Thursday, February 16, 2017

becoming me

All of us wish we could be better, do better, but we never really know how to start. Today I read an Article that really resonated with me. If I want to be something, then I just need to do it. Every time I hear about improving your quality of life, it always starts with turning off the tv. I LOVE tv. I have an extensive movie collection, I enjoy Netflix. It'a usually part of my nightly routine. But tomorrow,I'm going on a TV fast. I want to be more and if turning off the tv is the way to do it, then so be it. Wish me luck virtual world. I'm headed for the real adventure!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The one with the chipmunk

Every day is a laundry day. Nine people in the house makes for a LOT of clothing. Because the washer is in the basement, her children can just drop their clothes down the laundry shoot. The Laundry shoot makes the pile of laundry look like Mt. St. Helens made of fabric. Ceiling to floor of dirty blankets, pants, shoes, towels, stuffed animals, and just about anything else you can imagine.

Sunday afternoons are a great day to just run the laundry. Load after load she marches baskets up the stairs. After a several loads it was easier to dump the laundry on the floor. She hadn't started folding yet, but her and her husband could work on that after they managed to get kids in bed.

During this time of drowning in laundry a friend popped in to chat. While sitting amongst the laundry hills talking Father looks at the door, "Um...a chipmunk just walked into our room." Mother didn't see it and was skeptical at first. "Yeah, it just ran into our closet."

The friend pipped up, "I just heard something behind me."

How? And WHY?!?! Several boys came bounding down the hallway, "Did you see the chipmunk?!?" Well that explains it. However it got into the house it was only one of 5 reasons. Boys. Mother began frantically taking clothes off the floor and throwing them on the bed. Not caring if they came from the clean piles or dirty piles.

"Where did it go?!" she asked her husband. He began taking his flashlight and shining it in the closet. Nothing behind the toolbox, nothing behind the gun case, nothing behind the small dresser. If it didn't go into the closet, the only other place was......under the bed.

When she made her bed, mother thought she was being so clever. "Oh we don't need a bed frame. We have lots of food storage that needs a place to go. Lets just put the number 10 cans under our bed to raise it up." Plenty to raise it up, but not enough to cover the entire underside of the bed. Plenty for supports with cans spaced several inches apart, but not enough to see if there was a devil rodent hiding underneath it. Oh yes, by all means, be prepared...but however much you think you have prepared, YOU ARE NEVER PREPARED! Who the heck is prepared to chase a chipmunk out of their house?!?!

This calls for a different tactic. Mother finds a broken handle off one of the brooms a little boy had used for a ninja fight. Her friend gets on the other side of the bed with the flashlight. As mother kneels down beside the dresser she knocks it slightly. Something darts out of the corner of her eye and rockets off her leg. After a girlish yelp and jumping into the air several feet she looks down. A stupid, blue, ball point pen had rolled off the dresser and lightly bounced off her lap.

The room erupts into laughter. The friend, and the husband are laughing uncontrollably, and mother is laughing and crying. No one knows if the crying is from laughing so hard, or from being scared so bad by a ball point pen.

"Oh dear," Says her friend through bouts of laughter. "I think that is my queue to head home. If you find the chipmunk let me know. It'll probably be on your face in the middle of the night." She chortles. "I bet you never thought you'd have to find a chipmunk before you could go to bed." snorting as she laugh she waves goodbye and heads home.

"Don't worry dear," Said Father, "While you were looking under the bed I went online. Apparently there is a whole group of people who have had this problem before. They said just leave the doors open, most chipmunks don't want to be inside and will find there way out."

Oh great....most. With my luck we get the one percent of chipmunks that loves the feel of laundry and wants to bring over his friends. Leaving the back door open she winces. She tells herself it's all in her head. She never saw it come in, maybe it wasn't even there. She thinks about sleep, maybe she'll go sleep with the two year old tonight.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The night mom got caught up.

It was late in the evening. All the children had been put in bed....several times. Mother was laying in bed just trying to sleep. Father was snoring next to her. Unfair, she was always the first one asleep. Oh how she envied him, being able to snore. Was this what it felt like to be him? She tried every trick she had ever known to get herself to sleep. And there he sat, totally dead to the world.

Her husband had told her what it was like, not having your mind stop for anything. And no matter what she tried she couldn't get to sleep. She had always told her kids that they just didn't stay in bed long enough and that was why they couldn't sleep. She had laid in bed for three hours without feeling drowsy. Three hours was long enough. She heaves a sigh and decides to go check on their backyard chickens. They had lost two of them in the past few months. Maybe if she walks around a bit she will get tired....nope.

Chickens were secure, she went in the kitchen. Or as she liked to call it, the landfill. There was always crumbs on the floor. Do normal people have kitchens like this? Table was covered, floor was sticky, sink was full, dishwasher was....oh look, clean dishes. She decides that won't take too long and maybe she will be tired afterword. Dishes get put away, and before she can stop herself she has reloaded the dishwasher, done the extra dishes, showered the kitchen and squeegied it out the back door, organized her cabinets, and completely re arranged her appliances and table. It was now 3:00 in the morning.

Mother shrugs, the kitchen is sparkling, she still isn't tired. Such a strange feeling. She is usually the one who could fall asleep in the middle of the day if she wanted. Oh well, she decided to go to the front room. Business as usual, toys, clothes, crumbs, and wet pannies littered the floor. Before she could stop herself mom was at it again. Everything cleaned and vacuumed, then she pulls out the couch and vacuums under it. That wasn't too bad, she decides it was time to rearrange the front room as well. With the couch out of the way it wouldn't take too long to move the piano to the other side of the room. She just had to be careful, on account of one of the piano legs being missing.

It's now 5am. The front room is pristine. The piano had been on that wall since they moved in to the house 5 years ago. Moving it revealed the cleanest wall in the entire house. Simply beautiful. Now all the dirty walls were behind the furniture and she could just drink in the cleanliness of this beautiful plain, spotless wall. Her husband was going to want to mount a tv there now that there was nothing on it. Tragic really, to put holes in the one magnificent wall left in their home.

After reveling in the cleanliness she decides it isn't worth it to even try going to bed anymore. Everyone would be up soon, so she keeps going. Starting the laundry and picking up every bit of laundry off her bedroom floor. Her room didn't take long, she had to do it in the dark, but it was just a few clothes and some trash. She knew her bathroom still needed work. Just the standing shower. She had put off cleaning it for the longest time that it had begun to have soap streaks and mildew buildup. This will take more heavy duty equipment. Time to sacrifice her mechanical toothbrush.

She didn't even think twice. With a good cleaner and the motorized toothbrush she made short work of cleaning the tile in the shower. Still kneeling in the shower, still not tired, the bathroom door opens. Her husband sleepily pokes his head in, "Hello? How long have you been awake?"

Eyes wide open, and a giant goofy grin on her face, she replies that she hadn't slept yet. "The cleaning fairy finally visited...SEE. She even organized our kitchen cabinets and rearranged our furniture." her husband shakes his head in disbelief. Being the good wife she is, she makes him go look at all the work she has done. "This is the part where you ooh and awe at my handy work." She queues him. "Say things like, wow wife, this looks awesome. Or, oh yes, this is beautiful. I love the not sticky floors." He laughs, "no really husband, tell me I'm awesome."

He hugs her, "You did wonderfull sweetheart. And now I'm going to stay home from work. You are not going to be able to stay awake today." Well that wasn't the plan. She did all of this because she couldn't sleep. With her assurances, she manages to convince him that she can handle the day and gets him off to work. All while she turns on netflix for the kids and sinks deeper and deeper into the couch. "Goodnight wifey."

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The one where it was all yellow

Saturday evening, a time when most families enjoy the afternoon together. Playing games, watching tv, going on walks. But when you are a mom of 5 boys who need white shirts cleaned and pressed for church at 9 am, the frolicking only lasts till about 6pm.

Dinner, and kids scrubbed. Then scriptures and prayers. Hoping for a quiet night, mother begins laundry. She gathers up all of the sunday pants and the 2 little girls dresses. It's no wonder she has gone through 4 machines in the past 9 years. Some boys are in-between sizes so she washes them 2 or 3 pairs hoping that one of them will fit.

The evening progresses and Mother has collected everyone's shoes and socks and placed them in the front room. She has vowed to herself that this Sunday, they will be on time.  She changes the laundry, putting the pants in the dryer and begins to collect shirts. She would not miss one single shirt this Sunday. Last week a few children went in just collared shirts. It was an acceptable alternative, but Sunday best meant the white shirts with ties.

It took longer than she thought to collect the shirts. Mostly because she had to change the 2 year olds pants 3 times. The two year old had potty trained herself, and then decided it wasn't worth the effort.
"Get back in bed!" her catch phrase. Maybe someday someone will make an action figure of her. Action figure mom, complete with 3 cool catchphrases, "Get back in bed!" "Shut the door!" and "Don't touch that" Oh yes, it will sell millions. She wipes up pee off the floor for the third time, and puts the toddler back in bed.

The table still needed to be wiped up. After wiping the table the floor needed a sweep again. Before she knew it the dryer was going off. Mother didn't even get the white shirts in the washing machine yet. It was already late, she decided to start the white shirts, hang up the sunday pants and go to sleep. She knew that the whites would be ok in the washer for a few hours. if she just woke up an extra hour early she could run them in the dryer and they would be warm and wrinkle free just when the boys were ready to get dressed.

Sleep came easy, she just knew the morning was going to go well. At 6am the alarm went off and she trudged down the stairs. Impressive how a mother can make it down a flight of stairs with no landing, change a wet load of clothes to the dryer, get it started and head back to bed without waking up too much. Mom level achieved. She sleeps for another hour and wakes up to get the shirts out of the dryer before they wrinkle.

Mother turns on the lights in the laundry room and beings to empty the dryer. Taking out the first shirt she spreads it out to put it in the basket without it wrinkling. At first she thought it was just flecks of light in her eye. Maybe she was too sleepy. She rubs her eyes again, isn't possible. Yellow, yellow spots all over that white shirt. She pulls out another and inspects it. Nothing could be more cruel than this. A heinous, yellow, crayon of carnage, had made its way into the dryer. Shirt after shirt she pulls out, and finds yellow stains on

Some shirts only have a stain on the stomach, others are completely unsalvageable. Curse the one who invented crayons. How did it even get in the dryer. It was all SHIRTS. Then, the realization comes. All shirts, every last white shirt they owned was in that dryer. Father had 2 in his closet, at least he will be alright. She brings the basket of ruined shirts upstairs and slams it on the floor of their bedroom. Father wakes up, "What's going on?"

"All of them, I ruined EVERY LAST ONE." mother laments, "It's all over the collars, the sleeves, this isn't even salvageable." She lays face down on the bed. Father puts his hand on her shoulder. Every last shirt they own now looks like a yellow splatter painting, she was just trying to be on time for church once. Trying to do something good and ruining level achieved.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The one where everything is normal.

It started out like a normal day. Waking up to Daddy getting ready for work, then going and waking up the 2 babies so they can go to the bathroom, without wetting the bed. No one had any clothes leftover. Mom had been so busy trying to get the back yard fixed up that the Laundry never got finished. The clean piles of laundry had all been rummaged through and everything was now dirty again.

Mom put on her same clothes that she had worn the day before. Then they said their morning prayers and sent Dad off to work. She re-started the load of laundry in the washer and came back upstairs. Now it was time to get breakfast on, Mom had planned on making cinnamon rolls, but the kids beat her into the kitchen and were already munching on crackers and cereal. Just like a normal day.

The kitchen was at that point again. Covered in children mess, it was time to mop again. The way she normally the kitchen a shower. She turns the sink water on as hot as she can get it. Using the sprayer she douses the ENTIRE kitchen. Walls, table, and floor. She grabs the stiff bristled broom, the one with the wooden handle. Its the only handle that hasn't been broken from being used as a dueling stick. Today, she didn't even bother to sweep. All of it was food, biodegradable. So, once the kitchen was thoroughly wetted, she began to scrub the table...with the broom. Like normal.

Egg, why was there always dried egg in the kitchen? She grabbed the metal BBQ spatula out of the grilling drawer, every normal persons first choice for cleaning their kitchen, and began to scrape up anything that wouldn't just wash away with water. "MMMOOOM! I'm hungry!" It was only 10am, they had just eaten. She told him that it wasn't time to eat yet, "Well, is there a snack I can eat? What can I have right now?"

"Son, have you SEEN this kitchen? How could you want to eat in this mess?!? You can wait until lunch. I have a lot to do, go clean your room."

"Ok, but can I just have an apple?"

Mother walks over to the sink and grabs the sink sprayer, "Run." She tells him. This was the normal courtesy warning before dousing a child with sink water. By the time she turns around, he has vacated the kitchen. It wouldn't have been the first time she sprayed someone in the house. Her children always understood actions better than words.

Alone again, she returns to scrubbing and scraping. Once everything crusty has lifted off the floor, she takes their one good broom handle and unscrews it. She locates the giant squeegee head and attaches the broom handle. Pulling open the sliding glass door as wide as she can, she continues her normal routine... to squeegee everything out the back door. Then she squeegees the crumbs, chocolate chips, dried shredded cheese, and stale rolls, off the porch and into the grass. The kitchen is sparkling, mostly because it's all got a shine of wetness to it, but she decides to ignore that fact and revel in the imaginary clean.

"Ok kids! You can come in for lunch now!" The stampede of boys races to the kitchen.

"What did you cook?" one of the boys says.

"Cook?" The mother says in disbelief. "I didn't cook anything. I cleaned the kitchen so you could eat in it! What you eat is up to you. Pull out some leftovers or make a sandwich." She leaves them to their own abilities and goes to retrieve the girls. Slowly pushing open the door to their room she finds that their sliding closet doors have been knocked off the rails again. The beds are pushed into the middle of the room and every toy is out and covered in saltine crumbs.

She rolls her eyes and steps in the room, hearing a splash she looks down, "Ew...that better be water." She knows better, it's NEVER water. It's the normal wet puddle on the floor. She grabs the dirty pillow case on the floor right as the youngest boy walks in. He watches her clean up the "liquid."

"MOM! Don't clean up pee with my pillow sheet!" He begins to cry.

"Son, it was already dirty, but I'm sorry. I'll throw it in the washing machine." Which normally means it won't be done for a week. That pacifies him enough, but his lip still quivers. "You need to go eat lunch with your brothers, take the girls with you. Then we can give you all a bath." By the time mother finishes putting the girls room back together the kids have finished lunch. She can hear them playing in the back yard. Hallelujah for trampolines, the normal choice for after lunch.

She goes downstairs to change the laundry. The load that she thought she had restarted was in the dryer...wet. Confused she examines the laundry in the washer. Its all boys blankets. They tried to do laundry but forgot to start the dryer and forgot to change it. The normal and familiar eye rolling starts. She takes the wet load of her clothes out of the dryer and throws them on the floor. Supposing she didn't really need clean clothes because she never left the house, she started the little boy blankets in the dryer. She dumped a laundry basket full of clothes into the washer and starts it, and only then remembered that HER laundry was still on the floor wet. Normal eye roll. Somedays it felt as if her eyes were just rolling unencumbered within her head. Heaving a sigh she leaves the laundry room, steps up past the missing landing, and heads up the stairs.

The kitchen....her eyes rolled into the back of her head again. If children didn't have to eat it would eliminate most of her problems. Nothing goes in, nothing comes out. Yep, that would fix all of her problems. Heaving the normal response, to vow to redo the kitchen before bed, she puts away the current load of laundry.

"Boys!" she yells in her normal, you better be working, voice. "If that room isn't done in 20 minutes I'm bagging EVERY TOY up and putting it in the garage!" Frantic scrambling is heard for the first five seconds....and then back to playing around. They're distracted again, like normal. Mother cleans her room as she waits for the 20 minutes to pass. Then enters the boys domain to find that only a blanket has been picked up.

Without remorse, she takes the broom and begins to sweep the entire contents of their floor into a trash bag. The entire room erupts in a wail of injustice. "We didn't have enough time!" "We just got a little distracted." "Why are you being the Devil!?!" Just the normal response to mom trying to find a clean house.

She manages to convince the boys that they can keep their special stuffed animals if they finish putting the rest of the toys in the trash bag. The protest at first, but realizing that it's either this or nothing, they relent. She gives them another 20 minutes to finish and realizes it's time to prepare dinner. Dad will be home soon and everyone will need to eat. She thinks of the normal dinners, tacos, lasagna, french bread pizza. Yes, one of those will do nicely. She pulls out a pound of sausage and sets it on the table. She was going to have to sweep normal.

Time was up, again, for the boys room to be done. Mom sets dinner aside and goes in for the inspection. Much more improvement this time. And a bag full of stuff that won't be coming back into the house. Win win. The dryer signal goes off, the never ending cycle of laundry continues, dinner would have to wait a bit longer, as per the norm.

She finishes up folding and putting away the laundry just as Dad gets home. Dinner still isn't finished and the kitchen still needs to be swept again. The normal reaction was for them to retreat to the comfort of their room, so that's what they do. The kids find graham crackers and apples, looks like what Mother planned for dinner isn't going to happen, like normal.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Object lesson FHE

So we got a little silly today! I was running my fingers through some blond curly hair and started laughing. That hair was so long. So I looked at my son and told him we should put his hair in pony tails. He protested a bit, but he is always one for a laugh. I managed to get him to do the whole top of his head. Then my dare devil walked in. He thought it was really weird, and I told him he should do it too. Daddy pipped up and said, "Guys, it's going to really hurt your head after they have been in for a bit." But I managed to convince them anyway. One by one I got ALL of my boys to put pony tails in their hair. All of them thought it was a bad idea at first, but after constant prodding from me, but constant warnings from Dad, they all eventually succumbed to mother's devious desires.

Then I realized I could make an awesome lesson out of it. They were told to go clean the front room, and a few of them already wanted the rubber bands out of their hair. I told them it was part of the lesson and they would get in big trouble if they took them out. I got LOTS of protests. Once the front room had been vacuumed we gave the first obvious lesson. I told the boys I was going to take their picture and ALL of them yelled NO! in unison. We talked about making sure you get peoples permission before they take pictures and that every stupid thing that you have done, that you post on the internet, will never go away. Non of them wanted their heads to be seen like an island of palm trees. We let that little lesson sink in...and they started asking again, "can you take these things out?!"

The the real lesson began. I told them that I couldn't do it, only their Father could. Then I explained that for the purpose of this lesson, I was the Devil, and Dad was the Savior. Each rubber band in their hair represented a sin. Some of them had tried to pull the out, but they are the little rubber bands and it hurt. Then I showed them a pair of scissors and explained that Dad could get them free of sin with the atonement. But they had to ask him personally. He wouldn't do it unless they came to him.

We talked about who they had listened to. And I reminded them that daddy had said a few times, "that is going to hurt your head" and non of them listened so he stopped saying anything. A lot of them didn't want to do it. I wasn't holding any of them down. Sometimes it hurt, getting the rubber bands put in, but as long as I told them it would be funny, and they could laugh together, and I really thought they should do it, they listened.

We talked about how cunning the Devil is, that he promises lots of things, but that we need to listen to the Savior as he cautions us on what is right and what is wrong. One by one, each of the boys went to dad. He was sitting in his chair in the front room. The boys knelt in front of him and each said, "Dad, will you please take away my rubber bands?" Sometimes it hurt when they snapped and pulled hair. But each boy was relieved once their hair was finally free.

Both Daddy and I bore our testimonies about the dangers of giving into temptation, and the love the savior has as he is willing to help us remove our sins. We talked about how their head still hurt even after their hair was back to normal. No one else knew about the palm trees, but the boys could still fill their sting. We noted that repentance can be a lot like that. We still remember the sin, but it helps us to grow and not make the same mistakes.

Then we talked about listing to their earthly Father. Mike bore his testimony to each of them of how much he loved them and that he would never intentional lead them to do something wrong. And if they came to them he would do his best to help.

All in all it was a really good family home evening. I think it sunk in pretty deep with the oldest four boys. The babies were all over the place, but the oldest four listened the entire time. Afterwards we did our talents and played "Good Kitty Kitty" (daddy hates that game), and sent the kids to bed. Over all, I'm pretty proud of how well our FHE turned out.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The one where mom's a heathen.

As husband and wife, they joke together about several things. One thing that gets joked about consistently is buying food on a Sunday. Being a good Christian household, they strive to keep the sabbath holy and focused on Christ. Being parents of seven, they strive to keep their heads on their necks.

Usually after a long day of trying to keep a rag tag group of boys somewhat focused on the sabbath they lock themselves in their room with a movie to drown out the chaos of outside. Each will tease that they are going to go pick up food. Usually when one says it, the other rolls their eyes and reminds them it's Sunday. They had, on occasion, stayed up till it was 12:01 and run to taco bell for a scandalous midnight snack.

But this was the day that mom had enough. After chasing a dog out of their yard, getting rid of a dead chicken, rebuilding a pen, and chasing the chickens back into their enclosure.....both parents go into the house to find that the large Sam's Club size chocolate chips have been spattered about the kitchen, a full bottle of syrup had been dumped on top of that, 3 blankets were also muddled into the sticky mess, and crumbs dotted the entire household.

Seething from head to toes the mother looks at the father......"I'm getting three bags of burgers from Braum's" The husbands eyes become wide with shock. He knew she was serious. Oh, blasphemy never looked so hot. Not only was she willing to go get it, it was SUNDAY, and she wasn't taking no for an answer. "I'm serious, I'm going now. I'm not cooking dinner."

The husband wiggles his eyebrows, "Growl, talk dirty to me." Food coming to him without a kitchen mess is a dream come true. Junk food, on a Sunday....that's the impossible dream. The Mother gets in the large 12 passenger van, rear window still broken out and covered in painters plastic.

She pulls up to Brums, but can't help look over her shoulder to see if anyone from church is around. Silly, if someone from church is at Braums they would be hiding from her. The voice comes over the intercom asking for her order, "tell the grill guy I'm apologizing in advance." She orders three bags of burgers, at $4.74 each for a bag of 5 burgers that feeds the whole family under $20, even if you add in a large fry. What the heck, she's already going to hell, might as well go in a farrari, "Add a large chocolate shake too."

"Ok....15 burgers, a large fry, and a large chocolate shake? that'll be $22.20 at the first window." Surly the cashier was thinking these were for a birthday party. Brahms had only been their a few months....bags of burgers are so cheep, they'll figure it out after the 30th time. She pulls up to the window, "$22.20.....and you will have to pull forward, sorry, it's going to take a bit." She laughs...of course it will, she just ordered 15 burgers, they probably can't even fit more than 6 on the grill at a time.

After waiting a bit, a young woman comes out the door with a large brown paper bag holding 15 burgers, a large fry, and a giant chocolate shake in her other hand. Mother thanks her and drives home. She walks in the door unapologeticly, "DINNER!"

Vultures, they don't have children, they have vultures. It wasn't even worth it to clean off the table, she sits on her bed and turns on their newest acquired super hero movie. Mobs of boys sit down and the sweet crinkle of burger paper is heard around the room. Even after several of them had seconds, there are still questions every now and then of, "Can I have another burger?" "Is there any more?"

Mother looks around at the chaos, if anyone saw them today they would think they were hoarders. That poor house, if walls could talk, it would be crying. The rest of the night until 11:45 is spent putting children back in their beds, swatting bums, and parents locking themselves into their rooms.

Blaspheme.....she hopes her kids don't remember what day it is. The burgers were nothing but bun, patty, ketchup, and 2 pickle slices. They tasted way better than they should have. She vowed to herself that someday she would figure out this parenting thing. Someday she would be that chocolate shake....AMAZING.