Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Poekserbell Painybutt (for Luke)

We have a cat.

I don't think he really enjoys being our cat, but it's not really up to him, so he puts up with us... mostly.

And he looks sweet and cuddly.  But I always warn people who try to touch him, "He is not a nice cat.  He seems nice, until he bites you."  Which is very true, until he proves me wrong and actually lets someone pet him.

Proof that he looks sweet:
"Ah, rub my belly.  You know you want to." 
But really, don't.  He'll eat your hand off.

And now, a story for Luke:

There are two doors in the new house that seem to have faulty latches... two very important doors.  The first is the door to Abby's closet room.  Until we build out her bedroom in the basement, she has taken over the small corner room (and truly, I use this word loosely) as her sleeping place with her bed, desk, and dirty clothes basket (the essentials).  THIS door does not latch properly.

Every night after all the kids have said their good nights and gotten their hugs and kisses, we find Abby at the top of the basement stairs with the evil cat weaving between her legs purring. 

"He won't leave me alone."

My reply, "He likes you.  Let him sleep with you."  (Between you and me - I'd rather he slept with her than with me.)

"No.  He takes up too much space on the bed."

"But he's your brother from a kitty mother."  (I use this one often when the girls are annoyed by him.)

"I don't like my kitty brother."  (This is often the response I get when I use the whole "but he's your brother..."  Anyway, you get the idea.)

I then have to forcibly hold him on my lap and convince him he enjoys being with me while she runs downstairs to hide from him.  It's a terrible cat and mouse game where the mouse is an 11 year old girl who simply wants to sleep alone.

Now, I would just toss him in the laundry room and close the door.  But this is the other door which does not latch properly.

We discovered this approximately on the second morning we moved in - which just so happens to be the second time we tossed him in there at 5:30 in the morning.

The evil cat would prefer we wake up at 5:30.  We would prefer not to wake up at 5:30.  But every morning, starting very near to 5:30, he begins "chirping."  I don't know if there is really a word for the sound he makes, but it sounds like a chirp mixed with a rolling of the tongue with a question mark at the end.  Some are short, some are long.  Chirp?   Chirrppp?  At some point, I begin to believe Timmy has fallen down a well somewhere and our (evil) cat has taken it upon himself to let us know.  Chirp?

If the chirping fails to get our attention, his next line of attack is scratching the carpet.  Oh how I rue the day we decided we didn't have enough money to take out his claws.  Looking back, it would have been worth a dry month or two (or three - hey, we're not that bad).  It is usually at this point that the Butcher fast-balls a pillow at him - or - one of us gets out of bed to try to catch him and throw him in a locked room.

So on the second morning after we moved in, after the chirping and the scratching and the pillow throwing (and if all else fails, he likes to sit on your chest and "touch" your face with his paws), I scooped him up and crept down the stairs... and down the second set of stairs... to the laundry room where I did the toss-and-close-the-door-with-great-speed-but-very-quietly.  Slowly I made my way up the first set of stairs.  Slowly I made my way up the second set of stairs.  Slowly I climbed into bed and adjusted all the covers just so (and this could truly be a post all to itself...) and began to drift... off... to.... sleeee



And then I was reminded of this terrible song my little brother used to love to play on his record player and that my mother had the brilliance to put on a cassette for our two day drive to West Virginia one summer (and therefor two days back to Michigan)...  "But the cat came back the very next day, yes the cat came back the very next day..." 

And there is my story for Luke... hope you like it little brother.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Unraveling a sweater

On any given day, it could all unravel... everything.

Everything you've interwoven into everything else could come undone, almost like that game with all the sticks holding up the marbles.  You pull the wrong stick and all the marbles come tumbling down, clanking and banging and rolling under the couch where you'll never find them.

And what can cause the unraveling??  Oh, well...

Yesterday it just so happened to be a bad sitcom on CBS.  I was sitting on the couch after a day of working and running kids and laundry and cooking dinner and everything else we all try to shove into a day, enjoying a glass of box wine (I have finally understood the concept of "budget") when a small Asian man walks into the scene wearing a sweater I own.  Gasp....  Why is a small Asian man wearing a woman's sweater.... that.I.own???

Now, I have never claimed to be fashionable.  I know I am not.  If it isn't put together on a mannequin for me to buy, I can't figure out how to combine things.  I inherited this from my mother. 

But - there is something about a man who is made a goof of on a show wearing clothing that is currently IN your closet (that I'm certain I wore two weeks ago), that really rattles your cage and makes you start thinking about other shortcomings.

Like... not realizing your child needs glasses.  I was surprised to hear the nurse at Abby's yearly check-up tell me she was having trouble reading the eye chart.  The third line down on the eye chart to be exact.  So, I took her to the eye doctor a few weeks later and we picked up her new glasses this past Sunday.  I tried them on yesterday.... my eyes started to water because they were so strong.  How does a mom not know her child can't see?!  AND wear a sweater that apparently is NOT fashionable...

Like...agreeing to giving your daughter a haircut (after a glass of wine).  I find spending money on trimming their long hair is kind of a waste - especially since I only get a haircut about once a year (again, this stupid "budget" thing).  So when Ella asked me to trim her hair yesterday, I said yes.  We gathered all the necessary tools, discussed how much to cut off, and started at it.  I always start in the back, so when I finally got around to her right side where she could see what I'd been cutting, she burst into tears.  TEARS.  Now, admittedly, Ella is a cryer.  But these tears really shocked me.  How could I have misunderstood what she wanted so terribly?  AND wear an ugly sweater...

The funny thing though... I cannot bring myself to get rid of that sweater.  I mean, it cost money, and I hate being cold... and maybe no one else saw that terrible sitcom.  I just hope TBS doesn't pick it up in reruns.... (sigh)

Monday, March 19, 2012

There's one movie I will always try to catch if it's on TV.  Now, don't laugh... it's "Under the Tuscan Sun."  Perhaps it's the idea of leaving everything behind to live a life in Tuscany, or maybe I just love how it all comes to a sweet ending where everything has turned out beautifully.  I have seen it probably a dozen times and no one else in the family can stand it anymore.  The room clears quickly when it comes on.

So when we were in the waiting stages of getting into our new house, I had "Under the Tuscan Sun" delusions of how I would approach our home.  In the movie, there is a part where she talks about slowly introducing yourself to the house and taking one room at a time and not hurrying.  I thought "this house is old and needs a slow introduction to us."  I fantasized about deliberate cleaning-off of age-old grime while a bright (yet sentimental) melody played in the background (while perhaps I discovered a painting of the Madonna somewhere hidden in the dirt).  And yes, I'll even go so far as to admit that I was kind of hoping The Butcher would speak in an Italian accent as he fixed the toilet innards that wouldn't stop running...

That sounds SO appealing... but in reality, when you have a husband and three daughters, there is no "taking your time" and no "slowly" anything.  We came crashing into this house like a tornado... hurricane force winds sweeping through every stinking room leaving a path of pink litter dotted with Polly Pockets, Littlest Pet Shops and holiday-themed pencils (why do I have SO many stinking Halloween pencils?!).

The cleaning was not slow and deliberate - it was more like Dessert Storm's "Shock & Awe" movement (I know I am probably mixing my military metaphors, but just go with it)... with my mother's voice in my head about filth and grime as I scrubbed the bathroom floor for hours.  And looked forward to scrubbing other floors, and windows, and walls, and...

And now I sit, a week and two days after "moving in," with cardboard boxes in corners, the Swiffer Sweeper propped up against the wall, and St. Patrick's Day pencils on the living room floor. 

I guess there's one thing I know for certain... my life is not a movie, but I'm pretty sure a soundtrack would make this mess look better.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Room With a View

There is nothing quite as chaotic as moving... at least in my mind (except perhaps a new baby, but a new house is almost like a new baby).  And all our moves are ribbon-tied in chaos...  this one did not disappoint.  Let me share...

I had grand plans on Thursday evening to sneak into the house on Friday and clean the bathrooms.  The house has been empty for over a year and the filth had taken over - plus the children had all said they wouldn't use the scary bathrooms.  I realize I have a problem when cleaning bathrooms is exciting... but they are MY bathrooms.  Unfortunately, the sound of vomit hitting a wall at 12:15 a.m. and the frantic call of "Mommmmm" shattered those plans.  So instead of cleaning toilets, I spent Friday fretting over a feverish girl who wouldn't eat while watching 8 Barbie movies (not. even. kidding.) because I had scheduled the cable service to move to the new house that day.

We got word the deal was closed on Friday afternoon and the Butcher spent most of the evening loading up the minivan and carting things to the new house.  At least the fishing boat made it there.

I woke up Saturday with new excitement.  Wrenny seemed better, the sky was clear(ish)... it was gonna be a good day.  That is, until the Butcher tried to vacuum the couch crumbs.  The vacuum rebelled, making a high pitched whirring noise and emitting the lovely smell of smoke.  I have a love-hate relationship with this vacuum (if you know the story of how it fell on my head causing 3 staples, you understand), and right at that moment, I mourned its demise and furiously hated it for crapping out in my hour of need.

So we loaded the van again, crumbs and all, kids and all, and went to OUR house.  Our glorious house (where only one toilet worked at the time - and did I mention it was a dirty toilet?).  We spent the next bit of time unloading the van, cleaning, etc.  The Butcher went to rent a big truck for the stuff we can't cram into the van.  Then I hopped into the van around noon to go get lunch... key into ignition, seat belt clicked, turn the key and ... nothing.  NOTHING!!!  Thank God my friend Caryl was there so I could borrow her BMW (and sweat buckets the whole time I drove it to Taco Bell - my van is OLD and beat up and this is a BMW! and now it smelled like Taco Bell...).

But chaos is nothing compared to a room with a view.  And truly... THIS is the best view in the house.

And yes, I "Instagrammed" it for you so it would look all sexy... because, after all, it WAS dirty...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Practice in Patience

This morning I found myself being yelled at by a 5-year-old stuck on a potty with no toilet paper.  Before I could get a word out of my mouth, she yelled again... which then required an explanation of what "patience" is and why you need to "be patient" when yelling for toilet paper.

And then I realized I have been stuck on the toilet since last week yelling for toilet paper... and all because of this house purchase.

When we moved here in April, we planned to stay in this rental house for a year and then buy something.  All summer I had grand visions of spending entire days driving from house to house, critiquing and ohhing and ughhing over all the different aspects of all the different houses.  But it quickly became apparent that all the savings I thought we'd amass wasn't happening and the dream of sifting through pages of listings started to wane.

I am learning though, that God has plans, and I don't need to know them, I just need to go with them.

The Butcher called late one afternoon during the kids' Christmas ("winter" - ugh) break, telling me to toss on some shoes because he was around the corner and we were going to leave the kids alone for 10 minutes and check out a house.  He is impulsive.  Sometimes his ideas are half-thought-out and absolutely off the wall.  But I'm pretty sure I need all that in my life.

So we drive off, past Ella's school, down a hill, up a hill, into a neighborhood, into a cul-de-sac, and down a long and lonely driveway.  At the end, is a squat brown house with a detached garage and an overgrown yard.  "Keep an open mind," he says. 

We open the front door and the entry hall is lined with bookshelves.  I almost swooned... we have been married for 15 years, have moved 7 times (this will be our 8th), and my books have never been unboxed.  Then I noticed the windows with the beautiful moldings... and the character that is just oozing out of the glass doorknob in the room we'd already dubbed "Ella's room."

It also happened to be a rare sunny December day in the northwest, and as we made our way to the kitchen, Mt. St. Helens was framed in the window - large and beautiful and covered in snow. 

I could go on and on... with all the moves we've made and all the places we've lived, I truly just wanted a house with character.  You know, the one you drive by that sits up the way a bit and you can just see the front half of it and you wonder what it looks like inside...  And this house was it.

Then everything just started falling into place... they accepted our ridiculous offer, they accepted our ridiculous close date (2-1/2 months out), they accepted to pay closing costs!

So I have been waiting patiently (truly patiently) since December for this house I have been waiting for my whole life... until Friday when our mortgage guy said everything was set and we should be getting a call to close... and still no call... and so I sit on the toilet waiting for paper...

Will someone just get me some damn toilet paper!?!  (sigh...)