Thursday, February 28, 2008

Universe v. Karen: Take 2, 341

Alright already.

Hotwater heater is broken. Bright side? We can upgrade to a bigger one now that we have lots of people needing to be cleaned. Also, new water heater is much cheaper than finding leaking pipes in the wall.

Dishwasher didn't drain again. Hubby has found a little piece of plastic in the line. Now we just have to get out.

Car? Still in the shop. Sigh,...

And the real kicker? The nice family who loved Sandy the Guinea Pig while we were gone were slated to bring Sandy home to the 8 year old this Saturday. I got a call that Sandy kicked the bucket. Two days before being brought back to her little boy! Good grief. Now what do I do? Do I tell him the truth or do I circumvent the tears and buy him a new one, passing it off as Sandy? What do I say? "Oh, you haven't seen Sandy in a year,.. she WAS black, don't you remember?" Or, "Didn't you know, guinea pigs turn albino as they age. That's why she's all white." or better yet, "Yes, guinea pigs are part of the frog family and sometimes their sex changes. So, now Sandy is a boy! Totally normal! Didn't you know that?"


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sophia Laughs!

It's true! Sophia giggled her little heart out to daddy yesterday, February 26, 2008. I have to put it here so she can do her own baby book someday when she is allowed to handle scissors,...I don't have time,...

Brad Pitt, ... Of course,..

And why not? He has too many children just like me,... he's helping build houses in hurricane ridden New Orleans, I was over in Indoneis 'assisting' in the same thing,..Cracks me up. unfortunately, I don't think I can compete with Angelina. Good thing I've already found my soulmate.

This quiz is from Teri's blog - check it out during your coffee/laundry/doing the dishes/vacuuming the floor break!

Take the Quiz

Monday, February 25, 2008

What Kind of Mother Are You?

Inevetibly when I'm online doing research for work articles, I get a little distracted. This is today's distration, now it's your turn to find out with a short, free little quiz what kind of mother you are. Here is my 'mothering type':

Sensitive and family-focused, the INFJ mother looks for and encourages the unique potential of each child. Self-knowledge may be her byword. Her aim is to help each child develop a sense of identity and cultivate personal growth. In fact, she may value the mothering experience as a catalyst to her own personal growth and self-knowledge.
The INFJ mother spends time observing and understanding each child. She is drawn to intimate conversations and seeks a free exchange of feelings and thoughts.
Sympathetic and accommodating, the INFJ mother strives to meet the important yet sometimes conflicting needs of each family member in harmonious and creative ways
She is conscientious and intense as well. Probably no one takes life and child-raising more seriously than the INFJ. She approaches mothering as a profession requiring her best self.

Gack. I think it's pretty right on, especially with this post partum neurosis I seem to be harboring.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

How Can I Have the Baby Blues if the Baby is Pink?

To be perfectly honest, I think I am getting the baby blues. I hate that I can't seem to control my hormones. Although I have a history of spiralling into quasi-depressions, I can usually pull myself back out. But I know how hard it is on Hubby.

Friday found the dishwasher not draining. Well, draining on the floor, not necessarily into the sink. Then, as I was putting too small clothes away in the girl's closet, I found discoloration on the newly painted closet ceiling. Roof leak. The car has yet again been acting up and we just dropped it off to be serviced,.. again. Then I was late getting to pick up 8 year old from practice (because 6 year old had to be picked up from his and 11 year old taken to his). So, 8 year old was no where to be found. Do you know how stupid I felt with the stroller full of 2 year old and a baby strapped to my chest having to ask the coach where my other child was? Thankfully a great friend was there and helped look. We didn't find him, he'd walked home by himself. Which is fine, but leaves me feeling com;letely inadequate. Then, I come home to a message on the phone that my hair dresser has the flu and can't do my hair. Saturdays are the only days I have to do this! Last Saturday I had to cancel because of our guests. I give up! I just give up on life!

The dishwasher was the result of boys not washing the food off plates, to which I subsequently took everyone's allowance away for the week. (Evil dictator, I know).

The roof leak Hubby somehow found and fixed.

The car is back at the shop with my Visa card duct taped to the windshield.

The 8 year old is not emotionally scarred, since he only has to walk a block home and I'm not one for helicopter parenting, and I guess I'll just shave my head. I know these are only little things and should be no big deal. But I'm beginning to feel like Breyer Rabbit and the tar baby. I keep getting into it thicker and thicker and soon I won't be able to move out.

Hubby told me yesterday, "You aren't going to wake up one day and have a cruise ship of a life. It doesn't work that way." I know that, but once in a while it would be great to not feel like I'm working in a salt mine each and every day. Then I read this month's Oprah magazine and an article from some life coach (whatever that is, maybe I should get one) talked about not worrying about making a hole in one in life, just get that ball on the green. And I'm trying not to feel like someone is flicking my ball back into the sand pit each and every time. Why should I be so much more significant than anyone else and think the universe is picking on me? I'm just not that special.

Well, that's the fun of life here. I don't mind that I'm thrilled tomorrow is toddler class and the girls and I all have to dress in orange. Perhaps a little pathetic, but it's the small things in life,...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Of Human Pincushions and Ice Cream

Finally took the girls to the doc yesterday. Nice new clinic next to my house which almost, ALMOST, makes up for the doctor who I think was flippant and thought she was way to cool for my tastes. I'm spoiled, I know. I have a pediatrican in Olympia, Washington who I see every chance I get. When he finally retires I will go into mourning. I know I sound like a stalker, but I'm not. He's just a great human being and relished seeing us because we were pretty dependable for bringing in problems a little more challenging than a diaper rash Amoebas? Yep. Herpes Simplex infection of the eyelid? Oh yeah. Malaria? Check. Dengue Fever? Of course. We Richardsons are nothing if not consistent. This pediatrician saw us through the worries of living in Egypt, the Philippines and Indonesia with small children. He confided that we were the only patients he's ever given his personal email to. The weirdness of life found me seeing his wife for lactation consulting this past December. She was also a wonderful human being.

Anyhoo, this doctor met my questions with that 'of course it's not a problem you big fat idiot' kind of response.

Sophia only pooping about once a week? Oh well, of course, breast milk is absorbed so well that's not uncommon, you big fat idiot.

"Is she underweight?" I ask. "Well, underweight or overheight. I prefer to think of it as overheight." says said doctor. To which I must have given her 'the look' (I'm good at the look, but unlike a true Jedi, I can not turn it on and off at will), and she kindly did say she would check her growth chart. So, she seems to be a little under, but since I did say she looks like all the other kids I've birthed (pipecleaners with heads), not to worry. (you big fat idiot.)

Sabrina is also lookin' good at 38 inches and 30.5 pounds. Sophie is a lean, mean, cryin' machine at 24 inches and 10.5 pounds.

Sabrina didn't get any shots, but the doc agreed that I should take her in for another speech evaluation, which is consistent with the special education people in Olympia this past fall. I'm not worried, but I want to make sure she is on target. She is saying more and more every day. If I've learned anything with Kyle my kindergartner, it is to be on top of every problem quickly and stick it out. I've got my guns loaded this time, I know what I'm doing. I've been through this system before.

Sophie DID get shots. Boy, did she get shots. Five. And some sort of oral medicine to cut the amount of yucky stuff she may contract from all those dirty boys that live at our house. Her poor little legs are nothing but bandaids. And that thought makes me sweat; taking off all those bandaids. Might be worse than the shots themselves.

So, with both girls passed our for naps from the trauma, Kyle and I treated ourselves to ice cream. (He had to come with and wait patiently on a chair with his gameboy. When he wasn't trying to run over the doctor's toes with the wheele stool. Or looking in every drawer. Or asking over and over again why the needles had to be disposed of in that special plastic box.)

Not just any ice cream, mind you, but home made ice cream! My friendly neighbors have an ice cream maker and that thing ROCKS! It's nice and small, you plug it in, add stuff, push a button and it just goes. No rock salt. Not even any ice. No special instructions for instruction following impaired people. So, I told hubby I wanted one too, for Valentine's Day.

Well, I got an ice cream maker for Valentine's Day. Boy, is this an ice cream maker. It makes up to 6 quarts (that, dear readers, is 1 1/2 gallons of ice cream!). It weighs 100 pounds, takes up the space of a toddler and requires rock salt, of which I had no idea you had to go to an actual hardware store to purchase. I'm afraid of said ice cream maker.

But it does make nice ice cream. We made vanilla because of course, if you ask six different people what ice cream flavor they want to make, you get six different answers. Voila - vanilla!

In order to make the ice cream, you have to lug the ice cream maker outside because it's 1. messy, 2. LOUD. REALLY REALLY LOUD. Here's the dog trying to get the first bite of ice cream.

This weekend we had our college friend Todd H. down to visit. Todd was Rob's roomie at the Crew House at the UDub and in Sacramento and Newport Beach during parts of Rob's stint at CalTrans, his best man at our wedding, and is also a civil engineer. Let me tell you, making ice cream with two engineers is an experience. A nerdy experience. "Hmmm,.. what temperature do you think the ice is at?" "Is that a counter clockwise rotation?"

Good grief! Who cares! Just tell me when it's done so I can lick the paddle.

Here is Todd and his totally cute, totally wonderful kids, Lucas and Kaitlyn. The last time we saw them was when Kaitlyn was in an infant car seat in the airport on her way to Alaska to see her grandparents.

Here are all the kids. Ours were very excited to have friends come over and play in the hot tub, watch a movie with and sleep over. The dads paid $1 to any kid who jumped in the pool (water temp 47 degrees), another dollar if it was in the deep end, and $5 was offered for anyone swimming the length of the pool. I think Kyle faired the best and cleared $2 for his accomplishments. Thankfully the mommy present (read: only responsible adult on said premises) didn't have to treat any small children for hypothermia.

We watched that oldy but goody Labrynth with David Bowie. To which Zach commented over and over that Mr. Bowie looked like a girl. Be still my heart! If only he knew that as a teenager I swooned over the artist who made guyliner famous and did indeed own a copy of the Labrynth record album. But I'll never tell.

Todd and his clan left us Sunday morning. I cleaned up after seven kids having a grand old time for the past few days and Rob did a little work. When I took this picture he took offense thinking I was chalking up evidence for his workaholism when in fact this is the first weekend he's worked at home this year. That wasn't my intention anyway, I wanted to show what a hard worker he is!

I also told him that I will have the honor of having an ESRI article published in Professional Surveyor Magazine this April, to which he responded he couldn't wait to write a letter to the editor and tell them I dropped out of surveying in college.

Again, whatever.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Who's in the Kitchen with Mommy?

My little 'helper'. It's better than an egg timer to see how fast you can do things like empty the dishwasher, unpack the groceries and transfer hot pans from the stove before the squawk box goes off.

Baseball Saturday

Yes, we are now in the heat of baseball! Kyle at 9, Zach at 10 and Jared at 11:30. At two different sites, of course. Kyle is the Twins, Zach the A's and Jared the Red Sox. I can recycle a few things, but of course, I have the wrong color socks and stuff in the wrong sizes. Out to Sport Chalet on Monday,...

Sabrina at the Slide

Being a part of this family is a hair-raising experience!

Climby climby!

Hangin' with the big kids.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Newest Space Rangers

When the Going Gets Tuff,...

... Go to Disneyland. We did.

Can't really see them, but this is Hubby and B after driving the cars at Authopia:

Yes, this could have been taken anywhere. This is 2 month Sophie sleeping in the stroller. I forgot the baby carrier. Woops.

Awake and wondering, "Where the heck am I now,.."

The boys loved the 'coasters.' They were all really, really nice to me because I had the get on the ride with no wait card and could take one lucky small person with me. (The 'ol baby switcheroo so everyone has fun at the happiest place on earth.)

Sabrina loved the Enchanted Tikki Room (boys and I are all sighing in relief that Hubby now has someone else to take there every time we visit) and the parade.

Sophie liked all the snacks she got on the rides. I must say that nursing while trying to shoot space aliens in the Buzz Lightyear ride does nothing to improve your score.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Et tu, Universe?


I am still without a refrigerator. After many hours and a crick in my neck I have come to these conclusions:
1. There is NO CUSTOMER SERVICE in the world.
2. Sears, and subsequently Home Depot both suck and no one should ever shop there again.
3. Once a company gets your money, they could care less about your well being.
4. I lived more comfortably in war torn, tsunami wrecked Indonesia for a year than I am right now in the middle of American luxury, trying to feed my five kids from a cooler and 40 pounds of ice.
5. I don't turn to exercise in times of stress, instead I turn to frosted Valentine's Day cookies and Starbucks. Lots of Starbucks.
6. The thing that hurts the most? The Candy Cane icecream I found on sale (my FAVORITE!) and subsequently horded became a puddle of weird looking peppermint smelling foam. Guess I shouldn't have been eating it anyway.

The compressor is 'back ordered' and no one in the UNIVERSE can really tell me when it will be available. We even took the sneaky approach and tried to order it ourselves. No go. We found out that indeed the fridge is covered by warantee and that skanky Sears sold me an extended warantee I don't need. We got that money back. But we also found out that no one else in the UNIVERSE will touch a waranteed project.

So we are going to Red Robin for dinner tonight.

Home Depot? Well, it took three, yes count them, three vanity/sinc combos until we got one that wasn't broken. Subsequently we ordered blinds for the upstairs NOT from Home Depot. Hubby is now instructed to shop at Lowe's.

As if I could handle more irritating stuff, I took Sophia in for her 2 month appointment. Got there early and filled out paper work. That was at 10:22. At 11:10, I asked the receptionist when I'd be getting in, since I had to leave to pick up a kid at 11:30. She came back from talking to the nurse and told me I wouldn't make it. SOOO, I filled out the complaint card and got the number for the new clinic closer to my house. Called and got Sophie in next Wednesday. Thought I'd kill two birds with one stone and get Sabrina in there as well. Next available appointment? April.

I told the receptionist my dismay with the whole of Beaver Clinic and was astonished to have some secret appointment maker call me back and get both my girls in at the same time next Wednesday AND offer to transfer my paperwork so I wouldn't have to fill out forms AGAIN..

Finally. Maybe the beginning of a new day.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Welcome to the New Blog!

Well, it took me a long while to find a title for this new blog. Something that personifies me and my experiences (blogs are, after all, the best way to indulge yourself). Then, since I've developed this craze for magazines - I can't seem to follow long thoughts from books because of many needy children and sleep deprivation - I ran across this month's Woman's Day. I read a great little article by Paula Spencer and found my new title: Mother of All Muddlers. This fits me perfectly; never really 'in balance', trying the best I can with lack luster skills. But a lot of heart and fortitude, by golly!

I'm afraid my lack of expertise, planning or equipment is getting the best of me. I'm ready to star in my very first Visa commercial:

Leaking gasket in car? $800.

Co pays for the next round of Croup? $60

Compressor dying in refrigerator? $251.

Treatment for recurrent ear infection in dog? $179

Moving to Mexico and Changing Your Name to Side Step Life's Responsibilities? Priceless

Yes, my round of luck has not stopped. We fixed the car. Then, the eight year old got sick. By the time I had called to get him an appointment, saddled up the Suburban with an 8 week old and a 2 year old, pulled the Kindergarterner out of school early and arrived at the doctor's office, the sick kid couldn't walk, he was so tired from trying to get air.

Kindergartner held 2 year old's hand, I pushed 8 year old in stroller with car seat full of baby dangling from my right forearm. After 15 mintues, 8 year old starts to writhe around mouthing he can not breathe, so I rush to the appointment desk and yell that we have to see the doctor immediately. A rush of nurses comes to our aid and helps wheel him back as I am throwing sweaters and car seats on the floor in an attempt to get to the examining room quicker. I wish I could apologize to the new mommy sitting next to us, this was not something she was interested in experiencing, I'm sure. All the while I'm nursing a baby. Amazing what I can master with one hand, and without flashing anyone.

In the exam room, one nurse grabs the baby, the other non-sick kids sit quietly, in shock in the corner, and two nurses, the doctor and I wrestle 8 year old with first oxygen, a breathing treatment (which makes him vomit everywhere) and then a steroid injection. After the doctor tells me he has an ambulance at the ready in case none of this works, I call hubby on the phone and tell him to get on home; this is more than I can handle. (Imagine that)

8 year old is stabilized. Hubby gets to us by the time we arelocked and loaded back in the Suburban. He fills the perscription for oral steroids and a humidifier and I go home to lay down and try and relax. Ha.

Next day, fridge starts to make wierd noises. Call Sears and hubby buys ice. Friday we find that yes, the compressor is shot. Can't get it fixed until WEDNESDAY. I can't have this, so I call in the big guns - hubby. The man who can negoitiate a claim order like no one else. The man who talked us into the VIP section at the Sting concert at the Pyramids in Egypt. He gets Sears to promise to come on Monday. My goal this weekend? Not to poison my family. Quite lofty, I think.

Thursday and Friday nights were spent listening to the dog howl and shake his head because of his ear. Took him in Saturday (the soonest I could find time in the schedule) for sedation, a cortisone shot, antibiotics and ear drops. How do wild dogs survive? Do they have 'allergies' too? Ridiculous.

Hubby is now telling me gently that maybe God IS trying to tell me something. Maybe I should stop trying to control everything and let life happen. I sit and actually listen in Church today and I gather the same type of message out of the readings. We are in charge of nothing. We are in fact, insignificant. But it's a hard lesson.

I'm a paranoid freak now. I took the Suburban to work on Friday morning and ran over a patch of crumbly road. I thought it felt weird and stopped the car to check the tires for a flat. No flat thank goodness.

I started to wash a load of clothes and called hubby into listen to the washing machine, I was certain it sounded 'off'. It's okay.

I'm also delusional. I've been running three times now since, oh, eight months ago. Or I thought I was running. Can you still be running if your dog is walking right next to you? He does have four legs after all.

So, maybe I should sit up and take notice now that it's Lent. Maybe I should be listening to what's important and try to be a better, outward thinking person instead of being grateful that I am nursing and have a 'get out of fasting free' card. (pathetic, aren't I? I could never be a Muslim for that very thing.)

Being crazy Catholics, we've given up dessert after dinner, a hugely difficult task for all of us. The kids were saved by their favorite 'Uncle' who brought over ice cream just two days into our 'fasting.'

Oh well, life is at it is, I guess. It'll be another tough week; even the baby has caught this bout of cold viruses.

The boys are all starting baseball this week as well, I think I've counted seven practices and/or games I have to remember to get to on time each week.

Appeasing the Grandparents

Here finally are some pictures from the analog camera. If I don't find the digital camera or figure out my phone camera soon I promise to buy a new digital camera so I can keep you all up-to-date.

They ARE cute,...

Jared's 11 year old birthday party - heated the pool and invited some friends over for hamburgers and ice cream.

Sweet 2 year old Sabrina and the deranged Elmo cake.

Sweet little baby toes.