There and back again

Picture one minivan, one parent, four kids 9 and under, and a three hour drive. It was nowhere near as bad as you are picturing. I’m very fortunate in that my kids tend to be introverted and capable of entertaining themselves quietly for extended periods of time in a very small space. Of course 3 hours is a real stretch for the 3 year old and the 1 year old, but fortunately they nap.

So Friday had a 3 hour drive followed by several hours of 9 kids tearing through a 4 bedroom house. The kids and their cousins were glad to see eachother. Fortunately the house also has a fenced backyard. The back yard contains a very large garden patch which had just been rototilled. (ominous music would be appropriate here.) When 3 year old Gleek was finally herded into the house after the sun went down she announced “I LIKE that sandbox!” Baths for everyone were in order.

The next day had 3 adults loading 9 kids into two vans to go and sight see. We stood outside and saw a geyser go off whilst being drizzled upon by rainclouds. We had our picnic indoors on the carpet of a visitor center because no one wanted to get even colder and wetter while trying to eat. By the time we were done eating the rain had stopped so we reloaded cars with dripping wet kids (Puddles!) and headed for a local soda spring and park. The spring was kind of cool to see, but the kids really loved the playground. It had full size teeter totters of the kind that have been banned from parks everywhere as being totally unsafe. The kids loved them and with three grown-ups to help no one got hurt. It began to rain again so with totally escapable logic we decided to head for the last site on the itinerary a cave.

The cave rated as the coolest thing on all the kids’ lists. We got to walk 200 yards in the cold and rain, then crawl down slippery rocks into a cave where the floor was coated with a foot thick layer of dried dusty dirt. Wet clothes. Lots of dirt. 7 kids (Babies waited in the car). Oh the laundry. The cave was cool though. Especially for the fact that my brother had run ahead and hidden a treasure chest for the kids to find. We took home tired, but happy and extremely dirty children. An adventure day well worth doing.

Sunday was full of taking things slow and prepping for church, attending church, and then finding sufficient motivation to repack my car full of kids and stuff to drive back home for three more hours. All the kids slept during the homeward trip. yay! And when I got here I was treated to the experience of walking into the house and having it smell like home. Don’t know why that matters so much, but it does.


One of the advantages of being married to your best friend is built in mood alleviation. When Howard comes home all stressed I try to do all I can to tell fun stories and be cheerful. When Howard comes home to find me all stressed he does the same thing. If we’re both cheerful that’s even better.

The problem comes when we’re both feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Then we create a negative feedback loop. I’m stressed and Howard’s stress worsens mine which worsens his . . . Those are not good evenings. Unfortunately it is the children who suffer with two grumpy parents and no one left to play good guy.

Not a good way to spend the evening before we’re apart for 9 days. Have I mentioned that I hate business travel? And I don’t even have to spend time on a plane.

Worn out

I’m very tired right now. Last night did not contain enough actual sleep to allow today to be anything but a survival mode day. Unfortunately it was a heavily pre-scheduled survival mode day.

Tomorrow is slightly less scheduled, but the to-do list is no smaller. I’ve got a Kindergarten program and several non-delayable errands. Not to mention the regular stuff that always needs done.

Hopefully tonight will have more uninterrupted sleep, but I’m not betting on it. Patches is trying to cut chewing teeth to go with his chomping teeth. Molars are always painful and he’s decided to get them all at once.

My best hope is to get to bed early. Night all.


I’ve run out of things to click on! I’ve already browsed through my comics and forums and live journals. Twice. I even closed my browser entirely and re-opened it in some subconscious belief that when it re-opened there would be something new. This is like munchy snack seeking behavior. Open Fridge. Nothing good there. Open cupboard. Nothing there either. Re-open fridge as if something will have materialized in the last 30 seconds.

I figure that by writing this entry at least I’ll get to click the “update journal” button and have something new happen. 😉

Clicky clicky.

Schlock and our family

Since Howard aired his buffer stresses in his journal this morning and many fans kindly wrote responses in favor of family over schlock, I thought it would be pertinent or at least interesting to share my thoughts on this whole Schlock business.

When Howard first started doodling Schlock I was really glad to see him picking up a new artistic pursuit. I’ve been with Howard when all his creative impulses were dammed up with no outlet and those were some of the darkest times in our marriage. Schlock has been a daily part of our family life for going on five years. Only one of our kids can even remember a time when Daddy didn’t draw Schlock. It may seem strange, but giving up Schlock would be as heart wrenching as giving up one of the kids. And I mean that for both Howard and I. Schlock has sent tendrils throughout our family structure and has become part of it.

We have this lofty dream of having Schlock bring in enough money for Howard to just be a Daddy and a Cartoonist without having to be anything else. We’re a long way from there. Mostly what we have to do is keep on trudging only worrying about the next step because the long view seems impossible to attain. But in theory if we just keep on taking steps and making sure we’re pointed the right direction then we’ll gain our goal eventually.

I honestly don’t know how Howard manages to do all the things that he does and do them so amazingly well. He is one of those people who can pick up almost anything and, given enough time, become superior at doing it. I frequently wish there were more I could do to lighten the burdens he carries.

What makes all the stress worth it here and now is the amazing community that has formed around the existence of Schlock. Several communities actually: The two forums, Nightstar IRC, and now LiveJournal. Through these communities Howard and I have met some wonderful people. All the schlock fans are the voices whose encouragement makes the next step possible even when we are exhausted. It’s been an amazing experience and it ain’t over yet.

Day all gone.

I sit here at my computer intending to write something. It needn’t be profound or witty. I’d settle for coherent. Coherence would be a nice end to this scattered day. Where did it go? And why didn’t more of the things on my to-do list leave with it? Busy busy all day long and not a thing got done. I did start a few things, but I did not finish them.

Some of the unfinished things don’t really make me feel bad. Like laundry. I am of the firm opinion that it is impossible to really ‘finish’ laundry. No matter how quickly I run loads through and fold and put away, the people in this house keep wearing clothes and getting them dirty. I suppose I could strip everyone naked and make them stay that way until the last load is washed, dried and put away. Not likely to happen,so unfinished laundry is just part of my state of existence. Part of the mild chaos that so frequently fills my house.

Dishes are like laundry. Nuff said.

And now it is time for me to head to bed before the knowledge of things Not Done that are drifting through my head consolidate into self pity and leak into my journal entry. I wouldn’t want to stain anyone else’s day. Especially since all I really need is some sleep. Tomorrow morning I’ll wake up and tackle that list again. Or maybe I’ll scrap it and make a better one. As my mom wisely told me “It’ll look better in the morning.”

Kind words and gratitude

Wow. Anytime I’m feeling low or down on myself all I’m going to have to do is browse back throught the commentary on Flower Gardening and Throwing Rocks. I can’t remember when I’ve been more touched or heartened by the kind words of others. In your face Ugh!

For those who kindly sugguested it, yes I’ve disabled anonymous posting. Now if people want to be mean to me they have to leave their name and address. An from the number of folks volunteering to stomp Ugh I’m guessing that anyone who does so will suddenly have a mob on his doorstep. It’s probably neanderthal of me, but that makes me feel really glad. I’ll keep this closet over here full of pitchforks and torches just in case. 😉

A couple of you mentioned slightly guiltily that you kind of skimmed Flower Gardening cause you weren’t interested and thus missed your chance to tromple Ugh. Don’t feel guilty. I’m not at all hurt if someone is bored by my ramblings and chooses not to read. Politely going to do something else is very good ettiquette for LJ and for online forums. I do it all the time. There are whole threads in the Schlock forums that I don’t even open anymore because the science goes way over my head or the topic just isn’t interesting. Nothing wrong with that at all.

Well, Patches just wandered down into the office chanting “num-num” while chomping on a birthday candle. I suspect this means I need to get back upstairs and see how he managed to get his hands on a candle in the first place. I’m guessing Gleek is the culprit which means I need to go find out what ELSE she might have been feeding her baby brother.

Thanks again everyone.

Throwing Rocks

Why is it that someone who has chosen to drive a scenic route to go and see a rustic house, when they arrive and decide the trip wasn’t worth it, will throw a rock through the window as if the house is at fault?

Rocks hurt.

Flower Gardening

So here I sit really really tired. I’ve spent all morning putting flowers into the ground. It seems like a lot of effort for annual flowers that will only die when frost hits this fall. In a month I’ll be glad I did when the flowers have grown enough to look nice instead of looking like forlorn little souls lost in a sea of dirt. Maybe by next month my back will feel better too. 😉

I have so much work to do in the yard. Gardening work is one of the things that I completely give up on when I’m pregnant or nursing. I have to use my limited energy for other things, like retaining sanity. Since I got pregnant with Patches right after I finished nursing Gleek, it’s been almost 4 years since I’ve had sufficient energy to deal with the yard.

It is kind of startling to wander in my yard and see what has taken it over. Mostly grass and bindweed unfortunately. But there have been a few nice surprises. Some of the perennial plants have gone gangbusters and are ready for me to dig up and divide into smaller clumps. That way I’ll have even more flowers. Other perennials have wasted away to nearly nothing or died completely choked out by weeds. Sigh.

On the other hand there is something really satisfying about attacking a flower bed and pulling out huge piles of weeds. At the end of an hour I can stand back and really see what I’ve accomplished. It is much more satisfying than hands-knees-pulling of baby weeds although pulling baby weeds is a better way to run a garden.

Weeding and planting in the backyard is especially pleasant. Howard bought me a new bird feeder and bird bath. These have attracted flocks of finches and sparrows. Now our yard is almost constantly filled with soft twittering noises. Even more fun is the hummingbird feeder that I got for Mother’s Day. I’ve put that up outside the kitchen window and we get daily hummingbird territory squabbles for entertainment.

All in all our yard is a nice place to be and as I clear out and clean up it’ll be really pretty as well.

Future parenting

I got to escape from my regular “routine” (Its and extremely dynamic and frequently rearranged routine) today.I went out with a friend to help her shop in preparation for a party. It was so refreshing to actually talk with an adult. Particularly one who has been a mother of young children but isn’t anymore. She listens to me sympathetically without needing a turn to whine herself. And then I get to listen to her talking about teenager woes and think about all the stuff I have to look forward to. Okay, that piece is worrisome, but playing ostrich won’t make it go away.

I think many parents not only borrow trouble, but actually set it up for themselves by fearing the teen years. I had someone once tell me “when they turn 14 they go crazy”. No, they don’t. They go through some extremely predictable and understandable body changes and mental changes as they struggle to navigate the passage from childhood to adulthood. Why on earth do parents sabotage themselves into believing that teens are beyond comprehension? Instead parents need to be educating themselves on how to assist that passage. Rather than attempting to control their teens, parents should be seeking ways to guide them to rational independence. It’s a process that should begin well before a child hits puberty so that the pattern is in place. Give them as much freedom as they can deal with and they don’t feel like they have to fight for it. Let them know that you are willing to negotiate. Especially that you are willing to let them convince you that they are right.

Well, at least that’s the theory I’ve been working under for the last 9 years. Some time in the next 5 years I’ll have a feel for how well I did.

All in all I think I’m looking forward to having teenagers. There will definitely be some challenges, but I’m excited to watch my kids develop their own interests and to start being emotionally self sufficient. I’m sure when I get there I’ll miss being the major source of all their opinions, but on the other hand a 16 year old who needs his mother to tell him what he thinks is pretty pathetic and I don’t want that for any of my kids. Someday I’ll get to have adult conversations WITH MY KIDS. That will be really really cool and it isn’t that far away.