Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Nope, definitely broken

We made Charley an appointment with a podiatrist on the advice of my friend, who is a podiatrist, and because Charley's ankle was still giant and swollen and slowly turning a deep shade of red and also because he couldn't put any weight on it still and it just didn't seem like it was going to get any better by itself as the PCP had suggested *might* happen. Having been through the thumb experience this fall also helped. Charley's skeletal system has had a rough year. Yesterday was the appointment. I forgot to ask anyone to pick up the younger boys, so that meant I spent two hours yesterday trapped in a tiny room with three kids who had been cooped up all day, one of whom had to take off his boot and could not be jostled.

The office was set up for older adults so after they picked out a nursing home for me from a catalog we amused ourselves by doing field sobriety tests, which I'm pretty sure James failed.


The doctor came in eventually, took a cursory look at his ankle, which was swelling wildly having been freed from the boot, and ordered another set of xrays. Later, he called me into the xray room to show me the huge crack in Charley's ankle bone (huge to me, anyway, according to him it's extremely common and caused by something called "horsing around" and "being a 10 year old boy"). He asked me if I wanted him to put a cast on it or keep him in the boot. While he went over the benefits of cast versus boot I could hear a ruckus break out in the room behind me. There was loud giggling, shrieking, mysterious thumping and banging noises, and some unsettling crashes.

The doctor had just said "Boys his age can be fairly rough and tumble, so I'd recommend the cast" when I realized the sounds were coming from OUR EXAM ROOM.

He had to sit in this position and let the cast dry for an interminable ten minutes. We watched cat videos to pass the time. The doctor laughed hard every time a random yowl came out of my phone. Chair in "ready for liftoff" position because Wes was goofing around with the controls

He'll be in the cast for two weeks and then the boot for another one to two weeks. Summer is SAVED!

Getting around our house on crutches is not convenient at the moment because we had to get ready for the painter. Also our TV is put away. Repeat: OUR TV IS PUT AWAY. So there are some challenges.


But at least Charley's bedroom is already on the first floor.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Hopping bunnies, hopping kids

Work on plan "Movin On Up (slightly north of where we are now)" continues to occupy every spare moment of our time and energy. This weekend, since it was nice out and we had an extra day off, we decided to spruce up the landscaping to give the house more curb appeal. This sounds so simple when you don't consider that we are working uphill against nine years of deferred maintenance. I did the front flowerbeds, which sounds like an easy enough girl-job, but it required gloves, multiple trash bags, and a twelve inch metal spike. And also about four hours of time.

Ryan did the back garden, which was considerably more difficult. When he got around to the side yard, where we have at least six six-foot tall "volunteer bushes" that have grown woody trunks, he decided to go rent a chain saw. He also fixed the hole in the fence that the kids used to use to get into our back yard from the non-gate side. It was hilarious to sit on my neighbor's driveway with them and watch kids run back to where the fence hole was and then turn around and come back out to go around, disappointed. Sorry kids, the slob neighbors are moving!

Friday after we went to Whataburger for lunch and to Home Depot to buy some more plants to replace the Jumanji-style ones we were taking out, we stopped by the new house to remind ourselves why we every thought this was a good idea in the first place.


Saturday morning the kids thought it would be fun to watch TV and bitch about not being able to find the remote while Ryan and I were ripping giant weeds out of the backyard. They quickly learned that if they couldn't solve this problem without our help, we would be happy to find a alternative activity for them.


Sunday was Easter! There are no photos of the egg hunt because no one had any clothes on. But they cleaned up nice for church!


I asked them to get closer for another picture.


That's better.


We went to church, which was nice. And then to my parents' house for brunch. They had a great easter egg hunt (the tradition is to put socks in the easter eggs and the kids were SO EXCITED about it all day). There were crafts and so much delicious food. My cousins were there and my aunt and uncle and my sister. All the kids disappeared outside in a loud mob, we laughed and joked and helped my mom in the kitchen.

Right before lunch, Charley came in from playing outside, complained about his ankle hurting, then hopped on one foot to the couch. He can be kind of dramatic, so I made him an ice pack, picked up my IPA, and went back to the party. When it was time for us to eat I called out "Charley! Lunch! You can make it to the table!" then I went and sat in another room to eat at the adult table. This is called building character. He had hopped back to the couch with his ice pack by the time we were all done eating and that's when I noticed that hmmm, does his left ankle look massively swollen to anyone else? I asked my cousins how he had fallen, if it had really been *that* bad. They said they didn't think so, but I made him an appointment with urgent care for yesterday evening and we left rather abruptly to make it there (a decision which probably saved us $500).

In the car on the way there I remarked to Ryan "Don't worry, sweetie, we'll just throw another few dollars on the money pile!" He responded unhappily "Don't you mean a money *hole*?" I chirped "The pile is on FIRE!"

Ryan pulled up to the entrance and Wes got Charley a wheelchair while I checked us in. By the way, pushing Charley in the wheelchair seemed to give Wes the sense of agency he needed to stop verbally abusing James, which is how he had spent the rest of the day.


The doctor came in and confirmed dryly "Yep, it sure is swollen. Probably fractured. Take him down to x-ray." I love a doctor who cuts right through the shit.

The doctor and the radiologist both couldn't see a fracture, but they put him in a boot and gave him some crutches and said to see if he can walk in four or five days. On the advice of our friend, a podiatrist, he has an appointment with a different podiatrist tomorrow to make sure. Given how the thumb thing went down this fall, I fully expect to be told that it is fractured, but I am told that regardless of whether it is fractured or sprained, he will be in the boot for at least a month. This is exciting news, as I'm sure you can imagine, given that we are also trying to MOVE TO ANOTHER HOUSE right in the middle of that timeframe and that he is ACTUALLY USUALLY QUITE HELPFUL. Not to mention the whole pool thing and the fact that I had planned to send them to Y camp during summer research and obviously *that's* not going to work if he's in a cast. Such a bummer.

We'll figure something out. Something is probably a nice quiet Lego engineering camp and some quality time with grandparents. Also I told him we could learn to make slushes and would float him out to the middle of the pool on an innertube with a slushie this summer if we had to. I am doing my best perky cheerleader WHAT A FUN ADVENTURE thing, but dang you guys. This is not ideal.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Kids want to go back to tornado church

Dang you guys I think of so many funny stories during the day and way back when when the kids were small enough to nap I would just slap them into hysterical blog posts practically every afternoon. Now I just laugh to myself and get weird looks when I am in class. Or in line at the grocery store. I am always in one of those two places.

I did manage to take this picture of our front porch and send it to our long-suffering realtor with the caption "Staged the front porch!"


I continue to delight (no) and annoy (yes) real estate professionals. This time he is one of our good friends though, so the pressure is really on to not act too much like an imbecile. I'd say I'm hovering at right about 80-20 in that department, which is an improvement. It is definitely a twist seeing my friend, on whose floor James once fell asleep halfway through eating a hot dog, in professional mode, but it's kind of awesome. Who knew we were all grownups?

In other news, two Sundays ago I was walking out the door to go to church and looked at the radar to see an absolute beast of a squall line headed straight for us. It was dusky dark at nine AM and the air was weirdly thick and humid. I joked around on Facebook that whoever was stuck with me in the tornado shelter at church better get ready for a cuh-razy sing-a-long, but I really wasn't expecting anything to happen, which is why I was all laughy-jokey about it. This is often my downfall. We sent the boys off to Sunday School right when we arrived and then dropped Mary off at her room and we had just walked into the part of the building where our class meets when THE WEATHER RADIO ANNOUNCED A TORNADO WARNING.

I sighed. Part of me loves an emergency but another part of me was really looking forward to getting a donut and zoning out at the back of my Sunday School class with my friend Rosa.

Two other friends who are on staff with the children's ministry were headed straight for me in the hallway and we immediately began evacuating the kids from the second floor down to the hallway in the center of the first floor where there were no windows.

I felt like I was being kind of a drama queen, but it was a tornado warning and we were in charge of dozens of kids and I couldn't see it on my phone radar, but the velocity image and reflectivity image were NOT TOO SHABBY for Central Texas and we really did do the right thing.

It was kind of chaotic getting everyone down the stairs, but once we assembled them on the floor and sang some songs all was peaceful. Ryan went to check on Mary and ended up helping take all the nursery kids and three year olds to another (safe) part of the building, where I am told they have emergency backup lighting (this will be important later).

We ran out of songs to sing so I grabbed a book at random from one of the classrooms and tried to find something to read to the kids and that's when I realized that ALL BIBLE STORIES ARE KIND OF TERRIFYING.

I just started at the beginning, though I'm not sure the middle of a potential tornado situation is the ideal setting to contemplate the Fall of Man.

When we got the all clear we started shuffling all the kids back upstairs. When we had ALLLLLLL the kids either in the stairwell or in a line behind the stairwell, THE POWER WENT OUT, and it was PITCH BLACK.

The kids thought this was incredibly exciting. Imagine fifty excited kids in a cinder block stairwell, IN THE DARK.

Charley's class got to play Uno by candlelight.


Everyone was finally back in their classrooms (still in the dark) when a friend who is a fireman came over to tell us that there had been a law-enforcement tornado sighting and that we should go back downstairs (The radar was saying otherwise, but there was a lot of confusion and they had already evacuated the sanctuary, so we went for it). Once we got downstairs we decided to stick it out until all the parents got out of big church and came to pick up their kids.

Later I would learn that the sanctuary ALSO has backup lights and that they had no idea that we were sitting in pitch black darkness with fifty children.

There is power in His name, just not the electrical kind.

Which is why they took their time finishing up communion and singing extra verses of all the songs. We were down there FOREVER. Ryan and I ended up taking two extra kids to big church with us, which meant we were in charge of six kids for the entire service, including Communion (Wes's buddy A asked me "can I go get seconds?"). The kids loved sitting with friends, the service was relaxed and casual, and the power eventually came back on.

And just like at the end of Twister, when we got outside at the end it was pretty and sunny again. Crazy!

So now you're all caught up. Tornado church. Classes are almost over. We're about to buy a house. And sell a house. And move. Lots to complain about there!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Moving out and forward

One exciting thing about moving to a new house is the opportunity to confront your slothful housekeeping of the last nine years up close and personal, in your pajamas, at nine o'clock at night, while standing barefoot on the kitchen counter scraping greasy buildup off the upper cabinets with Pine Sol as you facilitate a kid who needs to verbally process through his entire day.

Never again. I will never be this disgusting again. I vow, even though I remember clearly making exactly the same promise to myself as I scraped grease off the upper cabinets at my LAST house (there was also the matter of the dead mouse that began to decompose under our electric skillet that made the house smell like death for the agent open house and that I discovered while home alone with baby Charley one night after making pancakes and immediately called Ryan to come home and deal with).

I have some Feelings about this move that I like to spend the hours between two and three o'clock in the morning considering rationally. One is that we don't technically *need* a bigger house. After all, look at the Greatest Generation! They managed to raise families of seven in glorified shipping containers with a single bathroom and three kitchen cabinets!

When I trot this argument out my friend Heather likes to remind me that it was also acceptable to hit your children into submission (which certainly meant less bitching about bedtime/room sharing) and most women were on tranquilizers. I would add a third thing, that it was perfectly acceptable to send your kids out to play for nine hours a day while you played cards and drank liquor with the other women on your street (now you can only have craft beer while sitting on your porch for an hour or two before you have to force someone to do homework or make a meal or something, how times have changed!). Who needs a game room when you have the great outdoors?! I also like to reassure myself that my grandparents, models of New England pragmatism, converted their attic into two more bedrooms and a third bathroom, giving their house exactly the number of bedrooms we are moving up to SO THERE.

I love our current house. We've lived here for nine big years. Three new babies. A PhD. New jobs. Good patches. Bad patches. It started out sort of neo-colonial traditional with beige carpet and formal furniture in the dining room that was very important to me. It evolved over time to have a kind of funky coffeeshop vibe, with a huge worn out butcher block table in the dining room, an orange floor, green kitchen walls, a five foot tall microscope cabinet acting as the focal point of the living room. Our old tastes and expectations chipped away and molded by the experience of having a child in crisis, a newborn, and a stressful job situation all at the same time. Questions about what *should* a house look like yielded to wanting our house to be comfortable and functional for us. And that meant an orange floor, a green kitchen, and a giant butcher block table covered in paint stains and scratches in place of our elegant dining room furniture.

It's hard to leave this incubator for our family behind, but this is going to be a good thing for us. It's cute when the kids use the six foot patch of floor space behind the kitchen counter to play magnatiles now, but I'm having trouble envisioning a fourteen year old Wes hanging out back there with his buddies. At some point one kid might want to read a book while another kid might want to watch TV! Or do homework while someone else practices piano! Or *I* might want to have friends over and put on a movie for the kids and offer the adults someplace to sit that is not the kitchen floor! The kids are staying up later and later, we cannot continue using the living area in shifts like we have been.

I'm going to miss our wonderful neighbors and our orange floor and the cubbies I built for the kids' backpacks in the kitchen (that I will be recreating in the new house). I'll miss our green walls and my garden beds and the projects Ryan has done to streamline our life in this house.

But this is a LOT OF STUFF for a living room, right? And I know what you are thinking: get rid of some stuff! We are down to the minimum. The next thing to go is one of the children. I don't know why every child needs his own TV-watching quilt, to be stored in the corner of the living room in a giant hap-hazard pile, but they do. They just do. Even in August. The rollerblades have to go in the living room because there is no room in the garage because of all the bikes and the lawnmower and the thrift store couch they destroyed that we're having trouble discarding. The games and cards and dominoes also have to go in the living room BECAUSE IT'S THE LIVING ROOM. Just like the dishes and pots and pans and lunchboxes and science experiments all have to go in the kitchen, which is the only other non-bedroom space on the first floor now. It's been working for a long time and it's kind of starting to not work. And they just keep getting BIGGER.

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.

Anyway, we found a good house for a price we could afford that is closer to the kids' school and both of our works. It's on a bike trail. It's close to the pool. And we move at the end of the month. We told the kids on Saturday afternoon. It...did not go well. Wes started sobbing and moaning the name of his buddy next door. Charley ran to his new room and pushed his desk up against the door then wrote a note that said "Y'all are cray cray". He ripped the head off an action figure and left it on the counter with a note that said "YOU!" with an angry face.


So we went to the house and parked in the driveway and walked around to the back yard. Wes made friends with the kid next door and they threw a football around. The big kids rode their bikes on the trail. We walked to the playground. They were OK by the time we got home. Charley put the head back on the action figure and brought it to show us.

Checking out the new front door for first day of school pics.

We bought a pretty journal for the kids to write down their favorite house memories and a photo album so we can keep some pictures. We're letting them pick out area rugs for their rooms (which all have wood floors and, one day, paint colors. We're keeping up a full social calendar of musical rehearsals and birthday parties and Scout campouts and homework and piano lessons, trying to limit the ridiculous amounts of life upheaval to just Ryan and me. We are spending our evenings cleaning and fixing and packing around the edges so we can put our own house on the market close to the time we leave (funny story: After the Flu Outbreak we had pretty much given up on the idea of buying this particular house because life just seemed too overwhelming at the time. Then we had this horrible day that involved poop and fighting and poop on furniture and fighting with kids and did I mention poop? And Ryan called me the next morning and said "You know what? I'm OK with moving out before we sell this house, because there is NO EFFING WAY we are going to list the house with these kids still living in it.").

We're hiring people to do the heavy jobs like painting the stairwell and the living and dining room and installing tile and carpet, so we just have to clean and get stuff to a storage unit to make room for them. So look forward to lots of complaining about *that*.

It's going to be great! I just have to convince my 3 AM self of this.