Thank you Howard

It is the pattern of life for the Taylers that Howard works all day at Novell and then spends significant portions of his evenings and weekends working on Schlock and sometimes decompressing with movies or videos.  This means that the lion’s share of the childcare and housework is my job.  It is a division of labor so that we can jointly accomplish the things that are important to us both.  The major reason it works for me is that I know that any time I really need Howard he’ll drop everything to help me.  I’ve seen him do it time and again.  The knowledge lets me manage just a little bit more and hang on longer without help because I know that the moment I ask, he’ll drop his stuff and help me with mine.

All of this comes up because he’s doing just that for me in a big way twice this week.  Yesterday I hosted part of a garden party for the women’s organization in our church.  30 women in our neighborhood descended on our backyard to eat and visit.  I’ve been prepping the yard for this for a month now.   Inevitably yesterday arrived with a list of tasks still to-do rather than done.  Despite the fact that I told Howard I wasn’t counting on help from him, also despite the fact that he’s sick, Howard came home from work early and pitched in to help.  Because of his help the party went much more smoothly.  I was able to relax and enjoy the party because Howard took care of all the little things like directing traffic and keeping the water pitchers full.

Tomorrow morning Howard is again taking time off of work to drive me for my MRI.  He gets to sit in the lobby and be bored for an hour or more.  Then he gets to load his druggy wife into the car and drive her home.  Not a lot of fun for Howard, he’s got unpleasant memories of my past MRIs to dodge as well.

Both of these events combine to create a hit on the buffer right at the time when he is trying to get it back to a healthy level.  I know that adds stress to his life for which I feel really guilty.  And grateful.  Because I’ve really needed him this week and he’s been right there.  So I guess this entry is the best way I can think of to show him thanks.  I’m telling his friends what a great guy he is and how much I love him.

Thank you Howard!

Restless Night

There are some nights where it hardly pays to go to bed. I started my “repose” by taking a decongestant to kill the post-nasal drip. It did kill the drip, it also killed deep sleep. I’d lay there in bed thinking how hot it was and throwing off the covers and then wanting to snuggle up for sleep I’d pull them back on. Howard kept doing horrible things like rolling over in bed which woke me up.

Then Patches cried. Patches has been extruding slime from most of the orifaces in his head for days now. This has me pinning him down screaming while I remove the protective slimey coating with tissues. What with the slime I wasn’t surprised to hear him cry. So I went and got him and snuggled him into bed with me. Only Patches doesn’t snuggle, he sniggles. It’s halfway between a snuggle and a wiggle. He sniggled himself to sleep up above my head on my pillow pinning my arm underneath his lower half. Normally I can get sleep through this kind of thing, not with the Evil Decongestant though. As soon as he was solidly asleep, I carried him back to his crib.

I snuggled back into bed seeking more sleep. Then an uncertain amount of time later I heard shuffling steps run into the room and Gleek crashed into bed with me. She snuggled in til we were both comfy and then demanded a drink of water. I extricated myself, got the drink, came back only to have her lazily guesture that I should put it on the dresser in case she needed it. Grumbling I crawled back into bed and got comfy again. Comfy and HOT. Gleek was a little furnace. A furnace who demanded near total body contact. I snuggled her until she was drowsy and carried her back to her own bed.

The rest of the night gets kind of hazy. Link called me to get him a drink and to help find the stuffed toy that had gone missing since bedtime. Patches cried again, maybe twice, I’m not sure. Gleek called out for her water, I realized the furnace effect was because she had a fever, so I coaxed her (On threat of holding her down and forcing medecine down her throat) into drinking advil syrup as well. I think the Advil Syrup event was the final one because I don’t remember anything else until Howard got out of bed. Then nothing again until Howard called for help with the groceries that he was so wonderful as to get up early and go buy so I didn’t have to haul 4 kids to the store.

All in all, the only person in the house who DIDN’T wake me up last night was Howler. I find this highly amusing considering his name.

Boise Trip Report

I survived 10 hours of driving time with 5 kids in the car. I’m actually very surprised at how well it all went. I was sure that 3 hours into the trip Patches was going to decide he’d had enough of car and make life hell for the remaining two hours. Didn’t happen. Gleek didn’t have a tantrum. Kiki and Link didn’t whine. I did get to hear “Are we there yet?” to which I replied “You’ll know we are there when I pull up to a house and stop the engine.” When the question was repeated 10 minutes later I replied that I’d already answered that question and made Kiki repeat back to me my answer. I didn’t hear that question again. Yay!

The first hour after our arrival was pretty chaotic. Link had painful ears because they were clogged and we’d changed elevations. Then Kiki borrowed her cousin’s bike and ran into a mailbox. I was actually pretty pleased with my handling of that situation. She was flat on her back in a puddle crying with a crowd around her. No adult had seen the crash and so we had no clue as to its severity. I had Kiki lay still and carefully move each of her limbs demonstrating full function. This seemed to have a calming effect on her, by the time we were done she was able to stand up unassisted which assured me that there were no serious injuries. She did end up with some spectacular scrapes though. And the next day we had a talk about wearing helmets.

The rest of the visit was pleasant. I got to play Star Munchkin and Encore with relatives. Howard came up which made the weekend just about perfect from my perspective.

The kids negotiated an exchange and so I brought home Howler to play with Link while Kiki ran off to play with the female cousin her age. Despite his “lovingly applied” name bestowed by Howard, Howler made the trip home and today very pleasant. The kids are too busy having fun to bug me about stuff. Howler and Link are even letting Gleek play too, which is a relief. I thought I’d have to be calling around to find a friend for her.

Well, there it is. Not half so entertaining as I could make it I suppose, but I’m tired and laundry needs doing.

MRI preparation

Someday I’ll create an essay detailing the reasons I dislike having to find babysitting. The reasons range from fear of babysittorial incompetance to fear of being-a-bother. The annoyance factor increases dramatically if I don’t want to go to the event that requires my kids to be elsewhere. There is just no happy in making 6 phone calls to try to round up babysitting for 4 children so that I can be drugged and stuck into a claustrophobic MRI machine. Particularly when with every phone call I have to explain where I’m going, that it’s nothing serious just a routine check up, yes I have one every year, no I don’t think the tumor is back, no it wasn’t cancerous, yes that’s right two surgeries and radiation therapy, Oh, you’d love to help but Friday is busy, well thanks anyway. Repeat. Only I don’t want to. I want to spend the next 4 days in denial about that MRI and in NOT thinking about a very dark period in my life which seems to be over now except for the yearly MRI test which requires me to lie still, not swallow, and contemplate how I really, really, really never want to do any of that again.

I normally don’t mind talking about my medical experiences. They’re part of my life. I learned from them I wouldn’t wish to have not gone through them because I came out stronger. It’s the MRI I fear. The MRI with it’s ephemeral possibility that they’ll find a reoccurance of the tumor. I wouldn’t wish the experience UNdone, but I really really want it to be DONE.

Enough angsty rambling. Back to the phone with me.

Examining Moving Thoughts

I love my house and my yard. I have great neighbors. I’m really comfortable where I am, why does the thought of moving appeal to me?

Because moving means change and change might mean less stress for Howard. Either he can cartoon full time or maybe he took a less stressful job. In this case moving would be the symptom of the desired change.

Because I’m too comfortable. Comfort doesn’t promote growth.

Because I’d like to try something different. Change for the sake of change I guess.

Because if I move I might be able to get a new house that already has the things which this house lacks without having to wait for them.

Because the last time we had the house almost paid off and spent $10,000 fixing it up, we moved. Seems like time.

All of these reasons for moving to appeal have a counter balancing reason for me to NOT want to move. It is because the reasons against moving are so solid and weighty that I needed to examine the small peice of my brain that actually wants to move.

Just poking around inside my brain to see what is there.

Dreaming of houses

I drove back from Boise today.  It gave me 4 hours of opportunity to contemplate vast vistas of empty and compare it to my packed subdivision.  I really like my house and neighborhood and yard, but sometimes the place feels too crowded, so I entertained myself by creating a mental dream home.  Since I’m imagining this Cost is not an issue.

Start with a plot of land somewhere between 2 and 50 acres.  Howard once mentioned “thirty acres” so we’ll say 30 acres.  This 30 acres is no more than an hour from a metropolitan area which contains a Walmart and a resonably sized airport.  The thirty acres also contains a natural water feature, a lake or largish stream.

Most of the land will be left the way nature made it.  I might occasionally do something to generate habitat for wild critters, like create a marshland or plant trees, but mostly that land just needs to be there.  About 2 acres will be significantly rearranged to accomodate a house, flower garden, vegetable garden, aviary, Discgolf course, etc.  The house will be about 25 years old, but built lovingly and correctly.  The owners planted trees the first year they built the house and so there are beautiful mature trees on the lot.

The house has a big porch with an attractive view, it doesn’t have to be a vista, just nothing ugly.  The house itself doesn’t need to be huge.  The kids can share rooms if the rooms are large.  It has to have a room with big windows that Howard can use as a studio/office.  No more basement caves for Howard.  There needs to be a big dining area so all the family can come for the occasional big dinner.  An outdoor grilling area needs to be handy to the kitchen.  There needs to be a mud room for hosing off the children.  I want lots of cupboards that are attractively built into the house.  A garage or shed large enough for cars, bikes, lawnmowers, tools, projects, etc.

There must be a fenced play area near the house for little ones.  A larger wild/dirty place for older kids to dig and build forts and generally feel like they’ve got a place of their own.

As I think of it, most of the stuff that I’d really like would fit into 2 acres or less.  I just like the idea of making homes for wild critters.  Mostly I want a space that is big enough to feel alone in.

Anyway this is how I whiled away the time while the kids watched Dora the Explorer for the nth time.  I had to do something to not be bored to tears.

Kid Packing

I’m hitting the road again tomorrow. Howard can’t spare the time from work or Schlock and so I’m driving 4 kids 5 hours to Boise without adult assistance. I’m fairly certain there will be moments during the journey where I question the sanity of the endeavor. I’m also fairly certain that we’ll survive the experience.

The kids are all in favor of this trip. They get to go and see cousins. Link in particular has been excited. He’s spent all evening packing up his stuff. He approached packing with his typical 6-year-old creativity. His original plan dispensed with suitcases entirely. He had all his clothes and pajamas laid out. He intended to put them on in layers. Pajamas, clothes, pajamas, clothes. . . Then when it was time for bed he could just strip off the clothes and be already in pajamas. Morning time? Strip off another layer. Ta da!

He was so pleased with his brilliant plan that I kind of hated to burst the bubble. I pointed out that all the layers of clothes would make him really hot and that we could just put the extra clothes in a suitcase. His response was simply “Oh” but the expression and tone of voice conveyed that this solution hadn’t even occured to him.

Link then filled his school backpack with clothing. He then filled his other backpack with clothing. Since he still had shoes that wouldn’t fit he hauled out his great big duffel bag suitcase and put the shoes into that. Two small, stuffed backpacks and a huge, mostly empty duffel. He was ready. At my sugguestion, all of the clothes got moved into the duffel, one backpack was put away and the other was filled with toys for during the drive. Finally a packing solution that we’re both happy with.

Gleek packed by pulling out her duffel and emptying the entire contents of her dresser into it. (Patches clothes too.) All done!

Kiki carefully selected clothes based on some obscure criteria (whether the matched or not had nothing to do with selection). The clothes were placed in neat little bundles in her duffel along with her blanket, her alarm clock, half the books we own, and probably the kitchen sink for all I know. She’s going to have to haul that thing by herself.

In theory they’ll eventually be able to pack for themselves without providing me with amusment. For now I get to have funny with my packing stress.

Drug Benefits

I really understand the temptation to drug children for convenience sake.  Last night was one of those nights.  3 out of 4 kids awake between the hours of midnight and 2 am.  Two of the kids with worrisome illnesses which had me mentally prepping for emergency room visits.  By morning all was well, or at least recognizably settled into colds rather than more serious illnesses.  Gleek’s cough was still croupy though so I gave her some cough syrup to try to decongest her.

An hour later she’d reached that wide-eyed loopy state that makes drugged people so amusing.  I had to go get blood drawn for a test on me, Gleek had to come along for the trip.  She sat quietly in the chair next to me blankly staring at walls.  The person taking my insurance information turned to Gleek and said “Wow, you’re such a lady!”  I was really really tempted to answer “Yeah, it’s cause I drugged her.”  Usually the commentary I get about Gleeks behavior are along the lines of “Wow, she’s really active.” Or “You certainly have your hands full!” Or wordless gasps of dismay as Gleek engages in acrobatics that should surely end in injury or death but somehow never do.  “Docile” is not usually in Gleeks behavioral repetoire.

Yet, docile is the best word to describe Gleek during that lab visit. It was the most pleasant Errands-while-herding-Gleek I’ve ever had.  She walked holding my hand, when I stopped, she did too.  When I sat, she quietly sat next to me.  Hence the temptation.  Fortunately I understand that parenting isn’t about convenience.  The point of parenting is to nurture the development of the children.  Drugged children simply exist, they don’t develop and they don’t glow with joy.  Gleek is very very good at joy which is one of the reasons why I can put up with all the mad and contrary.

After the blood draw we returned to the car and Gleek crashed into a nap.  She awoke back to normal and all in all, I’m glad for that.

Archiving

I’ve just been perusing old journal entries and pondering the fact that having them exist only on someone else’s server makes me nervous. I don’t want a server crash to destroy them. Does anyone know of a way to easily archive Journals and commentary into a file so I can save them on my own computer? I can cut and paste into Microsoft Word, but it is tedious.

Peter Pan

This eveing I sat down and watched the live actor version of Peter Pan which came out last year.  The kids had never seen it before and neither had I.  The kids loved it.  Kiki and Link were entranced and giggling through the whole movie.  Gleek watched the first bit where Peter and the other kids fly and then spent the rest of the evening jumping off of furniture.  Patches was just glad to have everyone in the same place where he could climb on everyone equally.

I enjoyed the movie.  I can see why my kids love it.  But the movie makers got it wrong.  Most interpretations of Peter Pan get it “wrong”.  I’ve read the book.  It isn’t about Growing Up, it’s about being a kid.  Growing up is that little bit at the end where you have to step out of the stories and magic to pass them on to your children.

Peter is the quintessential child.  He is charming and spontaneous and mystifying and thoughtless and cruel and mischeivious.  He is younger than all the movies depict as well.  Every version I’ve ever seen shows him on the edge of puberty, the largest of the lost boys.  In the book he still has all his baby teeth.  He acts like a 6-7 year old. 

The movies are magical and each has it’s own message.  I especially enjoyed Hook with Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman.  But for me none of the movies truly capture the magic contained in the book.