Saturday, January 29, 2011

Motherhood Changes Everything

There's something about becoming a mother that changes everything about you. Things that you never gave a second thought about are now things that must be pondered carefully and fully. Case in point: when 3 out of my 4 kids were all in car seats, I suddenly became consumed with what I would do if I somehow drove into a large body of water. How would I save them all? Could I get them all out of their car seats and out of the car rapidly filling with water when only one of them could even remotely swim? I had a plan that included holding a little one in each arm, a 3rd one hanging onto my back, encouraging the oldest one that he could swim and somehow, without the use of my arms, kick my legs furiously to get us all safely to shore. Never mind that I live in west Texas where large bodies of water are about as common as snow drifts. That didn't seem to matter to my mom mind - it was a possible emergency that needed my full and undivided attention, and above all, a plan. I wonder, do thoughts like these consume dads?

I don't know, but I do know I am not alone in this. I was talking to some girl friends the other day, and one of them talked about how she lived in a trailer park in college that wasn't in the safest of places, and she would think about how she could escape if an intruder ever got in. She never even considered the possibility of a confrontation - just get away. That all changed when she became a mom. She would never even dream of escaping if her babies were still in the house.

Then another friend, Rebecca, told a story that still has me chuckling. They live in a small town that is completely safe. They rarely even lock their doors. Until recently, when there was a rash of break-ins in their small town. The criminals broke into 5 of the churches in town, one of which was the church her husband was the pastor of, and it was right across the street from their house. The low-lifes even broke into some houses. So, that pretty much shattered their small-town peace and serenity. So, one night she told her husband that she thought she would just sleep on the couch.
"Why?" her husband asked.
"Well, I just think I would hear someone quicker if they were coming in our window."
"You don't think you would hear them just as quick in our bedroom?"
"Well, if I was right here, I could just jump up and start beating them with my bat."
"But, don't have a bat!"
"Well, why not!?! You leave me here alone all the time! I need a bat!"
And that just pretty much sums it up. When you're a mom, and there are crazy criminals on the loose, threatening the safety of your babies, the thought of sleeping on the couch with your bat seems like a perfectly natural and sane thing to do.
Fortunately, for the safety of the criminals, they are in custody. Because if they ever picked the wrong house, and came in contact with Rebecca, bat or no bat, I'm not sure they would live to tell the story! After all, she's a mom.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Face Lift

Saturday was a beautiful day, and we decided that it would be a great day to do some yard work. Here's the front of our house before we bought it:

I've never been a fan of big bushes. And I really hated the ones that were in front of our front windows. It kept us from seeing all the weird and interesting people that are always walking in the park in front of our house, and really, shouldn't that be one of the main perks of living by a park - people watching?

So, the bushes were out! Here it is after the little tree and the first bush was out.

Here's what it looked like a little later. What a mess!

So we loaded all the branches in the back of Steve's truck, and he took them off to the branch recycling place. And we had all these leaves in the yard that needed to be raked. Now, usually, we would just mow them up, but for some reason the mower wouldn't start. So, we decided we could rake them ourselves. After all, we do have 4 kids who do things like clean baseboards, so raking a few leaves should be a piece of cake, right?

There was a lot of this

Posing for pictures was fun! And there was a lot of this:

Jumping and rolling around in the leaves was fun! And Joey had the very important job of jumping on the leaves in the trash can:

Yes, Joey is still in his pajamas. And I think he's barefooted too - what of it?

And when it came right down to it, raking the leaves wasn't so bad. It was the bagging of them that got a little old. Okay, more than a little old. I must have said at least 5 times, "Okay, this should be our last bag!" When we were done, we had bagged 13 bags of leaves! Thir-teen! Ugh!

But, then I swept off the porch, and got to put out my new red rockers, and it looked so pretty.

And then Steve climbed on the roof to take down the Christmas lights, and started blowing the leaves out of the gutter. Nice. Oh well, at least somebody enjoyed it.

Next weekend: paint all the shutters black, and the front door red. I love projects like this!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Organized. It's something I'm not. At least not naturally. Having 4 kids has forced me to be at least somewhat more organized than I have ever been before, but it's not something I do naturally or willingly. I much prefer to have other people around who can do that for me.

Case in point - I married Steve. A very wise decision on my part for more than one reason, but his organization is definitely one of them. When we were dating, he actually had a typed schedule hanging on his wall. We were in college, people! He had a schedule for every minute of his day, and bless his heart, I teased him unmercifully until he finally took it down out of self-preservation, I think. But for all my teasing, I appreciate it because it means I don't have to be organized if he is. Unfortunately, maybe my teasing scarred him for life because he seems to forget things more than I ever did now. So, I'm sorry Love. Please forgive me and go back to your formally organized self. I liked it, I really did.

So, this year has been my first year to go back to work full-time since I have had kids (well, it's really 30 hours a week, but it feels like full-time since I have to get up and go every day.) And so, all the things I usually got done around the house are not getting done like they used to. And I have an absolute aversion to doing house work on the weekends. Weekends should be fun and restful.

So, I looked around and said to myself, "I have 4 kids. Technically, they are the ones creating all this work, so I think they should help out." And really, they have been helping out - we have chores every day, but I decided they could step it up a notch. And sooo, in an extremely uncharacteristic organized burst of energy, I have made chore charts. They are color-coded and everything. I still laugh a little bit when I see them hanging on our fridge.

The hardest part was coming up with chores for Joey, our 4 year old. Because there is no way I was going to deal with the whining of why isn't Joey doing anything? waa waa waa! I've already told them I love him more, and they aren't buying it anymore, so I had to come up with chores for him. I was looking at lists online of cleaning chores that should be done in each area of the house, (because Lord knows my idea of clean is the toys off the floor and no major pieces of trash showing) and I would ask myself, "What can Joey do?" And so, God help me, I have my 4 year-old doing things like cleaning the baseboards. I kid you not. It really cracks me up, but I figured, 1. He's short so he's pretty much already almost to the floor anyway and 2. I usually clean the baseboards, let's whatever effort he produces has got to be better than that! And he actually likes it! And Lily-Grace was jealous and wanted to know when it would be her turn to do that.

My only fear is that he will actually remember this, and grow up and tell his friends horrific tales of how his mom made him clean the baseboards when he was 4 years old! And I'll have to say, "I used to be fun! I did! And then I had all of you, and I had to do things like make color-coded chore charts!" My only consolation is that one day I will be a grandmother, and I will be sure to be a fun one! I can hardly wait to go to their houses and teach my grandkids things like taking off their dirty socks and shoving them in the couch cushions. And when my kids tell their kids it's time for bed I will be sure to lead the chorus in whining that I'm not tired at all, and how life is so unfair it's hardly worth living. And if I ever see a color-coded chore chart on their fridge, I'll be sure and teach my grandkids all the ways to cut corners and do a sloppy job. Yes, I think being a grandma just might be right up my alley!