Thursday, June 30, 2011

Welcome To The Jungle

This is it. The last day of school. After today, Mike is here for the whole summer. Right now, I am sitting in the living room, by myself. All three boys are in Micah's bedroom, somewhat at my insistence. They are playing with a very small plastic piano with three square keys. It has a very loud, high-pitched bell sound, and only about two different pitches and the sound of it is nearly enough to make me chew glass. Cody and Micah were fighting over it in here and I was getting very irritated, to say the least. But my boys have been very pleasant and have even made me laugh this morning, so I told Cody that piano makes me extremely grouchy and if he was going to play it he would have to do so in one of the bedrooms with the door shut. So, he ran off, with Micah, to Micah's room. Jamie joined them too. One person, presumably Cody, bangs like mad on the three offensive keys while the others participate in a different way. Cody ran out briefly to inform me that they were singing "Jesus Loves Me". Then he told me the reason for this was because they were celebrating Jesus and Canada Day. Okay. I suppose that makes sense.

So he ran back into the bedroom and the horrific sound started up again. Then I heard them all singing Jingle Bells, but there was only one lyric: Canada. It went, (imagine the tune here) Ca-Na-Daaa, Ca-Na-Daaa, Ca-Na-Da-a-aaaaaa...etc. All three boys were singing along. Then, it evolved into a song about Jesus, that Cody made up entirely on his own. I wish I could have had the whole thing on video, though honestly I'm not sure you would have heard anything over the tinging of the piano. I could hear the other two boys clapping along, right into the song. It was so cute I just had to smile. Those are the moments that remind me what this is all about. Three brothers playing nicely together, making music together, and celebrating life together. Wow. Cody has now informed me that they will be putting on a concert for us tonight. I will try to refrain from inserting ear plugs before the performance, and perhaps we will be able to video it.

Last night, in a fit of either inspiration or insanity, we decided to go to town after Mike got home from work. He was supposed to be home by 4:30, so I thought we'd leave then. We had some things we needed to buy in town, so I thought we could do one errand when we arrived and then feed the boys and then do more errands. Our first mistake was not leaving the house until 5:15 p.m. Oh boy. Next, I had the brilliant idea that to save time, and trauma, I would walk through the pasture and up and over the somewhat steep hill while carrying Micah, then down to the road and back to the driveway and then up the driveway to where the van was parked. All this was partly to save a tractor bucket ride for me, and a terrifying tractor ride for Micah. Plus, I figured it would save Mike doing two runs with the tractor, thereby saving some time.

So, I left my purse and the diaper bag in the tractor bucket and picked up my very likely 30 pound boy, and I set off through the poop-packed trail. Micah got heavy really fast. Yep. I was puffing a bit. As I walked, I thought about the mosquitos, which were surprisingly not too bad on that trail. Maybe it was because the sun was able to shine there, unlike our very enclosed and shaded driveway. Anyway, I also had to follow a very narrow trail that the horses had kindly worn down for me. It was not much wider than a deer trail. Okay, I had to stop and switch Micah to my other arm. Phew. Then, as I walked on, I tried my best not to deviate from the brown trail, as it was surrounded on either side by very tall grass and weeds. Tall grass means wood ticks, but I tried not to think about that, seeing I did not do my usual neurotic move of tucking my pant legs into my socks to block all possible entrances for the little blood-suckers. Then I came to the hill. Hm. It was a lot more overgrown than I was hoping. The horse trail did lead up there, but it was obvious it was not their favourite spot. Okay, no problem. I switched Micah back to my other arm again and began the trek up the sandy hill. Hm. There sure was a lot of foliage to avoid. Wait, was that...? Yep. Poison ivy. I knew we had poison ivy on our land. I certainly learned that last August when I fell off Sasha and landed on a hill covered with it. I even knew we had a lot on our land, but I had hoped the horse trail would be enough to get me through without touching any. I guess I'll know in the next ten days or so whether I was successful. There was a LOT of poison ivy on my trek. So I tried not to think about that either. Eventually I crested the very deep, loose sand at the top of the hill and carried Micah down the other side, through the ditch and up onto the road. I tried not to think about the hoards of red ants that we walked through too.

Yikes. I made it to the road, and we walked the rest of the way back to the entrance to our driveway. Did my trek save any time? No, I don't really think so. Mike apparently got confused about what I was doing and took the tractor back to the house to get me. Eventually we met at the van and buckled everyone in. The van had about 30 extra passengers. Mosquitos, that is. It was revolting.

I suppose the rest of the story is too long to put in here. Let's do the Reader's Digest condensed version. We arrive in town at nearly 6 p.m. We successfully complete our first errand. We then drive to a store where I want to buy a few t-shirts for myself, as all I have is black and now that the weather is getting really hot and we have two outdoor family events in the next three days, I need something decent looking and not sweltering hot. So Mike drops me off and then proceeds to the nearest McD's with the boys to feed them in the van while I try on clothes. The plan is for me to get some shirts while they eat, and then walk to McD's and join them for the rest of our errands. Did I mention I suck very badly at shopping? Well, I needn't have been concerned. Not two seconds after he dropped me off, I pulled on the door handle to the store, and what's this? It won't open. I rattled both sides and then saw the obvious dead bolt. So I ran after the van, which was no more than ten feet away, but to no avail. Mike did not see the crazy woman bolting after them and veered out onto the busy street and pulled away. I glanced around for witnesses. There were none. Okay, that is naive. I'm sure a million people saw the uniquely stupid and spastic move I just pulled, but I didn't see any of them, so I felt secure in my anonymity.

I walked to McDonald's and made use of their ladies' room while I waited for my crew to make it through the drive-thru. I then joined them and we went to the mall. I had a store in mind there that would probably be a great place to get a few T-shirts. So Mike parked with the boys to continue their meal in the parking lot and I ran in the mall. I searched the mall, which is not big, by the way. It's a small city, but I don't make it to the mall very often. It was soon apparent that the only store I wanted to go to was closed. Strike two. I gave up my T-shirt mission. The rest of our errands went fairly smoothly and we brought the crew home. I did not want to walk through the poison ivy again, so I opted for the tractor ride back. I certainly lived to regret that decision. We put our purchases and our bags into the bucket of the tractor, and then Cody and I both climbed into the bucket while Mike hauled Jamie and Micah up on the seat with him. It was already 8 p.m. by then, and anyone who knows Manitoba knows that when the shadows fall, the mosquitos get hungrier. We were there in our jungle canopy of a driveway and I was in hell before the tractor was even started. I have never had so many mosquitos bite me at one time. To make matters worse, I was deeply committed to keeping my arms around my five-year-old so he stayed safely in the bucket. (Is that a paradox?) So I watched as ten, fifteen, twenty...countless mosquitos landed and attacked in every area of my body at once. The ride was rough. I have bruises to prove it, and Cody probably does too. By the end I needed a donut like they give you after you give blood. My bum has never been bitten by multiple mosquitos at the same time before. I swore up and down that I would never, EVER do that again without showering in deet first.

The trip was more of a failure than a success, but it is now a memory. The rest of the evening got worse from there, but this post is already way too long. I will sign off now, as I watch Micah fill my rubber boots with marshmallows that have been chewed and licked by both him and Cricket, one of our cats. At least he is happy. I will, of course, forget they are in there and end up with a sticky mess on my socks the next time I put them on, but no matter. For now, my house is quiet and content. It's time for me to read a book.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day two alone.

My second day alone with the boys did not go as smoothly as the first, but I survived it, and amid the tantrums and rebellion, I actually kept my cool. That alone made me feel like I had victory, so I am thankful. Last night was a bit stressful, but mostly psychologically. Micah was up with a nightmare at about 11:30 p.m. or so, so I dealt with that, but then I was afraid things like that would go on all evening and I would have a stressful night. I needn't have worried. That was the only incident and I had a pretty good sleep, despite staying up past midnight, which was extremely unwise. It goes to prove that there really is no sense in worrying. It is hard being the only parent home overnight because there is a heavier burden of responsibility on your shoulders. If someone has a nightmare at 2 a.m., you are the one who has to deal with it. If someone is up sick, same thing. There is really a sense of strength in numbers when both parents are present. Once again I am reminded of how difficult it must be to be a single mother. Or father, though those seem less common.

Today I kept the kitchen clean, for the most part. I stayed right on top of the dishes and had the table and counter clear, complete with a juice glass on each filled with water and daisies that the boys had picked for me. I held my ground and did not allow a single speck of TV. The fussing over this is getting less and less, though there is still much begging on a daily basis.

Mike came home much earlier than I expected, so I was very thankful to have him here again for bath time and bed time. He is now back outside again, working, so I still won't really get any time with him, but at least the boys got a little. I was pretty sure they would not see him at all.

So now I sit in my living room, alone again but feeling less alone, and being attacked my numerous mosquitos, even though I am indoors. Yuck. I am thrilled to say that the dragonfly population is finally starting to explode once again, as it does every summer here. They are huge, and do a fantastic job of controlling the mosquito population. Maybe in a few weeks I will be able to stand being outside again. I have not even set foot out the door since Friday. Oh wait, I did run out yesterday to check out the "growl" that the boys heard in the bush. Phew. So it's not as bad as I thought then!

I'm off to do a little reading until Mike comes in, or until bed time, whichever comes first. Only two days left on my countdown to summer. Then Mike is off and we can both have a break. Yay! Goodnight.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Countdown begins - day one alone

Technically, I have been alone with the boys for every day of the last three weeks except one, so today is not really my first day alone. But it is the first day Mike will not be coming home tonight, so I am counting it as day one of my two longest days this week. So far, I am happy to report, my troubles with rebellious and defiant boys (boy) are far better than they were. Of course, as soon as I typed that, they burst back into the house after being out for less than five minutes, so I am back in the battle again. I had booted them out, from sheer necessity. Ugh. Just got them back out the door, but not without difficulty. I don't like this time of day.

Micah is napping but should be up any minute now, if he is not awake already. I have a strict ban on TV right now because I have been way too liberal with it over the past few weeks. No more. I am picky about what shows they watch, and the ones I allow are good and they learn from them, but it doesn't matter. If they are allowed to watch all afternoon the consequences are terrible. Sometimes it has to be done so I can get my sanity back, or my health in some cases when I absolutely must nap, but for now, I am not allowing a single minute of TV or any other technology. (Wii, iPod...etc.) So my oldest does not take well to these boundaries. It is much harder for him than his younger brother, for whatever reason. Micah does not care about TV, seeing he is not quite two, and I am very glad.

So we have made it through more than half the day and there have been no disasters as of yet. Still, the most difficult time of day is approaching, beginning when Micah gets up from his nap. Then I'll have three or four hours straight of frenzied activity until I finally get the last one in bed and collapse. My main project this afternoon has been getting Jamie to stay awake so he is not up all evening. I MUST have my evening to myself or I will not survive tomorrow!!!

My next project? Figuring out what on earth I'm going to feed them for supper. I am not very imaginative about cooking, and with Mike gone I don't really want to make anything elaborate. Macaroni? I don't know. Pancakes maybe? Ugh. See? I don't really know what to cook unless it's like roast beef or a whole roasted chicken, and I would not do that without Mike here. I guess I could just do scrambled eggs or something. I am out of flour and Mike did not buy any on his big shopping trip yesterday, so I can't bake and it does eliminate some supper recipes too.

Well, they're back again, and Micah is definitely awake. The boys were on the trampoline, but said they heard a coyote howl so they ran in. It is hard to say whether they really did or not, but I'd rather not take the chance. This morning they said they heard something growl in the bush. Fantastic. They ran in very fast. Cody tells tall tales sometimes, but I believe they probably heard something. It could have been a deer snorting, or maybe it was something more ominous. Either way, I kept them in for a while to be safe. Supposedly we have bears on our land, but we've been here over five years and have never seen a single trace of one, so I'm not sure what to think of that. Hopefully we never will.

Now I'm off to get Micah up and wrack my brain for something to feed my poor children. I will report in on day two. Or maybe even tonight if things get interesting before tomorrow!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Help wanted.

Today is Sunday, but it feels no different than a week day. I am here by myself with the boys, and will be until supper time. I am feeling a bit like a single mom these days because Mike has been very busy with school stuff and even flood-related work outside. Yesterday he had his school grad and did not get home until after 9:30 p.m.

I did a ton of cleaning yesterday, and right now I have a loaf of bread in the oven, so I should be feeling a bit like supermom, but I'm not. In truth, I'm feeling much the opposite. Once again I have a headache from crying, and even a bit from yelling. I am having a very difficult time with one of my boys right now, and I am at a complete loss for what to do. I feel like an absolute failure as a mother, and I totally feel like quitting. Only I can't. I am trapped here. There is nobody to help, and Mike is going camping tomorrow with his students (and other chaperones, of course), so I will have no help tomorrow or Tuesday either. I am hanging on by the barest of threads here, and I don't see how I will make it through another day, let alone three until I have help with the boys again. Of course, motherhood (and parenthood) is difficult at the best of times, but it's not just the work of meal preparation, bathing and general care that is burning me out. It is the utter defiance that I am dealing with that is beating me down. Literally. I am completely at a loss.

And so here I am in my room, with an adorable toddler who has brought his toys in here to join me. My older two are outside on their play structure, providing me some relief. I guess there is not much else to say. How does a mom continue on when nothing works? When her child is willing to physically hurt her to get his own way? I feel like shutting down completely, but I know that's bad too. It seems no matter which way I turn, it's wrong, or it doesn't work. Where is the supernanny? And how did I become a mom who needs her?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Messy boys.

Today I am battling a wicked headache, so I am doing a lot of hiding in my room. I think today I will for sure have to rest in the afternoon if my head doesn't feel better soon. I keep thinking it is Friday, which is ridiculous, seeing it is only Tuesday. I am so desperate for the weekend, even though again I will be on my own on Saturday.

Last night I ventured out. Yes, I rode in the bucket of the tractor once again. I was amazed at the depth of the water on the driveway, particularly that it stayed really deep for such a long distance. I went to town by myself and bought some books that I saw on a local classfieds website. I got them really cheap, and it is an author I enjoy. There were 24 books and out of those there are 17 that I have never read. I paid quite a bit less than $2 per book, so I don't mind that I have read some and own three of them already. I intend to give away the ones that are duplicates for me. I have not started reading yet, but I might this afternoon when things get quiet around here, if I stay awake. My tractor ride was unpleasant, as usual, but mostly bearable. It started to rain just before I left the house, and then when I got back home it did the same thing, so in addition to hanging on for dear life while squatting the whole time (ouch!) and fending off mosquitos and swarms of moths, I got rained on both ways. But, I got my books and a little space. I even skipped the boys' bedtime routine, which was nice for a change.

Today my only real plan is to try to catch up on the laundry a bit. I am working on my second load, although it is contingent upon the boys agreeing to gather their dirty clothes from their room and the bathroom. My sister, who also has three boys, manages to keep their rooms really clean all the time and it boggles my mind. Really, they have nice rooms. Maybe it's because mine are sharing a room? I don't know, but their room is horrible almost all the time. I can hardly stand it, but right now things are extra cluttered upstairs because of the flooding in the basement, so I am somewhat limited with my ability to keep toys and such out of their room. But part of the horrible mess is that every day they rip all their bedding off their beds and leave it laying on the floor. Then toys and dirty clothes get mixed in, and it all becomes very overwhelming!!! Jamie changes clothes a million times a day, if he puts any on in the first place. He tends to change every time he goes to the bathroom. It's annoying. They also pull clean stuff out of their dresser and toss that around, so I never know what is clean and what is dirty in there. Yikes. Somehow I have to get a handle on the mess in their room, but I don't know how. That might be a battle I save for another day. We'll see.

Anyway, they are begging for food, and technically it is almost lunch time, so I guess I better face the music and make them something to eat. I'm almost half way through the day, I guess, so that is something to be glad about. Oh, and we have barely gotten any rain in the past three days despite mass amounts being in the forecast. That is miraculous and I am very thankful. We will have to wait and see how the rest of the week goes. Meanwhile we are busy pumping water out of the driveway and the yard, but it is very slow-going. Baby steps, I suppose. I'm off for now.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Breaking news...(NOW WITH UPDATE.)

This just in. It appears our flood may have taken its first casualty. About an hour ago, Cody's giraffe fell out of her boat into the murky waters and he was unable to locate her. The panicked Cody sought help from his dad, who unsuccessfully scanned the waters to find her. Now very distraught, Cody entered the house, nearly in despair. I went out with him and took Jamie's butterfly net. I used it to drag the "lake". Despite many passes back and forth, I could not locate the giraffe and I was getting very hot and getting far too many mosquito bites. We returned indoors to set a timer so the mud would have time to settle in the water. It turned out, 20 minutes was not enough. Despite a depth of only eight or nine inches, it is impossible to see anything in the water. Sadly, we had to call off the search for the day. If the water has settled after supper, we will try again. Otherwise, giraffe will have to wait until tomorrow morning. The good news is, giraffe is made of plastic and can be underwater indefinitely with no serious physical side effects. Psychologically, she may be in rough shape, but we are confident Cody can bring her through it.

The one bonus to this tragic event is that in our search, I found and captured a tadpole which is now swimming in a plastic bin on our deck, much to the boys' delight and amusement. Cody has decided to name it Toad Rainbow ________ (insert our last name here).

Yep. That's Toad Rainbow. Poor thing. Hope he makes it. As for Giraffe, I will have to keep you updated on that stressful situation. For now, I am off to cook a meal I have never made before. I am a little nervous, as I am not terribly talented in the kitchen. In addition to that, I would really like to go to sleep at the moment. However, being that it's Father's Day, I guess I better step up and do this. And that reminds me, even though my giant cookie overflowed all over the bottom of my oven and got very dark around the edges, it turned out to be quite delicious. Micah massacred it this morning with a steak knife, and so it is mostly gone now, but while it survived it was actually quite good.

I'm off to rescue Micah from his nap and make this supper. If Giraffe is found tonight I will add an update.

UPDATE: After pumping out a good two inches of water from the lake that I'll call "the Beach", Mike found and rescued Giraffe. Cody was immensely relieved that his pal was saved before the tractor had to drive through and potentially run her over. Giraffe was given a vigorous bath by Mike and is now safe and sound in the house. Phew!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Another day at our personal beach.

Sometimes in motherhood there are days where everyone would be better off if we could just skip to tomorrow and pretend this day never happened. Today is one of those days. I was at the end of my rope yesterday, and today I think I have plummeted from the rope and landed very badly. All of my boys are making me very angry, even Micah. I am completely losing it, and I think it's because today is Saturday, a day that should mean support and help for me, but I don't get any at all and I honestly don't think I can cope. If we were not trapped here, I probably would have taken the boys somewhere else for the day, but we are most certainly trapped.

Cody and Jamie have been at each other's throats all morning and the noise level in here has risen to something completely intolerable. It's like Chinese water torture. Something seemingly small that just grates and grates until it becomes unbearable agony. Micah has repeatedly dumped my clean laundry basket on the floor and also stole a jar of peanut butter from the pantry. I caught him eating out of it with his bare hands. For some reason, peanut butter really grosses me out unless it is mixed with chocolate inside of something baked, so I was disgusted. Then he smeared it all over my shirt. Ick.

It is now several hours past when I wrote the previous paragraphs. The boys were outside for a couple of hours, which was a nice break for my sanity. They played in the water in out front yard. I went in too, to measure it. It was eight inches deep in some parts. They took toy boats out and floated them. I will try to post some pictures.

Mike is home now, but apparently he will be rushing off nearly immediately, which has me really down. I don't think he is grasping just how burnt out I am and how desperately I need a break. At least there is a giant chocolate chip cookie baking in the oven right now. Hopefully I won't eat the whole thing while he is gone tonight.

Just for comparison's sake, check these two pictures out. Above shows our driveway the day we evacuated. On that day, the water down the driveway that you see was too deep to drive through, though large trucks could make it. Notice that past the "puddle" you can see the tracks where our driveway was still dry.

This picture (above) was taken today. There is only a very small patch of ground between the yard and the driveway that is not underwater. It is not dry, but it is still showing. Notice that down the driveway there is water as far as the eye can see. We didn't think it could get worse than the day we evacuated.

Above is a shot of our yard over a month ago. You can see all the water in the grass. There is more water now than there ever was, but it is not visible through the grass!

This was taken this afternoon. The ground is equally swampy, but the grass is SO long you can hardly see the water anymore. It is not pretty in our yard, to say the least.

I took this shot of the boys standing in front of the grass to show how ridiculously overgrown our "lawn" is. Needless to say, we cannot mow it in this condition, and even the horses cannot clean it up for us with that much water in there.

Here is Jamie playing with a playmobil boat and a toy donkey. The boys had a lot of fun in the water today. This puddle is eight inches deep in many places.

Another shot of the driveway. Where it spreads to the left used to be our "parking lot", and this winter we also used it to store our round bales. It is now totally under water.

Does this look like a driveway to you?

And another shot of the disaster that is our driveway. It is nearly too difficult for even the tractor to make it through now.

Looking toward the house from the driveway. I feel like we have one of those trashy yards now with ugly stuff everywhere. It is so depressing.

And just for fun, here is our pretty Maybelline enjoying the sun (but not the flies) this afternoon. Indy is peeking out behind her.

And here is my Sasha, needing to put on some weight. She also has a lump on her face from her sinus infection, for which she is currently on antibiotics. But she is still gorgeous!

Anyway, Mike just bathed the boys, which will probably end up being somewhat useless seeing I have to feed them yet, and they will likely get covered in food. But I don't care. At least that is one less thing I have to worry about. I'm assuming he is leaving immediately, without a single conversation with me. Sorry to word it that way, but I am finding this very depressing. He is nearly done work, but before he is done there will be so many times he is not here, including an overnight with his students. I hope I can make it through the next two weeks. I better sign off now. 

P.S. I think I burnt my giant cookie. That is most definitely disappointing. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Losing it here!

We are only halfway through the morning, and I am livid. My oldest has the most rotten attitude imaginable today and I have absolutely had it. I am asking myself how I will ever make it through the rest of this day, and meanwhile I have the disheartening knowledge that tomorrow I will be completely alone for the entire day from start to the very finish. Sorry, completely alone with the kids. I'm not sure what to do here. I am ready to really lose it. I am trying very hard not to speak or respond in any way at the moment, as things may soon get very ugly. Or uglier, I guess, is a more accurate way of saying it. My ears hurt from being yelled at, my heart hurts from being disrespected and treated like crap. I know he is just a kid, but it still feels like verbal abuse to me. He is overtired and it has been a long week, but there is no excuse for this. He has already had a time out that ended up lasting over twenty minutes because he kept mouthing off the whole time and I had to keep adding minutes and restarting the timer. Honestly, he sounds like a teenager. I just want to crawl into a hole today and stay there in silence. If I had earphones, they would be on now, but of course, the boys broke them so even that small bit of comfort is gone. Cody is currently in the kitchen stealing food he knows he is not allowed. Oh, never mind. Apparently he is not. But he is prowling around looking for trouble. I know this is pathetic, but the worst part of this is that now I can't let him watch TV this afternoon which means I get no break. It is supposed to rain all afternoon (big shock there) so I have been trying to boot the boys out all morning and I just can't get them out. It's pathetic. All Cody does all day is say he is starving. I feed him all the time and when he doesn't get his way he says his stomach is growling and he's hungry. I think it's a manipulation thing. He just had a snack. Prior to that he just had breakfast.

Okay, phew. Sorry about my little rant. Cody and Jamie just went outside. Now I can calm down and relax, and hopefully they can burn off some steam out there. We are expecting a storm this afternoon, so this is their only chance to play outside. Sounds like they are going to hunt tadpoles. Poor little Micah wants to go too, but I won't let him. Even if I'm out there with him, he goes straight for the water, and his little boots are so small it only takes a moment before he ends up in deeper than his boots and gets soaked. Not that being soaked is the end of the world, because it isn't. But I am not that comfortable with him playing in water that deep, so he will stay in with me.

Hopefully the rest of the day will be an improvement over the morning. I think we are all at the end of our ropes here. I kind of expected this to happen early last week, after we returned from our exile, but was delayed and is now hitting with a vengeance. I am really counting down the days until Mike is home for the summer. After today he has only 8 days of school left, but counting weekends it will be twelve days until he is done for the year, not including today. Twelve days. Here's hoping I can hang on to my sanity until then. Guess it's time to go. I have to eat lunch while the boys are outside as it may be my only chance.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tractor ride and two days away.

Tuesday morning, bright and early Mike did indeed load us by twos onto the tractor and take us through the swamp to the van. Cody and Jamie went first, and stood between Mike's knees so his arms were around them and hanging onto the steering wheel. He had already loaded our bags for us. Micah and I were the second load, and Mike had to hold Micah while I stepped into the dreaded bucket. Micah was terrified and wailed for me the whole time. Me, I was hanging on for dear life. I had to crouch in the bucket facing Mike, hanging onto this rusty metal hook and then he raised the bucket and off we went. The water got closer and closer to me as we sunk in deeper and deeper. It was eerie and nerve-wracking, and I got attacked by mosquitos, of course. We made it, and quickly got in the van and shut the doors. Mike passed us and went to work and we just stayed there for five or ten minutes swatting mosquitos like warriors in the van. Once we got a good percentage of them dead, I sat down and buckled up and we headed out.

We went to my older sister's place where we visited with my very special Aunt, who was visiting from out west. We rarely see her so it was really great to get such a full day in with her. The boys hung out with their cousins, also all boys, and my other sister also came with her baby. We were there until almost 8 p.m. if I remember correctly, and then I drove the boys over to my other sister's house where we spent the night. It was not the greatest of sleeps, but that's always the case when the boys sleep away from home. We survived, and we were there until about 4 p.m. when Mike called and said he was on his way home. Then we left and got home shortly after Mike did. Micah and I survived tractor ride number two, but barely. Poor little guy was terrified, and we came very close to getting stuck in the deep muddy water. Yuck.

So I am back today, and on my own because Mike will be late getting home. In case I didn't mention it, it rained both days I was gone and now this afternoon it is raining some more. The water is deeper still than it was when I left on Tuesday morning. It seems there is no end in sight to this stupid flood. It is nearly supper time and I am wracking my brain to think of something to feed my boys. I didn't want to make a big meal with Mike not home. We'll probably do something boring like grilled cheese or something. Yuck. Well, I won't be eating that, so I guess it doesn't matter if I don't like it.

Tomorrow is the last day of the week, so at least Mike will be home...oh wait, no he won't. Saturday he will be gone the entire day; first for a golf tournament (is it horrible of me if I hope it gets rained out?) and then for a staff wind-up barbecue at work that I likely cannot join him for because I am stuck here. How retarded. Maybe Sunday he'll be here? I have to keep telling myself this is the home stretch and he only has two weeks of work left. Two weeks feels like an eternity right now.

I can't wait until all the boys are settled in bed for the evening and I can relax. I hope to read or else watch a girly movie. For now, I better go check on Micah, who was just sitting in his high chair snacking on pudding. He should be done by now. Bye for now.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Flood update and more.

Saturday was bright and sunny. All I wanted to do was get out of here, seeing I had not left the yard since the previous Saturday. It was my thinking that I'd stick it out here for a week, but on weekends Mike would simply have to get us all out somehow. Well, it didn't happen. Over the last week, our parking and driveway situation has gotten worse, not better, so now the vehicles are parked near the road, which is out of sight of our house due to the trees. The only way to get there is to take the tractor through all the water and park it by the vehicles. This is not a huge tractor, so if I want to get out, Mike has to put me in the bucket and drive me out that way. Talk about ridiculous. I cannot get the boys out myself because I grew up in the city and I do not know how to drive a tractor, so if I wanted to get all of us out we'd have to leave at 7:30 a.m. when Mike is leaving and not return until 5 p.m. when he gets home again. This is part of the reason, well really the whole reason, I am not taking Cody to school right now. He'd get there an hour early and have to stay 1 1/2 to 2 hours late. Not going to happen.

However, today was an exception. His teacher called me last night and told me they are going on a field trip this morning to a place in town that is basically a large indoor play ground. It turned out Mike was going later this morning for reasons I won't bother explaining, and can get back by 4 p.m. Cody's teacher agreed to meet him there about 15 minutes earlier than normal and he gets to hang out with the librarian and an iPad for an hour after school is done. Needless to say, he is thrilled. So this morning, amid the pouring rain, Mike loaded Cody onto the tractor and drove through the lake to get to the vehicles. Now I'm here with a very quiet Jamie, and Micah is napping.

Yes, it rained again overnight, and it was a massive rain too. With all the water we're pumping out of our basement it is impossible to determine the amount of precipitation we got, but yesterday we had no standing water left in front of our house, down to a foot and a half below ground level. (We have a large hole out there that is normally full and under water, with a pump down inside. Yesterday it was nearly empty down to about a foot and a half below the ground surface.) Today, there are waves like a lake. The water has gone up literally six inches or more in the yard overnight. We expected this, but it is still very difficult not to be discouraged. There is a ton of rain in the forecast this week. For the moment, the sun is shining brightly, so at least if I don't look down at the ground it has the appearance of being a nice, normal summer day.

We now have five sump pumps running in our basement and Mike is encouraged that we seem to be keeping up with the water. I don't know whether he checked it this morning or not. We have hoses coming out of the house everywhere to pump the water out, and that is part of the reason we have such deep water in our yard, even though there is also a pump in there to send it over the ridge for us. When the pumps run, which is every few seconds, the hoses move on their own in the water like giant water snakes. It is almost creepy.

Tomorrow I will officially make my first escape from this place in eleven days. Mike will haul us to the van first thing in the morning and I am going to my sister's place for the day. My very special aunt from Alberta will be there. She was supposed to stay with us today, but obviously she cannot because of this flood. Then we will go to my other sister's and stay there overnight. I guess I will not be back until supper time on Wednesday. So today I am doing all the boys' laundry and getting our stuff ready. Packing the van for an overnight will be no picnic in this situation, but oh well. In case I mentioned it prior to the weekend, our plans to put shale on the driveway so it was usable again were thwarted. I don't know when life will return to normal, but I doubt very much it will be before July.

I have two more dilemmas to deal with today. One, I have to try to get a hold of one of the other moms in Cody's class to see whether they'll take my lunch duty next Friday, as I don't know whether I will be able to be there. At this point, it is highly unlikely, so this may easily be Cody's last day of school for the year. I called most of them this morning and the only one I reached is extremely busy that day, though she said to call her if I'm stuck and she can try to make it work. That was REALLY nice of her, because her day is wildly busy.

My other situation? My crazy horse, Sasha, now has a golf-ball sized lump on her forehead and white stuff coming out her right nostril. I have to call a vet today for an opinion on what to do. Googling has led me to believe that there is a good chance she has a sinus infection. Yeesh. I don't know what that will mean for treatment. The problem, as usual, is that it will be very difficult to get a vet in here. Talk about ridiculous.

Anyway, this is very long-winded, but that's about it for my update today. Oh, except Mike built me a second, smaller bookshelf in our room so I can get even more organized. I'm quite excited about it. And now I'm off to either rest for a while or do some cleaning. It's really a toss-up at this point! Hope everyone has a good Monday.

Friday, June 10, 2011

We made it through the week!

The sun is shining again today, though it is not especially warm here. The water level in our yard dropped an inch overnight and I hope it will continue on that trend very quickly because more rain is on the way Sunday and Tuesday.

After a week of being cooped up, the proverbial you-know-what has officially hit the fan. My boys are in rotten moods today, with the exception of Micah who only screams if one of his brothers steals a toy from him, which happens approximately every thirty seconds. Right now he is in his nap, but all I hear in the monitor is, "Mommy? Mo-mmmyyy! Are you??" Haha. Looks like he will not be sleeping today, which means I will not be sleeping either. No matter. He can stay in bed until 3 p.m. and rest, even if he won't sleep. I need the break. The other two are watching TV, which is not really great, but this week I am not worrying about it too much given our circumstances.

Mike's brother is hoping to deliver a bunch of shale tomorrow so we can attempt to build up the driveway enough that we can get in and out of here. Mike got stuck very badly yesterday and now the vehicles have to be parked WAY down the driveway. Doesn't sound like a big deal, but our driveway is a country driveway and it is through the trees, so not only is it a bit of a walk but if you go in there on foot you are attacked viciously by mosquitos. In addition to that, you cannot walk through a good portion of it because the water is way deeper than rubber boots. We do not own hip waders, which is regrettable. The back way, through the pasture, which is the route we have been taking, is officially much more difficult as of last night. Mike put the horses' fence back up and set them free in there. No biggie, except it is an electric fence and I am really not sure how I'd get the kids through there without shocking them. Or myself. So I sincerely hope the shale or gravel or whatever, will work on our driveway and make this place once more accessible by vehicle. It seems silly to be trapped in here, but there is only one other clear path to the road and right now there is a large amount of it underwater. The other option is to cut through the bush, but it is also full of deep water, mosquitos, wood ticks and my personal favourite, poison ivy. So it is not really a great option for hauling the boys through.

My personal victory today was getting a bunch of cleaning done in the kitchen. I got a bunch of mosquito guts cleaned off the walls and ceiling. (We kill so many it is impossible to keep up with all the smudges.) I also did a whole bunch of dishes and got the stove top cleaned and the island counter and table. I even got the floor cleaned, but of course, it is now covered in squashed cheerios...etc. that the boys dumped on it shortly after I cleaned it. (Eyes rolling.) What can I do? Really. I do everything I can and I have to let the rest go.

For now, I am having my quiet time in my room again. This is my only link to sanity. Without it, I don't even want to think about what state I would be in. I have to go check Micah again, just in case he pooped. I don't think he did though. I think he just said, "Mommy, Mout, mout." (He says everything twice. That means come out.) I think not, Micah.

Time to sign off. Bye for now.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A day at the beach...sort of.

Today it is sunny again and the boys actually spent some time outside this morning. They built a sand castle under our deck, which is more like a landing at the top of the stairs that lead to our front door. They took buckets and filled them with flood water and made a moat. They had a blast. Later they rode their bikes around and through the shallower section of water, which was about four to five inches deep. They even ran through it and soaked their pants. Well, Cody did. Jamie was a little more reserved, which is kind of surprising. I watched them out the window. It was like they had a day at the beach, without even leaving home. I was glad they were at least able to have some fresh air and exercise, despite the less than ideal conditions outside. Micah was very ripped off that I didn't let him follow them, but the water is way too deep for him, and he would go straight for it because that's what he does.

I decided today that I would pick small sections of the house at once and clean them. I started with the hall. Sounds silly, but there were several toys scattered about and my vacuum was still plugged in there. It's central vac, so there was a long hose and the beater bar, and it was in the way. I took everything out of the hall and then vacuumed it. Hm. That was satisfying. Such a small area, but it felt nice to have it clean and empty. I moved on to the living room, where there is currently an explosion of toys. The boys were gracious enough to help me clean everything including their train tracks so I could vacuum. Now they have a train set out again, but nothing else. Slowly, things are improving in here! I need to tackle the kitchen next, but I am going to relax for a while first. I have to do that during Micah's nap or I don't get any kind of a break and these days I need my breaks more than ever.

There is a high probability that we will have to evacuate again, though I am not sure when. The mould is growing back in our basement, this time directly on the wood now that the drywall is gone. In addition to that, Mike got stuck in the second lake on the driveway this morning and his vehicle is still stuck there. He had to take the van, so we are truly trapped here now. It's not a very good feeling, but for the moment we are okay and do not need to go rushing off anywhere. I don't know how he will get his car out. This might sound terrible, but I hope it will not involve me. I do not want to venture into the Amazon to rescue a car, but if he needs my help I will do just that. I keep thinking we need to find the inflatable dinghy and just anchor it by the big lake on the driveway. That way we can paddle through if we need to. (Rolling eyes.) Talk about ridiculous.

Things are a little tougher here with boys' attitudes, one boy in particular, but he seems okay for the moment. I hope they will continue to have a fun time playing nicely together all afternoon. I might grab a book from my shelf that I haven't read in a long time and do some reading today. Not sure whether I have the energy to write, but if I do, I might tackle some of that too. Working on chapter seven now, but it's going very slowly because of the way things are right now.

So, I'm off to have some relaxation time with my fur babies. One is curled up in my arms right now (Tabu, my tabby) and Cricket, our black and white cat, is curled up at the end of the bed. Tabu is purring and keeping me warm. I like it. I'm off for now.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

More rain.

The sun is shining today, and so far the weather people are promising four days in a row of similar weather. However, yesterday it poured and poured and poured, and by the end of the day I could not contain my tears. It is hard to watch our yard and house get destroyed before our very eyes. I heard today that our area has had three times the normal rain and that the rivers are expected to remain high all summer. If that is the case, we will be guaranteed to flood again next year. Things just don't look good for being able to clean up our basement. More and more, we wonder whether we will have to literally build a brand new basement and move our entire house. I don't need to tell you how expensive that will be. I don't even know whether it's possible, seeing machinery could not even get in and out of here with all the water on the driveway.

Even our horses are somewhat in crisis, having run out of pasture and having very little hay left that is not ruined by water. It looks like we will have to move them very soon, but not sure where yet. We will likely have to send them away for the rest of the summer as it looks like we will not be able to do anything with them now that our whole round pen and much of our yard is underwater. The shallowest puddle on our driveway right now is more than ankle deep on me. I tested it this morning. Wow.

So, I guess this post is more of the same old same old. More water. More flooding. More discouragement on our part. I don't see how this is going to end well.

The boys are doing well still, in spite of it all. They have been playing very nicely all week so far, which is a huge relief to me. Cody even went outside this morning to build a sand castle. We certainly do have sand. I'm not ready to bail yet, but we may still need to evacuate again. I guess it depends how much rain we get on Sunday. Cody is out of school indefinitely. He may even miss his little "graduation" party. It's kind of sad, but he has not asked about school yet this week, so at least he is not complaining about it.

I guess that is the scoop for now. The one bright spot in my week is that Mike built me a very big book case in our room so I can have my books all on shelves again instead of in laundry baskets getting bent and crushes. Anyone who knows me knows how important my books are to me, and they were sitting on shelves in the flood water until a week ago. The books were on higher shelves so they would not get wet, but I was getting worried the water would soak up the book case back and into my books, and that they might get mouldy. Now I love seeing them all in my room, though they barely fit on the shelves because I have so many. He is going to build me another smaller one to go on another wall in our room. It will look like a library in here. Fun! That's probably why I feel like staying in my room all day. Going to post a picture or two of my shelves.

Here they are. I took this picture sitting on my bed. The door on the left is our bathroom and the door on the right is our normal bedroom door. Not everyone would want a whole wall in their room taken over by books, but I do! The ones that are in there haphazardly on their sides are courtesy of my boys. 

Now I'm off to face the rest of the day. Bye for now.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Back home, but yikes.

We are back home, for what it's worth. In a way it is good to be here, but our situation is not ideal. We are pretty much trapped here, though in an emergency we could get out. Leaving requires trekking through the horse pasture into the bush and loading the van in swarms of mosquitos that are so bad you can lose your mind in under a minute. Then once all the boys are in and belted it takes a good ten minutes to try to kill the hundred or so mosquitos that are inside the van looking for blood. I am not exaggerating. Then you have to drive off road through deep water just to get back onto the driveway on the other side of the really deep flood water. Once on the driveway, you face another deep lake almost immediately. Both are deep and long enough that by the time you reach the other side the vehicle is barely moving and you're hoping desperately you will not get stuck. Honestly, it is very gross.

When I arrived on Saturday I was very discouraged and wondered what the heck we were doing here. The house was fourteen degrees. Freezing. It was full of mosquitos and also full of dirty dishes and horrible mess all over the place. Mike obviously was not able to deal with the day-to-day stuff in the midst of all the disassembling of the basement and other flood-fighting activities. I don't blame him at all, but it was still very discouraging. The house smelled gross, but not mouldy, and I tried to turn our furnace on to get it a few degrees warmer and the furnace died. Seriously? Well, I guess if your furnace has to die, June is a good month for it to happen. I'm pretty sure it's the first time in history I begged Mike to turn the heat on in June. In fact, it is the first time in history I have not begged for the air conditioning to be on even once this "summer".

Feeding the horses this morning was absolute torture. Horse. Right, just one needed oats and that does NOT take long, but the mosquitos are so bad I was ready to scream. It was horrible. I looked around and all I could think was that this flood has taken our little piece of heaven and turned it into a little taste of hell. Yes, that is overly dramatic, but it is sad. Our normally beautiful place is ugly and overgrown because we cannot mow the lawn with several inches of water on it. The grass has got to be a foot high except for where we have temporarily fenced the horses for their sakes and ours. The damage to our house has gone way beyond the "hundreds of dollars" of damage that I was expecting a few weeks back and we will be way into the thousands by the time we get this all fixed. I hope we can get some disaster assistance or we are really going to be in some trouble. It might even be bad enough that we have to move our whole house, but we will cross that bridge when we get to it.

Anyway, having said that, it is nice to be back in our own beds. We are all sleeping better as a result, and even though my living room is now a train station with a huge Geo Trax track set up so I cannot even vacuum the carpet, the boys have been really good and they are having fun with the toys they have not seen in a long time. As long as they don't get really stir crazy and act out, we will do just fine here. There is more rain in the forecast, so things won't likely change any time soon.

I have to get Micah up now, as he is talking in his monitor. I have a roast in the oven and soon will start the potatoes boiling so I can make yummy mashed potatoes! It will be the first meal I have made since I got back here and I can't wait to eat it. Hopefully it turns out good! I'm off for now.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Day Four in Exile

Yesterday went all right. I did not take Micah to the doctor as his pink eye appeared to be clearing up. This morning, he looks pretty close to normal, so I am relieved to have one thing off my mind. Yesterday we went to Wal-Mart with the boys and got Cody some runners. We bought a few other things (my Mom came with me, or I would never have ventured in the store with all three boys.) Then we went to Toys R Us and let them each pick out a small toy to help lift their spirits a bit. Our intention was to take them to a play ground in the afternoon, but as it would happen, we were hit with a thunderstorm. Big shock there.

I found out last night that more and more rain has fallen at our home, so I cannot go back at this point. It is not possible to come in and out without trekking through the horses' pasture in a very roundabout route, so it does not make sense for me to be stuck there with all three boys. Mike is hoping to get some shale to build up the driveway so that is not an issue anymore, but it is unclear at this point whether anyone will be available to deliver any. If they cannot, I can't very easily live there with the boys even though Mike moved back in last night. It is good that someone is there to feed the horses, cats and dog, but I really hope we can go back soon.

Our night last night was pretty much a disaster. Micah, who is sharing a room with me, pretty much woke up ready to party at 1 a.m. or so. He was talking, singing, shouting "Mama!" and so on, and no amount of shushing would stop him. Jamie then woke up three times with nightmares. The second time I brought him into my room to share a bed with me, but Micah would not be quiet, so I finally had to put Jamie back in his own bed. He was up again shortly after that. My poor mom was up every time too, and the third time she pretty much laid on the floor beside Jamie's air mattress until he was calm enough to sleep. I couldn't easily leave my room or Micah would have a meltdown, making even more noise and potentially waking the entire house. Not that we weren't all awake already. Cody was the only one who slept through. We are all tired today. Micah is already sleeping and has been since about 12:35 p.m., and Jamie wants to nap but is so grouchy he keeps snarling at me whether I encourage him to sleep or get up.

We took them to a playground this morning, but we hope to take them to a really big new one this afternoon. It is a gorgeous day here today, which is nice. I am exhausted, but fairly relaxed today. It is hard not knowing when I can go home, but I'm glad the weather is nice so the boys can play outside. We bought them bubble stuff yesterday so they have been enjoying that in the yard. I'd love to lay down for a while, but my bed is in Micah's room, so I don't dare go in there lest he wake up. The other two would probably eventually find me too and barge in, also waking him up. Oh well.

There is not much else to report at this time. Hopefully things will get sorted out soon, but we will for sure be here tonight, and it is looking like there is a good chance I'll be here all weekend. Next week is a big blank so far. I will have to wait and see what happens. The boys are adjusting well and don't seem to be as freaked out as they were at first. I am far less stressed myself, though I am still upset, so I think they are more relaxed as a result. Guess I am off for now to find a quiet spot to work on my book. Might as well do that while I'm here! I did some last night finally, so I should be able to do more today. I will try to update again tomorrow.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Day 3

It is day three of the exodus. We are surviving. The boys are hanging in there and not too distraught. Micah is a bit out of sorts, but doing okay. He still has pink eye. This is day five of that. It seems to be getting better. Was going to take him to the doctor here, but their walk-in situation is weird. Like unavailable. Irritating.

Anyway, this has to be short. I don't know when we can go home. We wil be here tomorrow again, but not sure whether we'll be staying tomorrow night or whether we can go home sometime in the afternoon. It is hard for me to reach Mike these days, so I don't get very good updates on the situation at home.

It is nearly 5 p.m. and Micah is still napping soundly, so I am going to have to wake him now. I hope he will not be too upset. The only other thing I can say about our situation is that the rain keeps coming, so I am not sure what our chances are of beating this flood any time soon. It is wild. My heart goes out to those who have been evacuated that have no one to stay with or are really far from home. I know things are difficult for us right now, but they could be a lot worse, so I am trying to count my blessings. Gotta run and wake Micah. I'm off for now.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Exodus

Well, it has finally happened. We had to leave our house. The flooding continues to get worse, and our basement walls are growing mould at an alarming rate. Here are some pictures.

This is just a small area of the basement, but many walls were covered in this mould. I did some research and found out that not all mould that looks black is considered "black mould", as in the really deadly stuff. However, it looks like ours probably is. With the serious dangers of this type of mould, we felt the urgency to get out of the house right away. Mike's brothers came yesterday afternoon to help tear off the drywall. The plan was for me to take the kids away when the guys got there. 

Prior to that I was stuck because we were in the middle of yet another torrential downpour that lasted somewhere in the range of twelve hours. The "puddle" on our driveway, previously deep and rutty and difficult to get through, had become impassable. Cody had to stay home from school. Secretly, I believed I could make it, but Mike advised me not to. So I stayed home. I was busy packing anyway, preparing to go to my parents' place in the big city three hours away. I was stressed and at a breaking point. My stomach was sick as a result. I felt wretched. The boys were grouchy and awful. Oh, and aside from the insane amount of water pouring down from the sky, the winds were incredibly strong. It was miserable. The driveway went from way better worse than we've ever seen it in just hours. Here is a photo of how the driveway normally looks. 

This photo was taken on April 11th. Notice the ruts in the driveway. That is normal for spring. They usually get small puddles in them and get somewhat mucky for a few weeks. No big deal.

This is the same view yesterday. Please note, we NEVER have standing water in our yard. In a horrible down pour we sometimes get large puddles, but we live in the sand, so they disappear within hours afterward, or a day at the most. What we are seeing now is absolutely unheard of. I will also add that down the driveway where you see the giant lake, the water is up to the top of Mike's rubber boots. Over a foot deep. I would NEVER have gotten my van through that. Thank God I didn't try.

Here you can see the water in our yard is incredible, and almost meets up with the lake on the driveway. The yard was over six inches deep in many, if not most places. Unbelievable.

Above is a tricycle that I used as a rain gauge. This first one was taken at 8 a.m. Notice the water level compared to the middle of the tire. 

Three hours later, the rain is up by close to an inch. When I left with the boys a few hours later, the black center of the tire was almost completely underwater. 

Just to make things more interesting, the fence also went down and I had to wade through water that was deeper than six inches in places trying to put it back up. It's just a single strand of poly rope electric fence. I made sure I shut it off first. I hoped it would not go down again. I'm fairly certain the wind was the culprit. 

So I am at Mike's parents' place with the boys. I have a headache from lack of sleep. I just couldn't settle my mind last night so was awake until around 2 a.m. Today I will head to my parents' place. I have an appointment in half an hour with Cody at his school, so I have to sign off for now. I may not have internet at my parents' place, so not sure I'll be able to update this very well. Either way, we are surviving, but both Mike and I are very discouraged and upset. I don't know when I can go back home, but mould or no mould, I cannot get in and out with that much water in my way. I will update when I can.