Let the wild rumpus start!

The last time my parents and their five children gathered was Christmas of 1997. Since then, they’ve added two children (via marriage) and gone from one grandchild to nine.

On Saturday, Katie makes her First Holy Communion. Such an event was a perfect excuse to lure my parents (and my brother, Glenn) here from Florida, and that, combined with the occasion of their 40th wedding anniversary, was a good reason for my other siblings to travel from their far corners of the world (Ohio, California and Alaska).

One sister arrived on Tuesday. Last night, I picked up my other sister and her family at the airport. My parents called last night to report their progress, and they are due to arrive this afternoon. The last tendril of the family vine expects to leave Ohio this afternoon just as soon as work is over.

I’m so happy. We’re sure to have mischief of one kind or another.

I do have 6 or 7 (depending on the mood of the niece in Ohio) additional people sleeping at my home, which makes things crazier than normal. And the weather isn’t quite the way I’d like it to be (cold and rainy instead of warm and sunny). And I’m not sure if the water heater will accommodate the extra showers and loads of laundry. But it’s OK. It’s temporary.

At some point, everyone will sail back (over a year and in and out of weeks and through a day) to their own homes. And it may be quite some time before we are together again.
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What NOT to do

To avoid the swine flu, don’t do this:

My MIL sent this, and it made me laugh out loud.

So, it’s cold and rainy here (our brief summer weather is but a memory). I’m wondering when they’re going to cancel baseball. Will they give me a one hour warning? Ten minutes? Or will I drive all the way down before I find out?

Quick Pics

No time this morning. Did I mention my entire family is coming to visit this week? They begin arriving tomorrow!!

Saturday: Met Danielle Bean! Here’s my proof.

She gave a nice talk on avoiding burnout. Isn’t that something we all need to hear right about this time of year? I tried hard to not act like these women. I managed OK. I think I fooled her into thinking I was a calm person.
I only saw one other blogger, and she was from NY. Maybe they don’t blog in New Jersey?

Sunday: Here is how I know that Lent is over at my home:

Yesterday he exchanged his spent quarter keg for a 1/6 keg of something else. He’s not sure he’ll finish it before he goes. He’s planning on taking a month off work. I don’t think he’ll have any trouble.
This morning (and most mornings): Man vs. Squirrel

When he first started this, I was a bit upset. But he’s proven to me, time and again, that the BBs don’t kill the squirrels. It only makes them stand at a distance and chatter for a few hours before they come back for more bird food.
Have a great day!

Just Blond Enough

My husband is a pretty handy man. Any stereotypically “manly” job is well within his purview. If it involves hammers, screws, power tools, dirt, an element of danger, guttural noises, chest-thumping, blood, sweat or tears (note the blood part – it’s important later in the story), and multiple trips to Home Depot, I can count on him to attempt, and usually succeed, with the mission. Yes, years later, he will not let me forget how hard it was to tile the built-in shelves I had him make in the bathtub surround, but he did it, and he did it well.

I’ve known lots of women who claim that their husbands are not handy. I’ve always privately considered that they just didn’t care to try. And that their wives let them get away with it.

This is, though, a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

If a large, hairy spider were to greet me when I opened the shower door, I would squeal and run, quaking, to my brave soldier to defend and kill. If he were not home, as is often the case, I would calmly get a shoe and squash the bugger. I am only as brave as I need to be.

When it comes to stereotypical “women’s work,” my husband has managed to successfully fail at such chores. He could write a book: The Blond Man’s Guide to Avoiding Laundry and Other Household Drudgeries. Obviously, shrinking your wife’s cashmere sweater or turning all the whites pink, if done often enough with a doe-eyed “oopsie!” as your response, will likely result in your wife deciding you are too incompetent to be trusted with such tasks. It took me a few years to catch on to this trick.

If your highly intelligent husband takes three hours to prepare a “fast and easy” meal, if the sauce is burnt but the noodles are crunchy, if he uses every single pot in the cabinet and leaves a huge mess in the kitchen for you to clean, you may be tempted to give up on the idea of having him help out with meals on the night you have your women’s prayer group. Consider that it might just be a ploy.

If the baby’s diapers are on backwards or so loose that they leak, if the kids aren’t reminded to brush their teeth or they go to bed with dirty faces, if the question, “Where is the baby?” is met with a blank stare or, worse, “The 4 year old is watching her,” you might think the angst isn’t worth the break. That might be what he’s trying to make you think.

As I said, though, I’m on to him. I’ll do the laundry, I’ll do the cooking. I’ll clean. But sometimes, like yesterday, I just have to get away. And that’s when a dad has to be a dad. I know that he would never do anything to harm or endanger the children, so I have to let go of my standards of healthy eating, cleanliness and uses of time. If the kids watch TV all day long because their father lets them, so be it. If they eat candy, drink from the dog’s water bowl, and go to bed with dirty feet, it won’t kill them.

If all else fails, goes the excerpt from Bill’s future book, and the wife still trusts you with child-care, you may have to take extreme measures. For example, while the children are playing, decide it’s time to tackle those heavy vines climbing on and destroying the trees in your yard. Get to work with a sharp knife, cutting and pulling and wrestling them off the trees. At some point, “accidentally” slash open your leg badly enough to require an emergency room visit for cleaning and dressing the wound, a tetanus shot, and a prescription for antibiotics. Be sure the friendly neighbors are home so you aren’t stuck dragging all the kids with you to the hospital. I guarantee that the wife will think twice before planning a non-local day trip or a weekend away from the kids without you.

Note: this blog post is husband-approved, although, in his defense, he said he made macaroni and cheese for lunch yesterday and grilled burgers (home-made by him) for dinner. I have also taken liberites and used hyperbole in describing things he might have done to get out of housework. I still think he should write a book, but it would be tongue-in-cheek. I think he’s a great husband and father and would never risk him denying me a day off by seriously criticizing his caretaking.

Let them eat eggs

I don’t normally buy sugary cereals for my kids. That stuff is so unhealthy. Instead I encourage them to eat homemade waffles and pancakes…

…drenched in cheap “syrup” whose #1 ingredient is corn syrup, followed by high fructose corn syrup

…and generously topped with spoonfuls of powdered sugar…

…and, if they are lucky, on top of that, they may get some whipped cream straight from the aerosol can…

(my kids are all set to work at IHOP).

But I promised them, since I had coupons, and it was Easter, I would let them each pick out a box of cereal at the store.

That stuff is expensive, especially considering I could have bought 2-1/2 boxes of Bisquick for the same price…

…and fed them pancakes every day for a month…

…and this stuff will last a week…

(if I’m lucky).

Chocolate Lucky Charms (blech). Who thinks of these things? I would rather eat Dove bars with my morning cuppa. I seriously think it would be healthier.

Teacher Inservice Day

I told Bill I needed four days.

Two days at home in June without kids to go through the syllabi for next year, make my weekly plans, and physically organize the schoolroom. I can’t effectively do that while changing diapers, breaking up squabbles, and cutting PB&J sandwiches into crustless circles.

Two days to mentally prepare for next year by attending homeschool conferences. In June, I’ll go to the IHM Conference, which is local to me. I’m waiting for the schedule to come out so I can plan which day I’ll go.

This Saturday, I’m heading up to Jersey for the CHAPLET Homeschool Conference. I hope to see some old friends there, and maybe meet some new ones.

Anybody else heading to either of these conferences?