Sunny’s New Pad

I might have mentioned that in the past few weeks, Watson and I managed to change the kids’ former playroom from this:

Jane's Room Before

Into this:

Jane's Room After

But our plans didn’t stop there . . .

The next step was to fill half the living room with the contents of the kids’ formerly-shared bedroom.

View of Living RoomArtistic shot of a major mess.

This revealed several primitive wall-drawings that Watson swore had some kind of link to the Lascoux Cave Drawings, though I’ve personally never wanted to attack Palaeolithic  artwork with a Magic Eraser and I sincerely doubt it would be as difficult to remove mineral-based pigment from rock as it was to scrub graphite and ink from laytex-based paint:

Lascaux2Can you see the unicorn?

Watson was in charge of painting the yellow walls an extremely pink pink—seriously, these photos do not do it justice—which she did with the air of a seasoned perfectionist and a collection of absurdly small brushes:

Tiny PaintbrushNo joke—this is the brush she used to cut in.

She wielded them with impressive speed, though, and it only took two days for two coats, plus drying.  It would have gone a lot faster,  but Watson had several “helpers”:

Sunny HelpsSo.  Much.  Spatter.

Jane HelpsTHIS is how Janie rolls . .

photo 1 (1)I helped, too . . .

Almost DoneThis was the point where Sunny said, “Hey!  We’re almost done!”
Watson said the optimism was breathtaking.

Once the paint was dry, the furniture was rearranged, the books classified, divided, and distributed and—once the kids left the house for a couple hours—the toy bins were sorted and parceled out according to contents.*

We’re pretty proud of the results, which are, believe me, several shades pinker that shown, and include a special nook where she can sit and read or play dolls, or just, you know, hang:**

Sunny's Room2  Sunny's Room

I only hope Sunny will make herself at home in her new room, just like her big sister:

Jane's Pad  Except, you know, not.


*We have one bookcase left over—a minor miracle—and I’d better move it out of the living room, soon, before it starts collecting stuff, as every relatively flat surface of the house seems to do, and blocks the TV forever.  Then again . . .

**Yes, there’s a bed, too, though we still can’t get her to sleep in it past 3:30am . . .


It’s Always Sunny In Sunnyland . . .

Sunny Swims

Are all six-year olds like this?

Can we bottle this stuff?


It was recently discovered that instead of putting their clean laundry in their dresser drawers, both of my children have been tossing everything into the back of their closet and, when told to clean up the bottom of the closet, have been tossing the aforementioned clean clothes back into the hamper.

This explains why we’re doing four loads of laundry a week for kids who literally can’t find anything to wear in the morning.

This is also not on.

I explained this in the car on the way back from church on Sunday and told them that I was very disappointed—Janie started to sniff and Sunny went quiet—and that the moment we arrived home, they would clean out the bottom of the closet, hang up the dresses and skirts, fold the rest, and put it all away in their drawers.  And then they would be responsible for washing, drying, and folding their own laundry.*

“Do you understand?”The Laundry Monster

“Yes, Mom,” Janie said, tearfully.


” . . . What?”

“Do you understand?”

” . . . What?”

“Do you understand that I want you to fold and put away the clothes in your closet the minute we get home?”

“What clothes?”

I went through it again, with, if I may say so, admirable patience.  “Do you understand what I want you to do?”

“Yes, Mommy.”


We drove in silence for a moment.



“Does that mean we have to do what we understand?”



A little later, I found out that there is NOTHING funnier than watching a three-and-a-half foot six-year old try to fold a double-sized comforter all by herself.

At one point, I walked past the bedroom and saw the thing moving on the floor, with a small foot sticking out.

For a second, I thought she was being digested.


Magellan Blazer12 GPS Receiver.

You know your family might be depending on Watson’s GPS a little too much when your  six-year old, impatient to get things on the road, puts her hands on her hips and says,  “Come on, Daddy!  We need to recalculate!”


Moving Pictures

Sunny MinionGuess which movie Sunny, Jane, Watson, and I went to see  this past Saturday?

Hint:  it wasn’t Pacific Rim.

My kids watch movies very differently.

Janie doesn’t do well in movie theaters, because there’s nowhere to hide when things get tense on the screen or even might get tense—she’s been known to freak during meet-cute scenes (“He could have said no!  It would have hurt her feelings!”)—and always assumes the worst. So she can’t sit still when we watch movies at home* and hides behind couches or goes in and out of the room, even during films like Curious George and Cinderella.  So I’ve learned to find the plot on and let her read the whole plot before deciding if she wants to come with us or wait for the DVD.

She thought she could handle Despicable Me 2, because she liked the first one, but changed her mind within ten minutes, insisting she couldn’t stay and had to leave and she didn’t like this movie, and could she go to the bathroom again and/or get another drink from the water fountain.  I finally told her to stick her fingers in her ears and close her eyes during the parts she couldn’t handle until I tapped her shoulder for the minion scenes, which were, I’m sure, the reason she’d agreed to go with us in  the first place.

Sunny, on the other hand, sat still through the whole thing, her attention glued to the screen.  She only crept into her aunt’s lap once or twice and seemed to forget completely about the movie snack I’d bought her.  Right before the part where Our Hero Faces Certain Destruction—which shouldn’t be a spoiler, if you’ve ever  seen a movie—Sunny came inching around Janie, who had wrapped herself up in a mute ball in her seat, eyes clamped shut with her fingers, and possibly her knees, stuffed in her ears. Sunny Minion2

“Mommy?” she said, in a small voice, touching my knee.  “Mommy?”

I pulled her into a hug.  “I’m right here, sweetie.  Want to sit in my lap during this part?”

“Noooooo!” she said squirming away and staring at the screen.  “Let go—I just want my gummy bears.”


*With supervision, because I’m not that far gone.

**Unless she plugs herself into my Netbook with headphones so she can pretend she’s playing a video game instead of paying any attention to, say, the first Harry Potter movie.  Which she totally was, because she kept mixing up Hedwig and Hagrid.

All the Presidents’ Monday

I’m not used to having Presidents’ Day off, but it was recently decided that the library should close when the rest of the city departments do, instead of giving library staff  ‘floating holiday’ time.  As a city employee, I appreciate this—it saves on money and resentment.

Can’t say I’m too pleased about losing six random days of writing time, though—vacation hours are for family, but the holidays were mine.  But it came in handy today, since the kids are off, my husband has classes,  and Watson is driving back from Tennessee, where my MIL will be visiting family for the next couple of weeks.

It’s going to be interesting, not having my MIL around—we’ve been living in the same house for five years and we’ve settled into a routine, modified when Watson joined us.

A lot of that routine, to be perfectly honest, is absolutely to my benefit.  I’m gone for roughly ten hours a day, so most of the daily housework tasks tend to just . . . happen . . .  when I’m not around.

Timing is everything.

But my MIL will get  breather from the kids’ exuberance and the kids will have one less adult looking over their shoulders.  It’s possible that this will hold true for Watson and my husband as well.

And it turns out that emptying and refilling the dishwasher, picking up the living room, and changing the sheets on the beds is kind of . . . satisfying.

At least for today.  We’ll see how it goes when the novelty wears off.

In the meantime, the kids and I will be having a dance contest in front of the TV during my MIL’s usual afternoon nap time.

Timing is everything!

I Believed I’m Owed a Nap Now

My first day sans kids, and I end up cleaning their playroom.  How do these things happen?

The day started well.  I slept in until 7:30, had breakfast—how decadent can you get?—took a shower, crockpotted a turkey, and fired up my laptop.  After a half hour of reading my bloglist and webcomics,* I actually got to work and stitched together another chapter—Oo-rah!

I’d earmarked the hottest part of the afternoon for a movie or a nap or even more WIP, secure in the knowledge that offspring would not be descending in all of their delightful, yet distracting, joyful noises and my next obligation would be dinner for an appreciative audience.

But then my MIL needed  something from the big floor-to-ceiling kitchen cabinet** and my husband ended up pulling half of the contents out . . . and then the other half . . . .and somewhere along the line it was decided that enough was enough.

Watson and I were sitting there in the coolest part of the living room, minding our own business and swapping LOLs when we noticed the sounds of other people being conspicuously industrious.

I’m not saying I felt guilty . . . but I like to avoid situations where people can tell me with that certain smile, “Well, we’re all tuckered out because while you were on the couch all day doing whatever it is you did, we worked so hard.”

Watson allowed herself to be recruited and we headed for that brightly colored Den of Iniquity, the kids’ playroom.

While she tackled the closet, I scootched around the perimeter of the room, gathering rosebuds as I might, as well as a platoon of army men, a Mardi Gras-worth of necklaces,  a menagerie of stuffed animals, an Alexandria of books, a fancy dress ball worth of costumes, a mystery of puzzle pieces, a plain waste of dried markers and broken crayons, a Pleistocene epoch worth of plastic dinosaurs, an insanity of lost marbles and loose beads, a stupidity of Barbies and all their accoutrements, an assortment of very small rocks, deathless macaroni artwork, and enough tiny handbags and purses and baby doll diaper bags in which to store it all.***

No, my kids aren’t spoiled—why do you ask?

It’s not all sorted out among the fabric bins, as Watson called me to a halt mid-OCD frenzy before I started pairing doll shoes by size, but it is all off the floor.  And a lot of it is in garbage bags destined for donation or dump.  I couldn’t bring myself to throw away a single stuffed animal—they can’t be donated—but at least they’re restrained for now and a few have been removed from the general population for any grandkids that might eventually—and we’re talking at least a twenty year eventuality, thank you—make an appearance.

And then we collapsed with iced tea and Doctor Who, wherein Doctor Ten fought Daleks who were tinkering with DNA using toilet plungers, as they’d already blown the budget on the twitching tentacles and valiant chin prosthesis of their Fearless Leader, plus pig masks for their flunkies.  Good ep.

Once I hit publish, I’m going to lay me down to nap and not get up until someone asks me if the turkey is done.

After dinner, during which no one will say ick or stick their fingers in the food, I will get back to my editing . . .

And wait fretfully for my children’s bedtime call so I can hear about their day.


*Okay, okay, forty-five minutes tops.

** Also known as the Improbability Closet of Calcutta, since everything you can possibly need is stored in there, but finding it when you need it is demonstrably unlikely to the power of Gah—The Big Flashlight Just Hit Me In The Head Again!

***I was not the one who found evidence that our elderly cat has spent some, ah, quality time behind the desk.  But I did find Janie’s play medal and I’m awarding it to Watson.

The Garage of Forgotten Manuscripts

Janie was suspended from sports camp Wednesday and Thursday.

As far as we can piece together, she thought a kid she’d been playing with had bitten her on the arm—although it appears he simply crashed into her teeth first—so she hauled back and slapped the crap out of him.

She was immediately, hysterically contrite and the other kid accepted her apology, so the counselors might have given her a pass . . . except the other kid still had a red handprint on his face when his mother showed up.

Yeah . . . I know.

So I took Wednesday off and we cleaned the garage, or at least half of it.

There were unpacked boxes from our move four years ago*, a fencing mask, more coffee mugs than I care to count, three cartons of VHS tapes, enough craft supplies to bedazzle Chicago and swathe Detroit in faux fur, a diaper bag full of newborn-size diapers, several unexpected boxes of my childhood detritus that Dad must have sneaked onto the pile during each of his visits**. . . and spiders.

So many spiders.***

There was also a stockpile of writing stuff—files, stories, research, supplies, and so forth—that was part of the reason I’d volunteered to sort out that section of the garage.  My husband has no sentimental attachment to my writing clutter, which makes him a dangerous man when he decides enough is enough—and while I doubt my alma mater is going to want to archive this stuff as anything more than shredded packing material for the ephemera collections, I wanted to be the one to decide when to let it all go.^

I managed to consolidate a few boxes of research and put some supplies onto the hood of my car for later, which is how the butt-ugly Christmas mug broke, because I nudged it with the half-ream of printer paper—not on purpose—and it slid off, hit a box, and exploded.

Janie looked at me and said, “You made the mess, you clean up the mess.”

But she did get me the dustpan.

After I swept up, I checked the contents of the box.  Underneath a layer of butt-ugly mug shards, was a document box  of first chapter feedback from a story called The Significance of the Mouse—long since shipwrecked—that I’d taken to my first Iowa Summer Writing Festival, about a week after I found out I was pregnant with Janie.  Who is now eight and two-thirds.

Underneath the box was a big, Hawkeye Yellow plastic bag o’ First Novel feedback from the ISWF workshop I’d taken a week before I became pregnant with Sunny.  Who is now four and a half.

Clearly the Festival has a strange effect on my reproductive cycle, but I’m not planning to draw any parallels (or point out any contrasts) to my productivity in other areas or comment further on the coincidence^^ so y’all can just relax.

I went through it all last night.

Yeah.  I know.  But what was I gonna do?  Write?

But it wasn’t all bad.  Some of the comment made me sigh (“I didn’t comment on this because I don’t read genre fiction.”) or wonder (“The horse whickered.” you mean snickered) or cringe (“This is an okay first draft, I guess—needs work.”).  But the rest made me feel better about the whole thing (“You made this seem logical and real!”  “Can I read the rest?”  “Too cool!”).

Mouse had more of the former.  First Novel had more of the latter.

Much better than the other way around.

I didn’t know what to do with it all—I couldn’t just pitch it, despite the risk of being featured on Hoarders—so I separated the comment pages from the chapters,  filed them with their respective manuscripts,^^^  and recycled the rest.

I don’t know whether I should take another look at either or both stories , or just enjoy the nostalgia and the happy thought that I’ve improved along the way . . .

But at the very least, I have half a clean garage.


*Mostly glassware that we won’t need until we’ve broken all the stuff we did unpack.

**Dad, if you’re reading this, I’m on to you, mister. . .

***And bug husks.  I don’t what kind of arachnid is capable of hollowing out that many cicadas, and I never want to find out.

^ Or, as I like to put it, let those stories die.

^^Except to say that I’m not planning to return until medical science confirms that there will be no further coincidences.

^^^Of course I have hard copies—I have several.  Each.