Monday, March 26, 2012

The Slumber Party From - Well A Much Warmer Place

It was time for Renee's ninth birthday and she wanted a slumber party.  Sure, no problem, how hard can this be.  It's been so long ago I don't really remember how many little girls were invited, but having lived through it I have come to understand that more than one nine year old overnight female guest is one too many.

The party started about seven with hamburgers and snacks which they ate politely and even helped me clean up.  Then they all retired to the family room downstairs where I was sure they would behave like little angels and do each other's hair, paint their fingernails, and quietly talk about boys, school, and all the snobby girls that had not been invited.  Oh, the lesson I was about to learn.

This group of nine year old girls were apparently not into nail polish and new hair dos.  They were more into eating too much and summoning spirits from the - well a much warmer place.  Along about the time I decided I needed to check on this group of future Ghost Whispers they had eaten more popcorn than a nine movie cinema and were sitting on the floor in a circle chanting like they were howling at the moon.  It could, of course, have been moaning and groaning from the half a pound of butter and tub full of popcorn and bowls of birthday cake and ice cream each of them had consumed.

It took me all of two seconds to grab Renee by the shirt collar and let her know that not only was this activity totally inappropriate but I was sure her father, the preacher, would have her hide - and mine as well.  I managed to get them pointed in another direction, but only after tangling with the ring leader who was immediately angry and tried to climb out the upper basement window to go home.  It wasn't that I didn't want her to climb out the upper basement window and go home, but I figured if she was this angry at nine, what must her parents be like and I knew I would have to deal with them if that were to happen.

At this point I knew it was going to be a long night.  So after a kazillion games of Clue, Old Maid, and I Spy the girls started dropping like flies.  All of them that is but angry ring leader and a neighbor girl with the most upsettest tummy I had ever seen - or had emptied on my favorite jeans. 
About nine o'clock the next morning angry ring leader came up to breakfast and over a plateful of pancakes decided I wasn't such a bad person after all.  Upsettest tummy decided she could also eat again, although she wasn't too happy that I limited her to three pancakes.

Someday Renee's two younger sister's may get to have a slumber party of their own - maybe.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fire Drill

Apparently, after the fire that Eddie, Jr. thought was so cool, his teacher thought that was a really good reason to teach fire safety to her students.  She even brought in a fireman.  Eddie paid attention.  For months afterwards he was our expert on exposed electric cords, lit candles, and leaving pans on the stove.  I have to admit I was impressed with the little guy - and thoroughly irritated at the same time.

After school was out that summer my twin nephews came to visit.  They are six months older than Eddie.  Not to be outdone by his older and wiser cousins, Eddie decided he should teach them proper fire safety and set about to plan a usable escape plan.

I was sitting in the living room visiting with my sister when we noticed the three young adventurers come in the front door and run up to Eddie's room.  Lost in talking about various family members and old school mates, my sister and I barely noticed when the boys repeated the same routine a few minutes later.  We come from a very big family so sis and I had a lot to talk about and weren't paying much attention when this happened several more times.  Now we are reasonably good mothers, so it did finally dawn on us that while we were seeing the boys come in the front door we weren't seeing them go out the door.  She went to the front yard and I went to the bedroom - just in time to see one twin jump out the window and grab the other one before he made the same escape.  I arrived back in the living room just as my sister was dragging the other two doomed suspects in the door.

Seems our future "firemen" decided the proper escape route was to jump out the bedroom window (fortunately it was a split level so it wasn't a full second floor fall) and they were having so much fun they just kept doing it.  Unfortunately for them, they spent the rest of the visit sitting on the couch - listening to the mama and auntie discussing the pitfalls of misbehaving!

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Fire

Early one morning, one of those mornings when I was sleeping soundly (which is really rare), we were suddenly awakened by loud pounding on our front door.  Great, I thought, I have two more hours before I have to get up and some idiot thinks they can come for a visit.

So Edward jumped up and ran to the door.  Good thing he did because our garage was on fire.  I grabbed my robe and ran for the kids.  I found three.  I could not find Lynlie what had run into our room to find us.  Once outside I could hear the sirens coming round the corner.  A neighbor, wife of the man who pounded on our door, came over and took the kids.  Edward and I stood as firemen put out the flames and other neighbors gathered to make sure we were okay.

And okay we were.  The fire was contained to the garage - where alas we lost poor old George, the moose head - and most of the things we lost were old, useless, unnecessary, and replaceable!

Edward and I got the older children ready for school, fed them breakfast and watched them as they walked down to catch the bus - but not before Eddie, Jr. made one of his most memorable statements - "I can't wait to get to school and tell everybody about the neat thing that happened to us this morning".  Out of the mouths of babes.

Once the yellow bus pulled away, we trekked back into the smoke-smelling house and began the tasks of cleaning up all the charred wood, old luggage, and George pieces.  We threw away some of those old rusty nails Edward had brought from the old house and about two hundred dollars worth of melted Tupperware.  I lost an old Easter bonnet and Edward shed a tear or two over what was left of the new shelving he had built (to hold his tools and those old rusty nails).

After bathing the children and getting them in bed, then showering away all the grimy filth that covered my body, I sat down beside Edward to talk about rebuilding the garage and how to get the insurance company to replace my old Easter bonnet and what we would declare an honest value for old George.  It was then that I began to sob - "We had a fire.  We could have all been killed."  Edward put his arm around me, "I've been waiting for this all day.  I knew it was just a matter of time". 

I am not the strongest of people and my survival skills were minimal back then, but I did learn something that day.  I can be counted on in a crisis, but you'd better watch out when it is over because I am going to fall apart. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Today is St. Patrick's Day (so obviously I am fast forwarding again).  I think I am Irish, at least a little bit, so I should be celebrating.  However, I do not drink so that is out.  I just realized I am not wearing green today so I may get pinched like the kids do in grade school.  I am too old and too tired to throw a big party.  So I guess, for this St. Paddy's Day at least, I must be content with my memories of Ireland.

Four years ago this month we made our one and only trip to Ireland.  We loved it.  We want to go back someday.  We want to see all there is to see in Ireland. 

We have many happy memories of our short trip.  Traveling with my sister and brother-in-law and cousin and her very funny hubby.  Eating fish and chips in local pubs.  Finding a souvenir wine glass lying along a path (free souvenirs are great).  Visiting all the castles, especially Blarney Castle, even though a bad knee kept me from kissing the Blarney Stone. 

One of my hopes when we went to Ireland was seeing a leprechaun.  I know, they are fictional creatures, but I just wanted to say I saw a little short guy in a green suit and a funny hat.  I came close while looking over a bridge when a little man in a black suit came up to me trying to explain why a long-legged bird was able to remain standing in a spill-way under the bridge.  Only problem was this little guy spoke only Gaelic and, well I was having enough trouble with the normal Irish brogue. 

However, my hopes were granted at the airport waiting to board for our trip home. A little short man, trying to pass through the check point, was setting off all kinds of alarms. He was wearing an Irish sweater and beret type Irish cap, and carrying a gnarled black Irish cane,. He was trying to convince the TSA's that he did indeed need that cane, he could not possibly walk without it. When they took it away he grabbed the sides of the metal detector, thus the alarm blaring everywhere. So finally, convinced they were going to have an old man falling down and suing them, they let him pass, gave him back his cane, and sent him on his way.

It was only when I was completely out of sight of all the airport personnel did I stop and wait for my dear hubby who was so afraid they would take away his precious, newly purchased Irish cane. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Infirmary

Shortly after our move our oldest daughter Renee, then in second grade, brought home an unexpected surprise - Chicken Pox.  I was thrilled - to say the least.  Renee had a total of sixteen spots on her entire body.  She never felt bad and was hard to keep in bed.  Two weeks later Eddie came down with them.  Two weeks later Lynlie came down with them.  Two weeks later Elizabeth came down with them.  Spots, to this day, give me shivers.

Eddie and Lynlie had lots more spots than Renee, but poor baby Elizabeth had a hundred times more than all three of them combined.  To make it even worse, she was cutting teeth at the same time.  She wanted to be held all the time and if she fell asleep and I laid her down, she screamed like a banshee.  I cooked with her in my arms.  I cleaned with her in my arms.  I dressed the other children with her in my arms.  I even slept in a rocking chair with her in my arms.

Back in those days they had long sleeved undershirts for babies and you could fold the sleeves over their tiny little hands so they couldn't scratch themselves.  Scratching chicken pox tends to leave scars and I didn't want that.  She was so cute when she rubbed her little sleepy eyes with her mittened hands.  She was not so cute when she banshee screamed when I laid her down.  So we rocked and she slept.  We rocked and she cooed.  We rocked and she pooed.  We rocked and I changed diapers.  We rocked and she ate.  We rocked for two solid weeks before the spots were gone, the teeth were through, and she was content to sleep in her own bed. 

Just about the time things settled down and we were free of the chicken pox and I thought my nursing days were over for awhile, guess who came down with a cold.  I couldn't breathe.  I couldn't lay down.  I couldn't stand up without getting dizzy.  So for the next two weeks I rocked and I rocked. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Moving Day

It was hard to leave our home and fifty-two acres in the country.  There were so many reasons to stay.  There was one reason to leave - snakes.  By now you know Edward hates snakes - the rest of us followed his lead.

So between building the new house and having a baby we managed to pack up our belongings and prepare to move a family of six and all their belongings.  No easy task but knowing their was always a possibility of finding another snake in our basement was all the motivation we needed.
We gathered all the family and friends we had who were under sixty and packed up a moving van and every pickup we could find.  It was wonderful.  By nightfall we were all exhausted and various members of the moving crew were dropping like flies.  There were still beds to be made and babies to bathe.  So I feed our voluntary crew and sent them on their way, wishing I could keep them all for the next few weeks to help sort boxes and organize a new life.      

Alas, it was me who unpacked those boxes, put away towels and pans and lots of memories.  I left the garage for Edward.  Those boxes were his responsibility, especially when I realized he had packed up half a moving van of rusty nails and tools too old to be much use but not quite antique quality.

So here we were, sleeping soundly in new rooms, cooking meals in a kitchen much smaller than I was used to, and not doing laundry on a cold closed in back porch.  However, the best part of all of this was not having to worry about coming face to face with SNAKES! 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

When Houses Attack

Okay, so it wasn't the smartest thing we have ever done but I am sure if we stopped to think about it we could probably find a few things dumber - but not many.

About a week after Elizabeth was born we decided to make a trip to see the progress on the new house.  It was what they called a split-level dwelling.  The living room, kitchen, and garage were on one level and up a few stairs to the left of the living room were three bedrooms and a bath.  To the left of the kitchen and down a few stairs were another bedroom, the family room, laundry room, and another bath.  It is this part that got us into trouble. 

Elizabeth was tucked into her car seat sitting in the emptiness of the kitchen and the other three were exploring the upper level - still delusional enough to think they could have anything they wanted for their bedrooms.  Edward and I took the few steps to the lower level and found about a kazillion sheets of drywall stacked against one wall and an almost equal number of doors and windows against the other wall which made for a very narrow walkway between.  Here is where the dumb part comes in - we walked down that narrow passage.

We had gotten about halfway when we heard a rumble and turned to see the drywall slip and before we knew it we were pinned against the doors and windows, me facing one way and Edward's nose against a door.  I don't think even the two of us could have pushed out way out and there was no way I could move that drywall all by myself.  So we did what any self-respecting victims of drywall smashing would do, we screamed.  The children came running, but no one else.  Finally reason took over and we stopped screaming and calmed the children down as best we could.

When we realized no one was around to hear us so we sent two and half year old Lynlie to sit by baby Elizabeth who was now crying and convinced Renee and little Eddie they needed to go for help.  Now I am sure you are all wondering why we didn't just use our cell phones - THEY HADN'T BEEN INVENTED YET!

About fifteen minutes later they came back with help - a couple of seven year old boys playing football in field nearby.  I am sure they only came because Renee convinced them because I knew Eddie well enough to know he just wanted to stay there and play football with them.

It took awhile but the boys and I managed to push one sheet at a time off of us so Edward could get out and fix the stack so it didn't topple again.
We thanked the boys and sent them on their way and we scrambled out of their as fast as our feet would carry us.  We didn't go back until we were assured the walls were all in place.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Saving The Hardest For Last

When you wake up your husband in the middle of the night and say, "Honey, its time", he's supposed to jump up and get all excited, throw the dog in the car, put out the suitcase, and in general go completely idiot-like knowing he is about to become a new daddy.  Not Edward, he just groaned, rolled over and went back to sleep.  So I got up, showed, dressed, pulled three sleepy toddlers from their warm beds, packed their clothes, packed the car, let the dog out, and then tried again to wake up the soon to be new daddy.

By this time the sun is beginning to rise and he is coherent enough to understand that not only are we about to have a baby, I have been in labor for several hours, and this is our FOURTH CHILD!  So he jumps out of bed and becomes all idiot-like looking for the suitcase, the dog, and three missing toddlers. 

We drop the children off at his brother's house and drive another forty-five minutes to the hospital only to find my doctor is on vacation in Ireland and I am put in the care of another obstetrician that I have neither seen nor heard of before.  I go to the labor room, hubby heads to the waiting room (where I am sure he napped), and Elizabeth, our soon to be new addition, rolls the wrong way, becomes stubborn and will not cooperate (signs of things to come?).   

For the next eight hours I walk, sit down, stand up, lay down, roll from side to side, beg, plead, and do everything I can to convince this little one to roll over.  Nothing doing and she made her appearance with a smug little smile on her face as if to say, "Nobody tells me what to do".  And to this day, nobody has. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The New House And The Blimp

So with the new baby coming we decided not only that we needed a new house but that we needed to actually build a new house.  They say that having children and building a new house are really hard on a marriage and we were silly enough to believe we could handle both at the same time. 
Hormones rage during pregnancy.  Delusions of grandeur rage when you are building a house.  Homicidal ideations rage when you are pregnant and building a house.  I quickly found out I had champagne taste on a beer pocketbook - or in my case as a fundamentalist Baptist preacher's wife, Perrier taste on a tap water pocketbook.  So every time I showed up requesting another closet or switching a room from one side of the house to another, my contractor would just smile and say sure, have your husband give me a call.  Every time I asked my husband to upgrade to granite counter tops or gold bathroom fixtures, he'd just say sure, just call the contractor - who would then say sure, have your husband give me a call.  I was at the point of murder, and I was going to claim insanity - theirs not mine.

Along about the time I realized what I was up against and that I was not going to get anything I asked for, I'd reached my due date.  I decided I would make one last trip to see the new house before delivery so we packed a picnic lunch and piled the other three little ones into the car and headed to what would soon be our new home. 

We finished eating and the kids spent some time running from room to room listing all the things they wanted for their rooms (they were more like their mama than I thought), and hubby pulled out the movie camera to add to his video diary of the new house.  I had just finished packing up the food when he called me outside.  I lumbered my way down the makeshift steps, across the unsodded front yard and looked up to see what he was filming.  There making its way across the sky was the Goodyear Blimp like it was announcing to the world that we were coming to town - well, actually it was proclaiming the opening of a new tire dealership but I was still in that delusions of grandeur stage.

Months later when we were in the new home and watching the completed video diary, I noticed that day's section was labeled "The New House and The Blimp".   I thought that was pretty special (back in those days you didn't often get to see a blimp) that is, until I saw the video - all kinds of pictures of the house and the kids playing and then there I was - big as the side of a barn - and no sign of the Goodyear Blimp anywhere! 

(My apologies to all of you who have been reading my blog.  I have been a little slow with additions lately.  I have just had my second knee replacement and while I am doing quite well, I am not as young as I used to be - my doctor's words - and some days I am too tired to write.  I hope as I improve I will soon be back to my daily ramblings.  Thank you for understanding.)