Thursday, February 12, 2015

Day 7: The Stalker

I made it through today. I had two boys in school, and two kids at home. I am definitely sick, though so far it is bearable. Lauren had a relapse today and seems much sicker again. She is crying periodically from her bed now. Just to add to the fun, the cat also seems to be sick, in such a way that she is locked in the bathroom for the night. Maybe this will spare the carpets and the furniture, but she could also howl all night. Lauren is crying even now, but there is nothing I can do for her. It's a horrible, helpless feeling. I have heard some mothers swear by putting Vick's Vapo rub on the bottom of their kids' feet and then putting socks on over them, for the night. They say it works. I have no idea how that's possible, but hey, what have I got to lose? Only Lauren wouldn't let me. The mere suggestion had her in tears and very upset, so I had to leave it. I wonder if her throat hurts, like mine does. Having sick kids is the worst.

The good news is, Mike is on his way home. I have been cyber-stalking him for hours now, starting at about 3 p.m. when he was boarding his flight. I watched the airport's website for updates on departure times, and then switched to his destination airport to stalk the landing. Now that he is safely on the ground, he has been on the road for nearly three hours now. I have been stalking his iPhone. Seriously, Find iPhone might be the greatest app ever. I know I'm like a psycho wife doing this, but in all fairness, I did warn him to make sure he had his battery fully charged, and I was very up front with my intention to stalk him until he arrived home safely.

However, it will be likely over an hour before he gets here yet, maybe even longer. That will be midnight or later, and given my extreme level of fatigue, I am thinking I will sign off for now. I made it through seven days of single motherhood, but wow. I hope I never have to do it again. Goodnight, all.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Day 5 and Day 6: Winter rears her ugly head.

Let me start by saying, winter is not ugly. Not physically, anyway. But yesterday, we got a lot of snow, and a lot of wind, and long story short, I got my wish and we didn't go to hockey practice. The practice was still on, but it was optional. I probably could have made it there, because I drive a very large truck with four wheel drive (words I NEVER thought I would ever say), but the roads were heavy with snow, and frankly, it just wasn't worth it.

I went to bed last night, half hoping today they would cancel school. This is Manitoba. While we do get some snow days throughout our brutal winters, we also go about our normal lives in some ridiculous conditions. I didn't think a snow day was realistic. After all, the highways would likely be cleared overnight.

As it turned out, the back roads were terrible this morning, and as a result, the buses couldn't run. In our school division, if the buses don't run, school is off. Sounds crazy if you live in the city, but out here, most kids come from out of town, so the school would be pretty empty if the buses didn't come.

When the bus driver called me to tell me, my first feeling was great relief. It was 6:50 a.m. and I was just preparing to go make breakfasts and lunches for all three boys. Now I didn't have to. Not only that, but I didn't have to crack the whip over them to get them all in their winter gear so we could plow through the snow on the driveway to get them to the bus by 7:30. That small 40 minutes of relief wasn't worth it. This has been the worst of our six days so far, and I am the biggest ogre imaginable. It would probably be best if someone came over with a straight jacket and some sedatives and put me out of my misery. I hope we make it to day seven.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Day Four: Everything comes to a screeching halt...

Today was a big day. Every minute was scheduled, beginning at 6:30 a.m. when my alarm would go off, and not ending until after 10 p.m. I was dreading it, but determined to make it through. The plan was, get the boys up by 6:50 a.m., feed them, get them dressed, make their lunches, pack their bags, fill their water bottles, get them in their winter gear, and walk them to the bus for 7:30. That part of the plan went fairly well. After that, I had a workout scheduled, as well as various essential cleaning jobs, to be followed by an early lunch, and then we were to drive to my sister's place, about 45 minutes away, to see Maybelline. She's the horse, for anyone who is new around here. Maybelline was scheduled for a pedicure at 1 p.m. (She was getting her hooves trimmed.) We were to return home on time for me to shower, and then feed the kids an early supper and bath them so they'd be ready for bed when the baby sitters arrived at 6 p.m. Then I was to go back to the same area where my sister lives for bible study.

Remember how last night I said Lauren was fussing? Lauren never fusses. I knew something was wrong, but when I checked on her, her blankets weren't on her, so I thought maybe she was just cold. At 6 a.m., she woke up saying she needed to use the bathroom. When I picked her up to put her on the toilet, her body was burning hot. I knew then we were in trouble. Long story short, Lauren is sick, and I had to cancel everything. Maybelline still got her feet done, but I couldn't be there to help, which left my sister to handle ten horses by herself. She has a one year old and a four year old (of the human variety), so I felt terrible, but I couldn't drag Lauren out in the cold when she felt so awful. Likewise, I couldn't leave her with baby sitters, for her sake and theirs.

The kids were all mad at me for cancelling the baby sitters. Apparently they are all quite anxious to get rid of me. I really could have used an outing this evening, but at the same time, I think I was in desperate need of rest today. Well, rest I did. I did a workout and got my shower in, but I did very little else. I folded two baskets of laundry, and did dishes, and that's about it. It was a very lazy day.

I did have a startling realization, however. Saturday is Valentine's Day. I already knew that, but I forgot that means I am supposed to buy valentines for all three boys to give out to every single kid in their classes. I hate Valentine's Day for that reason. It literally takes hours upon hours to get each valentine written out, but this year, that's the least of my problems. I haven't bought any yet. I dug through my leftover supply, and I found 37, which is pretty decent. But I need around 60 to be safe, so now I have to figure out what to do. I don't really want to drag a sick kid to the store, especially when I would have to drive a minimum of 20 minutes on the highway to get there. I am thinking of photocopying sheets of the ones I have and using those, but I have been too gutless to give it a try. Tomorrow is the only day I have to do Micah's, as his party is on Thursday. I have until Friday for the other two.

Anyway, I wish I could say my supermom streak was ongoing, but today it ended. My grand plans to have the house in perfect condition when Mike returns have been put on the back burner. Tomorrow is another hockey day, which means craziness until about 8 p.m. Oh how I would love to skip hockey.

At any rate, all four kids are now in bed, though two are coughing. Now is my time to relax and breathe a little. I'm so tired, I might go to bed by 9 p.m. Only four more days until I have backup again. Hurry home, Mike.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Day Three: The Mitt Episode

Today started early, with my alarm going at 6:30 a.m. Cody was already up, and the other three were up by 7. I fed them all and got Jamie and Micah's hockey equipment ready, and once everyone was dressed and we were packed, we were off to the next town at 8:15 for our game, which started at 9:30. Our family has a reputation for always being late, which I hate. This morning, we were the first ones there. We were so early, there weren't even any lights on in the dressing room.

Micah fought me all morning, stating that he hates hockey and that he would not be playing today. I had to come up with an analogy for him on the way there, to inspire him. I told the kids about greyhound races, and how the dogs chase a fake rabbit around a track, (though I am no expert on that, and maybe it's different now) and I compared the puck to the rabbit. Then, in a fit of inspiration, I thought of Nabbit, a character from Super Mario Brothers. If you're not familiar with the game, Nabbit is a pesky rabbit that steals treasures from one of the little mushroom guys. When Nabbit shows up on a level, your job, as Mario, is to chase him down as fast as you can and catch him.

So. Today, I told Micah the puck was Nabbit, and he was Mario. Well, he certainly went after the puck. He even touched it. Once. I doubt I sparked any kind of love for hockey, but at least he tried.

We made it through the game, and Jamie even scored his signature hat trick, despite minimal effort for the first two thirds of the game. Even still, the end score was somewhere way over 20 for the other team, and six for us. Ah. Just like every single game we have played this season.

After hockey, we came home and I fed them all lunch, and then did as much cleaning as I could cram in before having to leave again to drop Cody off at a birthday party for the afternoon. We had less than an hour and a half back at home again before going back to pick him up. Then I made supper, fed the crew, bathed the crew, cleaned Jamie and Micah's room with them, cleaned Lauren's room without her, and tucked all three of them in. Cody was last, but he is easy.

In order to make tomorrow easier for myself, I got all three backpacks out, lunch kits on the counter, wax paper ready to wrap sandwiches in the morning, snacks sitting ready to be packed, and then I laid out all their outdoor clothing. Except Micah's mitts were missing.

Micah's mitts are notorious for disappearing. We ordered them online in the fall, just before the cold weather hit. They are good mitts. The first time he lost one was a few weeks after we got them. We had gone away for the weekend, and came home seemingly without one of the mitts. Actually, Lauren came home with only one mitt too, and hers were also brand new, good quality mitts. We searched the truck multiple times and came up empty. We contacted the people we were with and nobody had seen the missing mitts. So, a week or so later, we ordered another set for Micah exactly the same. Lauren had another set, so she was okay. A few days after we ordered them, I found both mitts. In the truck. Don't judge me, they were extremely well-hidden!!!

We sent the new set back, so we didn't have to pay for them, thankfully. But last weekend, we went into the city again and stayed at a hotel. Guess who was missing a mitt when we got home? Yes, Micah. Same drill. Searched multiple times, and no mitt. I dug out an old ratty pair for him, which he used all last week. But today, when we got home from hockey, I told the kids there would be a special prize for whoever could find the mitt in the truck. I just knew it had to be in there. Sure enough, Cody found it. So, he got chocolate chips. Exciting, right? And because I suck at giving prizes, I gave them all chocolate chips. But I gave Cody more, so it was still a prize, right?

So here I am, it's night time, and I'm trying to be organized and get their stuff ready so we don't miss the bus in the morning, and now not one, but both of Micah's mitts are missing. Unbelievable. I checked really well in the house, but I just knew they were in the truck. The same truck that swallows mitts without a trace. Now I had to go outside and find them, because I knew there would never be enough time in the morning to search and still make it to the bus on time. So, I bundled up, because it's freezing outside! (And I live in Manitoba, so please take that quite literally. Okay, okay, it's not that cold. But -21 with the wind chill feels too cold to be running out to the truck in the dark.)

That brings me to the other part. Dark. It is very, very dark out there. The moon seems to have disappeared. Or maybe it's just cloudy. I didn't take the time to notice. We live far away from civilization, so there are no lights around. When it's dark out, it's very, very dark. I turned the outside light on, which lit the deck quite nicely. But once I rounded the corner, it was pitch black. I mean, I couldn't see anything. I took a tiny LED flashlight with me.

Can I just say I watched a news interview the other day with a man who was very recently attacked by a cougar and survived to tell the tale? Living in the country, surrounded by trees, with no civilization visible or in walking distance has its perks. In truth, I love it. But it took some getting used to. I used to be quite creeped out, not being able to see what was out there. Anything could be watching me from the bushes. For the most part, I have gotten used to it. But sometimes, at night, if I have to be outside by myself (other than on the deck, which is nice and high up), I get scared. Always, it's the thought of cougars. We have tons of coyotes here, and many times have seen them near the house, but they don't really scare me. Cougars do. The good news is, I have never heard of a cougar in this area. But there is one within about 20 miles or so, and they do travel a lot.

So, sad as it is, this grown woman rounded the corner of the deck into pitch blackness, and felt scared. I turned on my pitiful flashlight and took one step down the staircase into the darkness below, and my flashlight flickered. What the... I shook it, and it was bright again. Phew! Another two steps down, and it flickered right off. A violent thrashing of the flashlight ensued. I smacked that thing until it came back on, and then I hurried to the truck. Fortunately, when I opened the truck door, the interior lights came on. Sure enough, the mitts were sitting on the back seat. I was so thankful they were not well-hidden this time. I grabbed them, not unaware of the vulnerability of my back end, sticking out into the darkness behind me. I got out and slammed the door, my flashlight completely useless. I ran like a crazy person to the stairs and ascended them much faster than I ever have before. I did not stop running when I got up on the deck. All I could think of was that the cougar could be right behind me. I burst in the door, and Cody stared at me. I held up the mitts, huffing and puffing. He commented on them. And then said, "Why were you running?"

What do you tell a child that asks you that? "Well, I was afraid I would get attacked by a cougar. Now go to bed. Sweet dreams!" I told him it was super dark out, and I got creeped out so I ran. Nice. I totally didn't validate his fear of the dark. Nope.

Anyway, now I'm safe in my bed, and the wayward mitts have been found. Everything is ready to go for the morning, so my job is done. Sort of. Lauren keeps fussing, which is a stark reminder that my job is never done. Either way, I'm soon off to bed. Goodnight.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Day 2: (a single motherhood mini-series)

Day two ran fairly smoothly. My only real plans were to clean, and to work out. We had an invitation to go see my sister ride in a horse show in town, but I wasn't sure we could handle it. And by "we", I mean "I". The kids all seemed to be feeling better, though Cody is still coughing a lot. Everyone slept in, at least a little bit, and the moods were improved over yesterday. I decided I was open to the horse show, and I canvassed the crew for opinions. Everyone was all for it. Okay! Now I had leverage.

The deal was, I will clean the hall, both bathrooms, the front entrance, the living room, the kitchen, the laundry room and Lauren's room. All I required is that Jamie and Micah clean their own room. If they did that, we would go to the show. For once, I was in a win-win situation. I love horses, and I love my sister, but the show was 40 minutes away, and it was snowing outside. I knew if we went, they would likely fight all the way there, and all the way back, and I was already exhausted. But I also knew we would all enjoy the horses, and I wouldn't have to cook supper, as we would be in town at that time.

The boys didn't clean their room. The whining and outright refusal to lift a finger was nothing short of epic, and I decided very early in the day that the horse show was a definite no. Part way through the day, I had had enough, and I had to stand in their room and (figuratively) crack the whip. I had to actually verbally instruct them with each item they needed to pick up off the floor. They just don't get it. And I confess, I have failed here as a mother, because I can't stand the battles, so I don't enforce the cleaning often enough. By the end of the day, the hall was clean, the front entrance was clean, the living room was clean, and the kitchen was improved.

I also cleaned the toilet in one bathroom. That was largely inspired by a longstanding tradition in this household. Every time, without fail, that Mike is away overnight, even if it's only for one night, somebody plugs the toilet. It's uncanny, so to speak. We have a stupid plunger. It's not normal. It's like an accordion thingy, that almost guarantees splashing. I hate plunging toilets, but thanks to my boys and their proficiency at plugging them while Mike is away, I have become adept at it. I fixed it, and cleaned it. I put everyone to bed early, and I even got to shower. Now it's only 9:30 and I feel like it's one in the morning. I worked hard all day, and tomorrow stars bright and early. We will leave the house by 8:15 for the next round of hockey adventures. Last night nobody got up in the night. Here's praying tonight is the same. Goodnight, all.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Day one on my own with four kids...

I've done temporary bouts of single motherhood before. When I say temporary, I mean a couple of days and nights. A few times, I have been on my own for a week or more, but this is my first time ever alone for seven straight days with all four kids. Here is what I was expecting of day one:

Day one is always the best day. I am pumped up, inspired. I can do this! I'm the mom! You get the idea. I do a bunch of inspired cleaning, cook great meals, bedtime is a militant but loving affair. Everything goes smoothly. Today looked nothing like that.

All three of my boys have been dealing with sickness this week. Yesterday, the oldest two stayed home from school, sick, and the third had no school, and the fourth doesn't go to school, so I had all four home yesterday. Well, I could hear Cody coughing all night the night before, and at 5 a.m. he burst into my room and shouted, "I feel barfy!" That brought on the usual instant dread from me, and I sent him back to bed with a pail. He didn't throw up, and his stomach was better by morning, but apparently he was awake at 4 a.m. and never slept again. Let me just say, his mood the rest of the day reflected his poor sleep with great accuracy. Jamie was coughing too, and Micah had the fever earlier in the week, but had an ear problem yesterday. So, today was a day off school, and all of my boys were in fantastic moods. Wait, no, that is completely sarcastic. The fighting I witnessed today, both with my eyes and with my ears, was non-stop. Horrible, horrible fighting. I was completely fried within the first hour of the day. Lauren was mostly a delight, as usual, though she had her share of two-year-old meltdowns. In fact, while I did my workout, she literally stood facing me, with her mouth wide open, screaming repeatedly as loud as she could. Why? Because I offered her a sippy cup of water, and she didn't want any water. Well. Excuse me!!!!

True to form, I did work extra hard today, and it was a long day indeed. I have been working almost non-stop for the last three days to clean up our horrible basement, and this morning, I finished the job. Wow. It looks amazing down there! After that, I came up and fed the kids lunch. Then it was time for my workout, which was supposed to be followed by a shower. Except I didn't get to shower, because after the workout, I had to run outside and uncover the cord that was by the tractor in case I have to plug the tractor in some time this week.

Which brings me to a rabbit trail. We have lived here nine years. I don't know how to run the tractor. So, Mike is gone a whole week, and guess what the forecast looks like? Snow. Snow, snow, snow. Okay. We live in the boonies here, and our driveway is not a city driveway. It's long. I can't shovel it. So if the snow gets deep enough, I'm trapped here, unless I can wrangle a brother-in-law to come and plough the driveway. At least I drive a big truck with four wheel drive. Hopefully the snow won't get deep enough to trap the truck in.

Anyway, the cord was stuck in the snow, and it took me forever to uncover the part that plugs into the tractor. But I found it, and hung it over the tire, so it's available if I need it, and it won't get buried under future snowfalls. While I was outside, I did a super quick shovel job of the back deck staircase, so it wouldn't get out of hand this week. All in all, I was probably outside for about fifteen minutes. During that time, all "you-know-what" broke loose in the house. Apparently, one of the kids winged a pair of binoculars into the TV and another one was swearing. Swearing. We are a non-swearing household. I could go on and on about this. I was extremely distraught by this point. They also took the liberty of watching TV, which they knew they were not allowed. It was clear I could not leave them unattended for even ten minutes, so my shower was no longer an option. Instead, I baked oatmeal cookies for them, because I had no other snack, and by the time they were ready, it was time for supper. We eat supper at 4 p.m. on Fridays, because otherwise they don't eat until 8 or 9 p.m.

Fridays are hockey nights. I was to be at the rink by 4:30 p.m. with all of them, and with three sets of equipment. Jamie and Micah had practice from 5-6 p.m. I wasn't convinced they were even well enough to be on the ice. Micah did snow angels and flopped around like a fish out of water. That is literally what he looked like. By the time they were done, I wanted to go home, but Cody had a game starting at 6:30 p.m.

The game was fantastic. (Sarcasm again.) His team is a young novice team, and as such, they are one of the worst in the league. They get slaughtered almost every single game. Tonight was no exception. The final score was 14-5 for the other team. The difference tonight was the classy parents on the other team. (Oops. Sarcasm again.) Hockey parents have a choice between sitting inside the warm area, where you can't cheer loudly for the team, or freezing their hind ends out on the bleachers in the cold part, where you can yell for your team. (I'm talking encouraging yells here.) I always go to the cold part. The hockey moms on our team are loud and fun, and we always make the most noise cheering and laughing, though we are told the kids can barely hear us.

Tonight, there were only five of us out there cheering on our kids. The other team had approximately thirty. Maybe twenty. I don't know. It was a big crowd, but that wasn't what set them apart. They brought air horns. Air horns. And cow bells. And every time their kids scored, they raised the roof. Well, for the first three or four goals, it was somewhat understandable. But on the fourteenth goal,  they were still blowing multiple air horns and jingling those dang cow bells, and our kids were so discouraged. They scared Micah really badly with their noise makers as he was walking by, and then they laughed at him, which brought him to me in tears. (He is five.) I was very annoyed by this point. But then Lauren said she needed to go to the bathroom, and as I her walked past them, a dad blew the air horn right when we were right in front of him. There was no goal or related action in the game at that moment. Just an obnoxious man, scaring my two year old.

Honestly, maybe I overreacted, but I was so angry. I was only a hair away from climbing the bleachers and telling them that our kids have been slaughtered every single game, and now they were rubbing it in their faces. I started to understand why fights sometimes break out between hockey parents. It's almost funny, how angry I was. All of us were somewhat disgusted with the other team's parents. I don't know. Maybe that's normal behaviour at a game for kids ages 8 and under. Seems a little over the top to me. If it were a close game, I would understand a little more. We have joked about bringing air horns to our games, but we have never done it. And if we were winning every game by a landslide, I wouldn't even joke about it.

Anyway, when all was said and done, I didn't get the kids home until 8:40, and they were not all settled in bed until 9:15. I am exhausted, and my throat is scratching from yelling at the top of my lungs through the whole game. I don't have a loud voice, and I'm certainly no match for an air horn.

Now, I face my first of seven nights without Mike. I am praying nobody is up with nightmares, or loses a soother in the middle of the night, or bursts into my room just before throwing up. Tomorrow is a free day, and I think we all need it. My plan is to get the upstairs as clean as the downstairs. It might take another three days, but it's a worthy goal.

And now I will rest my aching feet, and try not to worry about Mike as he travels. I apologize for the long-winded and very disjointed post. I think I just needed to get that one out. Goodnight everyone.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Easy as Pie?

Recently, I told Mike this stay-at-home-mom thing is easy. Feel free to laugh uproariously. Honestly, I don't know what came over me. I've done a lot of reflecting back on when my three boys were all so little, and things were insanely hard. All the time. Now, things have eased up. I don't have a three year old, a two year old and a less than one year old all at once. Comparatively speaking, this does seem easy. Sometimes.

I think maybe I feel guilty that it's not as hard as it used to be. It makes me feel like I'm not doing anything here at home. Maybe I was delusional because over Christmas I got used to Mike being around to help and I forgot what it's like when he's back at work. Whatever the reason for my temporary loss of perspective, rest assured, I have been set straight.

Yesterday, when the boys got home from school, Jamie was not himself. He refused to get changed to go to hockey, and even said hockey was boring and he didn't want to go. Jamie loves hockey. My first thought was, "Uh oh. Maybe he's sick." But he was showing no symptoms of anything other than exhaustion. I figured that was par for the course, being the second day back at school after two weeks off. (Which, by the way, consisted of a bad stomach bug, that hit us Christmas night. But that's another story. More like a sequel, really, seeing it was the fifth consecutive year.) Well, I forced him to go, seeing they were having pictures done last night, and sure enough, once he hit the ice, his little grin came back and he enjoyed it, as usual.

On the way home, he refused to admit he had fun, and his attitude got really raunchy. We got him to bed at a decent hour, and I hoped he'd be fine for school today. But at 4 a.m., I heard him yelling for me. Jamie doesn't yell for me in the night unless he's sick. I went into his room and he said his stomach hurt really badly. I asked him if he needed to go to the bathroom and he said no. I asked him if he felt barfy and he said no. So I made him go to the bathroom, and he never returned to his room. He was in agony for a long time in the bathroom and I got really scared. I looked up symptoms of appendicitis, and he had most of them. I ended up making a bed for him out of towels and he slept on the bathroom floor. While I got the other two ready for school this morning, Jamie was hollering from the bathroom, throwing up and the whole works.

Today, I am exhausted, though relieved because Jamie is doing much better and definitely doesn't have appendicitis. But I certainly got a good reminder of the challenges of my "job". In a few weeks, Mike is going away for about six days. I doubt I will tell him how easy it was when he gets home again.