Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Goodnight Irene

Irene came for a visit, dumping 9.5 inches in a matter of hours here in Bristol and causing major flooding. My family spent our day without power playing games and eating foods like potato chips and store-bought cookies that we normally wouldn’t have in the house. I even snuck in a nap. We listened to programs on NPR, danced to music on my iPod, piled together to read books, and watched the trees dancing in the wind. Keeping in touch with friends and family via cell phone, we heard news of the “outside world” from those who still had internet access.

When the rain stopped, the sun came out, and all that was left to worry about was the wind, the kids dashed out of the house to play while Jim and I surveyed the yard and got out the grill to make dinner. The river of water coming down the hill to the front of our house made for fun splashing and dam-building. Grilled hamburgers, hot dogs and corn-on-the-cob were enjoyed by all. When the power came on just before bedtime, shouts of joy wafted through the window from houses on our street. 

We’re still without internet (I’m posting this courtesy of Panera wi-fi), but other than that, all is well. Except that the kids are asking when the next hurricane will be, as Irene was just so much fun! 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How To...

I gave my kids an “info scavenger hunt” to do as part of their homeschooling. I was expecting it to take ½ hour at most. Perhaps I was a bit off … by an entire afternoon. But we did learn something - How To Make a Simple Assignment Take All Day:

-          Argue over who gets to use the computer first.
-          Argue that you can’t write because you don’t have a surface on which to write.
-          Claim that the stool suggested as a writing surface won’t work because it “has lines.”
-          Sigh when it’s suggested you place a book on the stool.
-          Argue with your sibling over using one type of paper instead of another.
-          Get side-tracked when one person needs to go to the bathroom and all end up in a different room watching a movie that you’re not supposed to be watching.
-          Claim to not know what to write after it’s been explained several times that you need to write five facts for each topic: Who, What, Where, When, and Why might it be important.
-          Fail to realize that half the info you need is already written down for you on the cards provided.
-          Get side-tracked when someone needs a drink of water and end up playing playdough with your little sister.
-          Start a long monologue about how your pen is out of ink, whose fault it is that you have a defective pen, etc. only to be reminded that there’s a container brimming with pens right in front of you.
-          Volunteer to get the mail, as a magazine that’s due to arrive any day may contain info pertinent to the project. Return 40 minutes later without the mail. Head back out the door to get the mail, only to be stopped by your mother who sends a different child out to get the mail with strict orders that said child returns within 90 seconds or risks the “Wrath of Mom.”
-          Spend 10 straight minutes at the computer gathering info only to find out that you just did your brother’s assignment.
-          Fall out of the computer chair and injure your eye. Writhe on the floor in overdramatic agony while your sibling gets you a cold pack for your eye. Apply cold pack for 3 seconds. Yell at the sibling who is now in the computer chair that it’s your turn.
-          Claim to not be able to find information on your subject, and then when asked what might have happened in that year at that location, proceed to spend 3 minutes telling your mother more info than was necessary to find. Look aghast when your mother tells you that if you know the answer, you don’t have to find the answer, you just have to write it down.
-          Remind your mother that it’s dinner time and volunteer to help with dinner, only to find out that your mother refuses to feed you until you’ve completed the 30 minute/all day project.
-          Spend the next 6 minutes completing the project and then comment about how easy it was.
-          Dodge the things your mother is now throwing in your general direction.

There you have it. And since the kids lost the papers on which they wrote the info sometime during dinner, they may just have to do it all over again tomorrow.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Welcoming Silence

In a house with five children, it’s not often that I can find a moment or two of silence.

Or privacy, apparently, as the child reading over my shoulder just pointed out that we more often than not have anywhere from 6-10 kids in our house.

But this morning I found silence! Who knew that it could exist in such quantity here? I sat and sat and not one child asked me for something, whined about something a sibling did to them or knocked someone or something over. I even dared to go to the bathroom, sure that within seconds a child would open the door and peer in to make sure I continued my record-setting run of not being able to pee without an audience. And guess what? No interruptions!

I can sense your astonishment and perhaps a hint of disbelief. And to answer the question on the tip of your tongue – yes, all of my children were home at the time.

How did I accomplish such a feat? Did the stars and planets align in such a way that complete peace and harmony was brought upon my household? Was duct tape involved? Alas, it was only because I was up before the sun and therefore before my children, who usually get up with the sun. For the longest time I just sat, soaking in the silence, afraid to move and shatter the beauty that is being able to hear your own thoughts. I meditated a while, sending good energy to a friend who was probably at the same time enjoying the peace and quiet in her house, but in a different way.

And then it happened. Music blared from my cell phone – the greatest interruption ever. The voice on the other end asked if I could come now, and off I went, waking up the big kids to let them know I was leaving and greeting the littles as they excitedly asked if they could come along for the ride. Big Sister Day had arrived. It was time to pick up Sonic (or so she insists on being called today) so her Mommy could labor on in peace and welcome Baby Brother into the world.

The ride to pick up Big Sister was filled with excited chatter. The ride home was strangely silent. As we approached home I finally broke the silence, asking why everyone was so quiet (two three-year-olds and a five-year-old usually don’t last 20 minutes without talking). Big Sister answered, “I’m too excited to talk. I think I’m growing bigger into a Big Sister!” 

Our stop at the grocery store was anything but silent as the kids tore down the aisles in search of cupcake supplies and had a raucous conversation about the merits of each balloon and whom should get which floating orb. The Big Sister Breakfast Feast back home proved quite boisterous as well.

We are now post silly-song-sing-a-long dance party and silence has once again overtaken the house as the children have built and nestled themselves into a fort with copious books, pads and pencils. I shall cherish this moment of stillness and use it to pray for my laboring friend, that she may find that silent place in her soul where confidence in herself and trust in her body live – and that she may draw from that place the power to birth her baby as she has envisioned for so long.

Little girl giggles are tickling my eardrums, signaling that it’s time to move on to cupcake baking and crockpot dinner making. Farewell, silence. May we meet again. Soon.

Postscript: Baby Brother was born at home at 10:18AM. Warrior Princess Mama and baby are doing well. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

What a Pain!

You know you live with chronic pain when …
  • Your child asks you why your foot is bleeding and you discover you’ve stepped on a piece of glass – and you’d assumed it was just your PsA acting up.
  • You view “tramadol” as both a swear word and a blessing.
  • You get excited to test out your new wheels – which come in the form of a wheelchair.
  •  You find yourself lusting after items in the Fashionable Canes catalog.
  • The doctor asks you how much pain you’re in and you reply, “relative to what?”
  •  You see shaving your legs as a major accomplishment.
  •  Your 92 year old grandmother moves faster than you – and uses one cane to your two.
  • Getting out of bed counts as your exercise for the day.
  •  You have no idea how to answer when someone asks, "How are you?"
  •  You buy shoes based not only on comfort and support, but on the height of your wooden canes.
  •  You check the weather forecast to see how you might be feeling the next day.

Diners Beware!

Recently, a group of women descended upon a restaurant, and although seated in a corner booth, proceeded to cause distress to any patron within earshot. They didn’t mean to, but as happens when any combination of these women and their friends meet, it’s inevitable. Words like placenta and nipple make their way into conversation. Over and over. No matter how hard they try, they cannot get through an evening together without discussing birth, breastfeeding, and children’s bodily fluids. These topics of conversation are so natural for these women that there is no thought as to the appropriateness or volume level of the discussion.

The effect on fellow diners varies. Symptoms range from staring to whispering to dirty looks. The most extreme cases involve some form of involuntary twitching. At the very least, the innocent bystanders go home with a story to tell about the crazy mamas who discussed various private body parts as if they were discussing hair color, and where they gave birth (as well as the births themselves) as if they were chatting about where they got their nails done. There is no known cure for those subjected to these conversations.

As these women seem to have a predilection for Mexican restaurants, diners visiting such establishments are advised to be wary of being seated near a table of four or more women. Especially if any of the women are wearing Birkenstocks, a bandana, and/or a long skirt. That is, unless you would fit in well with this assemblage. In that case, you are encouraged to introduce yourself and pull up a chair, birth story at the ready. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Odd, that.

"No, I have not lost my mind. One cannot lose what what does not have." Me, to my thee-year-old, who thought I was strange for wearing a ribbon as a headband. 

I would understand her concern if she wasn't wearing a birthday hat, a cat mask, wings, a butterfly shirt, a bandanna around her leg, mismatched shoes and no pants.

Such is life in a house full of Rannygahoots! 

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I've lived years of my life hand in hand with depression and anxiety, at times unsure where to find this enigma called Joy.  Hearing others talk about Joy made me want to seek it, but no matter how hard I looked for Joy, I wasn’t ever able to find it. All I could find was fleeting Happiness. At times I even felt guilty for even wanting Joy to be a part of my life. In the face of what I was going through – or what others in my life were going through – did I even have the right to experience Joy?

Then, out of nowhere, was Joy. Joy was tiny at first. And shy. I’d catch glimpses of Joy now and again and wonder what I needed to do to convince Joy to stay. I’d sometimes chase after Joy, but would always stumble and lose sight of Joy, or fall with Joy just out of my reach. It seemed that Joy would forever elude me.

It seems now that I have found Joy. Sometimes I get a postcard saying "wish you were here" and I know Joy is out there waiting until I’m in a place where I can let Joy into my life. Sometimes Joy sneaks up on me for just a few moments, its touch lingering for a bit so that I’m able to remember, however fleetingly, what Joy feels like. At times I get an invitation to get together with Joy, but usually have some sort of obligation with Depression, Anxiety or Stress and can't make it. Most of the time, no matter what kind of company I’m keeping, I can catch glimpses of Joy around me if I look hard enough.  Sometimes I get to a point when I can run up to Joy and wrap my arms around it an invite it into my self and my life - and during these times I might even be able to manage to fill myself to overflowing with Joy and radiate it to those around me.

The more I learn to recognize Joy, the more I realize that Joy is walking next to me, waiting for me to extend my hand and walk with it on life’s journey. When I get to the point when I can do this without thought, I know that Joy will be with me as I move through my days and nights and in and out of weeks and years and through all life has to throw at me. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

2 X 3 = Scary

Minutes after having a discussion with the 3 year olds in my household about NOT TEASING:

Alia: "Fiora, can I have that back? You took it out of my hand!"

Fiora: "I want to play with it! Either I can play with it or I'll tease you with it and play with it."

Me (cooking dinner 10 feet away): "Fiora, do you want to think about that for a minute or shall I need to talk to you over here for a minute?"

Fiora: "Alia, I'm sorry for taking the scissors and for saying to tease you."

Alia: "I forgive you, Fiora. But if you do it again, I'll call you teasemonster. That's not teasing. It's calling names. Mama didn't tell us not to do that yet."

Me: "Alia, how about we just..."

Alia and Fiora, in harmony: "Leave each other alone and play nicely!"

Ah, the joys of 3-year-olds!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

We will be restoring normality as soon as we are sure what is normal anyway.

I find myself sitting amongst nine children. Two 1-year-olds, three 3-year-olds, a five year old, a nine year old, an eleven year old and a twelve year old. Sure that chaos will ensue, yet surprised that somehow there is peace in the house at this moment, I proceed with caution as to not disrupt the calm that’s settled upon all of us.  The littlest six gathered around and on me, I read book after book that they excitedly stacked up for me upon my announcement that it was time for stories. The older children are entertaining themselves … reading, playing quiet games. There are so many things I could be doing, so much housework and other work beckoning me away from my role as Mama, Auntie and Storyteller. Somehow the serene energy keeps me still, reading and reading, enjoying the happy faces and toddler snuggles as the words dance off the page, entrancing my audience. A Zen panda, an inchworm, a wild child, cinder-eyed cats, an explorer, root children and other new friends join us as we are transported to new worlds as the pages turn.  Then, as if dry leaves scattered by an Autumn breeze, the kids are up and about some playing with cars and trucks, some asking to make salt dough, some seeking a snack or drink of water.  Little feet rattle the floorboards and not-so-little voices my eardrums until the breeze dies down and the kids settle into new activities.  Chaos once again reigns. Life is back to normal. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

News Flash!


Screams from aggravated spouses can be heard in every neighborhood. The Turnips, once just Couch Potatoes, have de-evolved into basically useless human beings. Whereas once they merely sat in front of the tv or computer for hours on end, still capable of ungluing their eyes from the screen to fulfill basic household duties, the Turnips no longer seem to grasp many basic housecleaning concepts. The Turnip seems to have tunnel vision that prohibits them from seeing any sort of mess and memory loss activated by the act of stepping over something on the floor. These symptoms lead their partners to ask questions such as, “Could you pick that up and put it away instead of just stepping over it?” to which the Turnip responds, “Pick what up?” or the ever-popular, “How can you live in this mess?” to which the Turnip replies, “Oh, I didn’t notice.” Turnip Syndrome seems to alter the brain in such a way that the sufferer comes to believe that it’s perfectly fine to shove dirty dishes in the oven instead of actually washing them or to pick trampled clothing up off the floor, shake it out, and put it on a child or themselves.

The cause of Turnip Syndrome is unknown at this time, and researchers are looking for a cure. Some have tried to cure Turnips with the implementation of To Do Lists, but have run into the complication that the Turnip tends to either lose the list or forgets it even exists. It is known that Turnip Syndrome is aggravated by internet games, video games, cable television and Netflix. Some are affected for mere days while others seem to become Turnips for weeks, months or even years. Some go into remission only to have it resurface later. It is thought to be exacerbated by depression, anxiety, illness, chronic pain, and the presence of an overabundance of children in the household. Turnip Syndrome is thought to be highly contagious due to the fact that the person living with the Turnip often loses their mind trying to deal with the Turnip behavior.