Monday, May 30, 2011

Oh, How I Wish It Had Been a Sugar Glider

Sometimes I feel like I am living in some sort of sitcom.

Multi-ethnic children? Check.

Parents who are sometimes home at 2pm on a Tuesday? Check.

Ability to solve problems in 23 minutes? Sometimes.

Unusual occurances on a weekly basis that, looking over the course of a year, are highly unlikely to all happen to one family? Check.

Case in point: Friday morning started bright and early, with all four children up at 6:30am, and me kindly nudging Brandon to get out of bed with them so I could sleep for a few more minutes. In my mind, I was "kindly nudging". He may describe it as a "swift kick to the kneecaps", but he's probably being overly dramatic. One hour later, I join my family downstairs as they are eating breakfast to learn that their morning has already been an eventful one.

Apparently, at about 7am, a bat flew down the stairs, into the living room.

Let me say that again, a BAT flew DOWN the stairs at 7am.

From the UPSTAIRS, where all of our bedrooms are, where all of my sweet children were sleeping all night long, oblivious to any flying, nocturnal, potentially-rabies-carrying rodent-type animals that were possibly feasting on their flesh and transmitting fatal diseases to my BABIES.

Hot Brandon dealt with the bat situation how only Brandon would: trapped it in a tupperware* container, fed it fruit from the fridge, and released it into our backyard. (Note: I am not recieving any financial procedes from mentioning Tupperware on this blog. I'm pretty sure the Tupperware ladies would be appropriately horrified to learn that what once held leftover soup, quickly became a bat-procurement device in the hands of my bat-trapping husband. Do not try this at home.)

As my bleary-eyed, pre-coffee brain slowly processes this information, I begin to, appropriately, FREAK OUT. Google is searched. And searched again. And again. Pediatrician's office is called. County health department is called. State health department is called. Messages are left at an Infecious Disease doctor's office in the next town over, who knows more about rabies and bats than I do. It seems that the general recommendation is, when a bat is known to be in a room with a sleeping child, is for the child in question to recieve prophalaxis rabies vaccinations and immunoglobins. Since we know the bat was likely in the house overnight, and we don't know if he (or she) was in any (or all) of the bedrooms, we decided the safest course of action would be to vaccinate the whole family. All six of us.

As I have come to learn, one does not always know when one is bitten by a bat, especially if it happens while one is asleep. The bite can be almost invisible, and frankly, our children (especially Emerson, whom Houston mosquitos seem to LOVE) have their fair share of bumps, scratches, mosquito bites, etc. And apparently, a very small portion of the bat population carries rabies. RABIES, people. And if you get sick with RABIES, you die. Every time. And, that, my friends, was sufficient information to freak me out for the entire day on Friday and well into the night. The house was inspected, the upstairs torn apart, searching for bats and bat evidence (ie poop), and none was found.

I had more or less accepted my bat fate, and was planning to pursue Operation: Rabies Prophalaxis Vaccinations For All on Tuesday following the holiday weekend when the nurse from the Infectious Disease office called back at 5:45 Friday evening, telling me that the doctor would meet us at her office at 10 am Saturday morning.

Well. Okay then. Swim meets and soccer games and lunch with extended family went out the window, and the six of us piled in the van to spend three hours at the doctor's offfice. And all six of us getting multiple injections of rabies immunoglobin and round one of a four-part series of vaccinations? About as fun as it sounds.

The lesson in all of this boys and girls? If you wake up to find a bat flying around your house, around all of your precious sleeping children, and proceed to catch said bat in a tupperware container, do not release the bat into your backyard. Keep the bat, give it to animal control, so that if the animal doesn't happen to have rabies, you and your entire family will not have to endure multiple, highly expensive and painful shots, administered over a period of two weeks, and which may or may not be covered by insurance.

Tune in for next week's episode of Outnumbered when little Timmy gets stuck in the well and MacGyver rescues him with only a paperclip.

And Happy Memorial Day.

Monday, May 23, 2011

He's A Winner

I got an excited telephone call while I was at work yesterday.

I won something! And I never win anything!

It's true. Neither one of us ever win anything because we rarely/never play the lottery, surrender our mailing address with the vague promise of being put into a drawing for a Caribbean cruise, or buy raffle tickets where you have something like one in one thousand chance of winning a big ticket item. (Sidenote: I know someone who won a Camero in a band raffle. They paid $100 for a raffle ticket, and won a Camero. I also know someone who won an ipad in a raffle. I figure just knowing them lowers my chance of winning anything in a raffle ever.)

Brandon apparently got on Facebook the other day and "liked" his Local Eye Doctor's Office (LEDO), where he has been a twice-yearly guest for the past 7 years or so. Unbeknownst to him, LEDO was giving away a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses to one of their Facebook followers. And low and behold, Brandon won.

Like many people my age, including Hot Brandon, I immediately associate Ray Ban sunglasses with this image:

A certain "cool-factor" is brought to mind when I hear the brand name.

Seeing as how all of our sunglasses up until know have been acquired at 1. WalMart or 2. gas stations, Brandon was appropriately in high spirits as he headed into LEDO to pick up his free pair of Ray Bans.

Five minutes later...

Brandon sends me this picture. Look what I won, honey!

Somehow it doesn't surprise me that the sure-to-be-cool sunglasses that Brandon wins are bright orange and closely resemble something I may or may not have worn in the sixth grade.

Seriously, did anyone know they even made RayBans in bright orange plastic? Do people who spend $230 on sunglasses that look like this know they can get the exact same thing for, like, $8 at WalMart?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Becasue I Share Recipes when I have Blogger's Block

I have to chuckle a little to myself when I share a recipe here, because I know how to cook approximately four dishes.

1. Ugly chocolate cake
2. Potato casserole
3. Chicken tacos (yes, this counts as cooking)
4. Italian beef sandwiches

Brace yourselves, Outnumbered readers. Because this recipe for Italian beef sandwiches is a tricky one. And this post is sorely lacking in pictures, because it didn't occur to me until after Brandon was knocking back the last of the leftovers that maybe I should post this recipe.

Cast of characters:

2-3 pound roast. Please don't ask me "what cut" of roast. The big square kind without any bones that fits in whatever crock pot you have.

1 packet of dry italian seasoning mix

1 jar of peppercinni peppers, whole or sliced

a couple of cans of beef broth

shredded mozzerella cheese

Step 1: Put roast in crock pot, fat side up.

Step 2: Put italian seasoning on roast

Step 3: Dump jar of peppers, juice and all, on roast

Step 4: Pour just enough broth to cover roast

Step 5: Turn crock pot on high for 5-6 hours, until fork tender

Step 6: Shred beef, and return to crock pot

Step 7: Serve beef (and as much peppers and juice as you want) on your choice of rolls or buns, with lots of shredded mozzerella.

Hot Brandon prepares his sandwich upside-down, putting the top bun, then cheese, then beef on top of the cheese, before topping it with the bottom bun and flipping the whole thing over. He says this keeps the bun from getting soggy from the yummy meat juice. And I usually use a "long" roll, sort of a hoagie bun, but this is what I had on hand and they were just as tasty.

This is a good one to start before church, and then have a yummy lunch to come home too. I've also made it the day before for company, stuck the entire crock pot "pot" in the fridge overnight, and let it reheat in the crock pot the next day. It makes great leftovers, too!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Lindy's Baby Shower

Last weekend (after a week filled with eye surgeries and swing set assemblies), Harper and I headed up to Dallas with my parents and GG for my sister Lindy's baby shower.

Though it sounds relatively simple, My parents, Harper and I loaded up at about 9am, left Houston for Austin to pick up GG, and eventually arrived at my parents' house in DFW sometime around 6pm. No trip is complete without a couple of essential snack stops on the road, and more than a couple of traffic jams. I don't even want to talk about my father off-roading off of I20 and detouring through a car dealership and wandering around a subdivision for a while in order to avoid a traffic jam last week. My GG was scouting real-estate during the subdivision drive-thru, and my mom and I were taking inventory of the drinkable water in the vehicle. We're fairly certain we could have survived about 4 days lost in south Arlington without ever having to leave the vehicle.

But finally, we made it to the house in time to get the goodies made before the shower Saturday morning.

I fulfilled my hosting duties by taking care of invitations, making what has become known as "Baby Shower Punch" and making pickle wraps for the guest of honor.

And not taking one. single. picture. And not posing in one. single. picture. Seriously, it's like I wasn't even there. Which is fine with me, except I didn't get a picture with my seester! My little, newly round and beautifully pregnant seester!

Because how cute is she?

On the menu? Pastries, chicken salad sandwiches, cheese and crackers, quiches and egg casserole, fruit kabobs, deviled eggs, pickle wraps, and cake.

For the guest of honor? Car seats, strollers, video monitors, pack-n-plays, diaper bags, bathtubs, and some ridiculously cute clothes.

All in all, a great baby shower for the new mommy. I'm just glad I made it in time and didn't have to resort to sharing my bottled water with Harper in the back of the Suburban on Friday.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Before and After- Backyard Edition

I'm pretty sure she has shown up in several pictures throughout the years.

My children have spent countless hours with her.

She has allowed me to empty the dishwasher in peace, fold laundry at the kitchen table, and make dinner on occasion.

Death-trap swing set has been good to us over the years. Several years ago we were gifted this lovely second-hand swing set for our backyard and ever-growing family to enjoy, and enjoy we have.

But lately? Lately she has been sporting some extra diagonal support beams down below, a bit of duct tape on her broken railing, and most recently, a couple of "Harper, don't fall out" boards up top. My kids love to play outside, and they have loved this swing set.

This will probably not be the last Before and After on Outnumbered over the next couple of months. Thanks from a little help in the form of a tax return and a plethora of ER shifts lately, Brandon and I have decided to make a few improvements here at Casa de Bursting-at-the-Seams to make our lovely home a little more user friendly.

First on the agenda: A new swing set for the backyard. Brandon and I spent several weeks picking something out that would suite our family. Our criteria: 1. Reasonably priced. It need not cost more than Brandon's car. 2. High enough quality that it will withstand 5 years of very frequent use. In five years, our children will be 12,10, 8, and 7, and the bulk of their swing set years will be behind them. They'll still use it, but probably not an hour or so a day like they do now. 3. Fun for 2 year old Harper, and fun for 7 year old Dane. I wanted little Harper to have something safe to play on, but also something "big" enough for the boys.


I'd love to tell you how painless the switch-out was. I'd love to tell you that there is not a heap of rotted wood and nails in the back of my driveway, waiting for their mommy to figure out what to do with them since their daddy had eye surgery and can't lift and haul any time soon.

I'd love to tell you how the new play set came fully assembled, delivered promptly to our backyard. It certainly did not take approximately 30 man hours (and 10 chic hours) to put this puppy together. I'd love to tell you that my big strong husband was able to help put it together, instead of sporting an eye patch one day post corneal transplant, forced inside the house and not allowed participate.

I'd love to tell you that it did not come in approximately 9000 different pieces, and that every piece was clearly labeled and had a clear purpose. I'd love to tell you that the ground beneath is perfectly level and there is not an ever-so-slight tilt to the whole thing.

I'd love to tell you that my beloved babysitter, Miss Kylie, did not herself drill 72 screws into that rock-climbing wall. (Um, new swing set was a team effort, to say the least.)

I'd love to tell you that I most certainly was not driving Brandon around to post-op eye appointments while my family and friends stayed at the house and worked diligently until it was dark and raining to get the swing set put together.

So, new swing set, I hope the next 5 years or so will be full of laughter, squeals of joy, and lots of imagination.

Because you, new swing set, will hopefully be the last swing set to ever grace our back yard.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Overscheduled Saturday

I have a little bit of a bad habit.

Soccer for two of the four children? That sounds fun!

A 5k race benefitting a local assistance ministry? What a great idea!

A baby shower? Will there be cake?

Nephews' water-slide birthday party? Wouldn't miss it.

Eight hour shift at my favorite place to work? Easy peasy. I'm used to working 12 hours.

The problem is, all of these activities fell on the same day.

Hi, my name is Mandy, and I am an overscheduler.

All of these fun things seem like great ideas at the time. A couple of them (like the birthday party) are definitely no-brainers. But all on the same day? Really?

I've already blogged about the Fun Run. After the boys crossed the finish line, I high-tailed it out of there with the younger three kids in tow, and made it to Aidan and Emerson's soccer practice a mere 15 minutes late.

Some soccer fans joined us at the fields, and I got to hold my (not-for-much-longer) only niece, baby Laurel.
Emerson succeeded in kicking the ball during the game, and otherwise ran around looking typically clueless. Aidan scored 4 goals during the first quarter of his game, and sat out for the next two quarters so the other kids could play. After the game we headed home so the kids could get naps before Phase II of the Saturday that Never Ends could commence.

Naps and lunch were had by most, then Brandon loaded 4 kids, 4 towels, 4 swimsuits, 2 presents, and a diaper bag into the van and headed out to Joel and Uriah's "water slide" birthday party. Not a day goes by that Emerson doesn't ask when she can go back to the "swimming party". The party was too far away from my work for me to get to go. The kids all had a blast, and they stayed at the party until bedtime.
It's probably best I didn't make it to the birthday party, since I would have been wearing the same swimsuit as Laurel.
She would have been so embarrassed.

Meanwhile, I hoofed it over to a baby shower, planning to spend 30 minutes lying to the mother-to-be about how easy childbirth is and how the sleep deprivation is really no big deal, before I had to leave to go in for my eight hour shift. I noticed on the way to the shower that the gas indicator light was on in Brandon's car. I joked to a couple of my friends that I had to leave and gas up so I wouldn't be stranded on the road with my husband two towns away.

*Five minutes later*

I'm stranded on the side of the road with a completely empty gas tank. Seriously. I don't think I have felt dumber than that in a long time. Thankfully, I called one of my friends at the baby shower and her husband with his little gas can came by and saved the day. I was 20 minutes later for work, and no fewer than three police cars drove by me and the little stranded car.

My day blissfully ended eight hours later, when I crawled into my bed around midnight, happy, exhausted, and grateful for have so many friends and family that there just aren't enough hours in the day to spend with.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Just Bullet Points, It's Been a Long Week

- Brandon's corneal transplant went well on Tuesday. He had a DALK procedure, and his surgeon was pleased with how it went. About 75% of his cornea was transplanted.

(If you look closely at this picture, you can see his old cornea "cone-ing out", it's that clear curve on top of his eye.)

He followed up with the doctor yesterday, and had his pirate patch removed. Brandon thought his vision was already slightly improved from his previous uncorrected vision, and it should continue to improve over the next several months.

- Harper got the memo that she is two years old now and it's time to start making your mother's life miserable. Girl is a HANDFUL and I can't turn my back for a minute with her. Last week I was doing laundry while the girls were playing (a little too quietly, in hindsight) upstairs. I sent Sentry Aidan upstairs with instructions to report back on the upstairs activities, and he said the dreaded words that every mother fears: "Mom, Harper got the bathroom door open and Emerson and Harper are playing in the TOILET!!"

I ran upstairs to find two little soaking-wet girls gleefully splashing around in the toilet with toothbrushes, and then sucking the potty water off of them. To make matters just a little more disgusting, the toothbrush Harper had found was an old grout-cleaning toothbrush from under the sink. Ew ew ew ew ew.

Harper also thinks she can bypass the baby gate on the stairs by squeezing her entire body through the stair railing. I came downstairs one morning to find that she had fit both legs and both arms through the railing, and was standing on the stairs with her head still on the other side of the railing. She thought that was such a good plan, only to find out that there was no way to fit her huge melon through the rail.

- My parents have been here for a couple of days this week. With all of the eye surgery and swing set assembling (another post for another time) and little girls, I don't know what I would have done without their help this week. Some of our friends from church have also helped out so much, with some child-chauffering and swing set assemblying. I am so grateful for all of the help, this has been an eventful week, to say the least.

-I had this post all set to publish yesterday, then blogger decided to take an unannounced vacation. Thanks so much, blogger.

- I'm pretty sure I'm due for an unannounced vacation, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Eyes Have It

I can't remember if I've ever mentioned it here (chances are I have mentioned it, I've blogged about everything from my fake wood floors to my child screaming), but Brandon has a little issue with his eyes.

And by "little issue with his eyes", I mean "progressive eye disease that will eventually require him to have a corneal transplant". Brandon has keratoconus in both eyes, and we have know for several years now that he would eventually require corneal transplants.

I think we both just thought "eventually" was still several years down the road.

Turns out, "eventually" is tomorrow.


Tomorrow Brandon and I will head to the hospital, and a couple of hours later he will leave with a dead-guy cornea in his left eye. He will be under general anesthesia for the procedure, and will get his very own eye patch to take home with him! For several days (weeks?) he will have to take eye drops every 2 hours while he is awake, and be very cautious to not rub his eye, or get anything in his eye. Tonight we are going shopping for a couple of pairs of "fake glasses" to hopefully offer just a little bit of protection against the tiny bits of dirt and dust that we rub from our eyes without even giving it a second thought. And yes, Brandon (with the doctor's blessing) is spending a couple of weeks in KENYA next month. There's no dirt in the desert, right?

Just for the record, I'm not nervous about the surgery.

I'm not the slightest bit worried about the recovery period afterwards.

I'm not concerned that my husband, who cannot remember to finish his antibiotics, will forget to take the anti-rejection eye drops every two hours.

I know he will stay out of the Gaga pit on Friday, even though he scheduled a youth event out there. Because the nurse at his doctor's office actually laughed when I told her that he thought he could play dodgeball 3 days after a corneal transplant. Apparently, any stenuous activity, contact sports, bending below the waist and lifting are big no-nos after this eye surgery. Something about "delicate eye tissue" and "microscopic sutures".

But, though we're not worried, or concerned, or even the slightest bit nervous about a doctor slicing Brandon's cornea off his eyeball and replacing it with a dead-guy cornea, please say a little prayer for us tomorrow. And maybe the next day and the next few weeks, too, as Hot Brandon's eye heals up. Just to add to the (non-existent) anxiety, this is a surgery where the results are not immediate, and it may take up to a year to see the extent of its effectiveness. It's not even my eye, but I can imagine how nerve-wracking it may be to wake up with worse vision in your eye than what you had before, knowing that it could be a while before you know if the surgery has "worked" or not.

So please keep us, and my husbands pretty blue eyes, in your prayers tomorrow and this week. My non-worried brain would sure appreciate it.

On a lighter note, yesterday someone got to my blog by googling "how to trick your sister into licking your armpits". I really hope this little boy's parents are monitoring his google searches.

And his sister, too, for that matter.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Because It's Fun and It's A Run

So what were you doing at 7:45 this morning?

These guys were running in their first ever 5k run, a "Fun Run" benefitting one of our local assistance ministries in the community. We knew most of the participants from church, and some of my close friends were in charge of putting the event together.

From the starting line...

I'm sorry if these pictures are blurry. My flash hates me.

Do you think he sees me with my camera? Does he see me?

Yes, that is Aidan wandering around in the background in his soccer uniform.

And a couple of minutes later...

Crossing the finish line, (unofficial) time of 29:23! He came in 4th place in the "19 and Under" category. Not bad Dane-o!

I'm so proud of my sweet friends for organizing this event, everyone had a blast, and lots-o-money was raised for our wonderful local assistance ministry!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Rattling Around

I feel like I need to blog something so I can quit staring at that red dresser every time I open my page.

But the problem is, I got nothing. No funny kid stories, no cute pictures of Emerson, nothing. But there's a couple of things rattling around my brain this week...

I pray that I will never rejoice, throw parties because of, or dance in the streets at the news of the death of a human being.

I'm only slightly embarrassed at how much I enjoyed all of the news coverage on the royal wedding. I loved seeing the pretty dresses, the horse-drawn carriages, and the prince wearing the fancy Nutcracker uniform. And I SO want just one occasion to wear a ridiculous looking hat in public.

Emerson will be four years old in less than a month, and I have been busily planning her birthday party. I realize that for some people, party planning for their child's birthday celebration involves themes, crafts, elaborate menus, and someone dressed as a clown. In our house, it involves renting a moonwalk and sending out a few invitations. We're very fancy 'round these parts, and have realized over the last several years that my children care not one iota about if the snacks are color-coordinated with a party theme. The kids just want to have fun with their friends.

Swim team practice has started, and at 5:00-6:15 Monday through Friday, it is consuming our evenings. I could use some good crock pot dinner recipes, since no cooking is happening these days. Anyone have any crock pot recipes to share? I know there's a bunch of these recipes on the internet, but googling "crock pot recipes" is just as overwhelming as the whole "drawer pull scenario". Too many to look at and weed through.

Speaking of swim team, Aidan shared with me on the way home the other day, "You know, Mom? Most of the swim team guys, they just pee in their swim shorts. Like today, I just walked around the pool, just peeing." I'm pretty sure most of the swim team guys don't pee in their shorts outside of the pool, A-man.

What's rattling around in your brain these days?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Before and After, a Garage Sale Makeover

A couple of weeks ago, a spur-of-the-moment swing by a neighborhood garage sale yielded this $25 steal:

Solid oak. Good drawers. Boogered up on the top by small hands with markers.

I've been looking for a piece of furniture to go here, in what a Realtor would call our "formal dining area". No formal dining set has ever lived in this room, it has and always will be a computer area and extension of our living room.

The shelving unit that currently resides on this wall has definitely seen better days, especially since some of her shelves became dislodged and never re-lodged. Sometimes Harper likes to sit in these narrow little spaces created by vacant shelves. And sometimes she likes to dig through my baskets, unorganized and filled with pictures, cards, and other things that don't have a true "home".

After an unexpected, unscheduled Saturday afternoon appeared on our calender, I decided it was the perfect time to spruce up the garage-sale find a bit and headed out on a quick trip to Lowe's.

A few hours later:

Behold. The red chest of drawers. (I know, I need to lower that picture on the wall just a little bit now.)

I had big plans of picking up new hardware at Lowe's, but apparently this particular size of drawer pulls on the top three drawers is a "hard-to-find" size. Awesome. The Lowe's man suggested I check online for new pulls. Unfortunately, there appears to be a different and unique drawer pull for every man, woman, and child in the world, and I didn't possess the time or the patience to look at all of them and make any kind of decision.

So back on went the old drawer pulls, and I'm hoping they grow on me. They may get a coat of black spray paint in the near future. Or they may still get replaced all together. I briefly thought about sanding the edges of the chest up just a bit, for a little "antiquing", but when we chipped an edge while we were putting the drawers back in, I decided that in a matter of weeks Little Red Dresser would find herself a bit "naturally antiqued by various children", and left well enough alone.

Fortunately for my (now a little red-splattered) garage, I have very few empty Saturday mornings for garage-saleing over these next few weeks.