Monday, June 23, 2014

Things Fall Apart: June 23, 2014

I have to admit: I struggle to not let the utter destructiveness of children bother me.

Children are just HARD on things.  Or maybe just mine are.  Toys, books, and some clothes leave our house only one way: in a body bag.  It's part of our room-cleaning ritual with the kids to make a small pile of things they've broken next to the door to be thrown away.  I have a pile of books on my nightstand that have been "loved to pieces".  In a parallel universe where I have free time I'd try to fix them, or at least order replacements.  Books bother me the least because I know the wear and tear is caused by little fingers that are working on their fine motor skills.  Things that are climbed on and destroyed after I've already warned really gets to me.  Deep breath.

Yesterday I had just finished saying "Don't stand on that bin, you're going to break it!" when Devon circled back to do it again.  Yep, it broke.  After I finished lecturing Devon, I looked down at Melina, who was enjoying cuddle time in my lap.  She had worked a thread loose on my shirt and was picking off the beadwork and eating the beads.

That's a pretty good example of what things have been like at our house lately.  All three kids are reaching the stage where they need to learn enough responsibility to be left unattended for a few minutes and amuse themselves while Mommy occupies herself elsewhere.  This is something that all families go through, but usually with just one child at a time.  Teaching all three that they are expected to follow the same rules even when Mommy's in the bathroom helping someone else has been a challenge.  I'm trying to keep my eyes on the end result and imagine all the things I'll be able to do when my kids can be in another room of the house and not immediately endangering themselves or the house.  I'll be able to cook something more than a quesadilla!  I might read something while the kids play! 
Over and over I repeat the best explanation I've come up with to teach the kids that things cost money and careless breakage wastes money.  "Daddy works very hard so that we can have money, and he only gets so much money to bring home to us.  If we aren't careful with our things and break them, then we have to spend our money getting those things again.  If we are careful and we don't break things, then we have money for new things, like a sprinkler toy or brand new engines or trips to Chick-fil-A."
They're equally hard on their own bodies.  Each has an assortment of bruises, scrapes, and scratches from rough play outside.  Here are the girls some six feet off the ground.  They're fearless!
Somebody get these kids in gymnastics!!!  Just a few short months ago it was still hard to take them to a bigger kid park because there were things they couldn't do.  Now they do just about everything!
It's 8:30 in the evening and I'd think the girls would be exhausted after playing so hard today and barely any nap.  Instead, they sit upstairs in their beds laying it on thick because they know I can hear them.

Carrie: Mina, I'm really sad.
Melina: Oh no, you poor thing.  What is wrong, Carrie?
Carrie: I really just want my Mommy!
Melina: Awwww.
Carrie: I want my Mommy to give me a big hug and go an lay with me in her bed.
Melina: Come here and lay in my bed!
Carrie: Okay, that would make me feel better.  But I still really want my Mommy!
Melina: Don't worry, Mommy will come back to check on us soon.
Carrie: I really hope so, Mina.
Melina: She will.
Carrie, I'm sad.  Hold me, Mina....
Melina: OK.
Carrie: (fuss)
We finally checked out Millburn orchards, a super fun local attraction that's low key and perfect for toddlers.  If I get my act together, we'll probably have the girls' birthday party there. 
Devon enjoyed a special trip with Mommy to the mall to pick out a Father's Day present for Daddy.  He befriended a server at Panera, peeking at her around the corner and winking.  On the way out, she told him goodbye and he brought the house down by announcing loudly "See you next time, cutie!"  He asked if we could buy the mannequin.
Devon and my phone have parted ways.  I was beginning to feel like my phone was not my own, and it was creating problems.  I'd keep getting random notifications that my wifi was turned off, airplane mode was turned on, or an alarm was set to ring at an inconvenient time.  My camera roll was filling up with pictures of his thumb.  He was friending people on facebook that I didn't know.

My old phone is now the Special Devon Phone.  All his apps are loaded on it.  All my apps have been deleted.  He can take pictures and videos to his heart's content.  Best of all, if he asks Mommy to help he can call Grandpa and Grammy on Facetime.  When he doesn't ask for help, there are problems.  Mommy's contact list is in the cloud and can't be taken off either phone, so he's just as likely to call someone random as he is Grandpa.  Or call at 5:30 in the morning Pacific time, as he did this morning.  Thankfully, Grandpa is a very early riser and very forgiving when it comes to his grandson. 
I suppose the destructiveness of children isn't the only thing that is hitting us hard in the wallet lately.  Literally.  Craig was rear-ended on his way to work last Wednesday.  We're so thankful that he was practically unhurt and suffered more last week from a sinus cold he already had than the few days of lingering soreness.  Unfortunately, our low-mileage, ultra-reliable, gas-sipping, paid-for commuter car that was our only vehicle for four years in Kentucky and Craig's ride to work in Florida is totaled.  We'd just put a thousand dollars into it, too, getting routine maintenance done and having the plates and title changed over to Maryland.

It looks virtually unchanged, with a small dent on the side and a trunk that won't line up to shut, but the repair bill was too large to justify saving the car.  Thankfully, the other insurance company admitted fault and is already processing our payout.  Say a prayer that we get top dollar, if you think of it, as we're being offered around 6k when we've priced the same car at 9k.

So, sometime this week we'll be saying goodbye to the car we brought baby Devon home from the hospital in and looking for a new car.  We're trying to see this as God's timing rather than a huge, unwanted financial setback.  After the long winter we could see the wisdom of driving something with a higher profile and all-wheel drive to work.  Maybe something in a bright color that would be very visible in the snow.  Or maybe when you're stopped to let other cars go the other way on the one-lane tunnel. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bobbing: June 2, 2014

Photo: Happy Memorial Day from the Keathley triplets!!
Happy Memorial Day from the Keathley triplets! Devon's just a bit in the background to make them all look the same size...
This unpublished one shows the opposite effect.  Devon probably has about one more year until he is no longer the recognizable oldest.
We celebrated Memorial Day with patriotic popsicles and some outside time.  If you're wondering what it looks like to be a baseball "natural", just look at the way the girls are holding their bats. 
Devon amuses himself while the girls nap and I try to get stuff done by doing Bible App on my phone.  Sometimes I find that he's instead been taking selfies of me, the house, or often his own thumb.  Yesterday he posted an album of nine randomly selected pictures to Facebook.  It got nine likes and a comment before I even knew it was there. "Say cheese, Momdom!" he quips, lifting the phone and snapping a thoughtful shot.  These pictures are glimpses of life through his eyes.  Last night he snapped a bunch of stills and then tried to take a video of himself talking to Grammy on Skype.  He didn't turn on the video setting though...

His other new trick is nicknames.  He favors rhymes, like "Melina-Medina".  Carrie is "Carrie-Melina-Medina".  He still can't tell his sisters apart.  I'm not sure he's entirely sure they're different people.  But I am the one who gets most of the creative load of his nicknames.  His favorite is "Momdom", but he also favors "Mary Popcorn."

Mommy: Devon, Finish your dinner.
Devon: You got it, Momdom!
Mommy: Why am I Momdom?
Devon: Because that's your name!
Mommy: Then what is Daddy's nickname?
Devon: Daddom. 
A few times a week I give in to naptime temptation, put on a movie to keep Devon immobile, and rest in Devon's room since Carrie sleeps in mine. 
I used to call this The Bermuda Triangle.  Now that my kids are never asleep at the same time between the hours of 7am and 9pm I don't call it anything.  When they all passed out on the way home from our second zoo trip I had to document it.  Then I put up the sunshade on Devon's side.  Twenty minutes later we passed the outlet mall and Craig sat in the car with the kids while I shopped alone for thirty minutes.  My current love language is the little known sixth one that never made it into any of Gary Chapman's books.

"Leave Me Alone".  

I am never alone.
On Wednesday Devon burned the end of his nose on a light bulb.  He's never been one to take Mommy's word for things, so "That's hot, don't get too close" didn't make a difference, as usual.  On Thursday, Mommy decided to give Devon his summer buzz cut.  Cool, cheap, and excellent for nightly tick check weather. This caused some sibling issues.

Carrie: I want a buzz cut!
Melina: I want the buzz buzz to tickle my neck!

Girlies had to settle for painted toenails.  This after they were very impressed by Mommy's.  They asked at least forty times for their toenails to be blue like mine.  I lobbied for a pale purple that will hopefully fade gracefully.  They love the painted nails, but it has caused some sibling problems as well.

Devon: I want my toenails painted, Momdom!
Mommy: Painted toes are for girlies, Devon, just like buzz cuts are special for boys.
Devon: You can paint them blue.  That's a boy color!
Mommy: No, that's not how it works...
Devon:  Look, Mommy!  My toenails are a color!  Who painted them this color?  Did you do it?
Mommy: No.
Devon:  Well, then, who did?
Mommy: God.

We had a long talk about "girl perks" and "boy perks".  I think we may be clear on that...
The days are getting nice, so we're enjoying outdoor time.  One unexpected development is the girls mastering balance and steering on Devon's 4-8 year old bike.  I'm wondering if I'm brave enough to get Carrie and Melina similar bikes for their birthdays.  I'm not sure the world is ready for our three kids in big bikes...
Yes, the find of a pine cone really is that exciting.  And there are lots of pine cones in our yard.  This picture shows off the custom pruning job that Craig did on our beautiful but up-till-now neglected Japanese Maple.  Last week it touched the ground all around it in an amorphous blob about six feet larger in circumference.  Now we can see the rest of the bed.  The next big job is clearing out the debris, redefining the bed, and getting some plants and bark in there.  The bunnies are clearly miffed at us.
As the kids pop in and out of the garage to get a helmet or a digging toy I can see evidence of some small organizational projects we've been able to accomplish over the past few weeks.  Month five in the new house turned out to be the one where everything started to turn around.  Early on, the most urgent projects were also the most expensive. 

The puppy-chewed stairs that Mommy called a broken leg waiting to happen are now replaced.  That marks the last item on the list of things that could be considered safety risks.  We can now turn our attention (in the rare occasions we have a few minutes to spare) to making our lives easier and more organized or fixing something that just plain annoys us.  Last week I tackled a patch of peeling paint in the garage, a relic from the days where the dryer vented right there.  Scraping, resealing, and repainting cost $15 and took less than a half hour!  That's my kind of house fix: fast and cheap.  Something I can do to make me feel like I've accomplished something with my day.
I'm thrilled beyond words with my new pantry, except that then I read the first half of this sentence and realize how truly boring and domestic my life has become.  But, really!  I should've taken a before picture of the tiny, sagging boards that were supposed to hold all our household food.  And it's not like my three agile children don't get wise to the fact that all the treats in the house are kept on the top shelf and want to climb those shelves like a jungle gym to plumb their chocolatey secrets.  I no longer have to have a panic attack when one of them crosses to that part of the kitchen.  It's more than that, though.  It's as if someone accessed the part of my brain where "ideal pantry configuration" concept is stored and somehow made it come to life!  I have bags of unopened cereal stored behind the open ones!  I have a place to put a whole flat of juice boxes!  I am so happy!

I am so boring.
And yes, for the first time in what feels like months we have food in the house!  The fix was looming and got put off two or three times because of scheduling conflicts.  I cheerfully finished up every last can of corn and boxed cheesy mac, refusing to buy more because I knew I'd have to take it out of the old pantry and store it in the guest bedroom for a few days.  The unpainted picture represents--gasp--all the unrefrigerated food we had in the house at the time!!
 The kids have window coverings in their rooms.  The girls slept in until 8:15 this morning.  Ahhhh....  We're also replacing window screens one at a time, as they were missing when we moved in.  Mommy was ecstatic to learn that our windows open from the top as well as the bottom, as I could totally see Devon popping his screen out, leaping out the window, and running across the roofline of the garage just for fun... 
Craig says I never go wrong with house decisions, but there's a first time for everything.  Last month we replaced our leaking kitchen faucet with a fancy one with "touch technology".  It immediately became the bane of my existence.  It sounded so easy: touch the faucet to turn it on and off.  That ended up being the problem.  Everything turned the water on and off.  Swiveling the faucet to wash a dish.  Letting go of it after turning it on.  Water from the faucet hitting the sink and spraying back up on the faucet.  The side of the hose nozzle touching the faucet as it clicks back into place.  It took eight taps to fill the coffeepot every morning.  As if this momma isn't already trying to keep her sanity some days!!!  I called Delta to complain and they asked why I didn't just take it back to the store if I hated it so much.
So I did.  I went with Pfister for the new one, though.  I wasn't impressed by the way Delta threw Home Depot under the bus by expecting them to process the return of a very used but defective item.
This time we DIY'ed it to save on a plumber.  Mostly one night when the kids were in bed, although we did some leak checks they found very entertaining. 
We've been waiting for the season's first roses with great anticipation, only to find that the large bush by our doorstep was only a wild rose that probably grew up from a sucker.  We decided to pull it out, given that it was a very inconvenient location for a thorny bush.  
If you're wondering about the odd post title, it's the hope that our family is the cork that is finally starting to shoot back up to the surface of the water. This picture shows the kids enjoying a lemonade slush in the bath.  One of what facebook would call my "multiples life hacks" is to let them eat something messy, like a popsicle or a pudding cup, already in the bathtub since that's where the party's going to end up anyway. 

We've done a lot of the things that needed doing around here.  The ones that are left are not quite so looming and stressful.  We have some friends.  We're looking forward to the girls' third birthday when we can throw them a real party.  We've found a church.  Craig's parents have given us a concrete date for a July visit so I am anticipating sitting across an otherwise empty table with my husband at a restaurant without the kids! 

I go days at a time feeling like I'm keeping my head above water.