Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How NOT to Exit the Church Gracefully

Yesterday after church we went to get the twins from the nursery as usual. They always love being there, but of course they love seeing Mommy and Daddy come back too.

The only problem is, there is a little playground right outside the nursery door. (The door opens directly to the outside; as with many buildings in Hawaii there are no hallways in the church, only open-air covered walkways.) There is no way to leave the nursery without passing this playground, and the twins always bolt for it as soon as they see it. Once they’re on the playground it’s difficult to get them off.

Therefore most Sunday mornings end with us dragging two kicking, screaming little balls of outrage to the parking lot. This is particularly difficult when my husband has to work on Sundays, which has been often recently, and ET, our 13-year-old, has to help. (She can carry a screaming toddler, but she’d not particularly gentle about it, if you get my meaning.)

So yesterday as we arrived at the nursery door, I tried blocking Baby Boy’s view of the playground with my body. It didn’t work. I’m not a small person, but apparently I’m not as fat as I thought. As soon as the safety gate opened he ran for the playground, with Baby Girl right after him. Fortunately, my husband was with us, so he and the older girls were behind me. They ended up watching the twins on the playground while I went in to get our oversize diaper bag.

Then the nursery workers and I played a fun game called “Where’s the Sippy Cup?” We play it often at home; with two sippy cups to lose there’s always at least one you can’t locate. We looked everywhere but I finally ended up leaving with only one cup.

When I walked back outside the older girls were trying to corner Baby Boy. My husband was holding Baby Girl over his shoulder and she was hollering to be let down. She is a champion screamer by the way. Her daddy says she may have a future as a horror movie victim.

So my husband said to me… well, actually he yelled to me over the noise Baby Girl was making, “She needs to be changed. She has a poopy diaper.” I really didn’t think she could have pooped in the five minutes they’d been on the playground, and I knew the nursery ladies would have changed her if she’d pooped before that, but I took his word for it. So I took her, and he scooped up a passing Baby Boy, saying he’d meet us at the car.

I went back into the nursery to change Baby Girls’ diaper, but when I got her diaper off I saw that she hadn’t pooped. I dressed her again and carried her to the car. Actually, I tried to get her to walk to the car, but as we passed the playground again, she dropped my hand and did the Jell-o trick --collapsing in a heap as if her legs had no bones-- forcing me to carry her struggling body in one arm with the diaper bag, my purse, and my Bible on the other arm.

When I got to the car, I informed my husband that there had not in fact been any poop. He turned to ET and said, “I told you it was a leaf!” Apparently, she was the one who’d said there was a poopy diaper. (If I'd known that we could have saved a lot of time. I never beleive the girls anymore when they accuse the twins of being stinky. I think they just find the babies' natural smell offensive.)

ET defended herself with, “She did have poop! I saw it! She must have sucked it back in or something to trick me!” I said, “So you actually think your baby sister pooped her diaper and then sucked the poop back into her body just to make YOU look bad?” I mean, we all know teenagers think the world revolves around them but this is too much!

Nuby BPA FREE No-spill Sippy Gripper Cup 10 Oz - boy colorsAnyways, at least we all made it to the car, except for poor Lost Sippy Cup.

We may never see him again…

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Scaring the Maintenance Man

I think we frightened a repairman today.

I called him earlier today because of the smoke alarm. It keeps beeping like it has a low battery, but we changed the battery and it’s still beeping periodically. Especially in the middle of the night.

As you can imagine, this is not very conducive to sleep. So my husband took it down during the night, and I called maintenance this morning.

We live in military housing, so we don’t have to fix these annoying little things ourselves like real homeowners. It’s quite nice. A few weeks ago the toilet started that irritating run-run-running thing, and instead of eternally jiggling the handle, or spending a weekend with toilet parts all over the bathroom going, “What the heck is THIS part for?” I just called maintenance, and a nice man in a zippered jumpsuit came and fixed it right up.

And then there was the time when sewage started bubbling up in our yard. On a Saturday. I won’t say any more about that except that I was SO glad I could make a phone call and file it under Not My Problem. All I had to do was yell, “You kids stay away from that!” a few times. (You’d think it would be intuitive to stay away from something like that, but kids are weird. They were fascinated by it. Ewwwwwwww…)

Anyways, today when the repairman arrived, all my kids were home from school and the twins were up from their nap. We also had about five neighbor kids in the house, eating our food, watching our TV, and playing on our computer. (It was raining outside.) We are talking maximum home capacity here. You can just imagine the noise level.

So as the doorbell rang, my 13-year-old was being dragged around the house on her back by her also 13-year-old friend. (I can't imagine why. Like I said, kids are weird.) I went to answer the door as the giggling pair reached the entryway. The twins heard the doorbell, stopped pressing buttons on their noisy toys, and came running, yelling, “Hello! Hello!” I said to my oldest daughter, “Please get up,” and stepped over her to open the door.

The scene that greeted the repairman was this: a teenager lying on the floor while another teenager pulled on her arms, a pair of two-year-olds peering around the door, and the sound of a large group of kids in the next room singing raucously along with the TV, “Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?” (I think we all know the answer to THAT.)

He looked a little shocked. I looked down at my daughter, still on the floor, and said, “Please get up. I really meant that.” She got up, clearing the way for the repairman to enter.

I said, “Sorry,” and told him about the problem with the smoke alarm. He gave me an explanation about how you have to press the test button after you put in the new battery. (And why would I want to do that? To make it give off that horrible sound on purpose?) Anyways, he put in a new battery and pressed something, said it would stop beeping now, and asked if we had a stepladder so he could put it back up in the hall.

I said, “We have a chair,” and went to get one from the dining room. He followed me past all the kids in the living room and looked surprised that all our dining room chairs were lying on their backs under the table. I explained that we have to do that so the twins won’t climb on the table. As if to emphasize the point, the twins went tearing past us hollering. Over in the living room a fight broke out over the chair closest to the TV. The repairman began to look like he was thinking, “I have GOT to get out of here.”

He replaced the smoke alarm quickly and explained that it would keep beeping for about ten minutes while in test mode, but that it should stop after that. Neither of us could really hear it, however, over the noise from the living room. (Which explains why we only noticed the problem in the middle of the night.)

I thanked him and he left as fast as he could. The twins followed him to the door yelling, “Bye-bye! Bye-bye!“ at the top of their lungs.

I think I heard him muttering to himself as he walked away, “Get more birth control; get more birth control…”

Monday, April 19, 2010

Toy Packaging

Thursday was the twins’ birthday.

So even though I just did a little rant on the over-packaging of goods, I just HAVE to revisit this subject. Because NOTHING is as over-packaged as kids’ toys!

I mean, after I finished untaping, unstrapping, and unwrapping the twins’ new toys, I felt like I had defused a bomb or something. Maybe we should a have a toy-unwrapping robot, like a bomb robot, programmed to extract the toy without harming it.

One particular toy was a cute little train, with one car and an engine, that sat in its own little train depot. In order to hold this thing in its box, they had used twelve twisted wires, six molded plastic sleeves, two layers of cardboard, and a bunch of strapping tape.

Is this thing so delicate it can’t stay intact inside a box without all that stuff? (If so, I don’t think it should be going to a couple of two-year olds.) Where did they have to ship it from? The moon?

No, I know it probably came from a sweatshop in the Far East. I can just see those guys over there putting on the twisty wires, going, “Stupid spoiled American children! Have fun getting your little train out in under an hour! Ha! Ha!”

I seriously spent over an hour after the babies had gone to bed just getting toys out of boxes.

Later I talked about this with my daughters. They asked why it is that even the Barbies’ hair is taped onto the cardboard. I said, of course, that it’s so the Barbie looks pretty in the box so you will buy her.

My oldest said, “It’s proof that toys really do come alive, and they’re trying to keep them from escaping inside the store.”

Well, that’s as good an explanation as I’ve ever heard!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cereal Toys

My kids got a little plastic car inside a box of Cheerios.

They were pretty excited because you hardly ever get anything inside cereal boxes these days. I mean, when I was a kid we were finding stuff in our cereal all the time; my brother and I would fight over who got to be the first one to open a new box so that we could be the one to get the prize.

But nowadays you’ve got to send off for everything. And not just sending off box tops either; you’ve got to write them a check! I mean, correct me if I’m wrong here, but I don’t remember EVER having to ask my mom to write a CHECK for a cereal prize! We just sent them the required number of box tops and that was it! But I digress.

So we get this little plastic car, and my kids are pretty excited about it. But then they couldn’t open the thing up!

They’ve got the thing double shrink-wrapped; I mean TWO LAYERS of plastic. And then the car has these little stickers you’re supposed to put on it to be the windows and the racing car number and whatnot.

I wonder, how much would it have added to the per-unit cost of this molded plastic toy for them to just put the stickers on at the dang factory? Or make the plastic another color for the windows? They already have the bottom of the car a different color. I mean, seriously.

Half the Happy Meal toys we get have stickers you’ve got to place on them now. Have you ever SEEN stickers placed on a plastic toy by a kid who’s been eating french fries? It ain’t pretty. You end up with the stickers on everything BUT the toy.

So now with this little car, I’VE got to place the stickers. But first I’ve got to figure out how to open the hermetically sealed package the thing is in. I mean, is this like hospital-grade sterile here? Why does it have to be shrink-wrapped TWICE?!

Aren’t we supposed to be all earth-friendly-using-less-packaging these days? Isn’t that why my water bottles now feel like they’re about to collapse under the weight of their own contents? (Uses 30% less plastic! it announces proudly. Hey, maybe we NEEDED that plastic to hold the water in, guys!)

So why then does everything have to be sealed up so tight? I bought a bottle of children’s Benadryl the other day, and it was in a sealed cardboard box. Inside the box, the whole bottle was wrapped in plastic. Then, when you open the cap (finally) there’s a seal over the top of the bottle as well! Labeled "easy-open; lift and peel." Easy-open, my aunt Fanny! (See how I'm keeping it G-rated?) I mean, come on! Is this really necessary? By the time I get the medicine open my kid’s already gotten well!

But anyways, back to the little plastic car. I finally got the thing all set, excess packaging thrown away, and the car ready to play with. By then the kids have finished the Cheerios and opened a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and here comes ANOTHER plastic car!

I just hid it behind the fruit bowl to open another day. I’m too tired now.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

How-To Books, Just For Fun

Although I said in my last post that life with five children is never dull, that is not entirely accurate. In fact it can get quite boring, because while I have plenty to do, much of it is repetitive and uninteresting stuff: cooking, cleaning, etc.

So every once in a while, I get the urge to spice things up a bit. And no, I don’t mean anything weird by that--this is strictly G-rated here. Sheesh, people!

So I was in the library and I saw a book called “How to Change Someone You Love,” and my first thought was, That would be an annoying thing to catch your spouse reading. And then I thought, Maybe I’ll check it out, and leave it lying around, and see what my husband says. Just for fun, you know? So I did.

How to Change Someone You Love: Four Steps to Help You Help ThemNow, this is a real book. I am not kidding. Check it out at left there! It promises “Four Steps to Help You Help Them.” This seems so obviously aimed at gypping gullible women out of $24.95. (Because who wants to change the one they love more than women? I ask you!) First off, if there’s only four steps, why does it take you almost three hundred pages to tell them to me? And second, isn’t it IMPOSSIBLE to change someone else? It seems a little irresponsible to me to give someone false hope that they can change another person. But I digress...

So anyways…on Monday I checked out the book and put it on the kitchen counter. It sat there all afternoon. While I was dishing out Jell-O after dinner (it’s almost like fruit, and therefore healthy, right?) my ten-year-old daughter saw the book. She said, “Why would you want to change the one you love?”

Ah, the innocence of youth! One day you will know, my child.

All week I moved the book from the dining room table to the kitchen counter and back, trying to get my husband to notice it. But he had no comment. Either he didn’t see it, or he’s been intentionally ignoring it, which I think is more likely. At this point, when it’s been almost a week, I pretty much have to either say straight out, “Did you see this book?” or forget about it. But I think mentioning it would kind of take the fun out of the whole thing.

So I guess my experiment is a failure.

Oh well, at least I got a little extra exercise this week, moving a book around the house at random, right?

Maybe I’ll write a book myself: How To Eat Jell-O and Lift Books for Fun and Profit! Anybody got an extra $24.95?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Twins in the Morning

Having twins is quite an adventure. Am I just finding that out? No, my boy/girl twins will be two this month, so I've been adventuring with them for a while.

But still, after having three kids, I'd figured I pretty much knew how things would go with babies and toddlers. However, twins are a little different.

Mostly different in a good way. For one thing, at the age they are now they play with each other --when they're not fighting-- and pretty much keep each other occupied.

For example, this morning I overslept a little. (It's Saturday, and I was sick all day yesterday ...wait a minute, why am I making excuses here? I was TIRED okay? I have five kids! Sheesh.)

The twins will usually be content to stay in their beds for a little bit in the morning, talking to each other in the babbling way they have, which I don't understand any of except a word here or there. So this morning they were doing that, and the other kids were occupied, and I was sleeping.

When I got up and checked on the twins, they were happy to see me and ready to get up. Baby Boy was running laps in his crib, as usual, and Baby Girl was sitting up with her stuffed animals around her. Both of them began doing their "Pick Me! Pick Me!" dance that they've been perfecting since birth. (Even as newborns, they would wriggle and raise their arms when I bent over their shared bed, always trying to be the Chosen Twin.)

Baby Boy was nearest to the door, so I got him first. He gave his sister his usual triumphant look, and she gave her usual protesting whine. While I changed his diaper and dressed him, Baby Boy gave me a long narrative in Twin-Babble, with Baby Girl adding frequent comments from her crib. I didn't understand any of this, except "Ba-ba" (meaning he wanted his milk) and "Uh-oh! Poo-poo!" (which I think is self explanatory.)

After I'd dressed him I deposited him over the safety gate into the living room to play. Then I returned for Baby Girl. She was struggling to lift all three (large) stuffed animals and her blanket all at once, in order to bring absolutley EVERYTHING out of her crib with her. She managed, but just barely.

While I was changing her, I noticed she had something brown in her mouth, sitting in the middle of her tongue. As she protested mightily, I extracted it for closer examination. It was three brown fragments of something, hopefully a dried leaf. (It could also have been pieces of an insect carpace, so you see why I'm hoping it was a leaf.)

With Baby Girl finally dressed and de-leafed, I returned to the living room, to find that in my brief absence Baby Boy had been busy. The good news was, he'd found the sippy cup that had been missing for three days. The bad news was, he'd obviously tried to drink the milk left inside. Ewwwwwww....

So I finally got both of them into their booster chairs for breakfast: Cheerios, raisins, and (fresh) milk. And so begins a day with the twins!

And now we'll add to this Saturday morning two more kids, since one spent the night at a friend's house last night and is therefore officially Someone Else's Problem. Boo came out wearing a creation of her her own-- purple floral shirt and green plaid shorts. (I am not making that up; that is her actual oufit. I'd take her picture but it would hurt my eyes.) I said mildly, "That doesn't really match," and she replied blithely, "I know."

Neighbor Girl knocked on the door --on her second pass, apparently having been turned away while I was still asleep-- and she and Boo switched on the TV and began playing exuberantly with the twins. After awhile, ET, aged 13, emerged from her room, complaining about the noise and promptly taking over the TV remote and best chair, prepared to park there for the rest of the morning.

And that's how my day began today. As I said, it's an adventure. But at least it's never dull!

Now to set Baby Boy on a mission to find the OTHER missing sippy cup...