Monday, June 30, 2008

Is it More Fun in a Muumuu?

A few months before we were married, Rophone began having these terrible nightmares. So horrific, he would awaken in a cold sweat. The fear of commitment was really getting to him. It wasn't me he was afraid of committing to, mind you-- it was a lawn mower. 

Rophone hates mowing the lawn, and he knew that getting married meant that he would eventually live in a house, and that meant having to buy a lawn mower (and then actually using it!).  So, he began having these nightmares (ie. heading straight to Sears from the wedding to buy a lawn mower while still in our wedding attire--like I said, HORRIFIC!).

When Rophone was a kid, he was "THE ONE" when it came to lawn mowing.  Even though he has a brother and 5 sisters, the job always fell on his shoulders. His brother was excused because of awful hay fever, and the girls were excused because, well, they were girls. That left the job to Rophone, and he knew if he didn't get it done before his dad got outside that they would spend the whole day in the yard doing projects found by his dad while he mowed. 

Because of this lack of excitement when it comes to mowing the lawn, sometimes the job can be left undone for awhile. In the house we're currently in we have an elderly next-door neighbor who puts Rophone to shame. Not only elderly, but a woman to boot. She mows her lawn every week without fail. Every Monday morning in fact, BEFORE 7 AM (so if I seem a little cranky on Mondays you know who's to blame)! The best part is that she does it in a muumuu.  

Here is a picture of the neighbor taken through my dirty bedroom window this morning:

Then I ask myself, "Is it more fun in a muumuu?" Would Rophone enjoy the job more with the morning breeze fluffing up his dress? I dare say that is a question I'll never get an answer to.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

After Cousins

After Bill, Jewel and kids left, Rophone and I hung outside for a while with Pen and Big. Pen took some photos with Rophone's little digital. Here are a few of the shots she took:

I took a few photos of Big, who I think we can now call a walker!  He still crawls most of the time, but could walk if he wanted to. I mean, he's good enough. It just depends on whether he's thinking about it or not. He's getting to be a good talker, too. Today he added "cheese" and a few more words to his ever expanding vocabulary. Man, he's fun!

This next picture is from before the cousins left.  Can you see what's in Big's hand?! Pizza! This is amazing to me! Just a few weeks ago he was ignoring food and showing pretty much no interest, and now he's holding a piece of pizza in his meaty paw and eating it-- on his own! Hooray! 

More Cousins

Today, my older brother and his wife (we'll call them Bill and Jewel) came for a visit with 3 of their 4 kids. We will see them next week at the family reunion, but it was nice for the kids to get reacquainted a little bit ahead of time. Jewel decided to have me take pictures of their kids this year in lieu of doing school photos (my first gig!). I posted a few on here, but considering I took about 150 shots, I can't be sure I'm posting the best of the lot. Hopefully they will be able to find some they like. 

Here is Rico, he's almost 15:

Look at the dimples on Rib II --he's eleven:

Miss Pea (age 4) really didn't want to have her picture taken. I told her that I thought I had a unicorn horn growing out of my head-- "can you see it?"  Here she is checking to see if it's true:

Still not so sure Aunt Laundry Queen is telling the truth:

I told Miss Pea that she needed to smile to make it grow so she could see it better. Luckily, Pen stood behind me and helped me grow a horn bit by bit as Miss Pea smiled (Clever Pen--thanks for making me less of a liar!):

Friday, June 27, 2008

Baseball Wands

We have been really busy enjoying Ginger's baseball season. She plays twice a week, which is plenty, so thank goodness the coach was smart enough not to have practices. Tuesday was picture day, but no one seemed to be aware of that fact (me included!), so we decided to have our own picture day last night. Since Rophone got me such a nice camera, it made sense that maybe I should be the picture taker. Hopefully none of the parents will be disappointed.

I took some team photos and then individual shots of each player. Here is one that I snapped of Ginger (note the correct left-handed grip on the bat!):


Coach Flo (short for Florence-- she's a nurse) needed an individual shot, too. (I took another of her, but decided not to post it due to the fact that her aggressive and competitive face might scare my young readers). Thanks for a great job, Coach Flo!

I have also been busy the past few days making Harry Potter style wands. My nephew, Newton, wants to be Draco Malfoy for Halloween this year, so I told him I'd do my best to duplicate the wand. Having a little trouble dedicating myself to the task, I hope he'll accept something close.  

My first wand-making experience came about last fall when Pen had a Harry Potter themed birthday party. It was quite the bash! I sent out formal request letters to her friends (on cool sparkly paper), asking them to come attend _______worts (insert last name in blank) Preschool of Witchcraft and Wizardry to begin instruction in subjects they would later be encountering at Hogwarts. The kids had to say the password (Wattlebird) before they could enter the school, and then once they were inside they went straight to Potions class, where they created a bubbling, sizzling, colorful creation.  

For food, the "students" had a feast of cucumber sandwiches, treacle tart and pumpkin pasties served with "pumpkin juice". When it came time for the wands, I played the part of Olivander. I took funny measurements (of noses, pinky toes, tongues, etc), and had them feel the wand and wave it around a little until we found just the perfect wand for each child. We did a bunch of other things and had a good time (if you want more details, let me know). I'm not sure how I'm going to top it this year.

Anyway, for Pen's party I made a bunch of wands-- all looked very Harry Potter-ish. This time around, I made some classic Harry Potter wands, but also made a few colorful ones, too. Here are some photos (not the best pictures, sorry) of a few that I made.

The "Draco Malfoy":

A fun blue and green wand with silver:

Pen's new wand (sort of like Hermione Granger's, but a little darker):

Now, before you start thinking I'm all clever and crafty or something...I got the know-how for the wands here. I plan on making a bunch of wands, both in classic browns and in all sorts of bright color combinations (fairies have wands, too, you know!), to have in my "present drawer" so I can tie them on top of birthday gifts for something a little extra.  

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bikes, Belly Buttons and OUCH!

This week, Ginger has finally made up her mind to really master her bike. Rophone and I have done all we can do to teach her, it's now up to Ginger to practice on her own to really get the hang of it. Yesterday was a big day-- she finally figured out how to start without use of the curb! She has been riding for hours and hours the past few days and now says it's her favorite thing to do.

Harnessing the power of the tongue:

Proud Ginger:

Pen really loves to ride, too:

Bud kept getting off his bike to run around.  He wanted me to take his picture, but I told him he was going too fast, so he started running "Baywatch" style to help me out:

So tough in his skull and crossbones tank:

Big is now really interested in his belly button. Why so late, you ask? I think this is the first time he's been skinny enough to see it! He's having a little bit of trouble finding it with his body twisted:

This morning, Pen missed with her foot when trying to step up on the fireplace hearth. Can you say OUCH?! She also bruised her ankle and elbow, but they were rather minor compared to this:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fitness Frustration

About a month ago I finally started working out on a regular basis again. I am really excited about the results I am starting to see. I have been trying to work both my upper and lower body, and I've been trying to mix up my workouts so I avoid developing "postman's syndrome". I am doing old school Nordic Track, jumping rope, Core Secrets, and I'm about to start doing Tae Bo. Or, I was, I should say.

I went to the doctor yesterday because I have been experiencing pain in my chest and left arm (no, it's not a heart attack!). It ends up that the pain in my chest is a muscle strain (probably from carrying Big around, trying to keep him from getting away, etc.), and the pain in my arm is an ulnar nerve issue from doing repetitive movements with my arm.  The doctor told me to take it easy for a few weeks and cease doing the activities that are causing my problems (and take lots of ibuprofen).

(So, sorry Big! Looks like you're on your own. I know you can't walk yet, but I can't pick you up anymore. You'll get used to the gravel digging into your knees!) Seriously, though, my whole workout routine is out the window! ALL of the workouts I have been doing have repetitive arm movements! Is there any upper body workout that doesn't contain them?! What about blogging?! Is that too much of a repetitive arm movement, too?

I had this same nerve problem a few years ago (I did Nordic Track and jumped rope back then, too--because they work!), but I don't know that it has ever gotten completely better. If it doesn't resolve then the doctor said surgery might be in order.  Nice! 

Monday, June 23, 2008

Expiration Dates

Rophone has been experiencing a "funny tummy" off and on lately.  When he has been feeling okay, however, he has been indulging in his new favorite dessert-- mocha milkshakes. He purchased some coffee ice cream (his favorite), and I have been blending it with chocolate syrup and milk to make him what he considers dessert heaven.

On Saturday night, I finished off one half gallon of the coffee ice cream and put the container in the sink to be rinsed out later, and then opened a new tub of ice cream to finish the shake. I finally got around to washing out the container on Sunday morning, and as I turned the tub over to dump out the water I noticed the expiration date-- August 2007!

I then went to check out the expiration dates of the other ice creams in the freezer and was shocked to see that every single one of them had expiration dates sometime in 2009.  That means that if Rophone's ice cream expired almost a year ago he was eating ice cream that was 1 1/2 to 2 years old!!  That could explain a funny tummy.

It reminded me of the time when we were visiting my grandparents as kids and my brother, Rib, poured himself a box of Cheerios.  The year was 1985.  As Rib was eating his cereal, he began to read the box as most folks do.  "Win a Trip to the 1984 Olympics!" was emblazoned on the box.  That, coupled with the time he was eating some nummy blue cheese dressing at the same grandparents vacation condo, only to find out it was actually expired Ranch, caused me to check dates religiously while visiting them.  Guess it's time to step it up here at home, too! 

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday Best

When I saw the outfit that Bud picked out for himself to wear to church today, I had to take a picture! Of course, then I had to take pictures of all of the other kids, too. I just can't help myself!

Here is handsome Bud in his fabulous outfit:

Pen and Ginger, all clean and ready to go:

Back inside to photograph Big (the lawn was too damp outside):

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ginger Flashback

Ginger had such a great attitude while cleaning this morning, she didn't want to stop!  She used to always have that kind of attitude about helping out, but I can see her willingness fade as the days go by. I'm not sure how many I have left (sob!).  

Ginger used to help around the house, unbidden, all of the time when she was younger.  So much so, that it was quite shocking to Rophone and me-- none of our other kids have even come close to her level of helpfulness.  When Ginger had just turned 4, and I was hugely pregnant with Bud, we had this Ginger experience:

It was early on a Sunday morning and Rophone and I were snuggling in our bed trying to get just a few more minutes of sleep while Ginger, always an early riser, was puttering around. I could hear some clinking noises coming from the kitchen, but wasn't too concerned because my kids just don't cause trouble that way (especially not at age 4). It wasn't until Ginger came into our room and grabbed a stray glass from the dresser that I thought to ask her what she was up to. She replied, "It's okay, go back to sleep. I'm just doing the dishes." Okay, then!

A little while later, Ginger came into our room to ask me if she could fold the laundry (I had washed a load of towels the night before and they were in a basket on the floor at the end of our bed). " Sure, Ginger!  Why the heck not!" (or something to that effect) was my answer. So, Ginger quietly folded towels and stacked them neatly on the end of our bed while Rophone and I slept. (Well, I wasn't really sleeping at this point. I was much too amazed by what my 4 year old was doing! I felt no desire to get up, however. I mean, why would I? There was no need!)

The capper was when, after folding laundry, Ginger came up and tapped me on the shoulder, "Mom, Mom!". I cracked my eyes open and asked her what she needed. She pulled on the skin around her eyes and questioned (with much anxiety in her voice), "Mom, do I have wrinkles?!"  Ah, Ginger, my 40 year old 4 year old!

Chore Sticks

While I was cleaning the other day (okay, a few months ago--but that makes it sound like I haven't cleaned in a few months!), I realized that I am the only one in the family that has regular chores that I do on a regular basis. How sad!  So, I went to the craft store and bought some big colored craft sticks, and the kids and I collaborated to make ourselves some "chore sticks".

I allowed the kids to pick which chores to make sticks out of (well, I helped suggest a few), and then they wrote the chore "title" on one end of the stick and then a smiley face on the other. My hope was that if they were the ones picking the chores and making the sticks that they would be more likely to do them. They weren't allowed to put any "everyday" chores on the sticks-- ie. setting the table, clearing their dishes, cleaning their rooms, etc.  Pen had the grand idea of making some extra sticks that said, "hug", "kiss", and "compliment", to make doing the chores a little less arduous. 

So, today (even though we made the sticks months ago) the "chore sticks" finally made their debut!  They were a big hit, although Pen was supremely disappointed that she failed to pull a "compliment" stick out of the jar. Maybe next week.

I love having my kids help me, and if they do it with a minimum number of complaints it's even better. The best part of the morning for me came at the very end, when Pen was finishing dusting the tv and electronics. As she was moving some DVDs, she dropped a few onto her toes and I heard her mutter, "Stupid Toe Curse! Bud's toenail had better fall off soon.  I'm tired of this!" Too funny!

Friday, June 20, 2008

There it Goes Again

I am pretty sure I'm losing my mind again today (Big has decided he's old enough to forgo a nap, apparently).  I hope the Mind Fairy pays another visit.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dirty Deeds and the Dunder Chief

I love it when kids get the lyrics to songs totally wrong. One prime example is when my brother, Rib, was caught singing "Dirty deeds and the Dunder Chief" instead of "Dirty deeds and they're done dirt cheap".

There is a song they sing on an episode of Sesame Street that goes, "Let's take a ride in an automobile, let's take a ride in a car!" (I think that's right). Anyway, tonight we realized that Bud was singing, "Let's take a ride in an animal field, let's take a ride in a car!" 

The other day Bud was singing "Follow the Prophet", and instead of singing "..follow the Prophet..he knows the way!", he was singing "..follow the Prophet...he goes astray!"  When I tried to correct him he told me he was just singing another verse, one that I didn't know about. We'll have to work on that.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fun with Family

Today was soooo much better than yesterday, hands down (thank goodness!). The kids and I spent the morning running errands and getting ready for a visit from my sister (from now on I will refer to her as Aunt Martha) and her family. My kids were bouncing off the walls with excitement this morning, but luckily I was able to channel the energy into good, productive things like cleaning rooms, etc. They just love visits from cousins!

Aunt Martha, Uncle Plumbean and their 3 kids arrived right at lunchtime, so all the kids were able to become reacquainted over their food before plunging into play. We spent a few hours indoors and then when Big woke up from his nap we went outside for some real fun. Big, and his cousin Cindy Lou got to play in a cute frog pool while the older kids ran through the sprinklers. I'm happy to say that everyone had a grand time! Now, on to the pictures (Martha and Plumbean's kids first).

This is Cindy Lou (as in Cindy Lou Who from "The Grinch"-- see the resemblance?):

The Wizard (he's almost 3):

A grim-faced Newton:

Big and his new funny face:

A smiling Bud:

Ginger watching the babies:

Pen watching the babies:

Pen, Newton and Ginger:

One of the funniest parts of the day for me were all the conversations between Martha and me. We have both been stricken with the new mommy/mommy short term memory failure. Constant interruptions are the norm because if we don't say what's on our mind right when it pops in there then we'll forget it.  Maybe I should start doing Sudoku and Crossword Puzzles. I have been trying to play Scrabble online with my brother and Plumbean on Wednesday nights, but (ironically) I keep forgetting. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My MonuMENTAL Meltdown

I totally lost it with the kids a little while ago. It has been one of those days-- you know, where you're just waiting for the next milestone (okay, it's almost lunch time, and then it will be nap time...I think I can make it until then). I used my "nice mommy" voice almost constantly this morning to teach/scold/reprimand ("please don't talk to me that way, I'm not talking to you that way", "please don't say things like that to your brother", "please don't hit", "let's try to enjoy one another's company!", etc). I felt rather like I was channeling my mother (horror!) with the phrases I began to hear coming out of my mouth.

After a long morning of trying to be patient with, admittedly, a few minor meltdowns on my part, things went terribly wrong right before lunch. It started with Bud trying to make Ginger play with things his way, and not letting her NOT play with him (this is par for the course when Ginger is around-- Bud considers her his personal plaything) which resulted in Ginger bopping Bud on the head with a LIttle People character. Nice!

I managed to distract Bud with lunch and had him happily eating what I fixed until Pen came in and pulled Peanut Butter Crunch out of the cupboard, which made Bud want to trade in his lunch for a bowl. Of course I told Pen to put the cereal away (not a good lunch, thank you!), which made her mad, and Ginger was still mad about the time-out I put her in for using a smiling Little Person as a weapon (there just seems to be something wrong in that). While all of this was going on, wonderful Big was looking at all of us like we were crazy (yeah, so?!), but was quickly growing tired of waiting for his lunch.

I was truly trying to use my "nice mommy" voice to solve all of the injustices and calm the anger, but after many attempts at taking care of everyone's issues (like I had been trying to do all morning!), and being ignored all the while...I was beginning to feel like a total "Blah".

"The Blah" by Jack Kent was one of my favorite books as a kid. It is really hard to find since it is out of print, but if you haven't read it, you should. It is all about how a person feels when no one notices them, like a "Blah". I thought being a middle child made me feel like a "Blah", but it doesn't even come close to how children can do the job to their mother (again, sorry Mom!).

Anyway, so here I was, using my "nice mommy" voice, trying to get their attention and make everyone happy, when I suddenly lost it! My "nice mommy" voice morphed into something completely different. More like a nice long banshee yell, I would say (not one of my finest mothering moments!). It may not have sounded very nice, but it sure did grab their attention.  

All of the noisy squabbling had been replaced by complete silence (well, silent except for Ginger's sobbing-- I guess I scared her a little). I ordered them to be absolutely quiet for the next 15 minutes so I could get them some lunch and get Big fed and down for his nap-- not one word or unnecessary sound allowed. Bud only lasted about 4 minutes, but the silence was golden! 

When the time came for the kids to speak again, they pointed out to me that the time was up. I agreed that it was and asked them what they thought the first thing out of their mouths should be. The chorus of "I'm sorry Mama!" made me feel so much better! Until it all started again a few minutes later. Just one of those days.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

True Lub

When Big was a new baby he couldn't figure out how to suck on a binky.  I really wanted him to become a binky kid, for many reasons --his pediatrician said that binkies are now recommended to help prevent SIDS, Big was a terrible sleeper, and to top it all off he was trying to suck his thumb.  For those of you who don't know, you can't just take away a thumb when they turn 3.  

So, I decided to teach Big how to suck on a binky.  We started having "binky school" several times a day to work on his suck (I had high hopes it would work-- I mean, Ginger held "walking school", "running school" and "jumping school" for Bud with great success).  

After a lot of "binky schooling" Big figured it out. Hooray!  Now he loves his binky!  The only problem he has now is with the fact that I only allow binkies in bed. This is great when it is time to get in bed because Big is so excited to see it (in fact, often when I put him in his crib and hand him his binky he will hug or kiss it and say "I lub", or "Lub it"), but it often makes him reluctant to get out of bed because he doesn't want to leave his beloved binky behind. Such was the case when I took these pictures on Friday.

He kept holding his binky out toward the door while he was mumbling something. I could tell he was begging me to let him take it out with him. I mean look at those eyes (pleease?):


Here Big is giving the binky a kiss and saying "Lub!":

Looking back at me imploringly after looking at the open doorway (again, pleease?):

Taking a break to look out the window:

When Big decides that he is finally ready to be parted from his true lub, he will either take out the binky himself and hand it to me or lean his face forward so that I can remove it for him.  Sometimes he changes his mind and grabs it back for one last suck, but eventually says his goodbyes.  I will have to come up with some grand send off idea for when he turns 3 and has to give the binky up for good.

With Pen, her binkies were sent to the Binky Re-distribution Factory.  We boxed them up and sent them off (to my parents address) to be refurbished and then sent to some child that really needed them.  Someone told me that it was lame, too practical and boring for a kid, etc., so Ginger's binkies were spirited away by the Binky Fairy.  We left the Binky Fairy a treat with the binkies and she left a nice note in return.  What should I do with Big?  I know it's a long ways off, but does anyone have any grand plans?  I think it will have to be a doozie to cut the ties of true lub! 


Thank goodness It's Father's Day!  Rophone is a great dad and the kids and I are so happy to have a day to show him how much we appreciate it!  After letting Rophone sleep in for a little while, the growling of all of our tummies demanded food, so I fixed the breakfast he requested.

It may not look very appetizing in the picture, but here is a nummy McLaundry Queen breakfast sandwich:

After breakfast, Rophone got to open his gifts.  He received a big gift from me last week (bass traps to help absorb bass sound in his mastering studio--exciting, I know!), so this morning he opened the little things the kids got him (Choxie dark chocolate espresso candy bar, Hot Tamales, Dark Chocolate Peanut M & M's, and new baseball hat and t-shirt).  Pen also made him a card that contained a coupon good for 15 hugs and kisses.  I was quite impressed with Bud's signature in the card from the kids--it was totally legible!  I had no idea he could write his name!  

After opening presents, I buzzed Rophone's hair.  Here is a brief pause with a fauxhawk before I finished the job:

We spent the afternoon and first part of the evening at Rophone's Dad's house.  It was a lot of fun, although exhausting following Big around and helping him go up and down the stairs over, and over, and over....phew!  I managed to tear my pinkie toenail off just a few minutes ago, but now all the kids are in bed, my feet are up and Rophone has the remote so (oh, crud!  Now Big is starting to fuss in his crib!  So much for that.)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Surgeon Bud

I sure do love my surgeon!  Every time I have to go see Surgeon Bud he makes me feel better. I know I have already posted once today, but so much has happened since then!  I totally forgot that I had surgery scheduled for this afternoon!  The procedure was almost completely painless, and I was rewarded with a sticker for my bravery.

Here is the "sticker" (I had Pen take the picture--good job, Pen!  If you can't tell, the sticker is actually one of Big's puzzle pieces):

I know this picture is terribly blurry (he was bookin' it!), but I had to show you Big's favorite thing to do with the puzzle pieces:

Mr. Hard-Boiled Egg Eyes: