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August 5, 2001
a year ago
two years ago
three years ago
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Kid Chaos

2:26 pm: I got a baked pie from McDonalds today. Probably for the first time in years. It was in the midst of getting everything for the party. We got corn at Munson's, all kinds of stuff at Safeway, and then stopped at McDonald's for ice for the ice cream. Which is where John bought himself a chocolate shake and tried to buy me an apple pie. It's a brand new McDonald's, so they were relatively uncoordinated and had run out of apple pies. So I had to make do with lemon.

Lemon pie. I hadn't even known that McDonald's even had lemon pies. It was okay. Cheap and worth about what it cost, which wasn't all that much, but it was a pie, and it was from MackyD's, and I'll likely not eat there again for another year or more.

Jet did great for the extended haul. He was awake for most of it, didn't cry at all, and didn't fuss about a pretty wet diaper that basically we changed when we got home again. The ring was pretty fast, as we didn't really tarry long at either the ice stop or Munson's. John just got corn and peaches and was right out at the produce stand. The McDonald's folks were faster with the ice than they were with our food. That was pretty funny.

Safeway was pretty much limited to the things on our list. That was good, simple and fast.

10:14 pm: We now have enough leftovers to tide us through at least the beginning of next week. I can probably make chicken corn chowder in just a few minutes over the stove, and we have enough salad for the week.

I now know, without a doubt, that I do not ever want five kids. Ever. There was a time in my life when I thought four kids would be pretty neat. That is now a demonstrated impossibility. I could not handle that. Ever. Period.

It's a good thing to know for sure. Even watching Joan juggle just Alex and Haley by herself makes me think about two, pretty hard. And the house is awfully quiet now with just Jet, John and I.

We had the neighbors over, and they have five kids. Three boys, two girls, and the boys were an interesting handful, especially the middle of the three boys, Ben. Ben, within ten minutes of getting into the house, went upstairs, found the exercise ball and tossed it over the railing upstairs, and into the kitchen. This is a ball that's nearly three feet in diameter. It bounced and, luckily, only hit the far end of our knickknack counter, sending a few, more durable, items flying. It missed the jade turtles and sandstone elephants. Thank goodness it completely missed any people and babies and kids and anything really breakable in the kitchen. If it had bounced towards the windows, it would have been bad.

As it was, it was lucky. There are moments when I think back on the spankings I used to get as a kid an wish we could still do that, now. It would have been a clear deterrent for this kind of thing. I know that as a kid I would have been thrashed within an inch of my life for even contemplating it and there are moments when I now think that would be a very good thing. Then again, more likely, it would have been a deterrent for doing it when all the parents were around watching. Yeesh.

As it was it was mildly unsatisfying to simply get an apology. Then again, Ben and everyone had been lucky, and it hadn't broken anything, though it had sent on of the lights just flying. It kind of felt a bit like a no blood-no foul call even when it was clearly a foul.

It was also pretty clear that Ben was the acknowledged trouble maker of the family. That it was expected that he get into all the fights, do all the things that shouldn't be done, and that this was pretty much run of the mill for him. Also that people just didn't have the time or energy to keep up with all the trouble he could get into at three.

Outside, he basically stuck his head in the ice bucket being used to hold ice for the ice cream. When his dad gave him a time out and told him not to do that again, he just went and did it again. He got a much longer time out, and when he offered an apology was told that it was, this time, too late. Though admittedly, from my point of view, putting ones head in a bucket wasn't something that would endanger anyone else.

I don't think I could live in barely controlled chaos like that.

It really made my day seem very mild in comparison. John made beautiful blueberry pancakes for breakfast, after Jet had woken up at 5:30. I'd fed Jet then, got him changed and set up and mostly cheerful by 6:30, which is when John took over. I slept until 8:30, showered, and came out in time to feed Jet at 9. John made pancakes while we were occupied, and then we had breakfast.

I had a lot of fun playing with Jet while John killed weeds. I ate a single tamale for lunch, and then we did our whirlwind of errands. Which was quite a lot of fun, all in all. Home again, and we cleaned house for the party as it was at the tail end of our maid time.

Jet and I had a blast vacuuming. I put him in the sling, facing forwards, so he could see. I then got the vacuum out and the two of us vacuumed the livingroom, the kitchen, and the dining room. Jet leaned out as far as he could, and put one hand on the vacuum handle whenever it came near enough. I had my other hand supporting him, so he couldn't fall out, though he really looked like he was trying hard to do just that. It was really funny.

I was giggling so hard the whole time, and Jet was squawking with joy at riding the noisy monster that was the vacuum. He had such a great time. There is much to be said for baby wearing when possible. Especially when doing chores. It is just a cool way for him to experience what I'm doing while I'm doing it, and it's all new to him. So vacuuming became a really fun game with a really noisy machine that he loved touching when he could.

Jet is just so not afraid.

John got an hour long nap while Jet and I played and I put together the beer butt chickens and tucked them into the grill at a bit past 4. I chopped onions, smashed garlic and put them into the half cans of beer that John had put together for me. I also added some rosemary as well. Then Jet started crying. So I washed my hands, picked him up and snuggled him and put him in a new play position.

Then, once he was really happy playing again, I went and cleaned the two chickens, pulled out all the gizzards and stuff, and then pulled out the wishbones. Pulling the wishbones makes the cooked chicken much easier to carve. It's just a strange trick that seems to make everything a lot easier to part when the whole chicken is cooked and ready to go.

I coated them in southwest seasoning, and then took them and the cans out to the grill. I had to use both hands to settled the chickens on their cans over the grill. Both hands were total, chickeny messes, and I finally just grasped the doorknob to get inside the house and put the board and everything away in the sink. I washed my hands with antibacterial soap, sprayed everything in the sink down with the disinfectant, and then got a Clorox cloth out and wiped down the faucet handle and then went out and got every bit of the doorknob with the disinfectant.

It seems mildly crazy, these days, what one does to avoid cross contamination from chicken, compared to when I was a kid. But better safe than counting bathroom floor tiles all night.

When I was done cleaning up after myself, I turned the grill on and let the chickens rip. By the time I went back into the house, the outside temperature was reading 102. Ugh. I was so glad we were cooking outside.

The party itself went pretty well. The food was all good, the kids were pretty good, all in all, though Samuel was screaming like a siren for most of the meal. Ben and the boys decided to eat outside and I was mildly relieved. Jet was asleep, completely exhausted by the first wave of visitors, and dealing with them all. He just conked out in Alyssa's arms, and we just put him to sleep on our bed, and left him in the relative quiet.

After dinner, John showed the kids the train, and they had fun down there. Though the batteries were pretty dead, the kids took turns pushing each other around the track. Alex was having fun just having other kids to play with. Haley hadn't napped, so was a bit tired and a bit uncertain with all the strangers. I didn't blame her. When Jet woke up, various people held him while I cut the chickens up, and when I was done with that, I took Jet and we hid in the bedroom and he nursed for a good long time.

I had dinner after that, and basically kept out of folks way. Though Hannah, the younger daughter, found the loom downstairs and wanted me to teach her how to use it. I told her that I didn't know all that much, and that she would be better off with a class than with me. She then said that she wanted to learn how to spin yarn, saying she was going to use my handmade, double-treadle wheel...

It just all felt very weird to me. Hard for me to deal with that. I did, instead, lend her two books. One was a book I don't remember reading. A Jane Yolan books, Sister Dark Sister Light, and I had no memory of the contents. So Mom Alyssa said that she'd read it first to see if it was okay for Hannah. The second was a picture book on how to weave. It's something John actually bought for us a long time ago, when we thought we'd do weaving together. We haven't used it or the loom since, and I don't see us doing it in the near future.

I'll probably want it back, though, so I wrote a note to myself that Hannah had borrowed those two things, and stuck that on the fridge. I'll see if she offers them back, someday. I'll have the note to make sure that I do get them back.

Maybe most of my difficulties lie from the fact that I'm an introvert. The rest come from me being a perfectionist. Finally it's finding out that Alexis is only thirteen and she offered to babysit Jet on our anniversary, so we can actually go out to dinner. Both John and I wanted to see how she would do with him; but with all the chaos of all the other kids it was really hard to figure out how they were interacting with each other. Jet was a bit wild, flinging himself around, probably overloaded. Alexis was also minding some of the smaller kids at the same time.

So it was unfair to both of them, a little. Still Alexis seemed pretty patient, together, and for two hours she'd have her mother next door if something did go unexpectedly. So we'll try this experiment. Still, when I think about leaving someone like Emily, who is a little older than thirteen, alone with Jet, it would be something I'd think twice about. Still, Alexis is not Emily, and as the oldest of five, she's had plenty of baby experience with her younger siblings.

We'll see.

I had two really great playtimes with Jet today. The first was when I'd finished feeding him and it was obvious he wasn't going back to sleep. John wanted time to shower, so I played with Jet in our bed. Jet was just lying on the bed and I was tucked in comfortably, and I was letting him play with my hand. It was a little bit like playing with a kitten, but Jet doesn't have sharp claws. He was just having fun grabbing my hand and pulling at it as it tried to escape.

We played for a good fifteen minutes with him giggling and wiggling and rolling about and grabbing things. He's started to try and grab my glasses, but a fairly firm, "That's not a toy." and he'll just let go. That's already very useful. "Leggo"/"Let go" has been working pretty well, too. Thank goodness for Fezzik.

In the afternoon, Jet and I had a new play thing we did. I rolled him so that we were face to face, small nose touching small nose, and his eye filled my line of sight with one eye. Being that close made him just start to giggle like crazy. Everything was out of perspective, and it got him just giggling with glee. Also, being that close he didn't try and grab my face the way he's been doing recently. He also just like breathing me and giggling while I was giggling.

That was really fun.

Those two times plus the vacuuming made it a really cool day to spend with him. I could really see how some moms would be full-time moms, with these kinds of things as a reward.

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Copyright 2001 Liralen Li. All Rights Reserved.