Today has been a tough day.

It started with Solomon waking up at 5 a.m. and refusing to go back to sleep. I rocked him, I gave him milk, I put him back in bed and let him cry. I finally caved because it was either get up and have only one cranky child or allow him to wake the entire crew.

Despite being up early, the morning was rushed. Madeline spent half the morning screaming about her shirt being too small, her missing shorts, her leggings being too tight, her itchy skin and Lily wearing the wrong underwear.....she was a disaster.  Meanwhile, Solomon cried because he wanted to be held, he wanted to eat, he didn't want to eat, he wanted to sit in a chair, he wanted to stand in the chair, he fell backwards out of the chair.....on and on and on. All the while, Aidan was downstairs banging on his drums and Liam simply wanted eggs with his toast, five minutes ago LADY!

I pressed on, made the children their breakfasts, packed their lunches, fixed Madeline's skin and clothes issues and as it neared the time we really needed to leave in order to not miss the bus, I realized Solomon was no longer in sight. I rushed downstairs thinking maybe he had gone down to listen to Aidan. He had not. I rushed up the two flights of stairs to the top level and found him in my bathroom (I really need to figure out a way to lock that room!) and as the scene unfolded, all I could do was shake my head and sigh.

He had pulled out the drawer organizer throwing it across the room and had found, in the mess he made, a tub of Vaseline.

Oh yes, he did. By the time I got there, he was stirring the vaseline with a toothbrush, a comb and one of those long metal dental picks. There was vaseline all over the bathroom, the tub, the floor but mostly all over him. He was covered. His arms, hands, face, and most of all, HIS HAIR. And the cat was laying there on the side of the tub, licking at the piles of vaseline.

Have you ever tried to clean up vaseline?

I had no time to spare. (I will not surrender, I will not surrender.) I rubbed off as much as I could while I removed the pajamas from his body and simply left the mess.

After the kids got on the bus, I took a deep, deep breath, then proceeded to take a three mile walk with a friend before heading straight to my Ashtanga Yoga class. While I couldn't fathom being calm enough to do yoga, I knew I needed it. Half way through, the childcare called me out because Solomon had a diaper issue. Not only had he soiled the diaper but he had managed to stick both hands in it as well. To say the least, the day was not off to a great start!

After yoga, we headed to Costco. It was there that I ran in to an acquaintance I had not seen in over a year. I commented on her new hair style and she explained to me that it was a wig, that she had breast cancer and was going through treatment. Her two kids (9 and 7) patiently waited for her to tell me her whole story (which you can read about at her blog). It was a lot to take in. She is so young. She is so pulled together...so full of hope.

On the way home, I heard from a friend in CA who has recently been struck by a very rare autoimmune disease that left her almost fully blind. She is slowly recovering her sight but taking care of her three kids has been challenging. She went on to tell me she is in the process of a divorce, has had to file bankruptcy and has no health insurance. Without her sight, she could't work. But she is finally getting interviews for better paying work and hopeful that she will be able to make a better life for herself and her kids.

Wow. And I was thrown off by a tub of vaseline.....nothing like a little perspective.

May you have the kind of weekend where you hold your blessings close and if something unexpected is thrown your way, may you quickly remind yourself, "It's only Vaseline."

Happy Friday!


Solomon, in Pictures

So, it is hard to capture Solomon in his full form without showing it in pictures. Here are some of the highlights of his summer:

Get what out of my mouth? 
Hmmm, I wonder if she notices I helped myself to a snack.....

But Mom! I am NOT A GIRL! (OK, seriously, he really couldn't look any more like Lily at this age so the kids decided to see for themselves.....he was not happy about it and cried until the dress came off.)

Drats! Caught....Again!

Ho hum, just going along, minding my business, doing some chores.....

Not so sure about this.....(Solly with a second cousin, Avery....leading him into mischief because we know he wouldn't do that himself!)

Well Mom, who's the genius who thought they could grab some down time with 5 kids "playing" upstairs.....duh.

What? I was just checking your computer for, um, bugs.....

Oh, maybe she won't see me hiding behind this chair, up in the windowsill.....
But wait, look! There's a pretty flower.....if only I could touch it.....

Define safe.....
Really, if he can get there, he does. I have found him walking along the keys of my piano, trying to figure out how to use the piano's music stand to pull himself higher. I have found him plugging in a flat iron he found in a bathroom drawer. I have found him testing the limits of just how much toothpaste a toddler can ingest before poisoning themselves with fluoride......he's just one of those kids (that I always blamed other parents for......silly, silly Karen.....)

The Solomonster


Lilly's Latest

Many of you, over the years, have grown kind of fond of my Lily stories. (In case you are wondering, Solomon is the new Lily.....ON STEROIDS....at least in terms of craziness.) But Lily still has her shining moments.

The other day we were headed to the gym and I walked outside to find Lily spitting into each hand. She started rubbing them together at which point I asked her what on earth she was doing.

"My hands are dirty with chalk so I'm washing them," she innocently explained.

"Ewwww, Lily! That's gross!" I said, disgusted. "Go wash your hands in the sink right now!"

That's when Madeline chimed in. "Yeah, if you think that's gross, you should smell her hair!"


Calming Caged Chickens

A couple decades ago, there was a study done on chickens out in CA where they put red contact lenses in the chickens' eyes in hopes that the lenses would boost egg production by reducing aggressive behavior in the layers.

The company that made the lenses claimed that chickens with the red contact lenses are "calm" but as one animal rights person said this idea "shows scientific naivete at best. In chronic pain, discomfort, or distress, chickens and other organisms, including humans, tend to acclimate to the chronic noxious stimulus showing only very subtle outward signs of pain. They reduce their activities, develop guarding behavior, and may even deteriorate to a state of learned helplessness indicating that they have succumbed utterly to helpless despair and the destruction of their personality and will." (http://www.upc-online.org/RedLens.html)

Red contact lenses......in chickens......?


Yesterday was the first day of school. While up until then the kids had been half grumbles, half excitement, I could hardly contain my giddiness. Eight hours, five days a week with just two kids at home.....and come September, three of those days will leave me with only one small child....although I will admit, as the Master of Destruction, Solomon alone could bring down our entire universe in one swift Solomove. It ain't exactly hammocks, books and bon-bons around here to say the least.

A great example happened right after getting Aidan, Madeline and pants-tucked-completely-in-to-her-lace-lined-socks-Lily on the bus. You see, I brought the two chicklets home to get them fed and ready for the day. Since we didn't have to be at my physical therapy appointment until noon I decided to use the time to get all our home and school folders and drawers ready for the year. I took out some colorful flashcards for the boys to play with and then went to work sorting, organizing and throwing away. As I decided "keepsakes or trash", I looked up often to make sure the boys were still where I could see them. At one point, Solomon grabbed a handful of cards and walked around to the other side of the leather sofa. I could see his little head bobbing up and down as he played enthusiastically with the cards, so I thought. A few moments later I see him rounding the corner with a Sharpie, opened and ready for the kill.

I chased Saruman the White down and disarmed him of his staff. Returning to the couch, I realized my mistake in thinking he had been playing with cards. His head bobbing had been the enthusiasm of a tiny artist channelling his inner Picasso.....ALL.OVER.THE.LEATHER!

Then, in my panic, I grabbed a Magic Eraser. Surely a Magic Eraser could fix even this, right? If by "fix" I mean transform the rich, dark brown sofa into an orange disaster, then sure, it fixed it. Well, it DID take out the Sharpie....now I just have to figure out how to re-stain the leather.

And that is what lead Solomonster into his next predicament:

That gave me about five minutes until I heard him rustling around in MY BATHROOM and went up to find this.....

Gosh darn the football training camp he apparently endures as the youngest of 5......he apparently is too strong and skillful for his own good. (Or mine!)

Today, I'm off to find some red contact lenses......


The Florida Solomander

Montage: the technique of producing a new composite whole from fragments of pictures, text, or music

Solomontage:  a piece of non-replicable artwork made from fragments of undesirable mediums to produce a new composite whole in the most unwholesome of ways and found by the most unsuspecting spectators


Our FL trip this year can really be summed up by two stories, both starring the one and only Solomander. My parents house is not what I would call "Solomonster Proof" and while it holds true that not many houses, baby-proofed or otherwise, would fit that bill, letting the Solomander loose in their house was like throwing fuel on an already all-consuming fire. He was in his own sort of slithery, slimy heaven, which made for quite the opposite effect for the rest of us.

At one point, I walked in to find Solomon wielding the fire poker with both hands, his face, arms, legs and feet covered in soot as he waved the poker side to side, a maniacal smirk across his innocent face. He happened to be standing in the living room.....and anyone from the south, (or perhaps it's just my folks' house?) knows that the living room is the "nice" room, the whitest room in the house.....white sheepskin rugs; fine, light-colored, furniture; white walls, glass, crystal, collectibles.....it was almost a heart stopping moment.

Fortunately, disaster was averted. Nothing broke, he washed up quite well and after a swim or two in the pool, the fireplace was forgotten, at least for that day.

Fast forward a few days. We had been having a hard time keeping Solly out of the bathrooms and specifically out of the tubs and showers. (You know how those Solomanders like moist environments!) He had already been found "cleaning" my parents' shower tiles with scrub brushes, sponges and enough chemicals to kill a small herd of elephants as well as having been snagged from the side of a tub which had been left full of water by another child. Both times, no harm had been done but either could have been disastrous. Well, one day, my mom all of a sudden questioned: Where's Solomon? None of us knew and she headed straight back to the bathroom. Sure enough he was headed out, down the hall when she found him, hands held high, ready to be picked up and cleaned off. According to the account, he smelled terrible and when asked what smelled, he sniffed his hands and gave a putrid look of disgust. She simply closed the bathroom door, not bothering to peek in, and took him to clean him off in the kitchen sink.

After a little while, Aidan went to use the bathroom. He came running back out, tears in his eyes, obviously shaken, and told me that he couldn't use that bathroom because it was a HUGE mess.

"Well, Aidan, could you please just clean it up and then use it?" I asked, thinking he was talking about discard nightclothes on the floor or some other benign issue.

"MOOOOM! I can't clean up THAT mess! There is poop ALL OVER THE BATHROOM!" he explained.

I immediately ran back there and sure enough, one of the girls had failed to flush the toilet. And Solomon....(sigh)....Solomon, being rather fond of the toilet brush, had apparently taken great delight in swirling the brush in the toilet bowl and then creating a great Solomontage using the entire bathroom as his canvass and the least desirable "stuff" as his medium.

That is about how the trip was this year: cleaning up behind Solly wherever he went, us adults not quite getting caught up from the previous casualty before he was already on with the next and the next and the next. There he was, skipping along, singing his own Solly-Wally-Doodle-all-the-day while we chose other, more choice words.....

My father summed it up toward the end of our stay when he mentioned: "You know, I thought your stories were, maybe not contrived but at least quite embellished. Now I can see you pretty much tell it like it is."

Yup. This is just like it is folks.

Stay tuned for more.....


A Month Gone By

A month has gone by*, and oh what a month it has been.

There have been trips to PA, MI and FL, where we are currently. There has been driving, flying, laughter, tears, singing, yelling (and a little too much whining), sickness, health and all the stages in between and even orange hair (basically a blond dye job gone terribly wrong....you know it is bad when the hair dresser finishes up and says, "So, can you come back next week so I can fix that? I didn't quite get the color....or the cut for that matter....right...." That's fantastic! And what was better is when I went back to have it fixed he asked, "So, how would you like it cut this time? Shorter?" Uh.....I am pretty sure you can't cut it longer....He's lucky I am of the "it's just hair" mentality!)

Anyway, life has happened. Or should I say, it is happening. Meanwhile, we are simply striving to grasp it by the horns, holding tight while riding on through the bucking and kicking, all with a smile on our faces. Are we having fun yet?

I read a quote once, as I am sure you have too, that said:

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, favorite beverage in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming, Woo Hoo...what a ride!" (Author Unknown)

Yeah. That's kind of like everyday for me.

At any rate, we are in the middle of our yearly FL trip (think alligators, snakes and other slimy ground dwelling monsters and well, all things deadly or poisonous...oh, and larger than possible fuzzy creatures that apparently only come out of the dark when I get here, so my mom claims, although I am beginning to think she buys them and let's them loose in her house just for the shock effect) that we take every summer. All is well down here. The thriving mosquito population has apparently not been effected by the economy. Last year's crop has produced grandchildren and great grandchildren and, by the looks of his face and arms, I believe Solomon just fueled the next generation. Even more exciting is the fact that there have even been a couple of Great White Shark sightings in the area recently, because you know, why the heck shouldn't FL have an ocean dwelling death demon hovering where we humans like to frolic?

Ahhh, yes, there is nothing quite like FL in the summertime. Nothing quite like it at all.....

*My apologies for the lack of posting recently. Obviously I haven't gotten to it....something about not being able to run (lack of blood to the brain maybe?) while I pout in a corner because I am not getting my way....darn body! I am too young for it to be letting me down like this, right? ;)