Sick Kids Suck


Warning: this gets gross and graphic. If you’re of a delicate flower variety and grossed out easily, you should check out another of my posts instead. You’ve been warned.

I woke up at about 3 am to the sound of Dash sleepily pawing at the door to my room. “I frew up all over my bed.” I hoped that this was just a nonsensical statement related to a bad dream, but went to investigate. Bear gave him a cursory once-over to check for puke before letting him climb into the bed, then promptly tried to go back to sleep for a couple of hours before he had to get up for work. When I got to the boys’ room I found a cranky Ozzie standing wide awake in his crib and a race car bed filled with a whole lot of foul mess, conveniently spread all over the sheets, blankets, and even the pillow. I set about that delightful bit of cleaning, and let the kids into the toy room to keep them from making it any harder.

This was a clear sign that I’d have an excellent day. And yet, at this point, I was still able to convince myself this could be a singular incident, a fluke, and surely not a full-force sickness settling over our house. Kids do wacky things! Sometimes they just toss their cookies for no discernible reason, right? Of course I’m right. I decided I’d play it safe by sticking to serving bland foods to help settle his tummy, but otherwise I’d just let him go on about his day.

My hopes were reinforced by the boys playing happily in the toy room for a while and then eating a light breakfast. Whew, no problem!

We were sitting on the couch watching a little tv together. My kid started to retch, and I foolishly didn’t have a bowl or bucket close at hand. I scooped him up as he spat a mouthful of ichor onto the seat of the couch and ran to the bathroom, only a few precious steps away. As we crossed the threshold,  vomit sprayed all over the nice new bamboo floor, creating a slick path to the toilet. I was just trying to get him over the toilet bowl, and couldn’t see that the traction of the ground in front of me had been compromised. My bare feel squelched down into the slick mess and I slid like a cartoon character hitting a banana peel, barely managing not to lose my balance. I lowered Dash so that his face was directed at the bowl just as he spewed out another stream, and then turned to get the light on so I could inspect the floor to see how bad it was. I also murmured reassuring babble to Dash, because I know throwing up is scary to small kids. What I didn’t think about was that a three year old doesn’t concern himself with aiming, and when I turned to look at the floor, he turned to look at me. Without thinking I swooped down to catch the vomit. Why the hell did I do that? Oh, joy, now I have saved the disgusting messy floor from being splattered, and have a handful of half-digested goo for my trouble.

I redirected him toward the toilet and rinsed my hands, then stood over him, patting his back and talking him through the process. I hate to be touched when I’m physically ill, but that is apparently not his puking style.

Having a sick kid sucks. Just the part where I had someone’s vomit on me is bad enough. That I would have to clean it from the couch and floor was no picnic either. That I had a half-crying, half-pathetic-whimpering child to strip out of soiled pajamas and to steer clear of spreading it everywhere while also trying to keep Ozzie from playing in it was just the icing on the cake.

I looked over at the clock and saw it was only about 6:30am. Why does a day have to have so many hours in it?

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Once upon a time, when the flu hit the house,  it meant I’d spend some time kneeling before a toilet, and some time snuggled up in some blankets and watching tv, and maybe sipping some broth or Gatorade.  I’d likely attempt to sleep away some of the day. Don’t get me wrong: it wasn’t anything to get excited about.  But when your kid is sick, and also young enough to not have the routine down, it is magnified a hundred times.  There is puke all over the house. There are at least three extra loads of laundry, but probably more like five by the end of the day. Even when they aren’t actively causing a vile mess, they want to be right under my feet, so they’re keeping me from accomplishing the clean-up in any reasonable timeframe. It SUCKS.

And then my own stomach started to turn queasy. Party on!

My Little Salesman


My eldest is wonderful and skilled in many things. He can give a mean hug when I’m grouchy, he can ride his bike with training wheels like a champ, and he is an excellent alarm clock on days we have no reason to get up early.

Some things, he does not excel at. One of those things is helping me to sell my used couch. A few months back, we bought a new couch, and so the old couch had to go. This was originally a pretty pricey one, so we were hoping to still get about half to a third of the original price.

A woman was over to look at the couch, and she was sitting down and testing it out, feeling for any secret problems hiding behind the cushions.

Dash comes down from his room where he was supposed to be napping and asked who this stranger was. I told him she might buy our couch.

“My mom hates this couch.”

I laugh, a little awkwardly, “Of course I don’t! It just wont fit in our new house!”

“It’s too squashy!”

The woman starts to get that look in her eyes that tells me I’m caught. She doesn’t want this hated couch. Suddenly she’s looking at the way she can really sink into the down cushions and seeing that they aren’t just cozy and comfy. They’re unsupportive. This couch doesn’t hug you, it sucks you into it. When she first sat down, it was, “Oh, the feathers inside are so soft!” Now, she was clearly not feeling it.

I knew the deal was officially broken when she stood and said, “I’ll have to think about it.”

…Is it possible to give my kid a negative commission?

 

Playing Tea Party


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Dash and I played tea party yesterday. But the only genuinely tea-party-like part of it was the teapot, which was a Christmas present from Bear. I requested it when I realized I didn’t have one, and that a tea party requires it.

Although I love tea, Dash isn’t yet a big fan, so we really drank lemonade. Every tea party worth attending must serve tea and crumpets, so we still called it tea. He wanted to use an ice cube tray to serve the “crumpets” which were mini crackers and apple slices, because the only time I have actually seen crumpets in person, they were in a little european grocery specialty store in California (we live in WA). I suppose a better party planner would pop right over and pick some up, but I’m just not that committed.

We have coffee mugs, but he wanted “a special cup.” I offered a mug, he said no. I offered a cup, and he laughed, “I can’t drink tea out of that!” I asked him to point out an appropriate tea cup, and he directed me toward a small sauce dish. The kind they serve dressing or butter in at restaurants.  I’m sure there is an actual name for them, but the last time I worked as a waitress was in 1999, so I’m drawing a blank.

So I made a pot of steaming lemonade, and served it to him in a sauce dish, with crackers and apples divvied up into the sections of the ice cube tray.

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He said it was a wonderful party.
It was a little unconventional, since I let him call most of the shots, but if he wasn’t weird, I’d wonder if he was really mine 😉

How to Ruin a Perfect Meal


As you may have seen, this weekend I made Crazy Easy DIY Dishwasher Detergent Tablets. They were crazy-easy, and work wonderfully. If you haven’t, check ’em out. No, wait: after you’ve read this, check ’em out. Anyways, I mixed them up in a big bowl, which made the kids circle like sharks scenting blood, giving my big puppy eyes and asking if they could help me “wick da spoon.” I gently told them to get the hell away from that disgusting soapy fork, and scooped out the semi-spheres onto an aluminum foil sheet on the counter, where they had to sit to dry for a few hours. I’m a big sucker for the cute begging looks, though, so I promised them a special treat later.

A few hours passed, during which I slaved over a really tasty homemade meal. It involved simmering turkey bones to create stock as a base for the sauce, preparing fresh veggies, browning the turkey, and making mashed potatoes to top the other items. The dish was similar to a sheppard’s pie, but a little fancier, a lot more labor-intensive (no canned mushroom soup and frozen veggies, for once). I was on a roll! Homemade soap! Scratch-made awesome tasty dinner! Damn, I’m the best housewife in the history of the world! But of course because I was feeling so good about winning the day, the day had to have other plans.

I plucked my dried finished-product detergent tablets off of their foil sheet, and then the dinner was ready to come out of the oven. I folded the foil sheet over so it wouldn’t get soapy bits on anything, but forgot about it as I went to pull the food out of the oven and sprinkle some cheese on top for it to sit and melt. I plated up some for the kids so that it could sit and cool for a bit to prevent them from digging into it and burning themselves. Self-control isn’t their strong suit, nor is patience.

As the kids ate, Bear and I decided we weren’t really hungry yet, but I put a small serving onto my plate because they won’t eat as well when we don’t eat with them. We all sat and I had one of those moments of such satisfaction, knowing that this meal would not only feed us tonight, but also serve at least one more meal, or make up a few lunch servings for the hubby to take to work.

I’m sure we’ve all had those moments: every housewife I know has those days where they’re just particularly happy to have accomplished something more domestic than what was necessary. A particularly craft day, or a real deep-cleaning day, or (as in this case) a day where the food wasn’t from any processed starter ingredients. To be frank, most of our meals involve at the very least some frozen veggies, and although I know that’s equally nutritious, it’s just not as satisfying to show off.

I took the kids to wash their hands and get them out of the kitchen so I could clean things up and I noticed Bear had placed foil over the food, so it wouldn’t get too cold before he decided to eat later. I wiped down the table and the boys’ chairs, then started to wipe down the counters and realized the soapy foil was gone from the spot on the counter where I’d left it. I looked back over at the dish on the stove top. No. Surely he didn’t…

“Hey Bear? Did you put the foil from the counter on top of the food?”

Sensing the tone of defeat, he asked, “Should I… not… have covered it?” I could tell he was mystified as to why this wasn’t a good move.

“The foil had all kinds of soap coating it… so… uh.” I double checked, not wanting it to actually have been the same foil. It was. I pulled up the foil, and the steam still rising off the food had formed a layer of dew over the foil, wetting the dried out soap and dripping it back down onto the meal, making sure that even the parts that didn’t touch the foil directly were affected. “At least it was soap side-down, so it destroyed the food.” Despite the sarcasm, this was said without attitude. I didn’t want to make a big deal, because it was an honest mistake, but I was also wracking my brain to try to think of a way that this was not actually happening.

“I thought it was foil you’d put over the food to bake it.” I asked him if he wanted to test it to see if it was gross, because I wasn’t going to. He declined. With a big sigh, I dumped the remaining food into the trash.

This only reinforces the idea that pouring so much time and effort into a meal will only be punished. Hot dogs and chicken nuggets from now on.

On the other hand, the detergent works pretty great.

Crazy-Easy DIY Dishwasher Detergent Tablets


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Let me just start this post out by saying I’m not suuuuper crafty. When people who know me think of me, I sincerely doubt it is because they’re thinking of anything crafty or do-it-yourself; it’s much more likely they’re thinking of my ridiculous facebook posts or my zany antics with wild hair dye colors, or (no brainer) my amazing ability to create such adorable and funny kids. But since leaving the military and embarking on my domestic adventures in being a stay at home mom, I have more of an interest in attempting pinterest projects, and without my second income I also have the drive to be a bit more thrifty. My point is, even a novice like me could mix up a batch of these babies in less than five minutes, so no, you don’t have to be crafty to accomplish this.

I’d also like to give credit for the recipe I used to make these dishwasher tabs, and since I sort of picked and chose from a couple of sources, I will just say that it’s a mix of the ones I found here, here, and here. All of them were nice and actually damn near the same, really, but didn’t quite seem right for me. so I tweaked them just slightly, and voila! I have a super wonderful dishwasher tab that left my dishes sparkly and clean! The glasses had no spots, the plastic containers didn’t have any hazy film (which we did get from several of the store-bought tabs),  and they smelled clean and fresh without being overly soapy-smelling. That strong soap smell that you sometimes get from “real” detergents creeps me out, I don’t want to eat or drink soap. A whiff of it when I open the dishwasher is one thing, but when I’m tipping a glass of water to my lips, I don’t want to feel like I’m getting a belly full of suds.

So without further ado, here’s the recipe:

1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup sea, kosher, or other coarse salt
1/2-3/4 cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed or from a bottle

A couple things to note: Washing soda is not the same thing as baking soda. It’s in the laundry aisle, usually conveniently located next to the borax. As far as the salt, any coarse one will do. I used an off brand sea salt because it was cheaper, some of the recipes even used epsom salt, which would likely be even cheaper. I just chose what I happened to have onhand. The salt is used for the abrasive quality and to help soften hard water if that’s an issue where you live, so the type isn’t a deal-breaker.

Mix them all together and it’ll be the consistency of soggy sand. Add the lemon juice slowly, and once you get it to the consistency where it’s easily sticking together, stop. It’ll still work if it’s too wet, but it’ll be messier and harder to form. Next, scoop out tablespoons of the mix. As I scooped it out, I thought I must’ve been doing something wrong because the little half-spheres I was scooping onto my sheet of tin foil seemed a bit crumbly, like they’d fall apart at a touch. Don’t fret, dear reader, your tablets will dry out and somehow become more stuck-together as they do.  I let it stay in the shape of the 1 tablespoon sized scoop and just plopped them out onto the foil, but you can form it into little blocks if you prefer. You might want it to be a different shape to fit just so into your compartment of your dishwasher, it’s up to your preference. I’ve seen several versions where people pressed it into different ice cube trays or even cookie cutter shapes, so go ahead and get creative if you want to. Have an old bachelorette party penis shaped ice mold? Who doesn’t want a little soapy penis to do their dishes? Just make sure there isn’t more than about a tablespoon of the mix in each tab, or you’ll risk having too much detergent, which means that you may end up with soapy film on your dishes. And that would be a bummer, because it defeats the whole purpose of a quick, cheap and easy tab if you have dirty dishes at the end. Who wants to re-run a rinse cycle or some other nonsense? Not this gal. Pay attention and save yourself the headache.

Once you have your own special little creations, let them dry. You can use it immediately but it’ll be mooshy, which means that you can’t store them without them all drying together, becoming one big hunk of hassle requiring an ice pick and a strong arm. If you’ve scooped them out like mine, it takes a few hours for them to dry out. If you put them into an enclosed mold such as an ice cube tray (of any shape, naughty or nice), it may be better to wait a full 24hrs. Let them sit until fully dried out, then place into an airtight container. I reused the container that my old store-bought tabs came in: take that, cascade! This recipe makes 36 tabs 🙂

When I used mine, I just tossed it into the bottom of the dishwasher, because the little compartment wasn’t quite deep enough to fit mine. In the future I could flatten them a bit, but realistically, I doubt I will. That extra few seconds per tab is really not going to matter since they work great the way I am using them, but if you’re the type that will want it to fit, you may want to check that yours do before they dry out.

Also, here’s a shot of the fabulous results:

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Ooooooooh, sparkly 🙂

The exact breakdown of the price was about $0.04, yes, just 4 cents per tablet! I factored in everything according to what the actual used amount cost, so to be fair, I did have to spend a bit more upfront than what I actually used, but since those ingredients can easily be used to make subsequent batches, I’m not bothered about it. The store-bought ones we got from Costco were the cheapest we could find locally, and those were a pretty great deal at just $0.19/tab. Some brands at Wal-Mart are as much as .$0.35 each, which means that at the least they’re nearly 5 times less, and depending on the brand, can be almost 9 times less expensive! I get it that these aren’t likely a huge part of your budget, but it all adds up. I’d rather spend my extra money on something a little more fun and exciting than dish soap!

So good luck making your own, and be sure to let me know what you think! Also, feel free to share this link with your friends, family, and even a few strangers 🙂

 

 

p.s.- if you’d like to know about the minor disaster in my kitchen as a result of making these, read on!

Daddy’s Missing Hair


Dash was curled up in Bear’s lap, just asking him about silly things. He reached up and ran his little hands over his Dad’s stubbly head. Bear’s hair is thinning and he’s decided to go gracefully, so he shaves his head. However, his face is a different matter. He has a nice, big, well-kept beard.

Dash said, “Dad? Why is all the hair up here gone? Why don’t you have hair up here?”

Bear smiled, and said, “Why do you think?”

Dash brought his hands down and started finger-combing Bear’s beard, and said, “Is it because you have hair here? You can’t have hair up here,” he patted his head, “because you have hair here.” He patted his dad’s cheeks. He had a satisfied look on his face, I guess because he’d found his perfectly reasonable answer.

After all, everyone only gets so much hair, right?

These Heathens Still Have Christmas


I grew up in a Christian home, so we celebrated all of the typical holidays. We are a nonreligious household now, but I love the traditions of the holidays, so I want my kids to grow up with those magical moments, too. It’s easy to drop the religious aspect of most holidays, because what does Santa have to do with Christianity? When my kids are old enough to ask about Jesus I’ll explain my take on those things, but until then, remarkably little of the deeper subjects are brought into the holiday movies, the public displays, etc. My husband is a bit of a grinch, but I am holding out hope that seeing how magical and joyful the holidays can be for our kids will melt his frosty take on the commercialism and such. After all, we can make the holidays what we want them to be, it isn’t as though there are inspectors going door to door to double check that there’s a nativity scene and a maxed out string of credit cards in every home.

I have wonderful childhood memories of the holiday season. Some that spring to mind:

Singing Christmas songs with my siblings (there were six of us living in our house plus our parents, so we basically had our own little choir), sometimes we would practice in advance of showcasing our ragtag skills as if this was a big event in their lives, but often we just sang any of the songs we knew, and there is one video of us doing this that comes to mind where we kept charging into the song and then flagging and drifting off because we didn’t actually know the extended verses.

Decorating the tree with our crazy collection of homemade ornaments as well as the store-bought ones, and it took us growing older to finally realize that the big floppy paper hands and hideous lopsided craft ornaments always migrated to much less obvious places when we went to bed. Considering how many of us there were and how little tree space, I can’t blame them for wanting to highlight the better ones!

Sipping hot cocoa and stirring it with a candy-cane until it melted away and left delicious minty flavor in the cup and a small pointy shiv to play with until the fragile tip broke off.Sometimes because we started stabbing each other to see whose candy weapon was sharpest.

Also holding the warm cup in my hands and imagining that I was out in a snowy blizzard with fat flakes swirling around me and “let it snow” playing cheerfully in the background. Looking back, this is funny to me because I imagined that being in a blizzard was a fun, Christmassy thing people did in snowy places. I lived in southern California, and we had to drive up to the mountains to see snow, so I didn’t grasp that standing in a blizzard wouldn’t have been a fond, happy time, and that the memory would probably come with frostbitten toes.

Making Christmas projects: the drawings of Santa, elves, and decorated trees, and coloring pages teachers printed up, drafting wish lists and sending them to Santa Claus, counting down the days left until Christmas on paper chains and candy calendars. Cutting out snowflakes and stringing up popcorn. I loved the holiday crafts, even though we did many of them over and over each year. They never got boring!

Being allowed to open one present on Christmas eve, which was always a nice new set of pajamas to wear to bed. This was just a subtle way for my parents to get us to wear our most attractive jammies on Christmas morning, so that we were especially cute in the video of us opening gifts.

Waking up early and laying in bed until it was a reasonable hour and the parents would let us kids race out to the living room, where we could get to our presents. We always went for the Santa gifts first, because they were unwrapped and usually were the hot ticket item we wanted most; at the time I thought my parents were semi-saints for not wanting credit for the best gifts, but I suppose they knew that half of us were onto the game, and the littlest ones weren’t exactly judging them for not living up to what Santa brought.

When we were a little older, waking up and meeting my big brother in the hall where we would proceed to sneak to the living room like Christmas morning ninjas and look at the haul from Santa by the fireplace, although without touching anything in case the moved items would give us away, then creeping back to each of our rooms to get back in bed and wait excitedly to be able to race back out and grab up the gifts and play with them. This may have seemed like ruining it to our parents if they had caught us, but really this sneak peek without being able to actually get to the gift only heightened the anticipation. It was much the same as the way that seeing a commercial for something only made you want it more. Knowing it was just on the other sided of the house made me lay there imagining how amazing it was going to be to actually play with it soon.

Sitting in a big semicircle around the tree and opening gifts by turn, so that the process was drawn out, and we all had a chance to ooh and ahh over each other’s presents; having an audience while you opened your gifts made them each feel that much more important and wonderful, even when you knew that everyone got one box the exact shape which was full of new socks, so you knew what was inside wasn’t one of the “exciting” things. With a house of 8, we always each got a few fun gifts and a few necessities to bulk up the pile, but opening the plain items was somehow just a way to make the other ones that much more fun.

Those are just a few of the big ones. I could go on and on, as I’m sure most people could. And despite not believing in Christianity, I hope my kids will also grow up with a lot of wonderful memories of this time of year. As you can see from the picture below, our tree is kind of a sad Charlie Brown tree, but the kids get all giggly and excited about it anyways!

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What about your family? What are some of the memories you can’t imagine not passing on to your children? Leave me a comment, I love hearing from everyone 🙂