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In which I present a day with Evelynn (in four acts)

Someone loves her Happy Meal toy.

 

Act I

We are downstairs in our house, playing all morning. I announce lunch and head upstairs to the kitchen. Normally, all three tinies troop up after me. After two minutes, I realise Evelynn has remained below stairs. I head down to get her. And discover the fact that she has painted the entire room with the contents of her diaper. (Again.) (Because this has happened before.) (Many times.)

I pitch a temper tantrum. Then I clean her up, bath her, finish lunch for the trio, start laundry, and put her to bed for her nap.

Then I scrub the basement until my hands are raw. I open every window in the house, and a stiff wind blows through. It does not help with the smell.

Act II

Evelynn awakens from her nap, sunshine and delight, as usual. She toddles down the hall towards the playroom while I fold laundry downstairs. I assume she is in the playroom with her brother and sister. (Never assume with Evelynn.) Then I hear the toilet chugging. Investigate. Discover that she has stuffed paper towels from under the sink into the toilet, clogged it and flushed it repeatedly. It is now overflowing all over the floor.

I cannot unclog the toilet. I clean up the water on the floor and resolve, like any sane woman, to wait until my husband gets home. I shut the door, put up a baby gate to block her access, and we go out to get a coffee for me.

Act III

I begin supper preparations. Evelynn is nicely looking at books, luring me to complacency. I glance away to concentrate on the task at hand. (You see where this is going.)

In less than two minutes, I hear sheets of water hitting the floor in the other washroom. Gallop around the corner and discover that Evelynn has stuffed toilet paper into the sink, turned on the faucets and is now flooding the upstairs washroom. I turn off the water. I am standing in two inches of water on the floor. I use every towel and sheet in the house to sop up the water. I cannot get the water out of the sink.

In a fit of insanity/desperation, I attempt to plunge the sink. This only results in a gigantic backspray of sink gunk flying around the room, the majority of the gunk (of course) landing in my hair and in my open mouth. I freak out thoroughly and laugh until I cry.  I close the bathroom door and call my husband. He is home in less than 30 minutes.

Act IV

Brian unclogs the downstairs sink. Mildly remarks how it smells like poop in the basement. Brings in his wet vac and sucks up all of the water upstairs. Dismantles the entire sink upstairs and unclogs the drains with Evelynn hovering over his shoulder, like a disinterested observer. He reassembles the sink.

We put the tinies to bed and I spend the entirety of Friday night deep cleaning both washrooms, washing towels, and cleaning the basement all over again. I lament repeatedly her newly acquired skill of scaling the play pen. I am out of options other than constant vigilance.

 

Epilogue

Evelynn is the happiest nearly-two-year-old-baby in the world.  She is sweet, loving, funny, sociable, outgoing, and curious. And smart. (Oh, Lord, help us, SO SMART.) And I cannot stay even one step ahead of her because her mischief is uncharted territory. She is relentless, interested in everything except age-appropriate toys and activities, and utterly without fear.

I can only pray for the grace to ensure that, when she is all grown up, she is a benevolent powerful dictator.

 

 

 

Continue Reading · Evelynn, family, humour, parenting · 58

In which this is the house that Jack built

If your four-year-old unexpectedly gets sick in the middle of preschool, you’ll bring him home and tuck him into bed.

And then chances are, he’s going to throw up all over the bed.

And then one of the longest weeks of your life will begin.

And then he’ll get his big sister sick, too.

And then it will be three days straight of never-ending medicine, fevers, baths, Word Girl instant streaming, and laundry.

And chances are, that will be the day that your big scary from-the-depths-of your-soul post about virginity publishes and suddenly rockets as close to “viral” as anything you’ve ever written before.

And then you’ll take the boy into the doctor and discover he has bronchitis and an ear infection and swollen glands.

And then you’ll tell your email to bugger off because you want to watch another episode of Doctor Who.

And then the baby will get sick.

And then you’ll dig out your old Ergo – Babywearing To The Rescue! – and thump her on your back.

And then you’ll go through 36 hours with thirty-pounds of sick baby on your back.

And then it will be a three-ring circus of round-the-clock barfing and coughing and scrubbing and disinfecting.

And then you’ll decide that nurses are severely underpaid and from now on, you’re pro-nurses unions, all the way.

And chances are, by now, it’s been six days since you’ve slept longer than an hour at a time.

And then you’ll start to look around your house and realise that you simply MUST organize the baby clothes situation.

And then you’ll drag every stitch of clothing out and organize it by sizes and pack it into boxes.

And then you’ll do another 18,374 loads of laundry and seriously pray for people who rely on laundromats when they’ve got sick children.

And then you’ll realise that the carpet smells of sick so you’ll cover your house in baking soda and then scrub for hours.

And then you’ll catch the baby nearly climbing out of her old teeth-marked thrice-used crib and have a sleep-disordered panic attack at the thought of her jumping out.

(Because she’s the kind of kid that would totally fling herself out of a crib.)

And then you’ll make your husband dismantle the crib and bring the toddler bed up from storage.

And then you’ll scrub more puke up out of the carpet and turn on an episode of Wild Kratts.

And then you’ll mention how you’d love to put your eldest into her own room and maybe we should do that this weekend.

And then you’ll spend your precious sleep time browsing paint colours and Pinterest bedrooms for little girls.

And then your husband will move all the furniture around on Saturday morning even though two of the three are still down for the count.

And then he’ll pull out the window casings because you’re married to an old-fashioned midwestern hard-worker who likes to do things the right way.

And next thing you know the carpet has been pulled and the ceiling retextured and the room painted.

And chances are that the sick baby won’t like her new toddler bed.

And you’ll begin to realise you are a foolish and sleep-deprived and housebound-crazy woman.

And you’ll kick yourself that you gave your husband a project to do when all you really wanted was someone to tell you to go to bed for a nap.

And then you’ll bath them all again and wash the sheets for the third time that very day.

And then you’ll remember its Superbowl Sunday and your American husband is diligently working instead of complaining about missing the game.

And then you’ll want to kiss him but you’re both too tired and stinky for that.

And then you’ll set up the new bedroom arrangement in a mad pre-bedtime panic to get it done.

And chances are the baby will barf all over her special little blankie.

And then you’ll have to wash both of them and then she won’t go to sleep for a good long time. (Neither will you. Ever.)

And then you’ll go to have a much-anticipated and cherished shower to celebrate making it to the end of another day.

And then you’ll discover there is no hot water.

Because, of course.

And then you’ll resign yourself to waiting until morning and fall into bed for another night of “Mumma, my need ya.”

And when you finally drag your tired self out of bed for the next shift in this never-ending week-of-a-day, you’ll discover the other one has been sick ALL OVER AGAIN.

And then you’ll seriously consider an exorcist.

And suddenly it will occur to you that you just dismantled the crib and for the first time in nearly seven years, there isn’t a baby here anymore.

And chances are, you’ll sit right down and cry and cry and cry about how they’re all growing up too fast.

And then suddenly you won’t mind the past week quite so much.

 

 

Continue Reading · family, humour, love · 59

In which I just write, dreams come true edition

Scene: I dramatically flung myself onto my bed at 11 o’clock. Brian was moving around the room, picking a few things up, getting ready for sleep.

Me: If I ever ever EVER tell you at any point in our future life that I am tired, please remind me of these days and call bullshit on me.  Remind me about how tiring it is to intentionally parent three still very small tinies, to homeschool one, to be up with a wakeful teething one that has just figured out how to pull up in her crib but not how to sit back down, to be potty training an oblivious three-year-old boy and all at the same time. Remind me of craft days. Remind me about madly typing and writing during the 30 minute video break, always feeling behind. Remind me how bone-crushingly exhausted one can be at the end of the day. And remind me how you were working full time plus on-call and trying to write a grad thesis on top of it all. Okay? And then I will stop whining in that distant day and get on with my life, secure in the knowledge that I can never be as tired as I am on this day. Deal?

Brian: Are you done?
Me: Yes.
Brian: Good. Do you want to watch your boyfriend (our code for Jon Stewart) on the computer now?
Me: Sure. Why not?

***

We were practicing our letter sounds yesterday. Anne was learning the sound for “i” and so we were thinking of all of the rhyming words with “it” – bit, fit, kit, hit, lit. And then she said “shit!” I blanched, stumped. “Shit rhymes, Mummy. Mummy? Did you hear me? I SAID SHIT RHYMES.”

My internal monologue: Well, shit, indeed. 

Yes, yes it does rhyme, sweetheart! And now we will have a discussion about swear words and how we don’t say that one and it’s not appropriate and so on.

Sometimes, half the job in effective discipline is keeping a straight face.

***

And then, just like that, in the middle of it all, a dream started coming true. We were dashing out the door for dance class and all three tinies were locked in their car seats. I realised I’d forgotten my camera and today was picture day at the studio so I ran inside to grab it. As soon as I opened the garage door, I heard the phone ringing and I knew that I knew that it was this one agent I’d been trying to speak with since last week. We kept playing telephone tag and somehow it was really discouraging me.

I ran up the stairs and when I picked it up: dial tone.

I burst into tears, yes, I did. I cried all the way down the stairs about how mad I was to think that I could ever write this book right now, about how my life doesn’t even allow for a phone call, let alone a book proposal. Clearly, God, you have made a mistake about me and the timing of all of this. I can’t even do a phone call with an agent properly. Such a joke.

And then something holy and divine rose up in my heart and said, “Get over yourself, Drama Queen, and call her back.”

So I did. I sat out on the driveway in the sunshine, while the tinies read their books strapped in their car seats, and I poured my heart out to a very professional and personable literary agent. Somehow it felt like being with a friend and we talked about proposals and client relationships and next thing I knew, I was hanging up the phone with a literary agent and a deadline.

Six weeks until my book proposal is due. There are several interested publishers already. Pinchpinchpinchpinch. Apparently I am dreaming still?

And then I got in the car and hollered and screamed and pounded the steering wheel and cried a little. The tinies all celebrated with clueless abandon. I dropped Joe and Evelynn off at my sisters and whisked Anne away to dance, now late.

She said, thoughtfully, “Mummy, you’re screaming and laughing. Grown-ups don’t do that.”

“This one does!” I hollered.

We got out of the car and started to sprint across the gravel parking lot, laughing. She gasped, “Oh, Mummy! It’s like you’re a Kid Grown-Up!”

I thought in that instant of Mrs. Phillips, my grade 2 teacher, who took me out of class and sent me to the library just to read. She told me I already knew how to write cursive and she wanted me to read. Then she told me to write her a story and she went home, printed it out carefully and stapled it together with a cover, calling it Sarah’s First Book. I remember her telling the librarian seriously, “This one was made for books” when she dropped me off one afternoon there, a stack of Newberry Award winners already waiting for me.

I felt like turning cartwheels in the gravel.

Linked up with Heather of the EO for Just Write

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Continue Reading · abundant life, Anne, blogging, brian, enough, faith, humour, journey, moments, parenting, writing · 0

In which I need to invest in a film crew

Rather daring.

My just-turned-three-year-old Joe-Bear is at that stage when I want to follow him around with a film crew, proper lighting and a boom mic because he is a walking treasure trove of tenderness, literalism and hilarious observations. Three is one of my favourite ages so far (who am I kidding? I kind of love them all. Although I could do without that tantrum-y stage from about 18-24 months. I thought I’d make that clear in case Evleynn decides to read my blog: Honey, you can just skip that part, m’kay?).

I also think I’ll pay him 10 bucks to keep saying “my” instead of “I” in his references to himself. “My am Joe!”

The other day, we were at the video store. I know – how quaint! And Joe noticed all of the other stores and asked what they were.

“Oh, there’s a doctor store”, I said, pointing to the medical clinic. “And there’s a coffee store,” pointing to the coffee shop. “And there’s a wine store,” pointing to the liquor store, before moving on to the quesadilla store and the grocery store.

His brow was furrowed and slowly he asked, “Mumma, do they sell crying, too?”

“What, honey?”

“You know. At the whine store. They sell crying, too? Cause sometimes my whine and my cry.”

And then I died of laughter while assuring him that no one, ever, in the history of mankind has ever wanted to actually pay money for some whining and crying.

Sometimes I wonder if I am raising a future cast member of the Jackass film franchise. With his adoration of potty humour, recklessness and innate goofiness, he’s aiming for a bright future as class clown.

But his heart is rich soil and he loves deep, this laddie.

He’s been doing so well on his toilet training and we praise him often by calling him a “big boy” or we talk about his soon-to-arrive “big boy bed.” He is quite proud of himself but one night, after getting him a bath and a snuggle and a few stories, he curled up in my lap, laid his head on my shoulder and said, “Oh, Mumma. Sometimes, when my am tired, my still am just your little boy. Okay?”

And then my heart nearly exploded.

Head’s up: I am giving away a 3-hour in-home cleaning session (yes! for real! someone will come and clean your house for you!) over at my Giveaways site, if you would like to enter.

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Continue Reading · abundant life, enough, family, humour, Joseph, love, parenting · 0