Saturday, March 26, 2011

This week on Plague House...

~"The Guide is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate."~ Douglas Adams

 I don't know if any of you recall a television series on PBS called "Frontier House". It was an educational reality show on what life was like on the frontier of the U.S. in 1883.  This was not the only show in this series. There was also "Manor House" and "1900 House"..I loved these shows.  They took modern day families and let them live the experience of those times- filming it for my viewing pleasure. This is reality television that I can understand. Because, I just don't get what the fascination is with shows like "Jersey Shore" and "The Kardashian's". Really, what is there to learn -aside from "How to look your best while slamming down shots and picking up strangers"?  Maybe it's "How to make millions of dollars by doing and wearing almost absolutely nothing?" Either one-I don't have the time or interest.

  Sammy once told me that he would love to be the star of a reality series...until I explained (and demonstrated) what living with a camera in your face would be like. "Besides", I told him  "What would be so interesting about us that would make people want to watch? Me doing laundry? You getting on the bus? I could just see the cliffhanger-Mama serves a different brand of frozen pizza! How will the herd react?!!"  Unless there is a new television network called "Tedious" I don't see us being offered a show any time soon. But...say they did?...if a network came to me and said "We would like to give you ten million dollars to film a week of your life-any week you choose"..I might consider it. For educational purposes of course. I'd  also  have chosen this week-and called it "Plague House" Because nothing screams good television like four sick kids...Yes, this week, all of my children came down with the flu..falling over so many vomit filled dominoes. It started a week ago Thursday with Oscar moved to Sammy, on to Lily and at last seems to be finishing up today with Zoe....sigh..even the dogs were involved.

  Oh the possibilities are endless..I can just hear the intro .."Today on Plague as Kathleen repeatedly cleans her now "colorful" carpet after one of her dogs eats crayons!! "...or "Today on Plague House..Kathleen learns that the phrase "Mama I made it to the bathroom!" does not necessarily mean that the toilet seat was up." I can imagine the audience either sympathizing with or loathing me when Oscar falls asleep in the middle of the busy cafeteria at lunch because I sent him back to school before he was ready.. I see them riveted to their seats watching as Omar rushes Lily to the pediatrician..and my conflict in wondering if I should pick up the phone when the nurse calls leaving an admonishing message on the answering machine- because we are late for this appointment that they squeezed into their already over filled schedule just for us... The passion...the drama...the three kids simultaneously throwing up with and one bathroom!  With the exception of scantily clad women-(unless you count me-wearing fleece sleep pants and one of Omar's tee shirts-I bet you somewhere someone finds that sexy) we had the makings of a hit reality television series.

  Fortunately, the herd is recovering. What an awful week it was.  I don't think that there is anything as horrible as the helpless feeling you have, when you know that there is nothing you can do for your sick kids but comfort them. That this is just one of those things that needs to be gotten through. Thank goodness for Advil, and ice, and a washing machine. For showers, and vapor juice and television. Chez herd may not be a hit television series..but that is just fine with me, because I have had all the drama I could ever want in this past week-and all without watching one episode of "The Jersey Shore".

*To all my blogging friends-I'm sorry that I have not kept up with my usual Friday blog reading! Hoping to be back on track next week. :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Me meme

  I have been tagged by the lovely Looking for Blue Sky to participate in this " me meme".  Although it isn't really about me-but rather, how my kids perceive me-through drawing.   With the exception of Oscar-the herd loves to draw. Page after page of drawings.  The girls are most interested in drawing ponies..colorful ponies, winged ponies, ponies playing games, ponies eating ice cream..ponies at school, ponies at play..happy ponies, sad ponies..angry ponies, ponies on the wrong side of the law..ponies gone wild. Ponies all day all the time.  Sammy on the other hand draws action heroes..thousands of them. Really-the boy goes through paper. Reams of much paper...tree's fear him. He also INSISTS on saving every single one of those papers.  This is a picture of roughly six weeks worth of drawings. I worry about fire safety...and winding up on an episode of "Hoarders"
I am excited to participate in this meme-because, for all the drawing three of them do-They have never drawn a picture of me. So here are the rules..

  • Ask your child to draw a picture of you. It doesn’t matter how old they are…
  • Post the picture on your blog.
  • Call it the ‘This is Me Meme’.
  • Pop over to here and add to the linky.
  • Then tag some others
So, I asked the herd to draw just me-and here is what they came up with.   It was kind of interesting to see their perspective.  I did not know my head was so big!  Oh, and just for your information-I do not wear dresses with hearts or bows in my hair-nor is my body triangle shaped. I also do NOT suffer from jaundice.  Out of all of them- I  think Oscar caught the essence of me....

This is Zoe's...

This is Lily's

This is Oscar's..he remembered my glasses..

This is Sammy's..

 Of course, I love every single one of them-they are all so different. I couldn't tell you which is the most accurate-because it is my kids perception.  So, in order to bring in even more perspective, I have added a picture of what I usually look like-you be the judge.

  This is how I usually look. Drinking coffee, doing laundry, in the kitchen,  and always wearing cool shoes.

Now for my tags. I chose the following bloggers because I have read so much about their kids-I want to see what their kids say about them-with drawings.




Big Daddy Autism

So go forth my fellow bloggers-tag you're it!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Strangers wearing name tags...

"Sometimes you're the windshield; sometimes you're the bug.

- Mark Knopfler."

  I worked at Walmart once.  Well, worked is kind of pushing it a little. It is more like I spent three hours preparing to work for Walmart. Three hours watching "informational" training videos. I have to say, they spend an inordinate amount of time teaching people how to use box cutters. I learned many things.  For instance, NEVER ever carry one around by its blade-or never put one in your pocket with the blade extended. Useful information if you should ever have the need to use a box cutter.  Fortunately, I have never found myself in that position.  But If I ever should-I will be prepared.  Thanks Walmart!

  It was a rough time financially for us. Omar was working forty miles away, we had a new baby Oscar and were first time home owners. In other words we were flat broke. I had to get a job. So it was Walmart or bust.  A jobs a job. You do what you have to. Right?   So I dove into the finer points of box cutter techniques with a positive attitude.   Until I was handed my "official" Walmart name tag. I'm sure most of you have seen them-a large rectangle..embossed with the Walmart logo (of course in red white and blue) and "Kathleen" boldly stamped across the front.  I have to be honest here- I am so not a fan of the name tag. Any name tag .I believe that they give people ideas..a sense of camaraderie that is not earned. I can't tell you how many people have thought it  o.k. to shorten my name to "Kathy".( I KNOW..What?   I am so not a "Kathy"!)    I think that if you need to know my name-ask me...maybe I'll tell you. (although...I have been known to give different names from time to time-depending on my mood.  There was a muffin store I once worked in where many of the customers thought my name was "Sharon").  But I digress...So, I was handed my official name tag-and as I was about to pin it on to my official blue Walmart vest...I noticed that there was a ribbon hanging off of it..and on the ribbon in bold print were the words "LEARNING TO SERVE". gasp!  I remember thinking "   Is this what I have been reduced to??   A label that people would shorten at will and a ribbon implying that I didn't know what I was doing?    Me!?  ( I mean- Hey-I passed my "box cutter"quizzes with flying colors!)     It's Walmart for goodness sake!  sigh... I didn't have a choice. If I wanted to be paid-I had to wear it. We needed the money-I had no choice.

  Oh-but luck was on my side!  That very same day, Omar was transferred to a restaurant four miles from our house-and not only that-his monthly bonus would now exceed what I would have made at Walmart in three months alone!  The relief was palpable. We would be financially stable...AND I didn't have to wear the name tag!! Oh happy day!

  Since that unfortunate Walmart episode-my dislike for name tags has turned to loathing. If only it were the same way for my kids. They love them-especially Oscar. My boy has never met a name tag he hasn't been compelled to read-out loud. Most people are o.k. with this. Oscar is charming and friendly..and so darn enthusiastic-that, most name tag wearing people take it with a grain of salt. They smile, they say "hi"..and that's the end of it. It has worked out fine-until we met the infamous "Jim P."

    We were at the market, standing in line at the deli counter. It was a busy Saturday, and I was only there (with the herd) out of dire necessity. The line for the deli was long-and it appeared as if it were short staffed.  Only two clerks for about thirty people. One of them was Jim P.  We know that-(in fact EVERYONE knew that) because besides it being written on his name tag- Oscar made a point of announcing it.  "Hey-Look! Theres Jim P.!" (as if he were a long lost friend) "Hi Jim P.!!" ...Jim P. ignored he said it louder.."Hey Jim P.-Hi!"    Now, I try to think the best of people-especially when they aren't being very nice.  They could be sick, or having family problems.... People have bad days-I get that.  And, because you never really know whats going on- I try not to assume. Normally, I would have intervened..distracted Oscar, explained that Jim P. was busy and did not have time to say hello. But Jim P. made a big mistake.  You see, when Oscar said hello for the second time-Jim P. looked at the other customers and rolled his eyes-as if he were disgusted. That did not fly right with this mother. Not one bit. My kids are taught to respect people, to acknowledge them-and to respond when they are being acknowledged. In other words-they have been taught manners.  I understand that Oscars exuberance can be a little daunting. But, he's a kid-and it was obvious that all he wanted to do was say hello..*sigh*   I figured that it was time to school Jim P. in manners.  So, for the next ten minutes, Oscar insisted on trying to get Jim P.'s attention . "Hey Jim P.-I'm Oscar" or ""Hey Jim P. are you cutting turkey?" and "Look, Jim P. is washing his hands."   I think that Jim P. worked very hard and fast in that ten minutes-if only to get us out of there. As he was handing me my package I made a point of praising Oscar for his manners pointing out how nice it is to take the time acknowledge people. All the while, I was looking at Jim P.

  Since that day-I have explained to my kids my problem with name tags. That even though someone is wearing one-it is nice to wait until they give you their name. We have never run into that situation again.  Funny, we have also not run into Jim P. either.  I don't think he works there anymore. There is a part of me that hopes he's at Walmart.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Air your archives-Blog gems #11

 Jen, has started another blog gems hop-yes, it is air your archives time again!  This week, the prompt I thought I would share a little of my herds creativity...and the anxiety it has caused me...

Bleacher wail..

March in New England brings melting snow, the desperate hope of spring and the youth basketball season to our little town. Every Saturday, parents of eight to twelve year olds gather in the school gymnasium to watch their children compete. This is my son Sammy's second year playing on a team. The games are short enough for him to keep focus (about twenty five minutes) and he enjoys being with the other kids. Every Saturday morning, I (frantically) gather up the herd(getting four kids dressed and a travel mug of coffee out the door can take intense negotiation), and we make our way over to watch Sammy play in that weeks game.

   My other three kids love going to Saturday basketball. For one reason-and one reason alone. The bleachers.  You know, those gigantic wooden structures, that unfold from the walls of the gymnasium, creating instant seating for a hundred or so people.  Those massive wooden things with hinges that shake and bounce as your kids run up and down them...I hate them. The person who invented these anxiety causing monstrosities, was definitely not a parent. What parent in their right mind would design something that rises fifty feet in the air with seating resembling an enormous staircase, WITH NO RAILINGS?!  It is a straight drop down-and if you are a child between the ages of 2 and 10-where do you want to sit?  At the edge of course!!(If I had my way they would have seat belts and shoulder harnesses-and be made out of foam)   What is the FIRST thing that any kid wants to do when they see them?... Run to the top.... And then back down..and back up.. fifty thousand times. My kids can be particularly creative. Simply running up and down is boring to them. Oh no, they need to be creative-to challenge the laws of gravity, to laugh in the face of age their already aged mother. They will run up sideways and come down backwards, they will go up sitting and come down sliding. They will hop and twirl and play balance beam. They will come down backwards hopping on one foot with their eyes closed, while reciting the alphabet.They will do all this without regard to life, limb, or their mothers mental health. There is so much tension in the gym on Saturday mornings, most of it caused by my children.

  I try to keep track of the game. I am there to support my son. It is just so difficult to both watch a game and keep your children from killing themselves. On the court, the boys, all attired in baggy shorts, run back and forth-all elbows and knees.  On the bleachers..the other three also hop back and forth-with their eyes closed-at the very top-trying to touch the ceiling.  Sammy gets the ball and immediately passes it to another player. This is a big improvement from last year. Back then, if he got the ball, he would giggle uncontrollably. Or, if he saw a friend on the opposing team, he would just drop the ball so he could give him a hug. This year, he is much more focused. He passes the ball with intent...he picks a player to guard, and jumps up and down in front of him frantically waving his arms. Someone shouts "way to go Sammy!".. My boy is appreciated .( There are definite attributes to living in a small town.)  I on the other hand am twisting and turning, trying to watch the game AND catch any of my kids should they take a nose dive.  I am NOT poetry in motion. I look like an ad for incontinence. One eye on the game, cheering loudly- and the other tracking the movement of three very creative gymnasts-whisper yelling "Get back HERE!!"....Oh how  I fantasize about covering them all in pillows-or at least duct taping them next to me...When, finally, the buzzer goes off. The game is over. There is no winner, they don't keep score. But I....I  feel like a champion. All of my children are walking out of the one piece!! We have survived yet another Saturday basketball game.   *sigh*  Only seven more days until the next game. I wonder if it is wrong to pray for a snowstorm...or a bleacher malfunction...or for Omar to have off so he can take them...

Saturday, March 12, 2011


~"We grow neither better nor worse as we get old, but more like ourselves.":~ May Lamberton

   I was cooking dinner ..well, putting a frozen pizza into the oven the other night when Oscar walked in and said to me (in a very bad Italian accent) "I don'ta eat mushrooms...mushrooms gonna give me the poo poo's"..Which of course made me burst out laughing. "What?" "Mushrooms! They give me the poo poo's!"  "Oscar.....You've never eaten mushrooms in your life!  What are you talking about?"  "I'm talking about the mushrooms and the poo-poo's.HAHAHAHAHA!!!!" and off he went..Leaving me a bit confused until I found him on YouTube..watching a Mario episode..."Mario Farts". *sigh*.....Mushroom mystery solved.

   He's at that age..where everything toilet related is a riot..which is a change from the stage when everything "nipple" related just cracked him up. I find this this is so much more  preferable to the time when he wouldn't even use the toilet-so I'm not going to complain ..too much. Because I know, that just like "Farmers Nipples" this too shall pass. It's funny-I don't always notice when my kids go through some growing-until they take a "next" step. Then all of a sudden I think "Holy crap! when did that happen?"

   I really haven't spoken much about the early years with my kids. Sometimes I wonder if I am doing them a disservice. I like writing about our lives now-but I need to remember what our lives were like back then-especially when I worry about what the future holds. They have come so far and worked so  hard. Sometimes I kind of forget that.. Sometimes it is good to to revisit the past..shake up the dust..visit the ghosts...take stock.

  Oscar was my toughest most challenging toddler..and, he is my most joyful boy.  When did that happen?  More importantly-how?!  I look back to the time when  he never slept,( well hardly ever if you want to count two hour naps between thirty six hours of awake time) when he didn't speak..when all it seemed he could do was scream..When I say scream-it feels like an understatement. He would scream until he passed out from exhaustion..and then wake up and start all over again. Sometimes banging his head..smashing his face into the glass windows..throwing pictures or any other thing hanging up or on display in our house...or taking it out on me.  Did I mention he screamed?   As for autism... we didn't  have a diagnosis until he was four and a half. I know it sounds crazy-but there you go. We were told it was a phase..maybe ADHD..that he would outgrow it...He just needed more attention. The professionals we took him to weren't concerned because "he made eye contact".... So, for a long time-I thought I was just awful at parenting. That we were concentrating too much on Sam and not enough on Oscar. So, diagnosis(-when we finally got one) was to us- a godsend. Yes, we suspected-we had been working with Sam..But Oscar was so different than his brother...he was more present-certainly more demanding..definitely louder. I remember feeling as though I didn't know how to listen.

  Sammy  tells me that he stopped talking and responding (when he was little) because the world was too busy, and that words sounded jumbled and didn't make sense. He says that he felt better when he was in his head.  Oscar does not have the words to tell me why things were so hard for him-yet.  I hope that one day he does. Right now when I ask him "Oscar..  do you remember why you used to scream so much?" He'll tell  me "I used to scream."  "Yes, but do you know why?"  "No, why?"  "I don't know, I was hoping you could tell me." "Tell me what?" ....I stop myself before it turns into an Abbot and Costello parody of "who's on first?"..he just isn't ready for this conversation-yet. That's o.k.-we have plenty of others-they are just poop related.

  I think that the hardest part of being a parent(to any child) is the worry. I know that I can wind myself up into a gigantic stress ball just thinking about the "what ifs" and "whens"..I have to remind myself to look back dredge up the ghosts-if only to recognize how far we have all come from those dark days.  The past is important to remember when the present time doesn't seem to be enough. And right kids..all of them, are more than enough-even better.

    Right now, I am listening to Oscar squealing at the computer and yelling( again with the bad Italian accent) "Don't put a the farts in the fire!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!" *sigh*  He can still be so very loud....but at least in this moment, it is joyful. I'll have to work with him on the accent though...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Midweek meme...

  The lovely Laura has tagged me in a sort of "what do you have by your bed to read" meme.  The rules are that you have to take a picture of the books....explain a little about them...and then tag a few bloggers..
So first up...the picture.

  This is my bedside least how I would like it to look.In other words..This is my bedside table if it were a work of fiction.  Notice the GINORMOUS American eagle vase in the background.  This was my Christmas present from Oscar(he found it at a thrift sale..). He knows that I like eagles..and he told me that this...reminded him of me?  I'm still thinking on that.  Do you see my little book light?  That is for when I read at night.  I really do wish it looked like this.  but instead it looks like this....

Do you notice the abundance of "My Little Pony" books? Yup-I believe that we have all the latest pony literature- unabridged (for all you purists)  There is also a "Stuart Little" book..and a "Gregor" book from the series by Suzanne Collins. I did not put them there.  Really. My books are on the top of the pony pile-they are a few of the many books I am currently reading. "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee(on the top of the pile) is one I just reread for the third time. It is so beautifully written-it is one of my all time favorites. I am also reading "A Long Ride for a Slice of Pie" By Tim is true story about riding a bike from London to New Zealand for some Kiwi pie..And "The Will of the Empress" by Tamora Pierce-one of my favorite YA authors. She writes wonderfully strong girl characters.  Again, the pony books are not mine. I will admit to reading the Gregor book-but only because Sam asked me to. I actually kind of have to-as he will come to me and start a discussion about it-not really noticing if I know what he is talking about or not. So, I read it in order to keep an edge. Again, I do NOT read the pony books.

So now I get to tag some bloggers to see what they are reading. I also wonder if any of them have a glorious American Eagle vase like I do...or" My Little pony Books"..(which I don't read.)  I think that you can learn much about a person by what they read. (or don't read i.e. pony books) So, I look forward to seeing what these fellow bloggers read...Tag you're it!

Four Sea Stars

Don't panic

Welcome to the roller-coaster ride

Saturday, March 5, 2011

In other words...

~"It's a sin to kill a mockingbird"~Harper Lee

  "HALT! Mama HALT!" Oscar yelled...I was on the telephone and happened to use the words "My god!" which was a total "no no" to my boy. No..he has not suddenly become religious..or even spiritual. It is just that we have been discussing language lately-words, meanings..what is proper and much more importantly-what is not. My kids have taken it very seriously-so seriously that they have become some sort of "morality" police school, with each other..and sigh...especially with me.

 Now,  I have been known on occasion to utter certain words-or phrases if you will.  The kind of things that pop out of ones mouth when one happens to step bare foot on a Lego for instance or slam their head on an open cabinet door. Colorful words that usually start with an F or an S..sometimes whole strings of such words. I admit it-there are times they just flow forth with incredible grace and ease. I can be quite poetic. Fortunately, the kids have never really noticed-or so I thought..until now. I blame the computer among other things.

  Oscar, is incredible on the computer. If he is interested in something-it takes him less than thirty seconds to find it..and it is usually on YouTube.  You can imagine my dismay when he turned to me one night and said "Mama..what's a boner?" To which I responded "I haven't the slightest idea! Go ask your Papa." (heehee) Oh, I knew my days were numbered and that it was time to talk to them .

  Some of my kids have fought hard for their we have always tried to be encouraging-no matter what they said. The only real word rules we have had in place were that they were never to call someone stupid or an idiot..nor were they to exclaim "Oh my god". The first two...well, because I think that those are awful things to call anyone..and the latter because some people might be offended by it. I never thought to discuss any others with them-it just didn't seem necessary. Until now.*sigh*  I don't know what has happened, but they all have begun to notice my use of certain words-collectively.  So, I figured it was time to sit down and talk about it.  Especially as they are asking what those words mean.

S-"Mama...what does the "F" word mean"
Me-" have sex."
S-"Well..why would someone yell that at someone.  It doesn't make sense"
Me-"You're right-it doesn't..I really have no idea is just one of those words that kind of work in certain situations.."
L-"What does the "S" word mean?"
L"Then why don't you just say poop?"
Me-"..uumm..well..I guess the "S" word just works better's stronger"
L-"Well can I say it?"
L-"Why not?"
Me-"I guess there are just certain words that don't sound nice coming from a kids mouth."
S-"Like stupid or idiot"
O-"Mama! Sammy said a bad word!"
Me-"No..look..there is no such thing as a "BAD" word...words aren't bad..the intention behind them is what matters. A word can't be bad...but how you use it can be..not nice."
L-"Well YOU use those words"
L-"Well if they aren't bad then why can't we?"
Me-"Because I'm a grown woman"
L-"So when I'm a grown woman I can use them?"
Me-"When you are grown up AND you can give me fifty different words that mean the same exact thing..we'll talk about it."
L-"Fifty words?'......" (I can almost hear her thinking)

  I thought we had settled it. that they understood where I was coming from. Until Oscar came running yelling "HALT!"(  "HALT"???-don't know where that came from..maybe the computer?) at me when I said "My god"...*sigh* it took the better part of the evening to explain that the word "god" was NOT bad...but that I had indeed made a mistake in my use of it...But then again..Lily, loudly exclaimed "Holy SHRIMP" in the store the other day..and even louder explained "I say shrimp but MAMA uses the OTHER word".(.parent teacher conferences should be interesting next week. .)

  It seems that I am going to have to watch what I say from now on...It is either that or not slam my knee into table corners, step on Thomas toys in bare feet,,or stub my toe on furniture. I do know one thing for sure. I am hiding the dictionary from Lily...Holy shrimp-indeed.