Friday, October 18, 2013

What does it take to be a good housewife? I'm not necessarily talking about the role of a wife. I'm talking about the job of a housewife. As a job, it entails certain duties, which vary from person to person. For example, some housewives have kids, some do not. A "house mom" has a whole new set of duties to perform, so in essence, she is working two jobs at once. Aside from taking care of the kids, the housewife's most important function is to keep the house clean, isn't it? That is my perception, anyway.

That being said, if I were being paid to do this job, I would be fired. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely rock the rest of my housewife duties, but the cleaning...well, I just don't seem to be any good at it. Come to think of it, the cooking is also a serious lack in my housewife resume. That leaves...well...I'm especially good at laundry. Really, I am. In the last 48 hours, I have done seven loads of laundry. Maybe more, but I can only remember seven for sure. And I made supper last night. Yay me.

Here's where I have a big problem. My dishwasher died. As of yesterday morning, my dishwasher became useless, other than to pose as a very spacious and convenient dish rack. That means every dish that we use will have to be washed by hand. This is a problem for me. I don't really hand wash dishes...ever. Okay, that's not true. I do, but only the ones that absolutely are not dishwasher safe. Now, I have to hand wash everything. That means I will be spending way more time doing dishes than I normally do, and normally I have a hard time keeping up with the dishes. It also means my hands are going to crack and bleed. No, I don't have any rubber gloves in the house, believe it or not.

Maybe I never mentioned it in here, but I spent six weeks in a laundry slump because our washing machine was broken. That was finally fixed about a week ago and now my dishwasher is gone. This is a housewife disaster. What if the dishes stack up in the kitchen until we have nothing left to eat off of? What if I get fired? Too dramatic? Maybe. I probably won't get fired, and I won't let the dishes stack up that high, but I am not looking forward to facing this particular challenge. Yesterday I kept up, until supper time, but Lauren spent much of my dishwashing time crying by my legs. And she is now crying again. She just woke up. Guess it's time to get things started. I would say thank goodness it's Friday, but Fridays are the same as any other day around here. The weekend will not magically produce a functioning dishwasher in my kitchen. In fact, it will produce more dishes, because all six of us will be here all day. I think they should invent a new reality TV show. I can be called Housewife Survivor.  I would be the first to be voted off the island. Or the island counter. Happy Friday, everyone.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Adventures on Horseback

My dreaded day last Friday was not as bad as I had anticipated. Jamie was only sick for a few hours in the morning, and had only the one incident, so there was no cleanup involved at all, and nobody else caught it. I consider all of those things miracles, and I am extremely grateful. We were able to go to my family's Thanksgiving celebration after all, and we even hit Mike's family's Thanksgiving on our way home that same day. All in all, it was a good long weekend, and ended with another trail ride on Maybelline on Monday.

Did I mention I have been riding Maybelline on the trail these last several weeks? Honestly, I have become addicted to riding her, and I often even dream about her because I am enjoying it so much. Our last ride, however, was a little more eventful than I like. We came across some water on the trail. One of us, whose name shall remain anonymous, decided we should go through the water. No big deal, and it would be good for the horses. For those of you who don't ride, or have very little horse experience, a lot of horses object to going through water on the trail, particularly when they are not used to doing so. Me being a chicken, I had no desire to push Maybelline through a potentially scary situation, though I have been getting braver in that respect. Pushing a horse into something that scares them can cause them to react, and a reaction was what I hoped to avoid. I didn't know what Maybelline would do, though I suspected she might put on the brakes, or go backwards, or even buck if I tried to force her in. But I confess, I also had my own personal reservations about entering the water. The black lab that was with us was up to his belly in the water, and I secretly suspected it was far deeper than we realized. However, I was not in the lead.

Our fearless leader forged ahead, and I followed closely behind. Maybelline was tentative, but willing, and she began stepping through the water at the edge of what I now call "the swamp". There was much splashing, and a terrible sucking sound as she pulled each hoof out of the deep mud under the water with each step we took. Within seconds, we were in well over her knees and I was getting scared. Every step was a huge effort, and her body was struggling quite violently to progress. By now, we all knew we were in trouble, but it was too late to turn back. Maybelline was in past her belly, and I had abandoned all hope of steering her, or directing her in any way. I gripped the saddle horn with both hands and hoped she wouldn't dump me in the swamp as she tried to thrust her body forward to get unstuck. After a while, I couldn't get her to move at all. My feet were in the water, and I was terrified we were going to sink in there, never to be seen again.

I was very close to the edge when my other sister (okay, I was with my two sisters, but I still won't name names!) called out that her horse was stuck. I turned around, and then I was really scared. She was riding the biggest of the three horses, and her horse was stuck indeed. She was up to her chest in the water and it was apparent by the angle of her body that at least one of her legs had buckled underneath her and she was partly laying down. My poor sister had to dismount in the water. Did I mention it was quite cold that day? I was wearing a winter jacket, and the sun stubbornly refused to shine.

After Maybelline had caught her breath and rested for a while, still stuck, I urged her on and was able to steer her out of the bog to safety on the other side. I was the only one out at that point. I was nearly in tears, thinking poor Phoenix was going to die in the muck. Has anyone seen the movie "The Neverending Story"? Well, if you haven't, there is a scene where a horse dies in a horrible swamp, and sinks right down into the water. That was all I could think about when I saw Phoenix, unmoving in the deep water.

Of course, Phoenix was not in this deep. More than half of her torso was out of the water, I think, but it was scary nonetheless. Maybelline was shaking, on the other side, and wanted to start walking away from that place. I let her a little, but didn't go too far. Before long, both of my sisters and their horses were safe on solid ground again. Phew! It was very dramatic and scary, though we did laugh about it quite a bit afterward. None of us were in mortal danger, but we felt bad for the poor horses. They all did very well though, and none of them panicked, even when they were badly stuck. 

It is looking like that was probably my last ride of the season, as the weather is turning, and my sister is too pregnant to realistically continue much longer anyway. It has been a great summer and fall for riding and horsing around, and I am kind of dreading the next several months of not riding at all. Next year, I will start much earlier, and hopefully will get in more time on the trails. We only did six trail rides this year, but we did a ton of ring work and ground work, and Maybelline and I have developed the beginning of a real partnership. I couldn't be happier about it! 

And now, I am going to try to enjoy a quiet evening by myself. Mike is out tonight. I am far from alone, with all four kids "sleeping" in their rooms (I really hope they are all sleeping by now) and even one cat and one dog in the house. I hope the evening and the night will be quiet ones, as there has been a lot of unrest lately. Lauren has a bad cold and got two molars last week, and the boys have all had nightmares, for some reason, so my sleeps have been pretty pathetic and I am feeling it very strongly. So I'm off to relax, hopefully. Bye for now.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Dreaded Day

This is the kind of day I dread. In fact, I have been dreading this day for longer than I can calculate, though I suspect it has been well over a year. This morning, Jamie threw up. Anyone who knows me, knows that I have an extreme (and irrational) fear of throwing up, and of my kids getting stomach bugs.   When I was pregnant with Lauren, my fear was especially big, because I was so afraid of losing her. We were exposed to many stomach bugs, and one in particular was extremely bad. But by some miracle, I didn't get sick. In fact, none of us did. And now, it has finally caught up to us. Oddly, I am not in a state of panic, like I normally would be under these circumstances. I truly hope and pray that this will not spread to the rest of the family. I am particularly worried about Lauren, being so small still, and about myself, because if I get sick I can't take care of Lauren. (The boys would survive a day with me in bed, though they would likely wreck the house.)

To add to the mood, it is storming outside. Lightning, loud thunder, and torrential downpours. It is dark outside, and I have all the lights on in here. Still, my mood is surprisingly upbeat. This makes me very thankful. It does look like we will be missing our family Thanksgiving, though, which is disappointing. At least it is Friday, so Mike will be home later and I don't have to face a week of this by myself. Micah is insisting on playing with Jamie in their room, so he is somewhat doomed. Jamie is obviously not feeling too terrible. Another plus.

If not for the sickness, I would actually be enjoying this gloomy weather quite thoroughly. I am loving the thunder. And it feels nice and cozy in the house. Hopefully we will not lose power today. I don't have much else to update in here. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

To the Brink...and Beyond!!!

When long periods of time pass without a post in this blog, you can count on one of two things. Either I  am very busy, or my boys are very busy. Everybody is busy in this corner of the world. That is a known fact. Yes, I have even been spending a great deal of time riding Maybelline, which has been amazing. For three months now I have been out there on average twice a week, which may not sound like much. But with a 40 minute drive each way, and four kids to leave behind every time, it is amazing that I have been able to do that. I have now ridden Maybelline out on the trail five times, and it has been wonderful. There is nothing in the world like riding your horse through the fields and the golden forests in the fall. Nothing. So I am incredibly grateful for that blessing in my life. I could write a ton just about that, but I have only a short time left before all three boys spill off the school bus and explode into this quiet house.

Busyness, at times, does keep me from this blog. But the second reason is more often the culprit. When I mentioned my boys being busy, I didn't mean with activities or school. I was talking about their specialty, which is mischief. That word just doesn't pack enough of a punch to really describe what I am talking about, but if you have followed my blog for long enough, you know my boys go beyond ordinary trouble. I am at a complete loss for words to describe the level see? There isn't even a word for it. Let's just say that I often really feel like I am losing my mind. When the boys get into extra deep trouble, sometimes I can't bring myself to blog about it because I am too genuinely upset. I don't deny that they provide many amusing and shocking stories for me to share, but despite the element of humour in the stories, in the moment it can be horrible. There have been a lot of those moments in the last several weeks. Perhaps that is why I have opted not to share in here.

Last night, for example, I was sweeping the brand new flooring at the entrance downstairs. If you would like to see a picture of it, check out the post called "The summer in review". As I swept, I noticed something on the floor that the broom was not catching. I examined it more closely and I could not get it unstuck from the floor. It looked metallic. Like a staple. I called Mike over and we examined it together. It WAS a staple. From a staple gun. Realization set in, and we searched the rest of the floor. More staples had been shot in and were protruding from the floor. Mike had to remove them with pliers, but each one left a sharp flaw in the floor. It's not real wood, you know. It's not laminate either. I can't remember what it's called. Vinyl plank, I think. Either way, it's ridiculously expensive, and now, in my estimation, it is ruined, a mere eight weeks or so into its existence. I confess, I have not searched that entire section of floor for more staples yet, as Mike has some stuff sitting there that I can't use.

You may be horrified, as I am, and you may wonder how this happened. How did they get a hold of a staple gun?? Yes, it is awful. Yes, we are bad parents. What I found out later that night, was that Mike had indeed left the staple gun out. However, please hear me when I say that normally, all tools are locked inside our storage room. We keep it locked. Now here's the best part. The boys pick the locks. I am not kidding you. It's some kind of a game to them, or a joke, or a delightful challenge, I don't know. But there is no lock that can hold them out. So far, anyway. We have two storage sheds outside. One is made of wood, and now has a combination lock keeping it secure. So far, they have not been able to breach it, but one of them in particular is determined to try. The other storage "shed" is actually one of those tent things, so there is no keeping them out of it. They have ripped open every bin inside there, and have even spread documents over the old driveway, which we discovered the other night when we went for a walk out there. It is enough to drive a person to the very brink, or maybe even over. I have asked Mike to please put up an electric fence around that tent shed. I was NOT kidding. Apparently, the shock would hurt them, but not do any damage, so I'm all in. When I told the kids about it, one of them just grinned and said he would just go over the fence. (I won't say which one, but there is one who is the catalyst here.)

Bad parents. Yes. You may wonder, "How can you let them get away with that?" I wonder the same thing. But they get consequences every single time. We have tried just about every consequence we can imagine, and nothing seems to work. I am more than seriously tempted to call off Christmas this year. (I was already tempted, but the flooring incident really snapped something inside me.) I have often thought of the Super Nanny, and wondered what she would do with my boys. The truth is, I have already mastered the "naughty chair", or the time out chair, as we call it. But it's simply not harsh enough to motivate them not to violate the rules anymore.

Anyway, Lauren is now wailing hysterically from her crib, so I guess this post is over. I guess lack of time on my part does play a role in my very infrequent posting. If anyone has any magical parenting formula that will solve all of my problems, please let me know as soon as possible.