life on the funny farm

Monday, August 31, 2009


Comin' Atya Live .....

Thank you for joining us live at the farmhouse on this beautiful morning. I'm Earl E. Rizer ....

And I'm Dewey Riley Kaire ....

And we'll be covering the Annual First Day of School event for you all morning.

That's right Earl. This much anticipated event pits two formidable enemies against each other: Mommankidz vs The Bus. We've got a bird's eye view of the Mommankidz team, who should be appearing on the scene any moment now, as well as audio feed that will give us live updates on The Bus as things unfold.

Although Mommankidz has a pretty strong track record, there are those that wonder how they'll fare in this event. My sources tell me that instead of using the summer to train, they've been undisciplined in their sleep habits and have only worked together as a cohesive team on a handful of occassions all summer long.

That's right Earl. In contrast, The Bus is fully prepared. It's been washed, fueled, tuned-up, and had a strong performance in the Bus Rodeo over the summer.

This will be an interesting competition to say the least ....

And here they come now, onto the field. It's just Mom at the moment but she's giving a strong first impression as she appears to be showered and dressed.

She's heading straight to the coffee pot, no surprise there, and then over to the stove. She seems to be doing something .... Dewey, it looks like she's making breakfast.

Well, Earl, that's an impressive start as they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I don't think anyone was expecting that.

Maybe they have a stronger shot at this than we thought. Do you think ....

Hold that thought, Earl, I believe another player is arriving on the scene. Yes, it's #1, in the position of high school freshman. Will he be a help or a hindrance to this team, do you think, Earl?

Hard to say, Dewey, hard to say. He's walking over to Mom .... he gives her a hug!

Wow, great move. But let's see how he handles breakfast. He looks into the pot ....and he smiles! He helps himself to a bowl of the steaming oatmeal as the crowd goes wild. This is a very strong start for Team Mommankidz.

And here come #2 and #3, both in the position of middle schoolers. On their heels is player #5. Anything could happen now, and the crowd seems to be holding its collective breath.

Earl, they've ALL taken bowls of oatmeal and have sat down to eat! Is there no stopping this team?

Yes, things are looking incredibly good for this team, but let's not forget it is early in the game, and not all the players have joined us yet.

Well, but here comes #6, the youngest player on the team. These rookies can be a handful and it takes a strong coach to keep their energies in check. Let's watch what happens ....

Dewey, it looks like he's walking over to the pot .....he looks in..... and he makes a face. Now he's whining! Oh, this is bad news for Mom. They argue for a bit .... and now he is heading to the freezer for frozen waffles. Disaster averted for the moment.

Earl, I have to wonder where player #4 is. She seems to be the only one missing at this point.

Perhaps the alarm clock fairy didn't call on her this morning, Dewey. Let's see if Mom is aware of this. She's watching the other players eat breakfast.... she sips her coffee .....she sneaks a look at the clock and by golly there she goes, up the stairs like a jackrabbit. She's a pretty, er, seasoned member of this team, but she's got speed when she needs it.

And here she comes back down the stairs with a confused and sleepy looking player #4. Mom has a bowl of oatmeal in front of her before you can say "what's for breakfast".

Dewey, I've just gotten word that the Busdriver is in the Bus. I repeat, the Busdriver is IN the Bus. The engines are revved and the wheels are rolling.

This makes things interesting, Earl. Mommankidz has had a pretty smooth start to this competition, but there's a long way to go and anything could happen.

Back at the Farmhouse, the dishes are cleared and they're moving on to teeth and hair. Mom is directing her players left and right and there's lots of movement. Oooh, player #4 seems to have a knot in her hair. Mom rushes to the scene and applies tangle spray and goes to work getting the tangle out. The player winces. That's gotta hurt.

Earl, it looks like there's trouble in the bathroom. The players are fighting over who was at the sink first and whose toothpaste is whose for crying out loud.

Dewey, Mom's no newcomer to multitasking, but let's see how she handles this. It looks like she's got #4 by the hair and is sidestepping her over to where she has line of sight to the bathroom. She's still working on that tangle, and now she is calling out to the players in the bathroom.

Earl, it's times like these that I'm glad we can't actually hear what they're saying out on the field, because it doesn't look pretty, my friend.

Well, whatever it is, it seems to have had some effect. The players in the bathroom are brushing their teeth like nobody's business.

And the last of the tangle seems to have been conquered as well, Earl. Looks like this team is back on track.

Dewey, this just in from the feed on the opponent. The bus is IN town at this point and scooping up kids like a giant hungry python.

It's as if Mom has psychic powers because she seems to sense this too. She's kicking things into high gear and there's lots of action on that field right now, things are moving in a blur:
Sandwiches seem to have magically appeared and I see players shoving them into lunchboxes. I see others running to the pantry for snacks and some heading to the refrigerator for drinks. It's a miracle they don't trip over each other in this madness.
Players are now running every which way and it seems they are donning shoes. The rookie stands in the middle of the frey, one shoe in hand, the solitary still figure among a blur of arms and legs dashing about. He seems to be in trouble. I can only guess at this point that he can't find his other shoe, Earl.

This could spell defeat for Mommankidz, Dewey, because if he sets foot on that Bus in his barefeet, it's game over for Mommankidz.

And speaking of The Bus, I'm receiving word right now that it has left town and is headed for the Farmhouse. Looks like it's now or never for Mommankidz, Earl.

Player #5 has just spotted The Bus out of the window. She leans her head back and yells "Buuuuuussssssss" at the top of her lungs. Oh my God, now everyone on the team is running. The team mascot begins barking his fool head off. Everyone is grabbing backpacks and lunchboxes. Mom's on her hands and knees peering under the sofa and .... what's this? She HAS FOUND THE SHOE! She stands up, reaches her arm back and throws a Hail Mary across two rooms. THE ROOKIE CATCHES THE SHOE!

Oh my GOD, I think they're gonna make it. Mom races to the door and all the players file past her. Kisses and fond words are exchanged as they walk out the door and down the walk.

The bus pulls up to the house ... the doors open .... and all the players begin to step in! But what about the rookie?

Earl, he's hopping down the walk, still putting his shoe on even as he approaches The Bus. The last of his teammates has vanished from sight. Will he make it and secure victory for this team?

HE DOES! His shoe is on and he is ON The Bus, I repeat, he is ON The Bus! The crowd is on its feet and going wild! This is a HUGE upset for The Bus and an incredible victory for Team Mommankidz.

That's right Earl, they'll be talking about this one for some time. I guess Mom still has a few moves left in her after all ......

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

No Strayngers to Strays ....

Over the years we have crossed paths with many stray critters. Some we have kept as our own, others we have found loving homes for.

As of Sunday, a new little stray has entered our lives. A sweet tabby kitten we have named Malishka, which is Russian for baby girl.

That afternoon I was sitting on the deck in the late afternoon watching the kids in the pool when I heard a plaintive, repeated meowing coming from our driveway. When I looked down, I saw this pathetic little half-bald kitty looking up at me and crying pitifully. As soon as I opened the gate to walk down the steps toward her, she ran away. Luckily, she didn't run far and she stopped and let me pick her up. It was all I could do to keep from crying out when I saw the hundreds of fleas running all over her bare back and belly. I took her inside and gave her a bath with some itch-relief pet shampoo, then applied a vial of Frontline to her.
Despite being half-starved and half-mad from all the fleas, she was incredibly sweet and quite the purr-train. We gave her some food and water which she gobbled right up, and made a bed for her in a pet-carrier with a litter pan and a water dish.
Next morning, she still had some fleas, but there were hundreds of dead black dots in her bedding. A step in the right direction. I called the SPCA and reported that we had a found kitten staying with us, but it's now two days later and I haven't heard back from them.
I guess we have a new pet.
Well. Julie does. We've decided this can be her kitty, and she's beyond excited.
Julie went with me today to take her kitten to the vet. We've learned that Mali's about two months old, she has worms, but does not have feline leukemia or HIV. We also learned that she's very cute.

We already knew that.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Homeroom Postings and a Facelift

Yesterday I drove the younger kids over to our school b/c it was the much anticipated Homeroom Posting Day. Where we all get to crowd around two pillars of posted papers listing all the classes, complete with techers and students.

For the three I have in elementary school, we were pleased with two of the teachers, but one of them we've never heard of, so we can only cross our fingers and hope for the best. Unfortunately, none of the kids got their best friends in their classes, thought they all saw several names that they were pleased about. And no one will have any arch enemies to contend with in their classrooms.

My middle-schoolers will have to wait till first day of school to see who will be sharing classes with them, and my high-schooler will get a mailing next week to learn his schedule.

We also got a sneak-peek at the facelift our tired old school has undertaken. I believe the school building is somewhere between 75 and 100 years old. It looks it. But over the summer it finally got a much needed facelift to some of the interior. A new entrance, new tile floors, a complete make-over for the gym (which previously had carpet on its floors, of all things). We weren't allowed in the building, but we snuck past the yellow tape and peeked in the windows (shhh, don't tell). We're all very excited.

We finished up the visit for a trip out for milkshakes. Don't tell the kids I told you, but I think they're actually starting to get a bit excited .....

Friday, August 21, 2009

End in Sight

Well here I sit, with the first day of school a mere 10 days away.
There were times this summer I didn't know if I'd make it out alive.

I'm not usually this way. I've always felt bad for the women who talk to each other about how they can't wait for the kids to be back in school. But now I've turned into one of them, ack!

Don't get me wrong, I will miss my kids. But there were just too many factors at play this year to make it a fun-to-the-last-drop summer. A few:

*Teens and pre-teens brought together by circumstance (vs by choice) don't always play well together.

*According to my doctor, my hormones are having quite a party, and I wasn't invited.

*Our number of kids has increased by 50%. The chaos level has risen by 75%.

*I'm sure police work can be a very rewarding career. But being the chore police, laundry police, food police, TV/computer/X-Box police, whose-turn-is-it-dispute police is no picnic. And for all my efforts I haven't once been given a hero badge or the key to the city.

But it hasn't all been gloom and despair. In fact, the second half of the summer was actually rather enjoyable. Here are a few of the upsides:

*Julie is an awesome kitchen helper and when it's her turn for that chore, she can really lighten my load.

*James can mow grass like nobody's business. It's been great for Fred to have three big kids who can help with lawn maintenance this summer.

*Julie has learned how to swim.

*Seeing them all splash and play in the pool never fails to bring a smile to my face.

*James has such a sweet smile when he comes back from a bike ride all sweaty and out of breath.

*Screen-free hours on a rainy afternoon when the house is hushed and the kids are scattered about in twos and threes playing Monopoly or cards, cutting out pictures of Robert or David or Zac from teeny-bopper magazines, or curled up with a good book.

So yes, in a week and a half they will be back in school. And then there will be the morning rush to contend with, and homework and after-school activities and stricter bedtimes to adhere to.
But I will have about seven hours each day in which no one will yell my name. I will not have to tell anyone to Stop Doing That This Instant.
And it will be Good.

Monday, August 17, 2009

End of an Era

My baby boy did the unthinkable yesterday. He turned 10 yeas old.


I now have not one child in my life that's in the single digits. That's just not fair. It makes me feel so darned old.


ANyway, he seemed to have a fun time yesterday. He wanted to go out to Denny's with the family (our kids were born with a silver spatula in their mouths) so we went there for lunch. When we got home we opened gifts from the family and he loved everything:
Patrick gave him a book on pirates
James gave him a wooden gun that shoots rubberbands
Rosie had gotten him a handweight (for building those 10 year old biceps)
Bella chose a rainbow art pad
Julie bought him a wall applique of Halo 3 (from an x-box game for those of you who reside in caves)
and River (cousin visiting with us this week) got him a Nerf Gun the size of our garage.

His Dad and I got him a book and a Playmobil set of a Roman arena complete with gladiators and lions and chariots.

At least I still have one child that is not above wanting honest to God toys for his birthday and not just electronics.

So then he had a couple friends come over and they ran, swam, rode bikes, shot Nerf guns, and played video games. We then had pizza for dinner and moved on to singing Happy Birthday and blowing out candles.

He also got a VERY cool gift from his Aunt Mary. She wrote him a song and he got to watch her perform it on the computer. As he says, it was totally awesome.

I'm glad Daniel had a good birthday.

I'll be OK ... sniff, sniff......really I will......

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Woe is Me ....

Last night I felt miserably sorry for myself. I had gotten some negative feedback about my kids and that's a sensitive spot for me. Whenever I hear anything negative about my life's work I make a supreme effort to square my shoulders, raise my chin a notch and open my ears to listen without being defensive. Listen in order to take in what they have to say, weigh it for merit, and implement any action that might be needed to improve the situation.

Because I know (Lord, do I know) that they are not perfect and they are a continual work in progress for me. Shaping and molding is hard work. I am forever turning over in my mind how I can tweak the system in order to get the best "output". Output in this case being strong, healthy, straight A students who help little old ladies cross the street and rescue kittens from trees as soon as they finish all their household chores with a "happy to be of service" smile on their angelic faces.

Overall, I feel pretty proud of my crew, though they are by no means a "finished product" and there is much work to be done to nip certain problems in the bud. But on most days I feel good about myself and my kids. Last night was different. Coming from two places (both near and dear) I felt shadow was being noticed instead of light. Only my kids' faults were in evidence, none of the good qualities. And even more in question than my childrens' character was my way of doing things. Everything about how these kids are raised is my domain: what they eat, how much time they spend playing video games or watching TV, how clean their teeth are, how many household responsibilities they have and how well they do them, how active they are, the list goes on. If they're falling short, that means I am falling short because their life training is my job.
So yeah, I try to remain neutral so that I can take in feedback and make it work for me, but I'm not always so good at the neutral thing. I get emotional where my kids, and my sense of self-esteem, self-worth, whatever, is concerned. What I have to keep foremost in my mind is, how do I feel I'm doing? How do I feel about how my kids are turning out? If I know I'm doing a good job (I do), then I have to contnue to take in the feedback and use it for what it's worth, but not let other people's opinions oversahdow my own.

Is there a Zen-yoga-meditation master in the house?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Penguin Envy

They say a mother penguin can pick out her chick from among thousands of others that look identical to hers. I've always been somewhat envious of this ability. I don't seem to have it.

If I take my kids to a place where there are bazillions of kids running around, like a park, a McDonald's playland, the beach, I just about need a neckbrace to prevent whiplash. Everytime I hear a kid shout "Mom" I impulsively turn to see who it was that called. Then, because I'm stupid, the very same kid could call again 5 seconds later and I whip my neck around again.

I should tell my doctor he can dispense with the knee-jerk reflex test for me and instead have his nurse get behind me and yell "Mom" a few times. The Mom-neck-spin reflex.


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