Thursday, May 22, 2008

Biscuit and the Beach

Beach Trip 2006

Well, we're about to be off on our next Grand Adventure of the year...A trip to the beach. The last time we went to the ocean was in the summer of 2006. I was so exhausted from that time, it's taken me this long to get back in the saddle again.

The Husband and I are hauling Mother and the four Shorties to the gulf coast next week for a little "vacation". (I put it in quotes because it's really more of a working trip for the Mother Bears of the world. Packing, unpacking, cooking, cleaning, washing, bathing kids twice a day after the beach and again before bedtime, putting sunblock on seven people, finding beach towels and beach toys and putting this one's hair up and mommy-where-is-my-favorite-fill-in-the-blank...a real "vacation" involves sleeping in and shopping and eating in nice restaurants, not laundry and cooking. Can I get a witness?)

I'm excited about it for many reasons, but one source of joy is a little more obscure than that.

Having given away the other yard dogs at our house--Peanut, Snowball, and the seven puppies--we are down to one dog living in our yard (the church sighs collectively in relief). Since we are going on vacation, I talked The Husband into letting me take Biscuit the Yard Dog to the vet to get his shots and get him groomed. We are going to board him while we are gone out of town. (This is like making a time-warp leap in the world of dogs.)

When I registered him at the vet's office, they asked me what his last name is. So, when we return home from the beach, we no longer have a yard dog, we will be bringing home Our Dog, Biscuit Johnson. I'm excited about it. He's the sweetest little thing ever, and I love him, er, I mean the kids love him very much. Yeah, that's it. :-)

Tomorrow, I have to run around getting the last of the stuff together before beginning the adventure known as Packing. I can vaguely remember being able to throw some stuff in an overnight bag and being ready to roll in 30 minutes. Now, it's like planning a three-month jungle trek hauling a bunch of wild monkeys on leashes behind you.

To take the Traveling Road Show on a trip like this requires tremendous amounts of planning and list making, otherwise you spend half of your trip in the Wal-Mart shopping for all of those forgotten items like socks and diapers and toilet training rings. (I'll be having none of that on my "vacation".) So, I make check lists and packing lists for the Shorties and The Husband and The Mother and Myself--it's quite a little production. It's gotten so bad that my 7-yr-old wrote me an e-mail reminding me to make her her own checklist this time so that she can pack herself. (It's in the gene pool.)

So, it'll be a week away from the computer, but I'm sure I'll have interesting tales from the seashore to regale you with come the first of June. Tune in next time when you might hear The Husband say, "Did you say we are having biscuits in bed? Why on earth would we do that?"

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Luau in Alabama

So, what does a Spongebob Monkey Luau look like, you ask?

What, When, Where, Why, Who, and How

My life is exhausting. It’s like some bizarre calendar-scheduling-highlighter-and-sticky note-obsession that will require electroshock therapy at some point. I have something like four calendars going all at once (and you thought you needed Happy Pills? Get in line, Sister). As if that alone weren’t sick enough, I’m compelled to fill them all up. An empty calendar is a sad Charlotte.

See, the problem is that there are these ridiculously tiny calendar squares that hardly hold a word or two, and I have my entire life recorded in that space, jammed in there like a fat lady in a bikini--stuff spilling out of the sides and over the top; it's an ugly sight to behold.

To keep it all straight I have developed a color-coded system.

My mother lives with us, so her business is written in red ink. Things like her medication schedule and doctor’s appointments and shopping excursions for supplies and when to order more medical supplies and when to refill prescriptions and when I did This Procedure and when I did That Application and when she had What Pills. Oh, and I track her blood pressure and SAT levels and pain medications in there somewhere too.

Then there’s black ink for work, where I have this strange part-time schedule that involves regular hours and filling in for my co-worker’s vacations, plus we have these flexible hours sometimes. It’s a mass of scribbling on the checkerboard of the calendar pages.

In bright green ink there is the rotating schedule for the nurse who comes to sit with Mother and Mother’s brothers and sisters who all come and sit when I need to get out and about. That’s crammed in there sideways sometimes actually written on top of other things.

We can't forget my personal stuff written in pink letters like meetings for the seventy different things I’m involved in outside and inside of church, hair cuts, scrapbook crops, baby showers, weddings, contractor meetings, WMU, and church.

And then there is the topic of the The Husband’s schedule, which is recorded in blue with mileage and meetings and outreach and deacon’s meetings and church events and who’s in what hospital and what they are having done to them or what’s wrong with them (no, I don’t write about all of your personal psychoses on a 1-inch by 1-inch square, so you’re secrets are safe--even if I did write them down, no one could read them).

And the kids. My Great God in Heaven, the Kids.

There’s so much of this business to write down that it’s written like a big explosion of ink. School parties and field days and field trips and report cards and parent/teacher conferences and orthodontist appointments and dentist appointments and check ups and illnesses and gymnastics and what-day-is-corn-dogs-because-you-know-I-LOVE-corn-dogs-mommy-and-can't-miss-it and art class and outings and play dates and birthday parties and who-is-going-where-with-whom-while-we-are-here-and-there-with-part-of-the-kids and hair cuts and, is that my eye twitching or did the power flicker on and off?

It looks like the Care Bears threw up on my calendater.

Then there are sticky notes layered on top of all of that mess with things like birthday gifts to buy and when to mail birthday cards and thank you cards and the next party invitations, and personal notes like "go buy stamps" and "pick up dry cleaning", and reminders for The Husband. (Incidentally, I don't have to make a grocery list, because I ALWAYS need something from the grocery store.)

Excuse me, Miss, but I need to find the section of the store where you sell purses big enough to hold a wall calendar. And I could use a huge change purse for all of those pens and highlighters. And I probably need to make and laminate a Key Code so that if something happens to me they can hire a hieroglyphics professor to decipher what in the world all of that text crammed into those boxes actually stands for. Come to think of it, I’m not sure what some of it stands for myself, so I need the dude’s number when you find it.

Does anyone know where I’m supposed to be right now? Clearly, I don’t have the free time to be writing this down.

I guess they are worth it. :-)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Focus on the Entertainment Factor

It’s been an odd week. Mother hasn’t been feeling particularly well, so that’s been a bit of a strain, and work is a little weird, so it’s been an all-around prickly feeling creeping around my edges.

But hope is on the horizon. We’ve got a wedding featuring a mariachi band and the potential for some inebriated uncles on Saturday and a baby shower on Sunday featuring a mom-to-be who is planning a natural birth, which should provide HOURS of entertainment as people gasp and shudder and try to talk her out of it, so sunshine is right around the corner in my little world.

In case you misunderstand, I’m not being facetious, it’s just that there’s nothing more thrilling to a soul who journals than good material, and that’s a staggering amount in two day’s time. Especially since I'm bringing the Shorties in part and in full along to both events. That ups the entertainment value by like, oh, one million percent. I may have to take a pad and pen to make notes.

I think I’ll tell a little funny Just Because. A couple of weeks ago my friend B and her family moved into the most beautiful new house that they built mostly themselves. It’s gorgeous. (I coveted the bathroom mirrors and tile on the back splash in her kitchen to the point that I need to get in the altar on Sunday.)

The Husband and I are sort of the opposite of “handy” (as in run screaming if you see either of us carrying a hammer or gardening implement--Danger, Danger, Will Robinson), so we knew that it was best to stay far, far away from the new construction, lest we set something on fire or spill a gallon of paint on the new hardwoods (you think I’m joking again—-I have anecdotal evidence to these truths).

Being a Good Friend, I didn’t want to destroy their new home, but I wanted to do something special for them, I asked her to let me know when they would be taking up residence so that I could bring by dinner.

She immediately pooh-poohed me with, “Oh, you’ve got so much on your own plate, you don’t have to do anything.” To which I put my hand to my chest and pulled away, making a shocked face and said, “Oh, Honey, you didn’t think that I was going to COOK for you, did you? I was thinking more along the lines of walking through the grocery store and bringing food to you.” Then I laughed like I was making a funny. But I wasn’t.

Does this make me a good friend or incredibly lazy? I guess both. Is there some sort of etiquette breech if you take cold cuts instead of homemade cake? I can assure you that ham tasted a boatload better than any cake I’m baking. So, B, I’ll bring you some pie eventually. My family certainly won’t eat it. :-)

Well, I’ve got to go now. Lily just came in here to the home office at 10:18 in the P.M. and gave me a big toothpaste goodnight hug. No, that’s not a misprint, not a toothpaste goodnight kiss, a toothpaste goodnight hug, as in she’s squeezed an entire tube of Crest on the sofa and her pajamas, so I have to go salvage what’s left of the furniture and the Dora nightie and change my own nightgown. Dirty Word. (Incidentally, that felt completely inadequate. You should probably all pray for me. And for Lily. And for the sofa.)

(Note to self: breathe and focus on the entertainment factor, Charlotte.)

The Boogie Man doesn’t live under the beds at my house—it’s the Little Flower we fear around here. Does anyone know how to get toothpaste out of sofa? Anyone? Anyone?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Spongebob Monkey Luau

The Divine Miss Lillian Grace turns the big 4 tomorrow. She asked for a Spongebob Monkey Luau for her birthday. (Yeah, it beats me too.)

This is the invitation:

"So, when you ask your three-year-old about to be four-year-old small child what she wants her birthday party theme to be and she says, "Ummm....hmmmm...I want a Spongebob Monkey Luau, Mommy!" your immediate response is naturally to smile and say, "Oh, sure, Baby Girl, no problem. Mommy will get right on that, Honey." What? No? (This is why I get all of the Perfect Mommy Points. Watch and learn, Grasshopper.)"

Then I go on with the information about the party. Cute, eh?

Only we've got a little problem. It's supposed to rain in a most serious way on Saturday, and that's going to put a damper on the luau (which are traditionally OUTSIDE). We are supposed to play on the Banzai (a back yard waterslide thingy) and grill crabby patties (I told you I'm totally winning that contest this year). So, now the dilemma is whether or not to rent big jumping house things and use the gym at church as a back up plan or roll the dice on the weather holding out for the water slide, because the water slide thing IS the entire entertainment plan. (Sigh)

I can't change the theme or program at this point. See, the Spongebob folks aren't making the luau-themed plates and napkins anymore, so I had to actually bid and win them on ebay, not to mention the sparkly hanging palm trees I purchased and tropical monkeys and birds on straws and leis, we're a little stuck with the theme at this point. It's definitely a Spongebob Monkey Luau.

(My husband says I need therapy.)

Then he sent me to which is like some rehab/therapy for children's birthday party junkies. The folks who made the site have some valid points.

When did it become mandatory that the birthday child give out goodie bags to guests? I'm buying lunch, cake, ice cream, a water slide and/or some jumping house things, and you want a bag with some candy and junky toys in it too? Who do you think you are? ;-) So, I'm taking up that part of the advice, and it's no goodie bags for you. Have another piece of cake.

I think we need to set a price ceiling on gifts too. Seriously, $5.00 is enough to please any four-year-old kid alive. McDonald's gift certificates. Sidewalk chalk. Crayons. Hairbows. It already looks like Toys R Us exploded in our playroom and she's got hand-me-downs from TWINS. What I should have put on the invitation was "Bring a gift, and I'll make you take a toy home with you from the basement. Try me."

Hey, I just had a GREAT idea. We're having goody bags afterall. Do they sell Spongebob goodie bags at Pet Smart to put puppies in? Well, there's always next-day- air on ebay...