please don't notice."

I noticed.

And I busted out laughing. He had managed to snatch a fabulous shade of red and smeared it all around his mouth. He hadn't seen himself yet, so I had to show him why he looked so funny and why I of course noticed. I was mostly just relieved he hadn't decorated the pretty white leather chair he was sitting in. That would've been much, much worse. I'm actually quite impressed that he managed to stay relatively close to his lips. In a few years, he may even have mascara application down pat. (Jeremy just had a heart attack.)

And if you're wondering, what's with the hat? He insisted on wearing it since it was starting to rain outside and he didn't want his "basketball player spikes" hairdo to get messed up. I didn't bother explaining to him that the hat would do far more spike damage than the one or two raindrops that hit him. He was quite the sight with his Mickey ears and Joker makeup.

As always, we were the traveling freakshow.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Ramblings: Update II

I've sat down to write this about three different times, but I always get up and leave the computer because it seems too overwhelming to start. I keep thinking this week has to have been a bad dream, and that one morning I'll hear the doorbell and Loren will walk in like normal saying, "Hi Ms. Fielding!" But here goes. I'm going to share some stuff, but some of more personal stuff I'll won't because I don't really feel like it's completely my story to share.

We had talked all week with Alex, preparing him for the likelihood that his friend wouldn't be getting better. He asked alot of questions, but overall seemed to be handling it ok. Until Saturday night. Jeremy found him sobbing in his room. He had found the thank you card Loren had signed and given to him with a picture after his birthday party 2 weeks ago. I think he finally realized what not having his friend around was going to mean. So they talked about it and Alex shared some funny stories and his favorite things about Loren that he can have as memories.

Yesterday afternoon Jeremy and I decided to drive down to Children's Hospital and visit Loren's parents. It's something that's been on my mind all week since we heard of his accident and I knew we needed to do it. But yesterday, after having received a dismal update Saturday, I knew we should go as soon as we could. Saturday's update basically said that Loren had suffered a brain aneurysm and CT scans showed that he hadn't had any brain activity since the incident.

Although we had been mourning here in the privacy of our home, I really felt we needed to go and see his parents and let them know how much Loren meant to us, too. I'm ashamed that I was too emotional and chicken to go sooner. It was definitely not something either of us were looking forward to--we knew it would be hard to see them so broken, to share their grief, and to finally come to terms that Loren was gone. Plus, we hoped they wouldn't feel like we were intruding on a private experience. It was one of the hardest things I think either of us has ever done.

I felt like I might get sick right before we walked into the emergency ICU. My arms were numb and I was really lightheaded. But as soon as they came out of his room after being paged, it didn't really matter anymore. We all hugged and sobbed and hugged some more. They were as shattered and haggered as we expected, but completely gracious and humbled that we'd come.

They told us he was "gone," but he was being kept alive so that all the medications he had been given to induce the coma could be flushed from his system so that his organs could be donated. His mother made the decision that if no one could help her boy, she could help some others. Loren was otherwise a healthy and active kid, but had experienced a horrible medical tragedy when an enlarged artery deep inside his brain burst. That suddenly caused him to feel dizzy, go unconscious, and then he fell. There wasn't anything his parents could've done--there were no symptoms or signs at all before it happened. It could've been any one of our kids--it was just so sudden and seemed so random.

They shared some of their feelings, their worries about facing the future, and their despair and lack of understanding at what had happened to their family so suddenly. It just broke my heart to hear all the things I knew they would be thinking--regrets about little things in the past, how Loren had always wanted to please others, and how they know they have to survive this for their daughter, but they still haven't figured out how they will.

We shared some of our beliefs with them--one of them being that they will get to see their son again one day. That although it may seem impossible to feel comforted right now, that they can one day find peace and hope. We told them that although he'd only been around 9 short years, he had touched so many lives and been a good, fun influence on people around him--especially us.

They were worried about how Alex was taking the news, but we assured them he would be able to handle it over time and that he wanted them to know how much he loved Loren. We told them some of the things Alex had shared with us--things that he will remember about his best friend. We told them how Alex said that he knew Loren was a good friend, because once while they were playing basketball, Alex fell and scraped his knee. Loren let his ball roll in front of a car and get squished because he wanted to go inside and get a bandaid for Alex. They shared some of their memories of the two of them and they even laughed as they told stories of them torturing their dog by throwing her in the pool, being so competitive in EVERYTHING, and soaking Jeremy with a watergun once while he was in his suit . It seemed to make them happy and I was glad we were there to share those moments with them.

The funeral will probably be either Thursday or Friday, and I'm sure that will be another difficult day for everyone. The elementary school and community has been amazingly supportive and has already scheduled a month of meals for their family. I have to say thanks to all of you for your concern for us and Loren's family. They've appreciated all the love and prayers from their friends and even total strangers.

And so with that final update, I will promise to make my posts more upbeat as we try to heal from this emotional roller coaster of a week. I've been stuffing my face stress-eating all week and I've probably gained 35 pounds, so I really should be running laps around the house or doing anything but staring at this computer. Ta-ta!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Ramblings: No shoes, no shirt...have a cheesestick.

To the Large, Hairy, Oblivious Man Standing next to me in the dairy section of Costco,

Please, please refrain from actually lifting up your oh-too-tight t-shirt to scratch your oh-so-hairy belly as you chat with your wife about what a great deal that economy, day-care sized bag of cheese sticks is. You are in public, you know. At a grocery store, no less. I mean, the itch may really be there, but either 1) scratch the belly on top of the tiny t-shirt or 2) if the itch indeed requires nails on skin contact to be satisfied, do us all a favor and hop on over to the men's room and then scratch away. No one in there would probably even notice.

But in the dairy section?! There are many, many other people around you that--believe it or not--may NOT be turned on by the sight and sound of your fingernails scratching against that thick, sandpapery layer of belly hair that's exposed in full sight. Gross! I mean it--I barfed a little in my mouth.

And right then I made up my mind that I didn't need those 2 gallons of milk after all. Especially because I just saw you use your scratching hand to open the refrigerator door to grab something. {shiver} Calcium is highly overrated for growing kids, right?

And let me tell you, bear-like man with your protruding, round beer-gut, it's a good thing I haven't eaten lunch yet or they'd be announcing a clean up in aisle 7.

Temporarily Lactose Intolerant