Vim, Vigor and Vinegar

I spent my Saturday washing clothes. Not just clothes, but towels, bedding and assorted textiles.

For those of you who have followed this blog since the beginning, you will maybe remember that doing the laundry is actually one of my favorites among the mundane chores. There is a certain pleasure in getting the stains out of clothes. In seeing crumpled, smelly things come out clean and fresh.

Even the folding holds a distinct joy. Seeing those hard-to-fold undershirts folded neatly and carefully.

What? You don’t fold them?

Or the fitted sheets…It’s like a personal challenge to see how perfectly I can fold one so that you can’t tell it isn’t the flat sheet.

I know. I am strange that way. But honestly. I enjoy such a sense of completion when the piles of dirty laundry are systematically tackled and put away, leaving a clean floor with nothing left to wash.

For at least a few hours.

But Superman took over the laundry for the last few years while our daughter and her three children lived with us. He is a very smart man, recognizing that awful compulsion I have for forging through the mounds of laundry generated by four very active people. And I do not include Superman or myself in that category.

It’s not that we aren’t active. We just don’t attract dirt, or the same kind of dirt, the way they did. We were potty trained long ago, so we are able to make it through the night without an accident. And, well, let’s face it. We generally don’t roll in the dirt, rummage through the trash, throw disgusting stuff at each other and spill everything all over ourselves. I hope we have a few more years left before we return to that in our second childhood.

But one thing that happened while Superman and our daughter handled the laundry was very annoying.

They didn’t keep the washing machine clean. And it is one of those front loaders. You know, the HE kind that uses less water and is prone to developing a stink.

Last summer I noticed my clean clothes had a stench. Ewwww.

I went down to investigate. OH MY GOODNESS. There was MOLD growing in the gasket. (Mind you, I am allergic to mold. It aggravates my asthma. THAT is a MAJOR PROBLEM.)

I googled replacements for the gasket. Over $100. Yikes. I decided that once our active bunch moved, I would order a new gasket.

Superman, who has honestly done his very best to do the laundry the right way (read MY way) has faithfully used vinegar in the rinse. We both like the way it keeps the dispenser free of build up and minimizes how much cleaning of residue we have to do. Note: Daughter does not like using vinegar. She seems to smell the vinegar after the cycle is completed. Apparently, Superman and I do NOT have that super-sensitive sense of smell.

So the active ones moved into a new home about a month ago, and I resumed my favored chore with renewed vim and vigor. (Is that grammatically correct?)

Vinegar and those awesome little pre-measured pods, along with a scoop of OxiClean in each load…

AND GUESS WHAT???

After one month, the mold is GONE! I kid you not. There is no trace of the nasty black stuff on the gasket and the machine smells great.

So for all of you Vinegar doubters out there, take my word for it–the stuff is awesome. And CHEAP.

 

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Beware the little mouth…

Every day I am surprised by the continuing development of the kids around my house.

I know I should never be surprised by it, but I am.

Bam Bam has been testing the boundaries lately. Something so very normal for a child of two and a half.

It’s a bit of humor that I get to share with his parents when I give them the daily report.

The other day, I had to correct Bam Bam. He likes to play in the doorways, but with pinched fingers…well, I try to discourage playing with the doors.

So I first told him not to play in the doors. He proceeded to play in the doors.

I told him a second time not to play in the doors. He continued playing in the doors.

Finally, I used my stern voice and made myself undeniably clear in what my expectation was regarding him playing in the doors.

“Nana,” said Bam Bam, “you don’t tell me ‘no’. You say ‘yes’ to me.”

At that moment, we enjoyed a very up-close and personal “eye to eye” conversation about who says yes, no and makes the rules and who listens and obeys.

We settled the issue of the doors…and have now moved on to the next one…sharing. Sort of a revolving door around these parts, if you will pardon the cheesy play on words.

Don’t you love it when a child instructs you, the adult, to share?

Yes. I share all my toys with everyone. But when the turn taking gets out of control and the midgets forget who OWNS the toys…well, they shouldn’t tell ME to share MY toys.

Cookie has come into her own in terms of fighting, and I truly mean fighting, for what she decides is hers. She and Bam Bam had a number of issues sharing the toys today.

I frequently had to remind the kiddos that I share all of my toys. They always look at me the same way.

“These are YOUR toys, Nana?” Why they say it so incredulously still amazes me. We have this same discussion each and every day.

“Yes. They are MY toys, and I SHARE.”

“You share with me, Nana?” asked Bam Bam.

“I share with ALL of you.”

“You share with ALL of US, Nana?”

“Yes. I share with ALL of you. But when you aren’t nice and don’t share My toys, then I have to put the toys away.”

“That’s not nice, Nana. You have to SHARE. Sharing is nice.”

Ummmmm, that sort of was the point. All that repeating our conversation to each other a gazillion times…

“Nana, if you put the toys away and don’t share, you will need a time out.”

Sigh. Will someone PLEASE give me a time out?

Transitions

I do not like them. Nope.

Transitions are not on the list of my favorite things. I imagine I could find a way to make it seem like a positive thing, but really, don’t all transitions really have one thing in common?

You know…loss???

Each year, I seem to go through a transitional period with the little kids who joyfully come to my house so that I can coo with them, cuddle with them, teach them how to go potty, how to share, how to play nicely…you know…all that stuff that we do to with small children.

About the time the kids have learned to share, wash their hands independently AFTER going potty like such a big boy/girl, they are out the door and headed to pre-school.

Great. I do all the hard work, and those lucky pre-school teachers have it made in the shade. What do they DO all day?

Just kidding…believe me, I really am just kidding!

But the truth is that every day, I do my job. I love them and nurture them…cleaning their dirty bottoms and wiping their boogie noses. I sing and play and get all crazy with them. It’s my job and I love it.

But then we come to the transition.

At this point in life, they can talk, walk, self-feed, go potty…and some of them even get pretty good at talking smack and having a certain je ne sais quoi about coming to Nana’s house.

That is the transition. They are ready to move onward and upward. No longer is Nana’s house the magical place. They have outgrown their need for Nana.

It is a bittersweet period. While I am thankful that they have reached the pinnacle of life at Nana’s, it is still truly a sad reality that they are moving on and away from my care.

I am so proud of the big boys and big girls who are “leaving the nest” and going to the big school with the big playground and lots of toys and making new friends and learning even more about life and how to live it.

But I am sad, too. Those little chubby faces and pudgy fingers and toes are now toddler faces, with not so pudgy fingers and toes. They are not interested in nuzzling into my shoulder anymore. When I pick them up, they squirm to get down.

In the last three months, I have said good bye to “Australia” and now to “Vesuvius”. In the not too distant future, Bam Bam will be moving on to pre-school as well.

On the flip side, a new little bundle has just been born, and soon she will start her own journey with me. This little sister of two brothers who have already moved on from Nana’s house to pre-school and kindergarten.

These transitions are emotional for me and the parents. Tears and lumpy throats as we say good bye. But we also share a certain joy at the successes we have had as we learned all about each other and figured out how to draw out the wonderful strengths of each child and found ways to temper the not-so-wonderful things, so that in the end, each child could transition into the next leg of life’s journey with a bit more confidence.

Tomorrow will be our first day without our little volcanic eruptions. I don’t know exactly how that will look or sound, but we will figure it out and continue on this path we are on…step by step, until it is time for the next transition.

Saying good-bye to my little volcano

Saying good-bye to my little volcano

Conversations with Froglegs, Dancing Eyes and Curly Top

Superman has the habit of helping calm down the midgets at bedtime. He waits til the storms are over and then goes down to their “home” and spends time with each child, talking and praying for their needs.

Papa is a very special man, and I am blessed to be able to say HE IS MINE. Today we celebrate 33 years of belonging officially to each other. I think I got the better side of the blessing, and believe me when I say HE has been the one who has loved me through it all…and that ALL has been a lot over the years.

Back to the present…

Curly Top OWNS Papa. Not that we all don’t, but she has a very special position in the family…and we ALL know it.

IMG_3170

When Papa went downstairs, Curly Top was contorted upside down, feet up the wall…wiggling around and Papa sat down. Now this child is named Curly Top for a reason, and she loves to suck her thumb and twirl a curl into a knot. To her mama’s great frustration! So as Papa sat down, she took her thumb out and said to Papa:

Here Papa, my hair is tangled.”

“Do you want me to untangle it?”(as she pulled it around for Papa to reach. It took all of his skill from untangling fish nets to have success, and by that point she was almost asleep.

As soon as he finished the tangle, she sleepily pulled out another knot and said, “Here Papa, another one…”

So Papa untangled the second knot, and by the time he finished, that precious little girl was asleep.

Papa kissed her good night and moved on to the next bed…

Meeting the Ocean

Meeting the Ocean

It was Papa’s turn to talk with Froglegs…whose heart’s desire is to have a real dad. {I just cannot believe a man (questionable that he qualifies as a man based on his behavior) would abandon these bundles of love and joy.}

Papa, I really wish I had a dad. But I don’t have one. But you’re kind of like my dad. And Nana is kinda like…my UNCLE!

Okay…is being an uncle a GOOD thing if you are a Nana??? My head is cocked to the side and I am wearing a very puzzled expression, even now as I think about it.

But the conversations continued as Papa moved on to the next bed…occupied by Dancing Eyes…

Those eyes...

Those eyes…

“Papa, I watched this movie all about Noah today! There was this big, big, big, big, BIG whale! God made the whale eat Jonah (ok…probably the movie was about Jonah and not Noah). Then Jesus told the whale to spit out Noah. (yep…definitely mixing the names up a bit).

Oh, you mean Jonah?

Man, I always get those two mixed up.

But the conversation with Dancing Eyes continued onto several other topics…the boy was full of the need to share his many thoughts…at bedtime. Before Papa prayed with this delightful boy, he asked what things made him thankful?

What’s that song? Oh yeah…(and he started singing … perfectly in tune)

Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is STRONG.

Yes, Jesus loves ME! Yes, Jesus loves ME! Yes, Jesus loves ME! The Bible tells me so!!!

At which point, he jumped up and pointed to the map of the world hanging on the wall…

I know where WE live (pointing to the exact spot on the map, in the near darkness).

Papa, where do Jessica and Eric live (our neighbors who live two doors away)?

I would imagine that he will learn about maps as he gets older, but Papa got a sweet chuckle out of that conversation.

Little Dancing Eyes has a habit of needing to have total seclusion in the bathroom. Door locked, stripped to the skin head to toe…not quite sure why, but what we hear through the door is amazing…he composes original music with lyrics.

It is like listening to what is in his heart put to music…how much he loves his mommy, his friends and family, but more importantly, how much JESUS loves all of them. He sings his little heart out…all behind the locked bathroom door. (I really need to capture some of these songs before he quits…). His mommy used to “compose” songs exactly like this…that was how she put us all to sleep at night…night owl that she was and still is!

We have learned a lot about parenting as we have grand-parented our four grandchildren. Little Mini Mohawk lives so far away that we don’t get as many opportunities to physically share in his life like we do with the ones who live downstairs…but all of them are the beneficiaries of what we have learned and how we have grown through the years.

We are so blessed!

Dancing Eyes, Froglegs with Mini Mohawk, Curly Top

Dancing Eyes, Froglegs with Mini Mohawk, Curly Top

Froglegs Had a Dream…

Froglegs is growing up. Fast. Way too fast.

The boy is seven now, and tomorrow is his last day of First Grade. I know…such a huge milestone. Do you remember all the things you learned in First Grade? What was the most important thing? For me, it was READING.

And for Froglegs, learning to read has been liberating and validating as the Big Brother.

Sean and Cadance

Somehow reading is a lot more fun when you read to your little brother…do you see a little bit of hero worship here???

Froglegs used to be a little stinker. He still CAN be, but he has adopted a new role…man of the family. Without a dad, he feels a lot of responsibility for his brother and sister. He almost panics when they are out of sight. That is an awful burden for a seven year old. But Froglegs is adamant about watching out for them and making sure that they tow the line on staying safe.

And how he loves his brother and sister…when he isn’t trying to throttle them for something. But somehow, he just needs to let them go to Sunday School without him…seriously, they will be ok.

But the reason I am blogging today is because of his dreams. For a little boy, he has some pretty mature dreams. And that is not really a blessing…

Last week, he had a very bad dream. Not the monster kind, or the zombie kind. No. This dream was very realistic and very bad. He dreamed that his little brother died. I know. What an awful dream, no matter how young or old you might be.

He was moaning and thrashing in his sleep, and breathing really fast. His mom was afraid he was having a seizure, but he woke up and out spilled the description of the bad dream.

My daughter tried to comfort him, but he was not to be comforted until both his little brother and sister were in bed with him.

He told his mom, “Put Dancing Eyes in bed, right next to me, not by the edge. I want to be able to check on him.”

So, all four “slept” the remainder of the night in that not-so-very-big bed…and Froglegs continued to check on Dancing Eyes until morning came.

When Froglegs woke up, he told me about his dream. This Nana gave him an extra big hug and reminded him that there is Someone else who truly watches out for all of them…his Heavenly Father.

Froglegs is learning that even in the absence of his earthly father, he has the perfect Heavenly Father watching out for him. He is omniscient–He knows and understands everything. He is omnipresent–He is everywhere. He is omnipotent–there is no end to His power. Those attributes bring a lot of comfort to a little boy with a big heart with a huge chunk of hurt.

As we discussed his dreams and how much his Heavenly Father loves my dear little Froglegs, he said very softly, “But Nana, I really want a dad.”

And I just hugged my little grandson a little tighter and didn’t say anything else.

Today would be a great day if…

Remember this? Just give it a listen…

Do you have an ear worm now?

Well…that is how this day has been. It just has gone on and on and on…

Even now, it’s still dragging on. This will be one of those nights when I will ask if it’s late enough for me to go to bed. (And there will be a unanimous “Yes” from my family…)

Some days are like that…

Kids that just won’t cooperate…

A calendar that is just too full of “stuff”…

And a whole lot of “holiday cheer”… that really isn’t so cheery…

It is one of those days that a career change comes to mind…RETIREMENT in a seniors only community! Or living off the grid in an RV…

But then I think about it…do I really want to understand shuffleboard? Am I ready for my husband to wear white leather walking shoes? Do I want blue hair? (Actually, my son-in-law has a blue mohawk, so maybe blue hair isn’t so bad???)

But in all honesty, some days are just a huge reminder of the glorious future awaiting me in the presence of my King and Redeemer…far away from the trivial and irritating things that sneak into my day and try to steal my hope for the future and joy for THIS day.

I am hoping that I can correct my course now and try to end the day well…kind of the way I would like to see my life’s course at its end…ending well. Achieving that “well done, good and faithful servant”…

How do YOU handle those not-so-great days?

 

Boxing, Fencing, Star Wars and Froglegs

My daughter is the proud mother of three children. She is a single mom with an incredibly tough job on her hands. When you have to be both parents, sometimes life can be a little tricky. Especially if you have boys. Or girls. Or both.

Froglegs is almost seven. He has learned all kinds of cool things in first grade. And we do our best to broaden his horizons. You know…expose him to other cultures and foods and sports and anything else we can cram into his head.

He is generally very excited to learn things. Especially if it involves weapons or things that could BECOME weapons.

This morning I heard a tap on my bedroom door. I was still trying to grab a few more minutes of peaceful slumber.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me. Froglegs.”

I invited him to come in and cuddle with me for a few minutes. He chose Papa’s side of the bed (Papa was already up and leaving for work.)

I noticed that Froglegs had on his new boxing gloves. Hmmm…Must have been his way of protecting me in Papa’s absence. He went right to sleep and I finally got up and got my day started.

Now, you must remember that Froglegs has a “thing” for Mario. Also for Star Wars. And recently, he went airborne trying to slamdunk a basketball.

the boy can jump

Football is not high on our list of encouraged sports (even though I am a die-hard Packers fan) because of the risk of injury. But he has starred in soccer and baseball already, and well…he rides a bike and a skateboard…

But we were all a little surprised when he announced that he wanted to learn to FENCE. Seriously, how does he even KNOW about fencing??? That surpasses all of our previous deposits of other-culture-important-to-know experiences.

This afternoon, Froglegs had a conversation with his mom. Oh to have been a fly on the wall!!!

“So When I’m 10 I can fence?”

His mother replied, “Yes, but you know you’ll be using real swords. But they train you so you don’t kill anybody…”

Twenty seconds of silence. Something was ticking and blinking in that boy’s head.

” Whoa! Wait, so you don’t use a light saber to fence? Whoa!!! I will play basketball instead.”

So, the boy learned an important lesson today. Fencing is no good without light sabers. But maybe we should let him watch Zorro…