Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Yes My Hands Are Full Now Please Move Along

We have had a whirlwind couple of days here, my friends: many park runs; swimming; buying fireworks at the Snoqualmie Casino (who knew that a casino could be in such a criminally beautiful locale!); visiting Snoqualmie Falls; shopping for Rory's birthday...all of that, and just the usual snack distributing, meal preparing, and butt wiping. Whew!

And everywhere I go, I find that my brood is the subject of even more curiosity and scrutiny here than it is in Oklahoma. Five kids (and their obnoxious carbon footprint) is more incongruous in Seattle than George W. Bush leading a gay pride parade. And inevitably, when I am trying to nod and smile politely to the jillionth "You have your hands full!" and "Are they ALL YOURS?" inquiry, either Colette is whining because her chocolate milk has trickled oddly, or Keane is ranting about some injustice, or Rory is slugging Will. Inevitably, something ugly is going on.

Perhaps being at my parents, too, has made me more sensitive to the fact that I do have "a lot on my hands." My parents, whose own average brood of three (GIRLS!) has long been out of the house, are at times horrified by the flying dirt, debris, mayhem and decibel level that we create. So I am left with this sense - whether it comes from all the public input I receive, or my own self-consciousness, or both, I am not sure - that since both parenthood and family size are so relentlessly optional these days, I should be able to justify all of these kids by being better. I should be a better mother, a more saintly mother, a more patient mother; I should have a more perfectly behaved, saintly clan like the Duggar family.

But of course that's not the case. I am doing my absolute best, 95% of the time (the other 5% I am lingering too long on Facebook or hiding in some mundane housework or a glass of Franzia). But while I am giving my whole existence to these kids, while I adore them more than I could ever imagine, I don't have this whole motherhood thing down by a long shot. Right now I am muddling along, trying to hold my shizer together while one kid or five takes me to the edge of insanity eight times a day with his or her histrionics. My goal, like yours, is to raise these monsters to be good, hard-working, law-abiding, God-fearing members of society, but I suppose as long as none of them ends up in a federal penitentiary that will be a rather smashing success too.

I don't know why I have more than most people do, all of you who comment to me. I'm not more patient, I'm not more saintly. I just have loved each of my kids irrationally, as I'm sure you all have, and decided (along with, and because of, PVT, of course) that another kid to love would be a rather wonderful thing.

So don't feel sorry for me, don't put me on a pedestal, don't think I am a religious fanatic, and don't blame all of my kids' failings on the fact that I have "too many" kids. I am trying, we are trying, our very very best. I don't have any better answer than that.

Sorry, you all. Had to get that off my chest.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sort of Like an All-Inclusive Resort, Just Without the Swim Up Bar

Vacation. Ahhh. Well, I'm not exactly at a Sandals in Antigua sans kids, but I am having a crazy decadent time. To wit: a mere four minute drive from my parents' home in Bellevue is my idea of heaven: it is an "upscale" little strip mall that houses both a huge, self-satisfied Starbucks, and a ridiculously exorbitant grocery store (called, ironically, Matthew's THRIFTway). As soon as I get to town, I love nothing more than zipping down to the Starbucks with the hipster technology executives and the yoga-clad mummies, and then traipsing across the parking lot to drool over the $1.50 donuts (that's PER donut), the organic rainbow of gorgeous produce, the live crab and lobster tank, the beautiful petit fours in the bakery, and the "fromagerie."

I suppose this habit of mine is a bit odd, yes - but remember I have to shop at Walmart at home. And! Oh! They have REAL wine here too, since Washington permits grocery stores to carry full strength wine; stores in Oklahoma cannot even carry full strength beer, but something called 3.2 strength beer. I guess if grocery stores carried full strength beer in Oklahoma, all the beer lovers would lose all self control if they could buy toilet paper, Chex Mix and full strength beer at the SAME time.

So I dragged Colette and Sylvie with me this morning to buy Brussel Sprouts the price of a kidney transplant. And then I passed a Vietnamese nail spa; how fortuitous - so desperate was I for a toe polish change (my poor woman's pedicure). My girls and I went in, and though I hate to see 12 year old girls getting their nails done (isn't that TOO EARLY for such vanity?), I let Colette - who I knew would be stunned by such a fascinating process - get her nails painted with sparkly finger nail polish. Oh how she loved it; she sat very still and very seriously while the Vietnamese women cooed over her and asked her where her hair came from, and whether she would be a movie star.

Now, I wouldn't get that kind of kick out of a four star resort.
Well, who am I kidding. Of course I would.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Gentleladies, Start Your Engines

After flying solo with five kids (it went remarkably well, you all - can you believe it?) I am here here in Seattle! Where: Will is sick with some sort of high fever that comes and goes; and Sylvie, who I'd like to wean in the next 24 years, has decided she just really wants to sleep in bed with me and suck on me ALL NIGHT LONG. When she was a newborn, that was just peachy; but now having her in bed with me is sort of like being gnawed on by an overly affectionate baby seal. The big boys are all wound up, wanting to engage in endless Nerf Gun fights with their "Pepere," (that's French for grandfather), and driving everyone to drink vast quantities of jugged wine. And my perpetual wine - no whine - how can I, will we, ever move back here? - continues to plague me.

But then I read a story in the local paper about a woman who, three weeks after she gave birth to her third child, lost her husband in Afghanistan.

Sheesh! My life is awesome!

So hopefully Will will recover shortly, the rain will stop, and we will launch a tour of some local haunts: Pike Place Market, a picnic at Chateau Ste. Michelle, the local zoo, boating on Lake Washington, and a bit of...shopping.
Nordstrom, baby, here I come.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Nordstrom Bound

Tomorrow my monsters and I depart for almost three weeks to the lovely Pacific Northwest. Holy Shizer am I excited. Excited to get them out of the house at the height of midday heat so they don't resort to antics like this:
Yes, here my children are "sledding" down the stairs using an old crib mattress. They are all wearing "protective" gear, which was a bit ridiculous considering it was 180 degrees outside. The boys reminded me of this duo:

ANYHOO. I will keep this brief, since I need to finish removing the Nerf Guns and Ammo from the boys' carry-ons, but stay tuned for riveting tales of life, love and shopping from the greater Seattle area.

Or something like that.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Another Soccer Mom Fail, and Friends in High Places

Yesterday was another soccer tournament for my boys. PVT was coaching both of their teams. Since the games were a mere twenty minutes each, I thought, hey! I could bring the three little ones to watch one or two games!

Oh, STOP your guffawing.

First, because the parking lots were overflowing, I had to park ACROSS the street - a very narrow, busy highway - from the tournament field. This shouldn't seem like a big deal, but with a four year old, two year old, and 9 month old in a crappy umbrella stroller, I was petrified that we wouldn't make it across alive. We did, though, and then I had to navigate rocks, grass and gravel to the fields with said crappy umbrella stroller. Of course I was also carrying my coffee du jour (yes, I was drinking 20 ounces of scalding coffee in 95 degree weather - why? Out of PRINCIPLE!), which slopped all over my hand as I bonked Sylvie along in the stroller. Finally we made it to the fields, me and my three monsters, dripping with sweat and stickiness. We straggled to Keane's field, where we snuck under someone else's tent (why don't we have our own tent yet, you all? I think I am afraid to buy one because then I will be THOSE PEOPLE who have a tent, 8 coolers, a cooling system, and an entire makeshift HOME on the soccer fields every weekend).

Then Colette starts in: "My BACK hurts. My LEG hurts. I'm COLD. (?!) I want to GO HOME...." But sheesh, I didn't want to cross the street AGAIN so soon, so I thought we should watch at least a LITTLE soccer. So we schlepped back to RORY's field, where Sylvie promptly started eating grass, Colette continued her litany of complaints, and Will joined her with his sad story of boredom and hot-ness. But we stole some shade from a tent of the OPPOSING team, and watched for a little while before giving up.

During this interval Sylvie fell asleep. So now I was faced with a sleeping baby, two whining kids and said crappy stroller to pull yet again across the road of death. We slowly inched back to the road, waiting for it to clear.

And then: hark! A gorgeous golden gleaming Escalade slowed and stopped: it was driven by a beautiful blonde friend of mine! She recognized my pathetic little sweaty group, waved like an angel, stopped her lane of traffic, and then motioned to the opposing lane as well. All the cars were stopped; we safely scampered across the street.

The moral here? Um, how about Hot Moms with Eye-Catching Cars Save Lives?

Oh, and Rory's team won first place in the tournament.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Jaw-to-Middle-Earth, More Likely

The good Nordstrom Brothers sent me an email with this rather charming subject line: "Jaw to Floor Alert." Sheesh - what a vivid little line. I guess some of the markup I'm paying is going to pay writers more clever than I.

The cause for jaw-to-floor:

Darling summer cocktail party dresses. Since no swanky parties loom on my horizon, however, I will content myself with vicarious drooling.

What was even more earth-shattering than these lovely dresses, though, this morning? PVT hops out of bed, trembling with excitement (OK, I exaggerate), and calls to me: "The Men's Half Yearly starts today! Get on there!"

WHAT, you all? My shopping-averse, frugal, brand-name-scoffing husband telling me to BUY HIM SOME STUFF at the Nordstrom Men's sale?

Now, THAT is jaw-to-floor. I guess I've done my work well.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

And Her Name Is Molly

Something magically wonderful has happened Chez VT, you all. We had a babysitter last week.

And today SHE CAME BACK.

Yes, TWICE! We had the same babysitter! And: she lives right around the corner. She is a college student. She is here for the summer. It doesn't seem to bother her that Sylvie screams bloody murder while she's here; she just laughs it off and calls her "cranky." She brought ingredients today for the kids to make their own Play Dough.

Yes, while I was off doing serious research for my next Tulsa Kids article, she was happily sculpting clay monstrosities, cleaning up, AND joking with my kids.

She is coming back on Friday to help with Rory's 7th birthday party. She is going to house and dog sit while we are in Seattle.

Her one fatal flaw? She is returning to college in MONTANA, the scamp.

I am hoping I convince her that all that higher education crap is not at all what it is cracked up to be.

Because having competent, cheerful Mary Poppins-esque help right around the corner makes a world of difference in my little - well, not so little - crazy family.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The HARD HARD Dilemmas that My Life Presents

For the first 35 1/2 years of my life, I contented myself with my poop-laced-with-auburn-colored hair. After all, PVT declared he liked brunettes. I AM a brunette, in all senses of the word. But the sheer pervasiveness of blonde-ness in Oklahoma wore me down. I decided I'd try some highlights.

Well, of course I have LOVED my sunlit-kissed tresses ever since. To the chagrin of PVT's wallet.

Yesterday was my quarterly hair appointment. It was sort of a big deal, because the time had come to NOT tote along Sylvie; she just can't last two or three hours on my lap anymore. So I left her - and the rest of the crew - with PVT. I hadn't DONE that yet, you all - all FIVE of them for such a big chunk of time.

But I bravely left them all with PVT (who, by the way, was not at all flummoxed). I arrived at my salon, where the receptionist asked me, "Did no one call you? Your usual stylist broke her arm imitating a You Tube video with her cousin." Um. OK! "Dee Dee (no, not her real name) will take you. And! We're running late!"

Well, at first I thought I should just leave, since despite my total faith in PVT's competency, Sylvie was probably choking on some dog hair ball and desperately needing Mama. But when I calculated the next time PVT or ANYone would be able to watch all my children for such a long block of time, I forged on.

My new hairdresser was lovely. Chatty, professional. But as we got to the two and a half hour mark, I noticed that the hair around my face was QUITE blonde. She noticed, too, and asked if I would like a "toner" (?) to calm down the blonde-ness.

I had been gone almost three hours at this point, you all. I had already told her not to blow dry my hair post-cut, since I was sure that my kids and PVT would be in varying stages of distress. So I declined. But when I got home (OF COURSE Sylvie was fine! PVT was fine! The rest of them were fine! How I overestimate my indispensability!), PVT was a bit taken aback by my highlights. As were my older boys. Behold my blondeness:

YEEEEEE! So, you all: do I return for the toner (which will require me either bringing five children or employing a sitter), or do I just embrace my inner trailer park, brassy highlights and all?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summertime and the Livin' is Through the Nose

How are you weathering summer thus far, you all? Here we are on day 16 and already I am running out of ideas. It is Oklahoma HOT HOT already, so yesterday we resorted to coloring faces with markers a la Super Hero Squad. Try not to be dazzled by my awesome mothering skills.
I actually did not color my face; I did what I always do during times of duress - shop online. An embarrassing amount, you all. I have to stop. Because I buy, return, buy, return. It's like retail bulimia. Is that a clinical affliction in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders? It ought to be. But really, PVT just told me he needs a few shirts, and Father's Day is coming up, right?

And I'm trying to convince myself I really DON'T need a another "free" gift with purchase.

Perhaps not buying anything else can be my birthday gift to PVT, who turned - well, let's just say he is in his LATE thirties, now:
Sorry I have been a bit sulky lately, PVT. I am definitely in for growing old together. Especially since you still look so good.

And, of course, you will be getting older FIRST.

Here's to you, us, and the rest of these monsters.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I Might as Well Be Handing You a Limitless Nordstrom Charge Card with a Cherry on Top

Hot. Hot, hot, hot, here. Soccer tournaments. Toasted kids. Toasted PVT. Inchoate Mama. So I will leave you with this bon bon to start your week - sent to me by my dear friend Espresso Gal from my hometown:

Um. Pretty sure there is nothing I can add here.

Happy June.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

My Life: Awesome or Horrifying? Or Both? And a Garage Sale!

Oh shizer, you people. I have been busy. PVT has been out of town since yesterday morning. That is TWO WHOLE DAYS, you all.

What? You don't feel sorry for me? I KNOW, I KNOW. Even my own mother couldn't muster up any sympathy for me. But I am spoiled. Mentally I rely on the fact that at around 6pm each night, I can talk to an adult who doesn't require juice in a sippy cup or assistance in bougar extraction.

So! I have been busy taking five kids to the neighborhood pool, ferrying boys to various playdates, going to soccer practice for an upcoming tournament, and retreating to the bookstore, where I justify spending a buttload of money on kiddie books because, hey, everyone wants to raise a book lover. Where I bought a smoothie cookbook so that Keane could - his request - experiment making smoothies. Which he did tonight. But since we are at the end of the week and lack proper ingredients, his smoothie - milk, grapefruit juice, cherry juice, watermelon chunks and sugar - was a bit tart. And odd.

Oh, and Colette has been sick-ish with something that looked like strep, smelled like strep, but ISN'T strep, and now Sylvie seems to have it, too. Woo hoo!

But the WORST, people! My kids saw the huge sign for the neighborhood garage sale tomorrow! And they want to participate! So, sure, I thought - that's a nice activity, a nice learning experience. WHAT, people?

Now I don't have any real great attachment to "Stuff," like some people do. (You are laughing, right? It's true! I love to shop, but after I wear the freak out of something, or after something has lost its utility for me, it's gonzo.) Perhaps this is because my own parents - hi Dad! - love certain things beyond rationality - I am thinking of the boxes and boxes of my dad's decade-old running magazines I carried up my parents' porch when I "helped" them move many years ago. So, while I love a few articles of clothing, my makeup, my certain foods and beverages, and a certain pile of books, OH, and some super sentimental baby clothes, most THINGS I could do without. So, sure! Let's sell some crap and get some cash!

Oh, but do you know how much actual WORK I'm going to have to do to set this thing up in eight hours or less? And how early we'll have to get up? And how CRUSHED my boys will be when they don't sell a treasured old truck for $15?

I am pretty sure that the $27.53 we will earn tomorrow ain't gonna be worth it, baby.