The Time Suck

You may have noticed my (complete) lack of blogs lately.  That is because I have been very, very lazy busy lately.  I do have a house to run and five children plus one husband to corral, clothe and feed on a regular basis.  And the Fall season of sports and activities has already revved up to max Q.  But that’s not why I didn’t write during the past week.  I just wasn’t feeling it.  Plus I had very important business.  Donkey Kong Country Returns business on the Wii, to be specific.  And those eight magical orbs are NOT going to find themselves, you know.

Last week was an off week for Kid E.  He had two weeks of camp that coincided with the others starting public school but his first day of preschool isn’t actually until tomorrow.  In the meantime, we have been just hanging out doing not much of anything together.  We have had a blast.  We went to Target a couple of times and did some birthday wish list browsing (I swear the kid headed straight for the Nerf guns and the Thor pointy helmet every time!) and we have played endless hours of Legos, Batman, Mom-Always-Said-Don’t-Play-Ball-in-the-House, and – of course – video games.

It all started with the Atari 2600...

Kid E loves to watch me play video games.  I don’t mean to brag, but I am exceedingly good at them.  I have been playing basically my whole life, at least since 1982 when they got a Q*bert at the Wawa near my house.  I can play for hours at a time too.  It drives Sheepdog nuts.  Especially when I play instead of write.  Or make dinner.  Or talk to him.  But especially instead of writing.  That drives him a special kind of crazy.  Heh heh.  Little does he know that I am so late in posting today because Kid E and I have played no less than an hour and a half of DKCR and Super Mario Bros.  I have all 3 star coins on seven of the eight levels on World 9… those last two star coins for the total 9-7 win are just so darned elusive!!!

Now, I only play the kid-friendly games.  I have never gotten into Halo or Grand Theft Auto or any of the other blood and guts and breaking of the seven deadly sins-type video games.  I guess I want to defend myself by clarifying that I am not sitting in my basement donning a headset, connected to the internet, living in the same clothes for five days at a time, all while siting in a pile of Cheetos dust.  I just play a little Wii Fit Plus now and again.  And some Wii tennis, baseball and bowling.  And some Harry Potter Years 1 – 4.  And some Lego Star Wars.

I know that playing these video games is completely unproductive and I’m probably giving myself ADD or ADHD, but I do enjoy the mindless entertainment of it all every now and again.  And the Wii Fit games get everybody up and moving.  Not as much as the real thing, but it is a great alternative for the times when it is crazy hot or raining outside.  My thinking is that it is better than television, at least, because video games develop hand-eye coordination and sharp reflexes.  At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

So tomorrow I will send my baby off to preschool and things will get back to normal and I will start acting more mom-like on a regular basis.  You’ll probably see more weekday posts from me then.  And I’ll go back to making real dinners and conversing with Sheepdog and throwing a football in the yard with my kids.

But you shouldn’t be totally surprised if one day you see somebody with the handle “FiveBabyMama” online tearing it up on some video game.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…


It only took six days.  Yep, just six days of commingling in the public school system, sharing toilets and lunch tables and craft supplies, until one of my kids caught something icky.

Kid D came off the bus on Monday afternoon acting strange.  He didn’t want to go back outside.  He didn’t want to play with a friend.  He didn’t want to swim.  He didn’t even want to play video games.  Wait, …what?  That boy must be ill.

I originally presumed it was the aftereffects of playing outside in the insane humidity (it was still 99 degrees outside at 7 p.m. on Monday here).

“Drink some water,” I said.  “You’re probably dehydrated.”

But alas, he continued his downward spiral and very quickly earned entry into the Sick Males Club (marked by incessant whining with no direct correlation to the severity of the illness, an unquenchable desire for constant attention, and requests for very specific – and usually inconvenient to obtain – food and drink items).  He was running a very high fever, but had few other symptoms.  He has been home for two days.  It seems like two weeks.

Even though I am tired of hearing my name called out every minute on the minute (Enough already!  There is no way that your fingers are too weak to press the buttons on the remote.  I am sensing a scam here.), I have to admit that I enjoy having alone time with my kids occasionally.  I enjoy fussing over them and showering them exclusively with my attention while the others are at school.  I love that my little boy still needs his mommy when he is sick.  I love that I can make him feel better by reading with him and chatting with him and making him comfort food and rubbing his little feet.

But I would love it more if he got all better soon.  It makes me sad when my kids are sickos.

The only acceptable fever

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Having a Lot of Kids Will Almost Always Lead to Drinking

This past weekend we were heavy two cosmonauts (temporarily).  Sister C and her husband traveled to Jekyll Island for a wedding and her oldest two kids stayed with us.  My nephew is seven and my niece just turned five.  They are good and get along well with my kids.  So we threw them into the pot and told them to hold on tight for a bumpy ride.  Seven kids over three days was gonna be FUN!

Friday was Day One.  I was getting my hair cut and colored (I have the Catch-22 of giant Jersey Girl hair that grows super fast, yet started turning grey when I was only 25 years old) because my sparkles (what I call the evil grey hair when it shines next to my naturally dark hair) were lighting up like a Christmas tree.  My appointment was early, so I just asked Kid B (Kid A sleeps like the Teenage Undead until noon if you let her) to watch them all until I got back.  Sheepdog had made the mistake of deciding to work from home that morning without checking our schedule first, so he got roped in on the babysitting gig too.  Actually, the Wii ended up babysitting three of them, as the boys played video games until their eyeballs were just about to pop out of their heads.  The girls went upstairs and dragged out the $17,000 worth of American Girl Doll equipment, clothes and furniture that we have in a closet and played until their little fingers were bleeding from working those tiny buttons.  I gave them spaghetti and meatballs for dinner and ice cream cake for dessert, then they were off to bed!  Everybody was happy.

Saturday was Day Two.  We had a 1st Birthday Party to attend for my youngest niece later in the afternoon, but it was sunny and hot in the morning so we decided to get everybody dressed and ready for a day at the pool first.  Nine sandwiches, drinks, snacks, towels, bathing suits and eighteen flip-flops (well 17, as Kid E still has the boot on his left foot), and an assembly line of sunscreen later, we headed off to the neighborhood pool for some cooling off.  I was Mama Duck with my seven little ducklings marching behind me along the side of the road.  As we walked I heard the dreaded rumble of thunder off in the distance.  Crap.  We decided we could eat lunch at the pool while we waited the required 20 minutes before being able to go back in the water after thunder and we pressed on.  No sooner did we get to the pool than another boom of thunder rocked our ears.  Double crap.  The skies still looked blue and the clouds were not menacing, so everybody just ate lunch and we hung out for our second penalty.  As it goes, just seconds prior to the end of the waiting period, yet another thunderbolt crashed somewhere far away.  Despite our insistence that it was just a neighbor bringing in his trash cans, the lifeguard went all hard-core and shut us down again.  Third strike and all, we gathered our things and headed back to the house, never having even dipped a single big toe into the cool pool.

After our complete bust of a pool day the kids all complained that they were hot and sweaty and sticky from sunscreen and they all wanted soapy showers before the party.  Sheepdog was adamantly opposed and suggested we just hose them off in the backyard.  But I conceded to their request, mostly because they went straight into pj’s the night before.  By the end we depleted the hot water supply from our not one, but TWO hot water heaters, but everyone was clean, cool and dressed for the party.

Now the party for my other niece was in Kennesaw, which is forty-five minutes away no matter how you cut it.  The big monster truck that I drive all of the kids around in only fits seven (especially with all of the car seats), so we had to formulate a plan on how to get there.  We had the option to take two cars, but after much discussion we opted to take the truck and just put two people in the waaaay back, using body and boyfriend pillows for back support.  Sheepdog and I both grew up in the 70’s and have ridden seat belt-less on the hump in the back seat or in the empty bed of a pickup truck.  Hell, the “infant car seats” from when we were babies were basically laundry baskets that got put on the front seat next to the driver.  And we’re both fine, so we decided to Old School it.

I am considering this for my next car, as they say they were able to fit 13 people into it.

One dumb ass decision by Sheepdog and me, a driver who fell asleep at his wheel and two busted up cars later, we were getting a fire truck escort over to the right shoulder on GA-400S.  Our girls riding in the back saw that the driver was nodding off and called to Sheepdog to PLEASE GET OUT OF THIS LANE RIGHT NOW, DADDY.  He told them that it was fine, yet turned on his blinker and attempted to move over in the bumper-to-bumper traffic.  As the girls continued to let him know that they were frightened and he (and I) countered for them to calm down and that no one would really drive while asleep, but we were moving over nonethele… KABOOM!  He rear-ended us.  Fortunately we were going under 15 miles per hour and not even one person was hurt (the guy’s car is a different story – he lost his entire front end).  Oh there was some screaming at first from the jolt of the impact, but the kids really were troopers.

You really can’t even imagine how bad the sleeping driver felt when he learned that he just crashed into a car filled with seven little kids on their way to their cousin’s birthday party.  Why not just run over some nuns and orphans while you’re at it?  But, like I said, everyone was just fine and we went on to the party and had a great time celebrating and visiting with even more aunts, uncles and cousins.

So Sunday comes afterwards.  Day Three was a hot and sunny once again, so we decided to just go balls to the wall and attempt the pool one more time.  Suits, check.  Gear, check.  Food, check.  Sunscreen, check.  You know the drill by now.  Mama duck and baby ducks.  And on this day there was no thunder.  As a matter of fact, it was a fantastic day at the pool all around.  The kids had fun, swam like fish, and Sheepdog and I managed to keep an eye on everybody and we even got to spend some time hanging out together.  By the time we gathered out things almost four hours later we had four or five more kids who came back to the house along with us, everybody a little sunburned and everybody a little worn out.  It was a great end to a (mostly) fun weekend.

After Sister C came to gather her chickens and take them back home, and Kid A took off to go to dinner and the movies with her friends, and Kids B and C were invited to sleep over at their friend’s house, I made a simple dinner of burgers and dogs for Sheepdog, Kid D, Kid E and myself.  As I was standing at the grill I said a prayer of thanks that we were all safe, and I made a promise that no one was ever riding without proper seat belt restraints under my watch again.  And then I came back in the house and opened a giant bottle of wine and I proceeded to drink most of it.  Because having a lot of kids will almost always lead to drinking.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

“OK Day”

Summer may seem endless, especially to a stay-at-home parent who is suddenly one day in May or June each year invaded by kids being all up in your house space.  The survival of all eighty-odd days without incident can seem impossible, especially early on in the process.  I just hang in there, taking it one day at a time (or more appropriately referred to as one Happy Hour at a time) until about day thirty-five, when I then realize that the summer is a few days shy of being half over and whereinthehelldidthetimegoandhowarewegoingtodo allthethingswewantedtodothissummerwithwhatlittletimewehaveleft?

For part of the summer the kids and I travel, mainly visiting both my parents and Sheepdog’s parents.  For another part of the summer we just lounge at our neighborhood pool.  We usually do not participate in any summer sports or activities, although this summer Kid B was planning to do a short soccer camp at a local high school (I just realized that the camp started yesterday and we have already missed two of the three total days…oops! no soccer camp this summer either).  We all seem to enjoy not having schedules and just doing our own thing and lounging around, watching movies, playing with friends and each other, reading books and magazines, and perfecting our tans and Triple Lindys.

I am really up for most suggestions of things to do from the kids, as long as they don’t inconvenience me too much (e.g. interrupt my intense summer schedule of playing Zuma on my laptop, or of watching HGTV or MTV shows from my extensive DVR queue) or cost an arm and a leg.  So when somebody suggested each kid having a day during which they call the shots, I was certainly up for it (within reasonable limits, of course).  Everybody tossed around some ideas about fun stuff to do on their days, but most of them are playing it pretty close to the vest and not sharing details until they reach the limit of the required 48-hours notice so I can plan meals, supplies, travel and details.

Part of Kid D's plan was for his siblings to create and play a reality TV game show with him. He, of course, got to win.

“Mom, can I have cake for breakfast?


“Mom, can I play Wii all day long and go first every time and pick the teams and pick the games and win every time too?”


“Mom, can we go bowling after we go to the pool?”

(bowling – really?  ugh, but…) “OK.”

“Mom, can I have cake for lunch…and dinner?”

(you are so gonna vomit, but…) “OK.”

“Mom, can we set up an elaborate reality game show in the house, complete with video instructions, painted poster and challenges?”

(speechless) “OK.”

“Mom, can I take a shower with my clothes on?”

(weird, but…) “OK.”

See, that’s all innocent enough.  We are only on our first Special Day (the honor went to Kid D based on recent good behavior), which has now been re-named “OK Day” (obvious explanation above).  I love hearing their ideas and plans and what they choose to do when they have very few limits.  So far I have not had to say no even once.  But Kid B hasn’t gone yet, so give it time.  As the kids get older, their ideas will no doubt become more ridiculous and I will be wishing for the end of summer and start of a new school year, schedules and all.  But for now, we’re all doing OK.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…