Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Pretty Toilet

There is nothing better for the procrastinating housekeeper than the anticipation of company coming to make her tackle those rooms left alone to defend themselves against the dust bunny population.

Dust bunnies are real, and frankly, I’m afraid of them. Maybe it was the whole growing up in a trailer thing that kept me in the dark about how real and frightening dust bunnies can be. I mean, 5 people living in a single-wide trailer doesn’t leave much room for the dust bunnies to gather strength and overpopulate the undersides of beds and closets left unused. There were no spaces left unused in our house. And my mom was a good housekeeper. And besides that, dust bunnies prefer old farmhouses with nooks and crannies and chinks in the walls to escape through when they might happen to be inadvertently discovered. You know, like when you’re not actually cleaning but happen to glance under the bed in search of the missing cell phone that disappeared in the hands of a 1 year old 3 hours ago, only to be absolutely horrified at the myriad of enormous out of control dust bunnies staring back at you, mocking you, daring you to get out the broom and dust pan.

Yeah, I don’t mess with them until it’s absolutely necessary, such as when the bed actually has to be moved to another room and there’s just no way you can put a new bed in there until the dust bunnies have been exterminated. Thankfully they’re not cute and I don’t have to deal with my kids screaming in my ear, “NOoooOO!” while I’m doing the awful duty.

But it wasn’t dust bunnies that I dealt with this week. Dust bunnies were last week when we switched around everyone’s bedrooms. This week it was the bathroom.

Ah yes, the bathroom. The place that needs deep cleaning every single day when you have toddlers potty training and little boys who have no concept of “aiming”. But, alas, it usually gets done – well, when I can’t stand it anymore. Sometimes once a week (yeah right), sometimes twice a month (well….), and sometimes once every six weeks or so. Of course, I do the basics more often – cleaning the toilet, wiping down the sink, sweeping the floor – I’m talking about the getting down on the hands and knees and scrubbing away the gunky build up from behind the toilet.

Yes, company coming dictates I do these things so that no one spontaneously throws up in said toilet the minute they walk in the room, or nervously tries to hide the shudder at the mention of the bathroom the entire time they’re staying at my house.

The best time to clean the bathroom is when the toddlers are in the tub. The girls are big enough to not need me hovering in a back-aching position over the edge of the tub, but not quite big enough to be left alone for long, so I toss them in the tub to soak and I clean the toilet while they play.

On Sunday I walked in, the girls just having gotten into the tub, set my big basket of heavy-duty cleaning supplies down on the floor and assessed the situation. *sigh*. It ALL needed to be done. And the very FIRST place I was going to start was with the old toilet seat. Ugly and cracking, it has been begging to be replaced for oh, a year or so now. I’ve even had the new seat ready to go for a few months, but dear hubby had not yet done it. Well, I can conquer this thing, I thought, and went to work.

5 minutes later I stopped trying to unscrew the corroded screws on the bottom of the seat because I finally realized they actually had nothing to do with holding the seat unit onto the toilet. Okay then. Blonde moment. Recovering quickly, I found the bolts that did the real job and jumped up to run out to the garage to grab a wrench. I grabbed open a drawer from the toolbox, selected a wrench that looked just about the right size, then thought to myself, I probably ought to grab one that’s a little bigger and one that’s a little smaller just to be sure. I shoved the drawer back into place and turned to run back to the house, but stopped myself just short of the door. I paused, looking down at the three wrenches in my hand.

“You know,” I said outloud to no one at all, “I seem to remember doing this before…”. I turned each wrench over in my hand to read the little printed numbers.

Let’s see… first one: 14 mm.
Okay, second one… 14 mm. okay, well, honest mistake.
Third one! …. 14…mm… great. Definitely turning into a blonde day.

Quickly went back, replaced two wrenches and picked up two more of actual different sizes and went back. Thankfully one of them actually fit the nut needing to be loosened up, and we were back in business. 3 hours later, the girls were complete prunes and I was still grunting under the edge of the toilet trying to pry them loose…

Okay, it wasn’t really that bad. I did have to wedge myself down between the toilet and tub to get a good angle on that nut, but that was really just cheap entertainment for the girls as my pony tail stuck over the side of the tub and they took turns dumping soapy water on it. When it was all done and the new seat on, I couldn’t help but exclaim, “Look at the Pretty Toilet!!!” which my girls promptly echoed back to me and now you know why you may randomly hear them talk about pretty toilets.

I got the girls out of the bathtub after that, got them dressed and turned them loose in the living room. I went back in to my bathroom-cave and scrubbed the floors. It’s amazing what sort of things you find looking up from the angle of scrubbing the floor. Like how long was that toothpaste on the underside of the sink? And how did it get there? By the time I emerged the bathroom was sparkling from top to bottom, ready for guests. One job done and crossed off the list.

Meanwhile… the living room looked like a tornado hit it. I saw from the corner of my eye a two year old, armed and dangerous with two uncapped markers, ran across the room, tackled her and took her down accordingly before something got hurt.

Not that it really matters much. There isn’t a flat surface in this house that hasn’t been marked up, drawn on, or had random greasy/sticky/gross things smeared on. Our whole house is one big advertisement for why you should never rent a house to parents of small children. But I do try.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sabbath Photos

These were taken after church, after lunch, and after naps, so yeah, the hair is a little crazy and the faces aren't quite clean, but in my biased little heart I think they're still the most adorable kids in the world!

And some color ones too:

A Few More Pictures

Of August 2009:
The kids were playing in the sprinkler and I was playing with the camera. Cute expression! lol!
A nice Laney smile!

My elephant ear.

A Few New Pics

Since I haven't put any on here in a while! August 2009:

Laney and I at the lake on a beautiful Sabbath day!
Colby and Josh saying night time prayers in his new room.

All three kiddos after potluck on a rainy Sabbath afternoon.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Midnight Madness

Just when I thought all of the kids were past the sicky stage, when it had been more than 24 hours since the last episode of hovering over the big bowl, that's when it happened.

I had already been stuck in the house with sick kids for 48 hours. Two of them had spent the night on the couch so I could keep a close eye on them through the wee hours and where cleanup didn't involve several trips up and down the creaky stairs. Poor kids. Emmy couldn't keep anything down for nearly 24 hours, not even a sip of water. Josh had it hit him hard and fast, but held down water after only 6 hours.

Yesterday we all took it easy and recuperated. So when Colby got home I was glad to finally get a break and be able to run up to the store for some toilet paper and return some free kids' movies before they became $1-late-fee kids' movies. Ah! The windows rolled down, the fresh air, the silence!

I came back home with a whole new attitude and could finally have a decent conversation with Colby instead of the previous ones made up of grunts and one-syllable words while I looked at him accusingly for going to the truck pulls the night before.

Last night I fully intended to get a full night's sleep, went to bed early, and was jolted awake by something... some strange noise... coming from?? The Kitchen?

Seemed like all the lights in the house were on as I stumbled out of bed and blinked my way into the kitchen where I found a very sorry looking little boy attempting to clean up his stomach's indescrection with a kitchen towel. It was as if he had been saving it up all day. I didn't know a 5 year old's stomach could hold quite that much volume of half-digested food. *sigh* First thing to do was just simply reassure him that he was NOT in trouble. A few ginger squeezes to his clean shoulders and a kiss on the very top of his head and then we moved on to the clean up.

I stood there staring at the mess. The puddle was directly blocking my path to the bathroom. I wanted to just make a quick stop... real quick... I'll just ... squeeze past... nope. Had to clean the mess up before I could make a pit stop. *sigh* Well, there was nothing to be done but get in there and get it done.

I used about half a roll of paper towels to mop it up, trying with all my might to remember what I learned on CSI from Jorja Fox: breathe through your mouth if you don't want to smell it!!!

Another very useful tidbit learned from CSI! That show is full of useful little tidbits like that, most of which I will never use because I'm not trying to get away with any sort of crime! Interesting stuff though... Colby and I thought of a new story line to pitch to them about the DNA of double cousins and how that could throw off their whole investigation... Right. Where was I?

So I always do that now - breathe through my mouth - when I have to clean up something particularly smelly, which happens quite a lot when you're a mom! And yet there are times when I think of all those yucky particles floating around in the air that makes the air smelly and those tiny little things going into my open mouth and next thing I know I'm standing over the garbage can, completely having forgotten why I was attempting to breathe through my mouth and taking a deep breath through my nose! Uck! The smell of vomit AND the trash bin! Whew!!! A few good heaves and I was attempting to stop the process of breathing altogether.

I did manage to eventually clean up and disinfect half the kitchen floor on my hands and knees at midnight, and cleaned up the little boy and sent him back to bed with a bucket and a promise to be right up to tuck him back in.

And I finally made it to the bathroom. My relief quickly turned to chagrin though, as I realized exactly what I'd forgotten to do while up in town earlier: buy toilet paper.


Monday, August 17, 2009

A Senior Moment.... at 48?

... I hope you get as much a laugh out of this as I did!

$5.37. That's what the kid behind the counter at Taco Bueno said to me. I dug into my pocket and pulled out some lint and two dimes and something that used to be a Jolly Rancher. Having already handed the kid a five-spot, I started to head back out to the truck to grab some change when the kid with the Emo hairdo said the harshest thing anyone has ever said to me. He said, "It's OK. I'll just give you the senior citizen discount."

I turned to see who he was talking to and then heard the sound of change hitting the counter in front of me. "Only $4.68" he said cheerfully. I stood there stupefied. I am 48, not even 50 yet – a mere child! Senior citizen?

I took my burrito and walked out to the truck wondering what was wrong with Emo. Was he blind? As I sat in the truck, my blood began to boil. Old? Me?

I'll show him, I thought. I opened the door and headed back inside. I strode to the counter, and there he was waiting with a smile.

Before I could say a word, he held up something and jingled it in front of me, like I could be that easily distracted! What am I now? A toddler?

"Dude! Can't get too far without your car keys, eh?" I stared with utter disdain at the keys. I began to rationalize in my mind. "Leaving keys behind hardly makes a man elderly! It could happen to anyone!"

I turned and headed back to the truck. I slipped the key into the ignition, but it wouldn't turn. What now? I checked my keys and tried another. Still nothing. That's when I noticed the purple beads hanging from my rearview mirror. I had no purple beads hanging from my rearview mirror.

Then, a few other objects came into focus. The car seat in the back seat. Happy Meal toys spread all over the floorboard. A partially eaten doughnut on the dashboard.

Faster than you can say ginkgo biloba, I flew out of the alien vehicle. Moments later I was speeding out of the parking lot, relieved to finally be leaving this nightmarish stop in my life. That is when I felt it, deep in the bowels of my stomach: hunger! My stomach growled and churned, and I reached to grab my burrito, only it was nowhere to be found.

I swung the truck around, gathered my courage, and strode back into the restaurant one final time. There Emo stood, draped in youth and black nail polish. All I could think was, "What is the world coming to?" All I could say was, "Did I leave my food and drink in here?" At this point I was ready to ask a Boy Scout to help me back to my vehicle, and then go straight home and apply for Social Security benefits.

Emo had no clue. I walked back out to the truck, and suddenly a young lad came up and tugged on my jeans to get my attention. He was holding up a drink and a bag. His mother explained, "I think you left this in my truck by mistake." I took the food and drink from the little boy and sheepishly apologized.

She offered these kind words: "It's OK. My grandfather does stuff like this all the time."

All of this is to explain how I got a ticket doing 85 in a 40. Yes, I was racing some punk kid in a Toyota Prius. And no, I told the officer, I'm not too old to be driving this fast.

As I walked in the front door, my wife met me halfway down the hall. I handed her a bag of cold food and a $300 speeding ticket. I promptly sat in my rocking chair and covered up my legs with a blanky.

The good news was I had successfully found my way home.

David McClure teaches science and coaches at Faubion Middle School in McKinney. He is also a Teacher Voices volunteer columnist. His e-mail address is

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Founders Day and Little Missionaries

Last Sabbath our local Founding Fathers got together at our church for a special service and fellowship dinner. Each one of them stood up at the podium and reminisced about how they formed a circle of believers and shared stories about building a church from the ground up with just the sweat on their brows and $16,000 in 1965. It was really an uplifting service and I felt like I had the chance to really understand a little more about how close a family of believers can be. I thought it was pretty neat to be part of the family with 4 generations still attending the same little church that Grandpa J was one of the founders of. He had a big part in the building of our church and I think that's a tremendous legacy for our kids.

During the service, one of the founders shared a children's story about a little boy who was 5 years old (almost 6!) who wanted to be a missionary. He asked his pastor how he could be a missionary when he was still so small, and the pastor told him to share his love for Jesus with the people around him. So next day the little boy took his Bible, crossed the street in his little neighborhood, and knocked on the neighbor's door. Inside, he asked the lady of the house to read John 3:16 (since he couldn't read for himself yet, you know). After she read the verse, the boy said to her, "Aren't you glad you have a God who loves you so much He gave His only Son for you?". And then he prayed with her. After he left the first house, he went next door, and on down the row until he'd visited all of his neighbors. He told them all as he left that he'd be back next week, and each week he remembered his promise. Eventually he began to ask them if they'd like a visit from his pastor, and after some time, several neighbors became baptized.

Joshua was so fascinated with the story of a little boy just his age that he didn't notice the boy next to him making funny faces, or his sister on the other side of him making faces back.

I thought it was a beautiful story, but didn't realize the impact it had had on Joshua until yesterday afternoon. I was in the house fixing supper when he marched in, grabbed a Bible, and announced he was going to be a missionary. I turned around and eyed him up. Hmm.. Yep, he had that glint in his eye. He was serious.

What was I going to do but support him in his desire? I looked the situation over and traded him my small flap-cover Bible for Colby's bigger study Bible that he'd picked up, then listened as he told me how he was going to take the tricycle instead of his bike since he couldn't carry the Bible and ride a bike at the same time. "Wise choice!", I said, as he strode out the door.

Without any hesitation whatsoever, he hopped onto the tricycle just as his sisters sat down to eat their supper. I walked slowly to the edge of the yard as he rode along the side of the road. He dropped the Bible a time or two, but stopped and picked it up gently and dusted it off before tucking it back under his arm and going on his way again. He never once looked back or second guessed his choice to do this. Just onward and forward with every confidence it would all go fine!

He pulled up their driveway and parked his tricycle, marched up to the door, and disappeared inside. I waited. Five or six minutes passed. I was just about to march down there and retrieve the boy before he became a nuisance when out the door he sprang, ran to his tricycle, and pedaled for home!

I asked him how it went, and he said, "Good. But one of them smoked." I asked him if they read the verse for him, and he said that they did. I asked which verse they read. "John 3:14!". I laughed. I had tried to help him remember the verse was John 3:16, but for some reason this always gets mixed up in his mind.

I was very proud of him. He plans to go back again, and he also wants to visit the rest of the neighbors. These were the closest neighbors, and that was nerve-wracking enough! I don't know what I'll do when he wants to ride across the valley!

But as I looked at that earnest little face, there was no way I could discourage or squelch that desire to do what was right and good, even though it made me nervous. Such faith, such bravery! I think I could learn a little from that kind of attitude!

Monday, August 10, 2009

If You Give A Mom A Muffin...

If you give a Mom a muffin (author unknown)

She'll want a cup of coffee to go with it.
She'll pour herself some.
The coffee will get spilled by her three year old.
She'll wipe it up.
Wiping the floor she will find some dirty socks.
She'll remember that she has to do some laundry.
When she puts the laundry in the washer,
She'll trip over some snow boots and bump into the freezer.
Bumping into the freezer will remind her she has to plan supper for tonight.
She will get out a pound of hamburger.
She'll look for her cookbook. (101 Things To Make With a Pound of Hamburger)
The cookbook is sitting under a pile of mail.
She will see the phone bill which is due tomorrow.
She will look for the checkbook.
The checkbook is in her purse that is being dumped out by her two year old.
She'll smell something funny.
She'll change the two year old.
While she is changing the two year old the phone will ring. (of course!)
Her five year old will answer it and hang up.
She remembers that she wants to phone a friend to come over for coffee on Friday.
Thinking of coffee will remind her that she was going to have a cup.
She will pour herself some.
And, chances are,
If she has a cup of coffee,
Her kids will have eaten the muffin that went with it.

Someone gave this to me years ago, when I had only one child to keep me living in a constant state of insanity. I just found it again yesterday and thought I'd share. If your day goes like this more often than you'd like to admit, you're not alone!

Funny how the ages of the kids actually match up with mine... I didn't change them!

Saturday, August 01, 2009


I've learned over the years that we all deal differently with trials, losses, pain, and worry. It took me a long time to understand that not everyone reacts the exact same way, or on the exact same timeline. When Joshua had surgery, Colby and I dealt very differently with the stress and worry of that time, and at times I felt as if we were living on different planets. It was a rough time, but with more strength for us on the other side than we thought possible.

There are no set rules for how to deal with loss or fear or worry. But there are some ways that do seem more inappropriate than others.

I remember sitting in the parking lot of Wendy's near the Children's Hospital the day we found out Josh would need life-saving surgery to repair his heart. It was impossible to process. It felt like I'd go insane trying to wrap my mind around what was going on and the necessity of this surgery. Colby and his mom and Joshua sat inside eating their food, which I'm sure tasted like sawdust, and I sat out in the car nursing my hungry 3 month old baby. And I called up my best friend, hoping she'd somehow tell me to pinch myself and call her back in the morning.

Instead she just listened as I sat there on the phone, laughing. Hysterically. Highly inappropriate.

I managed to squeak out a sentence here and there in between the hysterics, at times forgetting what I'd already said or restarting a sentence I'd just begun, and finally got the message across of what was going on. Somehow she saw past the laughter and the terse words and heard the fear that was gripping my heart. Forgiving me my impropriety, she talked around and around in circles with me until I grew calm, until I could breathe again. She understood at that moment there were only two options for me: falling into a million pieces, crying until my eyes were swollen shut and I was a mess needing to be scooped up off the ground, or... laughing inappropriately.

Laughter is good for the soul. It heals. It seals up old wounds and it breaks down the barriers of hurt feelings and offended spirits. I try to laugh at myself as much as possible - at my clumsiness, my imperfections, my mistakes, and yes, even my trials. Laughter helps me to fight back the tears.

I've been trying to find the humor in the little things that go on in my life, and write things that will make us laugh, but I know it's coming across a little stunted, and probably a little inappropriate considering the time in which it's been written.

Truth is, I've been very thankful for the tender care my husband has shown me in the past couple of weeks, and for his wisdom in this difficult space in time. It is because of those things that I can get out of bed in the morning and put my feet down one in front of the other. It's because I'm sharing the pain on that kind of level with him that I can pick myself up, look around, and try to find things that help both of us feel better.

So, yeah, I don't really mind if you find my attempts at being droll to be poor taste or indicative of my regard for that which was lost. Because we know that the truth is this: we loved and wanted very much the child we were expecting. While we are at peace with the path God has chosen for us, we also know it will be impossible in this world to replace the one who is missing and look forward with joy to the day an angel places this child back into our arms.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...