Friday, October 31, 2008


I think I need to take a breath. Or 2,000.

Jason has left and gone to India and I am on my own. This is generally not a problem, but...

Jon has projects galore to do at school.
Jon miscommunicates with the teacher so I have to sort things out. (No, she did not expect him to make 24 puppets for his book report.)
It is Halloween and I had to help four kids carve pumpkins.
It is Halloween and the kids still want to put up decorations even though it is Halloween day.
It is Halloween and every kid seems to have some THING to do for school, church, etc.
The hamster has died and the disposal crew has not arrived.
Jon is sad about the death of the hamster.
My house is undergoing renovations, but the contractor had to leave town for a week so things are just not right.
My house is undergoing renovations.
Lyvi keeps pee peeing her in pants.
Kids don't like to go to sleep when daddy is not home.
Jon has a football game and we are in charge of chains...whatever that means.
My brother gives me 3 days notice that he is arriving from Japan with his girlfriend.
My brother is arriving at 8 pm on a Sunday night so I cannot pick them up at the airport with four kids who need to be sleeping since school is the next day.
I am hosting Bunco at my house next week -- hope they like pizza.
I am volunteering for Coats for Kids when the preschoolers are in school.
There are also a few other things that I can't mention here, but Heavens!

I will take a breath and keep going because...
I know my friend Paula will email after reading this and offer to help organize.
My friend Jeanne came by and helped move some furniture back into place.
Jon's teachers are so wonderful we just come up with solution after solution.
I am blessed that we could renovate our house to make it more usable.
It is Halloween and that is just good ol' fashioned fun!
My neighbor is not scared of dead things and helped verify the hamster was dying
and will come dispose of it soon.
My kids are fun to snuggle with at night in my bed.
Other football parents will handle the chains and not make me know what they are.
My dad is coming to help get my brother around.
My kids get to see their uncle Bryan.
My Bunco friends don't care what I serve and will even eat pizza.
With the littles in school, I can get away a bit and find time to do things I like.
I have friends who listen when I have those things going wrong
and always answer the right way.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Remember, Jonathan

I hope you remember the day when I gave you a list of homework that needed to be done before you could play. You did your best until a great wind came along and swept you outside. I could have tethered you down, but instead I let it sweep you outside. The whole neighborhood was outside joyfully relishing the crazy weather. As a child, it must be wonderful to run and become one with the wind. Adults forget these things and lose interest in experiencing "the wild joy of living".

So, remember this day, Jonathan. I hope you will also let your kids run rampant when the wild winds call them.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


When I find a cracked egg in her bathroom sink, I just think, "Oh, Lyvia."
When I find the second stopped up toilet of the day, I just think, "Oh, Lyvia."
When she screams at me, "I stop crying!", I just think, "Oh, Lyvia."
When I clean her pee out of the cup holder in my car, I just think, "Oh, Lyvia."

When she makes her own nachos in the microwave without asking and the cheese has fused to the plate, I just think "Oh, Lyvia."
When I pull the orange Tic Tac out of her nose with tweezers and she says, "I eat it!" I just think, "Oh, Lyvia."
When she opens all the yogurt in the fridge, as she tries to find her favorite,
I just think "Oh, Lyvia."

I think I'm glad I didn't name her Olivia or I'd be saying, "Oh, Olivia."
And really, who has the time?
added 7 minutes after I published this post:
When you finally realize that she is taking off her pull-up after you put her to bed and peeing all over the place, I just think, "Oh, Lyvia."
I'm worried I'm going to forget all these so maybe I'll just keep adding them as they occur...
When Lyvia takes one bite out of each strawberry and lines them up in a row
When I catch her carrying a 5 pound box of hot chocolate mix upstairs
When she spoons all her yogurt on top of her sandwich
When she takes a green marker and randomly colors on walls throughout the house
When every bottle of glue has to be opened and completely emptied

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Have You Seen Me?

Have you seen me? I have eyes so dark you can't see my pupils. They are beautiful to my mommy and don't miss a thing.

My hair is brown and has finally grown so long that now I have a cute little bob. My mommy likes to put things in my hair. I think it is fun, too. But just for a little while.

My fingers are long and graceful. They are probably the most amazing thing on my body. I have excellent fine motor skills and hold a fork nicer than anyone else in my family. I like to make sure my fingers are kept busy all day long. I wish my mommy knew this was better than sticking them up my nose. Well, I did just stick that Tic Tac way up my nose, but most of the time they are exploring other things.

My body is very strong and I amaze everyone with my incredible diving somersaults. I can hang on a bar and raise my toes up to touch it, too. I love to dance, but sometimes I don't want you to watch.

My smile is like the sun. It just warms my mommy's heart every time I grin at her. She knows I don't smile at just anything so when I do, it really comes from the heart.

So have you seen me? My mommy was lucky enough to see me tonight while I was falling asleep. I'm pretty sure I looked like a sweet angel.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


This is our hamster.

I had a long, rough summer. It seemed to go on and on and there was no structure and I had a sick aunt and other family losses. So, the day before school started, Mama Wallis enjoyed herself a bit much at the celebratory family dinner. It was at a Mexican restaurant (that is code for -- I had a margarita......or two.)

During dinner Lindsay asked for a fish and I said, "Sure!" Jonathan asked if he could have a hamster and I said, "Sure!"

The next day I had to do some damage control.

The fish is easy since I save all the fish accouterments for these moments when I sign myself up for yet more work. I've learned that Betas require the least amount of water changes and seem pretty hard to kill. However, for the stinky rat, I decided there would be many more hoops to jump through.

First I made Jonathan research hamsters and report back to me. He had to answer questions:
What do I have to do to take care of a hamster?
Name three reasons hamsters are good pets.
Name three reasons hamsters are not good pets.
What is the best breed of hamster for me to have as a pet and why.
He loved the project.

I also decided he needed to save his money and buy everything for the hamster. He counted up all of his money and started doing chores to earn the rest. I think the start-up costs came to something like $60+!

Of course the other kids started clamoring for a hamster so I quickly made a rule that you have to be nine years old to have a hamster. I spent plenty of my time as a kid cleaning out my hamster cage and don't want to ever spend my time like that again. Really, a hamster is the perfect pet to teach a kid some responsibility since they can do and afford 100% of the care.

Jonathan decided on the breed and sex of the hamster (Teddy Bear/male.) Of course when we went to buy the hamster, there were no Teddy Bear hamsters and they were all girls. The good news was that in two short days they would have a new crop of hamsters. The bad news is that two days is an eternity for a kid on the brink of becoming a pet parent. Therefore, we came back home with a short haired gal.

My first impression...I loved this little thing. It is quite possible that I was as excited as Jonathan AND I didn't have to part with my hard earned cash to relieve my childhood. However, in my excitement, it didn't occur to me to exchange the hamster that chewed her way out of the box before we even got to the cash register. Jonathan finally named her Biscuit. It should be Houdini. She is strong. She is willful. She breaks free from her cage twice a week and I have to look for her.

Last week she was nowhere to be found, but Superdog Sadie kept scratching the Tinkertoy box. Lo and behold, there she was! Last night Jason had to get up and care for some screaming child. He noticed an odd shape on the floor and there she was! Sometimes Sadie acts like a hamster herder and will alert us to where she has cornered Biscuit. It's all good, but I can guarantee you that one day Sadie will not be able to resist gnawing on her a bit (sadly this knowledge is based on a mouse babysitting gig that went horribly wrong.) That will NOT be a good day 'cause I don't do dead things.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Jonathan's football season is off and running. This is the best coach we have had. He is SOO into the game, teaching the boys excellent skills and working them like crazy. He is also the first coach that hollers (in that lovable coachable way.) I heard, "What are you all doing?!?!?! We are better than this!!!", come screaming out of his mouth moments after I thought it. I also love, love him because he doesn't believe in them starting tackle until middle school. My hero.

Last Saturday Jonathan obviously misunderstood some aspect to working the defensive line. His great coach saw the problem and at practice this week explained exactly when he can start moving where so it will be interesting to see if the new info can be put to good use at the next game.
The game started out with hom some missing some flags, but after a halftime talk from the coach, Jonathan caught an interception!

The defensive couch heaps praise on Jonathan -- sometimes they are more excited than the kids, but their enthusiasm is infectious.

I can't help but root for the other team when it has some girl power going on. This is my friend's daughter. She is also at school with Jonathan and she is proud of this great touchdown picture. She wants to be the first female football player on the University of Texas football team. Too cool!

House Cleaners

Okay, someone just moaned to me about not having their very own house cleaner so here is how you get one. I know some people need every bit of their paycheck to function (special hugs to you), but for others, budget a house cleaner into your mortgage! It works so well! Say your family can afford a $1200 a month mortgage. If the house cleaner costs $400 a month, then look for a house you can buy with an $800 a month mortgage and spend the rest on some help. Jason also makes sure he can afford someone to cut the grass otherwise it just won't happen. It does help me keep a reality check about buying too much house when really, I'd rather have someone clean the thing for me. Of course, we also benefit from living in Texas instead of California, Virginia or New York where a much larger fraction of your income goes into housing.

We also budget using huge categories. It never works for me to budget too specifically. Instead, we have housing, transportation, living and savings. Housing is 35% (includes everything in the house including internet, phone, cell phones, etc -- again, keeps me from overbuying a house), Living 30%, Transportation 10% and Savings 25%. Some of the savings is for cars (we always pay cash) and trips (saving to spend -- the most fun!)

I do wish everyone could have someone clean for them, too. I truly appreciate the help.

Wild Wednesdays

Wednesday is the day we just all have to hold on, charge forth and pray for the end of. In the morning the Littles have gymnastics, which they l.o.v.e. This time isn't so bad because I walk the track with a friend whose son is also in gymnastics and after we go somewhere for lunch. Of course at lunch I spilled my drink all over myself, the kids wouldn't play on the play equipment 'cause sitting with mom is so much better, my food was so spicy I had to eat all my friend's french fries (at least that is what I told her), Dylan didn't want milk, Dylan didn't want milk, Dylan really didn't want milk and he didn't want mac n cheese either. I forget that he doesn't like cheese now because it just sounds so ridiculous. Who doesn't like cheese?

By Wednesday, the house needs to be condemned. It is supposed to be the day I pick it all up since my house cleaners come on Thursday. It is not a nice pleasant place on Wednesday. Not only are things anywhere they are not supposed to be, but also I have very grumpy thoughts about the people who put them in those places.

Wednesday is the day I am picking up one room, while Lyvia is destroying something in another. Unfortunately yesterday it was cutting open each and every one of my vitamin packets. I was not happy. Again.

When Jonathan and Lindsay get home from school I hurry them into the car then:
drop Jon off at speech
drop Lindsay off at gymnastics
drop Ryan off at home (Dylan's friend who he REALLY wants to live with in the same house)
pick up Jon at speech
pick up Lindsay at gymnastics

No, these places are not near each other.
Yes, this would be impossible without the DVD player in the car.

Once home, I STILL have the horrid house to deal with and it is our night to finish all homework and study for Thursday spelling tests. Accomplishing homework sounds so simple, but it just isn't. Even now, while thinking about us sitting around the dining room table, my vision is of little studious children and their charming, smiling mother working together. If they would just listen to me and do exactly what I tell them, we would be fine. Instead, someone raised them to think for themselves. Damn her.

So, I crawl exhausted into bed with the house in shambles and then spend Thursday frantically picking up because the maids just toss it all together like stone soup and I'd have to reorg it anyways. Just around the corner I can see that we will one day be a family of six who actually picks up after themselves. At least I have to think that or I might just not get out of bed on Wednesdays.

*The silver lining in my day was when I was told next week will be Jonathan's last day at speech -- phew!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Bedtime can be the sweetest, most fabulous time of the day and not simply because you will soon be kid-free. You get to read books and cuddle with your babies, who look at you like you hung the moon. Then there are all those hugs and kisses. I try to make sure they are memorable because the days are so busy that we might have missed out on some of that lovin'.

I think even Jonathan loves this time of the night because he enjoys reading books to some of the littles and tucking them into bed. He did get frustrated with his Daddy tonight. He came in while I was reading to Dylan and Lindsay and said, "Daddy just doesn't know how to work with little kids. He just tries to make them go to bed when what you really need to do is let them watch the older kids get ready and go to bed. Older kids can be a good example and then the little kids will do the same thing." old are you again? I'll start the bidding for my future Husband of the Year.

That is another aspect of why I like bedtimes so much. Finally there are no neighbor kids to play with, the house gets a bit stiller and the older kids realize that as long as they are talking substantially to you, they don't actually have to fall asleep. At nighttime, we really do have some of our best and sometimes only good chats of the day. Guess I'll let them stay up and talk a bit longer...I just wish I wasn't so tired and ready for bed.