Monday, June 29, 2015

School's Out For the Summer!

It's official. My two oldest boys arrived home an hour ago from their last day of school this year. Of course they are already in party mode, begging for screen time "because it's the last day of school". I'm kind of a mean mom, so I have said no to anything of the sort until all the rooms in this house are cleaned. Don't worry, I know a lot of the cleaning is my job. I'm talking about the toys, papers, clothes and random dishes that have been left all over the house. Seriously, I went downstairs to get meat out of the freezer for supper and I was tripping over water bottles and tupperware cups. Yikes.

Mike has one more day of work on his countdown, which means I do too, because it means I have a whole day with all four kids at home and no Mike. Again. Hopefully they will be as excited as I am to get this place whipped into shape so we can enjoy our summer holidays. And two seconds ago, Cody said, "I'm bored, I don't know what to do." Guess it's going to be a long summer!

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Final Countdown

Today is the last day of classes for all three of my boys. Jamie and Cody will be going on a field trip on Monday, and Micah is completely done after today. There has been a countdown going here for quiet a while. For the boys, and for Mike, it has mainly been about how many days of school are left. My countdown is slightly different, and I suspect many moms may relate to this one.

For me, the countdown has been about how many school lunches I had left to pack. I don't know why, but packing school lunches is one of my worst tasks that I have to do almost daily. Mike has been laughing at me a bit as I have proclaimed daily how many lunches were left to pack this year. This morning, I packed my last three lunches. Yes, my two older boys have school on Monday, but being a field trip, they are going out for pizza and as far as I know, I don't even have to pack snacks. In fact, I might even get really rebellious and not even send water bottles, as I do every day.

Getting kids ready for school each morning is a short, but frenzied affair. For me, it starts at 6:50 a.m., when I not only have to be out of bed myself, but I also have to wake up two or three boys, depending on the day. Winters are the worst, because on top of making sure everybody is awake, fed, has used the bathroom, and making sure all backpacks are packed and ready to go, I also have to get them dressed in their winter gear, which takes extra time. But this would all be much easier if I wasn't busy packing three different lunches and three bottles of ice water at the same time. The process doesn't sound that difficult, except inevitably, at least one water bottle is missing, and at least one lunch kit is missing, and sometimes even a backpack is missing.

And speaking of packing lunches every day, I found out yesterday that my lunches are something of a running joke at school, at least in Cody's class. Apparently EVERYBODY knows that I pack the exact same boring lunch for him every single day. Even his teacher knows. Yesterday I threw in a surprise cookie and a surprise bag of chips; both items that rarely (or never, in the case of the chips) make it into their lunch bags. Cody gasped in surprise when he opened his lunch, and jaws were dropping all over the room. His teacher asked him what the deal was. He said to her, "You know how my mom packs the same boring lunch every single day?" And her response was, "Yes." Yes. She does know. Everybody knows. Should I cringe in embarrassment? No. I am a mom. Am I boring? Maybe. But if boring gets the job done, then I'm doing my job. Every mom knows, when you find food your kid is willing to eat, you stock up on that food and send it to school every day because that way you know your kid is actually eating, and not just giving their lunch away or throwing it in the garbage. Boring? Sure. Do I care? No. I have made it through another school year, this time packing an average of twelve to thirteen lunches a week, and none of my kids starved.

And now I'm done! For the next ten glorious weeks, I will not pack a single school lunch. My celebration is irrational, of course, because having all four of them home all day every day for ten and a half weeks will be far more difficult, but I'm not going to let that put a damper on my festive mood. Farewell school lunches. Farewell forty minutes of stress and craziness every weekday morning. Bring on the summer holidays!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Radar

Yes, I'm still here, and still doing desperate house-mom things. I know I have been gone a long time, and I wanted to post in here sooner, but in April, our beloved dog died, and I took an extensive break from writing anything at all. I knew I couldn't post in here without reporting our loss, and I just didn't want to cry anymore.

Radar was only nine years old, and he was the best dog ever. His death was sudden, and though we knew it was coming, we thought we had at least another year or two. We just weren't ready to say good-bye.

I have many things to report in here. Obviously after a few months off, I have accumulated a few stories. But today, I just wanted to explain about Radar. I'm not going to give details about his death. I just wanted to post a few pictures and say an official good bye on here.

Radar was a Humane Society dog. We went there looking for specific puppies, but when we met him, we kind of fell in love. He was very strange looking, because his ears were gigantic. He was four months old when we brought him home, the same age as Cody was. Here he is below, looking hilarious with his crazy ears.

As it turned out, Radar grew into his ears, though some might debate that. To me, he grew into the most beautiful dog, and was the closest thing to a purebred German Shepherd I could have asked for. Obviously he wasn't purebred, but we never saw anything else in him. I wanted a German Shepherd my whole life, and he was my birthday present from Mike. I remember walking him down our road feeling overwhelmed at how beautiful he was, and how blessed I was to have my dream dog. 

He was smart, and so gentle. He was amazing with our kids. He never did anything bad...or at least, hardly ever. His only real flaw was that he barked a lot. He barked at everything outside. It was annoying at times, but he also kept the yard clear of wildlife. And he was smart about it too. When coyotes howled, he would trot in a large circle around the house, with his hair standing on end, but he never went after them. Often he would carry a stick or some other item in his mouth, as if saying to them, "Look. I have a stick. Don't mess with me." We found it hilarious. Mike always did Radar's voice and talked for him. We laughed a lot.

His tail was huge too, and everywhere he went, we would hear the rhythmic sound of it slapping against things. It made us smile every time. 

I could go on and on. I loved him so much, and even now I'm tearing up yet again, even though it has been almost ten weeks since he died. I will never forget him, and I will always miss him. We all will. Except for possibly Lauren. She doesn't really get it. She just asks, "Where's Radar? Is he at Jesus?" and I try not to cry. And I fail. Radar was my first dog. He changed us. Somebody told me pets leave paw prints on our hearts. Radar did just that. Good bye, sweet puppy. I will love you forever.

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.