August 17, 2014

Living With Nature.....Indoors (Guest Blog: Carrie Noble)

Guest Blog

Living With Nature...Indoors
by: Carrie Noble


My in-laws’ owned a “historic home.” A hundred years ago—maybe even fifty—it must have been spectacular. The exterior: three stories of red brick, topped with multiple chimneys and a slate-tiled roof. Inside: well-crafted woodwork, multiple fireplaces, tall windows framed by tasseled curtains, and a majestic staircase.

By the late 1990’s, the place needed some serious work. Functional central heat would have been nice, for example.

Its upstairs apartment was supposed to be temporary housing for my family, but we ended up staying for nine loooonnnnnng years. We arrived with one kid and left with four!

You know how mankind has slowly overtaken forests and fields, shoving Nature aside? Well, I think that was what was happening there…in reverse: Nature trying to reclaim its territory.

Exhibit one: Squirrel Bowling Leagues. In the attic above our bed on the third floor, squirrel bowling was the “in” sport. They must have used jumbo walnuts as balls—they made so much racket. I think they had a bar up there, too, because sometimes we heard them brawling and swearing in Squirrelese.

Once, a member of the league must have made a wrong turn and ended up in our bathroom. Sad to say, after Mr. Squirrel tangled with my husband and a boot, he never bowled again (unless they bowl in Squirrel Heaven).

My mother-in-law also relied upon my husband’s skills as an amateur exterminator when uninvited bat houseguests flitted through her region of Wildlife Manor (not its real name). My husband wasn’t much of a tennis player, but he could backhand a bat like Martina Navratilova.

And then there were the snakes.

One day, I watched in horror as a blacksnake climbed up a brick wall to a ledge under the edge of the roof. Snakey proceeded to lunch on baby birds, despite my fervent prayers for him to fall down and die. (Did you know snakes can scale walls? That’s just wrong!)

I found a baby snake in our bathroom once. I screamed, slammed the door, and waited for my husband to get home. By then, it had vanished. No one ever went to the bathroom without turning on the lights after that.
Snakes also liked to frequent my mother-in-law’s kitchen downstairs. She has snake-o-phobia, so she did not ask them to stay for a cookie and a Bible story.

Hordes of mice came to call, too, leaving their little black droppings as parting gifts. Gees, no wonder the snakes came in. The house was prime hunting grounds!

Does anybody like big, hairy wolf spiders? I found one in the sink, the size of a toddler. Well, maybe not quite that big. But close enough.

Nature was pretty aggressive in the yard, as well. Ticks and poison ivy attacked my kids often enough that the doctor probably kept our charts in the section of files labeled “rednecks.”

And oh, the pool hole! Once upon a time, it had been a beautiful in-ground pool. But during our stint at Wildlife Manor, I had to phone the game warden to rescue a young deer that was trapped in the crumbling, weed-infested chasm. As for groundhogs that fell in…they were out of luck.

So…I’m pretty sure
Lesson 187: living in a tumbledown mansion with more critters than they have in the Philadelphia Zoo=White Trash!

Truth be told, we were blessed. We had indoor plumbing and enough to eat. Winters were tough but nobody got frostbite. And the kids still reminisce about the seven-acre yard where they climbed trees, rode bikes, picked apples, and frolicked in poison ivy.

It wasn’t my idea to live there, but I know it was God’s plan for us at that time. And when we finally moved into our very own house, we appreciated it all the more.


However, I still firmly believe that Nature should stay outdoors.



I met Carrie at St. Davids Christian Writers' Conference this past June. She befriended me despite thinking I was a stalker. She is a wife and mother of 4, and she just so happens to be the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award winner in the YA category. Her book, The Mermaid's Sister, will be available in February 2015. (You can pre-order a copy on Amazon......hint!....hint!!)


Thanks Carrie for your trashy contribution!!  

August 11, 2014

Table Manners

First off...

Lesson 185: Blogging from your phone because your baby destroyed your laptop =white trash
(I tried to find any random acts of auto correct,  but reading microscopic text was killing me! I apologize for any I missed.)

Back to the story...

Anyone who has kids knows there comes a time during summer vacation when you lose all control. Not only do you lose control, but you lose the will to even care.

Well, that time had come in our house. The rule of our house is no TV or games until chores, homework, and instrument practice are done. Even then, they only receive one hour of TV time. They perform other chores off a list in our kitchen to obtain extra time. This past week, everything had gone right out the window.  No one had practiced an instrument (unless playing Rock Band counts). There were several days when they didn't do their one required chore. And the video games! Oh the video games! It was just so much more relaxing for me to have them zoned out in front of the TV than fighting and destroying my house.

Of course, Adam, who spends 99% of his time at work or asleep, told me, "we need to take back control." Which translated to," you need to handle this."

So, I started the long frustrating road to getting my kids under control. The way things started out though, I wondered if they'd finally figured out they out numbered me.

I'd ask them to do something and I was blatantly ignored. Our first floor is a TV free zone, yet I went to the store and returned to find not one, but two televisions in my living room. "We'll put them back when we're done", they told me. They were in my living room for a full week.

I asked my older boys to clean their room. I walked past their door after an hour and heard, "One!" Slap. "Two!" Slap. Apparently they were waiting for a tap-out. I decided to give them more time. An hour later, I put my hand on the door knob then heard, "My seaweed,  my rules." What in the world? I pulled my hand off the knob as if it were scalding hot and decided to give them one more hour to finish the task I gave them.

When the hour was up I went to their door and heard screaming. I entered their room to see the mess had not changed. They all froze, which was impressive seeing as they were in the middle of holding Stone and trying to wrangle him (against his will) into a pair of doll panties.

Adam was right. I needed to get things back under control. "Clean this room now or you're all grounded." They looked at me, dropped Stone (who flopped away like a mermaid), and finally got to work. I resolved from then on I would ask them once and that was it. No excuses.

It has worked for the most part. The No Nonsense Sheriff has rolled back into this no-good-child-run town, and is getting things done. I'm back in my saddle and quick on the draw. No pathetic excuse can be drawn before I shoot a well aimed, "Now!"

"I'll do it after.."

"Now!"

"Just give me a..."

"Now!"

There have been a few times when I'm not such a tyrant.

"Now!" I yelled as Jovie sulked away to clean up stray dishes.

"But I'm really hungry."

"Eat a cracker while you clean." See? I allow little privileges as long as they are still doing what I've asked. I just can't back down right now.

However, this tactic did backfire. During my loss of control, my kids decided they didn't need to sit and eat at the table. They ran around and dropped food everywhere. The twins were the worst.

One night I served dinner. Rex grabbed his corn dog and ran. He jumped in his little Cozy Coupe car and tried to drive away. (Did I mention my kids also brought in all their outside riding toys?) Finding him, I opened the door, pointed and said, "Go to the table." He looked at me with a devious smile and said, "No."

Was he challenging the Sheriff to a showdown? Silly boy, hadn't he realized it had been high noon all day and the Sheriff hadn't lost yet? I aimed and shot, "Now!"

He jumped out of the car and ran to the table. He yelled, "But I poopin'." I didn't really register what he was actually saying. All complaints had sounded the same and I was still strutting around from my latest win. I felt the urge to be a kind tyrant and decided to be lenient.  It wasn't until the words were coming out of my mouth that I realized what I was truly saying...

"You can poop at the table."

(Record scratching)

I rounded the corner to see the rest of my kids looking horrified.

"Really mom?" Jet asked holding his nose.

I stared at the kids' disgusted faces. Hold it together Sheriff. You can't back down. They'll think you're weak and you'll lose everything you've worked so hard for.

"Yes, really. Everyone eats at the table." I sat down, held my head high, and resumed my dinner. A round of groans met my ears. I pretended not to notice and fought the urge to groan along with them.

Lesson 186: Teaching your kids it's socially acceptable to soil yourself at the dinner table = white trash

Is this the point where the Sheriff rides off into the sunset?.... No? ....Bummer.






August 4, 2014

Are You White Trash?

I've had a lot of women come up to me lately and share their "white trash mom" moments. They are all really funny and make me feel slightly better about my own life. Apparently, we can all be a little trashy from time to time.

So, if anyone is interested, you don't have to be a mom, you could be a dad, grandparent, child, pet, the wildlife that sits in my garbage cans at night and eats my "white trash" bags full of garbage, I don't care, if you're trashy I want to hear about it and I will be taking stories to post as a guest spot on my blog.

Please send your stories to whitetrashmomstories@gmail.com. Don't forget a little bio about yourself to be included with your story. Unless you want to remain anonymous. Some are in denial of their true trashy selves. But I say embrace your trash and own it!

Can't wait to hear from you!

July 9, 2014

Just a Crappy Blog

Last night, Stone's t-ball team celebrated the season with a pizza party at the park. I was only going to take Stone, but at the last minute I had to take eight out of nine kids, and we had to walk.

We all had a good time, until Stone ran up to the pavilion holding himself. "I have to pee!" I looked around. My kids were EVERYWHERE. I called to Jagger and he ran Stone up to the bathrooms.

A few minutes later, Stone screamed across the park. I looked up and he was still holding himself by the bathrooms and Jagger was running right for me. "Well, it looks like Stone peed his pants," I sighed at the other mothers.

I was about five steps away when Jagger yelled, "Stone pooped his pants! It's in his shoe!"

Great. Of course, I was completely unprepared. What mother of nine would pack a diaper bag when going out? .....What's that? All of them? Guess I didn't get the memo.

I cleaned Stone up and it was time to walk home.

As we walked, my kids began to sing. You know the 12 Days of Christmas? The part where you sing, Five Golden Rings? They changed the words to Stone pooped his pants! Even Stone, who had dried his tears and realized pooping his pants was quite amusing, sang along. They sang in 3 piece harmony, and at one point I thought they were singing in a round, but it turned out the twins were just unsure of the words. Even Hawk cried, "Poop-poop!" from the stroller.

We rounded the corner, the singing stopped. Jagger turned his head and commented, "Stone, why did you have to poop your pants? Why couldn't you just hold it?"

Being the loving mother I am (complete and utter sarcasm), I said, "Jagger, what about the time you couldn't hold it at the restaurant and you pooped your pants? You had to wear Dad's shirt and you looked like MC Hammer."

"Who's MC Hammer?" Jet asked.

I sighed, "you looked like a ninja."

Jagger slumped his shoulders, yet had a grin on his face, "Oh yeah."

"Haha!" Jude pointed, "Jagger, you pooped your pants."

"Uh, Jude? Remember the one time we went to Gabriel Brothers and Dad had to call for me over the loud speaker, because you pooped your pants? Good thing we were at a clothes store, because I had to buy you all new clothes."

Jude flashed me a devilish grin.

"Why did they all poop their pants?" Jovie laughed.

"Jo, you pooped your pants when Grammy spent the night." I reminded her.

"Oh yeah. I had a dream I was pooping my pants, but I really DID poop my pants." She smiled and shook her head as if she were enjoying the nostalgia. "That was awesome."

Awesome?

Lesson 183: Proud pants poopers = White Trash

"Stone pooping his pants wasn't the first time and it won't be the last," I told them. Then on cue, as if he were holding it for that exact moment, Hawk audibly pooped his pants. "See, Hawk just pooped his pants."

The kids laughed and sang out, Hawk pooped his pants!

I'm glad my kids can laugh at their embarrassing moments. Yes, those moments in life are horrible, but our family has found that laughter is definitely the best kind of medicine. We take lemons and turn them into a whole stinking lemonade stand and pass out cups of amusement to any passerby. Maybe my kids will have trashy blogs of their own someday......I apologize in advance.



July 1, 2014

Say Cheese!

It's no secret my family is odd. Adam will tell you it's my genes that cause the weirdness in our children. I'm not denying that possibility. I'm also not denying my family's unnatural love of cheese. We love cheese, but my son Rex has taken it to a whole new level.

I first noticed something was amiss when Rex would ask for a piece of cheese and then a few hours later I would find it completely uneaten in random places. I found them on the couch. I found them in a toy skillet. I found them in the fireplace. Cheese was everywhere!

Then, it escalated to his asking for American Cheese slices still in the wrapper. He would freak out if I tried to unwrap it. I told him he was absolutely not going to just hold a slice of cheese until it became inedible. Wasting cheese is just plain wrong. (I love cheese! You don't wrong cheese. "Nobody puts Cheese in a corner!" Sorry, I'm having a moment.)

Once he was shut off, he took matters into his own hands. I would get into the fridge and find cheese missing. Whole bricks! I would play a game of Hot and Cold with Rex. He had no idea he was playing, but his face would give it away. "Where's the cheese?" I'd ask. He'd freeze and only move his eyes as I walked around the room. His eyes getting wider the closer I got. 

Sometimes I didn't even have to ask. He began carrying baskets full of cheese bricks, baggies loaded with cheese sticks, and purses brimming with cheese cubes. Oh, and I can't forget when I came into the room to Rex cooling himself with a hand fan made of cheese slices.

Could it get any weirder? I'm so glad you asked.

A few days ago, Adam and I were outside with the kids doing yard work. I noticed Rex missing when I did a head count. Adam went inside to find him. While standing in the doorway, he yelled to me, "Hey, the American Cheese wrapper is laying on the floor in front of the fridge."

"Ugh! Please find Rex and get the cheese." 

Adam returned laughing. "There is something wrong with our children," he said.

When Adam started up the stairs, he called out, "Rex. Do you have cheese?"

He heard a quick, "No," coming from the little boys' bedroom. Reaching the doorway, he saw Rex on his bed, completely covered with his blanket.

"Rex, do you have cheese?" he asked again.

"No."

Adam pulled the blanket down. Rex's eyes became wide as he realized he had been caught red handed lying on his bed with American Cheese slices covering his entire body in some sort of bizarre cheese suit.

Lesson 182: Feeling the need to wear cheese = white trash

Lady Gaga's personal stylist better watch out. Rex is on the scene, and the cheese doesn't stand alone!

June 6, 2014

Age Defying Face Cream

Times are tough, and it's written all over my face. Literally.

Since we moved to our new home, things have been tight. Well, everything but the skin on my face. And with our finances the way they are, I have no extra money to buy fancy Avon face creams that I used to get. I thought I would be able to survive, but today I took a selfie with one of the twins and realized I had a wrinkle in the middle of my forehead even when I relaxed my face. Lovely.

Lesson 181 : Wrinkles = White Trash

Tonight, while I was at Walmart buying milk, I thought I would take a detour to the cosmetic aisle and see if they had any cheap face creams. $20! They were all over $20! Come on Walmart, where are the $1.97 bottles of Equate Face Cream with the circle that says, "Compare to Botox"?

I walked away grumbling about tough times and about the twins who I swear are responsible for the wrinkle on my forehead. By the time I reached the refrigerator aisle, I was smiling. Why do I get upset about wrinkles? Wrinkles show the world I've had a life well lived. Yes, the wrinkles on my forehead give away that I've dealt with a lot of stress and worry, but my laugh lines show that despite the trials of life I've found joy and a reason to smile.

Wrinkles are beautiful little story tellers.

Ok, but maybe it would still be nice to be an unpublished author.

March 31, 2014

A Is For Alligator

First off, I want to tell you about my daughter's love of bacon. It's unnatural. When I go to the store and ask all the kids if they would like anything, this is usually what I get.

Marky: (an annoyed glare)
Jagger: "Ice cream sandwiches!"
Jet: "Ice cream!"
Jude: "Hard chocolate chip cookies."
Jovie: "BACON!"
Stone: "Fruit snacks!"
Rex, Fox, and Hawk: "AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!" (They just like to yell and jump with the rest of them.)

Lesson 180: Daughter loving bacon more than an 80's Footloose Fan = white trash

The second thing I need you to know for this story is what a horrible mother I am. Jovie has been able to identify letters since before she was 2. I take no credit for this. The kudos goes to the many phonics movies she's watched and the multiple learning websites she's played. Yep, I passed the buck. It was just so easy to plop her in front of the TV or computer and get chores done or tend to babies while she learned, "A is for a-a-alligator, and a-a-apple." (All of those programs seemed to use the same examples.)

Jovie is now in kindergarten, with several years of phonics under her belt.

Yesterday, I was flipping through the latest Oriental Trading catalog, and Jovie came over and peeked at the items on the page. It was a luau theme. She pointed to a decoration of a roasted pig. "Ew! Those people are cooking a pig. Wait. What comes from pigs?" she asked.

I smiled, "Ham. Bacon." Her eyes got huge and she began licking her lips like a hungry cartoon character. "You love to eat pigs."

"Yeah I do! I also love eating alligators. They come from apples."

Uh, maybe I've given those websites and movies too much credit. Here I thought she understood she was learning letters. I had no idea she thought she was also getting a science lesson. I wonder if she thinks elephants are hatched from eggs, queens only sew quilts, and all unicorns can play the ukulele.

Looks like it's time for this mamma to roll up her sleeves and do it the right way. Now where are those flash cards and books on animals?