Monday, July 24, 2006

Picking Up Speed

Well the time has come. The moving van arrives in the morning. Time to start packing things out and loading them up. It seems like all of a sudden our normal household has become more like a madhouse. All changing in just an instant. A lot like when the phone rings.

When the phone rings at our house, it's like the signal that all semblance of order is to be abandoned immediately. It can be calm and quiet in the house, kids watching TV or playing with toys without any screaming or fighting or such. No one is hungry or needs a drink and not one really cares where Mommy is at the moment. But if that phone should ring, the atmosphere changes and changes quickly.

All of a sudden there are urgent needs to be met among the troops. Instantly everyone wants to know where Mommy is and things need to be answered and responded to immediately. Important things. Things like, "Can we have a cookie? I need chocolate milk. Is it OK if I invite 8 of my friends over? Can I ride my bike in the street?" I answer them all the same way. Making the scariest face I can, waving my arm wildly about my head like I am fighting off a swarm of angry bees and adding a boot kick with my foot all while cheerfully answering the phone caller with, "Oh yes, we are all doing fine here." My answer only persuades the kids to move 6" out of the reach of my foot while still preparing their second wave of attacks by gathering up packages of cookies and chips and water color paints to be opened.

"Oh but PLEEEEESE Mommy! Can't I just have ONE can of soda?"

Thankfully things have gotten a little easier on us mothers with the invention of the cordless phones, as now I try to outdistance the throngs of 4 feet tall and under younglings by heading up the stairs while still cheerfully carrying on the telephone conversation. I disguise my breathlessness of climbing up the stairs with a little faux cough and wheeze. But 10 seconds behind me and there they are! With juice boxes and marking pens and a 36 pack of Crayolas. Their demands growing louder and stronger. It's time I take a stand. I put my hand over the phone, grit my teeth and say, "NO! Get. Out." That just causes one to cling to my leg and implore to me, "Please Mommy? Pleeeeeeese?" I try to shake off said urchin as I wander upstairs from room all while brightly following my phone conversation. Once I break free, I head back downstairs where I can converse in peace. In my wake I strategically place roadblocks in order so slow my entourage down. The dining room chair in the kitchen doorway. Hot Wheels cars placed at eye level. Packages of fruit chews next to the TV. All the while making my way to that one place of solitude.

I have often wondered if callers knew that if they talked to a stay at home mom for more than 15 minutes that chances are she was probably locked in the bathroom or closet somewhere. A closet is the preferred choice as there is less echo, but the bathroom is a good alternative during peak conversation hours. There the fan can be turned on to help conceal the noise of kidlings pounding upon the bathroom door. However, usually in 5 minutes or less, the mom is flushed out, fleeing yet to another space.

With beads of sweat on my brow I lower my head and navigate my way through the children, continuing on the search for a that ever elusive noise free area. Once again up the stairs, down the stairs and finally right outside the front door. But in the back of my mind, I am fearing retribution and I can no longer stay on track of the conversation and the phone call must be terminated. Returning the phone to the receiver, stumbling on a Hot Wheels along the way, I survey the damage. Dining room chair turned over. Fruit chews opened and smashed into the carpet. TV turned up loud enough that the neighbors can understand it through their double paned windows. Kids looking somewhat weary and defeated yet otherwise contented and happy.

But I got to listen to a friend talk on the phone, so it was worth it.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Using the Force

The house seems to be in it's final count-down
to being ready. We have tried to explain by phone and email to our builder during this whole process certain requests for our house. Now that Rick is in Nashville and can go see the house in Leiper's Fork we have found that even though we thought we were quite clear, we maybe just weren't clear enough. I guess we were not trained in using the force of the Good Side and the old Jedi mind tricks quite well enough. But even Jedi Masters don't get it right all of the time.

And even if we did think we were clear, sometimes the person we are communicating to has some other image in their head and thinks we understand each other perfectly.

Sort of like one morning when my 3 year old had something very important to tell me.

As a mom, I have gotten pretty used to rude awakenings in the middle of the night and some groggy early mornings. This particular morning, my three year old had gotten up quite early. The sky was just turning a soft grey outside. Rick wasn't home, but on a blissful business trip with a mini bar and turn down service, so I was once again in charge. Little son comes up a bit timidly to my bed and starts talking about how there is a kitty sleeping on the daybed in the guest room.

"Yes even our kitty needs sleep dear. Please go back to bed." is all I can mumble.

He walks off toward his room to and I have great hope that he is content with my answer and my infinite wisdom and he will go back to sleep.

A few minutes later I can hear him breathing again at the side of my bed.

"There is a kitty sleeping in there. He's on the bed, but not on the bed." he tries to explain to me.

"Ya well kitties are funny like that." I tell him. "Just leave him alone and go back to bed."

He slowly leaves my room and I put my head under the pillow thinking that if he comes back he won't know I'm there.

A few minutes pass and I hear him fidgeting by my bed.

"Mom it looks like Freddie kitty but he's different."

Ok, now I'm starting to stir a bit. "What do you mean he's different?" Foggy thoughts of the cat being stiff with rigor mortis enter my mind.

"Well he's like a different color." he answers softly.

Now I am becoming more awake and I begin asking myself what in the world did that cat get into that would change its fur a different color? Last I saw our cat was a long hair black cat with just bits of white on his face and paws. I then remind myself that we are now living in the urban/wildlife interface and we have encountered many small creatures around our house. I begin to figure it out, Oh dear Lord, it must be a opossum. A wild, rabid opossum has gotten into our house and is making a new home on our guest day bed. I can't think. I have to clear my foggy mind. What should I do next? If I go in there it may go crazy and escape and then be running wild all through the house. If I ignore it, it may have babies on the day bed and then I'd have 8 wild rabid animals in the house. I then begin to formulate the thought that the 3 year old had been in the room with that creature several times and that didn't seem to agitate the animal. So I instruct my 3 yo to quietly please go see what "kitty" is doing now. "But don't go in," I explain, "just look and then close the door so "kitty" can't get out."

He dutifully and bravely faced the dangerous task I had asked him to endure. He comes back with a report that it is "Still there and sleeping." I think well of course it is, being feverish with rabies and all. It must be too sick to move much anymore and I was thankful that my 3 year old had enough sense not to go and pet it or anything.

I decide I need to quiz toddler son some more.

"So, it looked like Freddie kitty but was a different color. What do you mean 'different color'?"

"It was like Freddie kitty but with more white."

The wheels were churning in my mind. Black animal with more white. Holy smokes! A SKUNK!! Of course! They were all around and I could smell their sweet fragrance when the dogs next door decided once every other night to bark at them and chase them toward our house. One finally decided to just move in.

Now things were getting a little more complicated. If I scared the skunk I would be buying tomato paste for the next 4 years. This was something that had to be dealt with in a very cool and quiet manner. Should I call animal control? The fire department? Being the thinker that I am, I decide that a peek in the room with a baseball bat at the ready would be a pretty good plan before I went off alerting TV news stations about the wild animal I went one to one with heroically saving not only my own children but very possibly every child in the neighborhood. Yes indeed, this skunk picked the wrong daybed.

I tip toe quietly to the closed guest room door and press an ear to it in order to pick up any rustling sounds. It seemed pretty quiet it there, but skunks are known to be that way. Then as I wait I ask myself if it really is a good idea for me to combat this animal by myself. The decision is made that I must press on. I slowly turn the door knob and crack it open just a tiny bit, bat at the ready. The room is lit by the pale grey sky just enough that I can make out most of everything in there, but see nothing on the daybed. Being a bit more confident I open the door an extra inch to get a better view, but still see nothing. The poor thing must have been scared and scampered into the darkness under the bed. I back out of the room, close the door and whisper to toddler son asking him just where was the "kitty." We wait a few moments and then he comes closer and we softly open the door together. He points to the daybed and quietly replies, "Right there." Well, the wild animal obviously wasn't right there any more. So we enter the room, just a step or two.

"Look!" he says getting louder, "He's right there."

Holy crap! "WHERE?!" as I start prancing up and down hoping nothing climbs up my leg as we back out of the room with me swinging the door closed behind us.

"It was right there on the bed." he says calmly.

Things are starting to get creepy. I've seen those movies where kids see weird things that grown ups can't. I just never thought it would be one of my kids and that they would be seeing haunted Pet Semetary stuff on our guest daybed.

I catch my breath and proceed with caution. I knew that the haunted animal would now be agitated because not only did I show fear, but I slammed the door closed on its tormented face. A few moments pass and I courageously crack open the door again and look more closely at the day bed. I don't see anything. I glance around the room and see nothing out of the ordinary there, just a lamp and piggy bank on the side table, my sewing machine and assorted odds and ends as usual on the other side. Yet toddler son still insisted that the "kitty" was still in the room.

Once more I back out of the room and I get down on my knees so I am at my little boy's height and instruct him to point to the "kitty" when we open the door. With all the fear I have pushed aside and armed with the knowledge that the creature must consider my son his friend, I cautiously open the door. He points to the bed, but just passed the bed. I put my eye to his finger and I finally see what it was that he saw. From his toddler view the big old fashioned ivory with painted sleeping dark eyes piggy bank on the side table, did indeed look like a semi-white kitty sleeping on but yet not quite on the daybed.

And people think that moms can't solve mysteries!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

House for Sale

The Buy Me Fairy needs to come fly over our house in California!! After a few months on the market, price adjustments, open houses, scheduled (and unscheduled) showings, our lovely house is still For Sale. We love our house and can't understand why someone just hasn't walked up and offered us a million dollars for it, but I suppose not everything deserves to be so easy. And some things just take a lot of constant work. Like laundry.

Ode to Laundry

My washer churns
My dryer burns
Clothes scattered every where.
I need more soap
I'm losin hope
My dressers are all bare.

I sort and stack
Socks and slacks
Different colors like I know
But that one last sock
Surely mocks
That in he didn't go.

Tried in vain
To get that stain
Out of my favorite shirt
How can it be
That moms like me
Must deal with so much dirt.

Crouch and reach
I find the bleach
And pour in generoulsy
And if I'm right
Things turn white
And I dance around with glee.

Fold and fold
It's getting old
But laundries being done
I look around
More on the ground
I think I just may run.

It could be worse
I often curse
I wonder in my head
If it'd be OK
For just a day
We all go bare instead.

The hamper grows
With laundry woes
Will this chore be ever complete?
I hang in there
Vow no underwear
Will bring me to defeat.

I take a day
Just one away
From my laundry due
How could it be
That now I see
My pile has grown by two.

I throw in more
Behind the door
I'll do some clothes tomorrow
But man alive
It's grown by five
I'm drowning in my sorrow.

I see some room
Behind the broom
For just a few more things.
Then I'll start
I'll have more heart
With what a new day brings.

Now there's more
Than I've seen before
But I bet I still can do it
Within the hour
I have the power
But I think my fuse just blew it.

I will be brave
And will not cave
But finish this washing dance
Alas no more fun
Call 911
It's a laundry avalanche.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

She's Growing Up

So the transformation continues. From bare land, to a foundation into a peek at what the finished house will look like. I guess at this point I can say that the house is "potty trained" as it is officially "in the dry." We flew out to Franklin the first weekend of April, ignorantly bliss of tornado warnings and golf ball sized hail. And even though it was a bit unnerving for me, it wasn't all that bad. What does that tell you about living with 5 kids? It does tend to get a little chaotic here at home, even on what should be a typical quiet evening. Like one not too long ago.

Rick was off on a business trip and I was holding the fort down fairly well. That particular evening the house was a mess and the Mac & Cheese dishes sat in the sink, but those were things I planned on tackling after the kids went to bed. However my plans were going to be changing. I soon found out that the 3 year old had an explosion of a poopy diaper. I put baby daughter in the baby bouncy seat and started with the diaper changing. It didn't take long for me to figure out that it was going to take more than a fresh package of baby wipes to clean up that mess, so in to the shower he goes. Looking around the bathroom it became obvious that with 3 older boys sharing a bathroom, letting the place go unchecked for more than 2 days was a bad idea. I begin to wipe things up when I discover that the toothbrushes are on the floor in a puddle of pee next to the toilet.

I take toddler son out of the shower, towel wrapped and into the hallway. Then step over various toys and Playdough creations taking the toothbrushes downstairs for sanitation rituals, which included running them under the sink and zapping them in the microwave. Now because my husband just happened to be on a business trip that evening so there was no back up for me in case I unexpectedly happened to go brain dead, which unbeknownst to be was just about to happen. One of the older boys was upstairs playing on the computer, the toddler freshly showered and baby daughter was not screaming her head off to be held. I was in charge and boy was it showing. It was a crowning moment!!

But then this strange smell began wafting through the house. This electical short ciruit wiring smell. Something was smoldering and it seemed to be coming from the computer. I pull a few plugs, inspect a few wires, palm the drywall for hot spots, but turn up nothing. Now fearing an electrical fire regardless I do what any calm, cool and collected Mom would do. I dial 911 and ask for the fire department to please come quickly. I was instructed to get all the kids out of the house. So out we go. Into the dark. Then we hear in the distance the sirens coming. Dogs start howling. Crickets stop chirping. Flashing lights start arriving. The kids start jumping up and down so excited to see firetrucks coming to our house. In OUR driveway. Mom is a hero!!!!

Well I knew it wasn't good when I take the first fire fighter dressed in full rescue regalia into the house and he can't smell a thing. I tell him to get someone else in there then! Of course you can smell an electrical fire. You are a fire fighter and have been trained for these things. I am a mom on the edge and I could smell it. How hard could that be?!? A huge older calming fire captain arrives next. Yes he could smell it. Yes it was stronger upstairs near the computer. Then he starts asking questions. When did the smell start? Where did it start? Did you turn on the oven?

"No" I tell him, "We just had Mac & Cheese, no oven involved!"

He calmly climbs the stairs and has a sniff. The smell not so strong anymore. Then we hear the young "can't smell anything" cowboy of a firefighter yell up, "We found the problem!" Oh thank God. The children and I will be saved tonight. He opens the microwave and pulls out 3 melted, exploded and otherwise disfigured toothbrushes from the microwave. The calm fire captain glances out at my brood who are running all around out on the driveway and asks, "I wonder who put those in there."

I sputter ... cough... then answer as quickly as the words could come out of my mouth "Well I did. You see my husband is out of town on business and I have these 5 little kids and one had this HUGE poopy diaper and I had to get him in the shower, and well, I saw all the toothbrushes in this pee. And well I have 4 boys you see and they share this bathroom and well they HAVE to brush their teeth every night right? and gee, well, I didn't know that one of the toothbrushes used to light up like 3 months ago and if I did I certainly wouldn't have put it in the microwave where it would SMELL like an electrical fire with the wires and lightbulb and batteries and all melting like that and well I know you can understand because, like, I am here with FIVE kids and my husband is out of town and did I mention I have 5 kids?"

That 8' tall calm fire captain gently tells his crew that it's time to go on and all is secure and that the kids can come back into the house for a good night's rest. And he didn't even issue me a fire citation for the condition of the kids' bedrooms. I once again, counted my blessings.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Packing continues

Well what can I say? Packing this house with the kids in it is like herding cats. I want every box packed up neat and orderly; all game pieces together, all marbles in their rightful place, all Army guys sitting in their respective jeeps so when we unpack in TN it goes smoothly and things are put away neatly. Rick wonders why I just don't take some Prozac and either throw everything out and buy new, or just throw it in the box and be done with it, letting the sorting take place in the middle of the floor amongst a pile of knee deep toys the way it always does. After all, aren't the kids supposed to feel at home in the new house? But I press on and I continue to look like a little hen scratching through closets and pecking out a few things here, a few things there. Little piles of things that match with other things which go with other things that I am sure I just saw the other day while pecking through another closet. A true test of my mental capacity! Imagine my feeling of fulfillment when I have found the last game piece and placed it all in a well organized box ready to be inventoried, taped and sent off to storage!!

But what happens after I do find that last golden nugget and set it in the box with other matched treasures is that life calls me away for a few minutes. The lone box is left. Unattended. Open. Unmarked. Unsealed. I hear faint voices squealing in delight, "I CAN'T BELIEVE MOM FOUND THIS!!"
"Oh wow, I haven't seen this forever!"
"Look what else is in here!"

My work! Hours of searching gone in an instant. Puzzle pieces, action heroes, Hot Wheels track scattered again about the house. Pushed under the sofa, stashed behind the toilet, tucked between the wall and the bed. My pride swirls around me and won't let me seal the box until the contents are all back together! I search, I stack, and peck around some more until all pieces are together once again. The items are once again packed, but now the tape is missing. Certainly one of the 28 rolls of 150 yard packing tape must be around here somewhere! But I don't dare to leave the box! Scotch tape can hold it all together right? The marking pen! Holy cow, where did that run off to? I don't even want to see the movers' expression when they see how many boxes are marked in purple crayon. Inventory book?! Where did I leave that? I figure I'll just write it all on the back of an envelope, I'm always finding those laying around the house. When I find the inventory list I'll just transfer it all into the book then. I'm sure once I find it again there will still be a few pages in it that Amanda hasn't scribbled on.

Did I mention that packing seems to be going slower than I expected?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Making the House Look Perty

Well it looks like the home site in TN has been plotted, cleared and ready for take off. The weather just needs to hold in order to get the gears turning and the wheels spinning. We have the utmost confidence in our builder so we'll just leave the experts to that house. But this house we're in now is a whole 'nother story. It's time to fix this place up and make it seem like a nice place to live.

Now there's not a whole lot of fixing to do really. Just some basics and clearing clutter out of the way. Maybe a few concrete cracks filled and weeds pulled. It's not like one can just sit back and enjoy the view when raising 5 kids who happen to live in, use and invite the neighborhood friends over to the place to enjoy. So we have had our share of fix ups to do along the way. They say that paint is the fastest, easiest and cheapest way to spruce up a room. But I wonder if "they" have ever painted with a 2 year old?

It's been a little while since I have been silly enough to have a paint can and a 2 year old in the house at the same time. The last time I attempted that I made sure that I had an iron clad plan. In fact, the plan was I would paint at night while the kids all slept. The first hurdle was getting the kids to go to bed and I stay awake. Then at around midnight, I would sneak downstairs and start painting. I would paint for a bit, seal up the cans, rinse out the paint brushes and hide them all under the drop cloth. The kids would never even know I was painting. I was so proud to be outsmarting the toddlers; it was brilliant!! But after only 2 nights of secret painting, the paint cans and paint brushes were discovered by the 2 yo who turned out to be quite brilliant too.

It happened in the raw light of the noonday sun. I had been upstairs folding laundry and humming the whistle while you work tune and feeling pretty proud of myself and of my stealthy painting plan. Heading downstairs to do more laundry, it didn't take me more than 4 steps to figure out my plan had within 5 minutes become a failure. How a child could so silently and quietly paint a hallway floor and wall in those minutes is beyond my comprehension, yet there I was as a witness that it had indeed happened. I can't in all honesty say that I handled the situation with cheerful grace; after all, I had planned on the paint only coming out at night during the hours of midnight and 4:00 am. My eyes seeing wet paint during the light of day just didn't sit well with me at that moment, yet I was too tired to have any energy left over to deal with the toddler after I was done with the paint. This pretty much saved the life of my toddler so I can say that yes God works in mysterious ways!

Undaunted I decided to press on and continue my painting journey and finish the living room. This time I would be more careful and not keep any open paint cans in the house at all. This seemed to be a little more work and somewhat humbling, but it was easier than cleaning paint off the hallway floor. The next day I of course need to buy more paint. I still planned on painting the living room that night, so I put the 3 gallons of unopened freshly custom mixed paint cans on the coffee table. The kids look at them a little quizzickly, but seeing how the cans were unopened and every screwdriver in the house has been lost anyhow, I wasn't much worried about it all. Later I decide that maybe I should get a quick nap in before I need to start on the late shift with the living room wall. It wasn't long before I hear one of the kids calling to get a towel. I didn't want to even think it! But in my groggy haze I stumble downstairs to see a white towel soaking up toasted toffee paint on the living room carpet. Apparently a can of paint somehow became liberated off the coffee table and ended up upside down with a popped off lid. Mysteriously all the kids had run off to the safety of the neighbor's house. Proving once again that God is still in the miracle business.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Grinding the Tranny

We pretty much assumed that life in 10-OC would be at a little slower pace. Time to sit back and watch the grass grow a little. What a welcome respite from the constant on the go caffeine induced driven world of California. We figured it would take a bit of time to acclimate to the new ways of life, but if we were in it with the whole herd there, then it wouldn't be such a stretch to settle into the new routine. Problem is, we are not in Tennessee yet, we are in the fast lane of CA. And trying to have a house built in TN. Our clutch is smoking here.

We received the contract from the builder and real estate agent fairly quickly. We reviewed it, signed it and Fed Ex'd it back faster than I could change a diaper. Then we waited at the window for the Fed Ex truck to return it to us signed by the builder; our approved floor plans in hand, our contract, tract map, CC&R's...the whole thing. And we waited. And we waited some more. Actually we are still waiting. Oh we have gotten word that the terms were great and everyone agreed to them and everything is a go but the contract just hasn't gotten around to being countersigned. What's the rush? Over at the Country Boy we were told a house would be built for us, so let's not sweat the details of actually having a contract. Tennessee is just on a whole other time planet. So the challenge begins for us impatient CA folk wanting to hasten the whole house thing, to the TN folk who want to do it the way it's been done since time began.

Now I have been in similar situations before. I have tried to get 2 year olds to put on their shoes, 3 year olds to sit in a carseat, 8 year olds to do their homework and 12 year olds to get to sleep. I blew a couple of trannies during those times and some gaskets too for that matter. Sometimes one just can't force the issue, especially when the intention is good. Sorta like potty training.

For some reason I have not been blessed so far with a kid who actually cared about using the potty for going potty. They got along with the potty just fine, however. It was great for learning hydrodynamics like if things would sink or float, water suface displacement and the amount of mass needed to hold back 5 gallons of flushing water. But when it came time for thinking outside of the box and actually using the toilet for the intended purpose, well they just couldn't use their imaginations. It was always day after day of my asking, "Would you like a sticker for going potty? Would you rather have chocolate? A new toy? A trip on the space shuttle?" with no result.

So then why would it surpise me when the day came when one would decide on their own to use the potty? Well what I got on one of those delightful days was a 3 year old who just couldn't quite make it in time to "do the doo" in the potty. But not wanting to wake the baby yelling for Mommy for assistance, he instead pulled his half filled pants down to his ankles and hobbled up the carpeted stairs to ask for some help "wiping." What I find down the stairs and hall carpet is a fresh bunny poop and Hershy kisses trail leading to the pot of poop gold, slathered in gooy chocolate brown fingerprints and surrounded by yards of pooped streaked toilet paper which are then knotted up and sealed to the bathroom rug by a runny poop drop stamped in place by the soul of a Blue's Clues shoe. At least the baby was napping.

On 2nd thought, I will wait a little longer for the contracts

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Leaping into Leiper's Fork

And there she is. Lot 22, 7.6 acres of our little leap into Leiper's Fork. Enough timber and weeds to keep us warm for the next 18 years. Even though the formality of the contract was just completed I think the deal had already been sealed with a handshake and a smile while indulging in a meat and 3 lunch at the Country Boy on the day we headed back to CA.

Now Leiper's Fork is a small town, a very small town. The proverbial stone's throw, don't blink town that is too small to have a good side or a bad side. But I imagine the competition between Puckett's and the Country Boy can get mighty heated, and I don't think I would want to be in the middle of all that. We will eat at both places equally as not to show favoritism and to keep the peace in this tranquil community. As much as we hope to just blend in, I have a feeling we will somehow be noticed.

Rick & I met some fantastic people in Leiper's Fork. People who made a difference in their town. People who took pride in what they did and what they did they did well. They seemed to like us well enough and indicated that they would surely welcome us into their well kept world. And I must admit, I was quite proud of our performance. We came off as confident but not pushy, friendly but not phony and with opinions but not opinionated. Yes indeed, we were at our finest. But we were in rare form....we were sans kids. Leiper's Fork will be a whole new place once the "children" arrive.

Now there is nothing too extraordinary about the kids, only that there are 5 of them and 4 are boys with a little baby sister. And after finally having a girl, I can now say for certainty that there is a difference between boys and girls. Boys like to play....A LOT. They like things messy and dirty and preferably broken. If it's broken they can fix it, or turn it into something else, or use the parts to dig in the dirt. They like water and if it is mixed with dirt, that's even better. There's nothing better to them than an old mud hole filled with fresh water streaming from a 120psi garden hose turned up to full tilt recreating the Grand Canyon in their own backyard. All the more fun if the water and mud flows out of the yard causing neighbors downstream to fire up their BMW's to get a status report of the flooding control channel in order to determine how much time they have left before evacuation orders arrive. Only after I receive at least 10 disgruntled looks do I stick my head out the door to yell, "I told you kids to turn that water off!"

Now as fate would have it, we ended up in an upscale neighborhood. We didn't plan it that way, it's just once you have 5 kids, housing choices become limited. We tried to get away from people so we wouldn't have to worry too much about the kids breaking neighboring windows with baseballs and golf balls and footballs. So when we found a place in the aptly named "urban wildlife interface" we jumped at the chance. Problem is eventually newer homes came in. Million dollar homes. The BMW, Benz, Hummer and Escalade crowd came upon us. Now if these people actually stopped at stop signs or put down their cell phone long enough to make eye contact, they may not bother me so much. Maybe after driving by our place, they decide not to make eye contact. It's probably better that way because I probably don't want to know what kind of contact they would really like to make. In return I dutifully don't go to great efforts to keep our exposed backyard "pristine." Oh it's not urban blight, we have a Gardner to come mow what lawn is still left and the grass is mostly nice and green. I just prefer to leave the kindercrap strewn out all over. The ride on toys that have become spider hotels. The remnants of the miniature golf course. The Sponge Bob beach ball smiling from the top of the hedge. The Army guys who are still stuck in the mire of the Grand Canyon. Now that's not to say that we don't care at all what the neighbors think. After all, we did move the trampoline back a little bit after catching the 3 year old jumping naked and waving to the horrified soccer moms driving by who immediately picked up their cell phones to alert their psychiatrists that they needed an appointment ASAP. It's just having the yard a little "rustic" helps make it seem more appropriate when I am outside ringing the triangle "come and get it" bell that can be heard for at least 14 houses in each direction.

I can already imagine the celebration calls being made up and down the street when the For Sale sign goes up in front of our house. "Hot damn! The Bumpus clan is moving out!! They're headed for Tennessee!!" I won't be surprised to hear banjo music wafting on the open breeze played just for us to make our transition that much smoother.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

A change in the works!

This southern California girl is heading to Tennessee....The state with the long name only using 4 letters to spell it. Our big uprooting will take place in the summer of 2006, bringing to 10-OC my hubby Rick, 5 kids, 3 mouser cats and our trusty Australian shepherd. This is not a move based on the premise of getting back to the good life, or let's check out this great nation of ours, nope, it's a "if you want to keep your paycheck come work in Tennessee" type of thing. I hope Tennessee knows what it's getting itself into by welcoming us in!

Never being one to fret about the future because of great planning, Rick decided a trip out to 10-OC far before the summer move date was in order. In December we caught the $99 one way non-stop from Ontario to Nashville on Southwest and began our adventure. On our approach to Nashville we could see smoke rising from spot fires. Oh fantastic, we are landing in a firestorm, surely to be fueled by Santa Ana winds then followed by rain and mudslides. But apparently not. People in TN cut down trees and rake leaves and pile up cardboard then set fire to them and walk away. TN is not a smoke-free state.

So after check in at the hotel, Rick & I decide that there was plenty of daylight to see what we could see. Off to explore our new Rocky Top and Dollyworld home. Certain to see more Elvis's than Vegas. Our adventure took us out of Cool Springs and out toward historic Franklin. And historic it is! We come to a Civil War monument. Holy cow, the Civil War was here! We are going to be living in a place with some real history. Not just "used to be part of Mexico" history. We come to a unique intersection and we sit at the red light and count how many streets meet there. There are 5. And a traffic circle! We head out to Leiper's Fork and Puckett's "Grocery". This isn't Albertsons! This is an 1920's version of 7-11, except they aren't open that many hours. We get a few snacks and keep driving and driving. Out passed the houses on wheels with lawn mowers that fertilize as they go. The theme song from Green Acres spins through my head and I get the uncontrollable urge to put on some pearls, dye my hair blonde and start peering up telephone poles looking for somewhere to make a call. We eventually pull off the road, open up our laptop to check where we are. After 10 minutes of making a plan, we saw one pick up truck and one hound dog checking us out and neither looked too neighborly, although the hound dog got close enough to steam up our windows, maybe that's why the guy in the pickup truck didn't stop. We head back to the hotel and am I glad we didn't have time to unpack because I was booking the next flight back to the world I came from.

However, then next few days Rick & I traveled around with a real estate agent that made Franklin seem quaint and friendly. We looked at homes that were so big that they should have come with their own gift shop. We looked in town and out of town. Old homes and new homes. And finally on our last day as the day promised snow, we decided on a parcel of land and a builder to create a place where we can lay claim to and be one with 10-OC and its folk. So this is where the story begins....