Sunday Funday

I look forward to Sundays. I mean I really look forward to Sundays. We start the day with church and then intentionally take time to relax and recharge for the new week. A typical Sunday includes coffee, time outdoors (weather permitting), reading, family game time, meal-planning, and if I’m really lucky: a nap.

Guess what my Sunday plans do not typically include. Go ahead, guess.

I can tell you this: my plans 100%, absolutely for certain do not include cleaning a poop puddle out of the basement shower. Yet that’s what happened. I have photo evidence thanks to being a mom of boys who enjoy taking photos of things like poop puddles. I have opted not to share those publicly, but trust me, they exist. I also thought that my issues with plumbing were over since the recent earring down the drain incident (if three time’s the charm, I am MOVING).

Our oldest child was hovering near the edges of the kitchen. He peeked around, then left. Skulked in a few steps, left again. Then he quietly told me (just me, even though his father was RIGHT beside me) “It wasn’t me, but the toilet in the basement is backed up and now there’s really gross water in the shower. I DID NOT DO IT.” He didn’t need to be so adamant about his lack of involvement. He has three younger brothers and I have seen the crime-scene level of destruction they have left in other washrooms to know he was not the likely culprit. And I didn’t even care who did it, I just didn’t want it to spread.

As per our pre-nup, my husband began plunger duty, I was the clean-up crew. I continued planning our meals and grocery needs for the week a safe distance from the sights and smells while getting increasingly frequent updates on the Poo-pocalypse of 2019 from our offspring.

Eventually the toilet was cleared, but there was still the issue of the standing water in the shower. It was like poop on steroids. I have never encountered a smell so terrible before, and please remember I live with five males, four of them being regular participants in games such as “Farting Morse Code Through the Furnace Vents”.  This situation needed handling.

I put on my rain boots, rubber gloves, and old clothes and armed myself with that plunger. Glory, glory, hallelujah it cleared out with minimal effort or splatter.

Next I took care of the sink. What is wrong with my children that they managed to clog THREE different drains? Does no one under the age of 14 understand the word “sluggish” and its possible ramifications on the sewage system? I do not use that washroom, for what I hope are now becoming obvious reasons, so I had no idea it was that bad.

Check and check, all drains were cleared. However, no amount of Lysol, Febreeze, scented candle or diffused oil was going to rid our basement of that foul odour, plus that shower was now a tiny corner of bio-hazard grossness. I had to call in the big guns. Environmentally friendly products, you’re on the bench. Bleach, suit up. It was such a bad scene that my husband didn’t even dispute the need for chlorine. IT WAS THAT BAD. “Get out of the way, boys, your mom has work to do.”

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Not today, White Sails, this is job for Javex.

I have failed to mention that the entire time I was plunging, spraying, inhaling fumes, and trying not to think about what I standing in, my boys alternated between playing ping pong and commentating on my status.

“Look! Mommy’s in the chokey! Just like Matilda!”

“I think she’s stuck, it’s a small shower.”

“Is she still breathing?”

“Are you still alive?”

“Are you sure you got it all?”

“Remember when there was all that poop in the shower?” (it had only been ten minutes earlier, so yes, I did remember).

“Hold still we’re recording this!”

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I have never entered a shower as carefully as I did this very moment.  Please note the protective gear, I’m no fool.
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An old cotton t-shirt is a perfectly fine protective mask. It’s blurry due to photographer heckling.

 

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I even got an unsolicited “thank you” which didn’t make up for this debacle, but kind of did make up for it.

 

The high I felt from a job well-done, or maybe the bleach fumes, did not last long. I decided to wash up and regroup from this Code Brown of Epic Proportions. The boys have been told not to harass me at the washroom door anymore. To their credit they did not. Harass me at the door. Instead I received a steady stream of texts from the living room.

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I need to be more specific and please note – their dad was RIGHT THERE.

No, Really, What’s That Smell?

I live in a house with four sons. It is loud and fun and chaotic. At any time you might find a pair of socks on the counter, paper airplanes in the light fixtures, or Lego pieces on the steps. Mostly I embrace these reminders of the high level of testosterone in our home. I don’t really know any different from my life with five males and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

EXCEPT.

Except the smell. We have tried to teach them manners and overall I think we have done okay. Then we have a run of “toilet humor days” and I feel like I’m failing. The gas is overwhelming and no amount of gentle and not-so-gentle reminders shuts down the flatulence.

This weekend was one of those weekends. We were in line for a live Nativity show and I thought a lamb was loudly bleating only to discover it was a massive belch from one of my offspring. While I was impressed with his sheer volume and pitch, I doubt Mary and Joseph were in awe (or the other patrons).

I was cozied up on the couch trying to recharge when I heard odd noises from the walls. Two brothers were farting to each other through the furnace grates. This time I pretended not to notice and kept on reading.

So when I went upstairs Sunday evening to put laundry away and there was an odour so thick you could see it, I had had enough. “THIS ENTIRE HOUSE STINKS AND I AM NOT IMPRESSED WITH ANY OF YOU” I shouted as I headed to the master bathroom. It was there I discovered the real source of the smell. Our sink drain was being cleared and there was a container of standing water under the pipe. I took decisive action and flushed the contents down the toilet. Done and done. The smell would dissipate. Yup, look at me being proactive and taking charge. Solving all the problems.

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So clean. So empty of stinky standing water.

Yes, gentle reader, I was pretty proud of myself. Pretty proud, indeed. That is until I released the handle and watched the murky water swirling far, far away with all the miscellaneous sink contents with it. That’s when I panicked.

You see, a few days ago my sweet husband dropped my earring down the sink. I own one pair of not-costume earrings. They aren’t fancy, but they don’t turn my skin green after a few uses. wp-15444065419257388005211613944868.jpg

Not to point fingers, but I often place my earrings in the soap dish. And by often I mean every night. It wouldn’t be a surprise that my earrings are in the soap dish then, right? But on this day one of the not-cheap earrings was stuck on the bar of soap and dropped down the drain. Again, not blaming anyone but that soap did not pick itself up, JUST SAYING.

So for the next few days the sink was closed to prevent further travels of my beloved jewellery into the sewage system until proper attention could be paid to the drain. It was fine. I got used to brushing my teeth over the tub and changing all my other normal routines in order to preserve half of a gift from my mother. My beloved mother. It’s cool. I’m a very patient person. Plus I mostly forgot until I went to brush my teeth.

Plumbing day arrived and that’s where the stories collide.

My precious, one-of-a-kind earrings gifted to me by my mother. I remember that day so well. She leaned over and whispered in my ear, “these are for you, my most favourite child. Your life with all those males will be one of occasional hardship. May these earrings remind you of happy times and help you not to lose your temper.” I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea.

Now those treasured earrings are gone – with one well-intentioned flush. Swishing and sloshing their way to the big water treatment plant in the sky.

At least the sink drains properly now.

RIP semi-precious earrings. We had a good run.

The moral of this story? Don’t use bar soap.


Update: After digging around in the pipe catcher thingey, my earring was discovered! It’s a stinky miracle!

A Sweet Addition

We have some big news around here an I am so excited to share it with you, dear reader.

As you may recall, I enjoy having a bigger-than-typical family. Our crew of four boys brings me joy and I am grateful for them all and the (mostly) delightful chaos they bring into our home. Some well-meaning friends have suggested we get a dog to add to the mix. Hilarious.

We are not getting a pet (beyond the beta fish that has miraculously survived longer than its three departed predecessors). There is no cat, hamster, or guinea pig on the horizon. We went in a different direction. Five of us were on board with this decision right from the start. It took some convincing, but eventually my husband saw the wisdom of procuring our new family member.

Please help me welcome, Big Bag of Chocolate.

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So glad we captured this precious moment. The whole family helped with the selection.

 

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Christmas – such a magical season.
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Cozy winter nights are perfect for reading with loved ones.
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I would have shared the blanket, but melting is a real concern.
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Hobbies are more fun when you share them with family.
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Almost forgot how to do a sling. Almost.
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Always ready to ruin things with healthy options, my husband.

Happy holidays! May your season be chocolate-filled.

Crayon Time Travel

I have been inside schools my entire life. First as a student and then for the past two decades as a teacher. That is a lot of hallways, classrooms, and offices. And smells. Oh, the smells. Wet shoes, basketballs, the glue we are no longer allowed to use due to “health concerns”, paint, and crayons.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The crayons.

Any time I smell that sweet tang of a fresh box of crayons I flashback to my elementary school. Not my high school or the first school I taught in. Always and forever that smell reminds me of a very specific time and place. I went there for eight years, but the memory is always of grade three and me wearing a green t-shirt. An oddly specific yet at the same time unimportant memory.

Memories are funny that way.

Just like an 80s sitcom that decided to phone it in and do a flashback episode, I can be instantly transported to the past by just a smell. Maybe it’s my superpower, who’s to say? I have yet to unleash its full potential, that’s for sure, and it is definitely competing with my other power of disposing of secret snack wrappers. But it is real and I feel like it is getting stronger with time, much like the cracking sound my knees make BUT WE AREN’T TALKING ABOUT THAT TODAY.

Every spring when the peonies and lilacs come out I find myself riding my old blue ten-speed bike with a bouquet of freshly-cut flowers for my teacher. They are wrapped in a wet paper towel and I clutch them tightly with one hand while navigating the short ride to school with my other. I can still see them atop Miss Zondervan’s desk in a green vase.

Walking into a home that has coffee brewing is a direct pipeline to my Aunt Steffie’s kitchen on a Sunday morning. Our families alternated homes for post-church “coffee” (it’s a Dutch thing) and one whiff of that sweet elixir being made and I can see the machine in the corner of her kitchen while she places sweets on a plate as if I am standing there today.

Winter brings early evenings, Christmas lights, and cozy fires. I might be in the van or taking a walk when the distinct scent of crackling fire from a nearby home is in the air, and bam! I am in our maroon Oldsmobile 88  on a winter night heading to my Uncle Jake’s house for a Christmas party. The kids all hung out in his basement with the massive console TV and ate chips in freedom from the adults laughing it up in the living room. Those were the nights that if you stayed out of sight long enough your parents forgot you were there and you could stay up extra late with the big kids.

Did you ever have a pair of mittens that fit great when you first got them, but soon the thumb hole on one didn’t line up and you were forced to wear them with your one thumb cramping from being held at a weird angle? That’s not just me, be honest. If I smell a wet wool mitten, I can feel my left thumb tingle with the memory of a pair of mauve mitts from 1980-something. Stacey in my class had the same pair and we often mixed them up when they were drying on the heather in the hallway. But we could always figure out which pair was mine because FAULTY THUMB HOLE.

I could write a whole series of posts on memories conjured up by simple smells:

Jiffy Pop = Mrs. St. Pierre’s house on a Friday night.

Black licorice = the jellybeans my grandpa kept in his shirt pocket.

A freshly-lit candle = my childhood kitchen.

Newly-applied nail polish – getting my nails painted gold by my big sister.

Freshly-scooped pumpkin guts = roasting seeds in kindergarten with Mrs. Laurence.

Just-opened bag of chips = playing games with my cousins at Auntie Ina’s house.

Tim Hortons chocolate dip doughnut = getting ready for a family road trip by picking up a party pack.

These memories seem to all be chunked into my early years. I’m not sure about its significance or if there is any rhyme or reason. But it happens more and more and I’m not complaining.

These are simple memories, not the trips we took or the long-coveted gifts I received. They are every day events. The common factor is that they are all connected to family and friends. Sharing those day-to-day moments with people who mattered are what I keep conjuring.

Sometimes I worry that time is going by too quickly and we haven’t done enough or been enough for our kids. But we eat dinner together, play card games (even though they cheat at Old Maid), brew tea and pop popcorn. Maybe we’re depositing into their olfactory memories and one day the smell of freshly-baked brownies will cause them to pause and call their mom. Or text. I’ll take it.

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May the smell of clean laundry bring back the time you had no dry underwear and since we didn’t have a dryer we were forced to improvise.

Cross Cana-don’t

A beautiful summer evening at the community park is the perfect setting for playground games with neighbours. Or so you’d think.

It started out as a casual and active game of Mulch Man (a combination of the classic Tag and Sandman, but on mulch). There was laughter and joking and connections between friends. The squealing when a player just missed being caught could be heard across the field. Glorious. Just glorious.

Until it wasn’t.

Some of the children suggested we move on to a different game, namely Cross Canada. Essentially, all participants line up on one end of the playing area while the Tagger calls out a characteristic. If you have the characteristic, you may cross safely to the other side of “Canada”. After that, everyone just books it. If tagged, you join the Tagger until one player remains.

Just another classic game, right? Some harmless fun.

Nope.

The first round or two were innocuous: “Cross Canada if you are wearing blue” and “Cross Canada if you are older than seven” and “Cross Canada if you have kids.” Innocent enough. Then there was an almost imperceptible shift. The sky darkened (nevermind that it was sunset, that is just a coincidence) and a breeze travelled across the playing area.

“Cross Canada if you’re wearing shoes”. That eliminated myself and three family members because we are clearly lax in our footwear safety.

“Cross Canada if you took a bath this week.” We have a pool, we’re on a hygiene holiday. It’s fine.

“Cross Canada if cheese is your favourite food.” This feels like it’s getting pretty personal now.

That’s when I heard one of my children whisper to the neighbour kid, “You don’t have to be the fastest, you just have to be faster than my mom.” First of all: hurtful. Second: accurate, but please refer to previous point. I do have feelings.

“Cross Canada if you are wearing underwear.” Only two out of the five of us could rightly travel to safety on the other side of the field. This was beyond personal and was going to require answers none of us were ready to provide.

“Alright, everyone! Looks like it’s getting close to bedtime so I think we’ll just wrap this up before any more family secrets are spilled. Thanks for the play!”

Despite me being the one to shut down this session of Cross Canada, make no mistake, reader. I intend to use this new knowledge to my advantage. I volunteer to be Tagger all the time.

“Cross Canada if you loaded your dishes into the dishwasher.”

“Cross Canada if you are the one who broke my earbuds.”

“Cross Canada if you recently spilled pop on the basement carpet.”

“Cross Canada if you just put your clothes back in the dirty laundry because you didn’t want to refold them.”

Cross Canada. Cross Canada, indeed.

 

 

 

How Much Do You Think I Paid? Wrong.

“Come here. You will not believe the deal I just got. You can even tweet it if you want.”

This was music to my ears. I was intrigued.

My husband loves a good deal. I don’t mean enjoys saving money, I mean he loves a good deal. Go-to-the-farmers-market-right-before-closing kind of deals. He’s the “sure I’ll take a case of really ripe bananas simply because it’s only $2” kind of guy.

My dad once bought so many frozen french fries that our family filled every freezer space available and finally resorted to handing them out to guests as they left. All because, “they were only $.17 a bag. SEVENTEEN CENTS.” This similarity between my dad and husband is not lost on me, but that’s another post for another day.

Aaaaanyways…back to the current amazing deal.

“I saw the price and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I told myself there was no way it was correct. TWO CENTS PER 100 GRAMS*? They were giving it away!”

Gentle reader, at this point I was really hoping it was doughnuts. It was not, but he did not disappoint.

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“I emptied the bin,” he proudly told me. I felt like that didn’t need to be stated. Of course he did.

“I have a confession,” he solemnly told me, “For the first time in my life I tried something in the bulk section before I bought it.” Understandable, we wouldn’t want to see that $.34 go to waste.

My money-saving spouse cuddled in beside me on the couch and carefully smoothed out the bill. “I kept the receipt. I might frame it.”

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Look! He did buy doughnuts!

The man I married was giddy. He was riding that money-saving high. But then I noticed he been quiet for a few moments. I looked up and saw him gazing at the bundles of confectionary on our kitchen counter. “This ranks right up with that case of broccoli I got for free that time.” Yes, or as I like to call it “the time our whole house smelled like farts.”

Eventually, our 8YO sauntered into the living area and asked why Daddy had bought so much candy. “Because it was on sale. It cost $0.34.” To which our son replied, “Well, can’t pass that up.” He is now the favourite child.

Later I thought he was putting away dishes, but I found him weighing one of the bags in his hand and whispering, “so beautiful.” I think he was more excited about this deal than the births of our four sons.

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He then announced to me, “This bag could get us all the way to Florida.” Note: we are not going to Florida any time soon.

I thought we had moved past discussing these chocolate buttons, but an hour into the evening he told me that “the best part was I saw our friend, Dana there, and I got to these before she did.” Competition and money-saving. This deal wrapped all his love languages into a tidy little package.

If you’re in our area, please stop by. We have what your sweet tooth needs, plus the coffee is always on. But be warned: from now on, anyone who wants to enter the house must first answer the question, “How much do you think these cost?” Be a dear, would you? And estimate high.

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*100 grams = ~3.5 ounces

The Game is Afoot

For twelve years the house has been the battle ground for a war no one saw coming and no one wanted.

Good versus evil, dark versus light, brother pitted against brother. Wait, no, mother versus all the boys.

The invasion was slow and insideous at first. A few dinky cars here, a rogue block there. Then another son was born, and the arsenol grew. Legos entered the fray, more dinky cars. Soon action figures could be found strewn across the steps. It was no longer safe to traverse the basement, a talking toy could be triggered at the slightest movement.

This home was no longer the mother’s domain, the children had taken over.

As the offsprings’ numbers and independence grew, so did the snacks. The crumbs, sweet Moses, the crumbs! Entire muffins were decimated and left as a warning to future carbs. Beware, no bread product is safe from these kids. RUN WHILE YOU CAN.

Silly Putty in the furnace ducts, abandoned socks on coffee tables, Nerf bullets in the toilets, Star Wars figures in the nativity sets. The horror.

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Not staged. Actual event.

The mother’s cries of “THIS IS NOT A PRESCHOOL” and “WHY ARE THERE MARBLES IN THE FRYING PAN?” were met with silence or half-hearted attempts to tidy. She raised the stakes and threatened “if it’s on the floor it’s out the door” but everyone knew she wouldn’t follow through.

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Also real

“I just want one clear space for my coffee cup,” the mother whisper-cried as she tossed “art” into the recycling bin. “Everything has a home! Let’s keep our things in their home and please stop using my scarves to build forts” she sing-songed manically while gathering up granola bar wrappers from the underneath the couch.

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Why?

And then it happened.

Was it just a happy little accident, that years of stepping over Lego minefields seemed to solve itself? Perhaps.

Her weapon? Bobby pins.

Did she leave them in her pockets on purpose? Was it her plan all along that the pins would end up going through the wash? Did she know that this oversight would result in bobby pins ending up in bedsheets, hoodie pockets, and bath towels for the family to disover with great annoyance? Was her subconcious exacting retribution? And now that the family has discovered how frustrating it was to have a house overrun with tiny and pokey objects left haphazardly in her wake, would she be more careful?

Answer? No, no, no, maybe, and nope.

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Daily Prompt – Dominant